The offensive launched by defense leaders against the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration continued Thursday, with the four-star chief of U.S. Southern Command predicting “defeat” in his missions if the budget trims go into effect later this year.
Marine Corps Gen. John Kelly told senators that he is already short-staffed and under-resourced for anti-narcotic operations and broader security missions in his command.
Capping spending under sequestration, he said, would pull more service members and ships away from that effort and disrupt partnerships with countries in the region.
“It will be a catastrophe. It will put me out of business,” he said. “We could be talking not about higher risk or severe risk, but defeat.”
Kelly’s warnings are just the latest dire predictions delivered to Congress in recent months, as lawmakers debate how to avoid looming sequestration spending caps set to again take effect this fall after a two-year hiatus.
Defense Secretary Ash Carter, Joint Chiefs Chairman Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, and a parade of senior defense officials have pleaded with lawmakers to remove the spending caps, saying they’ll endanger military readiness and national security.
Members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees have echoed those cries, and promised to find a solution. But so far those pledges have not been taken to heart by party leaders, and no credible compromise between Republicans and Democrats has emerged.