Stratcom Commander: sequester could hurt mission, operations

Mar 12, 2013

The leader of U.S. Strategic Command says the Defense Department’s share of the $85 billion in spending cuts could eventually impact operations.

General C. Robert Kehler testified Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee. The package of spending cuts called sequester went in to effect earlier this month.

Kehler says those budget reductions put Stratcom and other military operations in a tough situation.

“Not only are the additional sequestration cuts steep, but the law allows little flexibility in how to apply them, and we’re working from a continuing resolution while the services are transferring contingency needs to the base budget. All of this is during a time when continued readiness is essential, modernization is overdue, violent extremists remain active, threats in space and cyber space are increasing, and the possibility of nuclear and ballistic missile proliferation exist.”

Kehler, the Commander of Stratcom for the past three years, says the budget cuts hurt both uniform and civilian employees.

“Uniform and non-uniform members alike have managed the stress of sustained, long-term operational and deployment tempos. They willingly take personal risk for their country, but they are fearful of taking financial risk for their families. Salary restrictions, hiring freezes, and the likelihood of unpaid furloughs are especially troubling to our civilians.”

Gen. Kehler says civilians are about 60 percent of headquarters staff. He’s also concerned that the Defense Department budget cuts could threaten modernization of Stratcom.