Defense Department Funding Impasse Could Affect Installations Worldwide
December 5, 2007
The news has been filled recently with information about Congress refusing to act on President Bush’s Defense Department spending bill. Because of this, the Army is taking steps to cut operations at Army bases worldwide. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has already ordered commanders at Army installations to begin making plans to cut back on spending and operations, in preparation for what could possible turn into a major crisis, if funding isn’t soon authorized.
Some of the first people who will be affected will be as many as 200,000 Army civilians and contractors, who may receive layoff notices as early as Christmas. This in turn would create the necessity to pull Soldiers from their regular duties to take over vital functions, such as security, from contractors and Army civilian workers who would be laid off. Not only would that affect the services available to Soldiers and their families, but that could mean dire consequences for the economy, with the potential of 200,000 workers laid off from their jobs.
In mind mind, it’s absolutely urgent that Congress act to approve this emergency spending bill. This type of political “game playing” couldn’t come at a worse time for the military, who is currently fighting two wars. It makes me wonder if Congress is really putting thought into the serious implications that this could have on the economy of the country, or how it will affect the ability of our Troops to continue their jobs in Iraq and Afghanistan. Currently, we have Soldiers who have served 3 or more deployments. By removing Soldiers from their current positions, to take over the positions left vacant by laying off civilian workers, that will cause more deployments for those Troops who are not pulled for these duties.
“Absolutely, it’s an urgent need,” Maj. Gen. Edgar E. Stanton III, director of the Army’s budget office, said of the necessity for the Army to obtain nearly $55 billion from Congress to fund operations in Afghanistan and Iraq.
In a memorandum dated Nov. 26, Gen. Richard A. Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army, directed that all Army commanders and agency directors begin planning to curtail operations and related expenses that do not directly support warfighters engaged in the global war on terrorism. Cody’s instructions tell Army commanders and civilian leaders to review all operations and to forward recommendations to cut costs back to him by Dec. 4.
“We are only in the prudent planning phase,” Cody said in a statement released yesterday. The Defense Department has instructed all military services to review operational costs at installations as well as to prepare for possible furloughs of government civilian employees.
According to Defense Secretary Gates as well as Senior Army leaders, if the Army doesn’t receive the needed funding by mid-February, there could be serious impacts. Leaders across the Army are working at this time to identify the impact that this could have on the quality of life for Soldiers and their families.
I think it’s high time that we begin letting our elected leaders know what we think about this and urge them to act quickly to pass a feasible spending bill that will not affect the way of life of our Troops. I’d be interested to hear what everyone else’s thoughts are on this potential disaster. This whole mess makes me angry, because from what I see, it’s not about what’s best for our Troops and their families, but instead a game of political one-upmanship, with our Troops and their families as the pawns.