The nation’s top military officer said Monday that he hopes, but isn’t optimistic, that the automatic spending cuts known as sequestration will “get defused in some future budget deal.”
“Meanwhile, we have no choice but to prepare for its full effect, which is of course our worst case scenario,” Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Gen. Dempsey announced last week on his Facebook page that the Pentagon is reassessing its defense strategy, which focuses on a “pivot” to the Asia-Pacific region, maintaining focus on the Middle East, building global partnerships, and investing in special operations and cyber, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
“As I stand here, I don’t yet know how much our defense strategy will change, but I predict it will. We’ll need to re-look our assumptions. We’ll need to adjust our ambitions to match our abilities. That means doing less, but not doing it less well,” he said.
“It also means relying more on other instruments of power to help underwrite global security. Of course, we won’t do this well if we don’t back diplomacy and development with sufficient dollars,” Gen. Dempsey said. “Our partners will also have to absorb more of the risk.”
Under sequestration, the Pentagon will have to cut $46 billion from its budget by Sept. 30 and as much as $500 billion from its 10-year spending plan.
To deal with the budget shortfall, the Pentagon has planned to furlough nearly 800,000 civilian workers, curtail training and maintenance, and cancel some overseas deployments.