Lieberman: 'No More Defense Cuts'

Friday, 26 Oct 2012 09:02 AM

By Greg McDonald

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Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee Chairman Joe Lieberman says he won't accept any further cuts in the U.S. defense budget and is warning that the nation's military force is "too small" now to meet  all the demands placed on it.
 
Writing in the Wall Street Journal Friday, the Connecticut Independent signaled that he would not support "any debt reduction package that requires our military to accept further cuts" during Congress' lame duck session following the Nov. 6 election.
 
Both Republicans and Democrats have vowed to act after the election to head off the automatic spending cuts, or budget sequestration, that could result in $500 billion in defense spending cuts beginning on Jan. 2.

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Lieberman, who also serves on the Armed Services Committee, said the $487 billion Pentagon spending decrease imposed last year by the bipartisan Budget Control Act is already "delaying critical modernization programs and forcing our military to slash manpower and force structure."
 
Any additional cuts, he said, would pose a threat to national security.
 
"Contrary to claims that the 'tide of war is receding,' our national security threats are becoming more complex and no less demanding or urgent," Lieberman wrote.
 
"We have made significant progress in recent years against [al-Qaida's] leadership in Pakistan. But the group's Islamist extremist affiliates and allies have made inroads elsewhere—including Yemen, Syria and Mali, where al Qaeda's North African branch has established a haven in a vast swath of territory," Lieberman continued.
 
"In the Persian Gulf, Iran's pursuit of asymmetric capabilities (including missiles, mines and submarines) is compelling us to expand our naval and air presences there, not draw them down. Then there is the Asia-Pacific region, where China's double-digit growth in military spending and assertive behavior against neighbors (including U.S. treaty allies) is unsettling the regional balance of power."
 
To meet these challenges, Lieberman, who has often disagreed with President Barack Obama on foreign policy and military issues, said the Obama administration's Defense Strategic Guidance plan "rightly pledges more rotational deployments across the globe to reassure our friends, deter our adversaries, and protect our national interests."
 
But, he added, "The truth is that our military is simply too small to do everything that is being asked of it. While our forces' high operational tempo is less visible than it was at the height of the Iraq War, it is no less stressful on our service members and their families."

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The senator some have attempted justify the cuts because they no longer believe the country faces the same challenges abroad that it did following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. But he argues that "events will inevitably take us by surprise," which is why "it is so critical for our military to be modernized and manned for the full range of missions that it may be called upon to carry out in defense of our country, liberty and values."
 
Lieberman added: "We must put our country's fiscal house in order — but not at the expense of our security. Sequestration of both defense and nondefense accounts can and must be avoided by a bipartisan debt-reduction package that deals with the real drivers of our fiscal problem: entitlement spending and insufficient revenue."

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