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Top Generals: Lift Defense Spending Cap or Risk US Military Readiness

By    |   Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 07:32 PM

The nation's military readiness will be put at risk in an increasingly threatening climate overseas if lawmakers don't lift a mandatory cap on defense spending this year, retired top generals warn.

Retired Marine Gen. James Mattis, a former commander of U.S. Central Command, and former Army Chief of Staff Gen. John Keane urged the action in testimony Tuesday before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Stars and Stripes reports.

"No nation in history has maintained its military power but failed to keep its fiscal house in order," Mattis said, adding Congress "has failed" in its sequestration aim to force better choices in defense spending cuts.

Mattis said the forced limit should be repealed because it is affecting troop morale and causing uncertainty within the military, Stars and Stripes reports.

Spending caps will kick in across the federal government this fall and will remain in place into the next decade, keeping defense spending to increases of about 2 percent, Stars and Stripes notes.

The White House and Defense Department are preparing to release proposed Fiscal Year 2016 budgets on Monday, with fights expected over cuts in military personnel expenditures like pay, retirement, and benefits.

Keane told the panel the country should take a more active military role around the world, including sending some ground troops to direct airstrikes against the Islamic State (ISIS).

And, he added, removing combat troops and reducing advisory forces in Afghanistan will only lead to problems down the road.

"How can we not learn the obvious and painful lesson from Iraq?" he asked.

Former Central Command Adm. William "Fox" Fallon testified fights over budget issues could also raise doubts among American allies abroad — as the United States faces the threats of Islamic radicalism, a nuclear ambitious Iran, Russia's resurgence, and a rising China, Stars and Stripes reports.

In a statement submitted for the record, the committee's chairman, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, said President Barack Obama and his administration have "adopted a cheap fatalism" in claiming the various conflicts around the world have no military solution.

"Military power should not be used lightly, but it should also not be used anemically, or withdrawn precipitously," he said, Stars and Stripes reports.

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The nation's military readiness will be put at risk in an increasingly threatening climate overseas if lawmakers don't lift a mandatory cap on defense spending this year, retired top generals warn.
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Tuesday, 27 Jan 2015 07:32 PM
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