"If nothing is done to mitigate the effects of operations under a continuing resolution, shortfalls in our funding of overseas operations, and the enactment of sequestration, the Army will be forced to make dramatic cuts to its personnel, its readiness, and its modernization programs, hence putting our national security at risk."
So spoke Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno at the Feb. 12, 2013 sequestration impact hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee. And he had plenty more to say:
"We have a talented, committed, experienced, well-led, and professional force. Our Army has performed its missions in Iraq and Afghanistan with great proficiency, professionalism, and courage. We cannot take the readiness of our force for granted. We cannot send our Soldiers into combat unprepared. If we don’t have the resources to ensure their readiness, our Soldiers will be the ones who pay the price. It is incomprehensible to me that we will put this burden on the shoulders of those who have sacrificed so much during nearly twelve years at war."
Message: sequestration equals more dead and wounded soldiers. It doesn't get anymore dire than that... and yet Congressional Republican leaders seemingly could care less. The same week, General Odierno delivered his message to the Senate, that body's leading Republican, Mitch McConnell, told reporters that he was "not interested in an 11th-hour negotiation." Let that sink in for a moment. The leader of Senate Republicans was telling the nation--and the troops at risk of dying because of the effects of sequestration--that he was not interested in averting a national catastrophe.
It's one thing to claim you want to shrink the size of government. It's something else altogether if you're willing to gamble the lives of American troops to do it. A lot of pundits would call that using the troops as a political football. I'd use use a different term: dereliction of duty.
You can read General Odierno's full statement here as a viewable PDF.