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NDIA Chairman Arnold Punaro and President and CEO Craig McKinley Argue for Repeal of Defense and Non-Defense Sequester Cuts

ARLINGTON, Va., March 11, 2015 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Retired Maj. General Arnold Punaro, Board Chairman of the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), and retired General Craig R. McKinley, NDIA's President and CEO, sent a letter (http://bit.ly/NDIA_Budget) today to the House and Senate Budget Committees arguing for a repeal of both the defense and non-defense Budget Control Act (BCA) caps on spending. Their letter joins letters from the Chairman John McCain and Ranking Member Jack Reed (http://bit.ly/Letter_McCain) of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Chairman Mac Thornberry and 30 other Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee in making the case for an end to BCA defense spending reductions.

"The world has become more dangerous since the passage of the BCA, necessitating strategy-driven budgets. The BCA limits on discretionary spending do not solve the country's long-term deficit and debt problems," said Punaro.

"The Pentagon must become more efficient in its spending practices," said McKinley. "NDIA's recent report on acquisition reform offers an example of how the military could make cost saving adjustments."

A PDF of the official letter is available here (http://bit.ly/NDIA_Budget). The text of the letter can be found below:

Dear Chairmen Enzi and Price and Ranking Members Sanders and Van Hollen:

On behalf of the approximately 1,600 companies and 90,000 individual members which together comprise the oldest and largest of the national security associations, the National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA), we join Chairman McCain and Ranking Member Reed, Chairman Thornberry, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter, and all the Joint Chiefs of Staff in asking you to repeal the spending caps placed on the defense budget by the 2011 Budget Control Act (BCA). We support the levels established by the BCA prior to sequestration taking effect, namely $577 billion for national defense discretionary budget authority, in addition to whatever funds may be necessary for Overseas Contingency Operations. Additionally, we urge you to also raise the non-defense caps since so much national security science, technology, and engineering is supported by critical non-defense research and development funding.

The world has changed dramatically since the BCA was first passed into law. The relatively stable if dangerous global environment of 2011 has become completely unsettled. Threats are gathering and spreading like wildfire. A resurgent Russia has annexed Crimea and invaded Ukraine; Syria has fallen apart creating a regional conflagration that has undone 8 years of work we did in Iraq; ISIS is brutally killing Syrians, Iraqis, and Americans carving out a caliphate in northern Iraq and Syria; and China is attempting to change the status quo in the South China Sea.

Sequestration's most aggravating quality is that it does nothing to solve the long-term drivers of our debt and deficit which stem from the imbalance between the revenues we collect and current and projected spending on entitlements. The discretionary budget, both defense and non-defense together, makes up roughly just 30 percent of total federal spending. The notion that we can balance the budget by strictly discretionary spending cuts defies basic arithmetic. Sequestration cuts do not even come close to paying off the mortgage we have placed on our country's future economic security; they simply mortgage off our future national security as well. We support a grand compromise that would reduce entitlement spending in all budgets, including defense; constrain discretionary spending, and provide sufficient revenues to gradually reduce the debt as a percentage of GDP and the non-productive payments of the interest on the debt.

We also support making all government spending more efficient and effective. Last year we delivered an acquisition reform report to Congress intended to help the Defense Acquisition System create greater authority on the part of government leaders for cost reduction and accountability. We also believe that the Pentagon back office must become more efficient, and we support efforts to redirect those savings into meaningful security. We concur in overhead reduction efforts, despite the fact that many of those efforts appear to disproportionately target the contractor workforce. Defense spending must deliver more bang for the buck for the taxpayer and the warfighter.

But sequestration actually makes these circumstances worse, not better. As Secretary Carter recently testified:

'Under sequestration, which is set to return in 212 days, our nation would be less secure. [S]equestration threatens our military's readiness, the size of our warfighting forces, the capabilities of our air-naval fleets, and ultimately the lives of our men and women in uniform. The great tragedy is that this corrosive damage to our national security is not the result of objective factors, logic or reason. It's not that we have some new breakthrough in military technology or some novel strategic insight that somehow provides the same security for a smaller budget. It's not even that these cuts solve the nation's overall fiscal challenges, because the sad math is that they are large and sudden enough to damage defense, but fail to resolve our long-term fiscal issues and the real drivers of the deficit and debt.'

The United States has the world's greatest fighting force for three reasons: outstanding people, realistic and continuous training, and cutting-edge technology. We must have all three. A return of sequestration will mean dramatic cuts to the size of our warfighting forces, significantly reduced training, coupled with aging, antiquated equipment. This will result in a military that is smaller, less capable, less ready and less well equipped. Your Committees have the power to reverse that course. We urge you to do so in this year's budget resolution by repealing the sequestration-level BCA caps.

The National Defense Industrial Association (NDIA) is America's leading Defense Industry association promoting national security. NDIA provides a legal and ethical forum for the exchange of information between Industry and Government on National Security issues. NDIA members foster the development of the most innovative and superior equipment, training and support for warfighters and first responders through its divisions, local chapters, affiliated associations and events.

CONTACT: Jimmy Thomas jthomas@ndia.org 703-247-2598Source:National Defense Industrial Association(NDIA)