The Friday deadline for triggering cuts to planned Pentagon spending is getting closer. And the predictions from America’s top generals about what might happen if the sequestration cuts go into effect March 27 keep getting more dire.
The chairman and Joint Chiefs and Staff and the chiefs of the four armed services spent hours the last few weeks telling mostly sympathetic lawmakers how they would cancel most training, furlough nearly 100,000 civilian employees, put off or cancel most maintenance on things like naval ships and Air Force planes, and shed more troops than under previously planned post-war end strength adjustment plans.
So bleak were the warnings that this week even some Republican lawmakers expressed doubt about whether the generals are indeed being straight about the true effects of sequestration. But, make no mistake, the generals aren’t changing their gloom-and-doom public relations strategy.
On Wednesday, Army Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, Defense Intelligence Agency director ticked off a list of the most crucial programs and platforms to his organization. One is a Pentagon plan to expand the size and scope of Flynn’s DIA by adding 1,600 covert operatives — also known as spies.
“Budgetary instability and the prospect of further deep cuts put these investments at risk,” Flynn said in his prepared remarks during the House Armed Services Committee’s Intelligence subpanel’s inaugural hearing. Flynn went even further in his oral remarks, telling the subcommittee if sequestration happens he worries about “another major intelligence failure.”
Due in part to time constraints, the subcommittee went into closed session to discuss classified matters before Flynn could be asked in a to publicly explain that big warning.