CAPITOL HILL: The vice-chiefs of the Army and Marine Corps warned legislators today that sequestration would force the military and the nation to break enlistment contracts with up to 225,000 troops who would have to be precipitately discharged to save money.
Some level of drawdown at the conclusion of major combat isn’t unreasonable. And given time (and a reduction in mission signal) the services would be capable of drawing down even the larger number of troops mentioned without extreme disruptions in the readiness of remaining troop units.
But if sequestration forces the Army and Marines to lop off that many troops in a very short period of time, readiness across the force will take a major hit.
With time to plan, the Army and Marines can look at just who they want to keep, and who to let go. Not just in terms of picking off the low hanging fruit like overweight soldiers or those with disciplinary histories, but also targeting those Military Occupational Specialties that are overstrength, while protecting those that are understrength. Leaders have to make sure that discharges don’t deplete the end strength of one unit, while leaving others untouched. And it takes some time to set up a screening process to choose which mid level career soldiers will be let go. You can’t just lop off the lowest ranks.
I don’t have a lot of faith that ending the specter of sequestration will be a priority of the current administration. President Obama is just fine with outrageous levels of deficit spending, as long as it isn’t on one of the very few things the Constitution says is a valid expenditure of federal dollars.