WASHINGTON, October 22 (RIA Novosti) - The effects of sequestration on the US military and the lack of a comprehensive budget represent a national security risk, former Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy said Wednesday.
"You can't expect to defend the nation under sequestration," Flournoy said at a discussion of the National Defense Panel (NDP) review of the four year defense budget. "The risks are real and they are accumulating, and they are substantial."
Flournoy, who was a member of the NDP, argued that the risks to US security will not necessarily be immediate, but will impact American force retention, training, and readiness over the coming one to two decades.
She further pointed out the risks of not having a comprehensive, long-term budget, including creating the perception abroad that US power and reliability are in decline.
"My own view is that the absence of a comprehensive budget bill writ large is becoming a national security issue, not only because of the impact on defense spending ... but because of the perception of American decline that it is creating abroad," she said.
Flournoy called for a national debate within the Congress and top levels of government to investigate the risks of the budget and whether US strategic objectives can be achieved given current resources.
Under sequestration, the US congress authorized $1.2 trillion in cuts across defense and non-defense spending through 2021. While the impact of sequestration was mitigated with a budget deal through 2015, it is expected that the cuts will return. The lack of certainty about the budget has impacted strategic planning by the military, with the Pentagon preparing multiple budgets that take account for continued cuts or additional funds.