"I have been shocked by what I’ve seen with our readiness to fight. For all the heartache caused by the loss of our troops during these wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the readiness of our military than sequestration," Mattis stated on Monday. "It took us years to get into this situation. It will require years of stable budgets and increased funding to get out of it."
Mattis delivered the statement to the Armed Services Committee as part of his testimony at a hearing on the Defense Department's 2018 budget request.
The US defense chief also said 16 years of war had taken a considerable toll on the US military.
"This period represents the longest continuous stretch of armed conflict in our nation’s history. America’s long war has placed a heavy burden on men and women in uniform and their families… [and] has exhausted our equipment faster than planned," Mattis wrote.
The Defense Department has requested a $639 billion budget for next year.