February 12th, 2013
03:16 PM ET

Deputy defense secretary offers pay cut ahead of sequester

By Mike Mount

The Pentagon's number two official said he will cut his pay in solidarity with the tens of thousands of civilian employees who could face temporary layoffs under looming mandatory budget cuts.

Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee Tuesday that the civilian employees could face a cut of one-fifth to their paychecks for this year if the federal budget cuts are enacted in two weeks as scheduled.

"That's a real human impact, and I have said, I can't be furloughed under the law because I am a presidential appointee, but I am going to give back a fifth of my salary in the last seven months of the year if other people in the department are getting sequestered," Carter told the panel.

For the Pentagon, sequestration would mean almost $500 billion in cuts over 10 years. For 2013 alone, some $46 billion in reduced spending would result in "a serious disruption in defense programs and a sharp decline in our military readiness," outgoing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said last week.

The Senate hearing included questioning of the military heads of the services who all had warned the panel of the dire consequences to the readiness of their forces.

In one of the more straightforward and rapid-fire line of questioning during the hearing, Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina asked the Air Force and Navy service chiefs if the cuts would reduce the number of ships and planes in the services.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh acknowledged there would be a significant reduction in the number of ships and planes in service.

Would that "make it more difficult to go into a situation like an attack on Iran and to prevent their nuclear program in the future?" Graham asked quickly.

"Yes, sir, our kick-in-the-door capability would be impacted," Welsh responded.

A potential attack on Iran would be, it is believed, carried out in large part by Air Force jets.

Sen. John McCain warned that the cuts were sending the wrong message to Iran.

"The signal we are sending, frankly, to the Iranians is, 'Don't worry, this aircraft carrier is not coming.' This is really a disconnect the likes of which I have never seen before," the Arizona Republican said.

Moments later, in a more light-hearted back and forth, Graham asked the witnesses if any of them had considered quitting in protest over the looming budget cuts. After a few moments of silence, Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey spoke up.

"You have asked me that, senator, and I think you are trying to send me a message."

Dempsey said the armed services do not run away from a fight, but warned the Senate about using a military that had been gutted by the spending cuts.

"I will tell you, if ever the force is so degraded and so un-ready and then we're asked to use it, it would be immoral to use the force unless it's well-trained, well-led and well-equipped."

When Graham asked if the United States was headed in that direction, Dempsey replied, "We are on that path."

The military leaders echoed to the Senate panel Tuesday points that Panetta made in a speech last week, warning of what the Pentagon could be facing if the cuts take effect.

"There are no good options" to deal with the situation, the defense secretary said then.

As many as 46,000 department jobs would be at risk, Panetta said, and more damaging measures in coming months could include:

- Furloughing as many as 800,000 civilian workers for up to 22 days;

- Cutting back on Army training and maintenance, which would reduce readiness of combat brigades outside Afghanistan;

- Shrinking naval operations; and,

- Reducing Air Force flying hours and weapons systems maintenance.

"This is not a game. This is reality," Panetta said. "These steps would seriously damage a fragile American economy and they would degrade our ability to respond to crisis precisely at a time of rising instability across the globe."


Filed under: Security Brief
soundoff (13 Responses)
  1. show some love

    Show Some Love, MR. Boehner you and the REP's need to remember we put you in there but a loving , powerful God can and will deal with those who think they don't have to make an account to us , wait his patiance go but only so far. so everyone pray for all senator to think of the people before they vote for that almighty dollar we all need it not just you (REP&DEM ) So Show Some Love why don't yah .

    February 13, 2013 at 5:52 pm | Reply
  2. him

    To the veterans, thank you for your service and sacrifice, as to those who have ears and refuse to listen. Time will fix that problem.

    February 13, 2013 at 1:19 pm | Reply
  3. NAM VET

    JUST TO SHAKE YOUR MEMORIES,OR FOR YOU FOLKS THAT HAVE VERY SHORT LIVED MEMORIES,EACH AND EVERY TIME IN OUR COUNTRY'S HISTORY WE HAVE SLASHED OUR MILITARY FORCES WE HAVE SOON BEEN CONFRONTED WITH SITUATIONS THAT HAVE PUT IS AT SERIOUS DISADVANTAGE TO TIMES THAT HAVE NEARLY
    PUT US INTO TIMES WE HAVE SEEN OUR LIVES AND LIBERTIES AT SERIOUS RISK. WE DARE NOT PUSH OUR LUCK
    EVER AGAIN.CATCH UP COSTS THE LIVES OF TO MANY OF OUR LOVED ONES "BE PREPARED" WAS SOMETHING I
    IT TOOK TO HEART WHEN I WAS IN THE BOY SCOUTS--IT IS TRUE TODAY IN A MORE FRAGLIE WORLD WE NOW
    LIVE IN. --JUST AN OLD MAN'S OPIONION. GROW UP OR NEVER GROW OLD–YOUR CHOICE.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:18 pm | Reply
    • NNN

      You can't even write a coherent sentence in English, so just exactly which military did you serve with, troll?

      February 13, 2013 at 6:30 pm | Reply
  4. NAM VET

    TO OLD SALT–YOU HAD TO PERFORM AND DID–THANK YOU FOR YOUR SERVICE. OUR GOVERNING BODY
    DOES LITTLE FOR ANY OF US IN UNIFORM OR AS THOSE OF US WHO ARE TAX PAYING CIVILIANS. THEY SPEND
    LITTLE OF THEIR TIME IN SESSION AND GET TENURE FOR JUST BEING IN THEIR SEAT. WHO IN ANY OTHER AREA
    OF SOCIETY CAN CLAIM SUCH A GRATUITY THAN THEY.THE GRAFT DOES NOT STOP THERE,VOTED IN AS A LOW
    EARNER AND RETIRES WEALTHY-JUST SAYING IT DOES NOT ADD UP AS BEING HONEST. THAT STATEMENT WAS
    INTENDED FOR THOSE WHO ARE MANY IN THIS ADINISTRATION AND INCLUDES BOTH PARTY'S AND THE FRINGE
    FORCES WHO WOULD LIKE TO BE PART OF THE SYSTEM. THERE IS NO REASON WE CANNOT HAVE HONEST FOLKS
    IN OFFIC TO DO THE PEOPLES WORK AND STILL REMAIN HONEST WITH JUST WANTING TO DO THE RIGHT THING
    FOR THOSE THEY SERVE HONESTLY AND DIGNITY FOR THE COUNTRY WE ALL LOVE.

    February 13, 2013 at 12:00 pm | Reply
  5. vivian callwood

    I do agree with the gentlemen in the service, senators please be very careful your actions are being watched by many on the news who hope you make the wrong move , so they can cripple us and become the top dog in the war against everyone else, so think before you blink all it take is the wrong chest move an checkmate game over for our freedom.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:23 pm | Reply
  6. Andi Lee

    Our military is the heartbeat of America. Our politicians are becoming our shame...they vote themselves raises every year, and yet REFUSES TO DO THEIR JOBS...some do not even bother to show up. Seriously, who, in America, can get away with that, and still get paid, still have a job? Business on the HILL has got to change. More and more of us, like me, are paying attention. And, we do not have the short attention span you think we have...Life is not good.

    February 12, 2013 at 11:14 pm | Reply
    • NNN

      "Our military is the heartbeat of America"- another foreign troll posing as an American...

      February 13, 2013 at 6:36 pm | Reply
  7. ckarke

    LEARN TO DO MORE WITH LESS AS IN THE PRIVATE SECTOR>

    February 12, 2013 at 8:34 pm | Reply
  8. NNN

    The grossly overpaid civilian workforce isn't worth 30% of what they get paid anyway, so who cares about the impact on them. As for readiness, who is it that made the force structure so expensive to keep in place in the first place, all those overpriced and super-expensive operating costs didn't just happen by accident.

    February 12, 2013 at 7:25 pm | Reply
    • MMM

      You, my friend, do not understand the nature of Federal employment. The vast majority of these jobs would not be done by normal civilians. The vast majority of these jobs are not even capable of being done by private sector civilians. Fact: many of the most highly paid positions in government are filled by former military personnel. How do they go from earning your respect one day, to self-serving bottom of the barrel garbage the next? The answer is they (we) don't. The same core values carry over from military operations–especially in the fields of nuclear power generation, weapons and vehicle testing and research. What you are afraid to do, we do. What you can't do, we do. Stop complaining and realize taking a 20% pay cut is OUTRAGEOUS, no matter who you are. Who are these ludicrously overpaid civilians? Name them. I'm a "highly paid" nuclear engineer–making $55k a year. Please get your facts straight. I do this to serve. If I wanted to use my Academy and Master's level engineering degrees, from some of the best colleges on the planet, to simply make money, I would have accepted the job Exxon offered me as a Petroleum Engineer. However, I chose to serve. So dignify us with some silence, as you have no idea what it takes to be a Federal employee.

      February 12, 2013 at 9:09 pm | Reply
      • Old Salt

        MMM – Thank you for your service. Due to the size of our republic, there will always be those whose limited real-world experience doesn't allow them to understand that of which they've never been a part. I've met people who still can't understand why I should draw a pension after 23 years of active duty, since I'm not currently doing anything for them. Thanks to the sheepdogs, they can be comfortable in their ignorance. Hang in there.

        February 13, 2013 at 7:34 am |
      • LLL

        Please, don't make me laugh. Sounds like you're part of the crowd responsible for having nearly every military installation in America on the EPA Superfund cleanup list.

        February 13, 2013 at 12:03 pm |

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