The Diplomat's editor Harry Kazianis spoke with Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessment Senior Fellow Mark Gunzinger concerning Sequestration and its possible effects on America's pivot to Asia.
1. As Sequestration looms, America has made a commitment to "pivot" or "rebalance" to the Asia-Pacific. One part of this is shifting military assets into the Pacific. In an era of greatly reduced resources, what impact will this have on the defense component of the pivot in terms of readiness and available manpower if forces are needed in a crisis (defense or non-defense related aka tsunami or earthquake etc.)?
Major cuts to the defense budget will impact the U.S. military’s readiness to respond to crises in all geographic regions. The impact will be more significant if the Defense Department is forced to make uniform percentage reductions across its programs without regard to its strategic priorities, which is what the sequester will do unless Congress acts to modify the Budget Control Act of 2011. It is highly likely that sequestration could delay Asia-Pacific rebalancing initiatives that DoD might pursue. For example, funding may not be available to harden overseas military facilities to ballistic missile attacks, or establish new locations that U.S. forces could disperse to in the event of a crisis. It could also reduce exercises and training activities the U.S. military undertakes with our Pacific allies as part of an overall strategy to maintain regional stability. As for shifting more assets to the Asia-Pacific, a sequester will likely cause DoD to revisit its timing for doing so, especially if it results in significant cuts to the overall size of our nation’s air and naval forces.