Sec. Jim Mattis Lists ‘Debilitating’ Effects for Military of Congress Not Passing Two-Year Budget

Jim Mattis
AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis took the podium for Wednesday’s White House press briefing and described continuing resolutions, government shutdowns, and Congress’s failure to pass a budget as “debilitating” and “very damaging,” listing the specific fallout from not funding the 2018 National Defense Strategy.

Mattis has spent two days on the Hill briefing members of Congress on the 2018 National Defense Strategy. He remarked that members showed understanding of the “sobering effect of budgetary uncertainty on America’s military and the men and women who provide for our nation’s defense.”

“Our military has been operating under debilitating continuing resolutions for more than 1,000 days during the last decade,” said Mattis. “Failure to implement or fund the 2018 National Defense Strategy will leave us with a force that could dominate the last war, yet be irrelevant to tomorrow’s security.”

Mattis called on Congress to lift defense spending caps and support a two-year budget for the military.

Not passing a budget in 2018 means there would not be money to pay troops by the end of the year, according to Mattis. The military would also not be able to recruit 15,000 Army soldiers and 4,000 Air Force airmen “required to fill critical manning shortfalls.”

Ships at sea would not be maintained with “proper balance between operations and time for training and maintenance.” Aircraft would be grounded for lack of parts and maintenance. “We would deplete the ammunition training and manpower required to deter war,” said Mattis. Contracts for modernizing the force through acquisition programs would also be delayed.

“I cannot overstate the negative impact to our troops and families morale, of all this budget uncertainty,” said Secretary Mattis. Referring to news of a budget deal, he added, “Today’s congressional action will ensure our military can defend our way of life, preserve the promise of prosperity, and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation.”

The Secretary responded to a reporter’s question about the level of damage a government shutdown would bring, “[It] would be very damaging” for the reasons he had mentioned, and also “aggravated by the shutdown itself” sending home non-uniformed personnel. “It paralyzes everything that we do,” other than ships at sea. He said the ripple effect carries on beyond the actual shutdown, even a year down the road.

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