Member of the Joint Chiefs to Resign in Protest? By Dustin Walker

Real Clear Defense / View Original / 3 Mar 14

One member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is considering resigning in protest over recent defense cuts, says Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.).

The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee told reporters at a Defense Writers Group breakfast on Thursday that the nation’s top military officers have privately expressed their discontent with the continuing budget uncertainty at the Defense Department.

Time magazine’s Mark Thompson asked Inhofe, “How close do you think [the chiefs] are to saying, ‘Screw this, I’m out of here?’”

“I’m not going to tell you who they are, but there’s one who’s very close to doing just what you’re suggesting,” responded Inhofe. His role on the Senate Armed Services Committee entails frequent meetings with top military commanders.

Defense cuts enacted in the 2011 Budget Control Act, which could total up to $1 trillion, have forced difficult decisions for the service chiefs. On Monday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel previewed the Pentagon’s FY15 defense budget proposal. Hagel’s proposal would cut the Army to as low as 440,000 soldiers, sideline half the Navy’s cruiser fleet, and retire a number of Air Force aircraft whose replacements are years away. Hagel is also calling for far-reaching changes to military compensation and benefits.

Since the proposal comes from the Pentagon, many defenders of such cuts are framing the issue by saying the military has signed off on the proposals and can live with them. But Senator Inhofe and Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who was also at the breakfast, say it’s more complicated than that. They see the chiefs as saluting dutifully even as they have their reservations.

Indeed, both Republicans told reporters that the chiefs oppose many of the defense budget proposals. They specifically referenced Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army’s chief of staff, who they described as forced to sell drastic cuts to Army force structure and programs.

The other members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff include its chairman General Martin Dempsey; its vice chairman Admiral James Winnefeld; Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh; Marine Corps Commandant General James Amos; and Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Jonathan Greenert.

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