American Legion National Commander James E. Koutz expressed frustration after Wednesday's announcement from the Pentagon that something has to give – either troop numbers or weapons development – in the face of federal budget cuts brought on by sequestration.
"It's a bad choice either way," the leader of the nation's largest veterans service organization said. "We cannot forfeit our national security at a time of war against terrorism, and our national security depends on superior weapons as well as enough troops to operate them. A weakened military will not solve our nation's economic problem."
Automatic cuts imposed to ease the federal deficit – termed "sequestration" – call for the Department of Defense to chop $46 billion out of its budget this year. If sequestration is not lifted or modified, the defense budget would continue to be reduced by $500 billion over the next decade. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel's prediction of the Pentagon having to make a choice between troop strength or modern weapons was the result of a newly completed DoD planning exercise called the Strategic Choices and Management Review.
In organizational meetings last fall, The American Legion National Executive Committee adopted resolutions opposing cuts to the wartime defense budget as a measure to reverse the federal deficit.