WASHINGTON — U.S. Strategic Command remains capable of performing all of its missions — for now — Air Force Gen. Robert Kehler told Congress on Tuesday.
The StratCom commander said the onset of automatic budget cuts, known as sequestration, Friday will not have an immediate, dramatic impact on his operations, but that could change over time.
“The best way that I can describe this is it's an avalanche,” Kehler testified before the House Armed Services Committee. “It begins very small in Strategic Command, and then it begins to cascade as the momentum builds.”
The service chiefs have sought to give priority to critical missions such as StratCom.
Kehler said, for example, that cuts in flying time to the bomber force have been structured so crews that are nuclear certified will remain so for as long as possible.
“But eventually, if unadressed, those issues will persist and then those impacts will begin to be felt in Strategic Command,” he said.
Congress will be debating in the coming weeks and months whether and how to mitigate the pain of sequestration. A number of military commanders are testifying on Capitol Hill this week about how the cuts will affect the military.
Kehler said that while it's hard to pinpoint specifically at this point how the cuts will affect military readiness, it's clear that they will.
He also noted the toll the uncertainty is taking on personnel, particularly the civilian workers.
“There's a human dimension to this that we need to be mindful of,” he said. “I can't characterize that as an impact on readiness, but our people are concerned about all of this.”
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