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GOP Address: Congress Should Avoid ‘Crippling Defense Cuts’

United States Senate(WASHINGTON) -- In this week's Republican address Sen. Roger Wicker calls attention to the impending budget cuts that will fall heavily on the military as a result of budget sequestration.  He highlights the urgency of balancing the budget and avoiding the sequestration to save jobs and protect the integrity of our national security.

"Crippling defense cuts are just around the corner, and we have an obligation to make tough decisions on how to avoid sequestration and balance the budget long-term," he says.

Wicker explains the sequestration as a "very drastic fallback plan" set in place as an incentive for the bipartisan super-committee tasked with hatching a debt reduction plan that would "seriously address federal spending, souring entitlement programs and healthcare costs."  If the committee was not successful in developing a plan for budget reform, "automatic, across-the-board cuts" would take effect, with the U.S. Armed Forces taking a huge hit, according to Sen. Wicker.

But, the Mississippi senator says, without the leadership of President Obama in the matter, "the committee eventually disbanded in failure."

Now, he says, without change to the current law, U.S. defense programs face another half-trillion in cuts over the next decade.

"Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has described the effect on our national security as devastating, and I agree," Wicker says in the address.

Here's what Wicker says will happen under sequestration:

  • Army units would receive less training before they deploy to the Middle East.
  • Marine Corps troop levels would be cut by 10 percent, leaving our Marines without sufficient manpower to meet even one major overseas operation.
  • The Navy fleet would drop to 230 ships, the lowest number since World War I.
  • And the Air Force would lose vital maintenance funds required to keep our fighters, bombers, and remotely-piloted aircraft flying around the world.

But not only is national security at risk, Wicker cautions, but "multiple forecasts" project that up to one million jobs are on the line.

"Severe and indiscriminate cuts that harm our security are not the way to address America's fiscal challenges," says the senator.

Under the Sequestration Transparency Act, the Obama Administration is required to provide taxpayers and Congress with its plan for the defense cuts and their impact on national security and the economy.

“It’s time for President Obama to inform our men and women in uniform—as well as Congress and the American public—how it will move forward in the wake of devastating cuts.  The millions of Americans who defend our country and work to build our military equipment should not have to wait until after Election Day," Wicker says.

Concluding the address, Sen. Wicker charges the president and Congress to work together on an alternative solution.

"The looming sequester crisis should be an opportunity for both parties to work together now to avoid permanent harm to our troops and to our security.  Let's hope the Commander-in-Chief decides to Lead."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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