Senator Calls Sequester Effects “Reprehensible”

(SEAPOWER 09 MAY 13) … Richard R. Burgess

ARLINGTON, Va. – Sen. Mark Kirk, R-Ill., said the debilitating effects of the budget sequestration on readiness are “reprehensible” and dangerous to the security interests of the United States and its allies.

“I’m hoping that we move away from what I would call the insidious implementation of the sequester, meant to harm the nation the most to make a political point [and] to blame the Congress on the eve of a potential conflict with [North] Korea,” he said. “It’s completely reprehensible to have an Air Force that doesn’t fly, a Navy that doesn’t sail, and a Marine Corps and an Army that doesn’t train.”

Kirk made the statement at during an otherwise low-key hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee May 9 on Capitol Hill, with testimony of the Navy Department’s 2014 budget proposal regarding military construction and facilities from Roger M. Natsuhara, assistant secretary of the Navy for energy, installations and environment; Rear Adm. Kevin Slates, director, Energy and Environmental Readiness in the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations; and Marine Maj. Gen. James A. Kessler, assistant commandant for installations and logistics.

Most of the questions and testimony focused on installations in the Pacific area and in Djibouti, where the Navy manages the joint base at Camp Lemonier.

Natsuhara highlighted the new construction of hangars and other airfield facilities in California and Guam to handle the MQ-4C Triton unmanned broad-area maritime surveillance system, and in Whidbey Island, Wash., for the P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft and EA-18G Growler electronic attack aircraft.

Kessler was questioned about the need for airfield security upgrades at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, Okinawa, Japan, when the United States and Japan had recently agreed in a plan to build a replacement facility for the base that crowds against Ginowan City.

“We expect that we will be at Futenma for the next 10 or 15 years,” Kessler said, who noted that construction of the Futenma Replacement Facility is expected to begin in a year or more after the governor of Okinawa approves the construction plan. “The investments that we do make [at Futenma] are going to be very targeted and very precise investments to ensure safety and operational capability, but not to over-invest, knowing that we are not going to be there forever.”

Slates said that construction planned for Camp Lemonier is designed to provide a better quality of living for forces deployed there, including a barracks for up to 240 personnel — to move personnel out of tents — and a secure armory to consolidate weapons storage of the various assigned units.

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