June 16, 2013

Contrary to the assertions in Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon’s June 7 op-ed, “Sacrificing military readiness,” military readiness showed improvement or remained stable in 2012 in every area except Central Command, where we are drawing down forces.

The stress of executing two wars during the past 12 years has left readiness levels for undeployed troops consistently low as personnel, training and equipment were shifted from preparing for the full spectrum of potential threats to focus on counterinsurgency missions.

Readiness rates began declining during the Iraq war, when high operational tempos led to shortages of people and equipment and issues with training. At the time, the Bush administration refused to ask Congress for additional funding. Today, Congress, through sequestration, refuses to provide the funding that the Defense Department needs to train, equip and supply our forces to higher levels of readiness.

So my colleague is correct when he stated “readiness will plunge further when the full weight of sequestration is realized.”More aircraft will be grounded, more ships will be tied up to piers, and more ground combat vehicles won’t be maintained to battle-ready standards. But without a solution to sequestration, the claims of adding funding in the 2014 defense bill to restore readiness are fantasy.

Adam Smith, Washington

The writer, from Washington, is the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.