Updated: Thursday, 17 May 2012, 6:48 AM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 16 May 2012, 7:21 PM EDT
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) - The nation’s top military commander was in Virginia Beach Wednesday to speak at the Joint War Fighting Conference.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Army Gen. Martin Dempsey said almost nothing about the looming defense cuts that will come if Congress can’t agree on a budget. He came close when talking about how he and other military leaders plan for the future, but quickly backed away.
“We just pull ourselves away from everything we do,” Dempsey said. “Really sequester, I know that’s a really bad term. Maybe I won’t use it.”
And he didn’t use it again, at all. In fact, about the only other reference Dempsey made to the budget battle Congress and the Pentagon will be fighting was when talking about the increased use of drones and other unmanned technology.
“In an era of fiscal constraint or a new fiscal environment, a platform that offers those traits will almost always be the right one in which to invest,” Dempsey said.
But the amount of money the Pentagon has to invest could be reduced by more than $1 trillion over the next 10 years if the budget process is sequestered. The absence of any discussion about the budget in General Dempsey's remarks may have been a directive rather than a purposeful omission.
"If you remember going back a few years ago, the Secretary of Defense actually put gag orders on people at the Pentagon where they couldn't even talk to members of congress about the ramifications about these cuts,” Rep. Randy Forbes (VA-4) said. “If they couldn't talk to members of Congress they certainly couldn't talk to the public."
"The American people both across the country and here in the 2nd District and all of Hampton Roads, they're ready for the truth, they're ready for leadership,” Rep. Scott Rigell (VA-2) added.
America will need both to meet the challenges that will confront us in the future.
"Whether it's cyber attacks from afar or terrorists attacks closer to home, our critical infrastructure will be threatened,” Dempsey said.
"What frightens us the most, is we're not hearing anybody talk about the impact of these cuts and demanding from Washington that they stand up and say, ‘We've got to fix it,’” Forbes replied.
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