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Wicker: Iranian Attack Demonstrates Need for Strong Navy In Light of Defense Cuts

Friday, November 9, 2012

TUPELO, MISS. – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), on Friday, called on President Obama and Congress to reach a solution to replace the defense cuts mandated by sequestration in wake of an Iranian attack on a U.S. drone last week.  Wicker, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, highlighted the Navy’s critical capabilities in the region, which could be impacted by the cuts.

On November 1, two Iranian SU-25 Frogfoot fighter jets fired on an unarmed U.S. Predator drone in international airspace over the Persian Gulf.  The Iranian fighters intercepted the Predator and fired multiple rounds.  The Predator was unharmed during the attack and returned to its base at an undisclosed location in the region. The incident was the latest in a series of hostile actions taken by the Iranian regime.

“The Pentagon’s disclosure yesterday that one of our surveillance aircraft was attacked by Iranian fighters clearly illustrates that the threats to American interests in the Persian Gulf are real and not hypothetical,” said Wicker, who serves as Ranking Member of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower.  “A strong maritime presence is critical to America’s ability to project power in the region – with two aircraft carrier battle groups present in the Persian Gulf at all times.  Sequestration’s arbitrary 9.4 percent cuts to defense spending would reduce our aircraft carrier fleet from 11 ships to 10 ships and reduce our Navy’s fleet size to the smallest it has been since World War I.  

Wicker added, “The President and Congress have an obligation to ensure that our military remains the best trained, best equipped, and most professional fighting force in the world.  Congress and the President must achieve the bipartisan consensus required to replace sequestration’s massive cuts to defense that would devastate our ability to meet the global challenges of the 21st Century.”      

Sequestration cuts were mandated by the Budget Control Act, which was enacted last year.  The law required immediate spending reductions and created a Select Committee that was tasked with finding at least an additional $1.5 trillion in savings.  Failure of that committee to produce a bipartisan plan triggered the sequestration cuts.  According to one report, more than 11,000 jobs in Mississippi alone are at stake.

If the cuts are not replaced, impacts to our Armed Forces include:

•    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.

Wicker outlined the impacts in this DefenseNews Op-ed and the Weekly Republican Address, which Wicker delivered in August.

November 2012 Press Releases