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Former admiral notes impact of military cuts
A former admiral says federal budget cuts effected through sequestration, if allowed to go through in January, will have a profound impact on national defense.

The cuts will be so drastic, in fact, that the United States will not be capable of responding to threats domestic and abroad, retired Navy Adm. Gary Roughead warned local, state and federal officials gathered at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay Friday.

The potential impact of federal budget cuts through sequestration was one of the main topics discussed at a conference of the Georgia Military Affairs Committee.

Roughead, chief of naval operations from 2007 to 2011, said if sequestration is imposed, "the United States will have a military the likes we've never seen."

"You will not be able to sustain the presence and response the way it's been done for decades," he said.

Roughead said any cuts to the military must be done wisely.

Sequestration will require across-the-board cuts in spending to start reducing the deficit if Congress does not agree on specific reductions. Congress imposed the concept on itself when it was unable to agree on a budget plan, presuming parties would be more willing to negotiate if Republicans knew mandatory cuts in military spending would kick in without an agreement and Democrats knew cuts would be made to domestic programs.

That's not to mention the thousands of jobs that would be lost. Georgia alone, with all its military installations - including Fort Stewart and the submarine base on the coast - stands to lose 54,000 jobs.

Sequestration would go into effect Jan. 3.

So far, Congress and the Pentagon have been unable or unwilling to designate specific cuts to the military.

The meeting in Kings Bay included dozens of business and community leaders from across the state, including the head of the Georgia Chamber of Commerce, Chris Clark, who called the threat of sequestration a "wake-up call."

Clark said Gov. Nathan Deal will announce a new strategy to interact with the federal government in coming weeks, but he could not reveal any of the details.

Kathryn Murph, an aide to U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss, R-Ga., said sequestration was never intended to be enacted because the cuts would be too drastic.

"It will be devastating to our military," she said.

Murph predicted Congress won't do anything to resolve the problem until after the November elections.

The conference at Kings Bay also focused on the American Sovereignty Campaign, which is trying to encourage Congress to ratify the Law of the Sea Treaty.

The treaty would give U.S. businesses the legal certainty they need to invest in offshore oil, gas and mineral resources, improve national security and give the nation exclusive offshore access to resources.

The treaty was initiated by the United Nations, and more than 160 nations have signed it.

But the United States is one of only two NATO nations not to sign the agreement, which establishes offshore territorial boundaries and exclusive economic zones. Turkey is the other one.

In the U.S., ratification of the treaty would take a two-thirds vote by the Senate.

Chambliss and Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., are opposed to the signing the treaty.

Opponents argue ratification would diminish U.S. sovereignty, compromise U.S. military operations and enable the United Nations to levy taxes on U.S. citizens.

All those arguments and others are false, retired Adm. Roughead said.

"I believe it has been in the best interest of the nation for quite some time," Roughead said. "I'm passionate about our right to operate at sea."

Ratification will not affect the way Americans have operated at sea for the past two centuries, he said.

"We are talking about billions or trillions of dollars," he said. "The convention actually enhances our claim. The convention gives us a lot more authority."

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