Many conservatives and Republicans are greeting the looming sequestration spending cuts with a collective yawn. “The much-ballyhooed ‘sequester’ is a cut of $85 billion in a nearly $4 trillion federal budget. Good, let’s do it,” writes one contributor to National Review Online’s symposium on sequestration.
It’s true that sequestration is a tiny cut to total federal spending. But it is also true that sequestration is a major cut to defense spending.

According to the House Armed Services Committee, the 2011 Budget Control Act (the law that imposed both spending caps and sequestration) will force the Marine Corps to shrink by 25 percent–from 202,000 Marines to 145,000. What’s more, “by the end of calendar year 2013, less than half of our ground units will be trained to the minimum readiness level required for deployment,” Marine Corps commandant James Amos testified to Congress this month.

The Army will lose 143,000 soldiers, dropping from an end strength of 569,000 troops to 426,000. According to Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno’s congressional testimony, 78 percent of Army units will “significantly curtail training” because of sequestration. The Navy will delay the deployment of an aircraft carrier to the Persian Gulf. And 800,000 civilian employees working for the Department of Defense will face a 20 percent pay cut. These are just a few of the ways the military will cope with sequestration.