To the Editor:
As your recent article noted, cutbacks to the Pentagon's top staff will not forestall the worst effects of budget sequestration ("Hagel: Top military brass to be cut 20 percent," July 16), which is already having a devastating effect on programs that our veterans depend on. Military medical clinics have furloughed staff. Programs to house homeless vets have been slashed. And programs to help train vets for new civilian jobs have been curtailed.
Forcing Pentagon brass to share the pain of these cuts is a good start, but we should also be eliminating absurdly expensive weapons programs that are failing to deliver. The new F-35 stealth fighter, for example, is seven years behind schedule and 70 percent over budget, but the program somehow limps on. That would be wrong even if the airplane worked, but F-35 is also a performance disaster, less maneuverable than our current jets and subject to repeated groundings and re-designs. At a $133 million per plane, Senator McCain calls it "both a scandal and a tragedy."
The federal budget tells us a lot about our national priorities. We will truly honor our veterans when we fully fund the programs and services they need and deserve.
COLONEL ROSANNE M. GRECO, USAF (ret)
South Burlington, VT
Col. Greco worked on arms control and nuclear non-proliferation at the Pentagon and the United Nations. She is now a city councilor in South Burlington, Vermont