Secretary of Defense James Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee on Monday that he was "shocked" at the poor state of the military's readiness.
Mattis appeared before the committee to answer questions regarding the proposed budget for the military, CBS reports. He told lawmakers that one of the top problems facing the Pentagon is military readiness, which the retired general said has worsened since he left the Marine Corps in 2013.
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"Continuing resolutions coupled with sequestration blocked new programs, prevented service growth, stalled industry initiative, and placed troops at greater risks," Mattis said.
Mattis scolded Congress for sequestration and not passing a full budget for the Department of Defense. Mattis said the sequester was causing the greatest problems for the military, leading to "severe" damage.
"I retired from military service three months after sequestration took effect," Mattis said. "Four years later I've returned to the department and I have been shocked by what I've seen about our readiness to fight."
"While nothing can compare to the heartache caused by the loss of our troops during these wars, no enemy in the field has done more to harm the combat readiness of our military than sequestration," Mattis continued.
Mattis said that the military has been able to continue doing its job because American troops have taken on more of the burden.