Matthew Ward

Suffolk News-Herald

Automatic cuts to defense spending would rip almost $33.23 million from military contracts in Suffolk, according to an analysis of government contracting office data by nonprofit national security organization The Center for Security Policy.

The center’s Defense Breakdown Economic Impact Reports, released this week, calculate the minimum 18-percent reduction in spending on Suffolk’s defense contract industry, worth more than $184.62 million in 2011, that would occur with sequestration.

Mandating spending cuts in defense and some social programs, sequestration was an outcome of the so-called super committee formed to avoid default during the 2011 national debt-ceiling standoff.

It would take effect if federal lawmakers don’t reach a deal to reduce the deficit by January, taking $500 billion more from defense budgets for 2013-2021 than the minimum $487 billion — a nine percent cut — already assured.

The impact of sequestration on Suffolk appears less severe alongside some neighboring and nearby locales, though.

Virginia Beach, Portsmouth and Chesapeake also stand to lose roughly 18 percent of their defense spending, but each of those localities has a far larger pot to pull from — ranging from $350 million in Chesapeake to $2 billion in Virginia Beach.

Travis Korson, the public information manager for the Center for Security Policy, stated in an email, “Unless sequestration is reversed, the numbers show communities will certainly feel the economic impact within that 10-year period.

“The center for Regional Analysis has predicted that one million defense jobs would be lost within the first year of sequestration taking effect. Those jobs will not return as long as we keep spending at a pace consistent with the sequestration levels.”

During a panel discussion launching the reports Wednesday, center President Frank J. Gaffney, who has been involved in defense policy for 36 years, described a global security climate in which America can ill afford sequestration.

“We’re in as dangerous a world today as at any time in those 36 years,” he said. “And that’s saying something. Of course, that spans a couple of wars, a cold war, some hot ones.

“We are dealing with the combined effects, as you know, of Islamists animated by a doctrine that calls for their world domination under Sharia (Islamic law).

“They come in different stripes and (from) lots of different places around the world, but (have) one thing joins them to the supremacist ideology that unfortunately tolerates no divergence from its direction.”

Add to this, he said, a China “domestically as well as in its region … increasingly asserting itself and having more and more resources applied to giving it the capacity to do so at our expense.”