General Odierno: Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith, and other distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to speak with you about sequestration in Fiscal Year 2014 and the strategic choices facing the Army.

The United States has drawn down military forces at the close of every war and today is no different. This time, however, we are drawing down our Army before a war is over and at a time when there is grave uncertainty in the international security environment that we witness every single day. Today, the Total Army -- the Active Army, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserves -- remains heavily committed in operations overseas and at home. More than 70,000 Soldiers are deployed as we sit here today, including 50,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan, and nearly 88,000 Soldiers are forward stationed across the globe.

During my more than 37 years of service, the U.S. Army has deployed Soldiers to fight in more than ten conflicts including the longest war in our Nation's history in Afghanistan. No one can predict where the next contingency will arise that will require the employment of ground forces; we only know the lessons of the past. In every decade since World War II, the United States has deployed U.S. Army Soldiers to defend our national security interests. There are some who have suggested there will be no land wars in the future. While I wish that were true, unfortunately, there is little to convince me that we will not ask our Soldiers to deploy again in the future.

We have also learned from previous drawdowns that the full burden of an unprepared and hollow force will fall directly on the shoulders of our men and women in uniform. We have experienced this too many times in our Nation's history to repeat this egregious error again.
As Chief of Staff, it is my responsibility to provide my best military advice in order to ensure we have an Army that will meet our national security needs in the complex, uncertain environment of the future. It is imperative that we preserve the full range of strategic options for the Commander-in-Chief, the Secretary of Defense and the Congress. Together, we must ensure our Army can deliver a trained and ready force that deters conflict but when necessary has the capability and capacity to execute a sustained, successful major combat operation. The Budget Control Act (BCA) with sequestration simply does not allow us to do this.

If Congress does not act to mitigate the magnitude and speed of the reductions under the BCA with sequestration, the Army will not be able to fully execute the requirements of the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. By the end of FY14, we will have significantly degraded readiness in which 85% of our active and reserve Brigade Combat Teams will not be prepared for contingency requirements.

From Fiscal Year 14 to FY17, as we continue to draw down and restructure the Army into a smaller force, the Army will continue to have degraded readiness and extensive modernization program shortfalls. We will be required to end, restructure, or delay over 100 acquisition programs, putting at risk the Ground Combat Vehicle program, the Armed Aerial Scout, the production and modernization of our other aviation programs, system upgrades for unmanned aerial vehicles and the modernization of our Air Defense Command and Control systems -- just to name a few.

Only in FY18 to FY23 will we begin to re-balance readiness and modernization. But this will come at the expense of significant reductions in end strength and force structure. The Army will be forced to take further end strength cuts from a wartime high of 570,000 in the Active Army, 358,000 in the Army National Guard, and 205,000 in the U.S. Army Reserves to no more than 420,000 in the Active Army, 315,000 in the Army National Guard, and 185,000 in the U.S. Army Reserves. This will represent a Total Army end strength reduction of more than 18% over seven years -- a 26% reduction in the Active Army; a 12% reduction in the Army National Guard; and a 9% reduction in the U.S. Army Reserves. Additionally, this will result in a 45% reduction in Active Army Brigade Combat Teams. In my view, these reductions will put at substantial risk our ability to conduct even one sustained major combat operation.

Ultimately, the size of our Army will be determined by the guidance and funding provided by Congress. It is imperative that Congress not implement the tool of sequestration. I do not consider myself an alarmist. I consider myself a realist. Today's international environment and its emerging threats require a joint force with a ground component that has the capability and the capacity to deter and compel adversaries who threaten our national security interests. The Budget Control Act and sequestration severely threaten our ability to do this.

I want to thank you for the opportunity to speak with you today and I look forward to your questions to expand on the comments I have made.

Page last updated Wed September 18th, 2013 at 00:00