Feb. 17, 2012 - Gen. Odierno House Armed Services Committee Army Posture Hearing
February 28, 2012
GEN ODIERNO: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member Smith, distinguished Members of the Committee. It's an honor to be here in front of you today. And I want to first thank you for the incredible support you've continued to give our Soldiers today and over the past 10 years, specifically as we fought wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and around the world. We couldn't have done it without your support, your guidance and your partnership that we've had.
I appreciate the vote of confidence from Secretary McHugh, but in reality, I strongly rely on his wisdom and experience to guide me through my first posture hearings as the Chief. We are very fortunate to have Secretary McHugh leading our Army. He deeply cares about our Institution and its role in providing our Nation's security. And I could not ask for a better boss.
So together here today, both of us, it's a true honor to be here today representing our 1.1 million Soldiers and our nearly 280,000 Department of the Army Civilians and their 1.4 million Family members. I'm extremely proud of the commitment, professionalism and dedication of our Soldiers and their sacrifice and accomplishments. Today they continue to be in over 150 countries around the world. Collectively they are a truly globally engaged Army, with 95,000 Soldiers deployed and another 96,000 Soldiers forward-stationed conducting a broad range of missions.
But our Army's primary purpose is steadfast and resolute: to fight and win our Nation's wars. As the Army continues its transition, we will ensure the President's 2012 defense strategic priorities are implemented by first meeting our current commitments in Afghanistan and elsewhere by ensuring a highly trained, well-manned and equipped force. Now that operations in Iraq are complete and we continue Surge Recovery in Afghanistan, we will help shape the regional environs in support of the combatant commanders, as well as our strategic environment.
In the Asia-Pacific, which is home to seven out of the 10 largest land armies in the world, we will provide an array of tools through rotational forces, multilateral exercises and other innovative engagements with our allies and new partners. We currently have some 66,000 Soldiers and almost 10,000 Civilians in this region.
In the Middle East, we continue our strong commitment to sustaining and building partner capacity to ensure stability.
And in Europe, as we decrease our footprint by two Brigade Combat Teams, we will use a series of engagement tools that will include rotational forces to conduct training and (inaudible) readiness exercises with our allies. This will serve as a model on how I see us doing things in the future, using a low-cost, small footprint approach by utilizing rotational, regionally aligned forces and prepositioned stocks.
As we move forward, we will ensure our National Guard and Army Reserves remain resourced at an appropriate level to build on the competencies and experiences that have been gained over the past several years. We are committed to maintaining an operational reserve to meet future security requirements. We will adapt our progressive readiness model to do that.
We will build on the integration and synchronization gain over the past 10 years between our conventional and special operations forces. The Army's investment in our Special Operations Community in counterterrorism, foreign internal defense (FID) and other key operational matters is significant, growing onwards to 35,000 elite warriors that provide specialized and unique capabilities.
As we look forward -- and the Secretary already touched on this a bit -- there are several focus areas that will help us guide the way ahead.
1) Foremost, we will remain committed to our 67,000 war-fighters in Afghanistan and continue to provide trained and ready-equipped Soldiers to win that fight.
2) We will be responsible governmental stewards through energy cost savings and institutional and acquisition reform. And we'll continue our equipment reset program to restore unit equipment to a desired level of capability that is commensurate with their future missions. There have been over 1.8 million pieces of equipment reset to date, which equates to approximately 31 brigade equivalents annually.
3) And finally, we'll become leaner. With a leaner Army, we have to prioritize. Yet, we must never sacrifice our capability of meeting a wide range of security requirements. This requires a delicate balance of end-strength, modernization and readiness, as we cannot afford to reduce too much too soon.
With the end of Operation New Dawn and new defense priorities, we will reduce our end-strength and force structure in the active Army from 570,000 to 490,000; from 358,000 to 353,500 in the Army National Guard; and from 206,000 to 205,000 in the Army Reserve. It is imperative for us to sustain a gradual ramp that will allow us to take care of our Soldiers, continue to provide forces for Afghanistan, and facilitate reversibility, if necessary, over the next five years. This helps mitigate strategic risks as we continue current operations and simultaneously reset for the future.
We will also reduce our end-strength by a minimum of eight brigade combat teams in the active component. This drawdown, based on our national strategic objectives, will be done with deliberate consideration to the impacts on combatant commander requirements as well as considerations on local communities and infrastructure.
We are in the process of reviewing our brigade combat team design as we analyze lessons learned from the past 10 years of combat and look to what future capabilities we will need to be successful.
While we are a few months away from decision, initial analysis indicates we can eliminate some unnecessary overhead while sustaining more robust, flexible, adaptable brigade combat teams. This could result in additional BCT headquarters reductions while sustaining combat capability at the battalion level.
Army unit readiness is measured by the level of its manning, training and equipping. As a component of readiness, we will continue to provide first-rate support for all our Families, Wounded Warriors and our Veterans.
Additionally, the Secretary and I pledge our support for the proposed reforms in military compensation programs. We are reinforcing the professional ethics centered around trust and respect in order to establish a climate where sexual harassment, sexual assault, and hazing will not be tolerated. This misconduct is inconsistent with the core values of our profession. Accountability will be enforced at all levels.
Similarly, the Secretary and I are relooking the role of women in combat, as they comprise 15.6 percent of our active duty workforce. This will start with the opportunity for women to serve in their designated field regardless of the type of unit. It's about managing talent and putting our best people in critical and developmental positions.
As we continue to transform our modernization practices through a holistic, bottom-up approach, we must achieve our priorities of:
1) The Network, which is critical to our ability to manage information and command our forces at all levels both home and abroad.
2) The Ground Combat Vehicle, the replacement for our Infantry Fighting Vehicle, that can accommodate an infantry squad and balance mobility and survivability and provide unmatched lethality on the battlefield against current and future threats.
3) The more mobile, survivable, network-integrated Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, which both myself and General Amos agree is necessary given the last 10 years of fighting and what future operations may entail.
4) And finally, we must have continued efforts to give our squads superiority on the battlefield, with advanced Soldier systems and weapons, communications and protections.
The Secretary and I will continue to assess and make adjustments to our budget strategy while addressing any potential risks incurred as we adjust our force posture.
I'd like to leave you with one last thought: Sequestration is not in the best interests, in my opinion, of our national security. The impact to the Army would be severe reductions in the active and reserve component end-strength. It would significantly decrease our readiness and detrimentally impact our modernization programs.
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you again for the opportunity to speak here today. This Committee affords our All-Volunteer Army to be the most decisive land force in the world, and we could not do it without the support you give us. It is an honor to serve this great nation that stands besides the dedicated professionals of our Army.
The strength of our Nation is our Army. The strength of our Army is our Soldiers. And the strength of our Soldiers is our Families. And this is what makes us Army strong.
Thank you very much, and I look forward to your questions, Mr. Chairman.