General Odierno: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and other distinguished members.

Nearly eighteen months ago, you charged me with leading our Army and providing you with my best military advice. Over the course of my thirty-six year career, I have commanded at every level, including division, corps, and theater command in combat. I know what it takes to prepare this Nation's sons and daughters for war. I know what it takes to grow leaders in our Army. I know what is required to send Soldiers into combat and I have seen first-hand the consequences when they are sent unprepared. I began my career in a hollow Army; I do not want to end my career in a hollow Army.

Today the global environment is the most uncertain I have seen during my thirty-six years of service. It is unpredictable and dynamic. We simply don't know when we will have to deploy Soldiers to fight again; but history tells us that we will. We owe it to them to ensure they have the proper resources to be ready when needed.

The fiscal outlook which the U.S. Army faces in fiscal year 13 is dire and to my knowledge, unprecedented. In addition to the $170 billion in cuts to the Army levied by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the combination of the continuing resolution, a shortfall in overseas contingency operations funds for Afghanistan, and the sequester in fiscal year 13 has resulted in a $17-18 billion shortfall to the Army's Operation and Maintenance (OMA) accounts, as well as an additional $6 billion cut to other programs. All of this will come in the remaining seven months of this year.

The fiscal year 13 fiscal situation will have grave and immediate readiness impacts on all forces not serving in Afghanistan or forward in Korea -- impacts which will have a significant impact well into fiscal year 14 and beyond. Just a few of the actions we will be forced to take are for example:

• We will curtail training for 80 percent of ground force. This will impact our units' basic warfighting skills and induce shortfalls across critical specialties including aviation; intelligence; engineering; and even our ability to recruit Soldiers into our Army.
• We have directed an immediate Army-wide hiring freeze and we will terminate an estimated 3,100 temporary and term employees.
• We will furlough up to 251,000 civilians for up to 22 days.
• We will cancel 3rd and 4th quarter depot maintenance which will result in the termination of an estimated 5,000 employees; a significant delay in equipment readiness for six Divisions; and an estimated $3.36 billion impact to the communities surrounding our depots.

For fiscal year 14 and beyond, sequestration will result in the loss of at least an additional 100,000 personnel, Soldiers from the Active Army, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve. Combined with previous cuts, this will result in a total reduction of at least 189,000 personnel from the force but probably even more than at. These reductions will impact every Army base and installation in the Army. Sequestration will result in delays to every one of our ten major modernization programs, the inability to reset our equipment after twelve years of war, and unacceptable reductions in unit and individual training. These cuts will be felt across the entire country. Since 2008, the Total Army budget will have been reduced by 37%. If sequestration is enacted, it will be greater than 45%.

In my opinion, sequestration is not in the best interest of our national security. It will place an unreasonable burden on the shoulders of our Soldiers and civilians. We will not be able to execute the Department of Defense strategic guidance as we developed last year.

I understand the seriousness of our country's fiscal situation. We have and we will continue to do our part. But the significance of these budget reductions will directly impact our ability to sustain readiness today and into the future.

We simply cannot take the readiness of our force for granted. If we do not have the resources to train and equip the force, our Soldiers -- our young men and women -- are the ones who will pay the price potentially with their lives. It is our responsibility -- the Department of Defense and Congress -- to ensure that we never send Soldiers into harm's way that are not trained, equipped, well-led, and ready for any contingency to include war. We must come up with a better solution.

Thank you so much for allowing me to testify today.

Page last updated Tue February 12th, 2013 at 00:00