By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoApril 24, 2013
Thank you, Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe, and other distinguished members of the committee.
First, I want to thank you for your continued commitment to all of our Soldiers and Families especially over the past twelve years of combat. This partnership has done a great job in supporting them and ensuring they have what they need has been a great success on the battlefield.
Second, I want to thank the Congress for its hard work in passing the FY13 Consolidated appropriations and Further Continued Appropriations Act. We very much appreciate your help, which has alleviated nearly $6 billion dollars of the $18 billion dollar shortfall to the Army's Operation and Maintenance accounts in FY13.
I am humbled to be here representing the 1.1 million Soldiers; 318,000 Department of the Army civilians; and 1.4 million family members of the U.S. Army. I am extremely proud of the competence, character, and commitment of our Soldiers and Civilians, their sacrifices, and their incredible accomplishments.
I remind everyone as we sit here today, the U.S. Army has nearly 80,000 Soldiers deployed and more than 91,000 forward stationed in 150 countries, including almost 60,000 in Afghanistan, and thousands of others in Korea, new deployments with command and control capability to Jordan, Patriots to Turkey, THAAD batteries to Guam and elsewhere around the world. Our forces in Afghanistan continue to conduct the successful transfer of security responsibility to the Afghan National Security Forces, who increasingly demonstrate the self-reliance, confidence, and capability to protect their population and secure a more stable political future.
Today, the Army's primary purpose remains steadfast -- to fight and win the Nation's wars. We will continue to be ready to do that even as we do our part to help the country solve our fiscal problems. But the timing, magnitude, and method of implementing budget reductions will be critical.
In FY13, the Army still faces a more than $13 billion dollar operations and maintenance shortfall which includes a $5.5 billion dollar reduction to the Army's base budget and a $7.8 billion dollar shortfall to Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO). As a result, we have taken drastic actions to curb spending in the final six months of the year. We have curtailed training for 80% of the force; cancelled six Brigade Maneuver Combat Training Center (CTC) rotations; cut 37,000 flying hours; initiated termination of 3,100 temporary employees; cancelled 3rd and 4th quarter depot maintenance; and are planning to furlough our valued civilian workforce for fourteen days in FY13. The cost of these actions is clear -- we are sacrificing readiness to achieve reductions inside the short period of this fiscal year. And readiness cannot be bought back -- not quickly and not cheaply. So I am concerned that the problems created by the over $13 billion shortfall will push into FY14 and beyond.
The Army's FY14 Base Budget Submission of $129.7 billion enables us to support the 2012 Defense Strategy in FY13 but does not account for the decaying readiness that will impact the Army as we enter FY14. In addition to this base budget, the Army will continue to require OCO funding for operations in Afghanistan and to continue the reset of our force. The Army has submitted a separate request for FY14 OCO; it is critical that this request be fully funded.
I would implore all of us to work together so that we receive the FY14 National Defense Authorization and FY14 Budget on time. This will allow us to properly plan for and mitigate the risks associated with a declining defense budget. It is imperative that we gain predictability in our budget process. If we don't, we will be unable to efficiently and effectively manage our resources, and it will be impossible to make informed decisions about the future of the Army.
I also think that it is in the best interest of our Army, the Department of Defense, and our national security to avert sequestration. The size and steepness of cuts required by sequestration make it impossible to downsize the force in a deliberate, logical manner that allows us to sustain an appropriate balance of readiness, modernization, and endstrength. The cuts are simply too steep; we just cannot move enough people out of the Army quickly enough to produce the level of savings needed to comply with sequester, and therefore we will need to take disproportionate cuts in modernization and readiness.
Let me explain: Under sequestration, the Army would need to again absorb immediate cuts in FY14. This would likely force us to cut personnel accounts -- reductions that could equate to tens of thousands of Soldiers -- and by the time we paid separation benefits for these Soldiers, the costs to separate them would exceed the savings garnered. The maximum we can reduce the force without breaking readiness and inducing excessive separation costs is about 15-20,000 Soldiers per year -- but this would only save $2 billion dollars a year.
So, right now, almost the full weight of the sequester will again fall on the modernization and readiness accounts, where such drastic cuts will take years to overcome. The net result will be units that are overmanned, unready, and unmodernized. The steepness of the cuts in sequestration forces us to be hollow. Even though I think the level of sequestration cuts are too large, if we back load them into the later years of the sequester period, at least that would allow us the opportunity to properly plan and to sustain the balance we need in these uncertain times.
As we look to FY14 and beyond, our foremost priority is to ensure that our Soldiers deployed on operational commitments are trained, ready, and able to execute their missions. Simultaneously, we will continue to draw down the force. We are on schedule to remove 89,000 Soldiers from the Army by FY17, due to the budget reductions levied by the 2011 Budget Control Act. So far, most of these cuts have come from our overseas formations, specifically in Europe. In FY14, future force reductions will affect almost every Army and Joint installation across the United States; we will release our plans for these reductions in June.
The key to the current drawdown is to maintain the right balance between endstrength, readiness, and modernization so that we are properly sized and ready for whatever the country needs done. Such an evenhanded approach is the only acceptable one while the world remains such an unstable place -- the most unstable I have seen in my nearly 37 years of service.
Full sequestration will dangerously steepen that draw down ramp. It will require us to reduce, at a minimum, another 100,000 Soldiers from the Total Army. On top of the 89,000 Soldiers already being reduced, this will result in a 14% reduction of the Army's endstrength and an almost 40% reduction in our Brigade Combat Teams. In addition, these reductions will degrade support to Combatant Commanders in critical areas such as missile defense, special operations, cyber, logistics, intelligence, and communications. And cuts of this magnitude will leave us with excess infrastructure, making a future round of BRAC essential.
Sequestration will degrade our ability to take care of our Soldiers and Families who have fought so hard and sacrificed so much over the last twelve years -- those who are leaving the Army and those who are staying in the Army. Sequestration will make it impossible to execute a responsible drawdown. And it will challenge our ability to support the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance.
Looking into the future, we are re-posturing our force to be Globally Responsive and Regionally Engaged. We are aligning forces with Geographic Combatant Commanders to provide mission-tailored, sized and scaled organizations for operational missions, exercises, and theater security cooperation activities. For times of crisis, we will maintain a Global Response Force capable of conducting forced entry on short notice. We will reinvest in our expeditionary capabilities to deploy forces quickly and efficiently anywhere in the world. And we are refining the integration of our conventional, special operations, and cyber capabilities to ensure we can handle a broad range of emerging threats. In this uncertain world, we need an Army that conducts many missions, at many speeds, at many sizes, and under many conditions. Going forward, the Army will evolve into a force that can deploy and sustain capabilities across the range of military operations anywhere in the world, on short notice. It will have increased flexibility and agility in both its formations and its acquisition system.
Our modernization strategy will center on the Army's strength -- the Soldier -- making him the most discriminately lethal weapon in the U.S. military. We will provide our Soldiers with the network connections to give them unparalleled access to information and intelligence so that they make timely decisions. And we will provide our Soldiers with the tactical mobility, survivability, and lethality to take decisive action.
As we prepare to operate in an increasingly complex and uncertain environment, our number one priority is to invest in our leaders. This spring we will roll out a brand-new Leader Development Strategy which will invest in our Soldiers' training, education, and development. It will fundamentally change the way we train, educate, assign, assess and promote our leaders. It will be the foundation of the future Army.
We will continue our efforts to take care of our Soldiers. Twelve years of war has taught us the importance of building and sustaining the resiliency of our Soldiers, civilians, and their families. Just this year we rolled out the Army Ready and Resilient Campaign. This holistic effort to build the emotional, physical, and spiritual health of our Soldiers will pay dividends in all three Components. Caring for Wounded Warriors and keeping faith with Veterans is essential to honoring their service. Our Soldier For Life campaign will ensure that our Soldiers transition successfully into civilian life, and enrich American society with their Army experience.
With the support of Congress, we will maintain a military pay and benefits package -- including affordable, high-quality health care -- that acknowledges the burdens and sacrifice of service while remaining responsive to the fiscal environment. Soldier personnel costs have doubled over the last ten years and now make up 44% of the Army's FY14 budget. If we do not slow the rate of growth of manpower costs, we will not be able to afford to keep our Army trained and ready.
We are at a strategic point in the future of the U.S. Army and our military. We must strike the right balance of capabilities both within the Army and across the Joint Force. Our history tells us that if we get out of balance our enemies will seek to take advantage.
Our Soldiers are the finest men and women our country has to offer. Since 2001, more than 1.5 million Soldiers have deployed and more than half a million have deployed 2, 3, 4 or more times. More than 35,000 Soldiers have been wounded and over 4,800 have made the ultimate sacrifice to defend this great nation. It is our responsibility to ensure that we never again send Soldiers into harm's ways that are not trained, equipped, well-led, and ready for any contingency -- to include war. It is our responsibility to honor the service and the sacrifices of our veterans whether they remain in uniform or transition back to civilian life.
The strength of our Nation is our Army
The strength of our Army is our Soldiers
The strength of our Soldiers is our Families.
This is what makes us Army Strong!
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the committee, for allowing me to testify here today.