Army Under Secretary: Fiscal challenges threaten readiness
By Lt. Col. Robert Manning, Under SecArmy Public Affairs May 9, 2013
WASHINGTON (May 9, 2013) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, Ph.D., discussed the impacts of the Army's current fiscal situation and highlighted the importance of support from the American public during the state of Washington's annual 9th Congressional District Day at the U.S. Capitol, today.
The annual event, in its twelfth year, is hosted by U.S. Representative Adam Smith (D-WA-09), ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, and brings together Washington state constituents and government leaders in Washington, D.C. The objective of the forum is to inform constituents from the district on issues ranging from technology and foreign policy to the domestic priorities and the current year's congressional agenda.
"This variety of topics and speakers [this year] will provide my constituents with an opportunity to gain a better understanding of how our government works," said Rep. Smith.
During his remarks, Westphal outlined the Army's global commitments and the need to rebalance the Army's priorities to the Asia-Pacific region. Moreover, he detailed the Army's contributions to the Joint Force, and the Army's economic impact within the state of Washington's 9th Congressional District.
"The Army's work providing security in the Pacific directly enables increased trade across the globe, directly impacting the 9th [Congressional] District's commercial enterprises in shipping, telecommunication, construction, and other areas," he said.
Westphal spoke at length to the audience about the impacts of sequestration and how these deep budget cuts jeopardize the Army's ability to train, equip and sustain Soldiers to be ready for future requirements and meet the demands of the nation.
"We don't ever want the President of the United States to ask your Army to support a requirement and be forced to tell him that our Soldiers aren't trained to accomplish that mission, and that our force is not equipped, trained and ready to deploy at a moment's notice. That's the readiness challenge we potentially face," Westphal said.
Despite budget cuts, Westphal reassured the members of the 9th Congressional District that Army leadership is focused on working with congress and navigating through the current challenges. He reinforced the Army's continued commitment to defending the nation, in spite of fiscal constraints.
"Army leadership remains determined to finding the correct strategic balance to meet national defense priorities," he said. "Support from local communities is essential to our Soldiers…and the 9th [Congressional] District is a critical enabler in the Army's ability to be a globally responsive and regionally engaged force."
In addition to Under Secretary Westphal, other speakers at the event included:
• Buck McKeon, Chairman, House Armed Services Committee (R-CA)
• Nancy Pelosi, House Minority Leader (D-CA)
• Maria Cantwell, U.S. Senator (D-WA)
• Patty Murray, U.S. Senator (D-WA)
• David Gregory, Moderator, NBC's Meet the Press
• John Hamre, Ph.D., president and CEO of CSIS
• Winnie Satchelberg, executive vice president for External Affairs, CAP
• Ellen McClain, deputy assistant secretary for Trans-border Affairs, DHS
U.S. Representative Smith has represented the state of Washington's 9th Congressional District since 1997. The district is located in the central Puget Sound region and includes parts of King and Pierce Counties. It includes the Port of Tacoma, which is one of the 50 largest cargo ports in the world and a vital link for trade in the Pacific Rim.