By Gen. Ray Odierno, chief of staff of the ArmyMay 23, 2013
Thank you, Chairman Durbin, Ranking Member Cochran, Ranking Member Shelby from the Full Committee, and other distinguished members of the committee. Thank you for allowing us to be here. I'm not going to repeat all that the Secretary said. I just want to make sure I say that I support everything the Secretary said. But there are a few points that are important.
I want to thank you for the incredible support you've given to our young Soldiers and families especially over the last twelve years when they had to sacrifice so much. You've ensured that we had the right capabilities and resources necessary for them to conduct the missions we've asked them to conduct. So thank you for that.
It is apparent that the Department of Defense and specifically the Army has a specific problem in combating sexual assault and sexual harassment. The Army has faced difficult tasks before and succeeded. It is imperative we take on the fight against sexual assault and sexual harassment as our primary mission.
The Secretary and I are committed to the safety and security of every Soldier, civilian, and family member. Our profession is built on the bedrock of trust. Recent incidents of sexual assault and harassment further demonstrate that we have violated that trust. We simply cannot tolerate this.
It is our duty and our obligation to create a climate and an environment in which every person is able to thrive and achieve their full potential. It is imperative that we protect victims' rights and show compassion for survivors. We must ensure that every case is thoroughly investigated and that appropriate action is taken.
It is imperative that we keep the chain of command fully engaged at every level. Command authority is the most critical mechanism for ensuring discipline and accountability, cohesion and the integrity of the force. Therefore, we must take a deliberate approach to implementing the necessary checks and balances that will ensure commanders and their legal advisors reinforce their mutual responsibilities to administer the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
In this effort, we have much work to do. It is up to every one of us, civilian and Soldier, general officer to private, to solve this problem within our ranks. And we must continue our dialogue and partnership with Congress about the best ways to get after this problem in our Army, in our military, and our society at large. We are dedicated to solving this problem.
Every day as Chief of Staff, I am humbled to represent each of the 1.1 million Soldiers, 266,000 Army civilians, and 1.4 million family members that represent the United States Army around the world. The Army's primary purpose remains steadfast, to win the nation's wars. And as I sit here today, nearly 80,000 Soldiers are deployed, almost 60,000 in Afghanistan, over 10,000 in Kuwait, and additional Soldiers deployed to Qatar, Turkey, Jordan and elsewhere across the globe. In the last four months alone, the Army has responded to several unforecasted contingencies by deploying a THAAD battery to Guam, Patriots to Turkey, and command and control elements to Jordan.
Our Soldiers, their families, and the American people are counting on us to ensure they are resourced to train to the highest standard, and have well maintained and capable equipment so that when needed, they will be successful while minimizing casualties. We cannot place this burden on the shoulders of our Soldiers, civilians, and families -- we owe them more than that.
In FY13, the Army still faces a more than $13 billion dollar operation and maintenance account shortfall. This includes the $5.5 billion dollar reduction due to sequestration and an $8.3 billion dollar shortfall in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) accounts.
The emergency reprogramming action being considered by this committee would restore $5 billion of the $8.3 billion OCO OMA shortfall. However, without any additional transfer authority or supplemental, the Army will be forced to fund the remaining $3.3B OCO OMA shortfall from its already reduced Base OMA account.
As a result of these cuts, we are taking the unfortunate step of furloughing our valuable civilian workforce for eleven days. We have curtailed training for 80 percent of force. This means that only the forces who are next to deploy to Afghanistan and other operational commitments are conducting training. Therefore, our ability to respond to an unknown contingency is at an unacceptable level of risk.
The cost of these actions is clear. We are sacrificing our Army's future readiness to achieve reductions today in the remainder of the fiscal year.
It is in the best interest of our Army, the DOD and our national security to avert further cuts through sequestration. But it's not just the size of the cuts, it's the steepness of cuts in the near term, which make it impossible to downsize the force in a deliberate, logical manner. These cuts will not allow us to sustain the appropriate balance of our end-strength, readiness, and modernization and therefore will result in a hollow force. Although I do not agree with the size of sequestration cuts, if we could backload the cuts, it would at least enable us to properly balance end-strength, readiness, and modernization in the out years.
In 1976 I entered a hollowed Army that was rife with discipline issues, it was not well trained and did not have the resources necessary to buy the equipment. I am absolutely focused on making sure I do not leave this Army in the same way that I came into it. It is up to us to ensure that we resource our men and women who sacrifice so much with the proper resources to conduct the missions we have asked them to do.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to speak to the committee this morning and I look forward to your questions.