Nov. 7, 2013-- CSA's testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee (As Delivered)

By Gen. Ray Odierno, Chief of Staff of the ArmyNovember 7, 2013

Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe -- Sir, it's great to see you back -- and other distinguished members of this committee, thank you for the invitation to speak today.

If you could just indulge me for a few seconds, I'd like to begin by recognizing the exceptional service and life of Congressman Ike Skelton. As Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, he was an incredible leader, mentor and champion of our Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families. What was interesting though in his farewell address, he made a comment that was appropriate to the conversation we are having here today when he remarked: "I have always considered each young man and woman in uniform as a son or daughter. They are national treasures and their sacrifices cannot be taken for granted. They are not chess pieces to be moved upon a board. Each and every one is irreplaceable." And I think those words are very important today as we talk about the readiness of our force and as we consider future budget cuts and their impact on our national defense. It is imperative that we keep foremost in our minds the impact that this has on the young men and women, our Soldiers that we ask to go forward to protect this Nation. Previous drawdowns have taught us that the full burden of an unprepared and hollow force will fall on the shoulders of our men and women in uniform. We have experienced this too many times in our Nation's history to repeat this egregious error again.

It may be popular to proclaim that we are entering a new age where land wars are obsolete. Yet history is rife with the wars that leaders knew would never be fought. In the summer of 1914, an influential British journal declared that "the world is moving away from military ideals and a period of peace, industry, and world-wide friendship is dawning." New technologies such as airplanes, machine guns, dynamite and radios were said to make war "ridiculous" and "impossible". And yet, next year we will mark the 100th anniversary of the War to End all Wars. And I could give you an example like that for every major conflict we've been in. That before that conflict, there were many comments that said we would never fight wars again, we would never send our Soldiers into harm's way. But we did. And in each case, there were significant consequences to the men and women who wore the uniform, whether in Korea with Task Force Smith, or in Vietnam, in the initial days of Vietnam. We cannot allow that to happen again.

Throughout our Nation's history, the United States has drawn down military forces at the close of every war. This time, however, we are drawing down our Army not only before a war is over, but at a time where unprecedented uncertainty remains in the international security environment. The Total Army -- the Active Army, the Army National Guard, and the U.S. Army Reserves -- remains heavily committed in operations overseas as well as at home. As we sit here today, more than 70,000 U.S. Army Soldiers are deployed to contingency operations, with nearly 50,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan alone. Additionally, there are more than 87,000 Soldiers forward stationed across the globe in nearly 120 countries.

During my more than 37 years of service the U.S. Army has deployed Soldiers and fought in more than 10 conflicts including Afghanistan, the longest war in our Nation's history. No one desires peace more than the Soldier who has lived through war. But it is our duty as Soldiers to prepare for it. As Chief of Staff, it is my responsibility to man, train, and equip the force to provide America with the best Army possible. As a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, it is my responsibility to provide my best military advice to ensure the Army is capable of meeting our national security needs.

If Congress does not act to mitigate the magnitude, method and speed of the reductions under the Budget Control Act with sequestration, the Army will be forced to make significant reductions in force structure and endstrength. Such reductions will not allow us to execute the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance and will make it very difficult to conduct one sustained major combat operation.

From FY14 to FY17, as we draw down and restructure the Army into a smaller force, the Army will have degraded readiness and extensive modernization program shortfalls. We will be required to end, restructure, or delay over 100 acquisition programs, putting at risk programs such as the Ground Combat Vehicle, the Armed Aerial Scout, the production and modernization of our other aviation programs, system upgrades for unmanned aerial vehicles and the modernization of our Air Defense Command and Control systems -- just to name a few.

From FY18 to FY23, we will begin to rebalance readiness and modernization; however this will only come at the expense of significant reductions in end strength and force structure. The Army will be forced to take additional end strength cuts from a wartime high of 570,000 in the Active Army; 358,000 in the Army National Guard; and 205,000 in the U.S. Army Reserves to no more than 420,000 in the Active Army; 315,000 in the Army National Guard; and 185,000 in the U.S. Army Reserves. This will represent a Total Army end strength reduction of more than 18% over seven years -- a 26% reduction in the active component; a 12% reduction in the Army National Guard; and a 9% reduction in the U.S. Army Reserves. And this will also cause us to reduce our Brigade Combat Teams by 45%.

Ultimately, the size of our Army will be determined by the guidance and funding provided by Congress. It is imperative that Congress take action to mitigate and ease sequestration reductions. I do not consider myself an alarmist; I consider myself a realist. Today's international environment and its emerging threats require a joint force with a ground component that has the capability and the capacity to deter and compel adversaries who threaten our national security interests. The Budget Control Act and sequestration severely threaten our ability to do this.

In the end, our decisions today and in the near future will impact our nation's security posture for the next 10 years. We have already accepted nearly $700 billion dollars in cuts to the Department of Defense. Today, we have the premier Army in the world. It is our shared responsibility to ensure we remain the premier Army and the premier Joint Force in the world. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate the opportunity to talk.

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