By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. OdiernoApril 4, 2014
Thank you, Chairman McKeon, Ranking Member Smith and other distinguished members of the committee. I want to start out where the Secretary left off. I want to thank you Chairman for all you have done in your twenty two years of serving and what you have done for our Army and our Soldiers. You have been a steadfast leader here in this committee. Congress and your steadfast leadership of this committee and we appreciate everything you have done for us. We will continue to work with you for several more months and we look forward to that.
Although resources continue to decline, the reality is that the demand for Army forces continues to increase. More than 70,000 U.S. Army Soldiers are deployed today on contingency operations and about 85,000 Soldiers are forward stationed in nearly 150 countries including nearly 20,000 on the Korean Peninsula.
As we consider the future roles and missions of our Army, it is imperative we consider the world as it exists, not as one we wish it to be. The recent headlines alone - Russia's annexation of Crimea, the intractable Syrian civil war, missile launches by North Korea -- just to name a few, remind us of the complexity and uncertainty inherent in the international security environment. It demands that we make prudent decisions about the future capability and capacity that we need within our Army. As part of the Joint Force, the Army deters potential adversaries by being capable of appropriate and rapid response anywhere in the world and across the entire range of military operations, from humanitarian assistance and stability operations to general war.
Last year, I testified that we can implement the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance at moderate risk with an end strength of 490,000 in the Active Army, 350,000 in the National Guard and 202,000 in the U.S. Army Reserve. I stand by that assessment. We will achieve those end strength targets by the end of FY 15. However, the law of the land is sequestration.
Therefore, in order to attain the proper balance between end strength, readiness and modernization by the end of sequestration, we will have to dramatically slash end strength again beginning in FY 16. This is in no way by choice. We will be required to further reduce the Active Army end strength to 420,000, reduce the National Guard to 315,000 and the U.S. Army Reserve to 185,000. The size of our Army at this level of funding will not allow us to execute the Defense Strategic Guidance and in my opinion puts in doubt our ability to execute even one prolonged, multi-phased major contingency operation. I also have deep concerns that if the Army goes to the end strength levels required by sequestration, we will not have the appropriate capacity to meet operational commitments and simultaneously train to sustain appropriate readiness levels across the total Army.
The President's budget submission supports end strength levels at 440-450,000 in the Active Army, 335,000 in the Army National Guard and 195,000 in the U.S. Army Reserve. I believe this should be the absolute floor for end strength reductions. At this level, we can meet the Defense Strategic Guidance, but as we continue to lose end strength our flexibility deteriorates. My experience tells me that our assumptions on the duration of conflict and requirement about length and size, especially of phase four operations, are optimistic. If these assumptions are wrong, our risk grows significantly.
For the next 3-4 years, we are reducing end strength as quickly as possible while still meeting our operational commitments. As we continue to draw down and restructure into a smaller force, the Army will continue to have degraded readiness and extensive modernization program shortfalls. This will cause us to implement tiered readiness as a bridging strategy. Also, our research, development and acquisition funding, which has declined 39 percent since the FY 12 budget planning cycle, will continue to suffer. At the end of FY 19 under sequestration, we will stabilize our end strength and force structure, the Army will begin to establish the appropriate balance between end strength, readiness and modernization, albeit for a much smaller Army. From FY 20 to FY 23 we would begin achieving our readiness goals and reinvesting in modernization programs to upgrade our aging fleets. Under the President's Budget, this will happen 3-5 years earlier in FY 18 at larger total force levels.
In order to meet the reduction imposed by sequestration and meet the right balance we have worked for the past two years on a total force policy that ensures the proper balance for the Active, Guard and Reserve components. In developing our plan, we looked to the Secretary of Defense's guidance that we not retain structure at the expense of readiness. Additionally, the Secretary of the Army and I directed that cuts should come disproportionately from the Active force before reducing the Guard and Reserve.
Our total force policy was informed by the lessons learned during the last thirteen years of war. We considered operational commitments, future requirements, costs and necessary readiness levels. The result is a plan that recognizes the unique attributes, responsibilities and complementary nature of these three components while ensuring our Guard and Reserves are maintained as an operational and not strategic reserve.
Budget cuts to include full sequestration will result in a reduction of 150,000 Soldiers, 687 aircraft and up to 46% of the Brigade Combat Teams from the Active Army. The National Guard would reduce by 43,000 Soldiers, 111 aircraft and up to 22% of the Brigade Combat Teams. The U.S. Army Reserve would reduce by 20,000 Soldiers.
The end strength cuts to the Active Army represents 70% of the total end strength reductions compared with 20% from the National Guard and 10% from the U.S. Army Reserve. This results in the Guard and Reserves comprising 54% of the Total Army end strength while the Active component will comprise 46%. The Army will be the only service in which the Reserve component outnumbers the Active component.
Under sequestration, we cannot afford our current aviation structure. The budget does not allow us to sustain modernization programs, keep current structure levels and provide trained and ready Aviation crews and units across all three components. Therefore, we have developed an innovative concept to restructure our aviation fleet that will properly address all three of these issues. Overall, we believe this plan will generate a total savings of $12.7 billion over the POM (Program Objective Memorandum).
Of the 798 total aircraft reduced under this plan, 687 aircraft or 86% will come out of the active component and 111 aircraft or 14% from the National Guard. As with end strength, we are disproportionately taking cuts from the Active component over the Guard and Reserves. Also under this plan, the National Guard will gain 111 UH-60s. Additionally, the National Guard will maintain their current fleet of 212 LUH-72s. The Army National Guard will transfer low-density, high-demand AH-64 Apache helicopters to the Active Army, where they will be teamed with unmanned systems for the armed reconnaissance role as well as their traditional attack role. This plan allows us to eliminate obsolete air frames while improving the modernization of our remaining fleet. It will also ensure that we are restructured to sustain an adequate level of pilot proficiency across the entire force. This will result in an active and reserve component aviation force mix with better and more capable formations, which are able to respond to contingencies at home and abroad.
Let me be very clear, whether it be end strength, modernization reductions or restructuring of the Army, these are not necessarily cuts we want to take. However, these are cuts we must take based on sequestration. I believe our recommendation delivers the best total Army for the budget allocated.
The Secretary and I understand that the American people expect our Army to consistently demonstrate a commitment to our core values and to promote ethical leadership. We are aggressively and comprehensively tackling this issue across the board individually, organizationally, and through systematic reviews. We initiated 360-Degree Assessments on all officers especially commanders. We implemented a new officer evaluation report which strengthens accountability. For our general officers, we conduct peer surveys, organize eighteen annual senior leader seminars, and developed a specific ethics focus as part of our Army Senior Leader Development Program.
We continue to make progress on combating sexual assault and harassment, particularly on reporting and investigating these incidents. It remains our top priority. Over the past year the Army has established more stringent screening criteria and background checks for those serving in positions of trust, expanded the Special Victim Capability Program and implemented new procedures to enhance pretrial investigations. Our prosecution and conviction rates continue to increase. But, we know that much work remains and we appreciate the continued focus by members of Congress on this issue. We take this very seriously.
We would also appreciate help from members of this committee with two issues that directly impact our ability to maintain the right balance for our Army. First, the Base Realignment and Closure process is a proven, fair and cost-effective means to address excess installation capacity in our United States Armed Forces. With the reduction of over 200,000 men and women from the Army we must reduce excess infrastructure. We need BRAC to do this. If not, we will have to pay for the sustainment of unnecessary infrastructure throughout our Army. Second, we are also extremely grateful for the high quality care and compensation our Nation has provided to our Soldiers. We have endorsed proposals that we believe continues to recognize the incredible service of our Soldiers while helping us to better balance future investments in readiness, modernization and compensation.
We all must keep in mind it is not a matter of if but when we will deploy our ground forces to defend this great Nation of ours. We have done it in every decade since World War II. It is incumbent on all of us to ensure we have the capacity and capabilities to ensure our Soldiers are highly trained, equipped and organized. If we do not, they will bear the heavy burden of our miscalculations.
I am incredibly proud to wear this uniform, representing the Active component, the National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve. They have all sacrificed incredibly over the last thirteen years and will continue to incredibly sacrifice into the future. It is incumbent on us to make sure we provide them with the tools necessary for them to be successful.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the entire committee, for allowing me to testify here today. I look forward to your questions.