April 8, 2014 -- CSAs opening statement to SASC at Total Force Hearing

By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoApril 8, 2014

Thank you, Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe. Before I start I just want to let the committee know that as soon as we are done with the hearing I will be traveling to Fort Hood to visit with the Soldiers, Families, commanders, those wounded and will attend the memorial service tomorrow. Things continue to progress there. As we continue to investigate and look at this, I am satisfied that had we not implemented some of the lessons learned in 2009, the tragedy could have been much worse that it was. However, we still have much to learn about what happened and why and what we have to do in terms of our mental health screenings, assessments as well as taking care of our Soldiers. The Army committed to thoroughly understanding what we must do and the actions we must be take and we look forward in the future to reporting out to you all on what we have found as we continue and conclude our investigation.

I am truly humbled to lead the extraordinary men and women of our Army who volunteer to raise their right hand and serve our country. As a division, corps and theater commander for over five years in Iraq, I have personally led and seen the tremendous sacrifice the Soldiers from the Active Army, Army National Guard, and U.S. Army Reserve have made for our Nation. As the Chief of Staff, my focus is on ensuring all Soldiers from all components are properly trained, equipped and ready.

Over the last thirteen years, the Army has met the call to defend the Nation during two wars. From 2001-2011, the Army's budget nearly doubled as we restructured, modularized and modernized the entire force, especially our National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. We needed our National Guard and U.S. Army Reserves to serve as an operational reserve. We optimized the Army for the known demands of Afghanistan and Iraq and our emphasis was on gaining predictability for our deploying units. With the war in Iraq over and as we continue to reduce our commitment in Afghanistan, we must confront our difficult fiscal environment. We must make tough but necessary choices. We must ensure we have the best Army possible, even under full sequestration.

In developing a total Army solution for the future, the Secretary of Defense directed the Army to not size for large, prolonged stability operations. Furthermore, we were not to retain force structure at the expense of readiness and to develop balanced budgets that permitted the restoration of desired levels of readiness and modernization by the end of the sequestration period. The Secretary of the Army and I provided additional guidance to fulfill the needs of our combatant commanders first and then to disproportionately reduce our Active forces while implementing modest reductions in our Guard and Reserve forces. The Army and the Office of the Secretary of Defense conducted a transparent, open and highly collaborative budget formulation, force structure and aviation restructure decision process that included representatives from all components at every level. Additionally, experts and analysts within the Department of Defense assessed all proposals for their viability in ensuring the Army could meet its defense strategy requirements. Finally, numerous meetings of the Joint Chiefs and Combatant Commanders examined these proposals before a final decision was made by the Secretary of Defense.

The result is a balanced approach that gives us the best Army possible, even if sequestration continues in FY 16. The plan calls for end strength reductions of 213,000 Soldiers with the disproportionate cut of 150,000 coming from the Active Army, 43,000 from the Army National Guard and 20,000 from the Army Reserve. These reductions 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. We could reduce up to 46% of the Brigade Combat Teams from the Active Army and up to 22% of the Brigade Combat Teams from the National Guard.

This will result in the Army going from a 51 percent Active and 49 percent Reserve component to a 54 percent Reserve and 46 percent Active component mix. The Army will be the only service in which the Reserve component outnumbers the Active component and we believe that under these fiscal constraints this is appropriate.

The Aviation Restructure Initiative allows us to eliminate obsolete airframes, sustain a modernized fleet, reduce sustainment costs and efficiently organize ourselves to meet our operational commitments and imperatives. Disproportionate reductions come from the Active component. We will inactivate and eliminate three complete combat aviation brigades from the Active component and we will move all of the LUH-72s from the Active component to Fort Rucker in order to train the pilots across all components. In the National Guard we will maintain ten aviation brigades. We will move Apaches to the Active component while increasing the fleet of UH-60s by sending 111 of the most modern Blackhawk helicopters to the National Guard. The National Guard will also retain all LUH-72s and CH-47s. In the end, the active component will be reduced by 687 aircraft, which is 86% of the total reduction. The National Guard will be reduced by 111 aircraft, which is 14% of the total reduction. ARI will result in better and more capable formations which are able to respond to contingencies at home and abroad.

My goal remains to sustain the National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve as an operational reserve. To accomplish this, we must take moderate reductions to overall end strength in order to invest in appropriate training and sustainment levels. Combat Training Center rotations and maintaining more modern equipment is expensive. We need to have the resources to fund collective training and to sustain equipment modernization. By taking the modest end strength reductions to the National Guard and Reserves, we can continue to retain them at their current record high levels of readiness and modernization.

Finally, let me address the calls for a National Commission to examine Army force structure and why we believe that such a commission is unnecessary. First, the Army worked our plans to downsize the force and reduce spending levels in an open, transparent, and collaborative manner. It has been approved by the Combatant Commanders, Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as the Office of the Secretary of the Army and Secretary of Defense following months of deliberations and analysis. Second, the Army continues to provide Congress with our intent, rationale, and proposed plan for the total Army. Third, our plan disproportionately reduces Active forces over National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces. With our current and future budget levels, cuts will happen. Our proposal adequately balances the importance of readiness, responsiveness, operational requirements, future requirements, cost and provides the most effective and efficient force for the budget allocated.

No one is fully satisfied with the final outcome, including myself. However, the reality is that the funding in the future will not allow us to have everything we may want. These cuts will still occur, even if we delay our decisions or fail to address the issue as a total Army. The result will be the hollowing out of our Army. Our Soldiers will be less prepared and this will cost more lives in the next conflict.

Our Army is made up of professionals who have superbly executed their assigned missions under extraordinary circumstances. This total force plan reflects the continued commitment and sacrifice of Soldiers from every component of our Army. This is not about Active versus the National Guard or Reserve; this is about providing the best total Army for our Nation. Our Army is getting smaller and we must be more ready in all three components to respond to future threats. This plan allows us to balance end strength, readiness and modernization across the Army and sustain our critical National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces as a viable operational reserve.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the entire committee, for allowing me to testify here today. I look forward to your questions.