By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. OdiernoApril 30, 2014
Chairman Durbin, Senator Shelby, Senator Collins, thank you for allowing me to testify here today.
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 nearly five years in combat, I have personally led and seen the tremendous sacrifice the Soldiers of the Active Army, the Army National Guard, and the 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.
Despite declining resources, the demands for Army forces continue. Today as I sit here, we have nearly 70,000 Soldiers deployed on contingency operations and another 85,000 Soldiers are forward stationed in nearly 150 countries including nearly 20,000 on the Korean Peninsula. Our Soldiers, Civilians, and Family members continue to serve with the competence, commitment and character that our great Nation deserves.
Your Army continues to respond whenever needed. Just this week, we deployed Soldiers to Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to conduct joint training and to reinsure our Eastern European allies against Russian aggression. We have Soldiers training and supporting the Afghan security forces, standing guard at the DMZ, conducting operations in Kosovo, Jordan and Kuwait. We continue to have more than two thousands Soldiers on the African continent building partner capacity to include those providing security for the US Embassy in South Sudan.
As we consider the future roles, missions and funding of our Army, it is imperative we consider the world as it exists, not as one we wish it to be. It demands that we make prudent decisions about the future capability and capacity that we need within our Army. Therefore, we must ensure our Army has the ability to rapidly respond to conduct the entire range of military operations, from humanitarian assistance, partnered activities, stability operations to general war.
We appreciate the short term predictability in FY 14 and FY 15 afforded by the budget levels in the Bi-Partisan Budget Agreement. The Bi-Partisan Budget Agreement supports an FY 15 Army funding level of $120 billion but is still $12.7 billion short of our request. This has allowed us to buy back some short term readiness by funding additional training and sustainment to include multi-echelon and multi-component training events at our Combat Training Centers which starts us on a path of increased readiness. However, the continued accumulation of budget reductions requires us to make difficult choices.
Last year, I testified that we can implement the defense guidance at moderate risk with an end strength of 490,000 in the Active Army, 350,000 in the Army National Guard and 202,000 in the U.S. Army Reserve and I stand by that assessment. However, sequestration is the law of the land, and its full brunt will return in FY 16 without Congressional action.
Under sequestration for the next 3-4 years, we will continue to reduce 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 shortfalls. At the end of FY 19, we will begin to establish the appropriate balance between end strength, readiness and modernization, but for an Army that is much smaller than it is today. From FY 20 to FY 23 we begin to achieve our readiness goals and reinvest in our modernization programs.
We will have no choice but to slash end strength levels if sequestration continues in order to attain the proper balance between end strength, readiness and modernization. We will be required to further reduce the Active component to 420,000, the National Guard to 315,000 and the U.S. Army Reserve to 185,000. At these end strength funding levels, we will not be able to execute the current defense strategy. In my opinion, this will call into question our ability to execute even one prolonged, multi-phased major contingency operation. I also have deep concerns that our Army, at these end strength levels will not have sufficient capacity to meet ongoing operational commitments while simultaneously training to sustain appropriate readiness levels.
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 Army end strength reductions. To execute the defense strategy, it is important to note that as we continue to lose end strength our flexibility deteriorates as does our ability to react to a strategic surprise. My experience tells me that our assumptions about the duration and size of future conflicts, allied contributions and the need to conduct post-conflict stability operations are optimistic. If these assumptions are proven wrong, our risk will grow significantly.
In order to meet ongoing and future budget reductions, we have developed a total force policy in close collaboration with Army and DoD leaders. 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. 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 representation from all components and analysis from experts at every level.
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 a total 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. This will cause us to 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. But even in aviation restructure, 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 in order to train our pilots of all components at Fort Rucker. 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. The Aviation Restructure Initiative will result in better and more capable formations which are able to respond to contingencies at home and abroad.
Let me be very clear, these are not cuts we want to these are cuts we must take based upon sequestration. I believe our recommendation delivers the best Total Army for the budget we have been allocated.
The Secretary and I understand that the American people hold us to a higher standard of character and behavior. Combating sexual assault and harassment 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. Army commanders continue to prosecute the most serious sexual assault offenses at a rate more than double that of civilian jurisdictions, including many cases that civilian authorities refused to pursue. We appreciate the continued focus of Congress as we implement legislative reforms to enhance the rights of survivors and improve our military justice system. We continue to take this issue very seriously and also know much work remains to be done in this area.
We are also aggressively and comprehensively tackling the issue of ethical leadership individually, organizationally, and through systemic reviews. We initiated 360-Degree Assessments on all officers, especially commanders and general officers. We implemented a new officer evaluation report to strengthen accountability for our general officers and all officers. We also conduct peer surveys and developed a specific ethics focus as part of our senior leader education program throughout the entire process.
We must keep in mind that it is not a matter of if but when we will deploy our Army to defend this great Nation. We have done it in every decade since World War II. It is incumbent on all of us 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 proud to wear this uniform and represent all the Soldiers of the United States Army, Active, National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve. Their sacrifices have been unprecedented over the last thirteen years. We must provide them with the necessary resources for success in the future.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, and thank you to the entire committee for the support you have given us and for allowing us to have this discussion today. Thank you.