May 6, 2014 -- CSA's opening statement to SASC Pay and Compensation Hearing

By Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the U.S. ArmyMay 7, 2014

Thank you, Chairman Levin, Ranking Member Inhofe, all the other committee members. It's always a pleasure to be here to discuss these important issues. I have had the privilege to lead the men and women of all services in both peace and war. I have witnessed firsthand their selfless service, dedication and sacrifice. The All-Volunteer Army has performed phenomenally during the longest conflicts in our nation's history. It is imperative that we discuss and understand the appropriate level of compensation not only to recognize the sacrifice of our Soldiers and their Families, but to ensure we sustain the premier All-Volunteer force.

Pay and compensation benefits must remain competitive in order for us to recruit and retain the very best for our Army and the Joint Force. However, pay and compensation must be balanced along with end strength, readiness and modernization of our force. Thus, it is necessary that we take a comprehensive look at every aspect of our budget. I fully endorse these Department of Defense proposals that do not directly cut our Soldier's pay but slows the rate of growth for many allowances that are simply unsustainable. Additionally, it is essential that we gain more efficiencies in our commissaries and our health care, specifically TRICARE. I believe the proposals recognize the incredible service and sacrifice of our Soldiers and their Families while allowing us to better balance future investments in readiness, modernization and compensation.

These are difficult but necessary decisions. Taking care of Soldiers is not just about providing them competitive pay and compensation benefits. It is also about having the right capacity in order to sustain reasonable personnel tempo, invest in the most modern equipment and maintain the highest levels of training readiness. If the Army does not get the $12 billion in compensation savings over the POM, we will have to look at a further reduction in end strength, lower our overall readiness posture and slow even further our current modernization programs. It is my opinion, that if Congress does not approve our compensation recommendations, then you must end sequestration now and increase our top line.

We must keep in mind that it is not a matter of if but when we will deploy our Joint Force 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. We must balance our resources effectively to do that. If we do not, our Soldiers will bear the heavy burden of our miscalculations on the battlefield.

I am proud to wear this uniform and represent all the Soldiers of the United States Army. Their sacrifices have been unprecedented over the last thirteen years. We must ensure we provide them with the necessary resources for their success in the future.

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.