By Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray OdiernoMarch 27, 2015
Thank you Chairman Frelinghuysen, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Visclosky, and the rest of the members of the House Appropriations Committee -- Defense Subcommittee. Thank you for allowing us to have a very important discussion with you this morning.
Today, we continue to experience a diverse and complex array of threats through a combination of transnational extremist organizations and the aggressive actions of several Nation-States. And we continue to witness an increase in the velocity of instability that was unforeseen just a few years ago.
In Iraq and Syria, we continue to see the ruthless behavior of ISIL and the smoldering of sectarian conflict; which is threatening regional stability and has the potential to escalate international terrorism. Order within Yemen has fully collapsed with the country now facing civil war. Anarchy, extremism, and terrorism are running rampant in Libya and other parts of North and Central Africa. Transnational terrorist groups are exporting violence from new safe havens where they intimidate populations, prepare for future attacks, and foment instability to secure their influence.
In Europe, Russian aggression and its intervention in Ukraine challenges the resolve of both the European Union and NATO. Across the Pacific, China's military modernization efforts alarm our allies and concern our regional interests, while North Korean belligerence continues. And we continue to have ever-evolving threats against our homeland.
In my opinion, this should not be the time to divest of our military capability and capacity. But, that is in fact what we are doing -- decreasing Active Component end strength by 80 thousand so far and our National Guard and the Reserves by a combined 18 thousand.
As I have mentioned before, we have deactivated 13 Active Duty Brigade Combat Teams, and we are in the process of eliminating three active component combat aviation brigades. We are reducing the Total Aviation Force by 800 aircraft, with almost 700 of those coming out of our Active Component.
We have slashed our investments in modernization by 25%. We have purged our much-needed infantry fighting vehicle modernization and scout helicopter development programs. And we have considerably delayed other upgrades for many of our systems and aging platforms.
The unrelenting budget impasse has also compelled us to degrade readiness to historically low levels. Today, only 33% of our brigades are ready, when we believe our sustained readiness rate should be closer to 70%. Under our current budget, Army readiness will, at best, flat-line over the next three to four years.
The compromises we have made to modernization and readiness, combined with reductions to our force size and capabilities, translates into increased strategic risk. We are generating just enough readiness for immediate consumption. We are not able to generate residual readiness to respond to unknown contingencies or to even reinforce ongoing operations.
This is a dangerous balancing act. We have fewer soldiers, the majority of whom are in units that are not ready; and they are manning aging equipment at a time when demand for Army forces is much higher than anticipated.
Our Soldiers and leaders continue to perform superbly. Just look at how busy our Army is around the world: we have units engaged in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Jordan; Kosovo, the Korean Peninsula, and across the African continent. We have rotational forces in Europe, Kuwait, and the Pacific.
We are conducting a wide range of missions from humanitarian assistance to training and advising forces in contact; to reassuring our allies with our dedicated presence. This is the reality we face as we discuss the Army posture.
In the President's FY16 budget submission, it recognizes these challenges. But even the President's Budget represents the bare minimum needed for us to carry out our missions and execute and meet the requirements of our defense strategy. And it is a tenuous House of Cards. In order for the President's Budget to work, all of our proposed reforms in pay and compensation must be approved. All of our force structure reforms must be supported, to include the Aviation Restructure Initiative.
And we must be allowed to eliminate half a billion dollars per year of excess infrastructure that we currently have in the Army. We potentially face a $12 billion shortfall: $6 billion in the reforms I mentioned, and $6 billion in costs that really, in the very near future, must transition from OCO into the Base.
If BCA caps remain, we can no longer execute the Defense Strategic Guidance.
Sequestration would compel us to reduce end strength even further, forcing out another 70 thousand from the Active Component, 35 thousand from the National Guard, and 10 thousand from the Army Reserves. It would be necessary to cut a significant number of additional brigades. Modernization would be slashed further, home station training would go unfunded, and readiness rates would degrade even further.
Anything further compromises our strategic flexibility. It inadequately funds readiness. It further degrades an already under-funded modernization program. It impacts our ability to conduct simultaneous operations and shape regional security environments. It puts into question our capacity to deter and compel multiple adversaries. And if the unpredictable does happen, we will no longer have the depth to react.
We are trying our best to achieve efficiencies.
• We have taken advantage of our wartime reset program to reduce Depot Maintenance by $3.2 billion.
• We are reducing our reliance on Contractor Logistics support, which will result in nearly $2 billion in cost savings.
• We have identified and are avoiding costs in excess of $12 billion through the Aviation Restructure Initiative.
• We have reorganized our Brigade Combat Teams throughout the force, eliminating overhead and maximizing combat capacity.
• We have eliminated nearly 12,000 positions by reducing all 2-star and above Headquarters by over 25%.
• And we continue to look at ways to achieve individual and collective training efficiency.
• But we must also take on acquisition reform to re-address the role of the service chiefs; of life-cycle management and logistics; and of the expansion of bureaucracy, and how we might eliminate that.
In response to the complexities of the future global security environment both today and in the future, we recently published a new Army Operating Concept, "Win in a Complex World."
We are modernizing the force and maximizing talent by opening more than 55,000 positions to women, and are assessing the potential of opening as many as 166,000 additional positions across the Force.
Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault Prevention remains our top priority. While recent reports are clear that we have made some initial progress in sexual harassment and assault prevention, we have much work to do. Our men and women deserve to be treated with dignity and respect, and should expect a work environment that is free of harassment, assault, and retribution--a culture of inclusion and of mutual and shared trust is essential.
I continue to be inspired by the unparalleled experience and professionalism of the men and women of the United States Army. They demonstrate unwavering dedication and commitment to the mission, to the Army, and to the Nation. We owe it to them to ensure that they have the right equipment, the best training; and the appropriate family programs, health care, and compensation packages that are commensurate with their sacrifices.
The decisions we make today and over the next several months will impact our Soldiers, our Army, and our Nation for the next 10 years. The burden of miscalculation and under-investment will directly fall on the shoulders of our men and women of the US Army who have so ably served this Nation. We simply cannot allow this to happen.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I look forward to your questions.