Chairman, Cochran, Ranking Member Durbin, members of the committee, we appreciate the opportunity to talk with you today about our Army.
This is my seventh week on the job as Acting Secretary and it's truly an honor to be back with my Army Family. I've traveled to see our Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families at Fort Hood, Fort Sam Houston, and most recently Iraq and Afghanistan.
The selfless service and dedication of our team should inspire us all. We are tasked with the solemn responsibility to fight and win our nation's wars and to keep our Families safe here at home.
Our Army must produce ready units to deter and defeat our Nation's enemies, defend the homeland, respond to crises, build global security, project power, and win decisively. By ready, we mean that units are fully manned, trained in their combat tasks, fully equipped according to their designed structure, and led by competent leaders.
With our $125.1 billion dollar base request, our Army will focus its efforts on rebuilding readiness for large-scale, high-end, ground combat today. We do so because we believe ignoring readiness shortfalls puts our nation at greatest risk for the following reasons:
First, readiness wins wars. Our Army has never been the largest in the world. At times we have not been the best equipped. But, since World War II, we have recognized that ready Soldiers, properly manned, trained, equipped, and led, can beat larger or more determined forces. Whether confronting the barbaric acts of ISIS, or the desperation of North Korea, our Army must be prepared to execute and to win. We train like we fight -- and our Army must be ready to fight tonight.
Next, readiness deters our most dangerous threats. We are reminded with alarming frequency that great power conflicts are not dead. Today, they manifest on a regional basis. Both Russia and China are challenging America's willingness, and ability, to enforce international standards of conduct. A ready Army provides America the strength to deter such actions.
Readiness also makes future training less costly. Continuous operations since 2001 have left our force proficient in stability and counterterrorism operations, but our future command sergeants major, and brigade commanders, have not had critical Combat Training Center experiences, as junior leaders, training for high-end ground combat. Investing in readiness today builds a foundation, upon which future training can be retained longer throughout our Army.
Finally, readiness prepares our force for transformation. Our Army must be prepared to face the high-end and advanced combat power of Russia, or more likely, Russian capability employed by surrogate actors. We are dedicating resources to develop solutions for this and other future possibilities. To allow our force the space to develop new concepts, or those suggested by the National Commission on the Future of the Army, our formations must first be ready to execute against current and emerging threats.
The choice, though, to invest in near-term readiness does comes with risks: smaller modernization investments risk our ability to fight and win in the future--we have no new major modernization programs this decade. Smaller investments in end strength risk our ability to conduct multiple operations for sustained periods of time. In short, we are mortgaging our future readiness because we have to ensure success in today's battles against emerging threats. That's why initiatives like BRAC in 2019 are needed to be implemented now- let us manage your investment -- and this will result in $500 million dollars a year savings in Return on Investment within five years.
Lastly, while we thank Congress for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which provides short-term relief and two years of predictable funding, we request your support for the enactment of our budget as proposed. We request your support for continued funding at levels calibrated to current threats and our national security interests. And, we request your continued support for our Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families so that our Army remains the most capable fighting force on earth and will fight and win our nation's wars, and to keep our Families safe here at home.