We would like to thank the committee for their continued support of the United States Army and the American Soldier. Humbled to be entrusted with the care of our Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families, we look forward to working with Congress to ensure our Army remains unmatched in the world.
The United States Army is the most formidable ground combat force on earth. America's Army has convincingly demonstrated its competence and effectiveness in diverse missions overseas and in the homeland. Today, these missions include: fighting terrorists around the world; training Afghan and Iraqi Army forces; peacekeeping in the Sinai Peninsula and Kosovo; missile defense in the Persian Gulf; security assistance in Africa and South America; deterrence in Europe, the Republic of Korea, and Kuwait; rapid deployment global contingency forces; and response forces for the homeland. Additionally, we maintain 12,000 miles of U.S. waterways; respond to hurricanes, floods, and severe snowstorms; patrol our Southwest border; and assist with the response to the outbreak of pandemic diseases. In support of these U.S. Geographic Combatant Command missions, the Army has approximately 190,000 Soldiers deployed to 140 countries. Largely due to deliberate investments in Soldier training, equipping, and leader development, today's Army continues to excel at these diverse and enduring missions. However, we cannot become complacent, remain static, and look to the past or present to be a guarantor of future victory. To sustain this high performance and remain prepared for potential contingencies, the Army must make the most of the resources entrusted to us by the American people. This ultimately requires a balance of competing requirements--readiness, end strength, and modernization--to ensure America's Army remains ready to fight and win both today and in the future.
Throughout history, successful armies anticipated the future, adapted, and capitalized upon opportunities. Today, the Army faces a rapidly changing security environment that requires the Army to make difficult decisions in order to remain an effective instrument of the Nation's military power. An Army ready for combat is the most effective tool to continually assure allies and deter or defeat adversaries. However, given the past three years of reduced funding coupled with the uncertainty of future funding, the Army risks going to war with insufficient readiness to win decisively. Therefore, the Army's number one priority is readiness.
Increasing Army readiness provides additional options for the President, Secretary of Defense, and Congress to successfully implement American foreign and security policy. In this budget, the Army will focus investments on readiness, key modernization programs, and Soldier quality of life to sustain the world's greatest Army. Our benchmark of success is to: sustain and improve our capabilities to prevent conflict; shape the environment by building partner capacity; win the current war against terrorists in Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere; and prepare ourselves to win the next war decisively.
A ready Army is a manned, trained, equipped, and well-led force that can conduct Joint missions to deter and defeat a wide range of state and non-state actors. No American Soldier should ever go to combat unready for the brutal and unforgiving environment of ground combat-- that is the contract we must ensure is rock solid between the American people and the American Army. Therefore, this budget requests Congressional support to fund readiness and end strength, provide our Soldiers with modern equipment, and ensure adequate Soldier quality of life.
Adapting to New Strategic Realities
The global security environment is increasingly uncertain and complex. Opportunities to create a less dangerous world through diplomacy, economic stability, collective security, and national example exist, but military strength is both a complementary and foundational element of National power in a dangerous world. Each element is necessary in combination with the others; however, each alone is insufficient to win a war or maintain a peace. The conditions of diplomatic success, for example, are more likely if military options are credible, real, and perceived as unacceptable to an adversary. Therefore, for the Nation to advance its enduring national interests, our Joint force as a whole, and the Army in particular--in terms of capacity and capability--must remain strong.
In Europe, Russia continues to act aggressively. While we cannot predict Russia's next move, its record of aggression in multiple domains throughout the last decade--Georgia in 2008 and Ukraine (both eastern and Crimea) in 2014--clearly illustrates the need to be prepared to deter or defeat further Russian aggression. Russian acts of aggression are a direct threat to the national security of the United States and our NATO allies. Accordingly, in this budget we ask for your support to modify the Army's posture in Europe, including more rotational forces, prepositioned equipment, and increased operational use of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
Throughout the Middle East and South Asia, radical terrorism threatens regional order. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, al-Qaeda, and other transnational terrorist groups present a significant threat and must be destroyed. The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant is the most lethal and destabilizing terrorist group in modern history. There are more members of radical Islamic terrorist groups operating in Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Algeria, Morocco, and elsewhere than ever before. Their ability to seize and hold territory and spread their ideology through social media is a significant challenge. They also have demonstrated both capability and intent for global reach into Europe, Asia, and the U.S. homeland. Additionally, although the imminent threat of Iran's nuclear weapons development has reduced, Iran remains a supporter of various terrorist groups and is a considerable threat to stability in the Middle East and U.S. interests. Destroying the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and other radical terrorist groups will take considerable time. It is a necessary commitment and we ask Congress for continued resources to sustain our efforts in the Middle East and South Asia for the long term.
Strategically in Asia and the Pacific, there are complex systemic challenges from unresolved territorial disputes, economic and demographic change, a little noticed ongoing arms race, a perceptible rise in nationalism, and a lack of multilateral collective security regimes in Northeast Asia. China is not currently an enemy, but their rapid military modernization and activities in the South China Sea are warning signs that cause concern. China continues to militarize territorial claims in the South China Sea and impede freedom of navigation in the Asia-Pacific region. The Army, in support of naval, air, and diplomatic efforts, will play a significant role in maintaining peaceful relations with a rising China. Meanwhile, North Korean nuclear and missile developments, in combination with routine acts of provocation in the Demilitarized Zone, continue to pose an imminent threat to regional security in Northeast Asia. The Army's assigned and rotational forces in the Republic of Korea, Japan, and throughout the Asia-Pacific region today provide a deterrent and contingency response capability that strengthens defense relationships and builds increased capacity with our allies. We must sustain and improve that capability to execute our national strategy to rebalance to the Asia-Pacific. In short, the conditions for potential conflict in Asia, as in Europe, are of considerable concern and our Army has an important role to prevent conflict and if conflict occurs, then to win as part of the Joint force.
Politically, socially, economically, and demographically, Africa's potential for positive growth is significant. Realizing this potential depends on African governments' ability to provide security and stability for their people against terrorist groups such as the Boko Haram, al-Shabaab, and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb as well as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant in Libya. Army forces partner with ministries of defense to develop and shape the environment and establish strategic frameworks that employ forces, build professional military institutions, and partner with European Allies to achieve shared strategic objectives.
In Central and South America, criminal gang and drug trafficking activities have wrought devastating consequences in many of our partner nations, degrading their civilian police and justice systems, corrupting their institutions, and contributing to a breakdown in citizen safety. Our annual multinational training exercises with our partners promote regional cooperation and enhance readiness of partner nation military forces. To date, we have active partnerships with defense and security forces from 26 nations in the Caribbean, Central America, and South America.
Today, state and non-state actors are destabilizing major regions of the world by combining conventional and irregular warfare with terrorism. Acts of aggression also occur through surrogates, cyber and electronic systems, organized criminal activity, and economic coercion. These groups mobilize people, resources, and sophisticated modern weapons in unconventional ways that enable hostile actors to be more agile than traditional militaries. Since these advantages are low cost, it is likely this form of conflict will persist well into the future and our Army must adapt.
The U.S. Army, as the principal land force of a global power, does not have the luxury of preparing to fight only one type of enemy, at one time, in one place. We cannot forecast precisely when and where the next contingency that requires Army forces will arise. However, history indicates that the next contingency will likely require a commitment of conventional and unconventional forces to conduct operations of significant scale and duration to achieve strategic objectives. If a major crisis occurred today, the Army would likely deploy all uncommitted forces-- from all components--into combat on very short notice. Therefore, the readiness of the Army is key to the security of the Nation. Unfortunately, less than one-third of Army forces are at acceptable readiness levels to conduct sustained ground combat in a full spectrum environment against a highly lethal hybrid threat or near-peer adversary. The risk of deploying unready forces into combat is higher U.S. casualty rates and increased risk to mission success. To mitigate this risk, the Army will continue to prioritize readiness to reverse declines from the past 15 years of continuous combat and reduced resources. We welcome continued Congressional support in this effort.
The Foundation of America's Defense
Fundamentally, America's Army protects the Nation by winning wars as part of the Joint Force. As the Nation's principal land force, the Army organizes, trains, and equips forces for prompt and sustained campaign-level ground combat. The Army is necessary to defeat enemy forces, control terrain, secure populations, consolidate gains, preserve joint force freedom of action, and establish conditions for lasting peace. To do the core tasks globally against a wide range of threats, the Army must have both capability and capacity properly balanced. Although important, it is not just the size of the Army that matters, but rather the right mix of capacity, readiness, skill, superior equipment, and talented Soldiers, which in combination, are the key to ground combat power and decision in warfare.
Today's Army maintains significant forces stationed and rotating overseas that provide a visible and credible deterrent. However, should war occur, we must terminate the conflict on terms favorable to the United States--this requires significant ready forces and the operational use of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve. Only the Army provides the President and the Secretary of Defense the ability to rapidly deploy ground forces, ranging in decisive ground capabilities from Humanitarian Assistance and Countering Terrorism to high-end decisive operations. Moreover, the Army conducts these operations in unilateral, bilateral, or coalition environments across the range of conflict from unconventional warfare to major combat operations. In the end, the deployment of the American Army is the ultimate display of American resolve to assure allies and deter enemies.While the Army fights alongside the Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, and our allies, the Nation also relies on a ready Army to provide unique capabilities for the Nation's defense.
Unique to the Army is the ability to conduct sustained land campaigns in order to destroy or defeat an enemy, defend critical assets, protect populations, and seize positions of strategic advantage. Additionally, as the foundation of the Joint Force, the Army provides critical capabilities--command and control, communications, intelligence, logistics, and special operations--in support of Joint operations. In short, a ready Army enables the Nation to deploy ground forces in sufficient scale and duration to prevent conflict, shape outcomes, create multiple options for resolving crises, and if necessary, win decisively in war.
Ready to Fight Tonight
The Army's primary focus on counterinsurgency for the last decade shaped a generation of Army leaders with invaluable skills and experiences. Nonetheless, this expertise comes at a cost. Today, most leaders of combat formations have limited experience with combined arms operations against enemy conventional or hybrid forces. Moreover, the current operational tempo and changing security environment continues to place significant demands on Army forces, stressing our ability to rebuild and retain combined arms proficiency. The Army currently provides 40% of planned forces committed to global operations and over 60% of forces for emerging demands from Combatant Commanders.
The four components of readiness--manning, training, equipping, and leader development-- describe how the Army prioritizes its efforts to provide trained and ready forces ready to fight and win our Nation's wars. Even though investing in readiness takes time and is expensive, the result ensures that our Soldiers remain the world's premier combat land force.
The first component of readiness, manning, is about people--the core of our Army and keystone to innovation, versatility, and combat capabilities. Unlike other Services that derive power from advanced platforms, the collective strength of the Army is people. America's Army must recruit resilient, fit people of character and develop them into quality Soldiers. After recruitment, the Army develops men and women into competent Officers, Non-Commissioned Officers, and Soldiers who possess combat skills and values essential to the profession of arms. Unfortunately, in order to meet Regular Army end strength reduction requirements, the Army has involuntary separated thousands of mid-career Soldiers. While numbers are not the only factor, end strength reductions below the current plan will reduce our capability to support the National Military Strategy. Additionally, manning requires an appropriate mix of forces across the Army--Regular Army, Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve--to accomplish our National military objectives. To support Joint Force commitments worldwide over the last 15 years, the Army increased its operational use of the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. We will continue this trend as we draw down the Regular Army. With the support of Congress, we can maintain the appropriate force mix capable of conducting sustained land combat operations worldwide with increased operational use of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve.
To win on the battlefield, the Army must sufficiently resource training--the second component of readiness--to provide sufficient combat ready units in a timely manner. Building readiness from the individual Soldier to collective units across multiple echelons is time intensive. Moreover, a ready unit is not only prepared in the classroom; it is prepared by conducting rigorous and repetitive training under intense pressure and realistic battlefield conditions. Training at the highest level, the kind the Army conducts at combat training centers, brings all elements of the force together to practice firing, maneuver, and leader decisions against a skilled and determined enemy in all environmental conditions. In FY16 and FY17, the Army has programmed 19 combat training center rotations, giving Soldiers and leaders intensive combined arms maneuver experiences in anticipation of future combat. Key to success of the combat training center exercises is preparing at home station. Both combat training center exercises and home station training have declined in the past 15 years. Ultimately, training is the most essential aspect of readiness and we must rapidly improve this area. Therefore, we request funding for training that will enable our Soldiers to succeed.
A trained army requires modern equipment to win--the third component of readiness. An unintended consequence of the current fiscal environment is that the Army has not equipped and sustained the force with the most modern equipment and risks falling behind near-peers. Instead, funding constraints forced the Army to selectively modernize equipment to counter our adversary's most significant technological advances. While we are deliberately choosing to delay several modernization efforts, we request Congressional support of our prioritized modernization programs to ensure the Army retains the necessary capabilities to deter and if necessary, defeat an act of aggression by a near-peer.
The fourth component of Army readiness is leader development. As stated in the 2015 National Military Strategy, "Military and civilian professionals are our decisive advantage." The Army is committed to build leaders of character who are technically and tactically proficient, adaptive, innovative, and agile. It takes time to develop Soldiers who can successfully lead, train, and equip a unit for combat. Leader development starts with a framework of formal training coupled with professional education and operational assignments. Professional Military Education serves as the principal way leaders combine experiences gained during operational assignments with current and emerging doctrinal methods in preparation for combat. As such, we have re-established the requirement to have our leaders complete military education prior to promotion. Ultimately, predictable funding provides the facilities and faculty that develop Army leaders who provide the Nation an advantage that neither technology nor weapons can replace.
The deliberate decision to prioritize readiness while reducing end strength and decreasing funding for modernization places the Army in a readiness paradox: devoting resources to today's readiness invariably decreases investments for future readiness. While the Army prefers investments for current and future readiness, the security environment of today demands readiness for global operations and contingencies. We request the support of Congress to fund Army readiness at sufficient levels to meet current demands, build readiness for contingencies, and understand the mid and long term risks.
Strengthening Army Readiness
Before the Army can significantly increase readiness, there must be an infrastructure to support Army manning, training, equipping, and leader development. Army readiness occurs on Army installations--where Soldiers live, work, and train. Installations provide the platform where the Army focuses on its fundamental task--readiness. The Army maintains 154 permanent Army installations, and over 1100 community-based Army National Guard and Army Reserve Centers worldwide. Regrettably, we estimate an annual burden of spending at least $500M/year on excess or underutilized facilities. In short, smaller investments in Army installations without the ability to reduce excess infrastructure jeopardizes our ability to ensure long-term readiness. To continue the efficient use of resources, the Army requests Congressional authority to consolidate or close excess infrastructure.
As we spend taxpayer's dollars, the Army makes every effort to achieve the most efficient use of resources and demonstrate accountability. The Army is conducting a 25% headquarters personnel reduction to minimize the impact of our end strength reductions to our combat formations. These headquarters personnel reductions and future reductions will reduce authorizations for Soldiers and Civilians at a comparable rate.
The Army is also reviewing the recommendations of the National Commission of the Future of the Army. After a thorough assessment, we intend to implement recommendations that increase Army readiness, consistent with statute, policy, and available resources. Implementation of any recommendation will include the coordinated efforts of the Army's three components: the Regular Army, the Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. The Army may request the support of Congress to reprogram funding and, if needed, request additional funds to implement the commission's recommendations.
In addition to the recommendations of the National Commission of the Future of the Army, the size and mix of Army forces relates to the capabilities required in the 2015 National Military Strategy. To respond to global contingencies or domestic emergencies, the Army has 37 multicomponent units--units that have members of the Regular Army, Army National Guard, and the Army Reserve. Multicomponent units strengthen Army readiness by training together today and if needed, fighting together tomorrow.
The Army has excelled in providing trained and ready forces for combatant commanders across a wide array of missions for the past 15 years of war. This creates the impression we are ready for any conflict. In fact, only one-third of Army forces are at acceptable combat readiness levels, a byproduct of near continuous deployments into Iraq and Afghanistan. To address this readiness shortfall, the Army has redesigned our force generation model to focus on Sustainable Readiness: a process that will not only meet combatant commander demands, but will sustain unit readiness in anticipation of the next mission. This process synchronizes manning, equipping, training and mission assignments in such a way to minimize readiness loss and accelerate restoration of leader and unit proficiency. Designed for all three components and all types of units, our objective within current budget projections is to achieve two-thirds combat readiness for global contingencies by 2023. But, we will do everything possible to accelerate our progress to mitigate the window of strategic risk.
Modernization: Equipped to Fight
While rebalancing readiness and modernization in the mid-term, from 2020 to 2029, the Army will not have the resources to equip and sustain the entire force with the most modern equipment.
Informed by the Army Warfighting experiments, the Army will invest in programs with the highest operational return and we build new only by exception. We will delay procurement of our next generation platforms and accept risk to mission in the mid-term. The Army Equipment Modernization Strategy focuses on the five capability areas of Aviation, the Network, Integrated Air Missile Defense, Combat Vehicles, and Emerging Threats.
The Army will resource the first capability area, Aviation, to provide greater combat capability at a lower cost than proposed alternatives. Key to the success of this initiative is the divestment of the Army's oldest aircraft fleets and distributing its modernized aircraft between the components.
The Army will upgrade the UH-60 Black Hawk fleet and invest in the AH-64 Apache. These helicopters provide the capability to conduct close combat, mobile strike, armed reconnaissance, and the full range of support to Joint operations. Though aviation modernization is a priority, reduced funding caused the Army to decelerate fleet modernization by procuring fewer UH-60 Black Hawks and AH-64 Apaches in FY17.
Second, the Army must maintain a robust Network that is not vulnerable to cyber-attacks. This network provides the ability for the Joint Force to assess reliable information on adversaries, the terrain, and friendly forces. This information provides a decisive advantage by enabling the Joint Force commander to make accurate and timely decisions, ultimately, hastening the defeat of an adversary. Key investments supporting the network are the Warfighter Information Network-Tactical; assured position, navigation, and timing; communications security; and defensive and offensive cyberspace operations.
The Army will invest in the third capability area, Integrated Air Missile Defense, to defeat a large portfolio of threats, ranging from micro unmanned aerial vehicles and mortars to cruise missiles and medium range ballistic missiles. The Army will support this priority by investing in an Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System, an Indirect Fire Protection Capability, and the Patriot missile system.
Army improvements to Combat Vehicles ensure that the Army's fourth modernization capability area provides future Army maneuver forces an advantage over the enemy in the conduct of expeditionary maneuver, air-ground reconnaissance, and joint combined arms maneuver. Specifically, the Army will invest in the Ground Mobility Vehicle, Stryker lethality upgrades, Mobile Protected Firepower, and the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle.
Finally, the Army will address Emerging Threats by investing in mature technologies with the greatest potential for future use. The Army will invest in innovative technologies that focus on protecting mission critical systems from cyber-attacks. To this end, the Army will invest in innovative technologies focused on active protection systems (both ground and air), aircraft survivability, future vertical lift, directed energy weapons, cyber, and integrated electronic warfare.
The Army modernization strategy reflects those areas in which the Army will focus its limited investments for future Army readiness. However, our implementation of the strategy will fall short if we delay investment in next generation platforms. We request the support of Congress to provide flexibility in current procurement methods and to fund these five capability areas--Aviation, the Network, Integrated Air Missile Defense, Combat Vehicles, and Emerging Threats--to provide the equipment the Army requires to fight and win our Nation's wars.
We support the ongoing Congressional efforts to streamline redundant and unnecessary barriers in the acquisition process. Our adversaries are rapidly leveraging available technology; our acquisition process must be agile enough to keep pace. Aligning responsibilities with authorities only improves the acquisition process. The Army remains committed to ensuring that we make the right acquisition decisions and that we improve the acquisition process to maintain a technological advantage over adversaries and provide requisite capabilities to Soldiers.
Soldiers, Civilians, and Families: Our Greatest Asset
The Army's collective strength originates from the quality citizens we recruit from communities across America and place into our formations. We build readiness by training and developing American citizens into ethical and competent Soldiers who are mentally and physically fit to withstand the intense rigors of ground combat. Additionally, the Families of our Soldiers make sacrifices for the Nation that contribute to Army readiness and play an important part in achieving mission success. As a result of the dedication and sacrifices of Soldiers and their Families, the Army is committed to providing the best possible care, support, and services.
The Army is committed to improve access of behavioral health services. Beginning in 2012, the Army transformed its behavioral health care to place providers within combat brigades. These embedded behavioral health teams improve Soldier readiness by providing care closer to the point of need. However, the Army only has 1,789 of the 2,090 behavioral health providers required to deliver clinical care. The Army will continue to use all available incentives and authorities to hire these high demand professionals to ensure we provide our Soldiers immediate access to the best possible care.
The Army provides an inclusive environment that provides every Soldier and Civilian equal opportunities to advance to the level of their ability regardless of their racial background, sexual orientation, or gender. This year, the Army removed legacy gender-based entry barriers from the most physically and mentally demanding leadership school the Army offers--the United States Army Ranger School. To date, three female Soldiers have graduated the United States Army Ranger School. We increasingly recognize that we derive strength from our diversity, varying perspectives, and differing qualities of our people. The Army welcomes the increased opportunities to bring new ideas and expanded capabilities to the mission.
The Army does not tolerate sexual assault or sexual harassment. We are committed to identifying and implementing all proven methods to eliminate sexual harassment and sexual assault. As an example, the United States Army Cadet Command shared sexual harassment and sexual assault prevention best practices with universities and organizations nationwide. Currently, Cadet Command has 232 Army Reserve Officers Training Corps programs that have signed partnership charters with their colleges or universities. These cadets actively participate in education and awareness training on campuses that include programs such as "Take Back the Night" and "Stomp Out Sexual Assault." Cadets also serve as peer mentors, bystander intervention trainers, and sexual assault prevention advocates.
Prevention is the primary objective of the Army Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program. However, when an incident does occur, the Army initiates a professional investigation to hold the offender accountable while providing best-in-class support and protection to the survivor. Additionally, the Army performs assessments of SHARP program strategies to measure effectiveness. To increase effectiveness, the U.S. Army Medical Command ensures that every Military Treatment Facility operating a 24/7 Emergency Room has a trained and qualified Sexual Assault Medical Forensic Examiner. Our enduring commitment to the SHARP program strives to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment, strengthen trust within our formations, and ensure our Soldiers are combat ready.
Another program committed to keeping the faith and improving quality of life is the Soldier For Life Program. The Soldier For Life program connects Army, governmental, and community efforts to build relationships that facilitate successful reintegration of our Soldiers and their Families into communities across America. Currently, the Soldier For Life program offers support to 9.5 million Army Veterans and Soldiers. Moreover, the Army plans to support the transition of 374,000 Soldiers in the next three years. In 2015, veteran unemployment in the United States was at a seven-year low and employers hired veterans at higher rates than non-veterans. Additionally, the Army distribution of FY15 unemployment compensation for former service members was down 25%, $81.8 million, from FY14. The Army seeks to continue the positive trends for Army Soldiers, Family Members, and Veterans in 2015. Ultimately, this program provides a connection between the Soldiers and the American people.
The Army's most valuable asset is its people; therefore, the well-being of Soldiers, Civilians, and their Family members, both on and off-duty remains critical to the success of the Army. Taking care of Soldiers is an obligation of every Army leader. The Army focuses on improving personal readiness and increasing personal accountability. Programs like "Not in My Squad," first championed by Sergeant Major of the Army Daniel Dailey, empower Army leaders to instill Army values in their Soldiers and enforce Army standards. Our Soldiers and Civilians want to be part of a team that fosters greatness. It is through personal conduct and proactive leadership that we seek to improve on a culture of trust that motivates and guides the conduct of Soldiers. The American people expect and continue to deserve an Army of trusted professionals.
The Army's Budget Request
The Army requires sustained, long term, and predictable funding. We thank Congress for the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015, which provides short-term relief and two years of predictable funding. However, funding levels are not keeping pace with the reality of the strategic environment and global threats. Moreover, while the current budget provides predictability, it does so at funding levels less than envisioned by the President last year. In short, the FY17 Army Budget base request of $125.1 billion is $1.4 billion less than the FY16 enacted budget of $126.5 billion. As a result, the Army will fully fund readiness, reduce funding for modernization and infrastructure maintenance, and continue programmed end strength reductions.
Our major goals in this budget request are to: improve readiness by fully manning in combat units, increase combat power, streamline headquarters, improve command and control, and conduct realistic combined arms training. The Army will also modernize in five capability areas: Aviation, the Network, Integrated Air Missile Defense, Combat Vehicles, and Emerging Threats. Additionally, the Army will ensure the recruitment and retention of high quality Soldiers of character and competence. The FY17 budget also provides adequate funding so that we can provide Soldiers, Civilians, and their Families the best possible quality of life. Absent additional legislation, the Budget Control Act funding levels will return in FY18. This continued fiscal unpredictability beyond FY17 is one of the Army's single greatest challenges and inhibits our ability to generate readiness. This will force the Army to continue to reduce end strength and delay modernization, decreasing Army capability and capacity--a risk our Nation should not accept.
The Army's FY17 Budget prioritizes readiness while reducing our end strength and delaying modernization. Prioritizing Army readiness ensures the Joint Force has the capability to deter, and when required, fight and win wars in defense of the United States and its national interests. To fulfil this obligation to the Nation, the Army requires predictable and sufficient funding to build readiness, maintain Army installations, modernize equipment, and provide Soldier compensation commensurate with their service and sacrifice.
The Nation's resources available for defense are limited, but the uncertainties of today require a ready force capable of responding to protect our national interests. An investment in readiness is the primary means that allows the Army to meet the demands of our Combatant Commanders and maintain the capacity to respond to contingencies worldwide. By building readiness, the Army provides the Joint Force the ability to respond to unforeseeable threats, decisively defeat our enemies, and advance the Nation's national security interests. As a result of our current fiscal uncertainty, the Army prioritizes today's readiness and accepts risk in modernization, infrastructure maintenance, and sustained end strength in the mid and long term. We request the support of Congress to fund Army readiness at sufficient levels to meet current demands, build readiness for contingencies, and understand the mid and long term risks. Ultimately, the American people will judge us by one standard: that the Army is ready when called upon to fight and win our Nation's wars.