By Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. OdiernoNovember 2, 2011
General Raymond T. Odierno
Congressional Testimony Opening Remarks
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Smith, and members of the committee.
Since this is my first time to appear before you as the Chief of Staff of the Army, I want to start by telling you how much I appreciate your unwavering commitment to the Army and the Joint Force. I look forward to discussing the future of the Army and the potential impact of budget cuts on our future capabilities, readiness, and depth. Because of the sustained support of Congress and this committee, we are the best trained, best equipped, and best led land force in the world today. As we face an uncertain security environment and fiscal challenges, we know we will probably get smaller, but we must maintain our capabilities to be a decisive force -- a force trusted by the American people to meet our future security needs.
Over the past 10 years our Army -- Active, Guard, and Reserve -- has deployed over 1.1 million Soldiers to combat. Over 4,500 Soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice. Over 32,000 Soldiers have been wounded -- 9,000 requiring long term care. In that time, our Soldiers have earned over 14,000 awards for valor to include 6 Medals of Honor and 22 Distinguished Service Crosses.
Throughout it all, our Soldiers and leaders have displayed unparalleled ingenuity, mental and physical toughness, and courage under fire. I am proud to be part of this Army -- to lead our Nation's most precious treasure -- our magnificent men and women. We must always remember that our Army is today and will be tomorrow about Soldiers and Families.
Today we face an estimated $450 billion plus in DOD budget cuts. These will be difficult cuts that will affect force structure, our modernization programs, and our overall capacity. It will incur increased risk. We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of previous reductions. I respectfully suggest that we make these decisions strategically, keeping in mind the realities of the risk they pose, and that we make these decisions together, unified, to ensure that when the plan is finally decided upon, all effort has been made to provide the Nation the best level of security and safety.
Our Army must remain a key enabler in the Joint Force across a broad range of missions, responsive to the Combatant Commanders, and maintain trust with the American People. It is my challenge to balance the fundamental tension between maintaining security in an increasingly complicated and unpredictable world, and the requirements of a fiscally austere environment. The U.S. Army is committed to being a part of the solution in this very important effort.
Accordingly, we must balance our force structure with appropriate modernization and sufficient readiness to sustain a smaller, but ready force. We will apply the lessons of ten years of war to ensure we have the right mix of forces. The right mix of heavy, medium, light, and Airborne forces; the right mix between the Active and Reserve Components; the right mix of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces; the right mix of operating and generating forces; and the right mix of Soldiers, Civilians, and contractors. We must ensure that the forces we employ to meet our operational commitments are maintained, trained, and equipped to the highest level of readiness.
As the Army gets smaller, it is the "How we reduce" that will be critical. While we downsize, we must do it at a pace that allows us to retain a high quality All-Volunteer Force that is lethal, agile, adaptable, versatile, and ready to deploy with the ability to expand as required. I am committed to this, as I am also committed to fostering continued commitment to the Army Profession, and the development of our future leaders.
Although Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding will be reduced, I cannot overstate how critical it is in ensuring our Soldiers have what they need while serving in harm's way, as well as the vital role OCO funding plays in resetting our formations and equipment, a key aspect of our current and future readiness. Failing to sufficiently reset now would certainly incur higher future costs, potentially in the lives of our young men and women fighting today and tomorrow.
Along with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army, I share concern about the potential of sequestration, which would bring a total reduction of over a trillion dollars for DOD. Cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military and -- in the case of the Army -- would significantly reduce our capability and capacity to assure our partners abroad, respond to crises, and deter our potential adversaries, while threatening the readiness of our All-Volunteer Force.
Sequestration would cause significant reductions in both Active and Reserve Component end strengths, impact the industrial base, and almost eliminate our modernization programs, denying the military superiority our Nation requires in today's and tomorrow's uncertain and challenging security environment. We would have to consider additional infrastructure efficiencies, including consolidations and closures, commensurate with force structure reductions, to maintain the Army's critical capacity to train Soldiers and units, maintain equipment, and prepare the force to meet Combatant Commander requirements now and into the future. It would require us to completely revamp our National Security Strategy and reassess our ability to shape the global environment in order to protect the United States.
With sequestration, my assessment is that the Nation would incur an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk.
Mr. Chairman, members of the committee, I thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to appear before you. I also thank you for the support that you provide each and every day to our outstanding men and women of the United States Army, our Army Civilians and their Families.