Feb. 13, 2013 -- CSA Testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee

By Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the ArmyFebruary 21, 2013

General Odierno: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Ranking Member, and other distinguished members. Nearly eighteen months ago, you charged me with responsibly leading our Army and providing you with my best military advice. Over the course of my thirty-six year career, I have commanded at every level, including most recently, division, corps, and theater command in combat. I know what it takes to prepare this Nation's sons and daughters for war. I know what it takes to grow leaders in our Army. I know what is required to send Soldiers into combat and I have seen first-hand the consequences when they are sent unprepared.

All of us have experienced the Army post-Vietnam. It was one that under resourced, one that was undertrained, one that lacked appropriate equipment, was not ready, and lacked discipline. We cannot allow careless budget cuts to bring us there again. As you said, Mr. Chairman, as I said yesterday and I want to repeat it here again. I began my career in a hollow Army; I am determined not to end my career in a hollow Army. We owe that to the young men and women who are willing to raise their right hand and defend this country.

Every day I am reminded of the uncertainty and danger of our global environment. It is the most unpredictable and dynamic security landscape I have faced and experienced in my career. I remind everyone that today the Army has 58,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan and 23,000 Soldiers deployed in other places around the world. They will be impacted by these cuts. They will be impacted by these cuts.

The other thing I know is we simply don't know when we will be asked to deploy Soldiers to fight again. But history is clear; we will be asked to deploy our men and women again when the security of this nation is at risk. We owe it to them and the American people that they be ready when we ask them to do that -- that is our charge together.

The fiscal outlook which the U.S. Army faces in this fiscal year is dire and to my knowledge, unprecedented. In addition to the $170 billion in cuts to the Army levied by the Budget Control Act of 2011, the combination of the continuing resolution, a shortfall in overseas contingency operations funds for Afghanistan, and the sequester in fiscal year 13 has resulted in somewhere between $17-18 billion shortfall to the Army's Operation and Maintenance (OMA) accounts, as well as an additional $6 billion cut to other programs. All of this will come in the last seven months of this year.

Therefore, it will have grave consequences and immediate readiness impacts on our forces especially those not serving in Afghanistan or forward in Korea because we will ensure they have all the money that they need. But what that means is we will curtail the funding for the next forces going in.

• We will curtail training for 80% of our ground forces. This will impact our units' basic warfighting skills and induce shortfalls across critical specialties including aviation; intelligence; engineering; and even our ability to recruit new Soldiers into the Army.

• We have directed an immediate Army-wide hiring freeze and we will terminate an estimated 3,100 temporary and term employees.

• We will cut 37,000 flying hours from our aviation training, which will create a shortfall of over 500 pilots by the end of FY13, and we will create a backlog at flight school that will take over two years to reduce.

• We will reduce our base sustainment funds by 70%. This means even minimum maintenance cannot be sustained, which will place the Army on a slippery slope where our buildings will fail faster than we can fix them. There will be over 500,000 work orders that we will not be able to execute.

• We will furlough up to 251,000 civilians for up to 22 days.

• We will cancel 3rd and 4th quarter depot maintenance which will result in the termination of an estimated 5,000 employees; a significant delay in equipment readiness for six Divisions; and an estimated $3.36 billion impact to the communities surrounding our depots.

For fiscal year 14 and beyond, sequestration will result in the loss of at least an additional 100,000 personnel, Soldiers from the Active Army, the Army National Guard and the U.S. Army Reserve. Combined with previous cuts that have already been approved, this will result in a total reduction of at least 189,000 personnel from the force but it will probably be higher than that.

These reductions will impact every Army base and installation that we have. Sequestration will result in delays to every one of our ten major modernization programs, the inability to reset our equipment after twelve years of war, and unacceptable reductions in unit and individual training. These cuts will be felt across the entire country. Since 2008, the Total Army budget will have been reduced by over 40%. If sequestration is enacted, it will be greater than 50% - that is a number greater than any war that we've been involved with since World War II.

In my opinion, sequestration is not in the best interest of our national security. It will place an unreasonable burden on the shoulders of our Soldiers and civilians. We will not be able to execute the Department of Defense strategic guidance as we developed last year.

I understand the seriousness of our country's fiscal situation. We have and we will continue to do our part. But the significance of these budget reductions will directly impact our ability to sustain readiness today and into the future.

We simply cannot take the readiness of our force for granted. If we do not have the resources to train and equip the force, our Soldiers -- our young men and women -- are the ones who will pay the price, potentially with their lives. It is our responsibility -- the Department of Defense and Congress -- to ensure that we never send Soldiers into harm's way that are not trained, equipped, well-led, and ready for any contingency to include war. We must come up with a better solution.

Thank you so much for allowing me to testify here today. I look forward to answering your questions.