By Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the ArmyFebruary 26, 2013
General Odierno: Thank you, Chairman Young, Chairman Rogers, Ranking Member Lowey, Ranking Member Visclosky, and the rest of the committee. Thank you so much for allowing us to be here today to have this very important discussion.
Nearly eighteen months ago, I was asked and charged to be the Chief of Staff of the Army to run this Army, and asked to provide my best military advice and I will do that today as we discuss this complex issue. I've had the opportunity over the last several years to command at every level in combat, at division, corps, and theater level. I know what it takes to ensure this Nation's sons and daughters are prepared 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. I began my career in the '70s in a hollow Army; I am determined not to end my career in a hollow Army.
Every day, events across the globe remind us that we live in the most unpredictable and dynamic security landscape I've experienced in my career. Unlike post-conflict draw downs in the past, we do not see any peace and stability dividend in our future. Instead, right now the Army has almost 60,000 people deployed in Afghanistan, and another 22,000 deployed in the Middle East, Kosovo, and other places, and more than 91,000 forward stationed across the globe. It is these very Soldiers who will suffer the most under budgetary cuts.
We simply do not know when we will be asked to deploy Soldiers to fight again. But history is very clear on this subject; we will ask them to deploy. Our men and women will ask to provide security for this nation when it is at risk. We owe it to them and the American people to ensure that our Soldiers are ready when we ask them to respond to the next war, the next crisis, the next natural disaster -- that is our charge together to ensure they are ready to respond.
In my opinion, the greatest threat to our national security is the fiscal uncertainty resulting from the lack of predictability in our budget cycle over the last several years. 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 an $18 billion dollar shortfall to the Army's Operation and Maintenance (OMA) accounts, as well as an additional $6 billion cut to all other programs. All of this will come in the last seven months of this year.
Our top priority is to ensure that our forces in Afghanistan and Korea have the resources required to execute their missions. But these cuts will have grave consequences and an immediate impact and on the readiness of our remaining forces.
• 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. Sequestration will impact our ability to provide properly trained soldiers in Afghanistan in 2014. And it will have significant near and long term impacts on U.S. Army Special Operations Command (USASOC) and their ability to support special operations.
• We have directed an immediate Army-wide hiring freeze and we will terminate an estimated 3,100 temporary and term employees.
• We will furlough up to 251,000 civilians for up to 22 days. The Army provides 48% of all DOD civilian and military medical services and our valued civilian employees represent as much as 60% of the Army's workforce at our medical treatment facilities - three times that of our Sister Services. Thus, the civilian furlough will mean that our Soldiers and family members will be experience degraded access to medical care.
• 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. If sequestration is implemented, over 10,000 employees could be affected next year.
• On our installations, civilian furloughs, a 70% reduction in base sustainment funding, and the elimination of contracts will strain our ability to protect our Army Family Programs. If sequestration is implemented, we will be forced to reduce funding for our schools, our daycare centers, family assistance and community service programs, family and substance abuse counselors, and tuition assistance for our Soldiers.
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 Army but it will probably be closer to 200,000. A reduction of 14% percent of the Army's endstrength will equate to an almost 40% reduction in our Brigade Combat Teams and excess US-based installation infrastructure. Sequestration will result in delays to every one of our ten major modernization programs.
Since 2008, the Total Army budget will have been reduced by over 45%. If sequestration is enacted, it will be greater than 50% - that is a number greater following 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 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. And we are compromising the future readiness of the Joint Force, the Army, and our ability to provide for the security of our nation today.
I understand the seriousness of our country's fiscal situation. We have and we will continue to do our part. But 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.
I'll just add that over the last week, we have done detailed analysis of how we would implement the $18 billion shortfall in 13 which includes $6 billion in continuing resolution, about $5-7 billion in OCO shortfalls for Afghanistan, and approximately $6 billion for sequestration, and all those things I just mentioned we're still $4 billion short in paying the entire bill. Those are more things that we will have to do that we are still trying to figure out. So this is very serious and I ask your assistance in helping us, any help to include the flexibility that would help us to eliminate the $6 billion shortfall in the continuing resolution would be significant for the Army and it would at least solve one third of the problem we have today. So thank you so much for allowing me to testify here today, Mr. Chairman.