WASHINGTON – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Subcommittee on Readiness & Management Support, today questioned witnesses at the readiness subcommittee hearing entitled: Current Readiness of U.S. Forces. Witnesses included Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army; Adm. William F. Moran, vice chief of naval operations of the U.S. Navy; Gen. Glenn M. Walters, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Gen. Stephen W. Wilson, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force.
Inhofe, noting that our current readiness levels are increasingly diminished, asked witnesses to elaborate on how our readiness is lacking specifically for their branches of the armed forces. The Chairman said, “It’s important that we recognize that we’re going to have to do a lot rebuilding. We have to tell the truth…we have nearly an empty bench. People need to hear that from you guys who are at the top.”
Gen. Allyn, agreeing with Inhofe, noted that “we’ve had most of our modernization programs on life support for the last several years. Currently, our modernization is 50 percent of what it was in 2009.” That modernization budget is, he continued, “inadequate to modernize for the near term, let alone the long range future force we know we’re going to require a multi-domain battlefield.”
Adm. Moran discussed readiness shortfalls the Navy is currently facing. “For our entire Hornet fleet…we have 62 percent that are not flyable. More than half,” said Adm. Moran, “We’re double where we should be in non-flyable aircraft.”
Inhofe also questioned the witnesses on whether our current force structure is large enough to fight two major theater conflicts near-simultaneously. Gen. Walters said that unequivocally, “I can tell you today we cannot [fight two conflicts] simultaneously. One of the stressing ones for us is Korea. We couldn’t do that at all if we still had commitments elsewhere in, Europe, Africa or the Middle East. Our enemies know that too.”
“We’re [at] about 50 percent readiness today, across the Air Force,” said Gen. Wilson in response to the same question on simultaneous engagement in two major theater conflicts. “We were the smallest Air Force ever, in 2016 when we bottomed out at 310,000.”