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March 19, 2015

ICYMI: Military Leaders Warn of Reduced Training, Reduced Skill Force, Increased Risk

“We would end up sending troops over that are not properly trained.” — Gen. Ray Odierno

Washington, D.C. — U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), senior member of the Senate Armed Forces Committee, participated in a committee hearing on Wednesday regarding the U.S. Army's and U.S. Air Force’s budget proposals for fiscal year 2016. In Inhofe's line of questioning, it was highlighted that should defense budget caps continue under the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011, the Department of Defense will be forced to cut training hours which will increase risks for our men and women in uniform. Witnesses at the hearing included: Secretary of the Army John McHugh; Secretary Of the Air Force, Deborah Lee James; Chief of Staff for the Army, Gen. Raymond Odierno; and Chief of Staff for the Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

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Click here to watch the Q and A

Inhofe: "If you were to be forced into another totally different major contingency, what would you do?"

Odierno: "We would end up sending troops over that are not properly trained."

In Inhofe’s dialogue with the witnesses, it was highlighted that the dangers of the BCA are not just increased risks to men and women in uniform but also difficulty retaining a highly skilled force. Inhofe highlighted that to retain a pilot of the F-22 level, it would be a bonus of $225,000 over nine years, and yet to train a new pilot would cost $9 million dollars. While the Air Force has not struggled with retention the past two years, Gen. Welsh credited this from the two year relief from budget cuts. Budget caps will “bring back the frustration” of less flying hours, said Gen. Welsh, that results in skilled pilots exiting the Air Force to take offers from the private industry during a strong economy. 

In closing, Gen. Odierno warned that the impacts from budget cuts cannot be fixed with just restoring funding. He highlighted that time lost is also the enemy to maintaining a skilled and modernized force:

Odierno: "So the one issue here that we keep running into is for us, we stop training. And so that can't just be fixed with money; it is time and money. So every bit of time we lose pushes us back further. So if we don't -- if we go sequestration levels, for us, we can't take anymore force structure out. We're already on that road. So it comes directly out of modernization and training dollars. So what'll happen is we'll start canceling training, and  if we get it three or four months later, we've lost three or four months of training. And in fact, to reschedule it, you'll have units that will then miss a whole cycle of training, because they will have missed their opportunity, and it might not come around again for a whole other year. So you then get on this cycle of really downward readiness capability, and that's -- that's why it's so important to us."

Inhofe: “And you will have to continue sending troops forward perhaps not trained.."

Odierno: "That is correct"

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