U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support, held a subcommittee hearing today entitled “Current Readiness of U.S. Forces.”
The Vice Chiefs of Staff of each service branch testified about current readiness challenges.
Beyond current readiness concerns, we are at an inflection point where we can no longer afford to defer modernizing our capabilities and developing new ones without eroding competitive advantages of our technology and weapon systems. While we remain the most capable fighting force in the world, without immediate action, we may not be able to make that same statement in five years. With that challenge in mind, we have undertaken a sweeping reform of the Army acquisition process, and made modernization a top priority.
At the height of the Cold War, approximately one in six ships were deployed on any given day, today almost one in three are deployed on any given day. This “math problem” clearly demonstrates that national demands for your Navy far exceed its capacity, driving operational tempo to unsustainable levels. Compound those facts with Budget Control Act (BCA) funding caps over the past five years which challenged the ability of the Navy to adequately address the full range of needed investments while meeting near-term commitments. And, the world continues to grow more complex and competitive.
Readiness is essential to our ethos... We cannot afford to build readiness after a crisis occurs. We must be ready to respond immediately. Previous strategies focused our investment on readiness to defeat violent extremist organizations and meet steady-state geographic combatant commander (GCC) requirements. After years of prioritizing readiness to meet steady-state requirements, our strategy now defines readiness as our ability to compete, deter and win against the rising peer threats we face. We define readiness by whether we possess the required capabilities and capacity we need to face the threats outlined in the NDS.
It is our top priority to restore readiness to win any fight at any time. Nearly three decades of non-peer, non-traditional conflict has consumed our readiness attention. Today’s world requires an Air Force ready for great power competition. As conveyed by the National Defense Strategy (NDS), our nation’s competitors are moving at a speed and scale unseen in recent periods. Air Force advantages are at risk. We must act with urgency. Speed will win in preparation, just as in battle. We will remain relentless in our pursuit of readiness, and by extension lethality.