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April 23, 2013

Inhofe Opening Statement at Army Posture Hearing


"Thank you, Mr. Chairman, I join you in welcoming Secretary McHugh and General Odierno and thank them for their many years of dedicated service to our nation.

"The purpose of our hearing today is to discuss the Fiscal Year 2014 budget request for the Department of the Army.  Our Army continues to perform with remarkable courage, professionalism, and effectiveness around the world. They are battle-tested after a decade of sustained combat operations and demonstrate every day that they are the best led, trained and equipped land force in the world.  It is our responsibility to ensure that this continues to be the case.  Unfortunately, the budget request before us today falls short of this necessary goal.  

"This budget is emblematic of the growing mismatch between the missions and capabilities we expect our Armed Forces to maintain and the budget resources provided to them. Last week, director of National Intelligence James Clapper stated: “in my almost 50 years in intelligence, I do not recall a period in which we confronted a more diverse array of threats, crises, and challenges around the world.” I agree with him. Yet, despite this reality, we’re poised to cut over a trillion dollars from our military.   These cuts are having a significant impact on the Army.  In August 2011, Congress passed the Budget Control Act of 2011, which reduced planned defense spending by $487 billion over ten years.  The Army’s share of the phase 1 cuts associated with the BCA are forcing the Army to reduce its end strength by 80,000 active duty forces by 2017 and to cut the number of brigade combat teams from 44 to 36. 

"Additionally, these budget cuts when coupled with the impacts of sequestration are causing a significant decline in the readiness of our Army and its ability to train for the next contingency.  General Campbell, the vice chief of staff of the Army, recently stated before the Readiness Subcommittee:  “To meet the sequestered targets to protect war fighter funding in FY 13, [we’re] currently curtailing training for 80 percent of our ground forces for the next fiscal year. We've cancelled six combat maneuver training exercises at [the] National Training Center and the Joint Readiness Training Center.” These cuts in training come at great cost to the readiness of our Army.  It means that our soldiers will be less capable and less prepared to deal with growing threats abroad.  And, the longer these cuts continue, the closer we get to a hollow force.  

"Readiness is not the only area that I’m concerned about.  The Army has rightfully prioritized funding to support deployed and next-to-deploy forces, but we are learning that the Army’s modernization accounts—its future readiness— are at significant risk.  Overall, the Army’s base budget request for its modernization accounts is $1.7 billion less than last year’s request, driven primarily by reductions in aviation and ammunition procurement and Ground Combat Vehicle research and development.  These reductions do not reflect cuts associated with sequestration nor do they reflect the likely reduction to the modernization accounts this year as the Army attempts to solve its Fiscal Year 2013 readiness shortfalls. These negative effects on modernization are only compounded by sequestration. Last week, General Campbell stated: “Sequestration will also result in delays to every one of our 10 major modernization programs, including the ground-combat vehicle, the network, and the joint light tactical vehicle. In most cases, this will increase our cost. It will create an inability to reset our equipment after 12 years of war.” 

 "The civilian workforce is an important component of the Army.  They provide a variety of services especially in the maintenance and logistics arena.  Prior to passing a defense appropriations act, the Army, along with the rest of the department was directed to furlough its entire civilian workforce for up to 22 days.  However, as a result of HR 933 which provided budgetary relief for fiscal year 2013, the department adjusted the furlough period from 22 to 14 days.  I’m greatly concerned with the impact of these furloughs and look to our witnesses to provide more information on how these cuts are affecting our civilians. 

"The service chiefs continue to tell us that what they need the most is certainty, flexibility and time.  The Army’s budget request does little to help the Army address these concerns.  Ongoing budget uncertainty has degraded the readiness of our Army and I’m concerned with the long term impacts if we don’t address these shortfalls now.  Last week in our Defense Department Posture Hearing, General Dempsey testified, “When budget uncertainty is combined with the mechanism and magnitude of sequestration, the consequences could lead to a security gap—vulnerability against future threats to our national security interests.”  That is exactly what we are beginning to see.

"I believe General Dempsey said it best in a letter, signed by the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to the Congressional Defense Committees: “The readiness of our Armed Forces is at a tipping point.”  I couldn’t agree with him more. We’re going down a path where readiness and capability are being cut at such a rate that, as General Dempsey has stated previously, it would be “immoral” to use this force.  We need for our witnesses to tell us not only what it will cost to prevent a further decline in the readiness of our Army, but also what it will take to rebuild the readiness that’s been lost already this year.

"It is our job today to make sure we understand the impacts and ramifications of reducing the Army budget to levels from which we may never recover if we “go over the tipping point.” Such an outcome would have dire implications for our Army. We cannot allow that happen.     

"Thank you, Mr. Chairman."


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