WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today raised his concerns to Secretary of the Army John McHugh and U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, about the reduction in funding for the U.S. Army under President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 (FY13) proposed budget and the shift in the defense strategy of the nation.
Under a new strategy announced by the Administration, the Defense Department must be able to fully deny a nation state’s aggression in one region through full spectrum combat operations while retaining the ability to deny the objectives or impose unacceptable costs on an opportunistic aggressor in another region simultaneously.
“The variable in this strategy is risk,” said Inhofe. “While the Defense Department continues to see its budget slashed year after year under Obama, other nations continue to build their military capacity. Even if you zeroed out the entire Defense budget, the nation would still face a half trillion dollar deficit. Defense spending did not cause our national debt crisis, and now is not the time to cut defense spending. We are in the fiscal mess we are in because of Obama’s failed leadership, out of control entitlement spending, and his increased spending on social engineering programs.”
Under this planned budget, the White House calls on the U.S. Army to decrease its end strength by as much as 72,000 Soldiers and at least 8 Brigade Combat Teams, and break faith with our active and retired military members by increasing TRICARE fees.
Inhofe continued, “At the height of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we had over 188,000 troops deployed with an additional 100,000 in the CENTCOM area of responsibility providing support. At the time, the force was extremely stretch thin with very short breaks between deployments, causing hardships and strain on our all volunteer force.”
Inhofe pressed McHugh and Odierno on how Obama’s “new” strategy with an Army force structure of only 490,000 soldiers will be able to meet current and future unknown requirements. He also questioned whether a proposed increase in TRICARE fees is fair and if it was ultimately an effort to force many retired veterans into Obamacare.
Inhofe continued, “It is our utmost duty to take care of our nation’s veterans. Years ago, they risked their lives to protect the freedom of our nation. Now, it is essential we give back to them. Without Congressional intervention, these veterans will endure an increase in TRICARE fees as high as 345 percent. While I agree that health care costs have increased dramatically, an increase of this size is unnecessary and burdensome to the men and women who served their nation with honor and selfless service.”
On the Paladin Integrated Management (PIM), Inhofe said, “I strongly support the PIM program to modernize our self propelled field artillery assets. As history has shown, this program is a culmination after many similar program cancellations over the last decade. I am concerned with the protracted 4 year timeline for development, and would like to see it condensed into the next two years.”
Inhofe continued , “The Army continues to do the best they can with the hand you were dealt, and they ultimately must follow the Commander-in-Chief. It is our job to give you a better hand to adequately meet the numerous threats around the globe. It’s unrealistic and dangerous to believe our national defense can continue serving successfully with a severely slashed defense budget.”