WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services (SASC) Committee, today delivered the following opening statement at a SASC hearing entitled, “Army Active and Reserve Force Mix.” Witnesses at today’s hearing include Gen. Raymond Odierno, Chief of the United States Army; Gen. Frank Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau; and Lt. Gen. Jeffery Tally, Chief of the Army Reserve and Commanding General of the U.S. Army Reserve Command.
As prepared for delivery:
I would like to remind everyone why we are here today. We’re talking about the force structure cuts the Department of Defense has to make as part of the Budget Control Act. This hearing today brings home the harsh realities of sequestration.
While Army force mix is very germane to the discussion today, my real concern is why are we driving all three components below their pre-9/11 levels? In 2001, we passed an authorization bill that authorized Army end strength at 480,000 active, 351,000 National Guard and 205,000 Reserves. Now, we see a budget that brings end strength to 450,000 active, 335,000 Guard and 195,000 Reserves by fiscal year 2017.
This comes at a time where we are confronting a more dangerous and volatile world. In fact, the threats we face are outpacing our ability to deter and confront them as a result of the massive cuts associated with sequestration. General Odierno testified last week that 450,000 active soldiers, the number of active soldiers we will have by the end of FY17, defined the risk as significant in executing the Defense Strategic Guidance, and if the Army goes to sequestration levels of 420, 000 active soldiers, the Army will not be able to implement the Defense Strategic Guidance. We need to understand the impact of taking our Army down levels below pre-9/11.
At the heart of the total Army force mix issue is the Army’s proposal to restructure its aviation assets. While everyone is focused on the mix of Apaches in the Army and Reserves, the budget request also divests the entire fleet of Kiowa Warrior armed scout helicopters and TH-67 training helicopters and transfers 111 modern UH-60L helicopters from the Active to Reserve Component. Black Hawks became available because the Army cuts three active combat aviation brigades in the budget request. I want to hear all these arguments played out today.
I am very concerned we are sacrificing too much capability at a time when we should be maintaining our current structure and capabilities in these uncertain times. As I noted in the Army Posture Hearing last week, we have been wrong in the past when it comes to assumptions regarding the size of our ground forces and the capabilities required to protect this country. We’re poised to repeat the same mistake that will take years to fix.
I look forward to the testimony of General Odierno, General Grass and Lieutenant General Tally. Thank you.
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