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May 06, 2014

Inhofe’s Opening Statement at SASC Hearing Entitled, “Military Compensation”

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, “Military Compensation.” Witnesses at today’s hearing include Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Adm. James Winnefeld Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Gen. Raymond Odierno, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army; Adm. Jonathan Greenert, Chief of Naval Operations for the U.S. Navy; Gen. Mark Welsh III, Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force; Gen. James Amos, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps; and Gen. Frank Grass, Chief of the National Guard Bureau. The second panel of witnesses include Gen. Gordon Sullivan (Ret.), and Chief Executive Officer of Association of the U.S. Army; Gen. Craig McKinley (Ret.), President of the Air Force Association; Gen. John Tilelli (Ret.), Chairman of the Board for Military Officers Association of America; and Vice Adm. John Totushek (Ret.), Executive Director of the Association of the United States Navy.

As prepared for delivery:         

Today’s hearing presents a troubling dilemma to the members of this committee – in an era of declining budgets, how can we maintain the right balance between properly compensating our military men and women while at the same time ensuring they have the training and capabilities necessary to defend the nation at the least risk to their lives?

Over the last decade, our nation has depended on the courageous service and sacrifice of our military members and their families for its security.  In return, we have steadily increased their pay and benefits – and rightly so.   We should be proud of this. It’s exactly what we should do for those who risk their lives to keep us safe. 

However, misguided fiscal priorities and runaway entitlement spending have forced massive cuts to national security spending.  These cuts have driven our military into a readiness crisis.  Squadrons have been grounded, ships have been tied to piers, and training rotations for ground forces have been cancelled while much needed modernization programs have been delayed or cancelled. 

Retired Navy Admiral John Harvey recently said we are sending the wrong signal to the force that is serving today, the one that fought two wars in the last decade, and the force we are depending upon to re-enlist tomorrow. We’re telling them they just cost us too much, that they constitute a “ticking time-bomb,” and that their sacrifice is “eating us alive.” We are telling them that we are looking for a way out of fulfilling our commitments to them.  This is not the right signal to send those who volunteered to serve in time of war.

The effects of these cuts are undermining the military’s ability to protect the nation.  Our military leaders have painted a stark and troubling picture of this reality.

Because of misguided fiscal priorities, we are now being forced to make a false choice between paying our troops and their families what they deserve and giving them the training and capabilities required to accomplish their mission and return home safely to their loved ones. This is an irresponsible and reckless choice.  If we spent what I think is necessary on national security, we wouldn’t be in this mess. 

I expect the witnesses today to give their best military judgment on how to take care of the troops while ensuring they are ready to defend the nation when called upon.

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