WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), today delivered the following opening statement at a SASC hearing entitled, Posture of the Department of the Army. Witnesses at today’s hearing include Hon. John M. McHugh, Secretary of the Army, and Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the Army.
As prepared for delivery:
Before we get started, I would like to extend my thoughts and prayers to the Army community and the men and women at Ft Hood. Our men and women in uniform who risk their lives overseas in defense of our nation should never have to face such senseless violence here at home.
Sequestration casts a stark shadow over the dangerous and volatile world confronting our national security. Contrary to the rosy picture the President likes to paint, the tide of war is not receding and the world today is not a safer place. In fact, the threats we face are rapidly outpacing our ability to deter and confront them as a result of the massive cuts associated with sequestration. Deterrence only works from a position of strength. We are unilaterally choosing to reduce that strength.
The Defense Planning Guidance states the U.S. Armed Forces will rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region but maintain commitments in Europe and the Middle East. They must be able to defend the homeland while conducting simultaneous defeat and deny campaigns (defeat one adversary while denying the objectives of a second). Given the deterioration of military readiness and capabilities over the last five years, I’m greatly concerned that we can’t meet this strategy without unacceptable risk to the force and our country. Further, the DSG states risk should be accepted in the ability to sustain large-scale ground operations through the “regeneration” of the force. I am anxious to hear our witnesses’ articulate the risk associated with this guidance.
Given the deterioration of military readiness and capabilities over the last five years and the significant end-strength cuts planned for the Army, I’m concerned we can’t meet the missions outlined in the Defense Strategic Guidance without unacceptable risk to the force and our country.
We have been wrong in the past when it comes to assumptions regarding the size of our ground forces, and I believe we’re poised to repeat the same mistake. When you get this wrong, it takes years to correct. Growing an Army sergeant takes years not months.
Today, the greatest risk our military faces today is becoming a hollow force that is insufficiently trained and unable to accomplish its assigned missions. General Dempsey stated earlier this month before the House Armed Services Committee that (quote) “the risk we face today is we have a significant near-term readiness risk that has been accruing….we’re digging ourselves a readiness hole, out of which it will take us several years to climb.”
Not only does this budget underfund current readiness, it mortgages future readiness. The Bipartisan Budget Agreement gave minor budgetary relief, but the military is still subject to $30 billion in cuts in FY 14 and $45 billion in FY 15. All told, instead of $1 trillion in cuts over ten years, our military is now subject to $970 billion in cuts. This reality has forced the Army to terminate and restructure its ground combat vehicle program and its aviation force structure.
Further, I am troubled that DoD has yet to release its request for Overseas Contingency Operations. The Army needs these funds to fill the readiness holes and reset its equipment. In his written testimony, GEN Odierno said, “The projected cost of the reset program is $9.6 billion (not including transportation costs), which extends for three years after the last piece of equipment has returned. Resources available under planned spending caps are not sufficient to fully reset returning equipment from Afghanistan in a timely and efficient manner.”
General Odierno, we are looking forward to your testimony next Tuesday when you, General Grass and Lieutenant Talley appear before this committee to testify on Army Active Component – Reserve Component Mix. Our overarching objective must be to preserve the right size and composition of the total force to keep this country safe.
Yesterday, during a Readiness Subcommittee Hearing, Senator Ayotte, asked the panel members, “What steps are you taking to prepare for, prevent, and respond to threats to personnel and facilities in light of the 2009 Ft Hood shooting, last year’s Washington Navy Yard and last week’s shooting at Naval Station Norfolk”. Tragically, several hours later, another shooting incident occurred at Ft Hood. Four service members, including the shooter, were killed and 14 people were injured. The responses didn’t give me confidence that we are doing everything we need to do. I look forward working you and the Chairman to address this serious issue.
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