Service Personnel Leaders Testify on Budget Request
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 27, 2012 Army, Navy and Air Force leaders detailed plans for force readiness and service member support when they briefed a Senate committee this week on budget requests for next year.
“Wartime experiences over the past decade have taught us that we must have a total Army,” Thomas R. Lamont, assistant secretary of the Army for manpower and reserve affairs, told the Senate Armed Services Committee on military and civilian personnel programs April 25. The Army National Guard and Army Reserve provide 51 percent of the Army's military end strength for around 16 percent of the base budget, he said.
Lamont said he looks forward to working with Congress to ensure the Guard and Reserve maintain a readily trained force of one million soldiers. “We are increasingly aware of the physical and emotional toll a decade of war has taken on our force,” Lamont said. “And we are committed to providing quality assistance” to soldiers and family members who are struggling with issues such as substance abuse, depression, post-traumatic stress.”
All affect readiness and weaken the force, Lamont said. The Army continues to take aggressive action to promote health, identify and reduce risky behaviors and prevent suicides, he said. He also said the service is working hard to establish a climate where sexual harassment, sexual assault and hazing are not tolerated.
At the same hearing, Juan M. Garcia III, assistant secretary of the Navy for manpower and reserve affairs, highlighted new ROTC units and opportunities including those for women that have opened in the force.
“We have 23 female officers assigned to submarines, with more being assigned in the very near future,” Garcia said. “Last year, I spoke of new Navy ROTC units at Arizona State University and Rutgers. This year, I'm pleased to report that we're expanding our ROTC presence at Harvard, Yale and Columbia as part of our goal to make Naval service a viable option for young men and women from all regions and all segments of society.”
The Navy and Marine Corps will strive to meet operational requirements as efficiently as possible, Garcia added. “For the Navy, this means continuing to move sailors from shore-support functions to sea duty to enhance operational readiness,” he explained. “For the Marines, the reduction of nearly 20,000 in end strength coincides with the planned withdrawal from Afghanistan.”
Garcia said the Navy’s highest priority remains the care and recovery of wounded, ill and injured service members, adding, “the Navy is leading the way in innovative, therapeutic treatments of our wounded warriors.”
Daniel B. Ginsberg, assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs testified about “very hard choices” the Air Force made for this year’s budget submission.
“We had to reconcile top-line reductions with our requirement to fulfill our global commitments, and maintain acceptable levels of readiness while still sustaining key quality-of-life and core services for our people,” Ginsberg said.
“Despite a difficult budget situation, the Air Force is committed to providing cost-effective medical care, services and programs to maintain a healthy and resilient force,” he said. “We must support our people to meet the demands of a high-operation tempo and persistent conflict.”
Ginsberg also told the committee how the services worked together to form a cohesive budget plan through the Defense Management Action Group.
“There's lots of communications back and forth where we highlight some of the big issues that are going to be coming forward in the year ahead,” he added.