Odierno: Sequestration Would Impact Army Readiness
By Cody Starken
Army News Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2013 Furloughs, budget cuts and curtailment of training would significantly impact Army readiness if the billions of dollars in spending cuts triggered by sequestration are allowed to take place March 1, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno told lawmakers Tuesday.
Odierno, along with other senior defense and military leaders testified on the impact of sequestration before the Senate Armed Services Committee. “The fiscal outlook that the Army faces in fiscal year 13 is dire, and to my knowledge, unprecedented,” Odierno said.
Since 2008, the total Army budget will have been reduced by 37 percent. If sequestration is enacted, it will be greater than 45 percent. This reduces the ability to reset the force, and delays modernization programs the Army currently funds, he said.
“We simply cannot take the readiness of our force for granted. If we do not have the resources to train and equip the force, our soldiers, our young men and women, are the ones who will pay the price, potentially with their lives,” Odierno said.
The Army will also have constraints on military training and readiness, Odierno said. Even though current military personnel are spared, civilian employees will be affected through layoffs and furloughs. An Army-wide hiring freeze is already in effect, and about 3,100 temporary and term employees have been terminated.
Sequestration will mean curtailing training of 80 percent of ground forces, affecting basic war-fighting skills. It could also introduce a critical shortfall in areas such as aviation, intelligence and engineering, Odierno said.
Local business will be affected as well. “In the Army, we are going to have to reduce purchase orders from 3,000 small companies,” said Odierno. “From an Army perspective, it will hit the small companies" an impact that he predicted would be devastating.
Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the Army National Guard told lawmakers “In the area of personnel: a government, civilian, and military-technician hiring freeze compounded by a 22-day furlough will limit our ability to train and maintain our National Guard forces.”
Those testifying Tuesday urged lawmakers to prevent sequestration from occurring.
“I know what it takes to prepare this nation’s sons and daughters for war. I know what it takes to grow leaders in our Army. I know what is required to send Soldiers into combat, and I’ve seen the consequences when they are sent unprepared,” said Odierno.