Army Secretary: Funding Crucial to Maintaining Best Land Force
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 25, 2014 Funding the Army properly could mean the difference between safety and insecurity, Army Secretary John M. McHugh told the House Armed Services Committee today.
Army Secretary John M. Mchugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno listen to opening remarks from the members of the House Armed Services Committee before they testified in Washington, D.C., March 25, 2014. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Mikki L. Sprenkle
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
The secretary told the panel the service needs the funding in the fiscal year 2015 defense budget request to properly restructure the force as it reduces its size. “This year and next may very well decide the fate of the world’s greatest combat force,” he said. “It could have implications for the nation’s and world’s security for many years to come.”
McHugh told the committee that the cuts the service already has endured under sequestration have damaged readiness, drastically reduced modernization and cut end strength. “These, coupled with a significant shortfall in 2013 [overseas contingency operations] funding, has caused your Army to enter this year with a $3.2 billion hole in readiness alone,” he said.
While last year’s bipartisan budget agreement has provided some relief, the service still is implementing $7.7 billion in cuts to the fiscal 2015 budget request. McHugh said the service has made difficult decisions that affect all soldiers, their families and civilian employees.
“This is not what we wanted; it’s not what your Army deserves,” he told the panel. “But it is what we have had to do to preserve America’s land power in such an austere environment.”
Given this background, soldiers are still performing their missions at the highest standards, the secretary said.
“From intense combat to counterterrorism to retrograde operations, humanitarian relief, disaster assistance, military engagement, your soldiers and civilians from every component … have seen unprecedented success saved countless lives, promoted freedom and democracy in 150 nations around the world,” he said.
In Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers fought against insurgents and terrorists even as they transitioned to a train, advise and assist role for Afghan forces.
Even as the fight went on in one theater, the Army exercised with countries in other regions. In the Pacific, Africa, South America and Europe, U.S. soldiers demonstrated global responsiveness, reassured allies and deterred aggressors, McHugh said.
The Army is getting smaller. In June, McHugh announced the elimination of 12 brigade combat teams so the service could reorganize and strengthen those that remain.
“In September, we announced a two-year acceleration of our drawdown to reach 490,000 active, 350,000 National Guard and 202,000 Army Reserve soldiers by the end of 2015,” he said. Most of the cuts are coming from active duty forces.
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