If full sequestration is implemented over 10 years, the Army would have to cut another 100,000 from its total force, according to senior Army leaders.
Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff General Ray Odierno said this cut, on top of planned reductions in end strength, “will cause a disproportionate investment across manpower, operations and maintenance, modernization and procurement, challenging our ability to sustain appropriate readiness in the near term in support of our current defense strategy.”
The Army is already planning to cut its military end strength by 89,200 (80,000 from the active force) and its civilian workforce by 17,000 positions as part of DoD’s $487 billion reduction to meet the spending caps set in the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Arguing for an end to the budget uncertainty that has characterized the process, McHugh and Odierno said the continued uncertainty “poses a considerable risk to our ability to maintain a ready force.” Budget predictability would enable the Army to better plan for the future, they stressed. The full effect of sequestration could be mitigated if the required cuts are predictable and pushed to the outyears, the witnesses said. This would enable “the Army to plan, resource, and manage the programs that yield a highly trained and ready force.”
Addressing the FY2014 Army budget, which is four percent below the FY2013 request, the leaders said the budget request balances readiness and retains agility and capacity. The request “supports reset and replacement of battle-damaged equipment, as well as modernization priorities.”
Referring to the need to fund the reset of equipment, they told the SASC the Army will need Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding “for three years after the last piece of equipment has been retrograded from Afghanistan.” Citing the workload considerable requirements to replace, recapitalize, or repair equipment, the Army leaders expressed concern that depot maintenance cancellations caused by the FY2013 budget reductions will delay these required repairs and upgrades.
For details on the Army FY2014 budget request go to the Army Financial Management website.