WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 29, 2016) – Combat training centers are being “fully funded” to ensure readiness “to defeat a peer competitor,” but units are not being trained enough at the installation level because of budget priorities, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn told lawmakers.
Allyn and other Army leaders testified, Feb. 26, at the House Armed Services Committee’s “Department of the Army 2017 Operation and Maintenance Budget Request and Readiness Posture” hearing.
Training readiness is one of the most quickly eroded and hardest to regain over time, he said, responding to questions about where the Army sees the greatest risks.
By the end of this year, brigade combat teams, or BCTs, “will have more than one decisive-action rotation under their belt,” he said. “That’s how we build the repetition that’s essential to ensure our leaders can continue to dominate on the battlefields of the future.”
While that is an improvement, he said, “We do not have sufficient funds to fund home-station training, which are the power-projection platforms and the deliverers of readiness.”
MODERNIZATION TAKES HIT
In order to make the necessary investment in readiness, modernization funding was tapped. Just $23 billion of the Army’s $125 billion fiscal year 2017 budget proposal targets modernization, Allyn said. “That’s less than half of any other service and it’s inadequate to ensure in the near future we’ll have the best possible equipment, so we’re having to prioritize specific gaps.”
MANNING HIT TOO
Manning is the third leg of the Army’s fighting capability, the others being modernization and readiness.
From now until at least 2020, manpower shortfalls will be “the primary limiting factor preventing us from achieving full-spectrum readiness,” Allyn said. The drawdown has created incredible “turbulence” in the force.
The drawdown numbers don’t tell the full story, he added. Over 10 percent of the force is not medically fit to deploy. And, it takes around seven months to process those Soldiers to the Department of Veterans Affairs. Replacements cannot be had until that process is complete.
SOLDIERS IN DEMAND
Across the joint force, the Army contributes 46 percent of the total force to the combatant commanders, Allyn said. That’s far more than the rest of the services. “I don’t see a reduction in current operational demands occurring any time in the near future. It’s been on rise for the last three years and it’s putting an excessive stress on the Army to meet those requirements.
Having said all that, “it’s an exciting time to be a junior leader in today’s Army,” Allyn said. There’s a brigade that’s just arrived in Korea from Eastern Europe. Those Soldiers are becoming globally more knowledgeable and are feeling they’re making a difference.
On the other hand, families are bearing the burden of the long separations, he acknowledged. Junior noncomissioned officers and officers are saying “I don’t know how long I can keep this going.”
But for the most part, he said, “Soldiers on our team want to stay on our team.”