WASHINGTON (Feb. 15, 2013) — Furloughs, budget cuts and curtailment of training could significantly impact Army readiness if sequestration is allowed to take place March 1, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno told lawmakers Tuesday morning.
Odierno testified to the Senate Armed Services Committee, along with Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, and the other military service chiefs, regarding sequestration.
Sequestration would trigger an approximate 10-percent budget cut across the government March 1, in accordance with a clause in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2013, unless Congress and the president can reach a compromise before then.
“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 all the 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,” said Odierno.
The Army will also have constraints on military training and readiness, Odierno said, and activities will face budget cuts for the current fiscal year and beyond. Even though current military personnel are spared, civilian employees will be affected through layoffs and furloughs. An Army-wide hiring freeze has already begun, and about 3,100 temporary and term employees have been terminated.
This sequestration means 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.
Personnel, training, and equipment weren’t the only things discussed regarding sequestration. 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 prospective, it will hit the small companies, which are really devastating .”
The National Guard was present to express their challenges due to sequestration.
“Full sequestration and the year-long resolution will directly impact the readiness of our units and will have an impact on the full range of our National Guard activities,” he said. “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,” said Gen. Frank Grass, chief of the Army National Guard.
The Army, as well as the rest of the services, implores resolution to happen soon to prevent sequestration from occurring and affecting the overall readiness of the forces.
“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.