Cuts to modernization and troop strength were mentioned by the Army’s top officials as they continued to warn Congress of the impacts of sequestration in budgets 2016 and beyond during testimony last week.
Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell told senators “greater risk” must be accepted in the Army’s modernization programs in the near term due to financial constraints.
He testified about Army modernization and the fiscal year 2015 budget request before the Senate Armed Services Committee subcommittee on Airland on April 9. Officials noted the balanced nature of the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget.
“During this period of fiscal and strategic uncertainty, our goal has been to maintain the proper balance between end strength, readiness and modernization across the total Army, all three of our components,” he told senators.
Uncertainty is the biggest frustration right now among top leaders, Campbell said.
The Army has developed several initiatives to guide equipment modernization during the period of fiscal uncertainty, he said.
Those initiatives include using incremental improvements to modernize existing critical systems and building new systems to address key capability gaps; divesting older systems and niche capabilities to decrease sustainment costs and reallocating those resources for modernization and readiness; and procuring smaller quantities because it “cannot afford to equip and sustain the entire force with the most advanced equipment,” he said.
The centerpiece of Army modernization remains the soldier and the squad, he said. The fiscal year 2015 budget supports this priority by investing in technologies that provide advanced war-fighting capabilities.
The Army is reducing its end strength as “rapidly and as responsibly” as possible, he said, while doing its best to meet its operational requirements. Funds need to be concentrated on rebuilding readiness, he said.
“However, to do this we must accept greater risks in our modernization programs in the near term,” he said.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno testified the day prior before committee at a hearing on the active Army and Reserve force mix related to the 2015 defense authorization request and the Future Years Defense Program.
He said if full sequestration returns in fiscal year 2016 and beyond, the reduction of up to 46 percent of brigade combat teams in the active Army would be accompanied by a cut of 22 percent of the brigades from the National Guard. He said that would result in the Army going from a mix of 51 percent active and 49 percent Reserve component, to a 54 percent Reserve and 46 percent active-component mix.
“The Army will be the only service in which the Reserve component outnumbers the active component,” he said. “We believe under these fiscal constraints, it’s appropriate.”
Odierno described the fiscal year 2015 budget request a “balanced and responsible way forward.”
“It allows the Army to reduce and reorganize forces, but incurs some risk to equipment modernization programs and readiness,” he said.
Lisa Ferdinando, of Army News Service, contributed to this report.