Potential delayed paychecks aren’t the only budget cuts facing the Army right now.
Top leaders have expressed concern about the next round of sequestration cuts. If nothing is done before January, $52 billion will be slashed from the Defense Department’s 2014 budget.
These cuts could lead to 85 percent of active-duty and reserve Army brigade combat teams unprepared for contingency requirements, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said Sept. 18 before the House Armed Services Committee.
“By the end of (fiscal year) ’14, we will have significantly degraded readiness,” he said.
“We have also learned from previous drawdowns that the full burden of an unprepared and hollow force will fall directly on the shoulders of our men and women in uniform. We have experienced this too many times in our nation’s history to repeat this egregious error again,” Odierno said.
At Fort Hood, Maj. Gen. Anthony Ierardi, senior post commander and 1st Cavalry Division commander, said he has “significant concerns” about the readiness of troops after another year of cuts to training dollars.
Units with specific missions, such as the division’s 1st Brigade Combat Team’s mission to regionally align with U.S. Army Europe and NATO for training and rapid response exercises, will be OK, but “it’s very uncertain we’ll have enough money to train everybody,” he said.
“I’m confident that our 1st Brigade Combat Team and the mission that they have will allow a level of training to support just about anything that brigade would need to do. But other units may not be resourced as well. That’s a concern. It creates a strategic depth in the Army,” Ierardi said. “The sequester has real impacts potentially as we look in terms of our readiness to go out.”
U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and is outspoken about reducing America’s spending.
The sequester should be adjusted “so that it does not disproportionately target vital defense spending,” said Sean Rushton, spokesman for the senator.
“Instead, Congress and the president should work together to eliminate government waste, and no government agency should be exempt from scrutiny where savings can be achieved,” he added.
In the meantime, Ierardi emphasized the division will continue to meet its requirements and take care of soldiers and families.
“We are still going to do what we need to do to ensure our deployed service members have what they need to deploy at the highest level of readiness, and make sure that their families are taken care of while they do that,” he said.
Contact Rose L. Thayer at email@example.com or (254) 501-7463. Follow her on Twitter at KDHmilitary.