Washington D.C. – House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at the Army posture hearing today:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman. And thank you, Secretary McHugh and General Odierno. We very much appreciate your testimony today and your service on behalf of our nation. I hope you will also take our thanks back to the brave men and women in the Army currently serving in harm’s way in Afghanistan and around the world.
“About three months ago, Congress voted to pass the Ryan-Murray Bipartisan Budget Act to set the budget authorization levels for Fiscal Year 2014 and Fiscal Year 2015. While providing DOD with about $10 billion in relief from sequestration for the 2015 budget, it did not repeal sequestration or do anything about it from 2016 onwards. As a result, DOD and the Army had to build a budget assuming continued significant funding reductions mandated by Congress.
“Despite Congress being the main source of the spending cuts, many members of Congress have condemned the recently released President’s budget request that meets the caps required by that law for 2015. Many have pointed out that reducing the budget will likely result in increased risk in executing the nation’s defense strategy, and they are probably right in making that judgment. But, as the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”, or in this case, what you decide not to pay for. By choosing to repeatedly resist raising the debt ceiling and refusing to even discuss additional tax revenues as part of larger budget deal, this House has chosen to leave significant defense cuts – which most members voted for – in place.
“Of all the services, the Army’s budget is seeing the biggest proposed reductions. After building up to a budget of $252 billion in FY 2008, the Army funding request in 2015 will be down to about $164 billion even if the Army receives the same amount of OCO funding they got last year, which is unlikely.
“To meet these funding reductions the Army has made some hard choices. The most notable one is choosing to reduce the size of the Army – in terms of people – in an effort to restore and maintain readiness for combat, which today is far below the Army’s standards. Specifically, the active army faces a cut of 20,000 soldiers in FY15 and then an additional cut of 30,000, reaching 450,000 end strength by 2017. The National Guard would take a smaller reduction, going down by 15,000 troops, to 335,000. The Army reserve will also lose about 20,000 troops. If sequestration continues, the situation will be worse. By fiscal 2019 active Army end strength would go down to 420,000, the Army Guard would go down to 315,000 and the Army Reserve would go down to 185,000, levels at which Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno says the Army cannot execute the national defense strategy.
“Much has been said about these proposed reductions, especially to the Army National Guard. However, it is worth pointing out that – as difficult as the reductions to the National Guard may be for individual troops affected – it only reflects a 5 percent reduction to the size of the National Guard. Given the other force structure cuts this committee has heard about this year, from aircraft carriers to hundreds of Air Force aircraft, this proposal to reduce the National Guard by 5 percent seems like a reasonable compromise.
“And finally, we should keep in mind the fact that the Army faces a readiness crisis today, and that if we send our troops to war they will pay a high price for this lack of readiness. The simple fact is that the Army does not have enough funding to fully train the troops it has on the books right now. Unless sequester is repealed, the Army must be allowed to responsibly reduce its size so that the remaining troops are properly trained and equipped. If the Army is forced to keep more troops than it can afford, it will become a “hollow” force. That is an outcome Secretary McHugh and General Odierno are trying to prevent, and I support their efforts to do so.
“Thank you Mr. Chairman. I yield back.”