Transcript: Testimony of U.S. Army General Raymond Odierno on the impacts of defense sequestration
House Armed Services Committee hearing on “The Future of the Military Services and Consequences of Defense Sequestration” held on Nov. 2, 2011
Testimony of General Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Staff of the United States Army:
“Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Congressman Smith, and other members of the committee.
“Since this is my first time to appear before you as the Chief of Staff of the Army, I want to start by telling you how much I appreciate your unwavering commitment to the Army and the Joint Force.
“I look forward to discussing the future of the Army and the potential impact of budget cuts on our future capabilities, readiness, and depth.
“Because of the sustained support of Congress and this committee, we are the best trained, best equipped, and best led force in the world today.
“But as we face an uncertain security environment and fiscal challenges, we know we’ll probably have to get smaller, but we must maintain our capabilities to be a decisive force – a force trusted by the American people to meet our security needs.
“Over the past 10 years our Army – Active, Guard, and Reserve – has deployed over 1.1 million soldiers to combat. Over 4,500 soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice. Over 32,000 soldiers have been wounded – 9,000 of those requiring long term care. In that time, our soldiers have earned over 14,000 awards for valor to include 6 Medals of Honor and 22 Distinguished Service Crosses.
“Throughout it all, our soldiers and leaders have displayed unparalleled ingenuity, mental and physical toughness, and courage under fire. I’m proud to be part of this Army – to lead our nation’s most precious treasure – our magnificent men and women. We must always remember that our Army is today will always be about soldiers and their families.
“Today we face an estimated $450 billion plus in DOD budget cuts. These will be difficult cuts that will affect force structure, our modernization programs, and our overall capacity – and it will incur increased risks.
“We cannot afford to repeat the mistakes of previous reductions. I respectfully suggest we make these decisions strategically, keeping in mind the realities of the risk they pose, and that we make these decisions together, unified, to ensure that when the plan is finally decided upon, all effort has been made to provide the nation the best level of security and safety.
“Our Army must remain a key enabler in the Joint Force across a broad range of missions, responsive to the Combatant Commanders, and maintain trust with the American people. It is my challenge to balance the fundamental tension between maintaining security in an increasingly complicated and unpredictable world, and the requirements of a fiscally austere environment. The U.S. Army is committed to being a part of the solution in this very important effort.
“Accordingly, we must balance our force structure with appropriate modernization and sufficient readiness to sustain a smaller but ready force. We will apply the lessons of ten years of war to ensure we have the right mix of forces. The right mix of heavy, medium, light, and Airborne forces; the right mix between the active and reserve components; the right mix of combat, combat support, and combat service support forces; the right mix of operating and generating forces; and the right mix of soldiers, civilians, and contractors. We must ensure that the forces we employ to meet our operational commitments are maintained, trained, and equipped to the highest level of readiness.
“As the Army gets smaller, it is the “How we reduce” that will be critical. While we downsize, we must do it at a pace that allows us to retain a high quality All-Volunteer Force that remains lethal, agile, adaptable, versatile, and ready to deploy with the ability to expand if required. I am committed to this, as I’m also committed to fostering continued commitment to the Army Profession, and the development of our future leaders.
“Although Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding will be reduced over the next several years, I cannot overstate how critical it is in ensuring our soldiers have what they need while serving in harm’s way as well as the vital role OCO funding plays in resetting our formations and equipment – a key aspect of our current and future readiness. Failing to sufficiently reset now would certainly incur higher future costs, potentially in the lives of our young men and women fighting for our country.
“Along with the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of the Army, I share concern about the potential of sequestration, which would bring a total reduction of over a trillion dollars for Department of Defense. Cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military and – in the case of the Army – would significantly reduce our capability and capacity to assure our partners abroad, respond to crises, and deter our potential adversaries, while threatening the readiness – and potentially – the All-Volunteer Force.
“Sequestration would cause significant reductions in both active and reserve component end strengths, impact our industrial base, and almost eliminate our modernization programs, denying the military superiority our nation requires in today and tomorrow’s uncertain and challenging security environment.
“We would have to consider additional infrastructure efficiencies, including consolidations and closures, commensurate with force structure reductions, to maintain the Army’s critical capacity to train soldiers and units, maintain equipment, and prepare the force to meet Combatant Commander requirements now and into the future.
“It would require us to completely revamp our National Security Strategy and reassess our ability to shape the global environment in order to protect the United States.
“With sequestration, my assessment is that the nation would incur an unacceptable level of strategic and operational risk.
“Mr. Chairman and members of the committee, I thank you again for allowing me the opportunity to appear before you. I also thank you for the support that you provide each and every day to outstanding men and women of the United States Army, our Army civilians, and their families. Thank you very much.”
- House Armed Services Committee
- General Ray Odierno’s written testimony (PDF)
- General Ray Odierno’s biographical information (PDF)
- Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s website
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