Army bracing for more budget cuts

| October 13, 2011 | 0 Comments

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — In fiscal year 2011, the government spent an estimated $1.6 trillion more than it collected in revenue. In fiscal year 2012, it’s estimated the government will spend about $1.1 trillion more than it takes in.

The potential that the Department of Defense may face additional budget cuts of $500-$600 billion during the next 10 years keeps him “up at night,” said Secretary of the Army John McHugh.

The DOD is already looking at budget cuts meant to save the federal government $450 billion in the next 10 years.

In addition, lawmakers are looking to find an additional $1.2 trillion in savings through the same period. If they fail to do so, as much as half of that amount could automatically be taken from the DOD, McHugh said.

“I think we’re in a positive position to accommodate at least the $450 billion or so in cuts that have been scheduled against the DOD to this point,” McHugh said during the 2011 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition, here, Monday.

Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno said that the potential of a “hollow force” would not come to fruition. Instead, he said, a ready and capable force would exist, though size might be affected.

Odierno said that while budget reductions must be made in both DOD and the Army, those cuts must be done in a way that allows the Army to continue to be an elite fighting force. He said the Army must be “smaller, more agile, deployable and capable of meeting whatever our nation’s needs are.”

Agility, adaptability and deployability are key, he added.

Both McHugh and Odierno agreed that cuts to the DOD would likely be shared equally across the three military departments: the Army, the Navy and the Air Force. The Marine Corps falls under the Department of the Navy.

The secretary pointed out that, while all services contribute to the fight, the Army carries the brunt of the mission in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

“The Army … has been saddled with much of the burden these past years, providing between 50 to 70 percent of our deployable forces,” McHugh said. “I think it is important to remind people that, while the U.S. Army represents half of our nation’s entire force, we consume only a quarter to 30 percent of the entire defense budget.

“We have been analyzing the best ways to meet these challenges, and, as such, I can tell you, we are better positioned than at any time in our nation’s history to deal with the fiscal realities and do it in a way that truly makes sense,” McHugh said.

Part of dealing with fiscal realities, he added, is cuts to end strength, or the total number of men and women in uniform. With drawdowns in Iraq and Afghanistan, McHugh said the Army can handle the challenge of end-strength reductions.

“But what is critically important, is that no matter what the force ultimately looks like, we have sufficient time to ramp down to ensure we do it in a balanced way and that we have what is necessary for training and equipment and reset,” McHugh said.

Boots on the ground, he said, are critical for the nation’s defense.

“No major conflict has ever been won without boots on the ground,” McHugh said. “Our national interests demand that while we set about the task of reshaping this Army for the years ahead, we remain steadfast and continue to support this, the greatest land force the world has ever known.”

“These are the kinds of people you want in your Army, or your Navy, or your Air Force or Marines — these are the type of people we need to ensure we can deter (the enemy) or defend our nation as we move forward,” Odierno said. “We have to preserve the all-volunteer force.”


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Category: Army News Service, News

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