Readiness Must Be Key Amid Cuts, Vice Chiefs Warn

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2011 — Mil­i­tary readi­ness must remain para­mount as the mil­i­tary seeks ways to oper­ate in the face of loom­ing bud­get cuts, the ser­vices’ vice chiefs warned Con­gress yes­ter­day.

Tes­ti­fy­ing before the House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, the No. 2 offi­cers in the four mil­i­tary ser­vices said they know the days of abun­dant fund­ing are over.

We rec­og­nize we can­not expect to oper­ate the way we have over the past decade,” Gen. Peter W. Chiarel­li, Army vice chief of staff, told the pan­el. “We can­not expect the same lev­el of fund­ing and flex­i­bil­i­ty to con­tin­ue indef­i­nite­ly.”

So, as the ser­vices seek new effi­cien­cies and inno­v­a­tive ways of doing busi­ness, Chiarel­li empha­sized, “it is essen­tial that we make the nec­es­sary invest­ment to ensure a strong, capa­ble defense.”

That, the vice chiefs agreed, means pro­vid­ing the resources and man­pow­er to accom­plish what­ev­er mis­sions the mil­i­tary is called upon to ful­fill. It requires main­tain­ing appro­pri­ate force lev­els, replac­ing equip­ment worn out dur­ing a decade of con­flict and con­tin­u­ing to build capa­bil­i­ties for the future, they said.

Gen. Joseph F. Dun­ford, assis­tant Marine Corps com­man­dant, point­ed to short­falls in equip­ment readi­ness for Marines not serv­ing in the com­bat zones.

As we move beyond Afghanistan, we will need con­tin­ued sup­port to reset our equip­ment and restore the readi­ness of our units at home sta­tion,” he said. “We will also need sup­port in mod­ern­iz­ing our equip­ment as we seek to recon­sti­tute the Corps for tomorrow’s chal­lenges.”

Mean­while, the offi­cers agreed that acqui­si­tion pro­grams must con­tin­ue, gov­erned by pru­dent deci­sion-mak­ing, to ensure the future force’s capa­bil­i­ties.

Our future readi­ness depends first on main­tain­ing the right bal­ance between our cur­rent readi­ness require­ments and the pro­cure­ment of future plat­forms and capa­bil­i­ties,” said Adm. Jonathan W. Green­ert, vice chief of naval oper­a­tions.

Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, the Air Force’s vice chief of staff, not­ed that the Air Force is using the old­est fleet in its his­to­ry to sup­port cur­rent oper­a­tional demands. For exam­ple, he said, delays in the F-35 joint strike fight­er pro­gram and decreased fund­ing for F-22 Rap­tor mod­ern­iza­tion has put more reliance on the lega­cy fight­er fleet.

Extend­ing the ser­vice life of these and oth­er air­craft ulti­mate­ly adds new costs, Breedlove said, both in increased main­te­nance require­ments and mod­ern­iz­ing required for them to main­tain com­bat capa­bil­i­ty.

Green­ert stressed the impor­tance of ensur­ing cur­rent ships and air­craft are able to reach their expect­ed ser­vice life.

With­in our cur­rent top-line bud­get, that requires that we lim­it demand for Navy forces to a lev­el that is sus­tain­able with­in our planned force struc­ture over the long term,” he said.

Although high oper­a­tional demands over the past 10 years have tak­en a toll on mil­i­tary equip­ment and put heavy stress on the force, the vice chiefs said today’s mil­i­tary has a rock-sol­id foun­da­tion to face the future.

The Unit­ed States con­tin­ues to con­front a dynam­ic inter­na­tion­al envi­ron­ment requir­ing the mil­i­tary to remain strong and agile enough to face a diverse range of threats,” Breedlove said.

The Air Force remains a mis­sion-focused and high­ly pre­pared force, he said, work­ing with its joint part­ners to defend and advance U.S. inter­ests “by pro­vid­ing unique capa­bil­i­ties across the full spec­trum of oper­a­tions required to suc­ceed in today’s fight and future con­flicts.”

Chiarel­li told the House pan­el the Army is as good as it’s ever been. “Let me assure you up front, your Army remains the most capa­ble and deci­sive land force it in the world,” he said. “It is bet­ter trained and equipped, and our lead­ers are bet­ter pre­pared than at any oth­er time in his­to­ry.”

The Navy, Green­ert said, remains the most capa­ble mar­itime force in the world. “We will con­tin­ue to main­tain a for­ward-deployed pres­ence around the world to pre­vent con­flict, increase inter­op­er­abil­i­ty with our allies, enhance the mar­itime secu­ri­ty and capac­i­ty of our tra­di­tion­al and emerg­ing part­ners, con­front irreg­u­lar chal­lenges and respond to crises,” he said.

Like­wise, today’s Marines “are high­ly trained and com­bat proven across the range of mil­i­tary oper­a­tions,” Dun­ford said.

We can respond with prompt, deci­sive action to a wide range of chal­lenges,” and with that capa­bil­i­ty, “send a clear mes­sage to both our allies and poten­tial foes,” he added.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)