WASHINGTON, Feb. 14, 2012 – Though its portion of President Barack Obama’s fiscal 2013 defense budget request required tough decisions made necessary by looming spending reductions, the Army will remain a superior fighting force, senior Army officials said here yesterday.
In a briefing for reporters at the Pentagon, Army Budget Director Maj. Gen. Phillip E. McGhee and Barbara L. Bonessa, deputy Army budget director, discussed the request for $134.6 billion in baseline funding and another $50 billion in overseas contingency funds for the Army in the president’s budget request. „This request really reflects the results of some very hard and difficult choices that we had,“ McGhee said. „But I will tell you now that the Army will remain the best-led, best-trained, best-equipped ground force in the world.“
The Army’s budget director said the fiscal 2013 proposal supports the Army’s role in the defense strategy, including:
— Training and equipping soldiers and units to address the current fight while maintaining a high level of readiness;
— Recruiting and sustaining a high-quality all-volunteer Army of soldiers, civilians and families;
— Supporting modernization priorities such as networks, tactical vehicles, and aviation and soldier systems;
— Funding ongoing military operations, sustainment and force protection for Operation Enduring Freedom;
— Resetting soldiers, their families, equipment and units; and
— Investing in enterprise initiatives such as energy efficiency, audit readiness and reducing the cost of doing business.
The fiscal 2013 budget request also takes into account a portion of the reduction in the size of the active-duty Army that will take place over the next five years, McGhee said. He noted that while that reduction is defined in terms of numbers, the Army still needs to determine what that smaller Army should look like.
„So both the Department of Defense and the Army leadership have directed the Army staff to go ahead and put a comprehensive review together and determine what is the right force structure for the Army,“ the general said.
Bonessa outlined several major program cuts that she said reflect the tough decisions made necessary by spending cuts required over the next decade.
Cutting the enhanced medium-altitude reconnaissance and surveillance aircraft will generate about $1.2 billion in savings, she said. Base-budget funding is cut for the Humvee recapitalization program, she added, but the Army will continue to support that program with overseas contingency funds. The medium tactical vehicle program will terminate in fiscal 2014 and will generate about $1.4 billion in cost avoidance or savings over the next five years, Bonessa said.
Also over the next five years, she said, termination of the Mounted Soldier System and the Joint Precision Approach and Landing System will generate another $900 million in spending reductions.
The budget request also reflects restructuring of a significant number of other programs, Bonessa said.
„There are some accelerations out of about the hundred or so that we can count as having been restructured,“ she said, „but by far, the majority of them are programs that we’re changing the requirements, changing the scope, or, in many cases, extending or spreading out the procurement over multiple years, a longer period of time, in order to generate savings.“
The program terminations and restructuring do pose a risk for the defense industrial base, Bonessa acknowledged.
„We believe, at this point, that it’s manageable,“ she said, „but those are business decisions that will rest with the private sector, and we won’t be able to address any of them with certainty right now.“
Bonessa said the choices made for the budget proposal were tough but necessary and in the best interests of maintaining a superior fighting force.
„As has been said … the Army is the best-led, best-trained, and best-equipped ground force in the world,“ she said. „There is nothing that our leaders or this department would allow to happen or do to preclude that. So we’re continuing to meet our commitments in Afghanistan and around the world. We’re developing the Army for the future.“
McGhee emphasized that the fiscal 2013 budget request „sustains our commitments to care for our soldiers and our families.“ For example, he said, the request includes $1.7 billion for family programs to reinforce holistic fitness, mitigate stress and build resilience.
„We’re continuing to care for soldiers and families,“ Bonessa added. That is one of the most important commitments we could possibly have, commensurate with their sacrifice and service.“
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)