Army Must Prepare to
Army Must Prepare to 'do
less with less'
By C. Todd Lopez,
Army News Service.
Washington D.C. -- October 11, 2011 -- (ANS)
-- Looming budget cuts across the Department of Defense mean the Army must be
prepared to conduct business with less funding, and the service's senior officer
said this may also mean doing less.
"In the past during periods of austerity, we've said we'll
have to do more with less," Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno.
"As we move ahead under significant budget restrictions, we'll have to do less
with less. We'll have to accept higher levels of risk than we have in the past.
Determining where it's best to do so is the primary task before us."
Odierno addressed attendees at the Eisenhower Lunch, Oct. 11,
at the 2011 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition
in Washington, D.C.
A major concern for the general is the potential of a
trillion dollars being cut from the Department of Defense budget over the next
10 years -- something that could happen if the "super committee" tasked to trim
$1.2 trillion from America's federal budget fails to come to a consensus.
If they fail, it's estimated that $500-600 billion could be
automatically cut from defense, in addition to the $450 billion the department
is already tasked to cut. The Army would bear a significant portion of those
"A cut of this magnitude would be devastating, this would
threaten every aspect of the joint force, and especially the Army -- it's force
structure, modernization efforts and ability to sustain an all-volunteer force,
as well as our defense industrial base," Odierno said.
The general said cuts must come carefully to avoid risking
the readiness of the Army.
"All of us have to realize and understand that we will get
smaller, that is fiscal reality," Odierno said. "But it's the how that is
critical. If we go too fast, we risk the current future readiness of the force
and lose the flexibility to react to the uncertain security environment we find
ourselves in. We also threaten the trust that is the foundation of everything we
From talking to Soldiers and veterans, Odierno said he's
learned that a primary concern about looming budget cuts involves compensation
and entitlement programs.
"Everybody needs to know decisions have not yet been made,"
he said. "The president recently announced a committee to study military
compensation. Department of Defense will provide input. Rest assured, we are
dedicated to a system that cares for Soldiers and families now and well into the
Odierno said he has been involved in discussions on how to
address the "fundamental tension" between the fiscal situation and an "increasingly
complicated and unpredictable world."
While he said the Army should and will be part of any
solutions to the financial situation, the nation must be told the truth about
the risks involved in using the Army budget to help solve the fiscal crisis.
Terrorism, failed states, man-made disasters, weapons of mass
destruction, drug trafficking and cyber threats are now part of "a strategic
environment that is increasingly complex and unpredictable," he said. Those
issues are compounded by scarcity of and competition for energy, food and water.
The general said he remains committed to a "successful
resolution" in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and that after that, the Army will be
free to pursue other areas of concern, such as continued stability in Asia.
He said there is consensus that future economic and security
interests are great in Asia, including developing a "peaceful and constructive"
relationship in China.
"We cannot ignore China's military modernization, but it need
not lead us to confrontation," he said.
He said how America interacts with China's neighbors, for
instance, is a key part of ensuring a good relationship with that country. He
said he looks forward to the Army contributing to stability in the Pacific
region. There, he said, the United States has developed a wealth of partnership
and diplomatic options that can be used.
Odierno also laid out some priorities for the Army. Included
in those priorities are winning the current fight, which means continuing to
provide trained and ready forces to ongoing contingency operations such as in
Iraq and Afghanistan; developing a more versatile "mix of capabilities" to
enable the Army to be a more flexible provider to the joint force; continuing
the commitment to "the Army profession"; and continuing to adapt leader
development programs. The general also said preserving the all-volunteer force
is a priority.
"We have the best all-volunteer force we've ever had," he
said. "We cannot waiver on this commitment."
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