Defense

March 6, 2013

Service chiefs ask Congress for fiscal help

The senior officers from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force asked Congress March 5 for more spending flexibility so they can maintain military readiness as the sequester’s across-the-board budget cuts take effect.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III testified about 2013 military construction March 5 before the House Appropriations Subcommittee for Military Construction and Veteran Affairs.

Odierno told committee members that sequester and the continuing resolution, combined, threaten “grave and immediate impacts” to Army readiness that could extend well beyond this year.

The continuing resolution prohibits new starts to military construction projects. “Until the Army receives an appropriations measure with new start authority, we cannot initiate 102 military construction projects that are scheduled for award in 35 states,” Odierno said.

He said sequester cuts will translate into about 100,000 facility work orders per month that will not be done, “Which places the Army on a slippery slope where our buildings will fail faster than we can fix them.”

All restoration and modernization projects for fiscal 2013 will be deferred, Odierno said, and 251,000 civilian employees will be furloughed.

“Sequestration will force us to reduce resources for our schools, our day care centers, and every one of our family assistance and community service programs that rely upon the installation’s infrastructure to provide services,” he noted.

“I’d ask that you provide us with an appropriations bill that would provide flexibility to reprogram funds to at least reduce some of the [operations and maintenance] shortfalls and allow for new starts,” Odierno said.

Greenert said the continuing resolution poses challenges for the Navy because it holds spending at 2012 levels.

“But this fiscal year, we are implementing a new defense strategy, and that emphasizes readiness over capacity,” he noted. “So as a result, we currently have about $3.7 billion more in our investment accounts than we requested, and we currently have $4.6 billion less in our operations accounts than we requested.”

That means the Navy is “out of balance,” he said, “and this unbalance is made worse in our operations account because of sequestration.”

The Navy is now reducing its presence in every theater and halting training for next year’s deployments, Greenert said. If Congress passes an authorizations bill or new continuing resolution that allows the services to move money between accounts, he said, the Navy “would first be able to restore the training and maintenance and [also] keep a carrier strike group and an amphibious ready group in the Middle East and the Pacific through next fiscal year.”

If Congress awards the department enough funding, Greenert added, the Navy will “restore the rest of this year’s planned deployments, training and maintenance.”

He told members Navy funding constraints have over the last two months caused $600 million in lost ship, aircraft and facility maintenance and training, “and we also missed some program management.”

In March, Greenert said, the Navy “will miss more than $1.2 billion of maintenance and operations because we’re deferring planned activity. These are lost opportunities, many of them, and these will increase each month as we go on a continuing resolution.”

Under sequester and the continuing resolution, the Navy was “compelled to stop almost all of our facility renovation and modernization,” he said. “Our ability to continue operating forward is constrained because of that.”

Amos said all the Marine Corps’ 37 military construction projects planned for fiscal 2013 and totaling $716 million are halted.

“Additionally, we have been forced to halt construction plans on hangars for the F-35 in Beaufort, South Carolina, as well as road improvements aboard our major installations designed to correct safety deficiencies,” Amos said. “These projects are ready to begin today. Without … appropriations or the authorities for new starts, we are forced to defer to future years’ budget, causing a ripple effect which will no doubt significantly impact our modernization and our sustainment efforts.”

Amos noted that in three rounds of recent congressional testimony, he’d “spoken about the combined effects of the existing continuing resolution and sequestration. These indiscriminate measures create unacceptable levels of risk — risk to our national security, risk to our forces, risk to the American people, and risk to the United States of America.

“I urge the committee to consider the full range of these risks created by the Budget Control Act and the year-long continuing resolution,” he continued. “I ask for your assistance in mitigating them to the extent possible.”

Welsh said the Air Force faces similar budget-based problems as its sister services. Without congressional approval for military construction starts, he said, airmen and their families “will experience delays to improvements for substandard dormitories and housing. Flight simulators and maintenance facility construction delays will magnify readiness degradations that are already unacceptable.”

The services need the flexibility to put dollars where they’re most needed, Welsh said.

“We find ourselves stuck in the unenviable trade-space between modernization and readiness, with infrastructure improvement delays and deferments amplifying the impacts to each, and we need your help to get out,” he added.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 
Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez

Smart-mortar will help Soldiers more effectively hit targets

Army photograph by C. Todd Lopez Nick Baldwin and Evan Young, researchers with the Armament Research Development and Engineering Center at Picatinny Arsenal, Pennsylvania, discuss the 120mm Guided Enhanced Fragmentation Mortar ...
 
 

Air Force assigns new chief scientist

The Air Force announced the service’s new chief scientist to serve as a science and technology adviser to the secretary of the Air Force and the chief of staff of the Air Force, May 21. Dr. Greg Zacharias will be the 35th chief scientist and is ready to “dive in” to his new role. “I...
 
 

TSgt promotion release delayed to allow system validation

Technical sergeant promotion selection results, originally scheduled for release May 28, will be delayed to enable the Air Force to continue to validate extensive system changes to the Weighted Airman Promotion System, officials announced. The 15E6 technical sergeant promotion cycle is the first to incorporate recent changes in the enlisted evaluation and promotion system. Recent...
 

 

Freedom completes rough water trials

The littoral combat ship USS Freedom completed Seakeeping and Structural Loads Trials, commonly referred to as Rough Water Trials in late March the Navy reported May 21. The U.S. Navy must demonstrate the seaworthiness and structural integrity of each new ship class. One of the primary ways the Navy verifies these qualities is through a...
 
 

Air Force releases Strategic Master Plan

The Air Force officially released the Strategic Master Plan May 21, which is the latest in a series of strategic documents designed to guide the organizing, training and equipping of the force over the coming decades. The SMP builds on the strategic imperatives and vectors described in the capstone document, America’s Air Force: A Call...
 
 

HYT extension possible for SrA-MSgt in 35 career fields

Eligible senior airmen, staff sergeants, technical sergeants and master sergeants in 35 Air Force specialties will be able to apply for a high year of tenure extension and, if approved, will be able to extend between 12 and 24 months past their current HYT. The Air Force is introducing several personnel and manpower initiatives to...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>