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American Forces Press Service

Future Readiness Requires Investment, Officials Say

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 25, 2015 – The vice chiefs of staff for the Army, Navy and Air Force and the assistant commandant of the Marine Corps told Congress today that the return of sequestration-level budgets will seriously damage national security.

'With the velocity of instability increasing around the world and the threat of terrorism growing rather than receding, now is not the time to drastically reduce capability and capacity that would occur under prolonged sequestration-level funding,' Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn said in his prepared remarks for the Senate Armed Services Committee's readiness and management support subcommittee.

Sequestration is a provision of current budget law that mandates major across-the-board spending cuts in fiscal 2015, which begins Oct. 1.

Eliminating Readiness Gaps

The services remain globally engaged and committed to their missions, the leaders said, but are still in the process of digging out of the readiness hole created by more than a decade of combat operations and the recent budget uncertainty.

Each service's budget request is aimed at eliminating the readiness gap, they said, while allowing them to meet current operational demands.

President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2016 proposed budget 'is the minimum funding required to execute the nation's defense strategy, though we still carry risks in two important mission areas, notably when confronted with a technologically advanced adversary or when forced to deny the objective of an opportunistic aggressor in a second region while already engaged in a major contingency,' Navy Adm. Michelle J. Howard wrote.

Preparing for Contingencies, Combat

The events of the past year have demonstrated that the military must be prepared to respond to a variety of contingencies while maintaining the ability to conduct combat operations, the vice chiefs said.

'The challenges of the future operating environment will demand that our nation maintain a force-in-readiness that is capable of true global response,' Marine Corps Gen. John M. Paxton Jr. told the committee.

'America's responsibility as a world leader requires an approach to the current and future strategic landscape that leverages the forward presence of our military forces in support of our diplomatic and economic elements of power,' he wrote.

Fundamental Capabilities Under Threat

But, the leaders said, the nation cannot uphold its global responsibilities if it does not invest in the future. Sustained combat operations and budget instability have chipped away at readiness and capacity, they added, noting that fundamental capabilities are now under threat.

'Unless we improve readiness levels, our full combat power will take longer to apply, will pull coverage from other areas, and will increase risk to our joint and coalition forces,' Air Force Gen. Larry O. Spencer wrote.

To ensure readiness now and in the future, the services need adequate, consistent and predictable funding, the vice chiefs said.

The president's budget provides the required funding and needed reforms to fulfill the responsibilities defined in the Defense Strategic Guidance, Allyn told the committee. 'One critical assumption in the president's budget request is that Congress will enact critical cost-saving measures we have proposed,' he noted.

'We ask Congress to support these initiatives because without the flexibility to manage our budgets to achieve the greatest capability possible, we will be forced to make even steeper reductions to manpower, modernization and training,' Allyn wrote.

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