Military Connection: Balancing the Force Size

odierno

By Debbie Gregory.

Could a smaller active duty Army affect the Army Guard and Army Reserve? According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, the answer is yes.

General Odierno commanded United States Joint Forces Command from October 2010 until its disestablishment in August 2011. He also served as Commanding General, United States Forces – Iraq and its predecessor, Multi-National Force – Iraq, from 2008-2010. General Odierno is the twelfth American military officer to command at the Division, Corps, and Army level during the same conflict and only the second to have this honor since the Vietnam War.

The Army’s 2016 budget has just been released, showing it would receive $126.5 billion, which is about a 5% increase more than the Army’s current spending. Odierno warns that under this Obama administration budget plan, reductions in the size of active force members would greatly strain the Guard and Reserve, causing potential harm.

This new budget would result in the loss of 475,000 active-duty soldiers by the end of the year, with a slight decrease to 450,000 by 2018. The National Guard and Army Reserve would decrease by 8,000 and 4,000, respectively, next year under this proposed budget.

Army Secretary John M. McHugh echoes that the enemy at home, for any Army returning from a decade of combat, is the automatic budget-cutting process. McHugh suggested that it would be an uncertain future for the Army if sequestration takes place this year. With that said, if Congress and the White House can find common ground and reach an agreement on spending priorities, the outcome could be improved.

McHugh and Odierno both agreed that the Army needs “consistent and predictable funding.” With tight budgets already taking their toll, Odierno feels that only about one third of brigades are ready for combat, and the ideal percentage would be more than twice that.

The Army brass supports fiscal responsibility. They strive to be great watchdogs of taxpayer dollars.