Spending Cuts Could Result in ‘Hollowed out Force,’ Vice Chiefs Say
Budget cuts likely will harm the readiness of already strained forces, the vice chiefs of the four services told the House Armed Services’ Readiness Subcommittee on Thursday.
Gen. Peter Chiarelli, the Army’s vice chief of staff, urged leaders to trim the service’s budget and make force reductions carefully. “We must make them responsibly so that we do not end up with either a hollowed out force … or an unbalanced force,” he said, reported American Forces Press Service.
Any cuts beyond the Army’s 26 percent share of the $450 billion in defense savings already expected over the next decade would be difficult, he said.
Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Mark Ferguson also said he is concerned about jeopardizing readiness. “Taken in sum or in parts, low personnel quality, aging equipment, degradation of material readiness and reduced training will inevitably lead to declining readiness of the force,” he told lawmakers.
The Navy will search for savings in overhead, infrastructure, personnel costs, force structure and modernization, he said.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chair Randy Forbes (R-Va.) described the hearing as one of the last opportunities for the services to detail the impacts of looming budget cuts before the debt supercommittee completes its work.
Forbes made it clear that he opposes the supercommittee imposing further cuts on the Pentagon: “While there seems to be a prevailing consensus that sequestration under the [Budget Control Act] would be devastating to the military, I remain concerned that we may have already gone too far. Over the last 20 months, the department has reduced its 10-year budget authority by $754 billion from the levels submitted with the president’s budget for fiscal year 2011.”
To watch a webcast of the hearing or to read the vice chiefs’ prepared testimony, visit the committee’s website.