Family Support Programs Vulnerable in Face of Budget Cuts, Army Officials Say

Funding for the Army’s family programs has remained consistent in recent years, but those support programs would be threatened if the Budget Control Act spending caps are fully imposed in fiscal 2016, senior Army leaders said this week at the Association of the U.S. Army annual meeting.

The next wave of budget cuts would be “devastating,” said Army Secretary John McHugh. Congress has allocated $1.2 billion annually for family programs over the last four years, which represents an increase from earlier. Lawmakers allocated about $700 million for family support six years ago.

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley warned that budget cuts mandated by the statutory spending caps would jeopardize all elements of readiness, reported Soldiers magazine.

“We are now about to, if we continue down the path that we’re on, start cutting into readiness. That will be readiness of not only training and manning and equipping forces, but it will also be family readiness, which is fundamental to the readiness of the force. Programs will end up either being cut completely or will be prioritized to the point that they’ll be funded at much lower rates than they are right now,” Milley said.

Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey urged family members to let local commanders know which programs they find most valuable. Commanders have the flexibility to decide which programs should be preserved in the face of spending reductions, based on the preferences of military families at their installation.

“That’s what our new family program is about,” Dailey said, “tailoring mission and needs with regards to the installation and the environment that exists at the installation. But we need to be informed on that.”

Milley stressed the importance of taking proper care of Army families.

“It’s all about readiness because our soldiers, when we go overseas and we are in harm’s way, we need to, we want to focus on our jobs and destroy our enemies. For us to do that, we have got to know that our children are in good schools and our families are in good houses, that we’ve got good medical care,” he said.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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