(Editor’s note: In response to an article that appeared in the Dec. 10 edition of Army Times titled ‘Experts mull lower readiness as budget trade-off’ by Andrew Tilghman, Military Times, Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., president of the Association of the United States Army, responded in a Letter to the Editor that appeared in its Dec. 24 edition.)
To the editor:
The Army Times article of 10 December discussing the results of a budget exercise conducted by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments seems to give credence to the idea that hollowing out the nation’s military – again -- is an acceptable course of action.
This is misguided and dangerous.
Strong military capability requires that leaders maintain a careful equilibrium among three main pillars of the force: personnel, equipment and readiness.
Allowing these pillars to slip out of balance yields unacceptable consequences.
If our units take the field without the best training, best equipment and best leadership that America can provide, our national treasure -- our Soldiers -- will be at significantly greater risk.
Similarly, it is imperative to preserve a careful balance of the natural tension between the readiness of today’s force and the readiness of tomorrow’s force.
As Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey is fond of saying, the security paradox of this century is that an ever greater number of people have the willingness and capability to harm the United States in an ever greater number of ways.
The American military is charged by the people with the responsibility to be fully ready both today and tomorrow.
Our country has tried before to generate budget savings on the back of the military.
These ill-advised policies introduced an unacceptable level of risk and ultimately required regulatory and statutory fixes.
The rapid, uneven defense cuts of the 1990s yielded tiered readiness, a procurement holiday and underpaid Soldiers -- all of which directly undercut the military’s ability to execute its responsibilities.
Resourcing the world’s finest military requires unequivocal commitment.
The American people expect their military to be fully—not partially—ready; fully -- not partially -- equipped; and fully -- not partially -- manned.
The proposition that the United States can be either fiscally solvent or well-defended is a false choice.
This country can afford to maintain a properly balanced force both now and in the future without creating unnecessary risk.
Remember Task Force Smith in Korea?
Freedom is not free.
Gordon R. Sullivan