Fear of the return of the automatic budget cuts known as sequestration is forcing Army leaders to take interim steps that are hurting Army readiness, according to the Association of the U.S. Army.
Previous funding cuts under sequestration, formally called the Budget Control Act of 2011, coupled with uncertainty in future funding "have forced senior leaders to have to make difficult choices between different components of readiness – people, training, equipping and leadership development," retired Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston said in written testimony to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Military Personnel.
Preston is director of AUSA’s NCO and soldier programs. He retired from the Army in 2011 after 35 years of service, including seven years as the Army’s top enlisted soldier.
"This trend has already had significant impact across the force and, if not reversed, will significantly affect the most basic component of readiness for decades to come – the people of the all-volunteer force," he said.
Congress has suspended the sequestration law for the current fiscal year and for fiscal year 2017, but it is currently due to return for fiscal year 2018, a move that Preston said AUSA considers a mistake. "AUSA urges Congress to repeal the Budget Control Act of 2011 and remove the threat of sequestration," he said.
"Today’s soldiers are tomorrow’s veteran and retired soldiers. Eighty percent of service members today had a close family relative serve in the military. Potential new recruits will watch how veterans are treated.
"As you make your decisions, please do not forget the commitment made to America’s military personnel when they accepted the challenges and answered the nation’s call to serve."