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26 March 2014 Legislative News Update

Association of the United States Army Logo - Eagle with Shield, Torch, Olive Branch
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Legislative News is AUSA Government Affairs Directorate's 
weekly electronic newsletter, and is published 
every Monday when Congress is in session.

  

In this issue:

  • AUSA on the Hill
  • Army Budget Official: Deeper Spending Cuts Likely

 

★★★

 AUSA ON THE HILL

AUSA President Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, USA, Ret., provided testimony for the record to a hearing held by the Senate Armed Services Personnel Subcommittee.

Sullivan’s primary message to the panel:  End sequestration permanently before more damage is done and before we are left with an inadequate national defense force!

In his testimony, Sullivan said, “AUSA believes that the primary source of the budget challenges that face the Department of Defense (DoD) is the devastating effect of the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011. 

“The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2013 mitigated the sequestration spending cuts for FY 2014 and 2015.  However, the original sequestration cuts scheduled for FY 2016 thru 2021 remain in effect and will exacerbate the situation by continuing to place national security at risk.

“Sequestration has created a perception that the troops “cost too much” and are to blame for our growing military unreadiness.  The facts do not bear this out and the troops know it.  But it has sown a growing distrust among service members who are increasingly and unfairly portrayed as an entitlement special interest group. 

“America will remain the world’s greatest power only so long as it continues to fulfill its reciprocal obligation to the only weapon system that has never let our country down — our extraordinarily dedicated, top-quality, All-Volunteer career force.” 

Sullivan said that not only is sequestration and a declining defense budget having an adverse effect on military readiness, “we are also seeing an emergence of international doubt as to the credibility of the United States as a reliable ally and partner.  I am convinced we must be seen as a credible ally - if not, we are on a very slippery slope to disaster.  Credibility in this context is found in the perception of strength and national resolve to be responsive to our treaty commitments with balanced, trained, and ready forces.

“Similarly, adversaries are most certainly watching the steady decline of American military power and will likely take more and more risk to challenge U.S. leadership.  Moreover, the decline in United States military strength can lead to strategic miscalculation by potential adversaries.   A credibly sized forced – not just a reasonably sized force – provides a deterrent effect that is withering under the constraints of sequestration.”

Please add your voice to Gen. Sullivan’s and contact your elected officials and urge them to end sequestration permanently. Go to our website, www.ausa.org, click on the Contact Congress link, enter your zip code and click on the AUSA-prepared letter to Congress titled “End Sequestration Permanently.” 

ARMY BUDGET OFFICIAL:  DEEPER SPENDING CUTS LIKELY

One of the Army’s top budget officials gave key congressional staff members a run-down of the service’s fiscal constraints last week at AUSA’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast. 

Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Martz, Military Deputy to the Assistant Secretary of the Army (Financial Management & Comptroller), told the audience that the while Army’s current fiscal footing is a “glass half-full” the deepest spending cuts were likely still on the horizon. 

Last year was a bad year, Martz said, because “that's when sequester took effect and large-unit training exercises were canceled.”  He explained that when the sequestration execute order was issued March 1, 2013, too much was taken out of the overseas contingency operation, or OCO, budget, which needed funding for items such as aviation, which remained in high demand in Afghanistan despite troop and equipment reductions.  Additionally, as equipment came back it needed to be reset.  The result was that "we had to make (the money shortfall) up ourselves. That drove canceling things like training," he said.

"Everybody’s going, 'Holy smokes, this is terrible,'" Martz said of the current budget crunch.  "I'm not saying what's going to happen," he added, “Well don’t use the hard adjectives too quickly because you may run out of them.  Keep some in reserve.”

Martz said that the Army’s the priorities -- as dictated by the Army secretary and chief of staff -- are readiness, balanced with manpower and modernization.  That balance is needed to carry out the Army's strategy, which is "prevent, shape and win." Readiness includes training exercises and it also includes professional education and development, along with programs from the Ready and Resilient Campaign while modernization priorities include missile and cyber defense, aviation, science, technology and research.

The Army has requested $121 billion for fiscal year 2015, down from the $125 billion Congress provided for 2013.