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Fanning: Budget Instability Biggest Threat

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U.S. Army
Monday, November 21, 2016

If the incoming Trump administration and the new Congress want to help the Army meet its readiness goals, the most significant step they could take would be to reduce the year-to-year instability that has plagued the military budget for much of this decade, Army Secretary Eric Fanning says.

“I get asked all the time: ‘What’s the biggest threat to the Army?’ There’s two ways to think about that,” Fanning said in recent remarks at a national security summit sponsored by Defense One.

In a geopolitical sense, the top contenders for “biggest threat” are obvious: Russia, China, North Korea and the Islamic State group, he said.

“But I think of that question in terms of my responsibilities as secretary of the Army, which in many ways is the CEO of a business unit,” Fanning said.

“So the biggest threat to the Army that I’ve been working through has been the budget instability. We’re on a path to get to our readiness goals. But all these issues we talk about, readiness, technology, modernization, force deployment … if we had a more stable baseline from which to plan, I could get to a lot of my goals faster.”

Even as Fanning made those comments, House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., announced that Congress will accommodate a request from President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team to put off work on a federal budget plan so the new administration can have a say in spending priorities.

An existing temporary continuing budget resolution for the fiscal year that began Oct. 1 is due to expire Dec. 9. Ryan said that continuing resolution will be extended to March 31.