Sequestration Cuts Would Be ‘Absolutely Devastating’
A return to sequestration-level funding would be “absolutely devastating” to the Army, the vice chief of staff told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
“All the readiness gains we made would be lost,” said Gen. James C. McConville, who has been nominated to be the next Army chief of staff. “We would not be able to modernize the Army. We’d have to reduce the end strength, and we would hurt the quality of life of all our soldiers.”
McConville, who testified alongside the other service vice chiefs before the House Armed Services readiness subcommittee, pushed for “timely, adequate, predictable and sustainable funding.”
The Army is seeking a $182 billion budget in fiscal 2020, a 2.5 percent increase over current spending. Getting this amount depends on Congress approving the Trump administration’s $750 billion defense request.
Without an agreement, defense spending would plunge by $105 billion under the terms of the Budget Control Act of 2011. The impact on the Army is not yet fully known.
The Army saw great improvement in its overall readiness over the past two years, McConville said, and its 2020 budget request seeks to continue that trend. “The budget we’ve asked for is the budget we need,” he said.
Having predictable and adequate funding will ensure the Army is able to continue building toward its goal of having 66 percent of active Army units at the highest level of readiness by 2022, McConville said. It also will allow the Army to improve its pre-positioned stocks around the globe and maintain a steady schedule of combat training center rotations.
“As we train our forces to the future, we’re not trying to fight the last fight better,” he said. “We’re trying to win the next fight.”