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Odierno: Army to Create Leaner, More Agile Force

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2012 – The Army wants to create a leaner and more agile force over the next seven years. But sequestration, the threatened across the board spending cuts required by law would derail that plan, the service’s top uniformed leader said today.

The Army’s current budget proposal is strategy-driven, and it allows the service to apply the lessons of more than 10 years of continuous combat, Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno told a Pentagon news conference.

“We will be leaner,” Odierno said. “We’ll be a more agile Army that is an adaptive, innovative, versatile and ready component of the joint force.”

The Army will be “the best-manned, best-equipped, best-trained and best-led land force in the world, to be decisive for a broad range of missions,” the general said.

The new strategy, he said, calls for the Army to perform many different missions, from humanitarian through full-scale combined operations, as well as being more responsive.

“We will have the opportunity to adapt this process to be more wide-ranging, especially as we rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region,” Odierno said. “As such, we will implement a progressive readiness model for both the active and reserve components to be more responsive to all of our combatant commanders.”

Next year, the Army will begin a regionally aligned force concept to better meet some theater requirements, the general said. The intent is to focus unit or headquarters training cycles “on specific mission profiles and unique environmental characteristics that make them available to the combatant commander for employment in their area of responsibility.”

A brigade from the 10th Mountain Division at Fort Drum, N.Y., will serve as the pilot unit that will receive guidance from U.S. Africa Command, he said.

“For enduring commitments in some of the theaters, we plan to employ rotational units,” Odierno said. “Europe comes to mind as we reduce two forward-station brigade combat teams over the next two years. We’ll leverage pre-positioned equipment, sets and multilateral training exercises to allow us to promote regional security and enhance capacity and interoperability and sustain our relationships with our NATO and other allies in Europe.”

The Army’s end strength will drop, he said, but the changes will make it more capable even as this happens.

“Besides 10 years of hard-earned combat experience in our ranks, we continue to increase our special operations force capacity,” the general said. “We have significantly increased our ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. We’ve increased our aviation assets to support worldwide missions and responsiveness around the world. We continue to increase our cyber capability as we move forward. And we continue to look at other capabilities in order to move forward.”

Odierno said all of this change is in jeopardy if sequestration comes into play.

“As I have testified over the last several months, it’s important for the Army to execute the fiscal year ‘[20]13 budget as planned,” he said. “It reflects the highest priorities of the Army in support of the new defense strategic guidance and allows the Army to meet contingency requirements, take care of soldiers and families and achieve balance between end strength, readiness and modernization.”

But if sequestration occurs, it will force the Army to cut an additional 80,000 to 100,000 soldiers, Odierno said. This reduction, he said, would come from a combination of active duty and reserve component personnel.

By law, across the board spending cuts associated with sequestration would occur if Congress and the White House fail to reach an agreement to reduce the federal deficit in the coming months. Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta has said the hundreds of billions of dollars in additional cuts required from the Pentagon budget would be ‘devastating’.

“But what even makes sequestration worse is we have no say in where the cuts come,” the general said. “It is directed across every element of our budget, and it’s a certain percentage.”

This, he said, would create a hollow force.

“It would probably cause us to breach many contracts that we already have in place because we would not meet the current requirements that we have on our developmental contracts,” Odierno said. “And fundamentally, I think all the Joint Chiefs have come to the conclusion that we'd fundamentally have to relook our whole strategy if it occurs. And those are the concerns that we have.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno

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