The Army needs Congress to approve the $137.2 billion budget request for fiscal year 2018 in order to meet readiness challenges and continue modernization, the service’s top military officer and civilian leader told the Senate Armed Services Committee during a May 25 hearing.
The 5.3-percent increase, combined with relaxation of the budget-control measures enacted when sequestration took effect in 2011, “are critical to the United States Army accomplishing assigned missions to a standard expected by the American people,” Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Army’s chief of staff, and Army Secretary Robert M. Speer, told the panel.
In their joint testimony, they outlined how the Army is maintaining a vital presence in real and potential trouble spots around the globe.
Milley and Speer described how the service has been fighting counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, while deterring potential aggression by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea. Those threats are increasing, they said – placing additional demands on a service that is already stretched thin.
As of now, they said, 34,000 soldiers stationed under U.S. European Command and another 71,000 in the Indo-Asia theater, with 42,000 more dedicated to thwarting al Qaida and the Islamic State in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.
Meanwhile, 9,000 soldiers are deployed throughout Africa to help nations there counter increasing aggression by the Islamic State, al-Shabab, and Boko Haram. In the Caribbean and Latin America, another 4,000 soldiers are serving as a deterrent to both potential terrorist action and organized crime.
Meanwhile, they said, the service maintains a constant presence in rooting out and deterring cyber threats at home and around the world.
“In sum, over 187,000 soldiers support combatant commander requirements worldwide,” Milley and Speer told the panel.
All of this is getting accomplished under the yoke of sequestration , they said, which has posed “a significant challenge.”
The Army has been forced to become smaller by 100,000 soldiers during the past eight years, necessary maintenance is deferred, and old equipment is kept in service, Milley and Speer said.
“The consequence of underfunding modernization for over a decade is an Army potentially outgunned, outraged, and outdated on a future battlefield with near-peer competitors,” they said.