The Army’s senior-most officer has lambasted Congress for not passing a regular defense budget. Speaking before the House Armed Services Committee April 5, Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley told lawmakers they were guilty of “professional malpractice,” the Association of the U.S. Army reported. He described a force that is still struggling to recover from the 2013 budget cuts that took place under sequestration, saying the country is facing the danger of deploying troops that are unready and ill equipped to fight.
Unwillingness or inability to pass a budget could very well lead to loss of life among U.S. forces, he said. “Our adversaries have studied us and are rapidly leveraging available technology while the Army has yet to fully recover from 2013,” he said.
The temporary budgets Congress keeps passing simply are not good enough, Milley believes. Readiness, he said, hinges directly upon “long-term balanced and predictable funding.” He rebuked one lawmaker, who used the term “the new normal” to describe the series of continuing resolutions.
“I don’t accept it as a ‘new normal,’” he said. “The world is a dangerous place and is becoming more dangerous by the day. Pass the budget.”
Failure to do so would require Army leadership to contract strength in order to meet readiness requirements, Milley added. This, in turn, would result in a reduced number of combat-ready units. Other repercussions include adverse effects on the supply chain, infrastructure, and facilities, he told the panel. Noting that Russia, China and other potential adversaries have increasingly flexed their muscles in recent years, he also pointed out that North Korea recently launched a missile into the Sea of Japan.
Meanwhile, he said, most of the U.S. forces now carrying out the continuing combat missions in Afghanistan and Iraq are soldiers. With U.S. troops deployed in tough spots throughout the globe, Milley said, he again told lawmakers they must act decisively.
“Time is not our ally,” he said.