otations to the combat training centers have been cancelled as a result of sequestration and lack of a budget. Here, Bradley fighting vehicles from the 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division out of Fort Riley, Kan., roll out of a forward operating base at National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., Feb. 24, 2013. This may be the last unit to train at NTC until the budget impasse is resolved.

Army exercises like this one at the National Training Center are being cancelled due to budget cuts.

WASHINGTON: While the Army can keep troops headed for Afghanistan trained up and ready to go, the ongoing budget gridlock threatens its ability to prepare for crises around the world — from North Korea to Syria – conflicts that would require a very different kind of training than the counterinsurgency tactics the force has focused on for years. That’s the warning from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, who added that the service might even have to submit an “unfunded requirements” wish list to Congress for the first time in years.

“I worry about the unknown contingency. We’ll continue to train for our Afghan mission and some other missions we have, but for unknown contingencies, our risk goes way up,” Gen. Odierno told reporters at a Defense Writers’ Group breakfast this morning. With yesterday’s release of the Pentagon’s annual report on China, the People’s Republic is getting a lot of anxious attention, but “we also have to worry about North Korea,” said Odierno. “That’s the first priority.”

“The next priority is the Middle East, and we have to prepare to operate in Syria or against Iran or, who knows, a failed Pakistan,” said Odierno. In particular, the fall of the Assad regime looks almost inevitable, he said: “It’s not a matter of ‘if,’ it’s a matter of ‘when,’ so what I worry about is … what happens the day after.”

Once the Army could spend 50 years focused on conventional warfare against the Soviet Union or a decade on counterinsurgency in Afghanistan and Iraq. Now, he said, “we’ve got to be prepared to operate across a broader spectrum of conflict, and that’s what makes this even more challenging.”

So is there any common denominator to guide the Army’s preparation? Yes, said Odierno. All those conflicts would involve a mix of guerrilla warfare amidst a largely hostile local population, as in Afghanistan or Iraq, with high-tech weapons – tanks, guided missiles, even cyberattacks – that the Taliban couldn’t deploy in their wildest dreams. That lethal combination is what theorists call “hybrid war.” To prepare its forces, the Army has come up with what it calls “decisive action” training – training that is now threatened by budget cuts.

“We know that the environment we’re going to have to operate in, no matter where it is, is going to be a combination of high-end combined-arms maneuver, but there’ll also be some aspect of counterinsurgency and some aspects of stability,” Odierno said. “They’ll be mixed together.”

“We are replicating these [scenarios] in our training centers,” he said. “I’m very pleased with these ‘decisive action’ rotations.”

But the Army has had to cancel six planned brigade rotations (i.e. field exercises) at combat training centers due to budget shortfalls in fiscal year 2013 alone. “About 80 percent of the Army is only going to train to very low levels,” he said, just practicing tactics as squads and other small units.  “They’re not going to be able to do any company, battalion, or brigade-level training.”

Units scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan and the 82nd Airborne’s “global response force” will be exempted from the cuts and able to train, but readiness problems will afflict the rest of the Army – including, say, most of any force that would be required to intervene in Syria.

“We provide options and the president makes a decision,” said Odierno, declining to forecast administration policy. The problem: “Next year it becomes a little bit more risky because our readiness is lower. We have the formations to do it. The question is are they ready to do it?”

“If in ’14 we don’t get a budget [again] and we go into another continuing resolution, we go into another year of sequestration, that will further impact our readiness,” Odierno went out. In that case, “I see us having a three to four year issue.”

“It would take me three years, probably, to get us back in balance, so you’re talking ’18, ’19,” he explained. “So we become vulnerable for three or four years.”

Odierno repeated his appeal for Congress to at least slow the pace at which the sequestration cuts are phased in over the next decade, even if it doesn’t adjust the 10-year total. “What I keep trying to tell people is it’s not just the size of the cuts, it’s that they’re so close in,” he said.

Pay and benefits, especially healthcare, are the Army’s biggest single expense, but “you can only get so much money out of personnel each year,” Odierno explained. (That is, unless you’re willing to force people out of the military en masse, as in the 1990s). “The most I can get out of personnel is $2 billion [a year],” he said, which means most of the cuts must come from readiness – training, spare parts, ammunition, etc. – and modernization – developing, buying, and fielding new equipment.

“If we can get budgets and they can backload the sequestration,” however, Odierno said, “it would make it much easier for us to reduce personnel” in a balanced way.

Sequestration, Odierno said, would also force the Army to cut the Reserve and National Guard and to try to shut down bases – both things that Congress happens to hate. But it’s clear that the Army’s biggest angst is over the budget crisis’s impact on its ability to prepare for military crises.

“Warfare really hasn’t changed. The reason we have conflict is people, they want to dominate resources, they want to dominate populations,” Odierno said. (No less a figure than Saint Augustine wrote of this phenomenon sixteen centuries ago, calling it the “libido dominandi”). Understanding that “human domain” or “human dimension of conflict” is the focus of Odierno’s new flagship project, the Office of Strategic Landpower.

Odierno, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) Chief Adm. William McRaven, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James Amos have agreed to and signed off on formal terms of reference, he said. “We’re going to open an office in DC and another one down in TRADOC,” the Army’s Training and Doctrine Command headquarters at Fort Eustis, Va. The Air Force and Navy will also be represented, he said.

Odierno emphasized the close ties Special Operations Forces and conventional forces have developed over the last decade and downplayed suggestions of rivalry with the Marine Corps for the role of worldwide rapid-reaction expeditionary force. “The Army has significant airborne capability…. The Marines have capability from the sea,” he said. “It’s complementary; it’s not competitive.”

Odierno downplayed any expectations for a radical new vision for land warfare, however – perhaps bearing in mind the Army’s Future Combat Systems debacle and the Rumsfeld-era “transformation” of which it was part. “My belief, which is different than some, is we can’t be revolutionary,” he said, “because of the uncertainty we have in the world today. So we can’t be revolutionary; we have to evolve.”

“Though we are going to be smaller, we’ve got to be ready,” Odierno emphasized. That readiness edge, of course, is exactly what he’s afraid the Army’s going to lose.

In recent years, the service has not submitted a traditional “unfunded requirements” list to Congress. This year, Odierno said, the budget crunch may be so bad he has do. “It’s my prerogative” to submit a list or not, he said. “I don’t want it to become political, [but] if we continue to have significant training shortfalls, for example… if I don’t have enough money to sustain a level of readiness, I need to say something about that.”


  • Lop_Eared_Galoot

    The Army should be thinking about The Truth.

    Libido Dominandi applies just as much to soldiers looking for a paycheck as it does to enemy social force looking to reapportion their own resources (something we have no business interfering with btw.).

    As examples of this-

    1. Korea and Iran want nukes. Our only excuse in denying them is that if they have them, we can’t go in and knock them off when they either try to sell oil to China in RMB. Or invade South Korea with nuclear fires to support them. And guess what? We lost all right ot moral superiority on the subject of nuclear weapons when we broke International Law (Hague articles on bombing civilian targets or dual use targets without warning) in killing 160,000 people in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Let them have their nukes. Make sure the ROKs get some too. Where them out sustaining the infrastructure to produce these weapons and maintain their conventional force too.

    2. If the Army is worried about ‘the fight it doesn’t know’, it can’t say whether it is ready to fight that fight or even what forces it needs to retain to do so. Asking for money to sustain what you have under these circumstances is pathetic because it i a blank check to defend against ‘contingencies’ which are unlikely to lead to a U.S. ground presence because Americans are tired of paying to clean up other people’s wars.

    3. If the Army can afford to fund TWO new offices to ‘study the problem’ then they have no right pretending that they don’t have the money to keep training. Most especially when their core combat ratings of armor and boot are manpower intensive in an era where we KNOW (16.8 trillion and counting) that America itself teeters on the edge of receivership. Find weapons that can be wooden round tossed on a shelf and then brought out to play as cheaply as possible with as little training required (Netfires) and make the deep personnel cuts to fund these systems as the RMA transformation that makes it possible to win ALL types of warfare. ‘Hybrid’ being just another buzz word that really means ‘more money to do the same old thing the same old way’.

    3. If the Marines can operate 400nm inland in Afghanistan (albeit as little more than campers to cut off the airpower + NA induced flight of Taliban from the north) then they can do the Army RDF mission. Most of the forward deployed Marine battalion teams are now Spec Ops capable and Lord knows I’ve -never- seen a fat serving Marine which means they can hack it physically. This means they can-do the long walk JTAC mission and some of the ‘people skills’ COIN work too. I can’t say the same for the Army. They can’t do more than drop airborne into the north forty of Iraq and dare the enemy to speedbump them. They have no fast-deployment armor and not being mounted, they can neither move to the sound of gunfire, nor run away from it.

    4. We are about to lose our heavy lift as C-5 fleet because we can’t pay for AMP/RERP and we aren’t buying C-17-200 as the next logical stretch-fuselage alternative either.

    That means the Army Heavy Track is going -nowhere- fast.

    While the 82nd Airborne hasn’t had Light Track in over a decade.

    Our SBCTs -do- have the massive failure of the Stryker but it isn’t capable of the kinds of work that any of the nation fights Odierno mentioned require, not least because it isn’t air portable on the C-130, has no APS and isn’t cross country mobile as either APC or MGS.

    _The Army_, not Congress, have cancelled critical programs like Netfires and FCS and LOSAT to pay for the billet bloat which is so essential for generals to have troops to command as job insurance.

    If they won’t pay for the systems upgrades that let them get away from cannon cocking ‘the old fashioned way’ (said Custer) to do true netcentric warfare, the Army has no business pretending that they -have to have- /BRIGADE/ Combat Teams at all.

    Interim, Objective or Otherwise, these forces don’t do the missions which the Marines accomplish with integrated fires Battalions as their smallest unit of maneuver. That’s an 8:1 difference people. 3,200 men in 8 battalion teams vs. ONE USMC MEF equivalent.


    If I were Odierno, I wouldn’t be jealous of the Marines, I’d be terrified of mass obsolescence in the face of superior training, esprit and organizational combat capabilities.

    5. The real truth of the matter is that the Army has set itself up like an octopus with so many support elements in so many separate, unattached, brigades that you can’t buy the calamari by the arm, you have to purchase the whole cephalopod. As a conspiracy the Mafia would be proud of, THAT sirs, is where the Army, as the Congress, has to begin to be broken to the wheel of ‘corporate efficiencies’ as cost:benefit of downsizing. Because that is where the majority of Guard/Reserve as pets of state politics is most deeply rooted.

    Since neither BRAC nor BUR nor any of the other ‘realignments’ have done anything to compress the _mission sets_ as private turf of the services, it is time to undo the gentlemen’s agreements which exist, at the highest JCS, industrial and political levels, as a constant swirl of backroom deals to maintain these parochial branch dominance as interests.

    This nation has FOUR Air Forces (the Army’s being, by far, the largest) using the same smart munitions and soon to be fighters as common tactics. Yet in the opening phases of OEF, the typical response time for unfragged CAS was ELEVEN HOURS and even today, it runs anywhere up to 26 minutes, giving insurgents a literal stopwatch against which to set their ambush-and-didimau contact breaks. Why is it that our ground forces cannot depend on their own organic responses with faster-than-140-knots rotary wing systems when they are also crippled in their acquisition of superior indirect alternatives?

    Breaking up the old boys club and pushing for new capability in much smaller force structures (which can themselves be molded and renewed based on changing tactics at a unit-by-unit level) can only happen by empowering and separating The Defense Science Board to a position of oversight dominance in selecting the kinds of mission capabilities that each service will supply and letting them be the ones who go before Senate and House committees to say how many, how soon and for how much money, those capabilities will be needed to synergistically interweave, not overlap separate force missions.

    I say this in particular reference to the U.S. Army whose leadership stove piping of program capabilities has terminally constipated the developmental potential of advanced technologies which could have, long since, given them a MUCH SMALLER FORCE with orders of magnitude greater capability. LHX comes to mind here as a 300 knot tiltrotor with large civilian techbase potential that ended up as a dead end radar defeating attack chopper, gold plated out of existence by a visual threat dominated arena. When helicopter warfare has _always been subject to visual trashfire_!!

    Now look at the past ten years in SWA and the 35,000 casualties suffered. because we couldn’t send fire support fast enough and had to ‘send the soldier rather than the bullet’ NETFIRES + Bradley as 60km indirect. AMOS+SADARM+Bradley as 20km indirect (Anti-Armor). LOSAT+Bradley as line of sight antiarmor. Anthropomorphic robotics to replace line infantry in exposed positions.

    And the entire specter of what paying for a thousand M1A2 SEP (when admittedly the Army only wanted 450) as a _lesser capability_ than what was required to save lives of soldiers, just screams of betrayal of our nations defenders.

    In 2003, GM shut down 15 odd plants and laid off 50,000 workers
    in the U.S., the better to shift to the number one growth automotive
    market: China.


    Civilian workers at these plants had absolutely no recourse to escape from this display of utter corporate greed as our government insisted these MNCs and the banks that backed them were ‘too big to fail.’

    The military and the Army in particular is, by far and away, the largest labor union on the planet, if the equivalent of two and a half full divisions were removed from it, there would be no end of men in uniform, with tears in their eyes, up on The Hill telling telling our Enlightened Leadership that ‘we can’t do this’.

    And guess what? American citizens would laugh their behinds off. Because it’s already been done to them. And the Army didn’t protect us one iota.

    Let sympathy, as defense, begin at home.

    • Don Bacon

      1. DPRK has nukes.

      2.There’s no evidence that Iran “wants nukes.”

      • Lop_Eared_Galoot

        DPRK is being punished for having nukes and this on again/off again use of the lash as literal starvation rations has driven her to the brink of some very stupid choices in terms of antagonizing the South with random artillery exchanges and ‘declarations of war’.
        That she wants to mount her arsenal atop MRBM/IRBM No-Dong/Taepo-Dong boosters is comparitively unimportant since the USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS will automatically bring with it keyed isotope traces inherent to IAEA sampled nuclear breeder systems (centrifuge or reactor pile based) which will mean the destruction of the sender, whether they do so with missiles or infiltration will not matter. This is why yellowcake is so carefully tracked and all club members acknowledge the absolute necessity of accounting for ALL their material.
        The only threat DPRK poses to anyone is ROK and maybe Japan if they are totally insane. And the easiest way to lock them up on that is to supply nuclear technology to those countries for 1/100th the cost of U.S. Garrisoning of the peninsula. Allowing U.S. to back off to Alaska as the ultimate air bridge and nuclear delivery assurance if Kim Jong Un gets surprise-preemptive lucky.
        DPRK cannot tackle ROK conventionally and win. DPRK cannot even reach Japan, conventionally. If DPRK cannot tackle ROK with nuclear weapons, the regime will collapse as it can no longer drive North Korean society with paranoid delusions of reunification by martial adventure as destiny.
        2. Rafsanjani purchased P1 centrifuges from AQ Khan as long ago as 1988. Rafsanjani has stated that ‘If we pursue them it is perfectly within our rights to do so as defensive weapons in light of the persecution we suffered in PGW1’. There are other links, to China and to Pakistan and to North Korea. I suggest you read _Countdown To Crisis_ (Kenneth Timmerman) for a fuller picture of what has been going on in Iran for decades, their multi-discipline engineering effort to acquire weapons as the industrial base to sustain them is not narrow in scope, nor is it deniable as the CIA betrayed our President in saying ‘it doesn’t exist’.
        Keep in mind that the above author was 50% sure that, in 2005, the Iranians in fact already -had- the unassembled components of at least 5 nuclear weapons, based on what was known of their declared vs. IAEA restricted list of enrichment activities and purchase dates on the international dual-use systems markets.
        There is no point in pretending that nuclear weapons technology can be contained now. Between the CIA’s massive blunders with AQ Khan and URENCO in the late 70s and their failure to discover the identity of his ‘fourth’ customer through their further meddling with the Tinners as on again/off again component suppliers in the 80s and early 90s, the cat is well and truly out of the bag on the material engineering science to make these weapons work.
        With the U.S. horrifically over indebted, this is a time to take a step back and ask ourselves whether a policy of cowboy containment is really the basis of sound foreign policy or merely apt to buy us another 9/11 date with destiny as canned sunlight.
        Specifically the Pacific Pivot dies a well deserved stillbirth if we have more to lose by active presence in the Pac Rim than by passive disruption of China’s hegemonious plans there.
        The PRC spends pennies on the dollar every time we make a kneejerk expenditure of billions in defense of her stalking horses: Korea and Taiwan.
        If India and Pakistan want to engage in active population control, more power to them, it’s none of our business.
        If Iran wants to sell oil in Renmimbi, that’s her right. We were utter fools to tie the value of the USD to a false (black) ‘gold standard’ of petroleum trading and now it’s caught up to us as global energy use triples every decade and Big Oil sabotages such things as On Shelf oil exploration with sudden wellhead leaks.
        We must start to look BEYOND the immediacy of gut reaction to challenges to our perception of global dominance and start to develop a much longer term view of ourselves, our interests and our place within world society.

  • Don Bacon

    This is a bunch of baloney, of course.

    China- no way.

    North Korea – South Korea is fully capable.
    South Korea Military Strength
    12th in world
    Available Military Manpower Statistics Available Military Manpower: 24,498,139
    Available Military Personnel Statistics Available Personnel Fit for Military Service: 19,837,731
    Available Military Personnel Statistics Average Available Yearly Military Manpower: 657,663

    Syria- no threat to US – forget it. Odierno is wrong, the fall of the Assad regime is not inevitable. Ewad the news, General. Kerry just agreed to negotiate with Assad.

    Iran? ditto. Iran has never attacked anyone, and has no capability to do so, except in defense.

    Pakistan – the US Army would go into Pakistan? No way, Jose.

    • BMB

      Your stupid.

  • PolicyWonk

    “The next priority is the Middle East, and we have to prepare to operate in Syria or against Iran or, who knows, a failed Pakistan,” said Odierno.


    Odierno needs to be more realistic. The army simply hasn’t got the equipment to get itself anywhere quickly in force – it takes months for them to get situated anywhere. Besides, the USA shouldn’t be going anywhere without our allies. To secure a nation like Syria alone, we’d have to be ready to deploy at least 500k troops, lest we end up with the same disaster that hit us in Iraq.

    And Iran is far bigger. They haven’t attacked anyone, and even if they get a nuke they can’t use it against Israel or anyone else. Radioactive isotopes are easy to trace, and Iran therefore can’t even give one away without everyone knowing the source should one get used. Israel has a formidable retaliatory capability, and the history of Iran would largely come to an end. The mullahs might shoot their mouths off all the time, but their intent is to survive. Nuking Israel would be suicidal, and they simply haven’t got the armed forces to do much else.

    Pakistan? Really? The most we’d be able to do is maybe secure their nukes, and thats it. But that would be a get in/get out before they could mobilize mission. And given that it takes the super heavy army months to get anywhere in force, that would leave the job to the marines.

    N. Korea? The S. Koreans would initially get a black eye, but would certainly prevail. And we’ve got forces in the area to support them.

  • http://www.facebook.com/john.ward.3551380 John Ward

    Only have 1 question:What does syria have to do with the USA?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Ricky-Foos/100001517002924 Ricky Foos

    I’m left scratching my head. We spend more on defense than the next twenty nations combined, but we can’t defend ourselves? I’m skeptical. If it’s true, we’re not getting much bang for our buck.

  • Bill

    I have a feeling that when Barrack Bush is done with his term his buddy Jeb Bush will be the next president. Yes, Barrack Bush. He just signed for budget cuts. We never had change as we were promised.