Mar 18, 2016
Defense Drumbeat

This week, top U.S. military leaders warned Congress that years of combat combined with budget cuts and personnel reductions have left the Services stretched so thin that they may not be able to adequately respond to an unexpected crisis.  The admissions take place amidst growing uncertainty about a constrained defense budget and increasing global instability.

ASSOCIATED PRESS (AP): General says Army at high risk in war against China, Russia

"The Army’s top general says military forces on the ground face a high level of risk if the United States gets into a large-scale conflict against a power such as Russia or China.  Testifying Wednesday on Capitol Hill, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley says years of combat in Iraq and Afghanistan, constrained budgets and troop cuts have had a cumulative effect on the service…Milley says the Army's readiness is not at a level that is appropriate for what the American people expect to defend them.”

REUTERS: U.S. Military Leaders Voice Concern About Readiness of Forces

“U.S. military leaders voiced concern on Wednesday about their ability to fight a war with global powers like Russia, telling a congressional hearing that a lack of resources and training was weighing on America's combat readiness.  U.S. Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley told a House Armed Services Committee hearing that if the Army were to fight a "great power war" with China, Russia, Iran or North Korea, he had "grave concerns" about the readiness of his forces.  "(The Army) is not at the levels that can execute satisfactorily ... in terms of time, cost in terms of casualties or cost in terms of military objectives," Milley said.  Also speaking at the hearing, about the Fiscal 2017 budget request for the military, Air Force Secretary Deborah James said half of her combat forces were not "sufficiently ready" for fighting against a country like Russia.”

STARS AND STRIPES:  Marine general to Congress: We might not be ready for another war

"If the Marines were called today to respond to an unexpected crisis, they might not be ready, a top Marine general told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday.  Gen. John Paxton, assistant commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, testified to lawmakers that the Marines could face more casualties in a war and might not be able to deter a potential enemy.  ‘I worry about the capability and the capacity to win in a major fight somewhere else right now,” he said, citing a lack of training and equipment.”


“…My concern, going forward, is at the higher end in the event of a contingency, and if that were to happen, I have grave concerns in terms of the readiness of our Force—the Army forces—to be able to deal with that in a timely manner.  And I think the cost, both in terms of time, casualties in troops, and the ability to accomplish military objectives would be very significant and we’ve all given our risk assessment associated with that in a classified session.”


“…Our ability to meet other regional requirements for major contingency plans, we would be able to do that, but we would probably not be able to do it within the timeframe that the current plans call for us to arrive to participate in that conflict."


“…Money is helpful for readiness, but freeing up the time of our people to go and do this training is equally important.  And, right now, we are stretched so thin, and we’re so small as an Air Force, and we’re so deployed, we’re having difficulty getting the time freed up.  So yes, I am very worried about it, and yes, if you go into a high-end conflict with a great power and you’re not sufficiently ready, history teaches me, you lose more lives and it’s a prolonged conflict. And it’s very worrisome.”

114th Congress