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WASHINGTON -- Budget cuts, sequestration and continuing resolutions have exacted great cost on Army readiness, said the Armys secretary.
During the opening of the 2013 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., Secretary of the Army John McHugh said the Army has worked hard to make ends meet in the face of requirements to reduce the budget, sequestration, lack of timely appropriations bills, furloughs and a recent government shutdown.
But despite those efforts, he said, the Army has suffered in real ways, in terms of preparedness.
Were making every possible adjustment in these random across-the-board reductions ... adjustments that have helped us better prioritize our most pressing needs, McHugh said. But I want to be very frank here. For all of our efforts, for all of the hard work that everybody has put forward, the current and the ongoing fiscal realities have extracted a great cost, not just in financial terms, but costs in real-world programs and real-world preparedness and real-world manpower.
McHugh said the indiscriminate nature of sequestration has forced declines in readiness for the Army. In particular, he cited equipment readiness and personnel readiness for Soldiers.
The secretary said the Armys chief logistician recently told Congress that there is an inventory of equipment that needs to be repaired from Afghanistan 800 vehicles, 2,000 weapons and 32 helicopters, for instance. Its unrepaired and unavailable, he said. Soldiers are also not getting qualified on their M4 weapons unless they are getting prepared to deploy.
The secretary said sequestration has cost the Army $1.7 billion for reset in fiscal 2013. This is no way to manage the greatest military the world has ever known, he said. And it sure as hell is no way to manage the greatest country on the face of this earth.
Later, the secretary said that despite the budget cuts, and lack of uncertainty in funding for Army training and equipment readiness, Soldiers will never go to war unless they are ready to go.