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A PERFECT FISCAL STORM?

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Army Chief of Staff Raises Alarm
By Harold Hutchison

The United States military could become a “hollow force” if budgetary uncertainty is not addressed, Army Chief of Staff Ray Odierno warned. The uncertainty stems from the sequestration slated to happen this March, and a growing fiscal standoff.

In a speech last week to the Association of U.S. Army, Odierno warned “[T]he continuing resolution will result in a shortfall of more than $6 billion in our operations and maintenance, or O and M, accounts” even as other areas would be over-funded.

“We'll have to reduce our work in the depots which will delay the reset of our equipment coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan," Odierno said in his remarks. "We're going to have to delay the maintenance on our current fleet, and the sad part about this is once you start these delays, it will take longer and longer and longer to catch up; so this won't be just a '13 (2013) readiness issue, it will be a readiness issue that will go into '14 and '15.”

“We will continue to prioritize modernization so that our current and future force is prepared for a wide range of military operations, but we've had to slow down our modernization efforts," Odierno said.

"Our biggest challenge is getting the right balance, and we can't do that until we have predictability in our budget process. If we don't have predictability, it's impossible for us to build a balanced force of end-strength modernization readiness."

Should Congress act to prevent our military from being hollowed out?