05 Mar 15. Greenert: Sequestration Threatens Readiness, Modernization. As the Navy faces a projected shortfall of about $25bn below the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget request, sequestration and the continuing funding resolution have degraded the service’s readiness and capabilities, the chief of naval operations told Congress. In testimony before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee, Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert praised the resilience of more than 600,000 active and reserve sailors, Navy civilians and their families, including some 41,000 sailors who are underway and deployed, but he expressed concern about the inevitable toll on people and assets.
“Navy readiness is at its lowest point in many years,” Greenert reported. “The budget reductions have forced us to cut afloat and ashore operations, it has generated a ship and aircraft maintenance backlog, and it has compelled us to extend unit deployments.” Since 2013, Greenert said, many Navy ships have been on deployments for 8 to 12 months or longer, depleting personnel resilience and the service life of assets. Degraded readiness posture, he added, has also adversely affected the Navy’s ability to satisfy contingency response requirements. In addition to currently deployed assets, combatant commanders require three carrier strike groups and three amphibious ready groups deployable within 30 days in response to a major crisis, the admiral told the panel. “That’s our covenant with them,” Greenert said. “However, on average, we have been able to keep only one carrier strike group and one amphibious ready group in this readiness posture, so we are at one-third [of] the requirement.” In a best-case scenario of an on-time, adequate and stable budget without major contingencies, the Navy possibly could rebound from the accumulated backlog by 2018 for its carrier strike groups and by 2020 for its amphibious ready groups — five years after the first round of sequestration. But sequestration’s wake, the admiral noted, could spur a litany of additional problems, including slowed modernization growth and a subsequently diminished technical edge to field emerging capabilities for future fights. Budget shortfall impacts in the past three years have led to the continuing decline of the Navy’s relative warfighting advantage in several areas, Greenert told the senators, notably in anti-surface, anti-submarine and air-to-air warfare and in integrated air and missile defense. Also at stake is the Navy’s ability to deter and defeat aggression, project power and maintain safe and credible sea-based strategic deterrence, he said. “The budget request represents the floor,” Greenert added, “and any funding level below the submission will require a revision to our strategy.” (Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)
04 Mar 15. Reforms Just as Important as Budget Increase, Dempsey Says. Internal reforms are just as important to the Defense Department as an increase to its budget, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the House Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee. Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told the subcommittee that the department requires the flexibility to trim its excess infrastructure; re-examine its pay, benefits and retirement systems; and retire unneeded weapon systems in this fiscally constrained time. All members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he said, are convinced that this flexibility is crucial to the long-term health of the force.
“It’s been difficult to communicate to our men and women serving why we have to do it,” Dempsey said. “But we’ve taken that responsibility on and have made several recommendations to you on internal reforms and we certainly need both the topline [budget] increase that the president has provided, but just as importantly, the reforms that we’ve requested.”
If Congress does not approve the president’s fiscal year 2016 budget request — which is $33bn above sequester caps — or if Congress does not give t