Thank you, Senator Inhofe, and I would like to join you in welcoming Secretary Esper and General Milley. I look forward to their testimony, and I thank them for their service to our country.
The President’s budget request for FY2019 includes $182 billion in funding for the Army. Of that amount, $148 billion is for base budget requirements, and $34 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) activities. As the Committee considers the Army’s funding request, we must be mindful of the risks facing our country and our national security challenges.
The new National Defense Strategy (NDS) is focused on the “reemergence of long-term, strategic competition” which makes the threat posed by China and Russia the primary focus for the Department. This strategic shift will require the Army to train for full spectrum operations and to field equipment necessary for a high end fight. The new strategy also assumes risk in our counter-terrorism mission as it is no longer the primary national security concern. I would welcome our witnesses’ views on how the Army is going to balance the shift to the high-end, near peer fight while we seek more efficient approaches to counter-terrorism activities.
Several months ago, the Army created a number of cross-functional teams that were designed to break down acquisition stovepipes so new technologies and modernized platforms could be delivered to the force in a more effective manner. I ask our witnesses this morning to share what the Army has learned to date from the efforts of these teams, and how these teams will inform the Army’s modernization strategy going forward. In addition, given the new emphasis on great power competition, I hope our witnesses will discuss the modernization investments they believe are necessary to ensure the Army achieves overmatch against our most capable adversaries both in this budget and in budgets that will follow.
Modernized military platforms and upgraded equipment are necessary to prevail in a great power competition. But success against a near-peer adversary also requires that the Army build and maintain readiness levels. I would welcome an update from our witnesses on the Army’s current efforts to rebuild and sustain readiness.
Finally, the budget request seeks an increase of 4,000 active duty soldiers, as well as increased full-time support for the reserve components. It is imperative that as the Army grows it remains focused on quality of our soldiers rather than the quantity. The training and readiness of our soldiers is paramount. Enhancing the fighting ability of the force we have must take precedence over recruiting a larger force.
The President’s budget also requests an across-the-board pay raise of 2.6 percent for all military personnel, equal to the annual increase in the Employment Cost Index. Regrettably, the President proposes a pay freeze for civilian personnel. If civilian pay is indeed frozen this year, it will be the fourth year out of the past nine years that civilians will have received no pay raise. This undermines the Army’s ability to recruit the very best civilian force we need. Compounding this problem, the value of civilian pay continues to decline each year relative to inflation, and it has for the last decade. I hope to hear from our witnesses their views on the morale of the Army’s civilian workforce, and their ability to effectively manage the total force, including civilian employees.
Again, thank you, and I look forward to hearing from our witnesses.