According to the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, there are only two Brigades ready to answer a deployment call on short notice – a symptom, he says, of sequestration constraints that particularly affect the military.
Speaking at an Army conference Monday, Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said the Army is currently struggling to have as many as seven Brigades (not counting those already serving in Afghanistan) ready for combat deployment by June of next year, but that could be a distant and ambitious goal.
According to The Hill, Odierno minced no words in painting a grim picture of American military preparedness:
“Right now, we have in the Army two Brigades that are trained. That’s it. Two,” Odierno said at the annual Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference.
“The worst-case scenario is you ask me to deploy thousands of soldiers somewhere, and we have not properly trained them to go, because we simply don’t have the dollars and money because of the way sequestration is laid out, that it makes it more difficult,” he said.
…Since I’ve been the chief of staff of the Army, it’s been nothing but budget uncertainty,” Odierno said. “No budgets, continuing resolutions, no planning, wasteful money, wasteful programs, because we can’t predict what budget we’re going to have as we move forward. So we’ve had great uncertainty for the last two-plus years.”
Army officials used the conference platform to divert criticisms that the current draw-down of America’s fighting forces essentially amounts to a return to the manpower levels of the pre-Iraq war days.
“Let me put it very, very simply. This is no way to manage the greatest military the world has ever known. And it sure as hell is no way to manage to greatest country on the face of this Earth,” said Army Secretary John McHugh. “…This isn’t 2002 or 2003, and the cost we pay for things have gone up significantly. I, for one, would argue that those kinds of comparisons are a fool’s errand.”
But, as The Hill pointed out, sequestration appeared to have little effect on the ability of more than 25,000 people to attend this year’s U.S. Army conference.
Hypothetically speaking, a Brigade is composed of up 5,000 soldiers, with three Brigades forming a Division.