Thursday, May 14, 2009

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Army FY 2010 Budget Request

House Armed Services Committee: Opening Statement of Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) Hearing on the Army FY 2010 Budget Request
May 14, 2009

Ike Skelton, Chairman

Washington, DC – House Armed Services Committee Chairman Ike Skelton (D-MO) delivered the following opening statement during today’s hearing on the Army Fiscal Year 2010 Budget Request:

“This afternoon, the House Armed Services Committee meets to receive testimony on the Fiscal Year 2010 Army Budget Request. Our witnesses today are: the Honorable Pete Geren, Secretary of the Army; and General George Casey, Chief of Staff of the Army. Gentlemen welcome, and thank you for coming to this hearing.

“Afghanistan and Iraq have driven big changes for the Army. New doctrine manuals on Counterinsurgency, Stability Operations, and Security Force Assistance have all been issued in the past few years and all point to the increasing emphasis on balancing the efforts of the Army between traditional conventional war and stability operations and irregular warfare. And this too may drive force structure changes, as the Army looks to build the Advice and Assist Brigades the President mentioned as part of changing our mission in Iraq.

“What these will look like, whether we institutionalize these brigades, and if and how they will be used in the future are all significant questions that should be answered.

“Budgets, as we often say, are the actual demonstration of our strategy and the way ahead. I think the Army budget that has been submitted certainly points to big changes. The cancellation of the Future Combat Systems (FCS) vehicle; the decision to only build 45, instead of 48, active duty combat brigades; and the hand off of the Joint Cargo Aircraft program to the Air Force are just a few of the very significant changes in this budget. I am sure our committee will have many, many questions about what these program changes signal for the future of our Army.

“At the same time we ask about the future, we shouldn’t lose sight of the present. Army readiness levels are still unacceptably low. I hope we will hear today about how we will fix that problem, particularly since this budget appears to flat line operations and maintenance funding.

“Army recruitment and retention, on the other hand, seem to have recovered significantly from the levels of a few years ago, although it remains to be seen what happens when the economy begins to recover. In the past, we have moved too aggressively to cut funding for recruitment and retention, and I hope we will hear that this is not the case with this budget.

“Back home, this budget appears to continue the commitment to take care of our troops and their families by funding a 2.9 percent pay raise and increasing funding to care for the wounded and injured. Best of all, this budget moves these funds to the base budget, institutionalizing them for the future.

“Family support programs, such as child care and spousal support also fare well. I have long said that our people and their families are our first priority, and I am glad that this budget appears to adopt that point of view.

“In short, this budget signals many changes for the future. Some, like the continued commitment to our personnel, are welcome. Other decisions, however, will no doubt generate many questions. Decisions made today will develop the Army of the future and should not be entered into lightly. We need to understand the future environment that is envisioned and the way these programs will address them. I hope our witnesses here today will help us with that.

“I now turn to my friend from New York, the Ranking Member, for any comments he might care to make.”


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