WASHINGTON — Only three of the 58 U.S. Army Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) are capable of immediately joining the fight in the event of a major conflict, Gen. Daniel Allyn, vice chief of staff of the Army, told lawmakers.
According to the general, about one-third of the 58 BCTs in the Army, the largest U.S. military branch, are deemed ready, but “only three” of those “could be called upon to fight tonight in the event of a crisis.”
The rest would require about 30 days to prepare. That means only about five percent of brigade combat teams are ready to engage in immediate combat in the event of a major conflict.
Gen. Allyn also warned that only one-fourth of the Army’s Combat Aviation Brigades and half our the branch’s Division Headquarters are ready to carry out their duties, noting that due to budget cuts and constraints the soldiers can only do what the country requires of them while assuming “high risk.”
In total, only about 2/3 of the Army’s initial critical formations — the formations we would need at the outset of a major conflict — are at acceptable levels of readiness to conduct sustained ground combat in a full spectrum environment against a highly lethal hybrid threat or near-peer adversary. Stated more strategically, based on current readiness levels, the Army can only accomplish Defense Planning Guidance Requirements at high military risk.
Gen. Allyn’s comments came during a House Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday focused on the state of the U.S. armed forces.
When we say fight tonight that means that unit needs no additional people, no additional training, and no additional equipment and that is where we’re at today. And those we say are ready — the [estimated] one third of our forces that are ready — require somewhere in the range of 30 days to ensure that they have everything they need to meet the demands of immediate combat.
“You’re kind of hoping an enemy would be accommodating and give us the 30 days so that we can be ready,” noted Rep. Mac Thornberry, chairman of the House armed services panel.
As it stands now, the U.S. Army risks a belated response to a major crisis, warned the Army general.
Referring to readiness, he testified:
Basically what it comes down to is the term… from Gen. [Douglas] McArthur “We would be too late to need.” Our soldiers will arrive to late. Our units will require too much time to close the equipping and manning and training gaps. And as you highlighted “hope” is not a method and we cannot count on the enemy providing us that window of opportunity to close those those gaps. The end result is excessive casualties both to innocent civilians and to our forces…”
Budget cuts and policy decisions have decimated the U.S. military, both in terms of manpower, equipment, and, most importantly, readiness, according to the high-ranking officials from the various branches, including Gen. Allyn, who testified Tuesday.
“To meet the demands of today’s unstable global security environment and maintain the trust placed in us by the American people, our Army requires sustained, long-term, and predictable funding,” declared Army Gen. Allyn. “Absent additional legislation, the caps set by the Budget Control Act of 2011 [also known as sequestration] will return in FY18, forcing the Army to once again draw down end strength, reduce funding for readiness, and increase the risk of sending under-trained and poorly equipped Soldiers into harm’s way – a preventable risk our Nation must not accept.”
President Donald Trump’s administration and the Republican-controlled Congress have vowed to rebuild and expand the U.S. military after years of reductions.
U.S. Army manpower levels stand at their lowest since before World War II.
Moreover, Adm. William Moran, vice chief of naval operations, said the “Navy is smaller today than it has been in the last 99 years.”
He confirmed that more than half (53 percent) of all Navy aircraft cannot fly primarily due to a lack of funding. The 53 percent figure “represents about twice the historic norm,” notes Defense News.
Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, testified that his branch is the smallest it has ever been.
The U.S. Air Force has become the “smallest, oldest equipped, and least ready in its history,” the Air Force general told lawmakers.
Gen. Glenn Walters, assistant commandant of the Marine Corps, told lawmakers that, under the current funding levels, U.S. Marines are expected to “experience increasingly significant challenges to the institutional readiness required to deter aggression and, when necessary, fight and win our Nation’s battle.”
Furthermore, he noted, “Approximately 80% of our aviation units lack the minimum number of ready basic aircraft (RBA) for training, and we are significantly short ready aircraft for wartime requirements.”