budget cuts

Are Budget Cuts Affecting Military Readiness?

Words by John Hinckley.

Senior House lawmakers have made some startling remarks lately, claiming U.S. Troops are “unprepared to deploy”. House Armed Services Committee Chair Howard “Buck” McKeon thinks continuing cuts to the defense budget have left U.S. troops underprepared for battle. “You’d better hope we never have a war again,” he warned.

Military units use a readiness scale of 1-5 to identify if a unit is ready to deploy. A readiness score of 1 identifies a unity is fully ready to deploy. A unit will typically have a 5 rating having just returned from a tour of duty. With too many budget cuts officials warn units may not be able to get properly prepared to deploy, which can result in getting less done, taking longer to get it done, and suffering more casualties.

An Army official has said that only two of its 35 brigades are fully ready for major combat operations. Typically 12 brigades need to be ready at any given time so that one third are deployed, a third are waiting to deploy, and the remaining third is preparing to deploy. An Air Force official reports that 13 fighter/combat squadrons have been forced to be grounded due to cuts. That is one third of the total number of those active duty units.

With billions being cut from the defense budget, the military also has problems being able to train personnel and retain key personnel.  “One of the things that really concerns me, all of these cuts we’re having, the first thing that gets hit is readiness,” said McKeon. “So the troops that are preparing for Afghanistan, remember we are still at war, are not getting the training they got a year ago.”

Some experts believe that the situation is not as severe as some are trying to make it out to be, but do believe budget cuts will eventually be a problem. Other analysts however believe in as little as 2-3 years the U.S. military will be severely unprepared.

However, the is reason for optimism, as finding replacement cuts is the priority for budget talks led by House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan.  There is an informal deadline of December 13 the reach a new deal. However, any new agreement could be rejected by their colleagues. Stay tuned for updates as this deadline approaches.

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