High-ranking officials of the types of the US Armed Forces recently reported to parliamentarians on the state of combat readiness of the troops entrusted to them and on the prospects for its further increase in conditions of a substantial reduction in the military budget in the near and distant future. On their characteristics of modern military formations and on measures for their further reform 10 April this year. military leaders told members of the Armed Forces Committee of the House of Representatives (CELP) of the US Congress.
In particular, the legislators were informed that reducing the allocations to the military department would not only lead to the need to reduce the size of the Armed Forces and close a number of programs for the development and procurement of weapons and military equipment, but also create significant difficulties in maintaining the military capabilities of the military forces in a balanced state and to the extent and with the required level of efficiency to solve the tasks of ensuring the national security of America in the conditions of constant change and high uncertainty of military threats.
CONDITION AND PROSPECTS OF LAND FORCES
First Deputy Commander of the Ground Forces (originally, Deputy Chief of Staff of the Ground Forces) who are called Army in accordance with Pentagon terminology, General John Campbell stressed that at present all types of the US Armed Forces perform their functions under extremely difficult and dangerous conditions. The continued growth of instability in the Middle East, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the numerous threats to America from hostile non-state associations and world terrorism, as well as a reduction in allocations for military construction, extremely complicate their ability to solve the challenges.
Today, more than 66 thousand troops of the Ground Forces, National Guard and reserve of the Ground Forces, 32 thousand of which operate in Afghanistan take part in resolving conflicts in various regions of the planet. In addition, about 85 thousand representatives of this type of US Armed Forces are located in areas of forward deployment in 150 countries of the world. At the same time, the army command is confident that the military contingents of the Ground Forces consist of highly trained and armed with the latest technology specialists, ready and able to perform all the tasks assigned to them.
Modern ground forces, as the general noted, must be able and ready for rapid deployment, conduct of operations and ensure their actions in order to win a decisive victory in any conditions of a complex confrontation with state and non-state formations. At the present stage, Campbell explained to parliamentarians, the combat readiness of troops is assessed in two dimensions: at the level of the type of Armed Forces as a whole and at the level of combat units. The combat readiness of the US Army includes maintaining the components of their infrastructure in a condition that allows them to ensure the operation of field formations and the implementation of all measures to provide the troops with everything they need to solve their combat missions. The combat readiness of the Ground Forces units includes the provision of the necessary number of personnel of combat units, training and training of specialists, their equipment with the most modern means of warfare, as well as military weapons. The balanced ratio of all these components will allow the military contingents to implement their combat capabilities in the shortest possible time and most effectively.
In 2013, the military budget sequestration and unforeseen expenses on the conduct of hostilities in Afghanistan led to a certain drop in the combat readiness of the US Army, including its National Guard and reserve. The general said it will take some time to restore the required level of combat readiness of the troops. At the same time, further adherence to the practice of annual automatic reduction of military allocations without appropriate coordination with the leadership of the Ground Forces may lead to a decrease in the level of combat readiness of troops. A large army, not professionally trained and lacking the necessary weapons, is a very conditional force. It is much less effective than small, but well-trained and armed with the latest technology troops. But at the same time, a too substantial reduction in the number of military formations may lead to the fact that the United States will not have troops capable of solving strategic tasks and ensuring the containment of likely adversaries. If, the general stressed, the US Army leadership would be required to reduce the number of active troops to 2019 thousand by the end of 420, and the National Guard and reserve to 315 and 185 thousand, respectively, then the Ground forces will simply not be able to fulfill all the requirements formulated published in early January 2012, a strategic defense guide (SRO), entitled “Maintaining Global Superiority: Priorities for the Defense of the 21st Century”.
Currently, the risk of further reducing the combat readiness of the SV is still quite high. The White House and Congress have suspended sequestration in the current and future financial years. This made it possible for the Ground Forces Command in recent months to begin implementing a plan to increase the combat readiness of the troops. However, a significant reduction in military allocations in the 2015 fiscal year and the possible introduction of sequestration rules in the 2016 fiscal year may lead to a rapid erosion of the CB. Stable and predictable funding is required to solve operational tasks and fulfill SRO requirements.
The simultaneous waging of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan forced the US Army to move from solving purely training tasks to real combat operations and to direct struggle against the regular troops of the opposing states, with independent armed formations and with cells of insurgents and militants. This allowed the fighters and commanders to constantly improve their professional skills. The 2013 sequestration of the year significantly reduced the ability to prepare troops for action in real-life conditions. However, if Congress decides to resume its operation in 2016 and in subsequent years, the level of professional skills of military personnel and the combat readiness of troops will be significantly reduced.
Modernization of US military equipment is one of the most important factors in ensuring the combat readiness of their units, but a decrease in allocations has led to a change in the approaches of the command to the implementation of many programs. Strategic installations of the Army for the modernization of armaments provide for the effective use of limited resources to ensure the fulfillment of requirements for troops in the near future and the planning of long-term investments in ensuring the combat capabilities of troops in the future. Financial constraints forced the Ministry of Army (AI) to focus on the implementation of research and development programs and invest in the modernization of existing weapons and military equipment systems. However, the 2016 sequestration of the year will lead to a significant reduction in allocations for the modernization of armaments and will adversely affect the implementation of most army programs. The timing of the implementation of programs for acquiring large-scale weapons and military equipment will have to be increased, which will have a very negative impact on the enterprises of the military-industrial complex in the near and distant future.
The provision of a decent standard of living for military personnel, civilian personnel and their family members, who in the last 12 years have sacrificed many things and contributed to the creation of SVs capable of countering a wide range of emerging threats, remains a priority for US Army Command. Although the army command will continue to implement all measures in this direction, their effectiveness in the conditions of forced reduction of personnel, reduction of funds for equipping and training troops, as well as the maintenance and development of infrastructure will inevitably affect the effectiveness of the implementation of life support programs for military personnel and civilians.
The reduction in the number of civilian personnel will occur in parallel with the reduction of military formations. It is possible that the leadership of AI and will be able to retain in its ranks most of the civilian personnel. However, forced unpaid leave, freezing wage growth and a reduction in the amount of additional payments will lead to the fact that the most trained specialists will start to leave in civilian industries. And this also has a very negative impact on the combat readiness of the SV.
At present, as General Campbell has stated, the highest priority in the construction of the Ground Forces is the creation of military contingents with the necessary capabilities for rapid deployment in critical situations, while reducing the number of troops and ensuring that the requirements for their ability to counter emerging threats at the level of world standards are met. At the same time, the leadership of the army, he said, requires the full support of the Congress in carrying out measures to reduce forces and resources and provide adequate and predictable funding for all measures to ensure the maintenance of combat readiness of troops at the required level. If this is not done, the threat to the safety of American soldiers and officers will increase significantly and the ability of the troops to counter potential opponents will be greatly undermined.
The general stressed that the combat readiness of the Ground Forces units in Afghanistan remains one of the most important areas of implementation of the military budget of this type of US Armed Forces. These contingents will continue to receive the bulk of the appropriations from the basic budget of AI and from funds allocated for operations abroad. To maintain highly qualified specialists in Afghanistan and other foreign theaters, they continue to constantly support their professional training opportunities for military personnel at combat training centers.
For the current year, it is planned to conduct six exercises aimed at developing the military personnel's professional skills in solving the tasks of providing military assistance to the armies of friendly countries. Campbell said that today the Army is extremely important to assist lawmakers in obtaining the funds necessary for conducting operations outside the United States.
Currently, Afghanistan has an weapons and military equipment base, the total cost of which is about 15,5 billion dollars. In the United States, it is planned to return material parts worth 10,2 billion dollars, and the remaining weapons and military equipment in the amount of approximately 5 billion dollars are planned to be sold to armies of foreign countries.
Army experts estimate that more than 6 billion dollars will be needed to restore worn-out weapons and military equipment, therefore, AI asked parliamentarians to ensure the allocation of these funds for at least three years after the last sample of weapons and military equipment is removed from Afghanistan’s territory, since it is essential to maintain required level of combat readiness of SV.
At the moment, the command of the Ground Forces has only a limited number of combat-ready brigades staffed with trained personnel and the necessary weapons. The number of such units in the 2014 – 15 financial years should increase. During this period, the IA intends to fulfill all the requirements of the SRO and its commitments to military commands, which for the last two years have not received the required human and technical resources.
Currently, the U.S. Army is implementing a strategy in accordance with which only 20% of the combat units of the troops will undergo joint training necessary to ensure their full readiness for solving strategic tasks. The remaining 80% of military units will have a slightly reduced level of combat readiness. The combat readiness of mechanized units and subunits and the army will be maintained at the required level aviationto be used in case of need to carry out unforeseen actions on a limited scale.
The army leadership attaches paramount importance to the training of commanders of military units at all levels. The unpredictable nature of future complex and highly dangerous conflicts requires that they are able not only to direct units in the conduct of hostilities, but also to professionally understand the operational and strategic environment, including its socio-economic, cultural and religious aspects.
In the 2015 fiscal year, it is planned to train 8,9 thousand active officers, 7,5 thousand warrant officers and 6,1 thousand sergeants. In the same year, 150 civilian personnel from senior positions should also receive the necessary training.
Much attention is being paid in the NE to maintaining the combat readiness of troops deployed in the Asia-Pacific region. Seven of the ten largest armies in the world are located on this theater. The number of US military units is the largest in the region and is 80 thousand people. In South Korea, 19,5 service thousands of military personnel NE.
In 2015 – 2017 financial years, the size of the Army, which today is 980 thousand, will be increased to 450 thousand. By the end of this period, the National Guard and reserve components will consist of 335 and 195 thousand troops, respectively.
But if in the 2016 fiscal year the sequestration requirements for cost reduction will be renewed, the NE will have to reduce the number of troops to 420 thousand people. At the same time, the personnel of the National Guard will be reduced to 315 thousand troops, and the reserve - to 185 thousand people. In such a development of the situation, as General Campbell announced, the military contingents of the Ground Forces will simply not be able to ensure the fulfillment of all the provisions of the SRO.
As a result of the establishment of rigid financial ceilings, the army command had to suspend the implementation of four weapons acquisition programs, including Ground Combat Vehicle (BMP) and reconnaissance-attack helicopters (Armed Aerial Scout). In the near future, it is planned to completely close the four programs of development and procurement of weapons and military equipment, 30 - to revise and 50 - to postpone to a later date of implementation.
TASKS Fleet AND MARINE
Admiral Mark Ferguson, First Deputy Commander of the Naval Forces (Deputy Chief of the Marine Operations), and General John Paxton, Assistant Commander of the International Maritime Commission, introduced the plans for the further development of the Naval Forces (Navy) and the Marine Corps (ILC) of the CWPR members.
Allocations for operations and logistics support of the fleet, the spokesman for the Navy, allow professionally trained, properly equipped and combat-ready units of the Navy to operate in all regions of the world. Although the US Armed Forces in Afghanistan are winding down and troops are returning to the continent, operational commands continue to make demands on the presence of naval contingents in all theaters.
The financial resources allocated by the Navy this year allowed the fleet to increase its efficiency and readiness and, to a certain extent, solve the problems that arose in the past year due to insufficient funds. Next year, the Navy will be requested to allocate funds for the implementation of operational functions and logistic support in the amount of 39,3 billion dollars, which is almost 3,5 billion dollars more than will be spent this year. These funds are necessary for the fleet to solve current tasks, although the risk of non-compliance with certain SRO requirements remains.
When forming a request for the next year, the leadership of the Ministry of Naval Forces highlighted the priority areas of its activities, including the strategic deterrence of the likely adversary in the marine theater of operations; ensuring the forward deployment of forces and means and their maintenance at the level necessary for the quick and effective accomplishment of combat missions; ensuring the combat readiness of forces; maintaining technological superiority in the main areas of asymmetric counteraction to the opponents of the United States and the preservation of the military-industrial base.
Admiral Ferguson stressed that the naval forces will, to the maximum extent possible, maintain their presence in different regions of the world, deploying well-trained and combat-ready units there, and will also ensure the required level of combat readiness of forces not deployed in forward-based areas.
The plans of the Ministry of the Navy for next year include a reduction in the growth rate of wages for naval personnel and preferential payments, the withdrawal from service of one nuclear aircraft carrier, an increase in the timeframe for upgrading a number of ships, the closure of procurement programs for 79 aircraft and 3,5 thousand weapons systems, and modernization of naval bases.
In the 2015 fiscal year, the Navy will need the means necessary to support the operations of the fleet's operational forces, including two carrier strike groups and two amphibious assault groups that will operate in front-line areas. The appropriations requested by the CPA envisage the solution of ten basic tasks formulated in the SRO, however, the implementation of some of them, coupled with countering unforeseen or unexpected threats, can be carried out only to a limited extent.
Next year, the Navy plans to conduct a phased upgrade of 11 URO-type cruisers of the Tikoderog type, which are planned to remain in the fleet's combat strength in the long term. In addition, the presence of the US Navy in advanced areas will be provided with traditional and new means, including multi-purpose high-speed amphibious catamarans and the so-called mobile amphibious platforms.
In accordance with the operational plans of the naval command, each of the ships will be on alert for 45 days, after which the 20 days will be laid up in the ports of registry or temporary basing where the crew will rest and the corresponding preventive measures will be carried out on the ships.
A return to the established sequestration standards in the 2016 fiscal year and beyond will result in the IUD not having the amount of manpower and resources necessary to meet the requirements of an SRO. This approach to the financing of the fleet and its further reduction will lead to the fact that the Navy will not be able to perform its functions in at least four of the ten areas defined in the SRO. The underfunding of the naval forces in the future may lead to a decrease in the combat readiness and professional level of personnel, and the elimination of the consequences of financial decisions taken in the future will cost the federal government very expensive.
General John Paxton, Assistant Commandant of the Corps, told the members of the KVSPP about the directions of reforming the ILC. He noted that currently more than 6,3 thousand KMP officers are operating in Afghanistan. At the same time last year, the Marines took part in more than 200 operations conducted by regional commanders, and acted in conjunction with military units of 50 countries.
The very purpose of the ILC units, which are actually the forces of a flexible response in any crisis situations, implies that they are constantly in a state of full combat readiness. However, if from the financial year 2016 to 2021 the level of appropriations allocated for the maintenance and development of the ILC will constantly decrease, then its command will be forced to transfer part of the units to a lower degree of combat readiness. This will happen because in the face of budget cuts, maintaining a high degree of combat readiness of deployed forces and assets will be carried out by withdrawing the necessary human resources and military equipment from corps contingents who are not directly involved in operational activities.
Currently, about half of the ILC units that are not directly involved in hostilities are in the process of reducing their combat readiness. About 62% of them lack IWT, and 33% do not have enough personnel. This unbalanced development of the ILC cannot be maintained for a long time. Lack of combat readiness of some units of the corps leads to the impossibility of their use in crisis situations and the implementation of operational plans.
Today, the ILC needs continuous funding for the return of weapons and military equipment located outside the United States, bringing stockpiles of weapons into combat-ready state and upgrading forces and assets. Further fulfillment of the sequestration requirements will lead in the near future and in the long term to a drop in the combat readiness of the troops. And training units of the ILC, only half equipped with the necessary means of warfare, is simply impossible.
However, if the number of marines is reduced to 175 thousand people, and the modernization programs of weapons and military equipment and infrastructure of the KMP will be cut, then its troops will be able to restrain the enemy or hit him only in one region and will not be able to act on other theaters.
In order to effectively support the KMP troops at the required level of readiness, complete fulfillment of the corps’s tasks and resolve crisis situations, the KMP command must have highly skilled specialists, take measures to ensure the readiness of each combat unit, ensure that the requirements for the corps’s military personnel are met and infrastructure and carry out weapons upgrades. All these areas are effectively implemented in the ILC, however, the success of achieving the goals and the ability of the corps to perform combat missions will be largely determined by the adequacy of the allocated funds and its financial needs.
DIRECTIONS FOR MAINTENANCE OF AIR FORCEDNESS
General Larry Spencer, First Deputy Commander (Deputy Chief of Staff), reported to the legislators on the status of combat readiness in the Air Force and the actions of their leadership while reducing allocations. He did not inform the legislators of any specific data on reducing the number of troops, replacing aircraft, reviewing development programs and procurement of weapons and military equipment, reducing costs and building plans for the Air Force, but only in the most general terms spoke about the current state of the forces and means assigned. measures to maintain the achieved level of readiness and future actions in this direction.
The general stressed that in the present financial conditions, the leadership of the Air Force was faced with the choice between the need to ensure the combat readiness of aviation units and the implementation of measures to modernize the troops. It decided to maintain the minimum necessary quantity of weapons and military equipment required to solve all current tasks of ensuring US national security and to invest allocated funds in the development of combat capabilities that guarantee the compliance of aviation units and formations with the requirements of modern and future wars. The operational structures of the Air Force and their future successors for the 2023 year and in the long term should be able to perform five main functions, including maintaining superiority in air and space, conducting reconnaissance, observation and recognition, deploying in any part of the earth, delivering global strikes and management of forces and means.
To accomplish the tasks assigned to the Air Force, it is necessary to maintain the combat readiness of the troops, with particular emphasis on the professional training of military personnel. In aviation units and connections, a balance has always been maintained between their capabilities and the ability to perform their functions. The command of the Air Force intends to continue to move steadily in this direction.
Maintaining IWT in a state of operational suitability is a major factor in ensuring the combat readiness of troops. Currently, the Air Force is armed with refueling aircraft, whose average service life has reached 52 years, a significant part of the bombers has been in service for 30 years, and the average age of the fighters is 25 years. If it is not possible to replace or upgrade this technique, the Air Force risks losing its technological superiority. Although the specialists managed to increase the life cycle of aircraft equipment in various ways, the cost of maintaining it in working condition is constantly growing. Therefore, the Air Force needs adequate funding for measures to further improve its fleet.
It was particularly noted that the Air Force pays great attention to the training of pilots and technical staff by increasing the number of training flights and training hours. Today, most of the training program is implemented by training pilots during the conduct of hostilities in foreign theaters, but ending the war in Iraq and withdrawing troops from Afghanistan significantly limits the ability to improve the professional skills of pilots, and additional funds will be required for their training in peacetime.