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How bad off is the U.S. Army? It's worse than you think

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 22nd, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Is the U.S. Army broke? According to Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, due to cuts from sequestration, the United States has only two combat-ready brigades available for service. Those headed for combat in Afghanistan are unqualified, which could put troops into harm's way.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - U.S. troops headed to Afghanistan are unequipped to face all the potential hazards they could encounter because of the sequester, a blend of tax increases and spending cuts that have been imposed for nearly the past year because of the ongoing inability of Congress to pass a responsible budget.

Army Chief of Staff, Gen. Ray Odierno said he is afraid of being asked to order American troops into combat, something that could happen in a national emergency or in response to a major crisis.

The army only has two combat-ready brigades at this time, according to the General. He added that combat brigades being sent to Afghanistan are only qualified for trainer and adviser roles, not combat.

"There is going to come a time when we simply don't have enough money to provide what I believe to be the right amount of ground forces to conduct contingency operations," the general said. "We're not there yet, but it is something we are going to continue to review."

The Army has made substantial cuts to maintain its forces and hopes to raise the number of combat-ready brigades to seven by June 2014. Still, the lack of funding leaves the nation unable to defend itself properly against a fully arrayed threat.

If the nation were invaded, or more likely, needed to stage an intervention in another country, the two combat brigades would likely prove inadequate for the job.

The military is an unfortunate casualty of Congress, which repeatedly passes "continuing resolutions" leaving the Army to rely on previous year's budgets. In addition, the effects of sequestration are crippling as the Army cannot pay for its own expenses.

The end result is equipment is left to age and support infrastructure is shuttered leaving troops without training or equipment to perform their duties if called upon to serve in a combat role.

Gen. Ordierno said the Army needs to ensure that troops have the equipment they need to enter battle fully prepared. "What do we need? We need to make sure our soldiers have the best equipment possible. We need to make sure our individual soldiers have protective equipment, they have the right sights, they have the right weapons. . We need something to replace the Humvee, we need to replace the Bradley. We need to invest in our aviation systems - our UH-60s, our Apaches, our CH-47s. We need to make sure that in the complex environments we are going to operate in that we have a network that enables us to pass information very quickly down to the lowest element. We need all of it. The bottom line is we can't afford all of it. So we're going to have to make some tough decisions."

The general added that some programs will face cutbacks and other will be eliminated altogether.

This is also bad news for civilian contractors who rely on military contracts for business. If those contractors go out of business, it may prove difficult to get them back. Ultimately, the nation has been weakened militarily by the sequester and the inability of Congress to agree on virtually anything.

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