Captain Marshall Hanson, USNR (Ret.)


Mister Chairman and distinguished members of the committee, the Associations for America’s Defense is again very grateful for the invitation to testify before you about our views and suggestions concerning current and future issues facing the defense appropriations.

A4AD is an ad hoc group of 13 military and veteran associations that have concerns about national security issues. Collectively, we represent armed forces members and their families, who are serving our nation, or who have done so in the past.

The Associations for America’s Defense would like to thank this subcommittee for the on-going stewardship that it has demonstrated on issues of defense. While in a time of war, this subcommittee’s pro-defense and non-partisan leadership continues to set an example.

Force Structure: The Risk of Erosion in Capability
Last January, the Obama Administration announced a new Defense Strategy Guidance, which has been a driving force in current budget talks. The new strategy realigns national security with a tighter federal budget. Not only is the nation’s security at risk of being hollowed out from being under budgeted, but with an incomplete strategy the U.S. might not be planning for a potential future threat.

Not surprisingly, a lot of the aspects about this plan are not new. The new strategy for the U.S. has evolved from fighting and quickly winning two major wars simultaneously into winning one war while “deterring” or “dismantling” the designs of a second potential adversary.

Part of the “revolution” in military thinking justifying a new strategy is a refocus from Europe to “rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.” It requires a shift of power to the Pacific, with military endstrength reductions in Europe. But rather than build up garrisoned forces in the Far East, this plan calls upon the mobility of the Navy and Air Force to project power.

With a leaner defense strategy, the Pentagon will rely on traditional and new allies to complement U.S. force structure. With the U.S. planning to reduce its financial and military presence in Europe, theDepartment of Defense (DoD) will expect Europe to take the lead. Yet with military budgets being cut in nearly all NATO countries, there is little promise that Europe is ready to pick up the slack.

Six years ago, Admiral Mike Mullen, then Chief of Naval Operations, envisioned a thousand-ship Navy, where the U.S. and other Navies world-wide would partner to improve maritime security and information sharing. “For it to work, explicit and implicit references to U.S. security concerns have to go,” warned one unnamed, former military officer in an Armed Forces Journal article.

The risk of basing a national security policy on foreign interests and good world citizenship is increasingly uncertain because their national objectives can differ from our own. Alliances should be viewed as a tool and a force multiplier, but not the foundation of National Security.

In many ways, the new strategy is “back to the future,” with DoD constructing a strategy on old tactics and untried concepts, in order to save money. This strategy is building a force structure on a shaky foundation. Rather than rushing into this unknown, Congress needs to examine this plan closer.

Budgetary constraints

A4AD strongly disagrees with placing budgetary constraints on defense, especially in light of the fact that under the Budget Control Act (BCA) defense will take 50 percent of the cuts despite being less than 20 percent of the overall budget. Member associations also question the current administration’s spending priorities, which place more importance on the immediate future rather than a longer term approach.

DoD faces a trigger of an additional $500 billion in budget reduction starting on 1 January 2013 that is above the $587 billion already planned by DoD as cuts over the next ten years, unless something is done by Congress.

“Historically we’ve run about 20 percent reductions after these conflicts,” warned General James E. “Hoss” Cartwright, USMC (Ret.), former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs at the Joint Warfighting Conference. “We are about halfway there… If you take another two hundred billion out of this budget, we’re going to start to run into a problem if you don’t start thinking about strategy.”

At a time when strategy is being shaped by budget, election posturing, and an authority squabble between Congress and the secretary of defense, national security is being held hostage.

Authority Over Force Structure and Strategy

A conflict has arisen over who maintains force structure. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has objected to additional defense funding in the House National Defense Authorization Act, emphasizing that every dollar added to the defense authorization will come at the expense of other critical national security programs. House Armed Services Committee (HASC) chairman Buck McKeon responded that increases were offset while complying with the overall BCA budget targets, which specify $487 billion in cuts.

This exchange reflects an ongoing tension between the Pentagon and Congress over defense budgeting. The new Defense Strategy Guidance warns “as a result of a thorough process that was guided by the strategy and that left no part of the budget unexamined, we have developed a well-rounded, balanced package. There is no room for modification if we are to preserve the force and capabilities that are needed to protect the country and fulfill the missions of the Department of defense.” The Pentagon is frustrated with any amount of control by Congress over the department’s business.

A4AD understands that Congress takes seriously their constitutional responsibility to raise and maintain the armed forces. This is interpreted as Congressional authority to fund, equip, and train the military and give committees, such as this, oversight on the force structure, including non-funded items.

Risk of Sequestration

As sequestration automatically cuts the federal budget, the Department of Defense faces a trigger of an additional $500 billion in budget reduction starting on 1 January 2013 unless Congress finds an offset or agrees to reconciliation.

Secretary of Defense Panetta has warned Congress that if the automatic cuts of sequestration are allowed to take effect then the number of U.S. ground troops would fall to pre-1940 levels; the Navy would have the smallest number of ships since 1915; and the Air Force would be the smallest ever.

If the President exempts personnel accounts, Secretary Panetta warns that sequestration could require a 23 percent cut across the military’s budget for 2013.

Some are suggesting that reconciliation can wait until after the election, but the lame duck session schedule is already full. Among things needing to be considered by December 31, are reversing cuts to doctors’ Medicare payments, Bush tax rates, 2 percent Social Security payroll-tax cut, increasing the debt-ceiling negotiations, expiration of the payroll tax cut, extending unemployment benefits, rises in the Alternative Minimum Tax (AMT) and the estate tax rates, tax cuts from the 2009 economicgrowth/stimulus law, the 100 percent write-off for business investment, transportation and farm bill reauthorizations, and 13 appropriations bills.

A4AD takes a position that it is vital that reconciliation is reached prior to the national election. The House has already passed its version. A4AD hopes that the Senate develops and passes its own version of a balanced deficit reduction package, thus permitting the two chambers to conference.


The Reserve Officers Association is chartered by Congress “to support and promote the development and execution of a military policy for the United States that will provide adequate national security.”

Requested Action

• Hold Congressional hearings on the new policy of “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for the 21st Century Defense.”
• Seek reconciliation to offset Defense Sequestration budget cuts.
• Study the impact of manpower cuts to Army and Marine Corps on National Security.
• Avoid simple parity cuts of components without analyzing the best Active-Reserve balance.
• Maintain robust and versatile all-volunteer armed forces that can accomplish its mission to defend the homeland and U.S. interests overseas.

End Strength

The administration already proposes cutting 100,000 troops. End strength cuts need to be made cautiously.

The deployment of troops to Iraq and Afghanistan proved that the pre-9/11 end strengths left the Army and US Marine Corps undermanned, which stressed the force. Sequestration would double the reductions for these two services.

The goal for active duty dwell time is 1:3, and 1:5 for the Reserve Component. After ten years of war, this has yet to be achieved under current operations tempo, and end strength cuts will only further impact dwell time.

Trying to pay the defense bills by premature manpower reductions will have consequences.


President Obama made the point that an important goal of his Defense Strategy guidance was to avoid the mistakes made in previous downsizings. He suggested that this could be done by designing reversibility into the drawdown.

“The concept of ‘reversibility’ — including the vectors on which we place our industrial base, our people, our active-reserve component balance, our posture and our partnership emphasis — is a key part of our decision calculus,” states the new DoD strategy.

This concept should be approached cautiously. If manpower is drawndown and industry production lines are shut down, either will take years to recover.

Adequate training for an infantry warrior can take a year and more, and even then they lack the field experience. DoD’s solution is to keep midgrade officers and enlisted that can mature into the next generation leadership. Unfortunately, this is where shortages currently exist.

If industry is shutdown, skilled labor is laid off, and without incentives tooling is destroyed. A restart is neither quick nor inexpensive. Even with equipment back online, the skilled labor has left for other work opportunities.

Without question, DoD needs to plan how it can sustain basic proficiencies needed to battle emerging
threats before relying on reversibility. A4AD questions this strategy.

Maintaining a Surge Capability

The Armed Forces need to provide critical surge capacity for homeland security, domestic and expeditionary support to national security and defense, and response to domestic disasters, both natural and man-made that goes beyond operational forces. A strategic surge construct includes manpower, airlift and air refueling, sealift inventory, logistics, and communications to provide a surge-to-demand operation. This capability requires funding for training, equipping, and maintenance of a mission-ready strategic reserve composed of active and reserve units.

The budget will drive changes to the Armed Forces structure. The National Guard and Reserve are in a position to fulfill many of the missions, while remaining an affordable alternative.

Base Closure or Defense Realignment?

The President’s Budget recommends two more rounds of base closures. A4AD does not support such a BRAC recommendation.

1) BRAC savings are faux savings as these savings are outside the accounting cycle; with a lot of additional dollar expenses front-loaded into the defense budget for infrastructure improvements to support transferred personnel.

2) Too much base reduction eliminates facilities needed to support surge capability. Some surplus is necessary.

Instead, A4AD recommends that Congress consider an independent Defense Realignment Commission
that would examine the aggregate national security structure. The commission could examine:

1) Emerging threats.
2) Foreign defense treaties and alliance obligations.
3) Overseas and forward deployment requirements.
4) Foreign defense aid.
5) Defense partnerships with the State Department and other agencies, as well as non-governmental organizations.
6) Requisite missions and elimination of duplicity between the Services.
7) Current and future weapon procurement and development.
8) Critical industrial base.
9) Surge capability and contingency repository.
10) Best utilization and force structure of Active and Reserve Components.
11) Regional or centralized training, and dual-purpose equipment availability.
12) Compensation, recruiting and retention, trends, and solutions.

In a time of war and force rebalancing, it is wrong to make cuts to the end strength of the Reserve Components. We need to pause to permit force planning and strategy to take precedence over budget reductions.

Compensation Commission

Another recommendation in the President’s budget is a commission to review deferred compensation. As structured, A4AD does not support this proposal either, but if considered:

1) This should not be a BRAC-like commission. Congress should not give up its authority.
2) In one section of the President’s Budget, it suggests that the President will appoint all of the members on the commission. Congress should share in appointments.
3) While alternatives to current military retirement should be explored, A4AD does not support a two tiered system where two generations of warriors have different benefit packages.
3.1) An incentivized retirement option could be offered, rather than making any new mandatory system.
4) Should a task force be appointed, A4AD recommends that individuals with military experience in both the Active and Reserve Component compensation be among those appointed, as the administration has suggested that both regular and non-regular (reserve) retirement should be the same.


Earlier this year, the Joint Chiefs of Staff announced its decision to discontinue the practice of providing Congress with formal lists of programs that were excluded from the president’s budget request.

A4AD concurs with those Senators who wrote to the Secretary of Defense that the military’s budgetary needs cannot be determined without the lists, known formally as the Unfunded Priorities Lists. These lists, which have effectively been an extension of the Pentagon’s annual spending request for more than a decade, provide insight that may otherwise be overlooked.

In the past, A4AD has submitted unfunded recommendations for the service components of the Active and Reserve forces. Without such lists, it is difficult to make recommendations that provide the committee with additional information that spans even beyond the list.

National Guard and Reserve Equipment Requirements (NGREA)

A4AD asks this committee to continue to provide appropriations for unfunded National Guard and Reserve Equipment Requirements. The National Guard’s goal is to make at least half of Army and Air assets (personnel and equipment) available to the Governors and Adjutants General at any given time. To appropriate funds to Guard and Reserve equipment would provide Reserve Chiefs with a flexibility of prioritizing funding.

Force Structure Funding

U.S. Army (USA)

Much of the media attention has been on the manpower cuts which could be between 72 to 80 thousand soldiers over the next six years, along with a minimum of eight brigade combat teams. If sequestration occurs reports are that another 100,000 personnel could be cut. The problem faced by the Army is balancing between end strength, readiness, and modernization.

Examples of Army reductions in procurement are its M1A1 Abrams upgrade and Stryker vehicle program taking 84% and 57% cuts in planned spending. Army cuts create strategic vulnerabilities.

To ignore the risk of a protracted ground campaign is a security gamble. The Army has provided between 50 to 70 percent of the US deployable forces over the last ten years.

Yet, one in three Active Army units do not have sufficient personnel to perform its missions, requiring personnel to be cross-assigned from one unit to another to accomplish missions. The Army Reserve and National Guard face similar challenges. Defense cuts will further impact the Army’s ability to train and be ready. The Army needs $25 billion to reset its force.

Air power and technology may be a critical part of a strategy, but America’s enemies won’t fight the way America expects them to. Boots on the ground will remain a critical part of this nation’s defense.

U.S. Marine Corps (USMC)

Proposed budget cuts and mission resets could clip the U.S. Marine Corps’ triphibious flexibility. The USMC’s capability to perform a combined mission of land, naval, and air attack could become unbalanced with the administration’s plan to reset funding and missions to pre-war strategies, and builddown the armed forces.

A change in strategy announced by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta would cut the USMC further than the 20,000 announced by the administration. Under consideration is the elimination of another infantry battalion and reducing some light-armored reconnaissance capability.

A4AD supports the House V-22 proposal to procure under a multi-year procurement contract that will save a proposed $852 million versus single-year contracts.

The USMC is facing critical shortages of stockpiled equipment such as radios, small arms, and generators. It needs about $12 billion to reset its force.

The past three Marine Commandants have emphasized that the USMC needs to get back to its naval roots as an amphibious force. The associations have concerns that the stated need for amphibious warships is a minimum of 33, and the likely cap is 30 ships.

U.S. Navy (USN)

Proposed defense cuts could reduce the number of navy ships to the point that China will become dominant in the Western Pacific. This reduction undercuts the new Defense Strategy Guidance.

Rather than growing the fleet to 330 ships, under sequestration analyst warns that the fleet could drop to as few than 230 ships. The Navy is tempted to retire ships early to reduce manpower requirements, but this reduction also will reduce capability.

One in five ships when inspected is found not to be combat ready or is severely degraded. The combatant commanders ask for 16 attack submarines on a daily basis, but the USN can only provide ten. The Navy’s repair backlog is $367 million.

The Navy could lose some of its most important shipbuilding industry partners if it slows down construction schedules.

A4AD applauds the House for reinstating three of the four cruisers scheduled to be retired. These are cruisers with the Aegis Combat System that is suitable for the at-sea missile defense mission. This provides a flexible option to a land-based site.

U.S. Air Force (USAF)

The Air Force’s fleet is now the oldest it has ever been, and sequestration cuts will either reduce the number of units sharply, or eliminate the USAF modernization. Defense cuts will affect more than 20 air force acquisition programs. Sequestration will have a detrimental effect on all of the Air Force’s procurements, including new refueling tankers, tactical fighter jets, remotely piloted aircraft, and longrange strike bombers.

The average age of a strategic bomber is 34 years. Cutting funds for a new Air Force bomber would seriously setback the progress of a replacement.

The Air Force plans to drop 500 aircraft from its inventory in the near future. This is caused by retirement of airplanes, elimination of close combat missions, and delays in procuring replacements. The USAF is cutting F-15 and F-16 fighters by more than 200 aircraft before replacement F-35s are available.

The majority of these cuts are from the Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve, affecting air sovereignty and surge capability.

The Air Force Magazine reports that the USAF’s end-strength is 7 percent smaller than it was seven years ago, yet the personnel costs for this smaller force have risen 16 percent. The Air Force would have to cut 47,000 airmen out of its total force just to hold personnel spending at a constant rate between FY 2011 and FY 2017. The Air Force showed that a high percentage of the cuts would be taken out of its Reserve Components.

A4AD commends the House Armed Services Committee for delaying the proposed cuts to the Air Reserve Components until the Secretary of the Air Force provides supporting data, and details as to the affects of such cuts on National Security. A4AD hopes that Senate will provide similar direction to DoD.
According to Pentagon reports, the proposed FY-2013 budget calls for a 12 percent cut in aircraft programs. Aircraft procurement for the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, and the Army decreased from $54.2 billion in FY 2012 to a budget request of $47.6 billion in FY 2013.
A4AD is a working group of military and veteran associations looking beyond personnel issues to the broader issues of National Defense. This testimony is an overview, and expanded data on information within this document can be provided upon request.

Thank you for your ongoing support of the Nation, the Armed Services, and the fine young men and
women who defend our country. Please contact us with any questions.

The original testimony can be read here: