The Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness and Management Support holds a hearing on the readiness of U.S. forces as they consider legislation to authorize defense programs for fiscal 2013.
The ranking member, Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-NH), expressed her concern over planned reductions in troop levels following the end of the war in Iraq and the upcoming end of combat operations in Afghanistan. She highlighted the rise of interest in Asian operations and the need to meet sea-based readiness in that area.
The hearing sought to understand the effects of planned cuts in troop levels and funding, but also of sequestration, or the automatic reduction in funding levels that would come next year unless lawmakers act to stop them. The cuts were agreed to in last year's Budget Control Act.
Air Force Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Philip Breedlove acknowledged that the age of the air fleet is of some concern to him. He also told senators that estimating fuel costs posed a challenge, and fluctuations in prices can affect what he called "institutional risk" which included maintaining readiness of infrastructure and the workforce.
Marine Corps Assistant Commandant Gen. Joseph Dunford said that the marines are expecting 8-10 years of austerity based on economic and political forces.
The hearing is chaired by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-MO).
In addition to Gen. Dunford and Gen. Breedlove, Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III and Naval Operations Vice Chief of Staff Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III were witnesses at this hearing.