Like the U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force before it, the U.S. Army chief of staff and the secretary of the Army on Jan. 16 sent a memo to their subordinates outlining drastic cost-saving measures that significantly curtail any work not directly related to the war in Afghanistan — including the reset and refit of equipment at domestic Army depots.
While some of the steps they outline are immediate, others will come to pass if Congress continues to fund the Pentagon though continuing resolutions through the end of the year, and sequestration goes into effect.
Significantly, it appears that any unit not preparing to deploy may have to wait to undertake most, if not all, training events. The memo instructs Army leadership to “curtail training, including training events not related to maintaining readiness for Operation Enduring Freedom, the Korean forward-deployed units, Homeland Defense and the Division Ready Brigade. Additional exceptions may be made for other mission-critical activities.”
Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno also wrote that “risk shall be taken in all areas of training that are not related to these protected missions. To the extent that an action reducing unit readiness is irreversible, it must be delayed until detailed planning is complete and further guidance is provided.”
When it comes to operation and maintenance accounts, it appears that the cuts and curtailments — whatever they may be — are still being worked up. Leaders are instructed to “review contracts and studies for possible cost savings and curtail or cancel ongoing and scheduled studies that are not congressionally directed or mission-critical.”
Additionally, the Army Materiel Command is instructed to “plan to cancel 3rd and 4th quarter depot maintenance and reset orders and contracts that do not directly support units deployed to a theater or entering the Army Force Generation-available pool. While plans shall be made, specific action shall not be taken until 15 February 2013.”
The assistant secretary of the Army for acquisition logistics technology is also ordered to begin coordinating with program executive officers and industry “to gather data, assess impacts and develop plans regarding acquisition programs, science and technology activities, and contracts,” which will include submitting all contract awards or modifications over $500 million to the under secretary of defense for acquisition technology and logistics for approval.
In addition to these efforts, the Army is also putting an immediate freeze on all civilian hiring except in cases of “humanitarian and mission-critical purposes.” The Army is also asking base commanders to reduce base operating funding by “at least” 30 percent below fiscal year 2012 levels.
Non-war related training activities and conference attendance are also cut. “This applies to all conferences whether or not previously approved,” the memo states.
The Army chief and secretary note that any action taken must be reversible to “minimize harmful impacts on Army readiness, particularly for personnel and units preparing to deploy. Funding related to wartime operations and wounded warrior programs will be protected.”