April 10, 2015:
The U.S. Army is publicizing the fact that several years of budget cuts are having a major impact on the ability of the army to go overseas and fight effectively. Since 2012 the army has reduced its strength by 98,000 and 82 percent of that was from the active duty troops. The army has shut down 13 combat brigades and retired 800 aircraft with nearly 90 percent from active duty units. Only a third of combat brigades are ready for operations while the army, with enough money, could get that up to 70 percent combat ready.
Much of this comes after a decade of huge budgets, intense combat operations and expansion in general. The army made the most of all that and replaced a lot of Cold War era weapons and equipment ahead of schedule. Combat experience levels for NCOs and officers reached record peaks. Reductions were expected one fighting died down in Iraq and Afghanistan and much of the remaining budget was shifted to SOCOM (Special Operations Command). But the army feels that if politicians would allow the military to shut down unneeded bases over half a billion dollars a year would be saved and that would go far in dealing with the readiness, manning and continuing weapons and equipment updates. Similar efficiencies could be obtained if there was less political interference in what the army buys and where it builds bases and equipment. Such reforms are unlikely and the army is pointing out the ultimate costs.