Sequestration Would Devastate Army Brigade Combat Team Training and Maintenance Budgets

Posted by Jason Van Steenwyk

describe the imageHigh-tech weapons systems have Congressional constituencies and highly-paid corporate lobbyists with big budgets. They make campaign contributions big enough to put politicians in or out of business – and big enough to fund primary challengers if the incumbent politician doesn’t play ball.

Training, maintenance and spare parts budgets? Not so much.

And so the sequestration provisions of the Budget Control Act – should they come to fruition – will fall heavily on Army BCT training and readiness budgets. The axe will cleave the 2nd tier units most deeply: That is, those not facing imminent deployments to Afghanistan or Korea.

Defense News – a Gannett publication and sister publication to Military Times, recently obtained an internal Army memo detailing the expected impact of sequestration on the backbone of the combat power of the Army: The brigade combat team.

Among the Army’s projections:

  • The budget for Active Component Operation and Maintenance, Army (OMA) is already $6 billion less than their projected requirements, even without sequestration.
  • If sequestration goes into effect, there will be an additional shortfall of $5.3 billion.
  • Together with a separate budget category – Emerging Overseas Contingency Operations Requirements, the Army is expecting a shortfall for OMA of up to 18.3 billion dollars in fiscal year 2013 – which will have substantial spillover effects through 2014 and even longer.
  • All 251,000 Army civilian employees could receive furloughs – unpaid leave – of up to 22 days.
  • Cumulative budget reductions will “distress and shock” Army installations and their surrounding communities with wide-scale reduction of support contracts.
  • All non-deploying or non-forward-stationed units (with the exception of one BCT will incur a delay of several months for training required under COCOM standards. 

The memo stated that “Shortfalls of this size, this far into the year, when some of our budget is already spent, will potentially impact 90 percent of remaining OMA funds – immediately eroding readiness, leaving the army with fully-trained unit only for OEF, rotations to Korea and the Global Response Force Brigade Combat Team.”

Specific Actions

  • The Army has already provided layoff notices to 1,300 temporary workers. An Army-wide freeze on civilian hiring is in effect.
  • Civilian employees will lose approximately 20 percent of pay.
  • The Army will halt post-combat repair and maintenance for 1,300 vehicles, 14,000 communication devices and 17,000 weapons.
  • If sequestration occurs, the Army will lay off 5,000 contract maintenance employees. Mostly in Alabama, Texas and Georgia.
  • Collective training at TO&E units will focus on squad and platoon level. Resources will not generally be available to train companies or battalions on collective tasks except for those deploying.
  • Four of the six currently scheduled brigade and battalion-level rotations to JRTC and the National Training Center will be canceled.
  • The Army will postpone individual training for 513 aviators, 4,000 military intelligence soldiers, and will cancel 15 field artillery training courses. Combat aviation brigades will be significantly eroded. 
  • All restoration and modernization projects will be cancelled. Facility sustainment will be reduced from 90 percent to 37 percent.
  • Procurement programs across the board will reduce orders by 10 to 15 percent. This will affect 1,000 different companies in over 40 states.

The memo comes just after the Navy announced that it is cancelling the deployment of the USS Harry S. Truman and its carrier battlegroup because of budget uncertainties. The job losses are not unexpected, but will not be welcome news to the Army community.

In leaking this memo, the Army may be seeking to rally public pressure on Congressional representatives to forge a compromise to avoid the more draconian provisions of the Budget Control Act. However, at least some significant budget reductions is almost certain at this point, barring a major international development.


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