Threats in North Korea and our defense department’s budget are an unsettling combination. That’s why the Army’s Chief of Staff says making sure our military is ready at any moment is a top priority.
Tuesday the Army’s Chief of Staff finished up his tour at Fort Rucker, providing specific details about military cuts during the challenging time of balancing a nation’s budget.
“As I stand here today we have about somewhere between a 10 to 12 billion dollar shortfall for the rest of this year,” said General Raymond Odierno. This is troubling news for more than 1.1 million soldiers. But, recent legislation passed by Congress has lifted some of the deficit burden. Talk of 3 weeks of furloughs dropped to 2 weeks.
Gen. Odierno said, “But that is still 14 days that our dedicated civilians will not be paid to do potentially.”
The price tag of each soldier has jumped drastically. “Since 2001 the cost of a soldier has doubled in the army…So because of that, we are trying to look at ways not to take benefits away, but reduce the rate of growth of the benefits,” he said.
One of those benefits currently being discussed is the military’s healthcare program. Gen. Odierno said, ”The co-payment for TRICARE is still at 1995 levels and we can’t continue to subsidize that so we are going to have to raise it a little bit… We have to find that white balance…because we certainly want to make sure our soldiers and our retirees are properly compensated.”
With the uncertain road ahead, the Army’s Chief of Staff wants his soldiers to focus on the task at hand. “Let me worry about the budget problems…What I need you to do down here at Ft. Rucker is train hard, sustain your equipment, develop all those young leaders underneath you if you are a leader. And I need you to be good stewards of every dollar that you are given. Get the most out of every dollar. If you do that, then we will be in great shape,” he said.
These cuts will not be set in stone until a budget is finalized hopefully by April 10th.