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US Army: $500M Spent on Empty Buildings as Troops Are Cut

Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 05:57 PM

The U.S. Army is spending half a billion dollars a year to maintain empty or unused facilities, even as it faces budget cuts that could force it to slash 60,000 more troops, top Army officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.

Army Secretary John McHugh said the Army faced a "dark and dangerous future" unless Congress took action this year to end the "ill-conceived and inflexible budget cuts" it approved in 2011.

McHugh noted that lawmakers had previously rejected Pentagon reform efforts, including a round of base closures to eliminate surplus facilities, estimated to be as much as 25 percent of the total.

"Right now we're paying about $500 million a year, roughly, just to maintain empty infrastructure, unused infrastructure," McHugh told a panel of the Senate Appropriations Committee.

McHugh and Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, appealed for lawmakers to support the president's request for a $534 billion 2016 Pentagon base budget that would exceed federal spending caps by some $35 billion.

McHugh said the Army's share of the request would be $126.5 billion, which is $5.4 billion above what Congress approved for 2015, and $6 billion above the 2016 spending limits. He said the extra funds would be used to train and modernize the force, two areas cut due to funding shortfalls in recent years.

The Army has been hard hit by spending reductions since 2011. Odierno said over the past three years the service had cut 98,000 active duty and reserve soldiers, doing away with 13 combat brigades.

The size of the total force is due to fall to 980,000, including 450,000 in the active-duty military. But Odierno and McHugh told lawmakers that deep budget cuts over the next few years as currently required by law would force the Army to cut 60,000 more, for a total force of 920,000.

The funding crunch also has forced the Army to cut back on training, maintenance and other factors. Odierno said only 33 percent of Army brigades are fully ready, less than half of the 70 percent usually expected.

The Army chief said the president's budget was the "bare minimum" needed for the service to carry out its missions. If Congress again rejected the Army's attempts to save money with pay reforms and base closures, it could cause a budget shortfall of some $12 billion, Odierno said.

© 2017 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

 
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The U.S. Army is spending half a billion dollars a year to maintain empty or unused facilities, even as it faces budget cuts that could force it to slash 60,000 more troops, top Army officials told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Army, buildings, spend, maintain, millions, troops, cut
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2015-57-11
Wednesday, 11 Mar 2015 05:57 PM
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