Eastern Europe remains a threat for the United States Army — and new tensions in the region come amid heavy budget cuts and troop reductions, says Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn.
"The threat that has my greatest focus, frankly, is in Eastern Europe," Allyn, the four-star general, told The Military Times
on Thursday. "Russia has clearly demonstrated their intent to infringe upon the national boundaries of now two states, and from what we can see, that intent is not abating."
However, the Army faces the myriad challenges of honoring its NATO responsibilities in the region while assuring its allies of U.S. support and "continue to rotate trained and ready forces" to support the work led by U.S. European Command, Allyn said.
His interview came as Defense Secretary Ashton Carter met in Brussels with Ukraine's defense minister, Col. Gen. Stepan Poltorak in an effort to assure the Baltic nation of U.S. support "in its effort to define its own course as a sovereign, democratic nation," a Defense Department official to the Times.
Amid this backdrop, the Army continues to face steep budget cuts through sequestration. Another 40,000 troops are expected to be cut by the end of the fiscal year on Sept. 30, the Times reports.
"We remain in a very tough resource environment," Allyn said. "Our budget for this year, in 2015, was $5 billion less than last year.
"We are absolutely dependent upon the timely passage of the president's budget for 2016 to enable us to continue to build momentum in training and readiness, and to ensure we can deliver trained, ready and properly equipped forces to meet the emergent demands across this unstable world."
The Army will have cut 80,000 soldiers from its active-duty force by the time the fiscal year ends. It will further reduce its total size to 450,000.
"Given the depth of the cuts we've already taken, some people would say, 'what's another 40,000?'" Allyn said. "The challenge is we've taken all of the slack out of the rope."
To get the total number, the Army will need to make "some very tough choices that will have very broad and deep implications for the Army and the country," he told the Times.
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