- The Washington Times - Friday, February 8, 2013

The Army is telling Congress that its combat brigades will not be ready to fight overseas outside of Afghanistan and Korea due to “a rapid atrophy of unit combat skills.”

An Army memo obtained by The Washington Times says the service is facing an $18 billion shortfall in operational funds due to a stagnant budget this year, plus the prospect of more cuts March 1 if Congress and the White House cannot avoid automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.

The memo to Capitol Hill says the only way to deal with the deficit is to cut readiness funds for brigades, “leaving the Army with fully trained units only for [Afghanistan], rotations to Korea” and one fast-reaction combat group.

“The strategic impact is a rapid atrophy of unit combat skills with a failure to meet demands of the National Military Strategy by the end of this year,” the Army warns.

Without increased funds, the Army will have to enact a 22-day furlough for civilian employees that “will negatively impact morale and output of our valued workforce.”

On the combat front, the Army will stop post-war repairs to equipment such as 1,300 tactical wheeled vehicles, 14,000 communication devices and 17,000 weapons.

“Inadequate funding through [fiscal 2013] will leave our units in a degraded readiness posture and inhibit the progressive build of unit capability to meet early [fiscal 2014] missions,” the memo states.

The Army will cancel major training events at Fort Irwin, Calif., and at Fort Polk, La., where soldiers learn counterinsurgency tactics.

“Loss of training is not recoverable and leads to untrained soldiers assigned to units,” the Army says.

The memo comes on the heels of a message from Adm. Jonathan Greenert, chief of naval operations, who said the Navy will be forced to curtail training and carrier strike group deployments to critical regions, such as the Middle East.

“Once we shut down our sustainment training, it will take our ships and squadrons about nine months to conduct the maintenance and training needed to be certified to deploy again,” Adm. Greenert said.