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Cotton Questions Army Chief of Staff About Army Readiness and Modernization

April 7, 2016

Contact: Caroline Rabbitt (202) 224-2353

Washington, D.C.- Senator Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas) during a Senate Armed Services Committee Hearing today questioned Army Chief of Staff General Mark A. Milley about both Army readiness and modernization. General Milley testified that increasing the size of the force without budgetary increases would result in a hollow Army. Senator Cotton has long advocated for both an increase in end-strength and a higher defense budget to match. Excerpts from his questions can be found below. Additionally, click here to watch the video of the exchange.

"You mentioned earlier the soldiers we're sending to fight today and your priority for readiness, which you've said repeatedly during your tenure as the Chief. America's moms and dads whose soldiers are serving in your army at 25 as an E5 or a First Lieutenant can be assured that you would never send one of their sons or daughters into combat unready to fight?...But that has a cost in modernization, so the moms and dads around America whose 15 year old sons and daughters aspire to be in the Army one day have to be more concerned about the qualitative over match and capabilities of the future Army, is that correct?"

"There is some discussion within the Congress about mandating a certain end-strength of the Army at a higher level than 450,000. I think that would be a good idea, I would like to see it much higher than that. Can you talk about the consequences though, if this Congress does in fact mandate a certain end-strength without increasing your budget numbers?"

"Because a mandatory end strength without a budget to match would mean they don't have the money to train, to be equipped, to go to CTCs etc. However, you also mentioned the greater risk modernization I assume that's because if the Army mandated a certain end-strength, because of your bedrock commitment to send our sons and daughters overseas fully equipped, fully trained, fully manned, you would take even more money out of modernization?"

"I certainly support a much higher end strength than we are on the path to have, I also think it would be deeply inadvisable not to match that with a concomitant budget increase."

"Turning to modernization because of the risk we are facing there....could you talk a little bit about your new acquisition authorities and your desire to use more commercial off the shelf technology? You famously said in the Army's handgun program that if you had $34 million you could go to Cabellas and buy 17,000 handguns for the Army?"