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Q&A: General John F. Campbell


campbel-cover qa

Readiness Facilitator:
Maintaining Readiness in Today's Strained
Budget Environment


General John F. Campbell
Vice Chief of Staff
U.S. Army

The son of a U.S. Air Force senior master sergeant, General John F. Campbell grew up on military bases around the world before attending the United States Military Academy at West Point. He graduated in 1979 with a commission in the infantry. During more than 34 years of service, he has commanded units at every echelon from platoon to division, with duty in Germany, Haiti, Iraq, Afghanistan and the United States. After his first assignment with the U.S. Army Europe, Campbell was assigned to Fort Bragg, N.C., where he commanded a Special Forces operational detachment alpha in the 5th Special Forces Group and an infantry company in the 82nd Airborne Division.

Returning to Fort Bragg, he served as the aide-de-camp to the commanding general, XVIII Airborne Corps, and deployed in support of Operation Uphold Democracy. He later commanded 2nd Battalion, 5th Infantry, 25th Infantry Division (Light), and then 1st Brigade, 82nd Airborne Division and led the brigade during Operation Enduring Freedom.

He has served as the commanding general, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky., and led the division as Combined Joint Task Force 101 during Operation Enduring Freedom. Most recently, Campbell was the deputy chief of staff, G-3/5/7, Headquarters, Department of the Army.

Other significant assignments include professor of Military Science University of California, Davis; executive officer to the 35th chief of staff of the Army; deputy commanding general (Maneuver), 1st Cavalry Division and Multinational Division Baghdad during Operation Iraqi Freedom; and deputy director for Regional Operations, J-3, The Joint Staff.

Campbell holds a Bachelor of Science degree from West Point and a master’s degree in public administration from Golden Gate University. He is a graduate of the Command and General Staff College and the Army War College.

Campbell’s awards and decorations include the Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, two Legions of Merit, three Bronze Star Medals, two Defense Meritorious Service Medals, six Meritorious Service Medals, the Air Medal, the Joint Commendation Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal, the Combat Infantryman Badge, the Combat Action Badge, the Master Parachutist Badge, the Pathfinder Badge, the Ranger Tab, and the Special Forces Tab.

Today, the Army remains globally engaged with more than 66,000 soldiers deployed, including about 32,000 in Afghanistan, and about 85,000 forward-stationed in over 150 different countries. I’d like to start by thanking Congress for passing the fiscal year 2014 Consolidated Appropriations Act. This measure provides the Army some relief from previous defense spending caps, and gives us predictability in fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015.

While the restoration of some funding in fiscal year 2014 helps the Army restore readiness, it is not sufficient to fully eliminate the void in core capabilities created over the past decade of counterinsurgency operations, and made greater by sequestration. The current level of fiscal year 2015 funding will allow the Army to sustain the readiness levels achieved in fiscal year 2014, but will only generate the minimum readiness required to meet the Defense Strategic Guidance. The anticipated sequestration reductions in fiscal year 2016 and beyond severely degrade manning, readiness and modernization efforts, and will not allow us to execute the Defense Strategic Guidance.

To really understand our current and future readiness, I need to quickly provide context with what happened in fiscal year 2013. And due to fiscal year 2013 BCA spending caps, the Army canceled seven Combat Training Center rotations and significantly reduced home-station training, negatively impacting the readiness and leader development of over two divisions worth of soldiers. Additionally, 12 years of conflict have resulted in extensive backlog in our leadership education and training programs due to reductions of schoolhouse capacity. Those lost opportunities only created a gap all the way from 2004 to 2011, because we are focused exclusively on counterinsurgency. In the event of a crisis, we’ll deploy these units at a significantly lower readiness level, but our soldiers are adaptive and agile, and, over time, they will accomplish their mission. But, their success will come with a greater cost of higher casualties.

Further results of sequestration in fiscal year 2013 include the deferment of approximately $716 million of equipment reset into fiscal year 2014 and fiscal year 2015. Sequestration also postponed the reset of nearly 700 vehicles, almost 2,000 weapons, and over 10,000 pieces of communication equipment, Army pre-positioned stocks, and numerous soldier equipment and clothing items. The Army was forced to cut routine maintenance for non-deployed units, thereby creating an additional $73.5 million in deferred maintenance costs that carried over to fiscal year 2014. All together, sequestration resulted in the release of nearly 2,600 civilian and contract personnel, eroding critical trade skills in fields such as engineering.

Affordability is driving the need to reduce the total Army end strength and force structure. The Army is in the process an accelerated drawdown to 490,000 in the active component, 350,000 in the Army National Guard, and 202,000 in the U.S. Army Reserve by the end of fiscal year 2015. By the end of fiscal year 2017, we will further decrease end strength to 450,000 in the active, 335,000 in the Army National Guard, and 195,000 in the Reserve component. These cuts are disproportionally on the active Army, and they will reverse the force mix ratio, going from 51 percent active and 49 percent Reserve in fiscal year 2012 to 46 percent active and 54 percent our Reserve component in fiscal year 2017. So we’ll have a greater preponderance in our Reserve component, both our National Guard and our Reserve.

In conjunction with these rapid end-strength reductions, the Army is innovatively reorganizing the current operational force and eliminating excess headquarters infrastructure in order to provide greater combat power across remaining brigade combat teams. The Army will also restructure our aviation formation to achieve a leaner, more efficient and capable force that balances operational capability and flexibility across the total Army.

As we continue to draw down and restructure over the next three to four years, the Army will have readiness and modernization deficiencies. Fiscal realities have caused us to implement tiered readiness as a bridging strategy. This concept refers to maintaining different parts of the Army at varying levels of preparation. Under tiered readiness, only 20 percent of the total operational force will conduct collective training to a level necessary to meet our strategic requirements, and we have accepted risk to the
readiness of multifunctional and theater support brigades, as well as in home-station training, facilities, equipment sustainment and modernization.

Forces deployed in Afghanistan will be fully prepared for the security assistance mission, but not for other contingencies. Forward stationed units in the Republic of Korea will remain ready, as will those dedicated to the Global Response Force. Uncertain and reduced funding has degraded our installation readiness and infrastructure. Base operation support levels remain under-resourced and need to be a future priority as additional funds become available. This year and next are critical to deciding the fate of what is the greatest Army in the world and could have significant implications on our nation’s security for years to come. Cuts implemented under the Budget Control Act and sequestration have significantly impaired our readiness.

Further, I’m concerned about the impact to Army base funds in fiscal year 2015 if the overseas contingency operations, or the OCO, budget request is not acted upon by the start of the fiscal year. Absent approval of OCO funding, we would be required to support OCO-funded missions with base funds, which would immediately begin degrading readiness across the total Army.

As we continue to draw down the Army, I can assure you that precision, care and compassion will be hallmarks of our process. Ultimately, the Army is about people. And as we downsize, we are committed to taking care of those who have sacrificed for our nation over the last 12 years of war. Required reductions will force out many quality, experienced soldiers. We have created the Soldier for Life Program to assist those departing and separating from the Army, and a Ready and Resilient Campaign to ensure that we care for our soldiers and their families, which ultimately improves our readiness. Our wounded warriors and our goals to our families remain a top priority, and we will protect programs that support their needs. ♦

The above is testimony from Campbell to the Senate Armed Services Committee regarding the current readiness of the United States Army, given March 26, 2014.

Last modified onThursday, 03 July 2014 11:21

Additional Info

  • Issue: 3
  • Volume: 19
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