WASHINGTON — While the Army was able to accomplish an array of missions this past year, readiness levels may still be fragile to the global challenges it currently faces against growing near-peer threats, the vice chief of staff told lawmakers Wednesday.
In a whirlwind year, the Army has demonstrated its ability to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, natural disasters, civil unrest, and support operations along the southwest border, said Gen. Joseph M. Martin.
The Army also maintained missions across 140 countries, including combating transnational terrorism, deterring near-peer competition, and strengthening relationships with allies and partners, Martin added, as he testified before the House Armed Services Committee's subcommittee on readiness.
"The Army is busy, and our ability to meet these challenges demonstrates a high level of readiness rebuilt over the past several years," Martin said.
However, competitors continue to demonstrate significant technological and military advancements that erode the U.S. military's advantage across the land, maritime, air, cyber, and space domains, he said.
"To meet future challenges, the Army is undergoing the most significant transformation in the past 40 years," he said. "This transformation -- the bedrock of future readiness -- will enable the Army to support the joint force with a credible land-combat power necessary for deterrence and decisive victory."
Last month, senior leaders released a $173 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 that prioritizes people-first initiatives as well as efforts to maintain readiness levels and provide a credible and capable land force supporting joint all-domain operations.
As the Army continues on a solid path to build and maintain a ready force, it must retain its competitive advantage against a potential adversary, Martin said.
Timely, adequate, predictable, and sustained funding is necessary to ensure readiness gains and meet priorities set within the Army's modernization, readiness and people strategies. The Army's size is also equally important, as senior leaders look to maintain end-strength numbers, he added.
"Even today, we are unable to meet all the global requirements asked of us. Any strength reductions will further reduce our ability to provide the combat power … and place an excessive hardship on our Soldiers and families," he said.
The Army plans to shift to the Regionally Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, or ReARMM, in fiscal 2022 to provide Soldiers and families more predictability during training, modernization, and mission efforts, he said.
ReARMM will allow active-duty, National Guard, and Reserve forces to generate and project power during times of competition, crisis and conflict, followed by scheduled times for modernization and training, its organizers have previously said. The majority of active-duty units will cycle through eight-month phases, while Guard and Reserve units will operate under extended phases to match total force requirements.
Martin added that fiscal 2022 would also include several multinational and joint training opportunities, as COVID-19 restrictions continue to lift due to increased vaccinations and herd immunity.
One training event — Project Convergence 22 — is slated to provide a joint campaign of learning and an opportunity for allies and partners to participate. Project Convergence ensures that the Army can rapidly and continuously converge effects across all domains.
"I talk to our partners often, and they miss those opportunities," Martin said, adding that the Army is ready to move past the pandemic to support relationships with allied and partnered forces.