Sequestration Cuts Deeper Into ‘Full-Spectrum’ Training for Troops

Jacquelyn Martin/AP

AA Font size + Print

The military says budget cuts are forcing cuts to full-spectrum training and leaving troops unprepared for a crisis that requires more than just military might. By Stephanie Gaskell

Sequestration cuts now have hit “full-spectrum” training, or the ability to conduct offensive, defensive and civilian support operations simultaneously, according to several members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Troops heading to Afghanistan no longer undergo full-spectrum training because their mission is different now, having shifted from full-out combat to providing training and advising for Afghan security forces as the war winds down. But troops back home aren’t doing the training either, because funding has become scarce under sequestration and what’s available is being used to make sure troops deploying to Afghanistan are trained for their mission there until the planned withdrawal at the end of next year.

Members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said that budget cuts are curtailing full-spectrum training, hindering the military’s ability to respond to a crisis that requires more than just military might, during a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

“The units that are getting ready to go to Afghanistan are training very differently today … they’re being trained to do training and advisory missions. So they’re not training to do full-spectrum operations, which we would normally train them to do,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said.

But he said the Army still has to be ready for full-spectrum operations, even if they’re on a smaller scale than the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where counterinsurgency tactics were just as key as being able to dominate militarily. “They have not been trained in that, in the things that we think are important as we develop the readiness levels in order to respond to contingencies,” he said.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh echoed Odierno’s concerns about full-spectrum training. “We have walked away from that over the last few years because of the demand of the war in Afghanistan. Last year we canceled our Red Flag exercises, which are our high-end training profiles, and we even canceled some of our weapons instructor courses because we didn’t have enough money to conduct them. That is where we train our Ph.D.-level warfighters to lead and train the rest of the force. We have got to get back to that.”

“If we’re not ready for all possible scenarios, then we’re accepting the notion that it’s OK to get to the fight late, we’re accepting the notion that the joint team may take longer to win, and we’re accept the notion that our war fighters will be placed at greater risk. We should never accept those notions.” 

Close [ x ] More from DefenseOne

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Software-Defined Networking

    So many demands are being placed on federal information technology networks, which must handle vast amounts of data, accommodate voice and video, and cope with a multitude of highly connected devices while keeping government information secure from cyber threats. This issue brief discusses the state of SDN in the federal government and the path forward.

  • Military Readiness: Ensuring Readiness with Analytic Insight

    To determine military readiness, decision makers in defense organizations must develop an understanding of complex inter-relationships among readiness variables. For example, how will an anticipated change in a readiness input really impact readiness at the unit level and, equally important, how will it impact readiness outside of the unit? Learn how to form a more sophisticated and accurate understanding of readiness and make decisions in a timely and cost-effective manner.

  • Cyber Risk Report: Cybercrime Trends from 2016

    In our first half 2016 cyber trends report, SurfWatch Labs threat intelligence analysts noted one key theme – the interconnected nature of cybercrime – and the second half of the year saw organizations continuing to struggle with that reality. The number of potential cyber threats, the pool of already compromised information, and the ease of finding increasingly sophisticated cybercriminal tools continued to snowball throughout the year.

  • A New Security Architecture for Federal Networks

    Federal government networks are under constant attack, and the number of those attacks is increasing. This issue brief discusses today's threats and a new model for the future.

  • Information Operations: Retaking the High Ground

    Today's threats are fluent in rapidly evolving areas of the Internet, especially social media. Learn how military organizations can secure an advantage in this developing arena.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.