U.S. Representative Martha Roby confirmed Friday that feared cuts to the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker, Alabama will be averted thanks to a restoration of funds under the Army's recently-authorized ability to better prioritize its budget.
In March, Congress passed and the President signed into law a measure funding the government, officially known as the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act of 2013. Rep. Roby and many of her colleagues pushed to include language in that measure to provide greater flexibility to the Department of Defense in implementing sequestration cuts.
"This is wonderful news for Fort Rucker and the vital training mission it so ably executes," Rep Roby said. "One of the worst aspects of sequestration is its arbitrary nature. When we passed the Consolidated and Further Appropriations Act, we included language aimed at allowing commanders to set priorities and adjust their budgets accordingly. I am pleased to know that this flexibility has been utilized, and that cuts to the Army Aviation Center of Excellence at Fort Rucker have been averted."
Rep. Roby received official word today from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno that the Army's original plan to cut approximately 37,000 flight hours and 500 training positions from Fort Rucker would no longer be necessary thanks to a restoration of funds.
That's a positive development from last month, Roby said, when, while testifying before a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee, Gen. Odierno told Rep. Roby the cuts would go on as planned (video).
Since that exchange, Rep. Roby has worked with Pentagon officials behind the scenes to ensure the Army truly had the funding flexibility Congress intended. In his letter to Rep. Roby today, Gen. Odierno said the information offered in the hearing "is no longer accurate," and that new funding flexibility would allow the Army to "restore aviation training at Fort Rucker."
Gen. Odierno called this "great news for Fort Rucker," but also acknowledged that tough budget decisions remain. Thankfully, he notes ongoing planning, including a "pending reprogramming action" is in place to mitigate further funding reductions.
Rep. Roby, chair of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations, voted against the August 2011 Budget Control Act that threatened the sequestration military cuts and has repeatedly spoken out about the potential harm they pose to national security.
"While I remain opposed to the way sequestration cuts disproportionately target the military, giving the Department of Defense more flexibility in dealing with budget cuts is an important first step to easing the blow and maintaining our fighting force. I appreciate Gen. Odierno following up with me on this issue, and I look forward to working with him to ensure we remain Army Strong."