COLORADO SPRINGS, Co. - Readiness remains a critical issue in the military and also a major challenge, with a dwindling number of soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines, as well as aging weapons and vehicles.
With new threats like North Korea on the the rise, there is a growing need to make sure the military, including Fort Carson, can be sent to war in a moment's notice.
One of the impacts of a 16-year war on terrorism is a high percentage of defense dollars go toward sending and sustaining troops overseas, instead of the budget to modernize the Army back home.
Gen. Daniel Allyn, Army Vice Chief of Staff talked about the modernization budget recently in Washington.
"In 2009, it was $48.5 billion. It's $24.8 billion this year. And it's inadequate to modernize for the near term, let alone the long range future force that we know we're going to require," said Allyn, "Our Army requires sustained, long-term, and predictable funding."
Major General Randy George, commander of the 4th ID at Fort Carson, says the budget confusion can be disruptive at the mountain post.
"What ends up happening, and I think it affects the whole Army, is that there's times where you have to contract that's inefficient. So you're not using the kind of money that you can do. It's just like with the government shutdown, we had to bring some troops back and we had to stop some training and do some of those things, so it's disruptive," he said.
Aside from the occasional new additions like the Gray Eagle unmanned aerial system, the 4th ID is forced to train on equipment designed for wars of the last century.
The Bradley Fighting Vehicle, observed by Gen. George last week, was first used by the Army in the early 1980's.
Most of the army's tanks, the Stryker, and a lot of the aircrafts were introduced right around that same time.
Maj. Gen. George says like every commander, he would of course love to have newer equipment, but that's not really his focus.
His focus is doing the best he can with what he has right now.
"What our focus is here with all the equipment that we have is to become absolute experts at the equipment that we have that's in our arms rooms and in our motor pool, and that's what we're focused on doing," he explained.
That focus is exactly the request of Secretary of Defense James Mattis.
Speaking at the Association of the US Army's annual meeting last year, he talked about the need for readiness in light of the ongoing threat from rogue nations.
"The US Army must stand ready. So if you're ready, that's your duty at this point in time," he said.
Maj. Gen. George believes his troops are as ready as they can be, but they will continue their relelntless training.
Two brigades will deploy overseas in the next few months, and the remaining units are always one global conflict away from receiving similar orders.
Here are links to all three parts in our special report on soldiers at Fort Carson: