Defense

June 21, 2012

Westphal looks ahead to Army of 2020

Tags:
by Elizabeth M. Collins
Soldiers magazine

During a recent visit to U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command headquarters in Virginia, Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal met with senior leaders to learn more about TRADOC’s top initiatives, and how they are prioritized to shape the future force, the Army of 2020.

Change, or rather, adaptation, is coming.

Much of it is forced by budget cuts: The Army’s fiscal year 2013 budget request calls for about $18 billion less than fiscal year 2012, with additional cuts coming over the next several years, but the Army has embraced the resulting need to adapt, seeing it as an opportunity to become a stronger, better, more modern and agile force, one that will always be committed to keeping America safe.

“The Army’s not really changing, per say,” Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal explained in an interview. “The Army will still be very committed to doing three major things that it has always done for this country.”

“We have the strongest, most prominent, most effective force in the world,” he said. “A strong Army is a deterrent to future conflicts, and we want to continue that. We want to do everything we can do to prevent future wars, and a strong Army sends a strong message across the board. We will continue to have a strong Army, a very capable, very effective force.”

The Army will still be able to win any conflict it does face, he continued, adding that it will remain deeply engaged in the Middle East and Pacific theaters, not only because of the threat of terrorism, but because seven of the 10 largest armies in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. Westphal sees this opportunity to work and train with allies and new partners as a way to “enhance our collective security, and then promote economic prosperity.”

The Army just has to be smarter about how it does business, Westphal suggested, saying that sustainability is at the forefront of senior leaders’ minds. “You have to ensure that you can do effectively what you’re required to do today, but that you leave the capacity and the capability for future generations to carry on the mission. So our biggest challenge is to ensure that the future Army, the Army of 2020, will have the capability and the capacity to prevent, shape and win.

“We need to be more strategic in our thinking at the top leadership levels. We have to focus a lot more on leadership development, both on the military and civilian side, and we have to invest properly in the reserve component so we have a ready reserve to address any expandability that we need in the future.”

Of course, no one can predict exactly what conditions the Army and America will face in five or 10 years, but Westphal said the Army will always need infantry, armor and other combat specialties. And as the Army reduces the budget, he added that its leaders are committed to protecting, and in some cases increasing, funding for special operations; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance programs; space and cyberspace capabilities. The Army also uses simulators and gaming more than ever before, and “these are areas where our Soldiers can be on the leading edge of helping us shape the future of our training, the future of our readiness for the force.”

“Assuming that between now and 2020, there isn’t another major conflict out there that would cause the Army to grow significantly to address it, I see an Army that’s a little bit smaller, but not very small,” Westphal continued. “I see an Army that will have an opportunity to go through a very significant modernization to ensure that the Army of 2020 is as effective and as modern as it needs to be. I see an Army that is going to be technologically more advanced, scientifically more sophisticated. I see a continuous growth to an even more effective force, building on the lessons of the last 10 years of conflict and on the maturity of our leadership over the future.”

The real challenge lies in not knowing exactly how much money the service will be working with. If the sequestration measure in the 2011 Budget Control Act remains unchanged, for example, DOD as a whole will face an additional half trillion dollars in spending cuts over the next decade, an event that every senior DOD leader has said will devastate the military’s capabilities. The political and budgetary “gridlock” in Washington doesn’t help planning either, Westphal said.

“Getting to a balanced force,” he said, “that is, the appropriate level of modernization, the appropriate end strength and size of the Army, the appropriate resources required for training and (for) readiness is both an art and a science. You can model it. You can statistically work it all out. But at the end of the day, because of the politics that surround all of this, we don’t operate in a vacuum. We operate in an environment in which Congress has a big say in everything that happens, obviously the president directs us and proposes to the Congress, and there is a public out there. So we have to do our thinking, our strategizing, our planning, our execution in a way that understands that environment.”

Department of the Army civilians, Westphal added, are a crucial part of that force, and attracting and retaining talented people, both Soldiers and civilians, will remain a top priority. In fact, he said that it would be impossible to run the Army without the experience and depth of knowledge civilians bring. One of the ways you reduce cost is manpower, he acknowledged, but said that so far this year, manpower reductions are less than one percent of the overall budget. Most of the cuts will be manageable through natural attrition, hiring freezes and incentives for retirement. He did say, though, that in this day and age, everyone should have an updated resume and be prepared to move around.

The force, according to Westphal, also includes families, and slowly ending combat operations, first in Iraq, and soon in Afghanistan, gives the Army a chance to integrate families better. Wounded warriors are an integral part as well. He said that the Army is committed to investing resources in not only treating them today, but ensuring that they’ll have the long term care they need, and also helping them integrate back into the work force and their local communities.

“As dollars get tighter, we (need to) ensure that we don’t compromise on the very things that we’ve been saying, which is that we’re going to always support our families and our Soldiers,” Westphal said. “We’re going to stand by them.

“We have probably the most capable force this country has ever had coming off of these combat operations,” he concluded. “We have a highly educated force. We have a force that has been through quite a lot of turmoil so this is an opportunity for us to really reshape the force of 2020, taking into account that now we have the opportunity to bring these Soldiers back to garrison, unite them with their families and begin to address long-term issues of how we can evolve a more educated, more sophisticated training doctrine for our forces, how we can adapt technologies now to these individuals who are so highly skilled in technology.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines July 31, 2015

News: Carter: Military leaders could arm more troops at home – Following the recent fatal shooting of four Marines and a sailor in Tennessee, Defense Secretary Ash Carter is ordering the military services to consider new policies that would enhance security for troops at home, including potentially arming more personnel.   Business: DOD weighs supplier base,...
 
 

News Briefs July 31, 2015

U.S. delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt The United States Embassy in Cairo says the U.S. is delivering eight newer F-16 warplanes to Egypt as part of an ongoing military support package. It says in a July 30 statement that the aircraft, of the current Block 52 production variant, will be flown in from...
 
 
Lockheed Martin photograph

Lockheed Martin successfully tests design changes for Orion spacecraft’s fairing separation system

Lockheed Martin photograph A protective panel for Orion’s service module is jettisoned during testing at Lockheed Martin’s Sunnyvale, California facility. This test series evaluated design changes to the spacecraft’s fair...
 

 

Australian company to provide parts for initial production of Triton UAS

Northrop Grumman has awarded the first Australian supplier contract for the U.S. Navy’s MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system initial production lot to Ferra Engineering. Brisbane-based Ferra Engineering will manufacture mechanical sub-assemblies for the first four Triton air vehicles including structural components. “At Northrop Grumman it’s very important to not only develop...
 
 
Boeing photograph

CH-46 ‘Phrog’ makes its last hop

Boeing photograph The CH-46 Sea Knight helicopter commonly known as the “Phrog,” is set to retire and to be flown one last time by Reserve Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron (HMM) 774 on Aug. 1. The CH-46 Sea Knight is a med...
 
 

Insitu awarded LRIP Lot IV RQ-21A Blackjack Systems contract

Under the terms of its latest contract, Insitu will build six RQ-21A Blackjack systems for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps. The $78-million Small Tactical Unmanned Aircraft Systems Lot IV Low Rate Initial Production contract is the latest event in the program’s progression toward the Initial Operational Test and Evaluation phase.   “This award will...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>