With budget cuts already in place, and more cuts possible next year – the Army can expect fewer resources to accomplish a mission that will likely not shrink, said Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh.
Speaking before the opening session of the 2012 Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., McHugh said the nation’s economy, and how it affects the Army budget, is something that worries him. After more than 11 years of war, he said, “the Army is going to do its job with less.”
Budget cuts and force reductions were a long time coming, he said, and the Army has been aware of them for some time.
“We’ve seen this day coming for some time,” he said. “We’ve been given the opportunity and the time to get it right, to plan, to prioritize and adjust force structure, equipment and training; we are doing it.”
A critical component of the Army’s future is integration of Reserve forces. Since 2001, McHugh said, the Army has learned the importance of an operational reserve component in meeting mission requirements.
Continued training and readiness of the Reserve components is “paramount to the Army’s overall readiness and stability, and our nation’s security,” McHugh said. “We are going to make sure we do that, and we do it right.”
Part of the Army’s effort in that direction includes a McHugh-signed directive that establishes a “total force policy” for the Army. That directive says the Army will man, train, and equip active and reserve components “in an integrated operational force,” the purpose of which is to provide “predictable, recurring, and sustainable capabilities.”
McHugh said the directive outlines a number of measures to make integration of those forces seamless. Some of those measures include uniform processes and procedures for validating pre-deployment readiness; developing and implementing unified personnel management and pay systems; ensuring that equipping strategies promote procurement programs for a total force; and facilitating opportunities for soldiers to move between active and reserve-component assignments throughout their career.
At a press conference following the opening ceremony of this year’s AUSA conference, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno said that as the Army heads into an uncertain future, it starts from a “position of strength,” as a result of veterans and Army leaders that have been in combat for 11 years now. And because the Army is an all-volunteer force, he said, he expects many of those same leaders to stay in the Army “and to pull the Army into the future.”
The Army will adapt readiness and training models to prepare units to better operate “in what we believe will be more and more complex environments that we are going to have to fight,” Odierno said.
To deal with those complex environments of the future, the general said he is now focused on an Army that can deploy at “several speeds,” at “several sizes,” and that can respond to “several contingencies.”
“The Army provides a depth and capability that no other service provides – tooth to tail – (from) combat, all the way down to every kind of logistics and combat service support that you can provide,” he said. “We’re the only service that does that completely, tooth to tail.”
McHugh said the Army’s “key to the future is our full-spectrum capability, and the capacity to go anywhere and do any mission.” The ability to do that, he said – the Army’s adaptability – means that it can serve as a hedge for the uncertainty of the future.