USA — Army Pledges Not to Cut Family Programs

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 — Army lead­ers yes­ter­day promised to leave fam­i­ly sup­port pro­grams intact when look­ing for ways to reduce the service’s bud­get.

“We want to ensure that the fam­i­ly pro­grams we’re oper­at­ing are run well and effi­cient­ly and if we need to make adjust­ments so they can be more so, that’s fine,” said Sec­re­tary of the Army John McHugh. “But what we won’t do par­tic­u­lar­ly as a first reac­tion, is look to those pro­grams as a source of bud­getary sav­ings.”

Dur­ing the Oct. 25 open­ing pre­sen­ta­tion at the 2010 Asso­ci­a­tion of the Unit­ed States Army’s Annu­al Meet­ing and Expo­si­tion here, McHugh dis­cussed the Army’s chal­lenge of oper­at­ing in a con­strained bud­get envi­ron­ment as well as efforts to mod­ern­ize the Army. He and Army Chief of Staff George W. Casey Jr. went into more detail dur­ing a press con­fer­ence imme­di­ate­ly fol­low­ing that cer­e­mo­ny.

In regard to a chal­lenge by Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates to the mil­i­tary ser­vices to find ways to trim some $100 bil­lion from the defense bud­get over the next five years, the Army’s two senior lead­ers said they won’t look to fam­i­ly sup­port pro­grams — which they say are impor­tant to sup­port­ing the all-vol­un­teer force — but will instead look to things like restruc­tur­ing com­mands and doing “port­fo­lio reviews” of Army capa­bil­i­ties.

“A lot of what we’re find­ing is com­ing out of capa­bil­i­ty port­fo­lio reviews and it’s basi­cal­ly redun­dant pro­grams or non­per­form­ing pro­grams,” said Casey, not­ing the Army also is look­ing at force struc­ture realign­ments. “We’re ask­ing our­selves, for exam­ple, do we still need a four-star gen­er­al in Army Europe and what should a sup­port force struc­ture in Europe look like? I sus­pect we’ll be able to gar­ner some sig­nif­i­cant mil­i­tary and civil­ian sav­ings at those head­quar­ters.”

Those port­fo­lio reviews, McHugh said, “already show great promise in bring­ing bet­ter dis­ci­pline to our pro­grams — bet­ter eval­u­at­ing and realign­ing our require­ments with the real­i­ty of today and where we think tomor­row is going.”

The Army sec­re­tary said a task force is eval­u­at­ing these issues and it will pro­vide a report to senior lead­er­ship with­in 90 days.

McHugh said a good bud­get pol­i­cy starts with peo­ple.

“We can’t have an Army with­out peo­ple,” he said. “All our efforts must start with them, with train­ing and edu­ca­tion — the things that cre­ate our great­est hedge against future threats. That hedge: adap­tive, inno­v­a­tive, think­ing enlist­ed sol­diers, offi­cers and NCOs — folks who will make a dif­fer­ence.”

McHugh also dis­cussed a new project — an effort to mod­ern­ize the insti­tu­tion­al Army, or gen­er­at­ing force. That’s the por­tion of the Army whose pri­ma­ry mis­sion is to gen­er­ate and sus­tain the oper­a­tional Army’s capa­bil­i­ties for employ­ment by joint force com­man­ders.

“The oper­a­tional Army has changed dra­mat­i­cal­ly,” McHugh said, explain­ing that 10 years of con­flict in Iraq and Afghanistan have changed the way the Army fights and reacts. But the insti­tu­tion­al Army, he said, the gen­er­at­ing force, has not changed.

“It looks pret­ty much the same as it did struc­tural­ly since the ear­ly to mid-1970s,” he said.

The sec­re­tary said there are exam­ples of changes in the insti­tu­tion­al Army in the past, includ­ing a reor­ga­ni­za­tion of the War Depart­ment by Army Gen. George C. Mar­shall, and, after the Viet­nam War, Oper­a­tion Stead­fast, which reor­ga­nized the Army and built an all-vol­un­teer force.

“But these mod­els real­ly don’t address what I call the new par­a­digm. America’s ene­mies are no longer sole­ly defined by nations or con­tained by bor­ders, because they are not,” McHugh said. “Our com­bat for­ma­tions quick­ly adapt to changes in ter­rain, mis­sion and the ene­my they face. I believe the insti­tu­tions and process­es we have to help those forces do bet­ter need to change as well.”

The Army’s chief of staff also dis­cussed the Army’s effort to restore bal­ance to the force, which it has been work­ing on since 2007.

“With the draw­down in Iraq, we are get­ting to a sit­u­a­tion where we can breathe again,” Casey said. “When you’re only home for 12–15 months between deploy­ments, you real­ly don’t have much time to breathe — you take a break then you get back on the tread­mill and get ready to go.”

As a result of the increased growth the Army com­plet­ed in 2009 and a tem­po­rary end-strength increase of 22,000 direct­ed by Gates in July 2009, Casey said, units are home for 15 to 18 months now, and the units that are deploy­ing toward the end of this year will end up in the 18- to 24-month range.

“Increas­ing the time the sol­diers spend at home is the most-impor­tant ele­ment of get­ting our­selves back in bal­ance,” he said.

The gen­er­al also touched on oth­er Army efforts, includ­ing mod­u­lar con­ver­sions. He said the ser­vice has con­vert­ed about 290 of the 300 brigades to mod­u­lar designs. Also, he men­tioned an effort to move sol­diers out of Cold War-era career fields and into spe­cial­ties more rel­e­vant to today’s con­flicts. He said so far some 124,000 sol­diers have been con­vert­ed, and by this time next year that num­ber will be 150,000. That move, he said is “sig­nif­i­cant­ly increas­ing our abil­i­ty to do the 21st-cen­tu­ry tasks.”

Casey also said the Army faces sev­er­al chal­lenges in the ear­ly 21st cen­tu­ry, includ­ing main­tain­ing a com­bat edge, recon­sti­tut­ing the force and build­ing resilience.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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