Balance Is Critical To Future Force, Top Army Leaders Say
Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno say balance between the active Army and reserve forces is critical as the service faces an uncertain financial future and increasingly complex operating environment.
McHugh said he signed a directive to create “a total force” that would “lead into resourcing and budget decisions,” as part of the effort to keep the balance between active and reserve components.
“If the army experiences further decrements, naturally we’ll look at the total Army to see how best to distribute this,” McHugh said at a news conference on Monday, the first day of the three-day Association of the United States Army annual conference.
Odierno said as the force structure was reduced in the first round of budget cuts more was taken from the active component.
“Additional cuts will probably affect all of the components. We don’t know that. We don’t know how deep the cuts will be,” he said.
Odierno pointed out that the active force is ready to deploy quickly and handle complex missions, while the reserve force takes a little longer to be ready and generally handles fewer complex missions.
Commanders must always balance readiness, modernization and force structure and maintain that balance over time, he said. “We need the right combination of active and reserve (components) as we go forward.”
Looking into a very uncertain future, Odierno said, “What I’m focused on is having an Army that can deploy at several speeds, that can deploy in several sizes” and deploy for different missions.
McHugh said, “The key to the future is our full spectrum capabilities and our capability to go anywhere and do any mission.”
He also pointed out that the Army is a full partner in the Air Sea Battle concept, which is “more than a battle concept.” The land service has a role beyond soldiers populating various Pentagon offices where Air Force and Navy officers are examining and fleshing out the concept. Air Sea Battle also is about building relationships and partnerships with other nations and regions, something the Army has long been doing around the world.
Responding to several questions about sequestration, both leaders said they don’t know the ramifications of such across the board cuts.
However, the Army would have “no flexibility at all,” McHugh said. What makes it a problem is not only cuts, but also the way it is a “salami slice” across all Army programs. The Army is, after all, a multi-billion business with contracts to honor. The concern is not the size of the cuts, but how they would be implemented.
And there is a confluence of other factors to consider, potentially the debt limit will come up again, the Bush-era tax cuts could expire and sequestration are all converging. But the impact is unknown.
McHugh added that working the financial issues is “mathematically easy.” The problem is what is the impact in fiscal year 2013 and beyond.
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