FY 2012 to focus on squad unit

| June 3, 2011 | 0 Comments

Budget concerns, posture discussed at Senate Appropriations’ Defense Subcommittee

C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON — The Army will conduct a future analysis of its “fundamental fighting unit,” the squad, to ensure everything is being done to prepare squad-level Soldiers for the fight.

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee’s Defense Subcommittee, May 17, to discuss the fiscal year 2012 budget and Army posture.

“We’ll look at the squad as a collective whole, not nine individual Soldiers, and determine how to enable it from the bottom up — to ensure that the squad has the training, leadership, doctrine, power and energy, protection and lethality to win when we send them into harm’s way,” Dempsey told lawmakers.

“As an Army, no one can challenge us at the corps level, division level, brigade level or battalion level,” he said. “I want to ensure we’ve done as much as possible to make sure that the same degree of overmatch exists at squad level.”

While Dempsey didn’t say when a review would happen, he did say it wouldn’t result in more gear given to individual Soldiers who are “already strained by the load they have to carry in combat.”

The Army is facing two requirements to reduce the number of Soldiers in uniform.

They include a 22,000 Soldier reduction that accounts for the temporary end-strength increase authorized by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in 2009, and a Gates-directed 27,000-Soldier reduction three or four years from now — to be taken out of the Army’s permanent end-strength.

McHugh has been working with leaders in the Department of Defense to make sure the cuts happen, but they will not affect the mission or put other Soldiers at risk.

“We’ve spent a lot of time … to make sure the way forward on this makes sense, that we are not buying an unreasonable amount of risk,” McHugh said.

The reduction of 22,000 Soldiers is in “the near term,” but McHugh said that those troops are still needed, as the Army is concerned about the current operational tempo and how that reduction would affect the force.

The secretary of defense is allowing the Army to keep the 22,000 Soldiers in the force, until March 2012, with the drawdown in Iraq, and then making it possible for the Army to take the reduction “in stride.”

The secretary of defense also directed a reduction in permanent end-strength of 27,000 Soldiers. That drawdown would be “conditions based,” McHugh told legislators.

The 27,000-Soldier reduction is aimed at the 2014-2015 time frame, with the potential drawdown in Afghanistan.

But ultimately, McHugh said, a final decision would depend on input from the president, NATO allies and Gen. David Petraeus, commander, International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

“(If) conditions on the ground allow that to continue, we feel very comfortable that the 27,000 (reduction) is a very achievable target,” McHugh said.

McHugh said the Army is working on how to shape the force with the drawdown and how to “ramp down” the numbers of Soldiers without “placing Soldiers at greater risk.”

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Category: Army News Service, News

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