Smaller force must meet new challenges with less

| April 11, 2014 | 0 Comments
Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox delivers remarks at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., April 7, 2014. Fox is addressing the defense budget and other pressing issues facing the department in speeches to students at military war colleges. (DOD photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler)

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox delivers remarks at the U.S. Army War College in Carlisle, Pa., April 7, 2014. Fox is addressing the defense budget and other pressing issues facing the department in speeches to students at military war colleges. (DOD photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Aaron Hostutler)

Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON — The Defense Department’s fiscal year 2015 budget request recognizes that the U.S. military must meet objectives with a pared-down force.

Acting Deputy Defense Secretary Christine H. Fox made this comment, April 7, at the Army War College in Carlisle Barracks, Pa.

“The budget is based on strategic imperatives and recognizes a time of continued transition and uncertainty for the U.S. military in terms of its roles, missions and the available resources,” Fox said. “The last decade has been dominated by protracted land wars in Iraq and Afghanistan … but now our focus has to move to preparing to counter a variety of security threats and embracing opportunities on all points of the compass.”

The decision to maintain the U.S. technological edge at the expense of size was based not only on stark lessons of history, Fox said, but also on rigorous analysis.

“Past major drawdowns — World War II, Korea, Vietnam and the Cold War — all kept more force structure in the military than could be adequately trained, maintained and equipped given the defense budgets at that time,” she said.

This forced the military to disproportionately cut into accounts that fund readiness and modernization.

To determine the size of the forces needed, Fox said, officials used two critically important inputs: existing operational plans and the global force management allocation plan that provided an estimate of steady-state requirements for U.S. forces to support the day-to-day needs of combatant commanders.

“This analysis showed that for the active Army, a force size of 440,000 to 450,000 was adequate to meet these demands when accompanied by a reserve force of 195,000 and a Guard of 335,000.”

Together, this force of 980,000 Soldiers would meet the priorities specified in the strategy as laid out in the Quadrennial Defense Review, which ultimately means that after years of growing the Army, the time has come to shrink it.

“(The current) Army has born the burden of battle in Iraq and Afghanistan, and it’s a bitter pill to be rewarded in this way,” Fox said. “We have no choice but to get smaller for all of the services.”

Still, Fox noted, the opportunities for future U.S. forces will be endless.

“There are tremendous opportunities for Army to contribute in securing the gains in Afghanistan, keeping the peace in Korea, engaging in Africa, or delivering humanitarian relief to countless nations,” she said.

“The Army cannot turn into a large garrison force waiting for the next land war,” Fox said. “There is just too much to do in the world, and we need clever ideas on how to be everywhere, do everything with fewer forces across the entire joint force.”

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Category: Armed Forces Press Service, News, Sustainability

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