Balancing Risk: The Tension Between Current and Future Demands
To reduce the risk associated with operations in support of the Global War on Terror, in the aftermath of September 11, we have made numerous decisions to allocate resources to immediate, urgent wartime needs. These decisions, made prior to and during 2004, have better enabled our Soldiers to accomplish their missions. Our challenge, in the months and years ahead, will be to establish a balance between current and future investments that will keep risk at moderate levels as we support the execution of the full scope of our global commitments while preparing for future challenges.
“Buying Back” Capabilities
Prior to September 11, the Army’s strategic investment decisions were based on a prevailing view that, in the absence of a peer competitor, risk could be accepted in numerous areas of procurement for the Current Force to facilitate substantial investment in the Future Force.
In the aftermath of September 11, Army requirements changed dramatically. Army decisions made during 2004 reflect the need to “buy back” many of the capabilities, forsaken in recent years, now required to support the Combatant Commanders. Buying back these capabilities has reduced operational risk, improved force protection and supports evolving priorities. While these decisions have produced dramatic, immediate improvements for our Soldiers and for our capabilities in Iraq and Afghanistan, the costs, in excess of $6.5 billion, have been substantial.
Major Decisions in 2004
During 2004, the Army restructured or cancelled 126 programs to free resources for more pressing wartime requirements. The most significant of these decisions are described below.
- In May 2004, as highlighted earlier, the Army cancelled the Comanche Program. We are reinvesting the $14.6 billion in savings into pressing Army aviation requirements and correcting many chronic equipment shortfalls.
- In July 2004, the Army restructured the Future Combat Systems (FCS) Program to accelerate the introduction of crucial new capabilities to the Current Force. By accelerating FCS, the Army will be able to spiral promising technologies into the hands of Soldiers and leaders to give them the tools they need now.
Other decisions made by Congress or the Department of Defense acted to significantly enhance the Army's capability to accomplish its assigned missions.
- In October 2004, the Army was authorized by the National Defense Authorization Act to raise Active Component end strength by 20,000 Soldiers and, between 2005 and 2009, increase by an additional 10,000 Soldiers. This increase is intended to provide the personnel strength needed to implement our modular conversion and rebalancing initiatives. The increase in end strength also expands the potential options for operational tour lengths, which we are fully evaluating in the larger context of the Army's ability to generate the combat and sustainment forces needed to support operations in multiple theaters of war.
- During Fiscal Year 2004, in addition to supporting these critical decisions, the Department of Defense and the other Services supported Army operations and helped to maintain transformational momentum, by reprogramming significant resources to Army accounts. The Army also received more than $15.4 billion of a $25 billion contingency reserve fund appropriated by Congress.
Meeting Today’s Demands While Preparing for Tomorrow
We have done much to mitigate risk, in all dimensions, but particularly in operational risk. Creating modular units; fielding of Stryker Brigade Combat Teams; restructuring of Army Aviation following the cancellation of the Comanche Program; establishing the Reset Program and initiating rapid fielding; and rapid equipping programs are all helping to meet demands for Army forces, while reducing levels of operational risk.
Due to dramatically increased operational tempo, the operational fleet's condition and age are affecting current equipment readiness. Increased mileage and flight hours, coupled with the severe environmental conditions encountered in Iraq and Afghanistan, have placed greater stress on the fleet than expected. The Army will require assistance to address the risk. As part of the Reset Program, increased repair, recapitalization and replacement of systems will be required to ensure our fleet is maintained and fully capable.
Numerous initiatives are focused to reduce force management risk. These include:
- Establishing a larger pool of rotational forces through modularity;
- Rebalancing the Active and Reserve Components;
- Eliminating redundant capabilities;
- Executing a comprehensive military-to-civilian conversion program;
- Stabilizing the force;
- Enhancing recruiting and retention by adding recruiters and creating special incentives; and
- Increasing the personnel strength of the operational Army.
In addition, congressional approval of increases in Active Component personnel strength is helping the Army to man its transforming modular Brigade Combat Teams now undergoing activation or conversion.
Our Army is focusing resources on spiraling higher payoff technologies into the Current Force to minimize future risks. Our investment accounts will be critical to our ability to maintain technological superiority and ensure the development and fielding of the Future Force. We will need assistance to maintain these investment accounts to strike the proper balance between supporting current operations and readiness and investing in capabilities required to ensure future success.
To reduce institutional risk, we are continuing to refine our resourcing processes to make them more agile and responsive to the immediate requirements of the Combatant Commanders and to help prepare the Army for future challenges. Our investments in LandWarNet (to facilitate real time, common understanding of dynamic situations) are improving our installations' ability to project and sustain forces. This result is a more rapidly deployable force that requires less logistics overhead structure and a greater capacity to reach back to their home stations for intelligence, medical and other essential support.
Increased funding will be required to accomplish our current tasks and simultaneously prepare for the future. Reduced funding would have a significant impact on procurement; repair, recapitalization and replacement of the heavily utilized operational fleet; resetting the force; and Soldier programs, while preparing the force to accomplish the full range of future requirements, projected in an uncertain, unpredictable era.