• Secretary of the Army John McHugh speaks to his civilian aides during the 59th annual civilian aides to the secretary of the Army conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents the secretary in each state and nearly all U.S. territories.

    Secretary of the Army John McHugh speaks to his...

    Secretary of the Army John McHugh speaks to his civilian aides during the 59th annual civilian aides to the secretary of the Army conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents the secretary in each state and...

  • Secretary of the Army John McHugh speaks to a civilian aide from Guam, Carl Petterson during the 2014 National CASA conference., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents the secretary in each state, and nearly all U.S. territories.

    Secretary of the Army speaks at 59th CASA conference

    Secretary of the Army John McHugh speaks to a civilian aide from Guam, Carl Petterson during the 2014 National CASA conference., Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents the secretary in each state, and nearly all...

  • A civilian aide to the secretary of the Army takes a brochure about the Western Regional Medical Command at the 59th civilian aide to the secretary of the Army conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents Secretary of the Army John McHugh in each state and nearly all U.S. territories.

    Secretary of the Army speaks at 59th CASA conference

    A civilian aide to the secretary of the Army takes a brochure about the Western Regional Medical Command at the 59th civilian aide to the secretary of the Army conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents...

  • Civilian aides to the secretary of the Army chat with Master Sgt. Ailene Serquina, assigned to 593rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), during the 59th CASA conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. The 68 CASAs in attendance represent Secretary of the Army John McHugh in different regions of the United States.

    Secretary of the Army speaks at 59th CASA conference

    Civilian aides to the secretary of the Army chat with Master Sgt. Ailene Serquina, assigned to 593rd Sustainment Command (Expeditionary), during the 59th CASA conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. The 68 CASAs in attendance...

  • Gerald O'Keefe, administrative assistant to Secretary of the Army John McHugh, poses with Bill Dukes moments after swearing him in as a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, during the 59th CASA conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June 24, 2014. At least one CASA represents Secretary of the Army John McHugh in each state and nearly all U.S. territories.

    Secretary of the Army speaks at 59th CASA conference

    Gerald O'Keefe, administrative assistant to Secretary of the Army John McHugh, poses with Bill Dukes moments after swearing him in as a civilian aide to the secretary of the Army, during the 59th CASA conference at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., June...

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (June 26, 2014) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh spoke to 68 civilian aides to the secretary of the Army about the future of the Army during the 59th annual CASA conference here, Tuesday.

McHugh said the CASAs, who serve as liaisons between the American people and the Department of the Army, are "enormously influential" in their states and communities and urged them to help the public understand the issues at hand.

McHugh focused on the impact a potential second round of sequestration-mandated spending cuts would have on the Department of the Army in fiscal year 2016. He said the Army will be forced to downsize again to an active-duty strength of 420,000.

"The chief of staff and I agree that at that figure the Army could not meet the requirements placed upon it as part of the Defense Strategic Guidance. We just wouldn't have the personnel," McHugh said.

He added that even though few members of Congress want sequestration to go into effect, political consensus will be difficult to achieve.

"That's not going to be an easy path to follow, and that agreement, whatever it may look like, is not going to be easy to reach," McHugh said.

McHugh also spoke about the Army's Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program and praised Joint Base Lewis-McChord's SHARP Resource Center. He said the center provides a single location with the consolidated resources victims may need.

"We're going to make that an Army best practice," McHugh said of the SHARP resource center.

Bill Dukes, sworn in earlier that morning as a CASA for South Carolina, said McHugh's comments provided him with the information he needs to talk to the people of his state about the Army's response to sexual harassment and assault.

The conference is set to conclude June 25 with the CASAs taking part in virtual exercises at one of Joint Base Lewis-McChord's simulation training centers.

Page last updated Thu July 3rd, 2014 at 10:32