Change Expected As Army Adapts With Budget
November 2, 2011
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala.--The Army -- its Soldiers, civilians and contractors -- can learn a lot from baseball.
Success in baseball as detailed in the book "Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game" by Michael Lewis is about changing expectations and common beliefs, being innovative, using resources wisely and challenging the old way of doing things.
And in today's economic climate, those lessons can help the Army as an organization ride the wave of financial troubles that now defines the nation, said one of the Army's three-star generals.
As the keynote speaker at the Women in Defense, Tennessee Valley Chapter's leadership workshop at the Huntsville Marriott on Oct. 27, Lt. Gen. Robert Lennox, deputy chief of staff for the Army's resource management, urged his audience to read "Moneyball" and to take away from it lessons they can apply professionally as the Army works to make deep cuts in its budget. His comments on the challenges facing today's Army fit with the workshop's theme -- Leadership Challenges in National Defense.
"You know what's coming," Lennox said. "There will be $489 billion in cuts (in the Department of Defense budget) in the next 10 years. Based on what Congress does, that could grow to $600 billion or even $1 trillion. That's extraordinarily painful. We have to change how we do business."
Of that amount, "the Army takes more than its fair share. We are going to have to figure out how we're going to adapt," he said.
The general said the nation's economic problems are attributed to the recession, entitlements and defense spending. After each war -- Korea, Vietnam, the Cold War -- defense spending has seen a downturn. The problem this time, though, is the cuts are coming at a time when the nation is still at war, Lennox said, with just under 50,000 Soldiers in Iraq and some 75,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan.
"Those folks are still at risk," he said.
In the scheme of things, a $489 billion cut over 10 years is challenging, but also workable as long as the nation is not at war, Lennox said. The cut would mean "$39 billion a year for the Department of Defense," he said. "For the Army, one-fourth of that cut is $12 billion a year or by one-third it's $16 billion a year."
The fiscal 2011 Army budget was $137.7 billion. The fiscal 2012 Army budget is now set at $131.6 billion.
"The Army is involved in a negative growth period. The Army is losing when you consider inflation," Lennox said.
Currently, 21 percent of the Army budget is spent on equipping Soldiers. Forty-seven percent is spent on manning the Army, 13 percent on installations, 12 percent on training Soldiers, 5 percent on sustaining the Army and 2 percent on organization. Lennox said if the equipping budget falls below 20 percent it will have a detrimental effect on modernization.
"We won't be equipping for the future," he said.
The general said the Army has grown to be "very generous to Soldiers" in recent years. Ten years ago, a Soldier cost the Army $75,000 a year. Today, that cost is $138,000 a year for each Soldier. In addition, during World War II it cost $2,533 to equip a Soldier. Today that cost is $19,454 for each Soldier.
"Soldiers are what the Army is all about. But we're making them unaffordable," Lennox said.
"We're pricing ourselves out of the market. We're making Soldiers too expensive to have. We have to figure out how to get that back into balance or we will have a hollow Army with a lot of Soldiers who don't have training and who don't have modernization."
The Army must ask itself, he said, how it will get into and stay in balance between all its expenses, how it will self-price itself in the market, how it will keep the trust of its families and how it will keep an all-volunteer force during a tough economic time.
"These are all critical issues," he said.
Lennox is also concerned about the 20,000 Soldiers currently in uniform who are in the physical disability system.
"They are in the Army wearing this uniform and they are not deploying," he said. "So, we've created a bubble of non-deployable Soldiers and we can't recruit because those jobs are filled."
He also expressed concern over the job satisfaction of combat Soldiers who have been up-tempo in the fight and then brought home to do everyday tasks like changing the oil in their Humvees.
When it comes to modernization and industrial growth, Lennox said if the Army does not sustain its industrial base it will be a challenge to grow it when the time comes. Likewise, in planning for modernization for the future, the Army must decide what hardware is most important -- tanks, aviation, unmanned aircraft systems or something else.
"How are we going to adapt to these kinds of challenges?" he asked. "How are we going to project a budget for the next five or six years that will modernize our Army."
Since World War II, the U.S. and its Army have sacrificed greatly for Korea, Vietnam, the Gulf War, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom along with responding to conflicts that had not been foreseen.
"Who expected Somalia, Bosnia, Kosovo or what happened in the '90s? Who knew we would be in Afghanistan and Iraq? … We don't know the twists and turns out there," Lennox said, and yet the Army is supposed to plan for the unknown.
Budget issues go way back for a military branch that prides itself on being a quick-response Army force on all fronts. Before the war started, in 2001, the Army was dealing with a $56 billion shortfall for equipment. And even though budgets have increased due to the wars, the Army is still playing catchup with modernization.
"We're just now getting the last of the 2 1/2 ton trucks out of the National Guard. We are just now retiring UH Hueys out of the National Guard right now," Lennox said.
Though Army acquisition often gets criticized, Lennox likes to list its successes from the past 10 years, such as nine different body armor improvements, precision munitions and M4 machine gun improvements.
"I don't think Army acquisition is a failure. We've had amazing improvements. But we still have a lot to do," he said.
Before the war, the Army owned 194,000 night vision goggles. Today it owns 575,000 of those goggles. In 2001, the Army had 30 unmanned aircraft vehicles. Today, it has 5,000 in theater. Today's Army is also equipped with nine Stryker brigades and about 50,000 up-armored vehicles, among other new pieces of equipment.
"There's been an amazing effort that's happened," Lennox said. "It's been possible because of the partnership with industry, and the partnerships we have here in Huntsville. It's because of Congress and the people."