Under Secretary: Army Stretching Budget to Limit
February 29, 2008
FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (Army News Service, Feb. 29, 2008) --The Army cannot expect to continue funding its growth, modernization and sustainability using supplemental budgets, Acting Under Secretary of the Army Nelson Ford said Thursday night.
The ArmyAca,!a,,cs base budget is substantially short of what is needed to sustain the current force, Ford told an audience of U.S. Army officers, allied nation officers and defense industry officials who were gathered at the Association of the United States ArmyAca,!a,,cs Institute of Land Warfare Winter Symposium and Exposition here.
Aca,!A"Our mission exceeds our money,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Of course in the recent past, we do supplementals to cover the shortfalls. That canAca,!a,,ct be the plan for the future. I suggest we advocate for an increased top line for national defense.Aca,!A?
The under secretary was quick to point out that he does not just mean an increase for the Army, but for all services and for other federal agencies called on to perform new missions in support of national defense.
Aca,!A"It is unrealistic for Congress to pass expanded expectations without expanded resources,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"And while I am not sure how much to allocate to national defense, I do know we will get the security we pay for. The question is, in a dangerous world, is 3 percent of the gross domestic product enough'Aca,!A?
The Army is now gaining new missions, including stability operations, which has now been formally recognized as a core mission in the new Army Operations Field Manual 3-0.
The undersecretary said the Army must try to increase its base budget, but must also learn to better utilize the funding it does receive.
Aca,!A"We will need to stretch every dollar to buy more capability with the same amount of money,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Our posture statement emphasizes stewardship of the taxpayer dollar and our commitment to making innovation a cornerstone for improving the effectiveness and efficiency of the Army.Aca,!A?
The undersecretary said stewardship includes both accountability and equipment that costs less to buy, operate and maintain.
Aca,!A"It means more built in reliability and less scheduled maintenance, and it means knowing the position and location of every piece of equipment at all times,Aca,!A? he said.
Such efforts, the undersecretary pointed out, are underway everyday in the private sector. The Army must learn to follow suit if it is to maintain its capability.
Aca,!A"We just need to synchronize the lessons of the market with the doctrine of the Army,Aca,!A? he said.
Ford also said accounts of a broken or hollow Army are false, that in fact, the Army is performing well under pressure.
Aca,!A"The Army is stretched, but not broken,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"By many accounts we are making good progress in the war. But the good news has been relegated to the back pages -- overtaken by the primaries and AmericaAca,!a,,cs concerns about the economy.
"Our planners say the effort canAca,!a,,ct be sustained, that we have to pass on the next request for forces Aca,!" but the Army soldiers on, taking on new missions, surging, replacing NATO units, securing the border and trying to figure out how to make sure the next deployed unit is trained, manned and ready to meet U.S. Central CommandAca,!a,,cs expectations to work in a very tough environment.Aca,!A?
Despite the challenges in Iraq and Afghanistan, Soldiers are re-enlisting at rates above Army expectations, even those in combat arms, Ford said. And shortages in majors and captains are not due to attrition, but rather to the increasing requirements of modularity. Even more, young Americans continue to raise their hands to volunteer for the Army.
Aca,!A"Despite the risks, tens of thousands from across the country continue to volunteer,Aca,!A? said Ford. Aca,!A"If you need your faith in this country restored, go talk to the muddy-boots Soldiers and ask them how they are doing.Aca,!A?