FORT KNOX, Ky. (April 22, 2013)-- The commanding general of the U.S. Army Human Resources Command spoke at the American Society of Military Comptrollers monthly luncheon April 17 at the Saber & Quill's Bullion Room.Maj. Gen. Richard P. Mustion talked about force-shaping and the strategic defense focus."We make tough decisions, prioritizing and operating in a constrained fiscal environment," he said.In keeping with the national defense strategy, the Army of 2017 is being built now, Mustion said. However, although the Army is drawing down from 539,000 in the Active Component to 490,000 in the AC by fiscal year 2017, it's vital that new recruits keep joining the Army."We must sustain our Army's accessions," he said. "It's the life's blood of the Army."The Army is determined to learn from the lessons of the past."Our Army is committed to retaining our very best without jeopardizing operations," Mustion said. "With drawdowns in our past, we have not exercised care and compassion and have sacrificed readiness."After Operation Desert Shield/Storm, 100,000 Soldiers voluntarily left the Army in one year, he said. They had 90 days to prepare for their transition to the civilian world."We lost some of our best. It took us about 20 years to recover from that," Mustion said. This time, "we're going to do it with precision. Trying to maintain balance (among military occupational specialties) is the main job of HRC."Natural losses and normal attrition aren't enough to draw the Army down to desired levels; they will only achieve an end strength of 514,000, he said. More must be done to achieve the targeted end strength of 490,000.Mustion said the Army is focusing on several ways to approach the drawdown related to the withdrawal of combat forces in Afghanistan:1. adjusting accessions so that approximately 30,000 fewer Soldiers are recruited; 2. reducing career-advancement opportunities (i.e., competitive promotion selections) so that 3,000 will leave the Army within three to five years; 3. waiving military-service obligations for some officers; 4. employing the Qualitative Service Program through which enlisted Soldiers are administratively separated if they have remained too long in their present ranks and aren't promotable; and 5. implementing officer Selective Early Retirement Boards for the first time since 1991.The challenge is that, while some of these are being considered by the Army senior leadership, some require legislative approval.The new drawdown allows Soldiers more time to prepare for re-entry into the civilian world than the drawdown following ODS."Soldiers have had an excess of 12 months (to prepare for separation from the Army). As they transition, they do so as ambassadors for the Army," he said. "The Army is committed to doing it right. We're vitally committed to taking care of our Soldiers."Mustion's second topic focused on the fiscal constraints under which the Army is currently operating:1. absence of a Continuous Resolution Authority, or CRA, for a longer time than expected; 2. effects of sequestration; and 3. increased Overseas Contingency Operations, or OCO, costs.He said the Army is dealing with these challenges by1. deferring maintenance projects planned for FY 13; 2. saving on energy costs; 3. reducing training (such as flight hours) and leader-development programs; and 4. deferring reset (the movement of equipment from Afghanistan to American posts)."The Army needs to continue to operate, maintain and develop its installations to grow the future," Mustion said. "It's all about organizing and making tough decisions as we operate in a tightened fiscal environment."It's not so much the fiscal constraints, he said. He sees it as an opportunity."We've all got to find out how to become more efficient," Mustion said.