By Sgt. Michael Reinsch, U.S. Army Europe Public AffairsJune 3, 2013
WIESBADEN, Germany (June 3, 2013) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, Ph.D., and Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. John F. Campbell addressed an array of issues that impact the future of the Army during their visit with U.S. Army Europe leadership here, June 1.
The senior Army leaders outlined current Army priorities and received various briefs to enhance their situational awareness regarding key U.S. Army Europe, or USAREUR, initiatives and programs.
"It's great to have an opportunity to talk to the leadership here on a range of issues. USAREUR is critical to maintaining relationships with our European partners. General John Campbell and I have been able to discuss several major issues facing our Army during this visit," said Westphal, the second-highest ranking civilian official in the U.S. Army.
During the visit, USAREUR leadership provided updates on the current restructuring of the civilian work force, health of the force initiatives, and the impacts of fiscal constraints to USAREUR and USAG Wiesbaden programs.
A portion of the discussions centered on the need to prioritize garrison programs and resources due to the Army's current budget reductions.
"The Army is committed to ensuring we continue supporting effective programs, but we must eliminate redundancy and prioritize our initiatives," Campbell said as he detailed the Army's current fiscal constraints.
Throughout the discussions, Westphal and Campbell reiterated the Army's commitment to ensuring the well-being of Soldiers, families, and the civilian workforce.
Additionally, Westphal and Campbell discussed the Army's steadfast efforts to eliminating sexual assault and harassment within the ranks. They underscored the Army's efforts to change its culture in an effort to reduce the rate of, and altogether stamp out, sexual assault and harassment.
"What I have seen over the last couple of months, on the part of our leadership at all levels, is a full-fledged commitment to the eradication of this problem. We will implement a strategy that helps the victims and holds hold accountable those individuals that don't abide by the ethics and the integrity of our Army, and nation," Westphal commented.
Sequestration is an issue that affects all government agencies and employees. Westphal and Campbell told USAREUR leaders that they recognize that these cuts will significantly threaten the Army's readiness and ability to posture for future requirements. Moreover, both senior leaders highlighted the vital role of civilian employees and expressed concern about their well-being.
"We find this the most wrenching and most difficult period the Army has faced in a long time. Our civilian workforce has been supporting our warfighters throughout these current conflicts. They work long hours and sacrifice on the behalf of the American people, our Soldiers and their families. They don't deserve this. The president, as well as the secretary of defense, has made it very clear that this is not an acceptable way to treat our workforce," Westphal said.
Campbell also underscored the vital role of the Army's civilian work force and encouraged them to continue their extraordinary support. "You are valuable members of the U.S. Army team and we appreciate what you do," he said.
Fiscal constraints impact the Army as a whole; from the Soldier at the lowest level to the highest levels of command, the Army has had to make adjustments to support current mission requirements.
One change that affects every major command is force restructuring. For USAREUR, it's no different; but the leadership in Washington is saying that the force structure is "about right."
"We are going to continue to make adjustments in the force structure across the Army. When Congress approves our budget it will enable us to evaluate the necessary changes that must occur," Westphal said.
Although USAREUR units and garrisons are adjusting to significant changes, Westphal conveyed that the Army's presence in EUROPE is essential to the United State's ability to maintain the long standing partnerships within the NATO alliance.
"This is a very important region to our country and to our nation's security. Our entire Army family here in Germany is absolutely critical to the Army's ability to posture for future requirements, maintain readiness, and continue to build on the strong partnerships we have with our European partners," said Westphal.
Gen. Campbell echoed Under Secretary Westphal's comments regarding the importance of U.S. Army Europe. "Thanks to the U.S. Army Europe team for all they do for our Army and nation," he said.
Regarding how the Army will adapt to an ever changing global environment, Westphal said, "After all these years of deployments and combat operations, this remains the best Army in the world, the strongest Army in the world and the most experienced Army in the world. One of the things our service has effectively done over our nearly 238 year history is effectively adapt to change. We'll continue to do that as we transition out of combat operations in Afghanistan and focus on the global regional alignment of our forces."
Prior to their visit to Wiesbaden, Westphal and Campbell visited U.S. Army commands in Italy and Afghanistan. The pair said that they will take the lessons they learned from each visit with them back to Washington to better prioritize Army resources and support mission requirements.