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.