By J.D. LeipoldMay 11, 2016
WASHINGTON (Army News Service) -- The Army is at a "strategic crossroads" in which the decisions made over the next few years will lay the foundation for the next generation of Soldiers, said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel Allyn.
The Army needs to continue incorporating lessons from more than a decade of conflict and adapt its formations for the demands of today's complex operating environment while building critical capabilities to ensure technological overmatch -- "a hallmark of America's Army," Allyn said. He spoke May 10 at an Institute of Land Warfare breakfast.
Highlighting the roles 187,000 active and reserve-component Soldiers are playing in more than 140 countries, Allyn noted that while units such as the 916th Forward Engineer Support Team, the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment and the 30th Armor Brigade Combat Team are providing substantial strategic flexibility and depth to combatant commanders worldwide.
"Despite significant reductions of force levels in Iraq and Afghanistan, demand for Army forces has not abated as quickly as our end-strength," Allyn said. "This is no small task. At current end-strength, the Army risks consuming readiness as fast as we build it.
"Today the Army has a third fewer active brigade combat teams than in 2012, yet emergent demand for Army forces has increased by 23 percent during the same period," he said, adding that the Army fulfills nearly half of all planned combatant commander requirements and almost two-thirds of emergent demands. "Yes, we have a very busy Army, and we're struggling to adequately modernize our force for the future while sustaining current operations tempo."
Allyn said the global security environment demands the Army remain prepared to execute joint operations against a wide range of threats and diverse environments and that realistic and rigorous training across all echelons is the bedrock to readiness and that all requires sustained resources in time and money.
"As leaders we know that readiness is not easily restored once lost," he said. "We are still recovering from the effects of the 2013-14 sequestration experience. Building readiness is a time-intensive and leader-focused endeavor and it is substantially affected by operational demand."
What would make matters worse is a looming threat of a return to sequestration-level funding in fiscal year '18, he said.
"For the Army to move forward and address our readiness and modernization shortfalls, the Budget Control Act must be repealed," he said. "The programmed BCA levels of funding in the years ahead impede predictable planning and sustained program momentum and represent a clear and present danger threatening the Army's ability to fulfill our national security strategy."
The vice chief said a consequence of the current fiscal constraints is that the Army cannot deliver the most modern equipment and reasonable fielding timelines, which risks falling behind near-peers in critical capabilities.
"Since 2011, the Army's modernization program has shrunk by a third and today it stands at $36 billion less than the next closest service," he said. "Given these trends and to preserve readiness in the short term, the Army has been forced to selectively modernize equipment to counter our adversaries' most pressing technological advances and capabilities.
"These decisions increase the time necessary to defeat an adversary, increase risk condition and potentially increase casualties… these trade-offs are reflections of constrained resources, not strategic insight," he continued.
Turning to recommendations from the National Commission on the Future of the Army, Allyn said many of those recommendations offered realistic solutions which helped sharpen the Army focus. He said after completing a holistic review of the NCFA report, the Army supported in principle the vast majority.
Some of the most significant recommendations the Army held to include the forward stationing of an armor BCT in Europe; retaining 11 combat aviation brigades and increasing Army National Guard Combat Training Center rotations, which he said would be "absolutely helpful and justifiable, but difficult to implement within current resource levels in manpower and funding."