By Ms. Kari Hawkins (AMCOM)March 20, 2017
There are two things the Army needs to ensure the defense of the nation and its people: the ability to ensure Soldier readiness, and sustained, consistent funding.
Both are within grasp, except for one condition that must be met, according to Karl Schneider, performing the duties of the Under Secretary of the U.S. Army.
"Congress will help rebuild the U.S. Army. What they need in exchange is reform, reform in how we do business, reform in how we are effective and efficient," Schneider told an early morning audience at the second day of the Association of the U.S. Army's Global Force Symposium.
Speaking on March 14 at the Von Braun Center, Schneider reiterated what other Army leaders said on the first day of the forum and what Army commanders have been emphasizing since Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley took command last year -- readiness, people and resources are the priorities, but readiness is the number one priority. Those are the same priorities that have been discussed with Congressional leaders.
As a child born in mid-20th century, Schneider talked about family members who served in World War I, World War II and Korea. The U.S. entered each war, he said, unprepared and unready.
Today's Army is meeting its global commitment with 184,000 Soldiers serving in 143 countries. The Army has been at a high optempo for 15 years, however the ability to maintain the optempo is fraying, he said, with aging systems, the lack of innovation, the need for better working relationships with academia and industry, and the need for new technologies to counter cyberattacks and multi-domain attacks.
"What is the greatest threat to our nation? The real threat is the lack of consistent, reliable and sufficient funding," Schneider said.
Besides the continuing resolution that is currently delaying more than 120 programs and 50 critical new starts, the Army is also facing the potential for sequestration to be reactivated in fiscal year 2018. That would have an "immediate, detrimental impact on the Army" in terms of modernization, readiness and manpower from fiscal year 2018 to 2021, Schneider said.
The Army needs to develop and improve relationships with industry and be more focused on the outcome -- new capabilities that Soldiers need -- rather than the process, he said, adding those relationships should be built on a trust.
Schneider talked about trust, too, when it comes to the Army's auditability. Schneider commended the Army Material Command for leading the way toward preparing the Army for its first full financial statement audit in 2018.
Being able to conduct an audit of Army assets, "allows Army leaders to make better decisions about what to do. It provides information on true costs, and where investments are paying off and where they are not. When it comes to money, it shows we can be trusted to do the right thing, and it gives us the right controls and metrics so we can show that we can achieve outcomes that are needed."
As the Army moves toward reforming its business practices, Schneider said that reformation will ensure the Army remains strong and effective.
"Our Army is well led. It's the most capable, and most lethal and effective land force today," he said. "It's one the most respected today. We need to partner with industry for innovation so our Soldiers never have to face a fair fight."