Secretary of the Army 2019 AUSA Opening Ceremony Remarks

By U.S. ArmyOctober 22, 2019

Good morning and welcome to the 2019 AUSA Annual Meeting! General Ham, thank you for such a warm welcome. A very sincere thank you to you and your staff. Every year you outdo yourselves.

I would like to extend a welcome and introduce the 40th Chief of Staff of the Army, General James McConnville. My wingman for the last two years, he has been a steady hand on the E Ring for the Army. The last twenty-six months together have been great. This includes thousands of repetitions together making this time of significant transition smooth. Speaking of teams, I would be remiss if I didn't mention the other members of our team, the USA, VCSA, and the SGM Grinston.

We have two Medal of Honor Recipients with us today, SSG David Bellavia and MSG Leroy Petry. Welcome gentlemen, and it's an honor to have you here.

Additionally, please join me in recognizing the spouses and Gold Star families here today. ….Your sacrifices are not lost on us. We are forever in your debt.

18 years ago this week the war in Afghanistan began and almost 2 decades since our men and women have been on the march facing the adversaries of our country… Every day, we have been fighting the enemy, advising and assisting our partners…-- all in defense of our nation and our way of life.

All the while, Russia and China are investing billions to rapidly modernize their armies, increase their weapon systems' lethality and thus eroding US overmatch. Right this minute, Iran is purchasing and testing weapons systems, from missiles to drones, threatening the surrounding shaky peace in the region. Violent extremist organizations in Afghanistan and Iraq continue to put pressure on the populace, attacking, blending in, reconstituting and then repeating. Our adversaries are investing in tomorrow today, unconstrained by a continuing resolution and singularly focused on shifting the current balance of power.

The Reverend Doctor Martin Luther King Junior said quote We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency. This is a time for vigorous and positive action". Tomorrow… is in fact…. Today.

For the past 2 years we have restored readiness across the force with over half of our BCTs at the highest levels of readiness and as a nation at war, we will continue to keep these units ready to support combat operations for the foreseeable future. We have built a foundation to shift the Army's modernization efforts and began the process of replacing the legacy systems that have served us well for the last 40 years.

We have primed the modernization pump, drastically reducing the requirement timelines to 18 months or less and moving quickly from prototype to operational tests, so we can prepare for low rate initial production.

To fully realize the Modernization Strategy, we must have the FY20 and 21 budget deal approved in order to have the sustained investment, necessary for pushing through prototype testing of systems to begin procurement of LRIP tranches of capability to scale our formations and we must invest in the Cloud architecture.

The Army will stay the course and our priorities- Readiness, Modernization and Reform- are not changing. We are here to finish what we collectively started.

First, the Army must invest as much in Strategic Readiness as we do in tactical, unit-level readiness, because our MDO concept is going to dramatically change and we must address how we fight.

The last 18 years of conflict built muscle memory in counter insurgency, tested our leadership, and has hardened the force. With this focus came atrophy in other areas. We are now re-engaging these muscle groups. Essentially… you can't skip leg day.

Going forward we must put equal effort into improving our strategic readiness, which is the Army's capability to rapidly mobilize and deploy forces anywhere in the world and sustain the Joint Force.

Multi-Domain Operations is our fighting concept, and it serves as the foundation of the Army Modernization Strategy. The MDO is how the Army supports the Joint Force in the rapid and continuous integration across all domains of warfare- land, sea, air, space and cyberspace- to ultimately deter, and win the fight should deterrence fail.

We began our multi-domain efforts under the expert direction of General Bob Brown in the INDOPACOM Theater, where we are challenged by the tyranny of distance and gap in air and sealift capabilities. Building off of last year's historic integration of the Task Force into the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, multi-domain capabilities have continued to be tested and validated through additional exercises and experimentation.

A year ago at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, we activated the first Intelligence, Information, Cyber, Electronic Warfare, & Space Detachment, known as the I2CEWS, which serves as the core of the Multi-Domain Task Force capability.

We will continue to experiment with Multi-Domain Task Forces in both Europe and the Indo-Pacific theaters to inform our future force development and ensure we are developing the right capability mix for each Theater. The MDTF participated in Exercise Orient Shield in September with the Japanese Ground Self Defense Force operating in the East China Sea. With its headquarters in Japan, the Task Force elements were distributed south across the Senkaku Islands, serving as an important validation of capabilities as we build the multi-domain formations of the future.

This exercise, known as Pacific Pathways, has evolved to a 2.0 version -- adopting a "hub & spoke" model by deploying task forces to single locations for a longer period of time and executing dynamic force employment of task force elements to "spoke" locations. For example, in May, we deployed a company from a hub location in the Philippines to Palau. This was the first time U.S. Army forces had been in Palau in 37 years. We aren't just training in these areas and departing with lessons learned. We have a presence in the region, strengthened by partnerships and tested through tough, realistic and habitual exercises.

In Europe, this year III Corps and 1st Armored Division conducted a no-notice Emergency Deployment Readiness Exercise (EDRE), demonstrating the Army's flexible global projection. Less than two weeks' time passed from the moment a Soldier at Fort Bliss received the phone call, to the moment they placed their weapon on fire alongside our NATO counterparts at the Drawsko Pomorskie training area, Poland.

In FY20, the Army will conduct Defender 2020 to exercise, rehearse and validate how we would respond to a European Crisis. This will be the largest exercise in twenty-five years.

These forces will draw prepositioned stocks and establish communications on continent. Nine x C-17s will fill the skies with waves of paratroopers demonstrating Joint Forcible Entry, linking up with Special Operation Forces and conventional host nation ground forces.

Finally, in terms of readiness, we rely on Army Installations. Army Installations provide infrastructure for home station training, as well as a projection platform to mobilize, ship equipment and deploy forces. We leverage our partners' infrastructure as well. For instance, the Defender exercise prompted the Lithuanian Government to invest in dual-gauge rail cars- one example of our push for interoperability and driving European infrastructure investments towards a common goal.

Second, the Army must invest in what we fight with or we risk losing the next war.

The Wright Brothers, pioneers of aviation, built three iterations of a glider, while conducting hundreds of tests and modifications in the pursuit of flight. Six years passed from their initial glider design to a practical flying machine. Their success took the patience of learning through testing and capitalizing on knowledge gained in each iteration.

In the Army, innovation and industry are inextricably tied. MG Benjamin Foulois, then a lieutenant, flew the first military airplanes purchased from the Wright Brothers. Six miles from this very building, the initial flight took place and ended in a crash. Ten months later, after the Wright brothers improved the engineering of the Wright Military Flyer, Foulois achieved sustained flight.

The Army purchased this airplane and named it "Signal Corps No. 1". From there, the Army would invest in the large-scale production of airplanes from the Wright brothers, develop training for pilots and mechanics, and create an organization capable of managing this new technology.

The Army is 1 year into our new organizational culture that will help us change our operating model to MDO, pick the next weapons systems and it is yielding results. Under the strong leadership of GEN Mike Murray, coupled with the partnership with Dr. Bruce Jette, Assistant Secretary of the Army for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology, Army Futures Command has empowered the requirements community, brought precision to our research and development program and have developed a Modernization Strategy with 31 signature systems.

Our new Army Modernization Strategy outlines our comprehensive approach. By combining the application of the MDO operating model, the Army can generate options for commanders and increase complexity for adversarial forces.

US adversaries are operating largely uncontested in space and cyberspace. Recently in Afghanistan, I watched MDO Information Operations in action. I watched our joint and partner forces counter and defeat the Taliban's online operation in an attempt to create chaos. The adversary's claims of a tactical victory and towns' under siege were quickly disproven through timely, truthful and targeted messaging.

The public could see for themselves local officials and partner leaders walking through the village square in real-time, via social media. A swift calm ensued in neighboring towns. The enemy, defeated in both reality and in their online narrative, fell silent again.

The right message, at the right time, to the right people, is the crux of MDO Information Operations and it is yielding results at the street level in Afghanistan like we have not seen in 18 years. If low-tech adversaries are able to execute offensive operations in the virtual domain, imagine what the Great Power Competitors are able to launch against us.

MDO allows commanders to rapidly build Joint formations, that are strategically positioned and complete with logistics in order to fight and win across all domains- including space and cyberspace. Big data and network security become the next battlefield. If we do not have a system in place, access to the data becomes our no man's land.

A team equipped with Integrated Visual Augmentation System, or IVAS as it is known, is currently in prototype and testing, can turn hundreds of repetitions rehearsing kinetic operations at a safe and removed location. A system such as this, on target, has the ability to rapidly identify a target, call in air support, de-conflict air space and neutralize a threat precisely in seconds.

Systems like this mitigate the threat to our forces and integrate the joint force where every member is seeing the same sight picture. Data moving rapidly paired with AI reduces the time span of decisions, from minutes down to seconds. And seconds in a firefight feels like an eternity. Seamless access to data in the Cloud is the foundation for the entire Army modernization effort.

A headquarters may know how much ammunition is in the inventory, but those in the foxhole intimately understand how many rounds they are firing … and how many they are receiving.

The intent is to move the Army from the industrial age processes to the information age leveraging data as a strategic asset and utilizing private-sector technology.

The Cloud serves as a system of systems, moving at speed. It's scalable and brings computational power into the hands of our soldiers. We will manage big data, employ AI-enabled tools in earnest without sacrificing cybersecurity or resilience. We are investing over $700 million dollars across the 21-25 FYDP.

We invest now or face the delta between capability and threat in which our forces must close the distance at the cost of blood and treasure.

Russia and, especially, China are on a trajectory to surpass U.S. capability. Both seek to modernize, to man, and gain overmatch against the U.S. and our allies. Either you have a sense of urgency today… or a sense of regret tomorrow.

In order to maintain Readiness and enable our ambitious modernization agenda in a flat fiscal environment, the Army must ruthlessly prioritize our resources to achieve our modernization goals.

The 31 signature systems across all domains of combat and our Army priorities represent the future weapons systems of our future formations. We are in various stages of prototype and experimentation that are yielding results along the development continuum and will scale them in our formations over the next 5 years.

It will require more funding. That is why Army leadership will realign $10 Billion across POM 21 in order to finance our ambition and be in a position to support National Objectives for years to come.

The only way the Army can accomplish this aggressive approach is through teamwork.

The CSA, USA, VCSA, SMA and I operate as a team. Some could argue we make up the oldest and the greyest squad in the Army. But make no mistake, we are a team. And building teams take time, energy and patience. We put down our phones and look each other in the face.

We eat together, use each other as sounding boards, as a place to vent, to share good news and help each other deal with adversity. We know each other's families and we know each other's aspirations. No one has to walk this journey alone, from the most junior Soldier to the most senior leaders.

We will devote resources and energy towards combating the suicide epidemic, as it is plaguing our ranks. We aren't going to solve these problems from a podium. We need grass-root, organic solutions, as one suicide is too many. I am not sure who needs to hear this, but tomorrow wouldn't be the same without you. We need every member of this team. If you have ideas, if you possess solutions, we are listening.

We will build cohesive and professional teams at every level. We will stand shoulder to shoulder against sexual harassment and sexual assault. These issues tear at the fabric of our organization. We must and we will do better.

The Army is prioritizing 5 essential quality of life programs for families. Families are the bedrock of our teams. My teammate, GEN McConville, will talk more on people and the Army's quality of life programs tomorrow in his remarks at the Family Forum.

In closing, the Army will stay the course and our priorities- Readiness, Modernization and Reform- are not changing. We will finish what we started.

Please take advantage of the leadership assembled here this week at AUSA. Where else can you hear the Army's senior-most leaders tell you first-hand their priorities, free from the shackles of PowerPoint Slides?

Talk with our industry partners. Learn more about what America's Army is doing to remain Ready Now and Invest in the Future as we continue to be the most lethal ground force in the world.

To Industry, I ask that you take new approaches, challenge the way in which we approach problem sets while remaining confident that our modernization priorities remain constant. We are in the midst of a paradigm shift. Be open to change and the investment opportunities it holds.

To Congress, I ask that you continue to support the Army divestment of legacy systems and push for a budget deal to help us maintain readiness and ensures that our modernization effort is successful.

To the force, I ask that you build teams and be good teammates. Know the people to your left and right. Help create and manage teams at every level. Know their families and motivations so that we may all help one another realize our potential.

To the families, thank you for your continued support and resiliency. You are truly the bedrock in this 245-year-old experiment.

All-time great football coach Vince Lombardi said "Winning is not a sometime thing, it's an all-time thing. You don't win once in a while, you don't do things right once in a while. You do them right all the time. Winning is a habit. Unfortunately, so is losing".

The world is complex and dangerous. In times of peril, the Nation looks to the US Army and expects us to win. And win we shall. Thank you, Army Strong and Beat Navy!