REAGAN NATIONAL DEFENSE – FIRE SIDE CHAT
With Secretary of the Army Ryan D. McCarthy and Roger Zakheim, Ronald Reagan Institute
August 25, 2020
Roger Zakheim: Secretary McCarthy, welcome to the show. Thank you so much for joining us.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Thanks for having me, Roger.
Roger: We are here not in our normal Reagan Foundation Studio, but in the bowels of the Pentagon. Secretary, where are we?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: You are literally in the basement of the Pentagon and their audio-visual support center.
Roger: We have a fantastic Library behind us. We will talk about the volumes there. We're going to start with your biography - people know you as the Secretary of the Army. We're going to talk about all the things that you've been working on particularly in these crazy three, four months, but first a little bit about your background. Many know you as a ranger who served in Afghanistan, but you actually started out in the world of Wall Street as a vice president at the HSBC Bank. How did you go from the world of finance to the world of the battlefield?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I started in uniform coming out of college, and when I made the determination to get out of the Army I asked my father for some advice and said you know, how to look for a job. He told me to go to the library read Wall Street Journal and Forbes which at the time I did not understand because I had not had the business acumen to truly appreciate what all of the concepts were. I'd read about an executive who read his own mail.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So I sent him my resume in the mail, said I read about you in a magazine. And then ultimately he gave me an interview. So, it was by accident…
Roger: ….the fact that he read his own mail.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Well, I basically called him on it. Do you really read your own mail? I sent him a letter with my resume which I'm sure was not laid out really well, but nonetheless I put my pen to paper….
Roger: ….and you got a job.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Well, I had to convince him in a job interview but nonetheless he did give me the opportunity.
Roger: Do you still read your mail?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I try to all the time. You know, it's a it's been a, become a habit or characteristic but it helps me keep informed. When I go home I rarely get any mail at home, but I look at, I thumb through the mail and it aggravates my wife but I always look at it every night when I go home and I always learn something.
Roger: Well, as Army Secretary, I know when you were in the front office of Secretary Gates when he was serving as the Sec of Def one of the things that he's written about and spoken about was kind of the hardest and the most solemn element of serving as the Secretary which was writing letters to the families who had lost loved ones in the line of battle. I imagine you serving as Army Secretary now for a little over a year since you've been confirmed that's got to be the mail that's the hardest to receive and to send.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I don’t think a day goes by where you don't review a condolence note. We see specific information about family members, how the soldier was killed and so it’s very difficult. We see the towns they are from from all over the country, but it was actually a practice similar to the way Sec Gates put in place. He would have information about the family. You'd see news clippings from the towns, pictures, to really get a better understanding for the individual because at these levels obviously it's very challenging to be connected to a PFC in the formation, but you are ultimately responsible and getting that connection, that true understanding and have that appreciation - It's very difficult. Every one of them hurts. I always write a note in the corner, handwritten, to the family. The base of the letter is typed up but always try to emphasize we think about every one of them.
Roger: Now you were one of the first Ranger units to go to Afghanistan after September 11th 2001. That's quite an arc from on the battlefield after our country was attacked on 9/11. Now the Army Secretary. Think back to the Army that you entered into Afghanistan, after 9/11 and where it is today - kind of your experience and then the experience of the Army.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: They are a lot better than we were.
Roger: The Army?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Absolutely!
Roger: Is that due to you no longer being active duty, deployed? (laughter)
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I was in 3rd Battalion 75th Ranger regiment….just how good they are now. It's amazing how talented these men and women are, and that's hard earned over decades of combat operations, investments made by the institution in the weapon systems. But really it's the thousands of repetitions, leading at every level, the combat experience of our field grade officers and general officers that would rival at any other point in the history of this institution and it shows. It shows in the way we responded to Covid. It shows that we respond to anything. These individuals are calm under pressure because they've been there.
Roger: Yeah, I'll get back to Covid. Obviously, it’s been a huge focus for the entire country, the world and for the Army, but I noticed an interview soon after you were confirmed as Army Secretary when you articulated the priorities and the concerns you had as a leader, as a Secretary of the Army - readiness was not one of them. You just kind of hit on that. You know, a few years ago readiness was the primary concern and the Army, the Department of Defense, the Army was top among them. I mean, tell us what you did because before you were Army Secretary the under Sec of the Army, of course, was part of Presidents Trump's pronounced build up. How did the Army…what did you do to get the Army ready so you can talk about what we just said? Much better, well trained than ever before….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We sat down as a leadership team. I was the acting Secretary at the time. General Milley, General McConville, General Abrams, Sgt Maj Grinston at Force COM at the time, SECRETARY MCCARTHYA Daily. We knew we’d need a lot more resources to be applied. Much of Readiness you have to have a steady stream of funding. It's got to be on time. So getting bills passed on time is critical to having the appropriate cash flow to buy parts, gas, to be able to turn the machine on quickly. But really the most important primary fact was the focus. General Milley holding Readiness reviews, General Abrams going to every CTC rotation. The leadership was amazing whether you were talking Milley, Abrams, McConville….or you were a talking a battalion commander in the 1st of the 504th, they all sounded the same. They knew what they had to do to get them ready to put a parachute on their back and go do the nation's business.
Roger: So let's talk about that. Some of our watchers and listeners, you know, they hear the word Readiness and it sounds like military speak or Washington streak. Put some color on it. You know, what does it mean for that ranger out in field? What does it mean to our adversaries when they hear, even our allies, when they hear that the US Army is ready in a way it hasn't been in decades?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So I always try to when I have these conversations, I talk to a mayor in an American city about recruiting and they ask the same questions. I tell them I say, well since I’m surrounded by Boston guys – Milley and McConville, Tom Brady would throw a football 25,000 times a summer before he'd even go to camp. He’d lift weights every day and watch film every day and then he goes to camp. He had individual training and then he gets with the offensive line and he practices the schemes, the blocking schemes. He throws to his receivers and 7/7, and they do preseason games and they get to the season.
Roger: You know, we are the Reagan Library, not the Kennedy Library – you are aware of that? (laughter) You are in Boston right now…., go west….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Okay! I don't know who…..I’m a Chicago guy and we are working quarterback problems yet again!
Roger: So is the Washington football team so….(laughter)
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Nonetheless an individual has to do training. They have to be physically strong so they have to do physical training every morning, they have to be competent on their weapon system and then they have to be able to do it with your teammates. You go from that individual to to large unit - which in our case home station training –you work out every morning, you practice on the range, you practice with your squad, you practice with the platoon company, you go to our combat training centers, which would be like a preseason where we practice at larger venues and then ultimately deploy. Readiness is no different than a professional athletes preparation to go on a field and play against an opponent on Sunday.
Roger: And adversaries watch this? You know, our chief competitors whether it be China or Russia, they focus on readiness?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I think they do. I just don't think they do it as well as we do.
Roger: I'm thinking they watch hours. Do they look….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Absolutely. There’s no finer example than to be able to be called on New Years Eve for a cold start, no notice deployment and have an entire brigade combat team out on the ground in the middle East in 96 hours as advertised, ready to go. There’s nobody else on earth that can do that. It’s because of the thousands of repetitions they did before that phone call ever came. When we argued to Congress about why do you have to have a bill passed on time, to have that money. Yeah, you may give me the money three months late, but that’s three months of repetitions that I do not get, that these guys don’t get in order to prepare to get on the ramp at C130 and go deploy. You can’t get it back. If you go to a weight room on the ranger regiment you will see 90% of how well you do is decided before you ever go wheels up. You can’t get it back. The reps matter more than anything.
Roger: You were just talking about 96 hours to the Middle East. Let’s move across the globe because of course the Army spans the globe. Many people don't realize it but the deployment, the presence of the US Army is truly global. A lot of focus over the past few months, perhaps longer, on the US presence in Europe - particularly Germany. The President of the United States has said we have too many forces there, mostly concerned about who's paying for it and whether other allies, particularly Germany, should be paying more. What is the status of the US Army in Germany, question 1. Question 2, why do we need to be deployed? Why is it important for US National security, particularly in Europe, Germany? How does that advance our security and our interest?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So a couple questions there obviously. Over 34,000 personnel stationed in Germany, about 10,000 of them are going to be arrayed across the European continent. This is to help strengthen allies across the NATO partnership, to obviously help improve their performance by the training exercises, enhanced training exercises we conduct. It gives us a much stronger disposition across the continent to emphasize that deterrence because deterrence is key. Having people on the ground to send the message that we are shoulder to shoulder with our allies and will face down any threat - it creates that initial buffer between us and a near peer competitor. It sends them the strongest message that you possibly could to an ally that we will put America's sons and daughters and their families on the ground side by side.
Roger: Near peer competitor when we think about Europe that's Russia? The National Security strategy says it. The national defense strategy says it. That is a fight that no one disputes the Army needs to lead there on the ground. Are those forces going out of Germany going to be redistributed - my word, not your word – East? Is that part of the plan?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: They will be arrayed around the continent, correct.
Roger: A little bit inside the beltway Washington speed but bringing some of those forces home. How do you maintain deterrence if as reported some of those forces that were in Germany are now going to find themselves back in Texas or wherever their home base is.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Very similar to what we've been doing the last five years through the European Defense initiative. We have had what we call heel-to-toe rotations coming from the continental United States and what you see by having those exercises you're able to conduct dynamic force deployments – they always go to the same place, going down the same dog track. They go all over the continent. You exercise, quite frankly, what we call those muscles that you need in order to force project large formations of people on short, no notice because whether you have 34,000 or 50,000 you are going to need thousands more to come from the States. In many cases what you will see is we will notice activity pick up, posture will adjust. So there is some lead time. Our ability to force project is unparalleled around the planet, whether that’s a live formation or a heavy formation it’s only a matter of days and we will be there to support our allies.
Roger: So, let’s talk about that a little bit. You and I in the past have spoken about a national defense strategy when you were under Secretary of the Army, acting Secretary of the Army, and of course as the Secretary of the Army you have been very focused on making sure that the Army is organized, with programs tailored to get after great power competition. You were a ranger in Afghanistan dealing with the threat posed by terrorist that still exists, but the primary thread, according to the strategy documents that the administration has put out, are the traditional State actors in Europe it’s Russia and in Asia it’s China. How has the Army changed to address these competitors – Russia, China? And what are you still working on, what still needs to happen because the project is not finished, the rebuild that the President has called for doesn't appear to me to be complete. What else needs to happen to make sure our Army doesn't lose in a fight or certainly doesn't have to pay huge cost, like you said before, to win?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We started with the readiness equation - the first variable of how you fight today or tonight, tomorrow. We change the scenarios at our combat training centers to address large-scale ground combat operations, which was done a couple years ago by General Milley when he was the Chief. A greater emphasis on putting dilemmas on units, like electronic warfare, chembio attacks, artillery in an environment where you don't have air dominance. How do we perform?
Roger: You can't control the air so how does the Army….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Much different behavior on the ground….
Roger: ….in Afghanistan they… you know the Taliban wasn’t flying anything right?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: No. You can just rotate troops in on a 737. Can’t do that anymore. Triple 7, excuse me. You can't do that anymore. So now how do you behave differently? How do you approach everything from your troop leading procedures, operations, orders and rehearsals to the actual fight? So, that was a big change. And there were some growing pains. We had to get back into that because we had been fighting a certain way for 19 years and counting. Getting these leaders to have that appreciation. We increased the number of combat training center rotations so get those units up faster. When you look at people like Mark Milley or Jim McConville, these folks hit the burn in 2003 or when they were deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan they had three or four of these combat training center rotations – company commander, field grade – they were ready. It takes years so that’s why we….
Roger: ….so you’ve got the readiness piece in place….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: ….readiness piece in place. Modernization, which we have obviously talked about at length in the last several years, was what are the investment priorities. We have 6+2 if you will with 31 signature systems across that. We cull our balance sheet….
Roger: You cut a bunch….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: ….a bunch….but we also got an increase over the last four cycles. We have been very disciplined about the investments. We actually looked at the statistics. We increased the S&T budget against these 31 systems by over 825%....
Roger: That’s science, technology….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: ….and you send that signal to industry ‘we are serious’ but then industry has reacted. They went from about 2% to almost 7% on average so getting everybody collectively focused, we are doing this, and we have to modernize the weapon systems or we won’t be relevant in the future fight.
Roger: I will drill down with one more question and then we will pivot to the other aspects of leading the Army. Back when there was a July 4th parade a couple of years ago the President wanted an Army parade and there was all sorts of controversy or a military parade whether that’s what we need to do on July 4th. I had an opportunity to write something with the Colony saying ‘hey I got no problem with the parade. People shouldn’t be concerned with the parade. What they should be concerned about was that that parade, when you look at the systems, you know those look like antiques…right? They are not showing off the 21st century, they are showing off the 20th century. Kind of a tongue in cheek critique but you look at the Bradley fighting vehicle or the Abrams, I mean, these things have been around since the Reagan build up which was generally light on this program but not exactly systems that are brand new. Legitimate critique or am I missing something?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: No, when you have systems that are 45-50 years old you can’t engineer another ounce or have another letter for the upgrade to designate the upgrade so we are laser focused on this. Over this 5-year horizon we have in the upwards of 15-18 of these weapon systems, of the 31 landing in the formation. It’s happening now. So, we are very excited about our future, and it’s just pulling them all through and getting them fielded.
Roger: Alright, let’s shift. This has been a tumultuous time. You came in as Army Secretary a little more than a year ago. You’ve been dealing with issues left and right and most of those are not the types of things we have been talking about, which is getting the Army ready for a war we never want to fight but if we do we are going to prevail. Talk to us a little bit about that. You’ve had COVID, you’ve had the challenges with the follow on protests following the killing of George Floyd and the civil unrest and the role of the military there. You’ve had the National Guardcalled up. So, give me a sense of all the different pieces that you’ve had to pick up and manage over the past, you know, six months.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Well, on New Years Eve before I tried to go have dinner we had 178,000 people deployed conducting combat operations for 19 years straight. As if that wasn’t enough obviously intelligence showed Qassem Soleimani was going to conduct complex attacks and kill many Americans.
Roger: ….so this is the head of the Iranian revolution…. and he’s targeting Americans and Iraq and Syria and elsewhere.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So we took the very aggressive and sound decision to go after him. It created tremendous tension, potentially the brink of war with Iran. Obviously challenges here in Washington with impeachment proceedings, 45 days after that Covid-19, 60 days after that a police officer brutally murders George Floyd in Minneapolis and cites civil unrest like we have not seen since the 1960s. It takes most people about 80 years to see all that – we saw that in 60 days.
Roger: I’m not seeing any gray in the hair….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I cut my hair short…..(laughter) It’s been an extraordinary time. It’s created tremendous stress. We put about 40+ thousand National Guard in play to help build hospitals with the Corp of Engineers, augment hospital staff, deliver food, run nursing homes. We are central to the vaccine development – General Gus Perna leads this, an Army 4-star. It’s been extraordinary.
Roger: You are in all sides of this…
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: ….an incredibly terrible….
Roger: Building hospitals, supporting the governors, of course the National Guard…they are supporting the governors, they are going out and that’s a tremendous number. You said over 40,000?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: That’s right.
Roger: And then actually, tell us more about the vaccine and the Army’s role in that….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Medical Research and Development Command – an amazing organization that has served the nation for decades. They were essential to finding the Zika vaccine, Ebola…amazing people that are involved, the scientific team that is out there. They are doing as much as developing their own vaccine candidate but because of the unique investments the Army has made over the years in our lab system many of these big pharmaceutical manufacturers will use our labs and then what we can do is double down on their candidates to compress the development tolerance. So whether we find it or someone else does we are going to be involved, we are going to help bring it to closure and then we are going to field it and support millions and millions of Americans as well as people around the world. That’s why we have the former leader of army material command thinking through how do you open the pipes to the supply chain and how do you get it to as many people as quickly as you can. We are very excited about the progress but that is not without still a lot of work left to do.
Roger: Sec of Defense, your former….your boss now but also your boss when you were the under Secretary of the Army, Mark Esper, has said that he anticipates a vaccine to be ready and available in December. You see the same?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Tracking towards the end of the year, that’s right.
Roger: You’ve spoken a lot about what the Army has done to support the country – various missions both abroad and at home. What is the health of the Army? How has the Army kind of made sure that the pandemic is not spreading within its ranks, everybody doing the different measures I am seeing on social media – out there with masks on, keeping distance, leading by example but to what extent do you think that has drilled down to all the different Army installations inside the United States and overseas?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Again, what we are so proud of are our people, the way our installation commanders have responded – locking down their bases and increasing HBCON levels, immersing themselves in understanding the Covid-19 virus, washing their hands, PPE, social distancing so that’s leadership and that’s leadership that has been tested in the crucible of combat.
Roger: Have there been hot spots?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We had a handful. With the initial entry training we had a couple of clusters but they tied them off pretty quickly. You think about that. We are taking men and women from every corner of this country. We are putting them on a bus, train, and airplane. We get them to four locations, and we have only had a handful of clusters when you have moved thousands of people. Our numbers have gone up in the last 60-75 days because we (inaudible)we are bringing people back onto the installation. The tactical pause that you saw from March to May was because we had to understand what we are dealing with.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: But the recognition of our business, we don’t have the luxury of staying at home.
Roger: There’s no Army bubble.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: You cannot telecommute to combat as my friend McConville says all the time.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We are not going to do that. We are going to put every measure in place to protect our people. We are testing constantly. We’ve got to put them into a bubble, and we’ve got to train.
Roger: What about overseas? Germany has issues. Obviously, a huge presence in Iraq and Korea. How has that complicated missions there? They are deployed….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: General Abrams in Korea and first Roger Cloutier and then Andy Rolling in Italy – incredible – they set the standard for the Department of the Army of just how aggressive their leadership was and really the techniques, the procedures they put in place to deal with this. So they maintained readiness. They are still getting people out to train. Very difficult missions respectively but they have done the job.
Roger: Let’s shift to something we hit on briefly before, something you really led on within the Department of the Army – with the civil unrest and the aftermath of George Floyd’s murder, you really focused on the Army, particularly its commitment to diversity. Tell us about those initiatives and where they stand now and how it’s being received throughout the force.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: When George Floyd was murdered, I watched it at home in my office. I have a hard time articulating what I felt. It immediately reverberates thinking of Rodney King’s beating in the 90s, but this was far worse. It was a powder keg that ignited the country. The anger and frustration spilled out to the streets and quite frankly it should have. For my role here in Washington DC – there was significant unrest in DC which led to some very violent days. I was out there on the streets talking to soldiers. We didn’t have a single soldier or airman that supported us in DC put a hand on a protester. If anything, they gave people hugs and they gave them water. How proud we were when we saw that! Being out there you see it and you feel it. That’s the country. They are us. We are them. What General McConville and Sgt Maj Grinston and I did – we brought all the army senior leaders in and we talked about it. You know, I don’t know what it’s like to be a black man in America but I have got to listen, I’ve got to learn, I’ve got to know how to be able to have empathy to help them – 20% of our formation represents that demographic, and you know that this tension is in our ranks. It’s in our cities. So, we are going around the country. We are having sensing sessions. I don’t meet with groups larger than about 10 soldiers.
Roger: What are you hearing? What are you learning?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Many of them feel it, they have relatives in these cities. They may feel it in their formations. It’s making the investment of time in your teammates. I do four or five of these now per visit. I shave off time to meet with other senior leaders so I can meet with just soldiers and have these conversations because what we see is, we are so busy – there is so much asked of the US Army globally. It compresses that training calendar every week where you get to sit across from a teammate – how you doing? How’s your family doing? Did you go on vacation this summer? You look tired. Did you get any sleep last night? It’s hard to do that anymore because so much is expected to get a unit ready to deploy to combat. One of the conversations that resonated the most is just quite frankly yesterday, every Monday the Army Senior leaders we have lunch. We were sitting there talking about it.
Roger: You, the Chief and other senior leaders?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Yeah, usually the Chief and I always have lunch. The under and the vice they will have lunch. SECRETARY MCCARTHYA will kind of pick whomever he wants to eat with but we always have the SECRETARY MCCARTHYA there. We just meet together. We don’t always just talk about the Army. How are your kids doing? Are we going to have a football season? You know, things that are important in your personal life.
Roger: Will the Boston football team or the Chicago Bears be…..
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Maybe it’s better that we just get a set of draft picks…..
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: But we just talk with each other. We try to set the example to the Army staff that that’s my team.
Roger: You focus on promotion though, right? Person of color? Saying hey, I’m going to have that opportunity to rise up.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We want everyone to reach their potential. What you find is their unconscious biases.
Roger: Explain what that is.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So, you’re airborne infantry and you went to West Point or something. You naturally feel comfortable around people like that because that’s what you like. You may not have a bias against an individual because of where they grew up or their ethnicity but you just like airborne ranger infantry, and you like Westpoint football and you naturally will gravitate to people that have those experiences. That is an unconscious bias. So, about two months ago we took the DA photo off of ORBs and we go through promotion boards. We are going to wipe the names and the gender off so all you see now is PT score, how they performed at exercises, deployment, schooling so you don’t have an unconscious bias.
Roger: Seeing different results or too early to tell?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We have a study pilot that we did about a year or so ago – the data reflects that you will get better choices because it’s entirely about the tangible results produced by the individual and less about how they look, where they went to school, what their branch is. It makes it as objective as possible so you get the best person through. All we want is for people to reach their potential.
Roger: Absolutely. One other piece of this, and it’s still a live issue, pending with the Congress and I guess the White House but you were involved in and the Army was involved in was naming of Army bases after confederate generals. Congress has taken an approach. The house has an approach, will deal with it in a year. The Senate has said they will do it in three years although the President has articulated that he doesn’t want necessarily to follow any of those options that Congress laid out. What is the Army’s role in all of this right now? Those are bases that you oversea as the Secretary of the Army.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: The administration position is to address this. They are talking with committees of jurisdiction as they approach the conference bill. Right now they are not going to address the renaming until the conference bill comes out.
Roger: So waiting to see what Congress does and then we will address it.
We’ve got to wrap up here in just a couple of minutes. One thing I did not hit on, but it actually may be the signature element of your tenure at least in this round with the Department of Defense, not when you were previously here supporting Secretary Bob Gates is Army Futures Command. Futures Command really seems to be the Army saying hey, we have to do all these things you talked about before, modernize to deal with competitors. We talked about Russia a little bit. China is chief among them. Making sure the Army is built for the 21st century. Some of that includes working with traditional industry and private sector that the Army has worked with for decades. Part of it is also bringing new entrance and new technologies into the Army. Give us an update on how that is going.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: So, they have just celebrated their anniversary of 2 years in.
Roger: Two years?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: We are pretty excited about that.
Roger: That’s a 4-star command, right?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: IOC to FOC, yeah two years. That was just literally yesterday or the day before I guess.
Roger: Down in Austin?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Austin, Texas. The Army did not have a war fighter represented at the table in the modernization process. Did not have the focus or the energy like you see with the Navy or the Air Force in particular. The requirements definition – what do you need to win in a fight against country X or Y?
Roger: Using artificial intelligence, robotics, all the….
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Long range precision fires….so it’s ultimately how do you look at this plan. What is the Army’s contribution to how to help us win? You can only do that with individuals who have led in our formations with combat experience that are coming from that force COM community so the Army Futures Command – what do the future concepts look like? Combat development? What do the requirements look like then? How do you bring the acquisition folks together to do those trade offs to develop a weapon system, put it in a formation to beat the bad guys? It’s that simple.
Roger: With the Presidential election coming up here will Army Future Command stay in place irrespective of the outcome of the Presidential election? Is it here to stay?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: I mean, it’s central to our modernization effort. It is deriving the soldier centered design against our weapon system. It has reduced requirements from years down to 18 months or less. We have synchronized our investment program within the internal lab network. It has forged new relationships with the University of Texas, Carnegie Mellon, Texas A&M – these institutions and states are investing millions of dollars to support our investments from requirements reduction to real precision in the investment of ____ for our future to getting soldier centers designed where we have units in the 82nd first ID testing the weapons systems which we never did before. It would be a dramatic mistake for futures command to go away.
Roger: Alright, we have got to wrap up here but before we let you go back to the Army, President Reagan, you participated in the Reagan national defense forum. We have spoken about this at length. When you think about Reagan and you think about the army what comes to mind?
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: Really it was a couple months after the assassination attempt of President Reagan he spoke at Westpoint graduation. There was a guy named McConville that was actually in the formation, became a second lieutenant that day. He loves telling the story of peace through strength and how basically he laid out in broad strokes what the Reagan build up looked like. You look at the weapon systems that are in our formation today 45-50 years, 40+ years of those weapon systems being able to support us today. They still have the over mash to win if we got into a fight tonight. So the contribution is extraordinary. It has shaped those leaders – Milley, McConville. All the men and women who lead our Army today came out of the system in the 80s – that’s the Army that they came into and helped build together. Going back and looking at that speech – we hand it out to people a lot because we are trying to do a lot of the same now. We have got to do a lot of the same work now. The mark that was left on this institution is indelible.
Roger: Sec McCarthy, thank you so much for joining us. Look forward to having you back on and seeing you in Simi Valley this December.
SECRETARY MCCARTHY: See you then.