Good morning and welcome to the 2020 AUSA Annual Meeting! General Ham, thank you for a gracious introduction and your team’s efforts to make this event a success, pandemic be damned.
I would like to welcome our Gold Star Families watching virtually. We are committed to safeguarding the legacy of the fallen and will never forget their sacrifice or your own.
Things are clearly different this year and although we are gathering virtually.. the Army’s success, our ongoing Congressional support, and partnership with industry on Soldier-centered design, are very much rooted in reality.
This inflection point in time.. is the result of the last three years of an ironclad commitment to our modernization priorities, a laser-focus on readiness, and a prioritized budget. The time of transformation and modernization for the future fight is now a reality… The payoff is starting to arrive… The time… is now.
A Year in Review
A year has passed since we last met at and while no one could have possibly forecasted 2020, the Army responded to each of the Nation’s calls. In one year, we bore witness to about 80 years-worth of events. Starting with New Year’s Eve, we launched a no-notice, cold-start, deployment of elements of the 82nd Airborne Division to the Middle East. This followed the successful kinetic strike against the top threat in the region, Quds Force leader Qasem Soleimani, and then, the Army stood unflinching, ready, at the brink of war with Iran.
About sixty days afterwards, we faced a global pandemic on a scale that the world has not seen since the Spanish Influenza in 1918. In addition to the 178 thousand Soldiers deployed around the world conducting operations, including the thousands conducting combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, we mobilized 45 thousand additional Soldiers in the Army National Guard, Active Duty, Army Reserves, and the Corps of Engineers to surge support as part of a whole of government response to COVID-19.
Standing on the front lines of the pandemic, Soldiers built hospitals, ran nursing homes, turned parking lots into sterile testing facilities, and delivered life-saving food and water to their fellow citizens.
Simultaneously, the US Army Medical Research and Development Command began working round the clock for a vaccine, as part of Operation Warp Speed, led by our led own GEN Gus Perna.
As one crisis tapered, another one began. Following the murder of George Floyd, massive civil unrest that had been simmering across the country for decades reached a tipping point. Once again, the Army National Guard responded, ensuring that peaceful protestor’s voices could be heard. The guardsmen, supporting law enforcement, handled themselves with maturity and compassion.
The Army has been busy. But at no point, did we operate alone. We worked shoulder to shoulder with local, state, and federal officials, ensuring the care of citizens and defending their Constitutional rights. We worked with our Allies and Partners, to maintain the delicate balance of ensuring peace in some areas, and countering threats in others.
In addition, we looked to our industry partners, whose dedicated workforce and investments kept modernization timelines on track, in spite of a pandemic. We asked industry to show up, and they did.
This isn’t to suggest that this year has been easy. We felt this strain across our home life as well. Stress of the unknown has been felt at every level, in our newest recruits on their way to basic training, to the highest levels of the Army leadership. Just because someone can carry the weight, doesn’t mean that it isn’t heavy.
The feelings of isolation, turned to outrage as civil unrest grew. Our leadership team stood with National Guard Soldiers and watched in dismay, as peaceful protests hijacked by outside actors, turned violent. Then, we were shocked to our conscience by the murder of our own, SPC Vanessa Guillen. She was murdered by another Soldier and because of this, we know Vanessa’s name for the wrong reasons. Her loss has been felt in our formations and across the Nation at large.
But through this sort of reckoning, we realized that some of the same barriers and threats still exist within our formation. We must be accountable and we must act.
This year, and its series of events, has hardened our resolve to create enduring change. The Army is taking rapid, positive, and meaningful steps towards reducing systemic and symbolic inequities while safeguarding every person in our formation.
We are listening, we are learning, and we are taking action. And… the time is now.
As we took a closer look at ourselves over these past couple of months, we understand that the last 19 years of combat operations and global deterrence has come at a cost. Just as we did with readiness, we must invest in People. And the time.. is now.
Today.. the Chief, the SMA, and I, would like to announce People as our number one priority, followed by Readiness, and Modernization.
On readiness: The Army is able to rapidly respond to complex and emerging situations while maintaining ongoing combat operations with speed, maturity, and skill.. because we are ready. These efforts aren’t mutually exclusive. Now we can shift to maintaining the right levels of readiness and focus on emergent threats. Building from the momentum of the last three years, we must seek balance of readiness with our other ambitions.
The first step we are taking is giving time back to unit commanders to invest in their People. We are removing gated training requirements and are reducing the demands of rotational deployments. We will focus our training on the basics of individual, squad, platoon, and company-level training and key leader training while reducing the requirement to conduct Brigade and Battalion Live Fire Exercises. We will pursue options for Brigade Combat Training Center (CTC) that are a mix of in the box organic battalions, command post exercises and heavy-light rotations.
These efforts will buy back time at home for our units to invest in their Soldiers and families. In addition, through This is My Squad program led by Sergeant Major Grinston, we are dedicating focus on counseling, sponsorship, and reinforcing that the Army is a team of teams. These types of behaviors turn coworkers into teammates, and an occupation in to a profession.
It will take an organizational approach as well as an internal shift to counter the rising negative trends. Just like Basic Trainees PFC Carlos Fontanez and PFC Ari Till, at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, recognized when their teammate was struggling, they intervened during a suicide attempt, and they saved his life. This is the definition of taking care of People and Fontanez and Till represent the best of us.
These efforts are all aimed at the type of readiness that matters on the battlefield. And the time is now.
The future battlefield will be chaotic, violent, saturated with social media, yet degraded in communications. U.S. fighting elements will fight dispersed, but armed with extraordinary capabilities & information—requiring disciplined, skilled, cohesive teams that are capable & trusted to operate independently. We must prepare Soldiers, Leaders and Commanders for modernization, the new equipment, capabilities, formations, and, most importantly, the battlefield responsibilities it brings.
The pathway to this transformation is Project Convergence, led by General Mike Murray at Army Futures Command. Last year at this time, Project Convergence was a theory. Today, it is a reality. In late September, the Army successfully conducted the first iteration of Project Convergence at Yuma Proving Ground in Arizona. And the results were remarkable.
Project Convergence focuses on increasing the speed in which our different platforms integrate in real-time, and provide the best response, to the right shooter by computing at the edge. This effort will synchronize the entire modernization portfolio, and the Army has successfully demonstrated the initial steps in conducting multi-domain operations as part of the Joint Force.
And the time.. is now
Our modernization efforts and investments are maturing, with tranches of advanced equipment such as Integrated Visual Augmentation System or IVAS, and the Integrated Air and Missile Defense Battle Command System or IBCS, are within reach of our Soldiers hands now. Formations such as the Multi-Domain Task Force, are transforming at scale to begin receiving our 31 + 3 Signature Systems, and hypersonic missiles are hitting their targets with a variance of only a mere six inches. These new units are being arrayed for the future fight through the Regional Aligned Readiness and Modernization Model, known as the ReARMM process, which brings order, and predictability to transformation.
Thanks for joining me today. I am incredibly proud of the Army and the work you have done through an unprecedented and challenging year. In times of uncertainty and crises, the Army leans in, we take care of each other, and we accomplish the mission. We are transforming our Army from the equipment to the culture, and will remain the world’s most lethal fighting force. And the time is now. Thank you.