By L.A. ShivelyApril 1, 2010
SAN ANTONIO (April 1, 2010) -- Outlining his vision for the future of the Army, Joseph W. Westphal, under secretary of the Army, framed his message with a focus on creative sustainability for attendees at the March 29 Association of the United States Army's Installations Symposium and Exposition.
Westphal urged leadership to work aggressively to prioritize base budgeting issues in order to sustain readiness over the next decade, warning of probable declines in troop numbers, deployments and resources.
As a result of 9/11 and the war on terrorism, the Army currently has 1.1 million Soldiers and a budget of more than $250 billion he said.
But he cited recent polls suggesting Americans are more concerned about the economy, health care, spending, the deficit and jobs -- with terrorism and contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan close to the bottom in importance.
"The current economic environment and historic, record-high deficits are a real threat to our national security," Westphal said.
"As such we are relying on [Installation Management Command] - all of you in this room and its leadership, as well as the entire Army - to closely scrutinize our costs."
"The best time to deal with budget cuts, spending shortfalls and resetting priorities is now when resources enable us to have options and the pain is lessened," Westphal recommended.
He said Congressional Budget Office scenarios dealing with the decrease of deployed troops includes $900 billion less between 2011 and 2020, or, in case of slower reduction in deployment, a budget of $550 billion in declining funding over the same time frame.
"As you dig into these kinds of planning scenarios, whether it's Congress, the White House, looking at polls - if you're trying to take the pulse of the American people, trying to understand what's important out there - we have to be serious about addressing our future and not wait until those scenarios come true," Westphal said.
Adapting the sustainability concept to business and management principles is to be fully aware of costs and benefits of all programs, Westphal said. Within the context of sustaining the environment and natural resources, he encouraged leadership to be good stewards of taxpayer resources -- to meet present needs without compromising future generations.
"We do this in our personal lives already when we plan for our kids' education, when we plan for vacation or retirement, a new house, or car," Westphal said.
Westphal also asserted his focus on the importance of investing in people.
"Years of war and stress compounded with economic crisis require us to carefully analyze and assess how we balance the force and manage our priorities on behalf of Soldiers and their families," he said.
Westphal said the civilian work force was critical to installations and operations and key to balancing the force through improved business operations, eliminating redundancies and removing ineffective operations with little or no benefit for cost.
"It's not double talk," Westphal continued. "You're economizing so you can sustain programs most important to Soldiers and their families into the future. Your ability to do this well will be a function of how you address the personnel side of your structure."
Westphal also advised sharing the vision. "We can't succeed without communicating what we're doing inside and outside the office," he said.
"We have a good story to tell."