FORT LEE, Va. (June 23, 2011) -- The most senior quartermaster Soldier in the Army drew a standing-room-only crowd during her June 16 presentation at the Quartermaster Symposium in the Petroleum and Water Department auditorium.

Gen. Ann E. Dunwoody, commanding general of the Army Materiel Command, spoke about the past, present and future of the Army and how the new fiscal budget would affect the corps.

No stranger to Fort Lee, Dunwoody served as the Combined Armed Support Command commanding general in 2004 and returns often for various events on post.

Dunwoody took time to recognize those serving and emphasize the current budget issues..

"I want to start by thanking you - all of you - for what you do and who you represent," she said. "Most of us are kind of consumed with the current fiscal realities and day-to-day challenges. I think we should remember that it's been an incredibly tough, demanding and challenging decade."

In the last decade, the military has fought in two wars and performed multiple other missions, said Dunwoody. There have been many challenges and even those who question the military's place in Iraq.

"Despite all the challenges, we've made a difference in improving and making a better, peaceful, prosperous future for all of the people of Iraq," she said.

Aside from the difficulty in Iraq, the military has faced even more issues in Afghanistan, said Dunwoody. Afghanistan is a landlocked country with few roads and many mountains, which makes a logistician's job even harder. However, the commanders in charge of the Afghanistan operations have all expressed confidence in logisticians.

"Each and every one of the generals said, ‘Ann, I don't worry about logistics,'" said Dunwoody. "There is no higher compliment. It is because of you - the logistician - who's doing the heavy lifting over there. When combat commanders say they don't worry about logistics and they are in a landlocked country, you have to feel proud for what you are doing, and I'm very proud of you."

There are still challenges ahead, said Dunwoody. The ones facing the services now are the declining budget and resources. Dunwoody said this challenge represents the greatest of this time and the defining moment of this era.

"It's not the reduction that concerns me - it's how we respond to it," she said. "Our track record is not good. After each conflict, we've cut the budget, lost vital capabilities. Despite our history with budget reductions, we always anticipate a soft landing; it always ends up more like falling off a cliff."

Fundamentally, the Army has to manage this reduction differently than ever before, said Dunwoody. This will mean tough, strategic choices to deal with fewer resources so there aren't the same negative consequences as before.

"This time we have to make some strategic choices - prioritize the capabilities we need for the future, eliminate redundancies and identify where we are willing to accept risk - while ensuring we don't lose the decisive edge we've honed so well over the last decade," she said.

The main challenge for logisticians today is to identify what the Army needs the most and what is no longer needed so it can be prepared for the next conflict, said Dunwoody.

"While we are entering an era of very complex, challenging times, we are also entering an era that will present us with some huge opportunities - opportunities to capitalize on the decisive edge we've built in the last decade while retaining the capabilities we need for the future," said Dunwoody.