By J.D. LeipoldMarch 1, 2012
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, March 1, 2012) -- The Army's military deputy for budget said the request of $134.6 billion for fiscal year 2013 that's on Capitol Hill focuses on efficiency and priority without making the force hollow.
"It's not a time to be frustrated," said Lt. Gen. Joseph E. Martz before members of the Association of the U.S. Army at the monthly Institute of Land Warfare breakfast. "It's a time to do with less resources and get it better as we adjust to meet the needs of the new strategy."
In addition to the base request, which is about $400 million less than the fiscal year 2012 budget, the Army expects another $50.1 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. Martz noted that while the number-one priority remains to fight the current fight with OCO funding, the service must also focus on the base figures for those years when there will be no fight.
"Is the base right? Because at some point in time that's all we're going to have, so we've really got to stay focused on that," he said. He pointed out that as the Army invests in the reserve component as an operational force, it will also be included in the base budget.
Martz said the Army had to ensure it didn't "go hollow while balancing personnel, equipment and readiness" as it did following the Vietnam and first Gulf War.
Martz told the audience there are four key defense strategies as laid out by Defense Department Secretary Leon Panetta:
-- transitioning with an emphasis on today's wars to preparing for future challenges with a leaner force
-- protection of the broad range of U.S. national security interests
-- advancing efforts to rebalance and reform
-- while supporting the deficit reduction mandate through lower defense spending.
He said the Army would continue to train and equip Soldiers and units to win the current fight while maintaining high levels of readiness, which includes recruiting and sustaining the all-volunteer Army.
"This has been an area where we look at efficiency because of the state of the economy," he said. "In terms of our recruiting and retention, we've taken that down with the right level of risk, but if the economy improves, that's one area we'll have to grow back in."
Martz said the Army would continue to support modernization priorities -- the network, combat/tactical vehicles, aviation and Soldier systems.
"These are the ones we've all learned about in combat over the last 10 years and know will be enduring in the future," he said, adding that clarity on Army priorities will help industry know what needs are most important.
Resetting of Soldiers, families and equipment will also remain a focus as the Army reduces active-duty core strength from 562,000 to 490,000 Soldiers by fiscal year 2017. Even then the Army will remain larger than it was pre-9/11.
"Secretary McHugh and General Odierno have been very clear about the ramp down, that how we take care of our people during this time period is critical. It must be done right," Martz said. He added that a reduction of roughly 80,000 Soldiers translates to a true reduction of about 128,000 people, which includes spouses and children.
Martz also said the Army would continue to invest in enterprise initiatives, including energy efficiency, audit readiness and to strive to reduce the cost of doing business.
"Currently we're on the down ramp," Martz admitted, "but it's not the precipice that everybody thought we might drop off of."