By Christie Vanover, III CorpsJune 27, 2012
FORT HOOD, Texas (June 27, 2012) -- Due to projected budget cuts and a change in military strategy, the Army is preparing to operate with 80,000 fewer Soldiers and billions fewer dollars.
To mitigate the cuts, the two Army major commands in charge of forces and installation management held three joint meetings to discuss the challenges ahead at installations of varying sizes with varying missions.
June 26, general officers from U.S. Army Forces Command, or FORSCOM; U.S. Army Installation Management Command, or IMCOM; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Bragg, N.C., and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., partnered at Club Hood for the corps-level joint Installation Management Mini-Rehearsal of Concept Drill, known as a ROC drill.
"The budget is certainly a challenge for us, and it's everybody's challenge. It's not IMCOM's or FORSCOM's. It is the Army's challenge, and it is the nation's challenge," Lt. Gen. Howard Bromberg, FORSCOM deputy commanding general, said at the start of the ROC drill.
To conquer that challenge, Bromberg and Lt. Gen. Mike Ferriter, IMCOM commander and assistant chief of staff for Installation Management, have traveled around the country seeking input from commanding generals and garrison commanders. During the final ROC drill at Fort Hood, they set out to determine what is needed to continue caring for service members, their families and the civilian workforce while operating a military installation and continuing training excellence in defense of the nation.
"We can't get through it by ourselves," Ferriter said, "but we can get through it together. Together, we win."
Fort Hood, Fort Bragg and Joint Base Lewis-McChord, or JBLM, have operational differences, but when it comes to running an installation, they are very similar. Fort Bragg and JBLM support more than 250,000 service members, families, civilians, contractors and retirees, and Fort Hood supports roughly 350,000.
That support requires a heavy infrastructure. Each installation is spread across tens of thousands of acres with hundreds of buildings. Unlike a typical city where the buildings are owned and operated by individuals, the Army, the senior commander and the garrison commander are responsible for maintaining the buildings, providing utilities and ensuring the grounds of the installation are mowed, repaired and functional for training and quality of life.
That responsibility bears a hefty price tag, which is more and more challenging in a time of fiscal cutbacks.
Brig. Gen. Jeff Colt, the deputy commanding general for Fort Bragg and XVIII Airborne Corps, told the crowd that his senior commander helps mitigate the impacts of these lower resource levels by committing Soldiers to a wide range of base operations' tasks, such as the gate guards, law enforcement, fitness centers, lifeguards, crossing guards, official mail, POV storage and training support.
The same is true at Fort Hood and JBLM.
By combining FORSCOM's management of Soldiers and IMCOM's management of infrastructure during the ROC drill, senior commanders discussed using military resources from a universal spectrum, allowing them to request the appropriate support to move forward. Representatives from the Department of Army staff and U.S. Army Medical Command also provided input.
Along with discussions about infrastructure, senior leaders addressed personnel and monetary resources related to logistics, training, programs and safety and security.
"Part of the mission is made easy because the secretary (of the Army) and the chief (of Staff of the Army) have told us to take care of our Soldiers, take care of the families, take care of our civilian workforce and take care of our retired population," Ferriter said.
"This year, you're going to find $1.4 billion for family programs, and next year, $1.4 billion for family programs. We're not cutting back on those, but there's redundancy and there's waste," he said. "At every level, we have to eliminate that, and the question is, how will we deliver the service, as well as what will the service be."
Lt. Gen. Don Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commanding general, was optimistic about the drill.
"This is a great opportunity as we inform each other and help all of us see ourselves and work this. I can assure you that the III Corps and Fort Hood team will be part of the solution."
In addition to funding existing requirements, Campbell is looking ahead. After meeting with Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno, June 22, at Fort Hood, he said it was clear that Live Virtual Constructive-Gaming is the way of the future.
Fort Hood has been designated as the test site for the new integrated training, and Campbell said it's important for FORSCOM, IMCOM and senior commanders to inform the Army of the funding requirements needed to follow the Chief's marching orders to meet his intent.
"We have got to help them to see themselves," he said. "We're going to team on this and work toward the betterment of the Army."
Bromberg echoed those sentiments before a select group of generals met to discuss the take-aways from the meeting.
"It is about making the Army better," he said. "We all have tough times to go through, and we're going to get through them together."