By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth Lamp September 13, 2012
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Sept. 13, 2012) -- By the time the students in today's Command and General Staff College Intermediate Level Education class are leading the Army, the Army of the Future will already be here, the under secretary of the Army said last week.
Joseph Westphal visited with Intermediate Level Education, known as ILE, students Sept. 7, to discuss the future of the force, the importance of leadership development and continuing excellence in the face of potential budget cuts.
"The Army of the Future is the Army we have, they need to think way beyond 2020 for the future force," Westphal said of military officers.
The Army should also be considering possible future roles in space, Westphal said.
"What role will the Army be?" Westphal asked. "What role will the Army play in space assets? Will that continue to be an Air Force function? As we think of the world becoming smaller, how is the Army going to be an Army of the future and how are we transforming into that Army?"
In terms of information technology, Westphal said the Army needs to be ahead of the curve.
"Much of our equipment, our tactical side, will define the Army of the Future," he said. "Will it define the Army of 2090? Probably not."
Westphal said he was encouraged by the diversity among the modern officer corps, the high level of participation of international and sister services at Command and General Staff College and also the quality of leader development taking place within the Combined Arms Center. All of these will be necessary in facing future crises, Westphal said.
Westphal said the budget outlook is bleak, even if the sequestration cuts imposed by the Budget Control Act do not take effect. If sequestration takes effect, it would require across the board cuts of billions of dollars over the next nine years in addition to those that the Department of Defense is already making.
Westphal said if sequestration takes effect, it could have a very negative impact in the way the modern force defends the United States.
"It means across the board cuts," he said. "Everyone is affected. Budget planners won't be able to choose which departments."
Westphal said the cuts could either happen now, or Congress could decide to extend the budget process a few months.
"They're both really bad choices," he said. "Doing it right away is bad, doing it three months from now is worse."
Budget challenges, but also thinking beyond those to the future Army, will require leaders that are flexible and creative, Westphal said.
"We absolutely have to have the capacity to move our Army in different directions, to expand our capabilities, and that can only be done by having a high level of leader development in our force," he said.