WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Oct. 11, 2012) -- Even as it faces a period of budget constraint, the Army will protect or increase funding for special operations, intelligence and reconnaissance programs, along with space and cyberspace capabilities, said Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal.

Speaking before a group of government executives and business people, Westphal gave an overview of the service's modernization plans and where he wants the Army to head as it downsizes, prepares to leave Afghanistan and moves toward the future.

Westphal told Government Executive magazine at its monthly leadership breakfast that he sees the Army a "little bit smaller, but still not very small."

Westphal said barring changes in strategy and policy in the future, the Army would be reduced from a peak of 570,000 active-duty Soldiers in 2010 to about 490,000.

"I see an Army that will have an opportunity to go through a very significant modernization to ensure that the Army of (the future) is as progressive and as modern as it needs to be," Westphal said, noting that the Army will be technologically more advanced, scientifically more sophisticated and more efficient in light of budget restraints.

He stressed as the Army downsizes and modernizes, it needs to think about force structure to ensure it doesn't "hollow" out as it did following the Vietnam War.

"We'll still have a lot of forces deployed to different parts of the world in smaller numbers -- 20,000 in Korea, some forces in the Sinai, in Europe -- so we'll still have those but priority will be readiness and training that will be key to a very balanced force," he said.

"We will be a garrisoned force, but we will be a different garrison force than from the past. Our infrastructure is better; our equipment much more modern and effective and we're doing a lot more virtual training."

The under secretary said that over the last 10 years, Army headquarters had grown significantly as a result of the two-war battlefront and other actions and it was something he and Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III have been discussing.

"We're now leading an effort to really take a hard look at headquarters to eliminate redundancy and duplications and move things back to command levels that don't necessarily belong at headquarters," he said. "We're doing that not by making cuts; we're doing it by looking at mission requirements, that's what's needed."

Westphal also underscored the importance of Army initiatives to address suicide with a Ready and Resilient Campaign announced by Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, Sept. 27, when the service held an Army-wide suicide prevention stand down.

He also said the Army is committed to Soldier and leader development, noting that the Army has put considerable resources into the education of the civilian workforce.

"We really have to focus on our people," he said. "They are our strength. The first thing we have to do as we transition to a smaller force and into a force of the future is invest in these individuals. We have to focus a lot more on leadership development, both on the military and civilian side."