|White Gives State of the Army Address|
White Gives State of the Army Address
By Joe Burlas, Army News Service.
Washington D.C. -- (ANS) August 2, 2001 -- A Department of Defense legislative proposal for another round of military base closings will soon be forwarded to Congress and has the Army leadership's full backing, Secretary of the Army Thomas E. White said Aug. 1.
Speaking to more than 300 Army officers, DoD officials and defense contractors at a meeting of the Association of the United States Army's Institute of Land Warfare, White talked about what he believes is the current state of the Army and where it is heading in the future.
"We (Department of Defense) will send to the Hill Friday a Most Efficient Facilities bill -- current excess is at least 20 percent," White said. "This will be popular with nobody. We would rather be doing other things, but the battle must be fought."
All the service secretaries agree base closures and consolidations are necessary given their current force structures and the need to use the savings such an action would produce elsewhere, White said.
Another thing the service secretaries agree on, White said, is that each must be allowed to align force structure and resources to support national strategy. Too often in the past decade, the force structure and resources haven't been there -- causing the Army to rely heavily on the Reserve and National Guard, take money from other accounts to pay for deployments and missions, and operate at a burdensome high operational tempo, the Army secretary continued.
"One third of the Army is currently either deployed or stationed (overseas)," he said. "Whatever forces the (Quadrennial Defense Review) determines, we must align strategy, force structure and resources for reasonable OPTEMPO."
One fiscal quandary robbing Peter to pay Paul has caused is a backlog of approximately $18 billion in base housing maintenance -- an issue that has adversely affected soldiers' and their families' quality of life, White explained. His answer -- seek more private industry partners to renovate existing housing, build new quarters and manage all on-post housing in return for soldiers' monthly quarters allowance. Within the past two years, the Army has already entered into contracts with industry to upgrade, expand and manage base housing at Fort Carson, Colo.; Fort Hood, Texas; Fort Lewis, Wash.; and Fort Meade, Md.
Next year's Army budget is good news, White said. It goes a long way to help close the pay gap between the military and the private sector, and funds a TRICARE For Life initiative. The approved '02 and planned budgets for outlaying years also fully fund the Army's research efforts toward its future Objective Force, he said. The secretary challenged attending defense contractors to ensure that the technology will be there when needed.
Talking about the Army's Transformation, White said it is not only about more lethal, survivable and deployable weapons systems, but also the better use of information technology. One area of IT the Army has yet to take advantage of is increasing situational awareness of everyone in the organization and flattening the organization's structure, he said.
"War is ultimately about the control of land," White said. "We cannot expect technology to be the silver bullet that answers all the questions, but it must be part of the answer."
While the U.S. Army is the most dominant one in the world, White said, it is only the ninth largest and therefore everyone in the Army must support its Transformation efforts to maintain its qualitative edge. With 435,000 troops, the Army is the smallest it has been since 1940, he said.
White promised he and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Eric K. Shinseki would act quickly on the perception of junior officers that they are micromanaged by their seniors. That perception was one of several grievances found by the Army Leader and Training Development Panel survey of 13,000 officers and family members conducted last year. The results of the survey were released in May.
As White spoke, a group of three- and four-star generals were preparing to meet at Fort Bragg, N.C., for a three-day conference on the ATLDP survey and the findings of a similar study recently conducted with the Noncommissioned Officer Corps. White flew to Fort Bragg later in the day to take part in their discussions.