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Tuesday, Nov. 08, 2011

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SecArmy: Draw-down requires balance

Secretary of the Army John McHugh believes that with the drawdown of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, talented Soldiers will need to be retained while Army infrastructure draws down, and the American people and warfighters need to maintain a connection.

“You can’t have an Army without people,” McHugh said, adding that the Army today is Family-oriented, unlike the vast majority of single Soldiers in the 1970s. McHugh said it’s also time to take a look at the balance between contracting and providing government services.

“I think it was long overdue that the Army takes the opportunity to look at how it does its business. We had outsourced a lot of jobs, hired a lot of contractors and they did yeoman’s work for us, but it was time after nearly a decade of that trend to take a better look at how we’re doing things inside the Army and I expect ... by the time these are implemented, we could save, say by the year of 2017, upwards of $10 billion a year,” he said.

McHugh hopes these kinds of savings will contribute toward decreasing the deficit and the debt, and will, in turn, spur the economy. But without a budget, decisions are difficult to make.

“Now, we’re looking at possible options so that we can make smart decisions correctly, rather than not-so-smart decisions quickly, but until we know what our figures are it’s kind of hard to say what we would actually take action against,” McHugh said. In the immediate term, he said, it’s a retention problem.

“I’ve asked our TRADOC folks, and I’ve asked leaders throughout the institutionalized Army as to how we can reconfigure everything from social programs to education programs to flexibility and our rating system to allow more creativity and perhaps re-examine the traditional Army ladder of promotion to see what we can do to create an environment that keeps young leaders, just amazing Soldiers like that, interested in the Army and at the same time, of course, attracting those kinds of folks in the future.

“That’s not a budget problem, it’s just a problem of our breaking out of our traditional way of thinking about things and trying to create a peacetime Army and opportunities in that peacetime Army that will keep the kind of incredible people that have been stepping forward and putting their name on the dotted line for the last 10 years coming to us.

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