By C. Todd Lopez
WASHINGTON (July 28, 2017) -- After several years of budget cuts, the Army needs additional and predictable funding, said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer. "To be able to meet mission requirements, we need the resources to be able to do that," Speer said during a fireside chat Wednesday with AUSA President and CEO, retired Gen. Carter Ham, at AUSA headquarters. "We are finding emerging near-peer adversaries that potentially out-gun us and out-range us."
Speer highlighted that resources are necessary to ensure that the Army can continue to fulfill its mission of protecting the American people. "I would like to convey to the public that the freedoms we enjoy and what we enjoy regarding economic success is much due to the national security provided by our Soldiers and is assured through our Constitution," Speer said.
The U.S. military is "highly respected" in the United States, Speer said, even among the many citizens that are unfamiliar with exactly what it is the Army does.
"So what you try to convey (to the public) is the operational tempo and the things Soldiers are doing for you," Speer said. "You convey our role in deterrence for Europe and that the Army is ready to go when you see a nuclear threat in places like Korea. You have to be ready to go, and it takes resources to do it. Your Army is extremely busy. It's providing close to 50 percent of the current global force required by commanders."
Speer testified to Congress and has repeatedly spoken about the need for stable and predictable funding.
For the U.S. Army to match emerging threats, it'll take the commitment of the entire nation, he said, "to ensure the freedoms and the security we have."
To get the money it needs to continue to operate, of course, the Army must ask the Congress for funds. And that's a problem, Speer said, because even in the face of declining budgets that dramatically affect readiness, the Army has always been reticent to suggest that it's anything less than fully capable of performing its mission.
"We don't convey the negative impact of it," Speer said of the lack of resources. "It's hard for us to convey to both stakeholders and the American public the negative impact of continuing resolutions and the negative impact of underfunding."
But Speer said he thinks that recently the Army has been getting better at portraying the real damage to readiness caused by continuing resolutions.
"We've done a good job laying out what the Army needs to be able to fill some of the gaps that we've got in readiness," he said.
OPERATIONAL TEMPO SURPRISE
Speer came on board as the acting secretary in January. Since then, he said, he's had ample opportunity to meet with Soldiers around the globe. He stated that on those trips he'd been surprised to learn just how much the Army does, and the breadth for which the Army is responsible.
"The operational tempo surprised me," Speer said. "It's not quite the same to look at a patch chart on paper and seeing the Army going off to individual requirements around the world. A lot is going on to get ready for the deployment.
"Whether it is getting ready for rotation, or you are filling in gaps as an observer controller at one of the national training centers, such as NTC, JMTC or JRTC. Or, you are getting into where you go on the next rotation and the impact it has on families. I was amazed at that overall fast pace of the operational tempo," he said.
Also, he said, he's been impressed at the breadth of things the Army does, from the role of the Corps of Engineers to the efforts at Arlington National Cemetery, to the heel-to-toe rotations in Europe to deter aggression in that region.
"It is amazing what we are asking our Army to do," he said. "We are a relatively small Army. We are about the smallest we've been since World War II, and yet the amount of involvement and impact we make for the security of our nation, and what the Soldiers and civilians do, is remarkable."