Lt. General Speakes, deputy chief of staff for programs, G-8, and a veteran of commands in Operation Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom, is, in essence, the CFO of the armed forces, charged with developing a balanced fiscal strategy that does everything from recruiting a soldier when he or she enters the Army to finding the right weapon systems, right housing, right training and right support for that soldier when or if that soldier is wounded or ill. The following are excerpts from his
Our annual funding is about $250 billion. That reflects our base appropriation of about $140 billion and somewhere in excess of $110 billion in supplemental funding. We are in the business right now of balancing our fiscal strategies. We have relative stability in our base program, and we have relative volatility or uncertainty in our supplemental funding, which is responsible for essentially supplying the needs of an Army at war.
We take very seriously the issues of accountability that we’re all sharing as a part of this democracy. And we believe we’ve been good stewards for the billions invested in us.
To fully equip a soldier requires $18,000 worth of protective gear. Compared to what I deployed with back in 2003, my stuff was infinitely less capable and cost somewhere around $10,000. So we have materially improved the quality of equipment that we have given our soldiers, making them [safer] and more capable. We also believe that when you ask people to do what these young men and women are doing, they are worthy of some major investment.
Although we have readiness challenges today, we also cannot sink ourselves in today. We have to think about the future. When we deploy a young man or woman this next decade, we want to ensure [that] that soldier is empowered with capabilities we can only dimly conceptualize now and that will make him or her much more effective than what we see today.
On human resources:
People consume about 60 percent of our overall operating capital. Gone are the days when you could get away with a largely illiterate Army. Today’s soldier employs technology beyond our wildest dreams a decade ago.
Right now only 3 in 10 Americans age 18 to 24 can meet our entrance standards. We’re facing challenges of education, of physical fitness and of moral fitness. Obviously, we can’t have young men and women join our forces who fail to meet those basic standards. Part of our challenge, then, is to recruit and maintain a force that reflects the high standards that Americans expect.
The Army you look at today is profoundly different than the Army that began this decade. We started this decade with an Army that was to a large extent forward-deployed in ways that reflected where we thought we needed to be to fight the Cold War and the legacy of the Cold War. We had divisions of somewhere around 15,000 soldiers. We recognized as we moved into this period of persistent conflict that we had to change the organizational structure. It had to be much more flexible, able to adapt to a variety of situations and do everything from nation-building all the way up to high-intensity conflict. So we set upon a fundamental reorganization into modular formations—building-block organizations of about 3,500 soldiers.
Your Army—Today vs. 9/11
The Army, Prior to 9/11
The Army Today
Forward deployed to Cold War missions
Expeditionary, based in
Large cumbersome organizations (12-15K Soldiers)
Lean organizations (2-5K Soldiers) with precision solutions
Static network to executive/ management level
Mobile network to Soldier level
Army Guard and Reserve as a Strategic Reserve with low Readiness
Army Guard and Reserve as an Operational Force with high utilization and resourcing
The largest transformation of our Army since World War II
The other element of this transformation is that we used to have a large, fixed-base command and control system focused on bringing command and control to our senior leadership. Now we look at a network-enabled formation where we want soldiers to be able to do everything you expect with a cell telephone: exchange voice, text message, data and images.
That’s a profound difference in terms of how we see the Army and our responsibility: to be able to put command and control out to the soldier level. We’re well on our way to achieving that vision, and it’s had enormous implications for the utility of the force that we see deployed in both
On the future:
We have questions about how much will be available for defense of this environment in which we’ve just completed a $700 billion bailout. We see the potential that we may have to change the way the war is being fought, based upon the economy and broader national concerns and emerging concerns about other forms of security.So as we undertake a transition of administrations, we are in a period of uncertainty in which we can’t even begin to predict the potential change of events. I think that is a common burden that we all share. Yet, as leaders, we have to proceed with the basic assumption that we’ll be needed, that the nation will always need a strong and vigorous defense, and that the requirement that our nation’s military be successful and capable remains unchanged.