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Army leaders give subordinates just weeks to cut staffs, budgets by 25 percent

Aug. 19, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
The Association Of United States Army Holds Annual
Army Secretary John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno said the service 'must focus on the Army's core missions, sustaining the Army's ability to provide a smaller, more capable Army.' (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
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The Secretary of the Army and the Army Chief of Staff have given their staffs just weeks — until Sept. 11 — to report back with “a comprehensive set of recommendations” as to where the service can make 25 percent cuts in funding and manning levels at all Army headquarters elements at the 2-star level and above.

The “2013 Army Focus Area Review Group” plan was spelled out in an August 14 Army document obtained by Defense News.

In some of the strongest language yet about how seriously Army leadership is taking the cuts, the memo bluntly says that “Let there be no mistake, aggregate reductions WILL TAKE PLACE. The money is gone; our mission now is to determine how best to allocate these cuts while maintaining readiness. We expect Army leaders, military and civilian, to seize this opportunity
to re-shape our Army. This effort will take PRIORITY OVER ALL other Headquarters, Department of the Army activities.”

The Group is being led by Deputy Undersecretary of the Army Thomas Hawley and head of Army's Office of Business Transformation Lt. Gen. Thomas Spoehr. The memo states that the group will have seven “Focus Area” teams, each tasked with developing “bold executable recommendations which will be used to balance the already directed reductions” in the budget projections from 2015-2019. The initial focus areas are:

■ Institutional Headquarters Reductions

■ Operational Headquarters Reductions

■ Operational Force Structure and Ramps

■ Readiness

■ Acquisition Work Force

■ Installation Services and Investments

■ Army C31 and Cyber

When it comes to Institutional Headquarters reductions, service leadership warned subordinates that “movement of personnel outside of headquarters to subordinate units is not a legitimate means of achieving savings. Teams should consider consolidation, reductions, and closing organizations.”

When it comes to the Operational Force Structure, staffers are tasked with looking at “specific interest areas [such as] forces that provide support to other Services, task organization of Corps and Divisions, Logistics, Theater capabilities and other echelon above Brigade Combat Team (BCT) forces.”

Given that reductions in the defense budget outlined in the 2011 Budget Control Act now look like they’re going to remain the law of the land, the Army of the future is likely going to look very different from what recent projections assumed.

To that end, service chief Gen. Ray Odierno and Secretary John McHugh wrote that “We must focus on the Army's core missions, sustaining the Army's ability to provide a smaller, more capable Army able to provide ready land forces to meet combatant commanders' global requirements; develop leaders for the 21st century, while maintaining the bonds of trust with Soldiers and Families. To ensure Army readiness at these reduced budget levels, we must make the best and maximum use of every single dollar provided to the Army.”

And all this has to be fleshed out in the next two weeks.

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