November 2, 2005 | WebMemo on National Security and Defense

The Army's Future: A View from the Top

In a recent lecture at The Heritage Foundation, the Honorable Francis J. Harvey, Ph.D., Secretary of the Army, laid out the Army's priorities for the next five years.

 

New Era, New Army

Secretary Harvey described the early 21st century as "an era of uncertainty, unpredictability, misinformation, and misconceptions." The Army must be prepared to defeat conventional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive threats alike.

 

The Army's vision is to remain the earth's preeminent land-power. Doing so depends on fulfilling four overarching strategies:

 

  • Developing ready and relevant land forces for the 21st-century security environment;
  • Training and equipping soldiers to serve as warriors and growth-adaptive leaders;
  • Attaining a quality of life for soldiers and their families that matches the quality of their service; and
  • Providing infrastructure to enable the force to fulfill its strategic missions.

As these strategies suggest, the centerpiece of the Army will continue to be the soldier. Army leader must be "pentathletes"-equally adept in matters of strategy, management, diplomacy, and compassion.

 

Transforming Army Inc.

All projects and plans come down to changing the way the Army does business. The Army intends to see its massive modernization program, Future Combat Systems (FCS), through to its completion in 2025. The $122 billion program to develop a series of networked manned and unmanned vehicles and information systems is meant to improve the Army's combat efficiency while better protecting the pith of the force: the individual soldier. Despite a recent Congressional Budget Office report that raised the FCS price tag to $164 billion, the Army stands by its official budget estimate. In any event, FCS remains the cornerstone of transformation.

 

Transforming the force is also a priority. Currently, the part of the Army that deploys and fights, the operational Army, stands at 315,000 active-duty soldiers. The Army intends to increase the size of the operational Army by 40,000 by fiscal year 2007. The redesigned, larger force will be brigade-based and modular in design. While the current Army is division-centric, the new modular force will be built upon Brigade Combat Teams, self-sufficient and standardized units of action composed of 3,500 to 4,000 troops apiece.

 

Modernization is a costly endeavor; freeing up resources for Army war-fighting is, therefore, an integral part of the new strategic plan. As a corporation, the Army would rank #5 on the Fortune 500 in terms of revenue, but its budget is actually decreasing from year to year. Officials hope to achieve savings by making reductions in cost and cycle time, outsourcing where appropriate, and reengineering business processes.

 

For more information on related defense subjects, see Heritage Foundation Backgrounder No. 1729 "The Army Goes Rolling Along: New Service Transformation Agenda Suggests Promise and Problems;" Backgrounder No. 1847, " A Congressional Guide to Defense Transformation;" Executive Memorandum No. 953, "Defense Priorities for the Next Four Years;" and Special Report, " BRAC Pack." All are available at heritage.org.

 

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. is Senior Research Fellow for National Security and Homeland Security, and Alane Kochems is Policy Analyst for National Security and Defense, and David Gentilli is a research assistant, in the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for International Studies at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Author

James Jay Carafano, Ph.D. Vice President for the Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy, and the E. W. Richardson Fellow

Alane Kochems Policy Analyst, National Security
The Kathryn and Shelby Cullom Davis Institute for National Security and Foreign Policy