Nothing concentrates the mind like the prospect of being hanged in the morning. With big cuts on the horizon, the silver lining is that the Army is being forced to explore some new ideas — and some old ones long ignored — on how to make the most of what it has. I’ve written a series of three articles on this over at AOL Defense, but all three are looking at different pieces of the same movement towards reform.
The most recent and broadest story, which I’d recommend reading first:
…The Army already has marching orders to reduce its manpower from the current 565,000 active-duty personnel to 520,000, and no one expects it to stop there. But some Army leaders are looking past the lean years and planning how to build back up again in a hurry if they have to. Their message to budgeteers: We understand you’re going to cut us, but do it carefully so we keep what we’ll need to regenerate in a future crisis – a concept that’s being called the “expansible Army.”
The Army Reserve’s piece of the puzzle:
With the regular Army shedding personnel to fit in ever-tighter budgets, the U.S. Army Reserve is positioning itself as a low-cost way to keep skilled, experienced veterans associated with the military. The plan, in a nutshell: If you can’t keep ‘em in the regular Army, keep ‘em in the Reserves….service leaders want to offer a more flexible range of options for different levels of commitment along a “continuum of service” – including creation of a new non-drilling, unpaid “inactive reserve” status with no obligation to deploy –- and more freedom to move back and forth between the reserves and active duty.
And the Army’s take on the strategic context:
With budgets falling and China rising, the U.S. Army wants in on the one theater where President Obama and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have promised to keep investing: the Pacific….Conference participants emphasized that the country could not afford to return to the Cold War model of permanent bases and garrison forces around the world. “[But] do we always have to put 20,000 boots on the ground when we have an obligation to provide presence?” asked Robert Toguchi….
Readers are welcome to comment below.