The Army’s top noncommissioned officer addressed 1st Infantry Division Soldier and family trepidation about troop cuts during his first visit to the home of the “Big Red One” as sergeant major of the Army, July 7-9.
“This an emotional topic for many people and I know it is a concern for many of you as well,” Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey told a town hall audience of more than 400 at Barlow Theater, July 8. “First and foremost, we are going to do this responsibly and we are going to do it with discipline and focus.”
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“We are getting smaller,” Dailey said. “Some of you may have heard the news announcement.”
This week the Army announced 40,000 Soldiers will be cut in fiscal years 2016 and 2017 bringing regular Army end strength to 450,000. These changes will be accompanied by a reduction of about 17,000 Department of the Army civilian employees.
Driven by fiscal constraints resulting from the Budget Control Act of 2011 and defense strategic and budgetary guidance, these cuts will impact almost every Army installation, both in the continental United States and overseas.
This most recent announcement did not identify Fort Riley specifically, but cuts are expected to come from two-star and above headquarters, like the 1st Infantry Division, as well as from the reduction of brigade combat teams; the Aviation Restructure Initiative; operational force design changes; and reduction to enabler and generating forces.
Dailey discussed the importance of balancing budget constraints while maintaining the Army’s duty to the nation.
“The most expensive thing in the United States Army is us,” Dailey told the Soldiers surrounding him. “We have a responsibility to the American people to make sure that we do not become too expensive.”
Army officials were directed by Congress to make reductions and used an approach intended to preserve the Army’s warfighting capability while simultaneously avoiding detrimental changes as the Army faces continuing fiscal pressures.
“At the end of the day, we fight and win our nation’s wars, but our job is also to prevent and deter war,” Dailey said. “We need to maintain the most credible and lethal fighting force the world has ever known.”
Dailey told the audience that despite the drawdown, the nation still needs the most highly-qualified professional Soldiers to protect American interests at home and abroad.
“Even though we are no longer at war in Iraq and Afghanistan, we still have a very high operational tempo,” Dailey said. “Over 100,000 Soldiers are deployed today, and that will continue or at least persist for the foreseeable future.”
Dailey said there needs to be great emphasis on retaining the Army’s best Soldiers and civilians.
“We have to invest in one thing, and nothing against our other services, but we don’t have big aircraft carriers, we don’t have fancy airplanes – what we have is people,” Dailey said “The American Soldier fights and wins on the ground.”
Soldiers queried Dailey on the selection process for the looming cuts.
“We are going to manage ascensions and attrition to get to 450,000,” Dailey said. “Natural attrition occurs and we are going to allow that to happen.”
Dailey also said other programs, such as the Quality Management Program and the Qualified Service Program, will continue to be used as necessary to retain the very best of the Army profession.
“There is plenty of room in the Army at 450,000 for Soldiers that want to be a part of the profession,” he said. “You should have no fear.”