Army Chief of Staff Discusses Challenges, Priorities for Upcoming Fiscal Year
WASHINGTON — Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville shared updates and laid out the branch’s priorities in a virtual webinar discussion hosted by The Heritage Foundation on Wednesday.
During the forum, McConville said the Army’s primary upfront investments will be people-focused and geared toward both reserve-and-active-component soldiers. National Guard and Reserve components are as intrinsic to the Army as active-duty personnel, he said.
“I take a look at our Army and — really for the last 19 years, we’ve been heavily engaged in combat, specifically in Iraq and Afghanistan,” McConville said. “We’ve asked a lot of our people and when I say people, I’m not talking just about soldiers.”
Last year presented a set of unprecedented challenges in terms of recruiting, he said. Fortunately, the Army had record levels of retainment during this span of time and consequently has made significant strides in virtual recruitment in tandem with traditional methods.
McConville added that the Department of the Army’s civilian workforce works tirelessly for the branch’s betterment, as do its retirees and veterans. By fortifying itself from the ground up, the Army remains competitive globally and focused on readiness.
“When I look at it, I believe we get the people right,” McConville said. “We get the right people in the right place, and we get rid of those corrosives that affect our people, whether sexual harassment, sexual assault, whether it’s racism or extremism.”
This forward-thinking approach is also reflected in the Army’s cooperative ventures with the private military industry, he said. In the past, determining equipment requirements would impede the necessary competition and acquisition phases of military contracts.
Now, McConville said the Army is able to approach the private sector manufacturers with only basic characteristics for a piece of equipment or technology and will rapidly end up with immense input. From there, they proceed to the design phase and prototyping, allowing the branch to expeditiously improve its capabilities.
“We’ve moved from an industrial age acquisition process to a much more 21st-century process that we’re working very well with industry,” McConville said. “We’re starting to get systems fielded in three, four or five years, which in the past was a 15-year program.”
The Army is also working to improve its mid-range and long-range capabilities alongside its efforts in cyber threat intelligence and cyberwarfare, he said. As modernization efforts unfold within the Army’s operations, programs like the Multi-Domain Task Force will move to the forefront of the branch’s administrative focus.
The Army’s MDTF program is mainly concentrated on thwarting enemies’ anti-access/area-denial capabilities specifically in the Indo-Pacific region. The Army MDTF encompasses long-range precision effects and fires, and intelligence operations, McConville said.
“Those assets have the ability to penetrate, if required, an adversaries’ anti-access/area-denial capabilities,” he said. “And through that you get deterrence.”
Due to the sensitive nature of the Army’s upcoming fiscal year 2022 budget submission, McConville was not at liberty to discuss its specifics. However, he said the Army has its main priorities understood: people, readiness and modernization.
Further, McConville said the branch is “taking a hard look” at balancing readiness and modernization aspirations while preserving its strength. In McConville’s position, he has to review all the data and determine what the Army can ultimately afford.
“But we’re going to every single area and taking a look at where we can find the money to modernize them, I believe we absolutely must do that,” McConville said. “At the same time, the end strength we have is what we need to keep and we’ve got to make sure that every one of those soldiers that we send into harm’s way is trained. So, we’ve got to maintain readiness also.”
In The News
WASHINGTON — The Defense Department may seek authorization to carry out airstrikes if the capital of Kabul or any other major city in Afghanistan is in danger of falling to the Taliban after the U.S. completes the withdrawal of its troops from the country in early... Read More
WASHINGTON — The Department of the Air Force announced it has designated the United States Space Force as the lead service for its “Rocket Cargo Vanguard Program,” a science and technology effort intended to determine the viability of large commercial rockets for Department of Defense logistics... Read More
The Pentagon signed an agreement to expand the production of more efficient syringes, which it announced on Monday, as part of the country’s national response to coronavirus. According to the agreement, the U.S. allocated $27.3 million in government funding to Retractable Technologies, Inc., a manufacturer that... Read More
WASHINGTON — The House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday passed a pair of bills that would limit the president’s ability to expand military operations in the Middle East by repealing decades-old Authorizations for the Use of Military Force, or AUMFs. Legislation that would repeal the 1991... Read More
WASHINGTON -- Defense Department officials tried to reassure sometimes skeptical members of the Senate Thursday that the ongoing U.S. military withdrawal from Afghanistan can be completed without a resurgence of terrorist threats. President Joe Biden last month ordered the withdrawal no later than Sept. 11, 2021.... Read More
The conception of the United States Space Force developed from the bipartisan consensus that the country needed enhanced military capabilities in the domain of space. When President Ronald Reagan first announced the “Strategic Defense Initiative” in 1983, the concept was disparaged for being impractical and costly.... Read More