Force is about to get bigger

16th20sustainment20brigade20in20a20convoy20during20exercise20vanguard20proof-20army20photo[From AUSA National]  March 22, 2017

By the end of September, the Army’s end strength will receive a boost of 28,000 soldiers above the original troop levels authorized for the current fiscal year.

The increase was authorized as part of the fiscal 2017 National Defense Authorization Act and leaders say it is expected to markedly improve readiness. Leaders were informed of the increase in December.

“The No. 1 problem we have right now is that formations are manned at 95 percent,” Lt. Gen. Joe Anderson, deputy chief of staff for operations, told the House Armed Services Committee. Compounding that problem, he explained, are other variables in soldiers’ availability such as those who are nondeployable, retired, on permanent change of station or attending school, which bring formation levels down as low as 78 percent.

Across the force, the Regular Army will grow by 16,000 soldiers to an end strength of 476,000; National Guard levels will jump by 8,000 to 343,000 soldiers; and the Army Reserve will end the fiscal year with 199,000 soldiers, a bump of 4,000 troops.

To achieve the higher end strength by Sept. 30, the Army will raise its accession mission to 68,500 and boost training resources. Enlisted retention is set to increase with incentives, and officer accessions and retention is expected to increase officer strength by 1,000.

Soldiers will go to undermanned tactical units and fill other gaps following recommendations of ongoing Army analysis.

Preparing for Increasing Cyber Attacks

Feb. 28, 2017 (From AUSA National)

Cyber warfare will only intensify in the future, with a strong possibility that the U.S. Army will not be able to completely defend itself from attacks, a new report warns.

The Army Cyber Institute report says the U.S. Army and the rest of the military “cannot defend all of the digital, individual, social, physical and kinetic domains.” Called “A Widening Attack Plain,” the report was written in collaboration with Arizona State University and represents the work of more than two dozen experts from the military, government, academia and industry. The Army Cyber Institute is located at the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y.

Cyber threats over the past decade have been limited mainly to “data only” threats like espionage, leaks and hacks but threats are changing as attacks become more targeted and aggressive.

The report suggests the Army should work on improving encryption of crucial infrastructure, identifying vulnerabilities and should also champion closer bonds with industry and academia to share ideas.

The Army has been working on new leadership doctrine to prepare officers to operate if communication and data feeds are attacked, while also stepping up defenses.

“In the next decade, we will see a continuing widening of the attack plain,” the report says “The attack surface in the future broadens out, including more people, increasing targets, and changing the very nature of security and threat.”

The complete report is online at http://www.usma.edu/acc/SitePages/Threatcasting.aspxcvc.

Army prepares a needs list

In anticipation of Congress and the Trump administration boosting defense spending, Army leaders have created funding wish lists that focus on troops, modernization and delayed installation maintenance.

The lists, totaling $8.2 billion for 2017 and $18.3 billion for 2018, reflect unfunded priorities aimed at both near- and long-term readiness.

For 2017, the Army’s request includes $2.5 billion for aviation programs, $1.8 billion for armored vehicles, $1.3 billion for air defense, $500 million for command and control, $500 million for installation maintenance and operations, and $100 million for test and evaluation.

For 2018, the Army seeks $7 billion to cover the cost of higher troop end strength plus $2.5 billion for aviation, $2.5 billion for armored vehicles. $1 billion for air defense, $800 million for Stryker vehicle improvements, $800 million for installation maintenance and operations, $500 million for command and control, $300 million for soldier equipment, and $200 million for test and evaluation.

The list of unfunded priorities was prepared after President Donald Trump charged Defense Secretary James Mattis with conducting a 30-day review to assess readiness conditions including training, equipment maintenance, munitions, modernization and infrastructure. That information will be used to draft an amendment to the 2017 budget, and to help form the 2018 budget.

Separately, President Trump has directed reviews of the U.S. nuclear posture and ballistic missile defense capabilities.

Retired CSM Elected to Congress

A retired Minnesota Army National Guard Command Sergeant Major, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier ever elected to Congress, has become ranking Democrat on the House Veterans’ Affairs Committee.  Rep. Tim Walz, first elected to Congress in 2006, also serves on the House Armed Services Committee and is co-chairman of the House National Guard and Reserve Components Caucus.

He was elected by fellow Democrats to be the senior member of their party on the veterans’ panel. Walz joins fellow Army veteran Rep. Phil Roe, a Tennessee Republican and former military doctor, in leading the veterans’ committee in the 115th Congress that convened Jan. 3.

Among Walz’s legislative achievements is a provision of a 2016 bill changing the legal definition of “veteran” to include Guard and Reserve members who served 20 years of military service but were never called to federal active duty. “Guard and Reserve members make many of the same sacrifices as those in regular service, and their commitment should be recognized,” Walz said as the bill was signed into law in December.“Recognizing Guard-Reserve retirees as veterans is a small but important step we can take to honor their great service to our country.”

Army to lead Inaugural Parade

The U.S. Army Caisson Platoon of the 3rd U.S. Infantry Regiment (The Old Guard) will be among the Army units leading the way in Donald Trump’s Jan. 20 presidential inaugural parade. Members of the regiment, based at Fort Myer, Va., have marched as the official “Escort to the President” in every procession since the 1953 inaugural parade of President Dwight D. Eisenhower after President Harry Truman officially bestowed that title on the unit in 1952.

Other Army units confirmed for the procession include the 1st Cavalry Division’s Horse Cavalry Detachment from Fort Hood, Texas, and the 1st Infantry Division Commanding General’s Mounted Color Guard from Fort Riley, Kan.

The Army leads every inaugural parade procession for two reasons, said Maj. Brian Fiddermon, OIC of the Joint Team Parade. First, some Continental Army veterans of the Revolutionary War escorted George Washington up the steps of Federal Hall in New York City for his first inauguration in 1789. Also, as the nation’s oldest and largest service, the Army’s place at the head of the inaugural parade procession is “symbolic of the peaceful transition of power” from one presidential administration to the next, he said.

Army Pay Raise

The 2017 National Defense Authorization Act was signed into law last week by President Barack Obama. The bill brings an end to the Army’s troop drawdown and provides soldiers with the first pay raise in five years that matches the average private sector increase.

The $619 billion policy bill represents just half of the annual legislation needed to keep the Army and Defense Department fully running. A separate defense appropriations bill that fully funds programs has not been enacted. Instead, Congress passed and the President has signed a temporary funding bill that mostly limited spending to 2016 levels through April 28; giving the new administration time to review service requests and establish priorities.

National Guard (and Army Reserve) Essential in Europe

[Editor’s Note: Excerpt below From AUSA National]

For those of us who served in the National Guard or Army Reserve on training or on deployment in Europe or Asia, we know the value of the partnership with active duty units. It helps them with training, alleviates burdens when there are personnel shortages, and provides a level of comfort to leadership when regular rotations include known National Guard and Army Reserve units. The National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers often provide continuity on scheduled training exercises. –Editor.

To make the fewer than 30,000 soldiers assigned to Europe look more like 300,000, U.S. Army Europe needs the Army National Guard and Army Reserve to train in the theater on a regular basis, the command’s top Guard leader says.

To that end, Army commanders in Europe are creating every possible training opportunity for Guard and Reserve troops, said Maj. Gen. John M. Gronski, who became U.S. Army Europe’s deputy commanding general for the Army National Guard on May 1.

Read more here.