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.

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.

AUSA to host a Family Readiness forum in NJ

The Family Readiness Directorate of the Association of the U.S. Army has planned an event in September aimed at Army National Guard and Reserve families.

On Sept. 22, a forum focusing on National Guard and Army Reserve spouses will be held at the New Jersey National Guard Armory in Bordentown, N.J.

The forum for National Guard and Reserve spouses will look at help that is available for spouses and families when not located in a military community. The discussion will focus on where to find help, how to build a support network and practical tips.

Homefront United Network, an organization founded by Army National Guard spouse Angela Caban, is a co-sponsor of the event. Caban, the New Jersey National Guard Spouse of the Year 2013, and Bianca Strzalkowski, 2011 Military Spouse of the Year, will speak at the event.

Register for the Guard and Reserve spouse event here:

http://homefrontunited.com/spousetalks/

Army Gets $7 Billion Budget Boost

[From AUSA National]

The Army would get a $7 billion increase in its base budget for 2016 under the Obama administration plan unveiled Monday.

The increase primarily goes to operations, maintenance and weapons modernization programs.

The administration requests $147 billion for the Army in fiscal 2016, $2 billion less than the current budget in a reduction resulting from reduced funding for contingency operations.

For fiscal year 2015, the Army received $121 billion in the base budget and $28 billion in operating contingency funds. For fiscal 2016, the administration proposes boosting the base budget to $127 billion while cutting the contingency budget to $21 billion.

The 2016 budget was announced Feb. 2, at a time when the Army has 140,000 soldiers serving in 150 foreign countries, and with nine of the Army’s 10 active divisions having headquarters actively engaged in ongoing operations.

The modest boost for the Army is part of a decision by the administration to ask Congress for a 2016 defense budget that is $38 billion over spending caps set in the Budget Control Act, something that will require consent from lawmakers. While the Army would receive $7 billion more than current spending, the budget would provide a $16 billion increase for the Air Force and an almost $12 billion increase for the Navy, according to Defense Department briefing charts.

Forty-five percent of the Army’s base budget goes for personnel costs, with 36 percent for operations and maintenance and 18 percent for weapons programs. Spending on personnel is flat, even though the Army expects to be smaller in 2016, a result covering the cost of modest increases in pay and benefits. The budget includes a 1.3 percent basic pay hike, an average 1.2 percent increase in housing allowance and a 3.4 percent increase in subsistence allowance.

Active-duty personnel levels would drop from 490,000 today to 475,000 by Oct. 1, 2016, under the plan. Army National Guard strength, now 350,200, would drop to 342,000. Army Reserve strength would remain at 198,000.

There is $16.1 billion allocated to Army weapons procurement in the budget request, up from $13.9 billion in 2015. Increases are spread over aircraft, missiles, track vehicle and ammunition programs, but Army officials said a top priority is modernizing Apache, Black Hawk and Chinook helicopter fleets in support of the Aviation Restructuring Initiative, a controversial topic where an independent commission could end up deciding details and timing.

Ninety-four Black Hawks, 64 Apaches and 39 Chinooks would be purchased in 2016, an increase from the 87 Black Hawks, 35 Apaches and 32 Chinooks funded in 2015. Money also is included to buy 450 Joint Light Tactical Vehicles and upgrades for 87 Strykers.

For more headlines, click here.

GEN (Ret) Sullivan remarks about seeking stability and sanity in Breaking Defense

[From AUSA National]

Unhealthy and unnecessary friction in the Total Force is a consequence of the larger budget pressures facing the Army. We need to make certain the suboptimal decisions foisted on the Army’s leaders don’t damage the overall cohesiveness of what is shaping up to be a much smaller active, Guard and Reserve force.

You can read the entire op-ed article published in Breaking Defense on January 19, 2015 here. Included you will also find links to MG (Ret) Gus Hargett’s comments for NGAUS’s perspective on the current budget crisis facing the Department of Defense and the Department of the Army in particular. Regardless, GEN (Ret) Sullivan is right in that the “most precious, capable, and flexible weapon system is people.”

Wilmington University Honors Those that Serve

Wilmington University has invited us to join in honoring our nation’s Heroes!

On March 26, 2014 from 11:00am-1:00pm, Wilmington University will host a Spring Military/Veteran Appreciation Day at the Pratt Student Center (New Castle Campus, 320 N. DuPont Hwy, New Castle DE 19720).

The event is designed to recognize and honor our Servicemembers, Veterans, and their families. It will include attendance by Government Officials/Representatives, Senior Leadership from Wilmington University, our Military/Veteran Student Organization, and Vendors from the community. Activities will be available including a massage table, acupuncture table and a special “Rifle Spinning” demonstration performed by the ROTC Drill Team from William Penn High School! A light lunch, cake, and prizes will also be provided for attendees.

Agenda

  • 1100 – Event Begins: Sign in, networking/vendor tables/activities
  • 1200 – Remarks/Recognition: Jim Webb, Military Affairs Coordinator
  • 1210 – Rifle Spinning Demo: William Penn ROTC
  • 1220 – Continue networking/vendor tables/activities
  • 1300 – Event Ends

Supporting military vendors include: DAFB Airman & Family Readiness Center, Employer Support for Guard & Reserve (ESGR), MyHealtheVet, United Service Organizations Inc. (USO), Vet Center: Wilmington,  Military One Source, DE Army National Guard, and the DE Air National Guard.