Quality Troops Key to Smaller Services, Officials Say
By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, April 9, 2014 As the services face reductions to their force strength and overall budgets, they remain focused on retaining and attracting the highest quality troops and civilian workers, military personnel chiefs told Congress today.
“We stand at a pivotal moment in our history,” Lt. Gen. Howard B. Bromberg, the Army’s deputy chief of staff for personnel, told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee’s personnel subcommittee.
“Due to budgetary reductions, we are executing an historic drawdown of both our military and civilian personnel while in an unpredictable global security environment,” Bromberg said.
The uncertain security environment makes it critical that force reductions are conducted carefully and responsibly and in a way that guarantees force quality and readiness are protected, he said.
Bromberg was joined in his testimony by Navy Vice Adm. William F. Moran, chief of naval personnel and deputy chief of naval operations for manpower and education; Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel D. Cox, deputy chief of staff for manpower, personnel and services; and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr., deputy commandant for manpower and reserve affairs.
“Every tough choice we made in this budget was in favor of maintaining quality of service for our sailors,” Moran said. “Our objectives were to maintain and improve manning at sea, retain our best and brightest sailors, and increase the readiness of our sailors and their families.”
The Air Force also sought to balance quality with readiness, Cox told committee members.
“As we get smaller, we will continue to integrate our total force by leveraging the flexibility of our regular Air Force with our guard and reserve partners, balancing full-time and part-time airmen where and when it makes sense,” he said.
To support the demands of a 21st-century Air Force, the service must become more agile and efficient, Cox said. With this in mind, the Air Force will implement a wide variety of force management tools. Voluntary force reduction programs will be used as much as possible, he said, and incentive programs will be applied where needed. Involuntary force reduction programs will be used only if required, Cox added.
Bromberg noted that recruiting challenges will go hand in hand with a smaller military, as an increasing percentage of America's youth become ineligible for military service.
“As the Army looks to the future, we must take advantage of all America's diverse talents,” he said. “We're expanding opportunities for women by opening up previously closed positions and career paths, while ensuring all soldiers can meet the required physical and professional standards.”
The officials noted that quality-of-life programs are an important part of the effort to attract and retain quality personnel.
The Army has implemented an “unprecedented number” of programs designed to reduce and ultimately eliminate sexual assault and harassment from its ranks, Bromberg said.
“I'm confident that our efforts are putting the right processes and procedures in place to ensure a climate of safety, trust and respect for every member of the Army family and enhancing the accountability of every member of the Army team,” he added.
The nation owes its military personnel the tools, the training and the professional work environment they need to succeed in their missions, Moran said.
“All of what American seapower means today and might become is due to the selfless service of the men and women who make it so,” the admiral noted.
As the military services seek to meet the budget challenges, it is the commitment, ingenuity and hard work of military personnel that will help the services navigate the future, Cox said.
(Follow Claudette Roulo on Twitter: @rouloafps)