Now that the FY 2011 Defense Appropriations legislation is passed – not necessarily at a level we wanted, but better than the seemingly endless series of weekly or monthly continuing resolutions that preceded it – we move on to the next battle, the FY 2012 defense budget. Defending military funding in this era of constrained resources and enormous budget deficits will not be easy, but we are a nation at war and those who fight those wars must be resourced appropriately. Your Association will fight that battle. We will remind Congress that those military personnel on the front lines and the families who remain behind to support them deserve every dollar that can be provided to give the Soldiers the tools they need to defend the nation and to give the families the support they need to remain steadfast. We will also remind Congress that those brave Soldiers who fall in battle and return wounded must be cared for and the families of those who make the ultimate sacrifice must be provided for.
While we fight the next budget battle, we will have at the Army’s wheel , a new Chief of Staff. I have known General Marty Dempsey for many years, and I can tell you that the Army could not be in better hands. He began his tenure on April 11, and I found his speech instructive. I want to share some of it with you. He said in part,
“You should know that I've always considered service in the Army a privilege. And that privilege is even more pronounced and more evident when our very way of life has been challenged as it has been these past ten years. I stand before you today with confidence that whatever challenges confront us in the future, your Army will respond with the same courage and resolve with which it has responded over the past 235 years. With leadership like that, our Army will be fine, and AUSA will stand with its leaders to build a better future for America and her soldiers and their families.
“Today, our Army is in transition. This is certainly not a new phenomenon for us. We are always in transition. However, this particular transition is somewhat unique in that we have persevered through a decade of war with an all-volunteer Force. That's an incredible testament to America's Soldiers and their Families. Their resilience, their courage, and their dedication to the mission are inspirational. I, for one, several years ago, had some doubts about whether we could persevere this long with an all-volunteer Force. And there's a lesson in this for me and for you. Never underestimate the patriotism and willingness to sacrifice of this new greatest generation. They will carry us forward into the future as their predecessors have so honorably in the past. I'm humbled by their sacrifices; I'm inspired by their willingness to serve in time of war; and I'm encouraged that we have a solid foundation on which to build as we prepare our Army for future challenges.
“You know, their expectations of us senior leaders are as simple as they are profound: they trust that we will provide them the resources they need to succeed in the fights in which they find themselves currently engaged. And they trust that we will have the wisdom and resolve to prepare them for the future challenges that they know surely await them.
“Now, to chart a path for America's Army that preserves and builds upon our legacy, we must center our sights on who we are as an Army. Therefore, I'd like to share just a few themes that the Secretary of the Army and I have discussed on this first day of my tenure as the Chief of Staff.
“We will provide whatever it takes to achieve our objectives in the current fight. We will win in an increasingly competitive learning environment. That's the domain in which we must prevail. We will develop a shared vision of our Army of 2020. We will design units and prepare Soldiers and Leaders to overmatch their adversaries. We will master our fundamentals and develop deep global expertise. We'll change. Change is inevitable, but when we change, we'll change to contribute to the versatility and relevance of the nation's military instrument of power. We'll maintain a reputation as good stewards of America's resources. We'll remain connected to America. And we'll succeed in all of that because we'll reconnect, engage, empower and hold our leaders accountable.
“Now between now and the Army birthday, I will engage our Army's senior military and civilian leaders, my fellow Service Chiefs and the Combatant Commanders and then publish a document that charts our way ahead, including a portfolio of initiatives intended to deliver on the themes I've just mentioned. I look forward to the collaboration and the dialogue.
“Now many of you know we're involved in a campaign this year to examine ourselves as a profession. Related to that and one of the early insights of this campaign of study, is that I want to highlight an important quality, not necessarily a quality that is unique to the military, but a quality that must define us as a profession. That quality is trust. Trust between leader and led. Trust among Soldiers, leaders, Families, our wounded and our Veterans. Trust between those of us in uniform and the elected leaders whom we serve. Trust among us and our partners. Trust among the Active, and Reserve components of our Army. Trust between this institution and the American people.
“My commitment and expectation of this great Army is that we will work on strengthening the bond of trust among those with whom we work, among whom we support, and among those who march with us into battle. On that foundation of trust, we will overcome any challenge that we confront in the future. “