September 14, 2009
Perhaps I should begin this column with a simple “Welcome to AUSA’s 55th Annual Meeting”! After all, it is arguably the Army’s biggest “reunion” and professional development event of the year. We expect more than 30,000 folks to join us for seminars, family forums, exhibits, receptions, presentations by senior Army leaders, and special events designed to honor the Army’s superb Noncommissioned Officer Corps during this “Year of the NCO”. We even offer PT- cleverly disguised as the Army 10-Miler! I can assure you that your team at AUSA national headquarters is working hard to make this Annual Meeting the very best ever.
Woven through the Annual Meeting is the AUSA Resolutions process which will determine the legislative priorities for the Association in 2010. I met the Resolutions Committee chair and subcommittee chairs in August to give them my guidance on the major issues as I see them.
My criteria for issues are not new, and I have mentioned them before: those items of policy or budgetary action that will have impact on the prosecution of the war on terror; the readiness of the force; the well being of our Soldiers and their families and the continued momentum of Army Transformation – materiel, equipment, training, facilities. They define where we stand as an Association.
The issues relate to: people – Soldiers and their Families, Retirees, and Army Civilians - readiness and force transformation. Some of the major categories are closing the pay gap, keeping medical care fees and deductibles from rising, funding Wounded Warrior, post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury care and research initiatives as well as funding housing programs and expanding veteran, spousal and family member education and employment opportunities and the list goes on.
The size of the Army, and indeed the defense force as a whole, must be sufficient to accomplish our national security goals. AUSA has been saying for several years that the active Army must be at least 700,000 Soldiers strong, and defense spending must be at least five percent of our gross domestic product. Acknowledgement of the radically changed role of our Reserve Component must result in redesigned structures, pay and benefits as well as retirement that reflect the way that segment of our defense establishment is now used.
Further, money must be available to reset (repair or replace) equipment for the Current Force and to execute the revised Modernization Strategy for the new Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) in the Brigade Combat Teams that will take the Army into the future. This revised strategy will maintain the interoperable network concept and insure that new technologies and capabilities are spun out now for the Current Force to use. Operations and maintenance funds to allow completion of active and reserve missions as well as training dollars also must be available.
All of these issues have enormous impact on our Army, our Soldiers and families every day. The Resolutions Committee will work just prior to and during the Annual Meeting to create the draft Resolutions for 2010 from input you and your chapters have provided. Your participation in this process is invaluable.
After the Annual Meeting ends, AUSA members will vote, through their chapters, on the final product and so create the 2010 AUSA Resolutions which are published and provided to every member of Congress as well as opinion leaders in local communities and within the Army. The resolutions process is grassroots activity at its very best, and I am very proud of the volunteers who create it and make it an effective instrument of policy for AUSA.
On that note, I hope to see you during the AUSA Annual Meeting so that I can say in person – “Thanks for all that you do for the Army and for being a member of AUSA!”
By the way: We remain engaged in health care issues in spite of the Annual Meeting frenzy – no copay or fee increases, continued accessibility, right sized Medical Corps and facilities for Soldiers, Families and retirees.