Remember basics, build trust to get through ‘fog of uncertainty’ over defense. 

The “fog bank of uncertainty” covers Washington as the historic defense consensus on Capitol Hill over defense spending and is causing all components of the Army to examine what it will do now with less money and fewer soldiers and could pit one against the other for scant resources in the future.

At a special National Guard forum held as part of the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition, Lt. Gen. Ron Helmly, USA, Ret., and former director of the Army Reserve, said the focus now means “don’t forget the basics” because “we can’t be ready enough.”

“I would suggest it’s a time like the 1920s,” said Lt. Gen. Joe Inge, USA, Ret., and former deputy commanding general of Northern Command, referencing when the Army came out of World War I in a combat marked by trenches, machine guns and barbed wire – a changed environment.

Lt. Gen. Roger Schultz, USA, Ret., and former director of the Army National Guard, said “our active force can be too small,” adding that “the bottom line is trust” among the components.

Maj. Gen. J.B. Burns, USA, Ret., and former deputy commanding general of Forces Command, suggested looking at the Army Force Generation Model – one year out of three where active units are available for deployment and one year out of five when reserve component units are available for deployment.

Burns suggested that “we should think through a mobilization plan” that takes into account the need for combat support and combat service support.  “Where are those capabilities?” he asked rhetorically.  Most are in the reserve components.

“Thirty-nine days a year [for reserve component training] is a tremendous constraint,” Lt. Gen. David Barno, USA, Ret., and a former commander in Afghanistan. But the larger question is, he added, “does it need to look like what I can get of training in 1940, as in 1970” or is it something that is current and adaptable to the future?