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Milley: Conditions Are Set, Still Much to Do

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AUSA
Tuesday, January 22, 2019

The conditions have been set for the Army’s future, but the service will “have to continue to press on” with its initiatives if success is to be achieved, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley said at a breakfast hosted by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare.

Ticking off a host of initiatives that have been undertaken since he became chief in 2015, Milley said, “There’s a lot going on in the Army right now in terms of readiness and modernization.” But, he warned, “We’re just beginning, we are just scratching the surface” of the effort that will be needed to keep the momentum going.

The initiatives he listed include:

  • Readiness is being built by filling operational units to 100 percent of authorized strength in 2019, and up to 105 percent by the end of 2020.
  • The rate of soldiers who are unable to deploy is down to about 6 percent from a high of 15 percent in 2015. The goal is 5 percent of nondeployables by the end of fiscal 2019, which will put “thousands of soldiers back into our formations ready to deploy and support contingency operations,” he said.
  • Two infantry brigade combat teams were converted to armored brigade combat teams, and congressional support is contributing to growth in all three Army components.
  • Attrition and injuries are down in Army infantry basic training because of its extension from 14 to 22 weeks. Armor, engineer and other branches will see extensions in basic and advanced training this year.
  • Synthetic training is developing to bring live, virtual, constructive and gaming environments to unit home stations, and collective training is refocused to high-intensity conflict with operations in complex terrain, urban terrain, electronically degraded environments, constant surveillance, attack from rotary and fixed-wing aircraft, missile and rocket attacks and cyber disruption. “Training is tough, it’s realistic, it’s iterative and task-focused,” Milley said.
  • Training days in select Army National Guard and Army Reserve units are up, and the number of National Guard brigade combat teams going through combat training centers is on the rise, with 20 on tap for this year and 32 in fiscal 2020.
  • The Army Combat Fitness Test pilot is underway as part of the Holistic Health and Fitness initiative.
  • Depot maintenance is improved, and the flow of spare parts, inventory and ammunition stockpiles in the U.S. and overseas is up.

Still left to achieve is an update of the Army’s concepts and doctrine, the streamlining and acceleration of the acquisition process, and adaptation of organizational structures to meet emerging challenges, Milley said.

“The fact is, it’s not over till it’s over. This is really a process that we have to continue to press on,” Milley said. “I believe we have set the conditions for success in the future, but we have not achieved success. We should be under no illusions; we cannot rest on our laurels.”