Secretary declares Army ‘indispensable’ in a world of higher risks
By Otto Kreisher
Recalling President Barack Obama’s statement that America is the ‘indispensable nation,” Army Secretary John McHugh declared Monday Oct. 13 that in a world of increasing strategic risk and instability, “we are the indispensable Army of that indispensable nation.”
“Your Army has the capability and the capacity that no other army at any other time could provide,” McHugh said at the opening ceremony of the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition.
But the secretary warned that if sequestration returns in full force as planned in fiscal 2016, the improvements the Army has made dispute declining budgets “will be eroded” and the Army “will not able to meet the strategic guidance” the president unveiled two years ago.
“It will require the Army to slash its end strength far below” the number predicted in its recent budget and will add to the strategic risk the nation faces, he said.
McHugh said he has told Congress “this is a time for predictability, not a time for politics”
The secretary cited the presence of soldiers in more than 100 countries, including Afghanistan, the Philippines, South Korea and the Ukraine, noting that the Army went to Ukraine at that country’s invitation, “unlike the naked aggression of Russia.”
“Yes we are the indispensable nation and when trouble comes, they don’t call Beijing, they don’t call Moscow, they call the U.S. Army,” he said.
“History has shown that airplanes and ships alone will not win our wars, nor will Tomahawk missiles,” McHugh said in reference to the weapons used recently in the fight against the ISIS extremists in Iraq and Syria. “No Tomahawk ever regained lost ground and no bomber ever trained our allies. Now, more than ever, this nation needs soldiers.”
At the beginning of his address to the opening day crowd, McHugh joked that “it’s great to be somewhere where the phrase ‘boots on the ground’ is not an insult,” a reference to the president’s repeated insistence that America’s fight against ISIS will not include US ground combat troops .
Despite the demands for soldiers around the world, McHugh said the budget cuts mean “we will get smaller. As a result, thousands of brave soldiers will hang up their uniforms,” which he called “the tough reality.”
The secretary stressed the need for the Army to maintain the highest standards of ethics and professionalism and repeated his declaration that “sexual assault cannot be tolerated in any way” in the Army. “We must take back our Army from those who would assault fellow soldiers.”