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SMA Dailey Talks of Managing Expectations

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AUSA News
Friday, March 24, 2017

March 24, 2017

The Army must begin a frank discussion with soldiers and their families to lower expectations about future benefits and community services, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel A. Dailey says.

Soldiers and their families “want what every American wants—the American dream,” Dailey said at a forum about future installations sponsored by the Association of the U.S. Army’s Institute of Land Warfare. They’ve been trained to think big because the Army has tried to provide “excellence in everything” to them, such as child-development centers that far exceed the standards of most private-sector care.

Excellence may no longer be affordable, he said, suggesting the Army should establish a baseline of support for soldiers and families and then have what he called an “adult conversation” about what is possible. Baseline services must be “of a quality level commensurate with the quality of soldiers we expect,” but that may mean providing less than what is available today.

He acknowledged that this conversation has the risk of lowering morale, but said he hopes the discussion will help determine priorities. “I don’t think we have done a good job in leveling expectations,” Dailey said, warning that the Army faces a pinch on community programs as the size of the service grows.

“The problem is going to get a little worse,” he said. “We have to have the discussions, and we have to assume people are not going to be happy about it.”