Acting Secretary of the Army, Hon. Robert M. Speer had an “eye-opening” visit to Fort Bragg, North Carolina on Feb. 16 to assess the demands being placed on the force.
“You can hear about the stress to the force and see a high tempo on the patch chart, but until you see it displayed as it was today and talk about it with Soldiers, it’s hard to understand the impact of not having rest. There’s no downtime,” said Speer.
Speer met with key Fort Bragg leaders like Forces Command commander Gen. Robert B. Abrams to discuss warfighting readiness and budgeting. Gen. Abrams and his staff showed the high operational tempo across the force and the resourcing issues to meet the training and deployment requirements.
Speer took questions at a FORSCOM town hall, ate lunch with Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division and toured the Heavy Rig Drop Site to learn more about how Fort Bragg supports Army readiness. He said he enjoyed his time with Soldiers and learning why they joined, what they are doing now and the challenges they face to be ready to deploy.
“One of the biggest issue facing the Army today is budget instability. The Army is currently operating under a continuing resolution and it is important for Congress to take action before the current resolution expires on April 28,” said Speer.
Speer is hopeful that Congress will react to the issues faced under both the continuing resolution and the Budget Control Act of 2011. He said this will allow the Army to focus on a more balanced, long-term approach to readiness.
“If not, and they go through with a whole year continuing resolution, that’s very detrimental to the Army,” said Speer.
Even if the Army receives additional funding, Speer cautioned that issues like aging infrastructure won’t be fixed overnight. He was stationed at Fort Bragg in the early 1990s for three years during his 28-year Army career, and said he was surprised to see some of the facilities still in use on the installation.
“On this visit, I got to see some of the vacant facilities.” Speer continued, “We need to get rid of the unused infrastructure and replace the old buildings we still use which will save us money in the future.”
The Army is working with Office of the Secretary of Defense to conduct the readiness and national strategy reviews that were ordered by the president.
“We’ve got to figure out where the key resources are and balance them against all of the other things that are competing against it,” said Speer.