(June 23, 2015) Retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan, the president of the Association of the United States Army, told a panel exploring the Army's future structure that the need for a unified Total Force is "stronger than its individual parts."
Sullivan spoke Thursday at the second public meeting of the National Commission on the Future of the Army just outside Washington, D.C. The panel is charged with recommending to Congress a way forward for the Total Army.
Sullivan told the eight panel members, "We have no other choice than to collaborate to achieve that end."
He talked about the need for a growing Army to meet the current threat environment, including a larger reserve component. He said a larger National Guard would "make more troops available to our governors and civil authorities to better address both natural and manmade disasters in the homeland as well as maintaining essential combat capabilities in an operational reserve that provides strategic depth."
He also discussed the current budget environment, saying the Army "will not be able to move forward effectively toward a Total Force concept and design until the burden of sequestration is lifted."
Sullivan called the mandatory budget cuts "the greatest inhibitor to progress" and a "major challenge" he hopes the commission can address in its report.
Retired Chief Master Sgt. John Harris, the president of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States, told the panel, "The Army needs the Guard and the Guard needs the Army."
Harris advocated for proportionate equipment fielding between the active and reserve components. He addressed the Army's controversial plan to remove AH-64 Apaches from the Guard, suggesting that the percentage of aircraft in each component should be equal to the percentage of the component in the entire force.
The commission's subcommittee on aviation will be primarily tasked with examining the Aviation Restructure Initiative, commissioners announced. There are also subcommittees on force generation, operations, the institution of the Army and report drafting.
The commission has made visits to Hawaii and North Carolina, meeting with soldiers and leaders of the three Army components.
Commissioners have also met with Robert Work, the deputy secretary of defense; staff of the National Governor's Association; the Adjutants General Association of the United States; Lt. Gen. Timothy Kadavy, the director of the Army National Guard; the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the National Counterterrorism Center.