Details emerge on future Army commission recommendations

The Army's congressionally mandated commission gives some insight as to what will be in its report coming out next year.

The National Commission on the Future of the Army gave the public some insight as to what recommendations it might give in its final report due to Congress next year.

During a Dec. 17 meeting in Arlington, Va., the commission announced it plans on releasing its report on Jan. 28.

While the commission is looking ten years into the future, commission Chairman retired Gen. Carter Ham said its recommendations are bound by the budget and what it may look like in the years ahead, considering the fiscal scenario today.

“We were well aware of the budget concerns and yes, we did try to identify some potential bill payers. We felt we couldn’t just hand Congress recommendations with a blank check,” said Thomas Lamont, the commission’s vice chairman. The blank check “just doesn’t exist and it wasn’t fair to them. We’d really like to see our recommendations implemented and to do that may very well require some adjustment internally and hopefully Congress will take a look at the budget we are getting right now and see if there’s a need to supplement those budgets.”

Ham said the recommendations will be a blend of status quo and actual change. He said in many ways the Army is on the right track. It is unlikely that the commission will make sharp, dramatic recommendations that will shift the Army off its current track.

“We have to understand we are in a very changing environment the last couple years if not the last couple of months, and I think the Army is very busy and has struggled to keep pace with some of the changes this environment has brought about,” Ham said.

Ham said a foundational theme in the report is that the Army needs to maintain its all-volunteer force.

However, Lamont said the average soldier will most likely not care about the recommendations.

“The issues are very real challenges, but to the average soldier I think they aren’t all that meaningful,” Ham said.

Lamont said the knowledge and concern of the commission goes about six blocks and then drops off.

Another main theme of the report will be its focus on total force structure, Lamont said.

The commission discussed the potential for total force integration and the use of multiple component units (MCUs) within the Army.

“Total force integration is not a new concept. … Over the past 45 years, the Army has explored several techniques for expanding on the total force policy and maximizing capacity in terms of numbers of units and readiness for the Army,” said Kathleen Hicks, the chairwoman of the commission’s operational subcommittee.

MCUs are one way for the Army to do that.

Total force integration refers to the use of reserve and National Guard troops alongside active duty service members. The total force becomes important in an all-volunteer military when active duty cannot provide all the necessary needs.

MCUs are any units that integrate National Guard, reserve and active duty troops.

Hicks noted that the Army would need significant support from its leaders and legislation would be required to allow the secretary of the Army to assign Army troops to Army National Guard positions for full-time functions.

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