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NEWS | Oct. 17, 2022

Army secretary pledges transformative change, more quality of life upgrades

By Joe Lacdan Army News Service

To become the Army of 2030, the nation’s largest military branch will transform the way it fights by reorganizing its forces, investing in its people and bolstering its recruiting practices, the service’s top civilian leader said.

As the Army transitions from counterinsurgency and antiterrorism operations to large-scale, multidomain combat, the service will shift its organizational focus to division and corps levels as it prepares for potential conflicts with near-peer adversaries, said Secretary of the Army Christine E. Wormuth.

Wormuth, speaking during the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2022 Annual Meeting, said Army units will be equipped with new capabilities through the service’s ongoing modernization efforts. New weapons systems, including the Extended Range Cannon Artillery and the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, will vastly expand their range.

Army formations will consolidate fires, engineering and military intelligence at the division level, enabling brigades to defeat near-peer threats. The service will also continue the development of its network of sensors to give the Army wider visibility than its enemies while also harnessing the power of high-energy lasers and mobile short-range air systems.

Wormuth asked the new head of Army Futures Command, Gen. James Rainey, to accelerate the Army’s efforts in developing its next-generation concepts.

“We will need to take the long view to determine what foundational investments in technology are needed today so that we are ready for tomorrow,” Wormuth said.

However, Wormuth also said the Army must maintain a delicate balance of carefully pacing Army modernization efforts while caring for Soldiers and families.

Wormuth said that tough choices will have to be made in order to upgrade future initiatives while remaining able to respond to crises and maintain readiness.

“As we make these generational investments to prepare for the future fight, we must do so sustainably, maintaining readiness while transforming at a pace informed by the resources we have,” she said.

Wormuth said that the service must retool its efforts to help Army families find affordable housing, improve barracks living conditions and help parents get their children enrolled at child development centers, or CDCs.

“I am committed to fixing these issues, and I know that every Army leader shares that commitment,” said Wormuth.

To give parents better access to CDCs, the Army has funded five new centers, with one already under construction. By increasing CDC staffing by 90%, enrollment capacity will also rise, reducing wait list times, she said.

Wormuth added that the Army has worked with the Air Force, which has agreed to build a new CDC for the 7th Special Forces Group at Camp Bull Simons in Florida to meet the needs of the Soldiers and families there.

“Supporting parents who serve in the Army is critical to the recruitment, retention and readiness of our force,” Wormuth said.

At Fort Wainwright, the Army has hired more mental-health specialists to help Soldiers with the 11th Airborne Division cope with the challenges of being stationed in the Arctic, and commanders throughout the Army are promoting resilience checks to care for Soldiers’ mental health.

As part of Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin’s plans to increase basic allowance for housing in areas where rent has significantly increased, the Army has been working with the Office of the Secretary of Defense to study how BAH has been calculated to give a more accurate understanding of local housing markets.

Wormuth added that the Army will invest $1.5 billion over the next five years on improving Army-owned housing, and another $3.1 billion toward upgrading privatized military housing.

“Where our Soldiers live and work is a fundamental part of their quality of life,” said Wormuth. “It is something, as secretary of the Army, I am especially focused on.”

As part of its effort to revamp its Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention program to better service victims, the Army has hired 80 assault prevention specialists at five installations and has plans to hire another 200 in 2023, eventually totaling more than 1,300 by fiscal 2027.

In July the service established an Office of Special Trial Counsel to be led by a brigadier general who reports directly to Wormuth. The independent office will help reduce harmful behaviors at Army posts, including suicide, which Wormuth said decreased in 2022.

After projections showed the Army would fall short of its recruiting goals for 2022, the service launched a recruiting and retention task force, led by Maj. Gen. Deborah Kotulich who reports directly to the Army’s chief of staff and Wormuth.

Studies show only 9% of eligible Americans have expressed an interest in joining the armed forces, and Wormuth said the service must focus its recruiting efforts on areas where their target demographic doesn’t have connections to the military, such as the Midwest and Northeast.

“We need to reach young Americans and their parents who don’t know about us … and don’t come from military families,” Wormuth said.

The task force will advise the Army’s senior leaders on how the Army can better incentivize and select quality recruits.

According to Wormuth, Army Forces Command has partnered with Army Recruiting Command to better align five Army divisions with recruiting brigades.

“This will help USAREC extend its reach into communities all around the country,” Wormuth said.

Wormuth said the combined measures will help the Army rise to modern challenges as the needs of the Army evolve.

“We are living in challenging times,” Wormuth said. “Social, economic, demographic and climate changes are reshaping our country and countries all around the world. And we face a wide and sobering range of national security threats.”

“But I have confidence our Army can and will meet these challenges,” she said. “We will forge ahead, building the Army of 2030 so that we are ready for the stark realities of the future battlefield.”