Gen. John Campbell (Army)
LAWTON, OKLA. — If the Army’s force is reduced to below 490,000 active soldiers, the risks associated with current missions will be “much higher,” the Army’s second highest-ranking officer said Tuesday.
The Army is drawing down to 490,000 active soldiers from 570,000, but that was before automatic budget cuts known as sequestration. If those cuts continue, the Army will be forced to draw down more, Gen. John Campbell, the Army’s vice chief, said.
“At 490,000 on the active side, along with our National Guard and our Reserve, we feel that we can accomplish the tasks and the missions that are in the Defense Strategic Guidance laid out by the secretary of defense. If we go below 490,000, then we have to be able to go back to the secretary of defense and lay out if we can still do those missions, and if we can, what happens on the risk,” Campbell said. “I think right now the risk would go much higher.”
Campbell made the comments at a news conference with Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond Chandler at Fort Sill. Campbell and Chandler were at the southwest Oklahoma Army base as part of a tour of installations to look at what programs are successfully improving the health of soldiers and their families. Campbell and Chandler visited Fort Riley, Kan., earlier Tuesday before arriving at Fort Sill and planned to visit installations in Washington and California on Wednesday. They met with soldiers, civilians and leaders to learn about the initiatives.
One program Campbell examined while at Fort Sill that he said he was impressed with involves pairing new soldiers with ones already on base so they can learn about what the base offers.
“I think what they’ve shown is if you have someone link up with a soldier in the first 48, 72 hours — show them a little about Fort Sill, whether it’s a brand new soldier coming right out of basic training or a solider that’s on his second term or something, if they are comfortable and meet people … they’re going to be more productive and more resilient,” he said.
Chandler, the highest-ranking enlisted soldier, met with focus groups made up of only female soldiers and groups of both male and female soldiers to discuss the Army’s program to prevent and respond to sexual assault, among other things. The U.S. military has been beset with allegations of sexual abuse in recent years.
Chandler said he was pleased with what he heard. He said trust is much stronger among soldiers and they are much more willing to come forward and file a nonrestrictive report to help a victim and hold a perpetrator accountable.