Sec. of the Army responds to Trump wanting a bigger Army

Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning visits U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers of the 25th Infantry Division during the Pacific Manned Unmanned – Initiative July 26, 2016, at Marine Corps Training Area Bellows, Hawaii. PACMAN-I provided an opportunity for Soldiers, partnered with organizations and agencies such as the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the U.S. Army Tank Automotive Research Development and Engineering Center, to test new technology in the field during practical exercises. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Christopher Hubenthal)

The Secretary of the Army has delivered a clear message to the American people: if you want a bigger Army, it is going to cost you.

Addressing an audience on Tuesday at the Library of Congress, Fanning said that the Army’s infrastructure has been a sore point throughout his time as Secretary of the Army, saying that if future leaders want a more capable Army, they will need to find a way to fund it.

“If we’re asked to keep more force structure without an increase in budget in some way, then we have more people with less training and less equipment,” he said. “That could easily, quickly, become a larger Army that’s less effective, less capable than the one we’re trying to build now.”

Shifting over to issues he was more comfortable with, Fanning delved into social realm issues such as sexual assault prevention, gender equality and the possibility of President-elect Donald J. Trump reversing course on many decisions the Army has made during Fanning’s term of office.

Fanning also discussed his recent spat during the Senate confirmation hearing in regards to a 450,000 troop drawdown, even though the enhanced rivalry with China and Russia was not as intense as it is when the proposals were made.

“The issue is how technology changes, how the adversary changes, and where we imagine the fight might be happening, is evolving,” he said, going on to say that America’s adversaries are catching up.

According to the Army Times, Fanning said that much of his work has been focused on quality of life for soldiers.

“We’ve been focused on trying to get behavioral health, behavioral care further out into operational units so it’s more accessible,” he said. “I think we need to further radically reshape the paradigm- which is not, we’re going to provide care when you need it, but you’re going to need care when you come back.”

However, Fannins said he is uncertain whether or not the Trump administration will undo the work he has done.

“When I said I’m the CEO of a business unit, again, I create product [and] other people decide how to use that product,” he said. “I’m way oversimplifying, of course, but that’s how you get dramatic changes from one government to another, is how you use the military.”

Still, Fanning stands by his decisions, hoping that his successors continue the path he has taken.

“There are certain issues we’re working on that someone might choose a different approach, but there’s a shared recognition that those issues are important,” he said. “[Defense] Secretary [Ash] Carter’s looking at what the workforce is going to look like in another 20 years, and doesn’t necessarily see that the Department of Defense is going to be an attractive place, as it is now, to work for.”

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  • Andy Wolf

    Andy Wolf is an Appalachian native who spent much of his youth and young adulthood overseas in search of combat, riches, and adventure- accruing decades of experience in military, corporate, first responder, journalistic and advisory roles. He resides in North Carolina's Blue Ridge Mountains with his K9 companion, Kiki.

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