WASHINGTON – From community leaders and industry providing essential support and services, to the Soldiers and families who deliver military strength, the commander of the Army Materiel Command said partnerships shared with American citizens are essential to the Army’s impact on the battlefield.
“We are not going to war by ourselves,” Gen. Gus Perna, commander of the Army Materiel Command, said. “It takes a team of teams to get us there, whether it is partners on the battlefield or partners in the community. It will take the entire team to get us to success. Organizations like the Association of the U.S. Army are the glue that bonds our installations to our communities; that brings us all together as a team.”
Perna’s comments, made during events at the Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition Oct. 14-16, echoed the emphasis Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy are putting on the impact people have on Army readiness, modernization and reform.
“People are not just members of our organization or part of the organization, they are our teammates,” Perna said. “Our people will enable our priorities. The foundation of all that we do is centered on our people. They are our greatest strength. They will carry the day.”
But for Soldiers and civilians, and indirectly, their families, to be effective contributors to the mission, Perna said it is imperative the Army sets the right conditions through the leadership, equipment and services it provides.
“We have to embrace new approaches. If we are unwilling, we will not be prepared,” he said. “There is only one metric that really matters, and that is quality of life for Soldiers, Army civilians and their families. We will do what we need to on Army installations to mobilize and deploy our Army. But we need the community’s help to get the consistent and predictable funding to modernize, and to provide the services and facilities our Soldiers need.”
Army leadership is focused on five quality of life initiatives: housing; child care and youth services; spouse employment; permanent change of station moves; and healthcare.
“Our families should feel secure on our installations,” Perna said. “As Soldiers deploy to combat, we don’t want them concerned about the care and welfare of their families.”
Perna’s vision is that every installation become the first choice for Soldiers and their families. He noted that communities can assist with ensuring spouses find professional employment at or near every installation they call home.
“We must ensure our military spouses who do so much for us every day have an opportunity to pursue their goals and professional interests. Their ability to transition should not be hinged on their ability to work at their next installation,” Perna said.
Soldiers and their families are also directly affected by installation readiness.
“We are challenging the way we see ourselves and our installations to make sure we have the best barracks, motor pools, training areas and ranges,” Perna said. “It is a paradigm shift from our old processes. We are aligning money to solve the problems. We have to fix barracks and motor pools, and then think about the future.”
Modernizing Army installations to respond to current and future mission requirements is a priority for the command, Perna said.
“Think about the last time our Army has deployed from our installations’ barracks, communities and motor pools to our railheads, airfields and ports, and then landed on the battlefield. The last time we had a full deployment of that magnitude was in 2003. It has been 16-plus years since we have taken Soldiers and equipment from the installation to the battlefield,” he said.
Currently, Soldiers and equipment are deployed or stationed long term in places like Afghanistan, Iraq and South Korea, where forward operating bases have been established and matured. The key, Perna said, is to be able to deploy quickly to war anywhere in the world at any moment.
“Army leadership wants us to be strategically ready. They want us to get to the fight and win,” he said. “Enemies will try to prevent us from leaving our installations, from leaving our shorelines, from landing in striking distance from them.”
All these efforts, he said, relate to the Army’s ability to win on the battlefield.
“We are the greatest Army. When we go to war, we will send the greatest Soldiers supported by greatest families. We owe it to them to make sure our forces are ready, to make sure they have the most modernized capabilities, and that we are using everything inside our capacity to make our processes and systems better,” Perna said. “And we will only be as successful as you – our partners in the community – that help us and enable us every day.”