The United States Army is struggling to explain its relevance as it returns home from 13 years at war. The American people and their lawmakers are increasingly averse to large-scale "boots on the ground" missions after more than a decade of bloody and expensive land wars. Together with the realities of skyrocketing personnel costs, shrinking budgets, and a new strategy oriented on the Pacific Rim, these facts have placed the Army at a strong disadvantage in the ongoing defense debates. And while the new battles with ISIS suggest that land warfare is far from dead, pressure to redefine the future role of the U.S. Army is unlikely to abate. What kind of Army does the United States need, and what is this Army for? And most importantly, what does the Army provide the nation?
Army supporters insist that the United States Army -- active, Guard and reserve -- provides a wide range of essential military contributions to the United States. These contributions are well understood, even assumed, within the core institutions of the Army. But the Army, with its inwardly focused culture, rarely articulates these contributions in ways that those outside the Army can understand. Few outsiders understand the Army, its language, or its diverse capabilities that support all of the armed forces.
The Army needs to clearly articulate its purpose and value to the American people and their elected leaders. It should emphasize six key themes, in plain English, and as directly as possible.
More from CNAS
Sharper: The Budget
The defense budget and its $715 million price tag accounts for much of the U.S. government's discretionary spending every year, but where will (and should) this money go in th...
By Anna Pederson
Three elements of Army’s iron triangle equally critical for United States, says defense analyst
Billy Fabian, adjunct senior fellow for the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security and senior analyst at Govini discusses the Army's iron triangle on Govern...
By Billy Fabian
The Fiscal Year 2022 Defense Budget and Future Options for the Pentagon
Submitted Written Testimony I. Introduction Chairman Smith, Ranking Member Rodgers, distinguished members of the committee and staff thank you for inviting me to testify today...
By Stacie Pettyjohn
Risky Business: Future Strategy and Force Options for the Defense Department
To consider the next defense strategy and the tradeoffs associated with different options, we developed three possible strategies—high-end deterrence, day-to-day competition, ...
By Stacie Pettyjohn, Becca Wasser & Jennie Matuschak