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.