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Army scales back its presence at AUSA showcase

WASHINGTON – There’s less Army this year at the big Army-themed shindig in D.C.

The exhibition hall this week at 2012 AUSA, a professional development conference and trade show sponsored by the Association of the United States Army, features only a few official Army display booths wedged in among defense contractors’ tracked robots, machine guns and tactical vehicles.

In previous AUSA conferences, the Army staffed scores of booths that explained everything from high-tech weaponry to military recreational opportunities.

But times are different now, Army Secretary John McHugh conceded Monday in his conference keynote address.

“You’ll notice as you navigate the displays this year that the Army footprint is somewhat smaller,” he said. “Our reduced physical presence, mandated by an imperative to find ways to do more with less, is really a microcosm of the larger challenge.”

One way of doing more with less, he said, was for Army personnel to “teleparticipate” in AUSA professional development events.

What makes that necessary, he said, is a stumbling national economy and an Army that faces both budget cuts and a continuing war in Afghanistan. The Army is set to decline in size and global scope, with end strength dropping to 490,000 and troop numbers in Europe and Afghanistan also dropping.

TOTAL FORCE POLICY

McHugh announced Monday he had signed an Army “Total Force Policy” designed to create a closer relationship between active and reserve components.

Reserve and National Guard troops have been a key part of the Army in recent wars, he said, and coming cuts demand that they be ready to fight in the future.

Among other things, the Army plans to unify the personnel management and pay systems, create uniform professional development standards, and uniform procedures for measuring pre-deployment readiness.

The Army will also make it easier for soldiers to move between the active and reserve ranks through their careers, he said.

“This effort will ensure that we incorporate the lessons learned in the last 11 years to ensure that everyone is trained and ready regardless of the mission,” he said.

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