May 6, 2016 — Secretary Patrick Murphy returned to the home turf of Pennsylvania to discuss his priorities on behalf of the Army and its people.
“All of you in the room have a servant’s heart,” he said to the audience of 500 students, faculty and staff in the Army War College’s Bliss Hall auditorium, today. He referred to the US and international colonels and lieutenant-colonels, and the senior federal agency leaders, as the new generation, with a new norm for budgets, a new degree of data-driven decisions, facing a new kind of high-end ground combat that will look much different from the past 15 years. Yet, the enduring commitment of the Army is to “people business.”
As an Army veteran — the first veteran of OPN Iraqi Freedom elected to Congress — he relished the respect that Army Soldiers have earned, and reminded the leaders in the room that, with respect comes responsibility. He shared the imperative behind the bumper stickers, why every leader is responsible to tell the Army story; to make every dollar count; and to create reality for the concept, Soldiers for Life.
As acting Secretary of the Army, Murphy has set out to address the All-Volunteer Army question assumptions about the, Army image and to role model a leader’s responsibility to communicate, as he does with his emails to the total Army of 1 million in uniform and 400 thousand civilians. He emphasized that leaders have stories to tell and responsibilities to do so — and extolled the value of “free chicken,” referring to the social media options to tell a story, and frequently.
The new norm in America is to fight for dollars for defense. A former Congressman from Pennsylvania, Murphy noted that the Army has taken a 39 percent cut since he left Congress. We’re in the people business, he repeated, and when we cut budget, it comes from people. There are myths at play, he noted, about the ideal of fighting a war from 10 thousand feet in the air, or accomplishing everything with our Special Operations Forces. Significant elements, both, but closing the deal through land combat is the province of the Army and Marines.
One hundred thousand new Soldiers join the Army each year, and about the same will return to civilian lives. Fellow Americans should know that they’ll make $10 thousand more for having been in service, and that they’ll be re-entering the civilian workforce with any of the 100 credentials that the Army is tying to the military training they receive. “I need you working on these things,” he said.
The “I need you” message was a thread drawn through his remarks. Having reviewed many of the Strategic Research Projects completed by this year’s student body, he challenged them — and Commandant Maj. Gen. Bill Rapp — to use the experience and thought of the US and international members of the class, vowing to keep the Army War College busy with strategic-level projects.
Honorable Patrick Murphy became the acting Secretary of the United States Army Jan. 11, 2016, responsible for manpower, reserve affairs, installations, environmental issues, weapon systems and equipment acquisition, communication and financial management of the U.S. Army. A graduate of King’s College, the University of Scranton ROTC program, and Widener University Commonwealth School of Law, he served as a paratrooper assigned to the 82nd Airborne Division in Iraq, as an assistant professor of Law at the US Military Academy and West Point, and as a criminal prosecutor in the Judge Advocate General Corps.
Photo credit: Secretary Murphy responds to a question from Army Col. Rob Forsten about the future of the All-Volunteer Army during a townhall engagement at the US Army War College, May 6. (U.S. Army photo)