No Soft Landing

By Sebastian Sprenger / April 12, 2011 at 4:56 PM

Gen. Martin Dempsey, the new Army chief of staff, yesterday made clear that he doesn't want the issue of declining budgets to dominate the narrative of his tenure. In a memo published by the service yesterday, Dempsey wrote:

The "talk on the street" is all about how resource constraints are coming and about how we must act to ensure a "soft landing." You won't hear that from me. I didn't take the job as your 37th Chief of Staff to orchestrate a "soft landing." I took the job as the 37th to team with an incredible group of senior military and civilian leaders to make our Army smarter, better, and more capable - with the resources we are given - so that we provide the Nation with the greatest number of options for an uncertain future.

As bullish as that sounds, Army budgeteers have lately been discussing the possibility of some pretty hefty reductions, as Inside the Army has reported here and here. So far, Republican lawmakers have been working to shield the Defense Department from federal budget cuts that they say are necessary to reduce the national debt.

In his memo, Dempsey put service organizations on notice that they will be asked three questions when the new chief drops by: What are you doing to develop a climate of trust, to ensure the discipline of your soldiers and to increase the fitness of the force?