Missiles, People, and the Future

There has been a great deal of theorizing about the Army’s future post-Afghanistan, but Army Secretary John McHugh reminded reporters in Washington, D.C., on Tuesday that the land service is “still at war” in Afghanistan and must balance its future with its present. While the Army is examining how it will manage a drawdown in end strength and budgets, McHugh said he is “equally focused on what the Army of September is going to look like” as much as the Army of 2020. Some analysts have suggested that the Army should more assertively embrace its air and missile defense mission. McHugh said the Army does take its role in ballistic missile defense very seriously. “We are making investments,” he said, noting the Army’s desire to upgrade its Patriot systems in coming years, the recent deployment of Patriot batteries to Turkey, and the decision to send a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense unit to Guam. “If you talk to the combatant commanders, they have a pretty high appetite” for missile defense, said McHugh. At the end of the day, though, McHugh said “the Army is people,” and they will continue to be its most critical investment.