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Readiness to Determine Family Program Funding: Chief

Gen. Mark Milley speaks at the AUSA 2016 Family Forum (Video grab via DoD Video)
Gen. Mark Milley speaks at the AUSA 2016 Family Forum (Video grab via DoD Video)

Funding for Army family programs will be based on readiness needs, the Army's top officer said.

"I view support to soldiers, family, [Army] civilians and taking care of their needs entirely through the prism of readiness," said Gen. Mark Milley, the service's chief of staff. "This is not an altruistic organization doing things just because it's nice to do and we want to take care of people, just because we love Army families. That's not why we do it."

Milley, Sgt. Maj. of the Army Daniel Dailey and Army Secretary Eric Fanning spoke on Wednesday during a family forum at the annual Association of the United States Army conference.

Pentagon officials late last month ordered the Army's Installation Management Command to stand down on planned $105 million in cuts to the service's family programs after officials announced them via a YouTube video -- footage that has since been removed.

"There have been some reports on cuts to [Morale, Welfare and Recreation] and I want to make sure that it's clear to everyone that we put a hold on all of that so the chief and I could get a holistic review of what's being proposed," Fanning said at the forum.

The Army annually spends $1.1 billion on family programs, Dailey said, with the largest chunk, $534 million, going to child care programs. While IMCOM officials originally said those would be immune from cuts, Army officials this week clarified that some child care programs, including Skies Unlimited, may be downsized.

Fanning said the Army is dedicated to expanding child care services to match the goals laid out by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter in his "Force of the Future" plan. Under that initiative, child care hours will be expanded and children will receive up to 12 hours a day of subsidized care.

Officials are also working on ways to provide child care to reservists and Guard members during their drill weekends, Dailey said. Although they have not yet developed a specific plan, he said they may look to the almost 400 Guard and Reserve community centers located nationwide for support.

"I think this is a tough challenge," Dailey said. "I think it's going to be a unique situation and a unique solution for each community that we have to work in. And I think we're going to have to rely heavily on the leadership in the Guard and Reserve to find that solution."

-- Amy Bushatz can be reached at amy.bushatz@military.com.

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