G-1 addresses personnel issues before Congress
May 21, 2009
WASHINGTON (Army News Service May 20, 2009) - The Army will continue to rely on vital personnel programs to relieve stress on the force, said the Army's G-1 during testimony on Capitol Hill, May 20.
Lt. Gen. Michael D. Rochelle, the Army's G-1, testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee Subcommittee on Personnel. Rochelle, along with his counterparts from the other services, addressed issues of recruiting and retention, stress on the force, and the size of the Army.
"The Army continues to face challenges, which will be directly in front of us for the next several years," said Rochelle. "Armed with lessons learned, it is our intent to stay in front of these challenges, anticipate them, develop strategies and programs, and keep them from becoming problems in the future."
Rochelle said the service has taken one step toward restoring balance to the force by meeting or exceeding recruiting and retention goals across the Army.
Given the success of recruiting and retention, lawmakers asked if the Army should grow beyond the currently authorized number of 547,400.
"End strength of the Army cannot be viewed in a vacuum," said Rochelle. "In order to understand the required end strength, one has to ask the question 'what do we want our Army to do and for how long''"
Rochelle said he does not expect to see demand decrease in the near term.
"Demand is one aspect we do not control," said Rochelle. "As the Army looks to the next 12 to 18 months, we see an increase in demand before responsible drawdown can offer us the prospect of reduced demand in the overall."
The committee discussed the stress on the force associated with deployments and the mental health of Soldiers.
Rochelle said a critical factor contributing to the stress is the Army's current dwell time, which is one year deployed for every 1.3 years at home for the active force.
"The current dwell time is absolutely unsustainable," said Rochelle. "In addition to that, the cumulative effect of repeated deployments, most especially the surge, is wearing on readiness."
Rochelle also discussed Army efforts to prevent incidents of suicide and sexual assault, including the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention, or SHARP, program.
"The Army has launched what I consider to be the premiere sexual assault prevention strategy," said Rochelle. "The elements of the strategy are to empower every Soldier to not only recognize an instance when a Soldier may be setting themselves up to be a victim, but to also intervene to effectively prevent."
Lawmakers inquired about the Army's ability to attract medical professionals and other individuals with specialized skills.
"I don't believe the solution lies in additional monies to attract this talent," said Rochelle. "I think we have to explore creative and inventive ways to reach outside the normal pool of talent."
Rochelle added personnel programs have enjoyed strong Congressional support and legislators have given the Army the means to improve the quality of lives of Soldiers and their families.
"This Congress has embraced our needs and we're very grateful," said Rochelle.