Fox News Radio: Welcome back to Brian and the Judge. Finishing up this hour here on Fox News Talk we're happy to be joined now by Dr. Francis J. Harvey. Fran Harvey is the Secretary of the Army. Did you graduate from the University of Notre Dame, Mr. Secretary'

Secretary Harvey: I'm here.

Fox News: You and I are both Domers. It's a pleasure to have you on with us, sir.

Secretary Harvey: It's a pleasure to be with a fellow Domer. We're having a good year out there.

Fox News: Yes, we are. Killmeade, because his name is Killmeade, is an honorary Domer.

Secretary Harvey: Okay.

Fox News: Charlie Wise is actually going to be coming into town soon, Judge, you have to book him. Use your pull.

Fox News: Absolutely.

Fox News: And you know what, Secretary, I'm going to throw your name around and say we're buddies.

Secretary Harvey: All right. That's good.

Listen, I was just on your show, so we are.

Fox News: Thank you, and we're still talking, which is a plus and a privilege.

Secretary, when I heard about the troop levels, 15 battalions staying in Iraq until 2010 I thought about you immediately. How do the guys in the field respond to that, and what does it mean'

Secretary Harvey: Let me back up a little bit, Brian, because the Chief of the Army was misquoted on that, and really, maybe it's better stated as misrepresented.

We in the Army, Department of the Army, only plan. The actual troop levels are determined based on recommendations from the commanders in the field, in this case General Casey. The final decision, of course, is made by the President of the United States, closely coordinated with the Secretary of Defense. So those are the two decisionmakers and everybody else in the chain is recommenders, and we're not really in that chain. We have to plan. And you appreciate this, because you know a lot about the Army.

We're talking about moving in and out of theater 120,000-odd people, a number of units. That takes a lot of planning so we're got to plan three to four years out, and in doing that you have to make assumptions. You make worst case assumptions, best case assumptions, but they're all planning scenarios. What the Chief was talking about was just a planning scenario which really in reality, what happens is going to be based on conditions on the ground. So we could have two or three years from now many many less forces on the ground.

Fox News: Does that mean the Army has not in fact been told, either by Secretary Rumsfeld or the White House, that 140,000 troops are going to be there until 2010'

Secretary Harvey: That's correct. That's correct. We're only planning. We're not doing anything else but planning. The actual decisions will be condition based and depending on the progress and everything else.

So he was really, in a sense, misrepresented of what he was saying there. So we've got to be very very careful because this is a serious subject. So I'm here kind of to clarify what was said and --

Fox News: We appreciate it.

Mr. Secretary, as you look at the Army right now I hear your recruiting goals have been exceeded.

Secretary Harvey: Right.

Fox News: Then I see the headlines. The headlines are, "They dropped standards and get more people."

What is the truth about your standards' It drives me crazy and I'm not even wearing a uniform.

Secretary Harvey: Thank you for asking that, Brian. The standards have not changed. The standards, and they always quote the so-called Category 4 of the Armed Forces Vocational Aptitude Test. The standard, the DOD standard is for four percent or less to be category 4.

Now in recent years we've been as low as two percent, maybe one percent, but the standard hasn't changed. This year we're going to be about 3.8, 3.9.

That has to be considered in context because in the late '70s and early '80s the number of Category 4s was 50 percent. So we have a much higher quality Army. And that does not say that those Category 4s aren't going to be good soldiers. They're going to be in certain military occupational skills.

So it's blown out of proportion. Standards haven't changed. They've always been four percent. And historically we are very very low percentages in this so-called Category 4. The vast majority of the people are in the upper categories.

Fox News: Mr. Secretary, getting back to Iraq before we let you go. How much longer will it be before troops in the field can stop serving as "cops" as policemen in Iraq'

Secretary Harvey: As General Casey indicated in his press conference yesterday, Judge, the fundamental underlying strategy is to stand up a competent Iraqi security force -- high quality with sufficient quantity. We have been doing that for the last two years. We're now up to 300,000 or so Iraqi army and Iraqi police. So that strategy has been implemented, has been ongoing. The independence capability, that is the capability to operate independently, has increased significantly over the last year.

So all the actions and tasks that need to be in place are in place and when they are fully confident and competent we can pull back.

So the answer to that is again, condition based. They've got to demonstrate that they can provide the basic fundamental security to the country through not only that, also through the politicians agreeing that that's going to be the case. So it's a political/military approach, but from the military point of view, from our point of view, I think the theater's doing all the right things in standing up this force.

Fox News: The Secretary of Army, Fran Harvey. Thanks so much for joining us. We always love hearing from you. Thanks for straightening out the record.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16