Oct. 26, 2010 - AUSA Congressional Staffer Breakfast Meeting
November 1, 2010
Now, I want you to know that Sulley has still got it. Yesterday as he was conducting the opening ceremony, he got the point that all these great Soldiers were on the stage. He was there, ready to get on with the program, and he couldn't quiet think of the words to get on with it. So he reached back into his military memory, and he said in his best command voice, "Post or something." (Laughter) Needless to say, the Soldiers didn't budge. It wasn't until the music stopped that they moved out.
It is always a great opportunity for me to update folks that we don't see everyday on how we are doing. Then talk a little bit about our way ahead. As I am doing this now, for the fourth (4th) time, it has been interesting to see how our thinking has evolved.
First of all, you know that you have heard me talk since 2007 about getting the Army back in balance. In 2007, we were so weighed down by our current commitments, that we couldn't do the things that we needed to do to sustain this All Volunteer Force for the long haul, and to prepare ourselves to do other things, to increase the strategic flexibility that the country needs. And back then, we put ourselves on a program based on four imperatives: to sustain Soldiers and families; continue to prepare Soldiers for success in the current conflict; resetting them effectively when they return; and then continuing to transform for an uncertain future. With your help, we have been making steady progress toward our objectives; and with the FY11 budget on the hill, I can see us getting to and meeting the objectives that we set for ourselves in 2007. Again, it would not have happened without your help and without the support of Congress and the American people.
Let me just give you a quick rundown on what that means. First of all, growth of the Army; you remember in 2007 President Bush said to increase the Army by 74,000. Originally, that was going to be done in 2012. We went to Secretary Gates, and said we really need to get this done as fast as we can, and that is 2010. Actually all components, completed it last year, but even as we finished that growth last year, we were still having difficulty manning units for the fight. And the reason is we had about 10,000 Soldiers, primarily leaders already deployed on transition teams, at headquarters, but already gone. We also had about 10,000 Soldiers that were temporarily non-deployable, Soldiers hurt on a previous deployment that need to get fixed, then lastly we had 10,000 Soldiers either in warrior transition units or leading warrior transition units. 30,000 folks and so Secretary Gates allowed us to continue to increase the size of the Army on a temporarily basis by another 22,000 Soldiers. We are moving toward to bringing those 22,000 in by this spring. That is a temporary growth, and we will expect to see that gradually wind down over time and we will get back to our fixed end strength 547, 400 Soldiers probably by the end of 2013.
Modularity, we have talked about modularity for the years. We have set out to convert every brigade in the Army to a modularity design. We have done about 290 of the 303 brigades in the Army, and all but a handful will be completed by next year. A huge change, and when you add to that the re-balancing going on, moving Soldiers away from the cold war skills to skills more relevant to today that is the tune of 160,000 Soldiers changing jobs. Taken together, that is the largest transition of the Army since WWII, we have done that while we have been sending Soldiers over and back between Iraq and Afghanistan.
BRAC, you know we have been working toward that since 2005. As it happens you get the money, you do the plans, you build the buildings, and then the people move in during the last 18 months. And guess what, it's the last 18 months; and by September of next year we are on track to complete it, 380,000 Soldiers, families and civilians will have moved. We have the entire Army on cell phones right now, and we will give you the wiring diagrams when we are done.
DWELL, I recognized not long after I got here, the single most important thing we can do to get this Army back in balance and increase the time our Soldiers stay at home. And we have been working to get ourselves in a more stable position of one year out with two years back for the Active Forces, and one year out four years back for the Guard and Reserve. With the growth and the draw-down in Iraq that we have just completed, we see where the units that are beginning to deploy in FY 2012, will deploy with the expectation of two years DWELL when they get home. And believe me, that more than anything else is allowing us to breathe again. In the interim, 12 to 15 months has been replaced with 15-20 months and it will only continue to improve as we go forward.
The time at home is important not just from the perspective of getting more time to spend at home with families. That is important, but they have to recover themselves. And, we spent time this summer on a study that told us what we intuitively knew--it takes 24 to 36 months to recover from a one year combat deployment-- it just does, we're flesh and blood. When you don't do that, the effects of the war build up fast. And, even as we go forward here, as they start to breathe again, we are still going to deal with the long term effects of this war. I mean, when you think about it, we have lost over 4,000 Soldiers, and they have left over 20,000 surviving family members. We have had 28,000 Soldiers wounded, 7,500 seriously enough to require long-term care. Since 2000, we have had almost 100,000 Soldiers diagnosed with Mild Traumatic Brain Injury, and another 45,000 diagnosed with Post-Traumatic Stress. Those things are going to be with us for a while, and we are preparing ourselves to deal with it. The last item of our transformation getting back into balance is we have put the entire Army on a rotation model; much like the Marine Corps and Navy has been on for years. We are putting the finishing touches on the institutional changes required to sustain them. As we looked at this, and we looked at what we were going to face in the future, as an Army, and it was clear to us that we were going to have to support sustained deployments for a while. That we were going to have to build the ability to hedge against the unexpected and that we were going to have to do both of those things at a tempo that was predictable and sustainable for a Volunteer Force. This is the longest we have been at war with a Volunteer Force, and that is ARFORGEN. ARFORGEN is not only a deployment model; it is fundamentally a new way to build Army readiness. And we will build readiness on a cyclical basis from the time units come home and reset until the time they are fully ready to go into the available pool. While you don't see a lot from the outside, that is causing huge internal change in the Army and it's for the better. So by and large, we have made great progress that could not have been done without your help.
Now just a couple comments about the way forward from here. What I worry about more than anything else is a mindset inside and outside the Army think that the war is over. We still have 110,000 Soldiers deployed. Even if we get out of Iraq by the end of next year, like everyone says, we will still have 60,000 Soldiers deployed. I suspect because of the fact that, one, we are at war; it's a long-term ideological struggle, but we are going to be at this longer than any of us would like.
So, that is what we are preparing ourselves for-but the war is not over. As I look to the future here, it seems to me that the Army has three major tasks ahead. First of all, we need to maintain our combat edge as we go forward. The units might not be going this year, but they will go next year or the year after. And, we are a combat seasoned force. And believe me; I can see the difference in that last week at the Joint Readiness Training Center [JRTC]. But, we have to maintain that combat edge. We have to do that while we are reconstituting this force and recovering it after now ten years of war, and while we build resilience for the long haul. And if you think about it there are three different mindsets there. That's what we have to do. We have to think our way through that. Maintaining our combat edge is going to require a tough demanding training both at home station and in our combat training centers. And for you folks that do OMA budget that means the money is moving from OCO and the base. We could get into bureaucratese here, but that a big shift for us.
The most important aspect of that is we have to challenge our young leaders. We want folks that have grown up before they have huge responsibilities. We can't bring them back and stick them at Fort Carson or Fort Drum and say, "ok, you are on post support or you got post-guard duty." We have got to continue to challenge and develop.
Reconstitution of this force: we are reconstituting this force for the future. That involves continuous reset and recovery--the units that continue to come and have gone back and it requires continuous adaptation. With that adaptation, I told you we will have basically completed the modular designs for rebalancing that we set out to do in 2004. But, the intellectual work that was done that underpinned that was done in 2002 or 2003. All good work, but we know a heck of a lot more about the environment we have been operating in now than we did back then.
So, our Training and Doctrine Command [TRADOC] is leading a study right now of our force mix, what type of units we have, and the design of those units informed by lessons that we have learned over these last nine years at war. I suspect that will result in some other change. Not nearly the scoping magnitude of the modularity, but other changes.
We are also working very hard on refining the role with the Reserve Components in an era of persistent conflict where continuous deployment is the norm. We could not have done what we have done as a country or as an Army without our Reserve Components. The main question out there, is what happens when demand comes down' How long can we continue to rely on our citizen soldier' When we talk to them, they tell me one thing. The last thing they want to do is go back to being strategic reserve. I think that is one thing we all agree on. We invested too much in time and in blood to let that go back. But what's the direction' Denny Reimer, Roger Shultz and Ron Helmly have done a study for us and will be reporting to the Secretary and I next week and it's our intent to lead this debate. But, I think that is something that we are all used to just a bit.
Now we are working on building an affordable modernization strategy that allows us to retain the decisive advantage over any enemy we face. We are working to build a versatile mix, of tailorable and networked organizations that are operating on a rotational cycle. I will tell you, we are spoiled with the network. What I saw at the Joint Readiness Training Center when I saw 3rd Brigade 82nd, going through our first full spectrum rotation against the hybrid threat last Saturday, what I saw and what the commanders told me is there are no fiber-optics when you jump in. They were back to analog, and so this network that we have been working to deploy for so long we need to bring to fruition here in the next several years. The last thing is that we have to continue to refine our war-fighting type.
Finally, we have to continue to build resilience and there are a couple of programs out there that are going to benefit the Army over the long haul. First, is Comprehensive Soldier Fitness. Over 830,000 Soldiers, family member, and civilians have taken an online resilience assessment; basically, to understand where they stand in the five key dimensions of fitness; physical, emotional, social, spiritual and family. I don't know of any other behavioral health survey that has that many people participating in it. We are building national based trainers as rapidly as we can, but that's something that is with us for the long haul. It is designed to give Soldiers, family members, and civilians the skills they need to cope with the challenges that we are throwing at them.
And the other key program is the Health Promotion Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention. It is frustrating to all of us that we have not been able to stem the tide of suicide as much effort as we have needed to put at it. It is clearly a long-term problem, but there are things we can do to help ourselves and there included in that program. And we look to make progress on that as we go forward.
Bottom line, it is already a magnificently resilient Army that has accomplished everything the country has asked it to do in the last decade. Unfortunately, there is the second decade. Both at war in the 21st Century that we are preparing this Army to do. I couldn't be prouder of the men and women of the Army and all of our Armed Forces for what that have done to support this country and could not have done it without the support of Congress and the American people.
Thank you all very much and it was great spending time with you this morning.
Ladies and gentlemen, my boss and partner, John McHugh.