Chairman Rogers, Congressman Lewis, Congressman Dicks, members of the committee, it's great to be here with you today.

For the last four years, you've heard me say that the Army was out of balance, that we were so weighed down by our current demands in Iraq and Afghanistan that we couldn't do the things that we knew we needed to do to sustain this volunteer force and to prepare ourselves to do other things. Today, thanks in large measure to the support from this Committee, I can tell you that we've made great progress toward the goals that we set for ourselves in 2007 and, as an Army, we're starting to breathe again.

We're emerging from a decade of war and transformation with a well-equipped combat-seasoned total force that while stretched by the demands and lingering effects of a decade at war -- is able to begin preparing for the challenges of the second decade of the 21st Century.

Let me just quickly update you on the progress that's been made over the last several years. First of all, we've completed both the permanent end strength increase that was directed by President Bush in 2007 and the temporary end strength increase of 22,000 that was authorized by Secretary Gates in 2009. This allowed us to meet the plus-up in Afghanistan before we were out of Iraq, without having to increase deploy time for our Soldiers.

Second, this growth -- plus the drawdown in Iraq -- enabled us to significantly improve dwell -- the time the Soldiers spend at home between deployments. And this improving dwell was a critical component to sustaining this all-volunteer force in a period of protracted conflict. For the better part of five years, we were returning Soldiers to combat with just about a year at home. And, we recognized that this wasn't sustainable and we've been working to bring dwell to two years at home for the active force as quickly as possible.

I can tell you that beginning the first of October this year, Soldiers deploying after that time will deploy with an expectation of two years at home if they are in the Active force and four years at home if they are in the Guard and Reserve. And this is a critical milestone. And, it was a place that we had to get to because all of our studies tell us that it takes 24 to 36 months to recover from a one-year combat deployment. It just does. And we've owed our Soldiers that time. We will continue to work toward our overall long-term goal of three years at home between deployments.

Third, this year we will also largely complete the largest organizational transformation of the Army since World War II. We'll finish the modular conversion of all but a couple of our over 300 brigades. And we'll finish rebalancing Soldiers away from Cold War skills to skills more relevant and necessary today -- that's about 150,000 to 160,000 Soldiers changing jobs. Taken together, today, we have a fundamentally different Army than we had on September 11, 2001. It was a good Army then, but today we are a much more versatile and experienced force.

Fourth, to enhance this versatility, we've developed a fundamentally different way of building readiness and providing trained and ready forces to combatant commanders. We call it the Army Force Generation Model. It's an output-based readiness model that fully integrates the Guard and Reserve, that brings the kind of predictability we need to sustain an all-volunteer force, and that allows us to build the readiness we need to both meet current demands and hedge against unexpected contingencies.

ARFORGEN is also a more effective and efficient way of building the readiness we need when we need it. So, after a decade of very hard work, we have a force that's the right size, that's organized into modular, versatile formations that's operating on a rotational cycle, and that is beginning to have sufficient time at home to begin training for the full range of missions and to recover from war. This would not have been possible without your support and the support of the American people. So thank you.

Now, this fiscal year '12 budget that we're presenting today marks a key transition point when we begin shifting our focus from restoring balance to sustaining the balance that we together have built so painstakingly and restored to this force. Sustaining that balance over the next several years will be critical because this war is not over.

Page last updated Mon March 21st, 2011 at 15:25