SMA testifies before Senate subcommittee on personnel
April 13, 2011
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, April 13, 2011) -- Maintaining a combat edge while reconstituting the force and building resilience in Soldiers and their families continues to be the Army's top priorities, said Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler III, Wednesday.
Speaking at an abbreviated session of the Senate Armed Services personnel subcommittee, Chandler added that the Army "had made significant progress in restoring balance to our four imperatives to sustain, prepare, reset and transform."
"Increasing dwell time between deployments is the single most important component of restoring balance," he said. "Most of our active-duty Soldiers deploying in October of 2011 have the expectation that after one year of deployment, they will be able to spend two years at home. Most of our Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers will be home for four years before possibly deploying again.
Committee Chairman Sen. James H. Webb of Virginia commented that it was comforting to hear about the changes in dwell time, citing that when he first came to the Senate in 2007, he'd been told by the Army chief of staff that deployments were moving up to 15 months with 12 months at home.
"Our focus continues to be improving predictability and to enhance support for our wounded, families of our fallen, victims of sexual assault and those with behavioral health issues," Chandler said. "Our Soldiers have also begun chain-teaching to prepare for the repeal of 'Don't Ask and Don't Tell' with a completion date of mid-to-late August."
Chandler said diversity in the Army was a key to the success of Soldiers throughout the world and the Army needs men and women of all backgrounds in order to successfully interact with different cultural groups.
He also said the Army had reviewed assignment policies and regulations to ensure they were relevant and met the needs of current conditions and emerging requirements. All Soldiers, regardless of gender, are offered the opportunity to reach their highest potential, he added.
Webb voiced concern over what the services were doing to help non-career military members move from the service into civilian life. He said many people assume that because the country has an all-volunteer force that translates to an all-career force. According to the senator's data, 75 percent of first-term Soldiers leave the service on or before the end of their enlistment.
Chandler said the Army Career and Alumni Program assists Soldiers in making the transition to civilian life by providing resume-building and job interview experience, while introducing veterans to a variety of alternative options, including continuance of service with the government.
He added that Gen. Peter W. Chiarelli, the Army's vice chief, had directed a comprehensive review of the Army Career and Alumni Program to ensure the service is meeting the needs of Soldiers opting out.
Also providing testimony was Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West, Sgt. Maj. of the Marine Corps Carlton W. Kent and Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy.