February 2008 - Opening Remarks Senate Armed Services Committee
March 7, 2008
Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Senator Inhofe and member of the committee.
The chairman mentioned the fact that the secretary and I were here in November. And, really, with the exception of some of the returning surge forces, not much has changed in the last 90 days.
That said, I'd like to re-emphasize some of the themes that the secretary and I highlighted, but do it in the context of the fiscal year '09 budget that we're presenting today.
As has been said, our country is in our seventh year of war, and our Army remains fully engaged on all fronts, both abroad and at home.
I testified in November that I believed the next decade would be ones of persistent conflict, a period that I described as a period of protracted confrontation among state, non-state and individual actors who are increasingly willing to use violence to achieve their political and ideological objectives.
I also described to you some of the global trends that I think will exacerbate and prolong this period: the double-edged swords of globalization and technology, doubling populations in developing countries, competition for resources, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and safe havens in ungoverned spaces.
I said that our Army must be versatile enough to adapt rapidly to the unexpected circumstances that will result, and that we are building an agile, campaign-capable expeditionary force that we need for this uncertain future.
I also said that the cumulative effects of the last six- plus years at war have left our Army out of balance, consumed by the current fight and unable to do the things we know we need to do to properly sustain our all-volunteer force and restore our flexibility for an uncertain future.
Now, Mr. Chairman, I wrestled hard to find the right words to describe the state of the Army, because, as the secretary said, it remains a hugely resilient, professional and combat-seasoned force. But I think we all acknowledge that we are not where we need to be.
I said that we have a plan that will, with your help, restore balance to our force, and that we've identified four imperatives that we must accomplish to put ourselves back in balance: sustain, prepare, reset and transform. Let me just say a few words about each.
First and foremost, we must sustain our soldiers, families and Army civilians. They are the heart and soul of this Army, must be sustained in a way that recognizes their quality of service.
The secretary mentioned some of the initiatives we've taken. They will continue, with your support.
Second, prepare. We need to continue to prepare our forces for success in the current conflicts. We cannot flinch from our commitment to provide them the training, the equipment and the resources to give them a decisive advantage over any enemy that they face.
Third, reset. The harsh environments that we're operating in, and the frequent deployments, are taking their toll on our soldiers and their equipment. Reset is about returning our soldiers and our equipment to appropriate levels of readiness for future deployments and contingencies.
In fiscal year '07, you provided us the resources to begin properly resetting the force, and as a result, we've made significant strides in restoring systems and capabilities to the force.
In my mind, resources for reset are the difference between a hollow force and a versatile force for the future.
Lastly, transform. Even as we work ourselves -- work to put ourselves back in balance, we must continue to transform our Army into the agile, campaign-capable expeditionary force that can meet the security needs of the nation in the 21st century.
For us, transformation is a holistic effort to adapt how we train, modernize, develop leaders, station forces, and support our soldiers, families and civilians.
To guide our transformation, we are releasing this week a new version of our capstone doctrine.
Here's a copy of it, Mr. Chairman. You will be getting one of these from me.
This is the first revision of our capstone doctrine since 2001. It describes how we see the future security environment and provides a framework for Army forces to operate and succeed in that environment.
It has five significant elements.
First, it describes the complex and multi-dimensional operational environment in the 21st century where we believe we will increasingly operate and fight among the people.
Second, the manual elevates stability operations to the level of offense and defense, and describes an operational concept for full- spectrum operations where Army forces simultaneously apply offense, defense and stability operations to seize the initiative and to achieve decisive results.
Third, it emphasizes a commander's role in battle command and describes an intellectual process for developing solutions to complex challenges our forces will face.
Fourth, it emphasizes the importance of information superiority in achieving success in modern conflict.
And, fifth, it recognizes that our soldiers remain the centerpiece of our formations and our ultimate asymmetric advantage.
Mr. Chairman, we believe that this doctrine will provide us a great start point from which to build on the experience of the past seven years and to shape our Army for the future.
So that's our plan: sustain, prepare, reset and transform.
The last two years, you've given us the funding to begin the process of putting the Army back in balance. This budget before you, the war on terror supplemental that will accompany it, and the balance of the fiscal year '08 war on terror supplemental will allow this process to continue.
We appreciate your support. And I'd like to give you a few examples about how we've worked hard to put the resources you've given us to good use.
First, we've made great strides in the Army Medical Action Plan to provide better care for our wounded soldiers. Second, we've initiated an Army Soldier Family Action Plan to bring life to our Army-family covenant to improve the quality of life for soldiers and families.
Next, we are over 60 percent complete in the modular conversion of our units. This is the largest organizational transformation of the Army since World War II.
We're also over 60 percent complete with our conversion of 120,000 soldiers from skills that were needed in the Cold War to ones we need for the 21st century.
We've reset over 120,000 pieces of equipment. We've privatized more than 4,000 homes, bringing the total of privately managed homes to over 80,000. And the depots in our Army Materiel Command have been recognized by commercial industry for efficiency 12 times.
There's a Shingo award that industry gives for efficiency, and our depots have won 12 of those in the last year.
So, as you can see, with your help, we're not sitting still, and we're moving out to give the nation the Army it needs for the 21st century.
Now, let me just close with a thought -- with some thoughts on quality.
I was in Alaska right before Christmas, and I was asked to present a Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Greg Williams. Sergeant Williams was on a Stryker patrol in Baghdad in October of 2006. His patrol came under attack from three directions and with a four explosively formed penetrator array. Those are those very lethal armor-penetrating IEDs.
He was knocked out. He awoke to find his Stryker on fire, to find his legs on fire, his eardrum burst.
He put out his flames, and his first reaction was to grab the aid bag and start treating his fellow soldiers under fire.
He realized that the lieutenant was still on the burning vehicle. He went back in the burning vehicle and dragged the lieutenant to safety.
Continuing to fire at the enemy, he realized that no one was manning the 50-caliber machine gun on top of the Stryker. He returned to the burning vehicle a third -- a second time, a vehicle that still contained over 30 pounds of explosives and detonating cord.
He got on the 50-caliber, brought the weapon to bear on the enemy and broke the ambush, and the squad was extracted.
That's the kind of men and women that we have in your armed forces today. And you can be extremely proud of the job they're doing all around the world.
That said, it will require more than the courage and valor of our soldiers to ensure that our Army can continue to protect this country in an era of persistent conflict. It will require recognition by national leaders like yourselves of the threats and challenges that America faces in the years ahead.
It will also require full, timely and predictable funding to ensure that our armed forces are prepared to defeat those threats and to preserve our way of life.
Thank you very much.