Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody, to the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Readiness, April 9, 2008:

Chairman Skelton, Congressman Hunter, I am honored to represent the Nation's one million Soldiers - nearly 600,000 of whom are serving on active duty and over 250,000 of whom are deployed worldwide, 176,000 in the combat zone - as I testify on issues critical to the readiness of the United States Army. I have submitted a detailed written statement for the record, but I would like to briefly emphasize a few points here today.

One of the qualities that we cherish as a values-based and capabilities-based Army is the ability to engage in frank, candid and professional assessments of our abilities and our levels of preparedness. With this quality comes the duty to provide not only an honest assessment of our strengths and weaknesses, but also, recommendations to remedy those areas that we believe need improvement.

We must be self-critical if we are to ensure that our Soldiers are always more than ready to meet the challenges of an adaptive, patient, prolific and very dangerous enemy.

It has been almost nine years since I sat before this committee as the returning deputy commanding general of Task Force Hawk to testify on the state of Army readiness.

At that time, I told the committee that we were starting to feel the results of years of declining resources; and that while the Armed Forces budget and authorizations continued to shrink, our mission set in the Army had steadily expanded. When asked directly, I stated then that I believed we were a 10-division Army attempting to execute a 14-division mission. I stand by that statement.

Just two years later, 9-11 would bring terrorism to our shores, and our necessary military response would accelerate us down the path towards decreased strategic readiness that we see today.

We can no longer allow hope to trump what history and experience have taught us: when we size and resource our force for the stable world we all hope for and not the full spectrum dangers before us, it is the American Soldier who ultimately pays the price.

History has once again given us the opportunity to get it right. If we take the long-term view, if we fully appreciate and act on the reality that our investments in the Army of tomorrow and the readiness of the current force are dependent upon each other and inextricably linked, then we can change course.

I believe that the Army leadership, with the help of the President, Department of Defense and Congress, has taken the long-term view and maximized the momentum of a "force in motion" to transform this Army while at war.

We have taken this window of opportunity, increased resources, and national attention to invest in our Soldiers and their Families, grow the Army, reset and modernize our equipment, rebalance and modularize our formations, change our doctrine and improve our care of the force, across the total force.

Because of this, we are faced with a dichotomy of readiness. We are the most battle-hardened, best equipped, best led and best trained force for the counter-insurgency fight that we now face. But, we are also unprepared for the full spectrum fight and lack the strategic depth that has been our traditional fallback for the uncertainties of this world.

We are a stressed force, but not hollow. We are a better force, but our focus has been narrowed.

Overall, I believe that the strength of our Soldiers and their Families are truly what allow me to say, unequivocally: This Army is not broken.

We asked our Soldiers to sprint, and they did. We asked them to run a marathon, and they have. That marathon has become an enduring relay and our Soldiers continue to run, and at the double time. Does this exhaust the body and mind of those in the race, and those who are ever present on the sidelines, cheering their every step' Yes. Has it broken the will of the Soldier' No. Our Soldiers do not quit. They stand on a tradition of victory for this country, and don't just want to run the race, they want to win it.

We can not take their resiliency for granted. It will require more than the courage and valor of our Soldiers to ensure our Army can continue to fight and win the nation's wars in an era of persistent conflict.

We must invest in the future to ensure our Soldiers always have technical and tactical overmatch against any enemy. We need an open and honest discussion on the size of our force versus the demands of the contemporary operating environment that we now face. We must continue the transformation of the Reserve Component to an operational force. And above all, we must retain the quality All Volunteer Army that we have. For in the end, the recruitment and retention of our highly motivated and capable All Volunteer Force, is the center of gravity for this Nation and all that we stand for.

To do this, we will need full and timely funding that takes the long-term view of readiness. We must place a higher value in this country on what it means to serve, and have a greater appreciation for those who hear the call to duty, and knowing the dangers, are brave enough to answer. And we will need the continued support of the American people, whose safety and security are preserved by those courageous few.

The Congress has provided tremendous support to our Army these past six years, and we are grateful for all you have provided. With the continued support from the President, Secretary of Defense, and Congress, the Army will restore balance, build the readiness necessary in an era of persistent conflict, and remain the Strength of the Nation.

Thank you and I look forward to your questions.

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