By Mr. Jd Leipold (ARNEWS)September 8, 2006
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 8, 2006) - As the 1941 "day of infamy" sneak attack on Pearl Harbor launched America into a world war against nations, the horrific attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon launched a war against nation-less terrorists. This war required the Army to take a different approach to organizing, training and fighting.
According to Command Sgt. Maj. William J. Gainey, enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the events of 9/11 transformed the Army and its sister services.
"It made us more ready than ever before," he said. "Our young men and women of all the services are better trained and have more combat experience than anyone in the last two generations."
Today's Soldiers don't train for possible deployment to an unknown destination; they train for the realities of imminent combat in Iraq or Afghanistan. They train on such battlefield operations as counter-insurgency tactics at full spectrum training facilities like the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Ca., and the Joint Multinational Training Center in Grafenwoehr, Germany.
New recruits have also gone from three to 21 days of field training and begin weapons immersion on day three of basic training. They're taught IED detection skills, participate in convoy live-fire exercises and have the most up-to-date equipment.
Gen. William Wallace, commander of the U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command, pointed out, "We now recognize that with the pace the operational Army is going today, we need to produce new Soldiers who on arrival at their first units are capable of making immediate contributions because they're being asked to."
Structurally, the Army has reset 37 brigade combat teams to the modular configuration. And Army Force Generation is being implemented across the active and reserve Army to give Soldiers and their families a timetable for when they can expect to deploy. Active Army units will deploy every three years.
"In the AR we're developing a five-year cycle which tells Soldiers that they can expect and predict to have four years inactive service before being deployed for up to a year, then come back for another four years of reset and training," said Army Reserve Chief Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz.
Meanwhile the reserve component continues changing from a strategic to an operational force. In June, for example, the Pennsylvania National Guard's 56th Combat Stryker Brigade - one of seven elite rapid-mobilization brigades in the Army and the only National Guard unit selected for the program - became the first National Guard unit to welcome the Stryker to its fleet.
"The experience of this brigade from concept development to material fielding is not only serving as a catalyst to lead change across the Army National Guard here in Pennsylvania, but across the entire force," said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody at the rollout ceremony.
The Army has invested heavily to provide Soldiers the best equipment available. It's gone from 350 to 13,000 Level 1 Up-Armored HMMWVS, and from 0 to 919,425 sets of Interceptor Body Armor. Just last month, the Army completed the In-Process Preliminary Design Review of its principal modernization effort, the Future Combat Systems program.
According to FCS Program Manager Maj. Gen. Charles Cartwright, "Within a year, FCS capabilities will begin to be integrated into the current force through our Evaluation Brigade Combat team. The EBCT will provide a structure that will allow us to test, validate and then deliver to our Soldiers new capabilities that are specifically designed to address 21st century threats."
New vehicles like the Stryker give Soldiers firepower, battlefield mobility and versatility, while such systems as Manned Ground Vehicles, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and Unmanned Ground Vehicles help protect Soldiers' lives.
The Army also recognizes it's most valuable asset is Soldiers. Some of the more prominent programs are pre and post deployment health screening, the U.S. Central Command's rest and recuperation leave program, deployment cycle support and the Army Wounded Warrior Program, which has assisted more than 1,000 severely wounded Soldiers as they transition back to military service or into the civilian community.