By Mrs. Elizabeth Behring (AMC)January 5, 2016
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. (Jan. 5, 2016) -- As the Army force shrinks to its lowest levels since World War II, the service's top manpower leader said it's also transitioning to a higher quality and more innovative team.
"If you are a Soldier today, you've got to get on the field and play your position," Army Deputy Chief of Staff G-1 Lt. Gen. James C. McConville said. "And you've got to go to the away games."
McConville, who addressed nearly 200 Soldiers and civilians at Army Materiel Command Headquarters, said 50,000 active-duty Soldiers and 100,000 in the entire force are considered non-deployable.
"We need resilient, mentally and physically-fit Soldiers of character who can become competent, committed, agile and adaptive leaders who can perform for these cohesive teams of trusted professionals and represent the diversity of America. Young people want to be on a team that does important stuff. They're the type of Soldiers we want in our Army," McConville said.
Army Research Institute social scientists have determined throughout the past decade that Soldiers, who are the most resilient, both mentally and physically, will do the best in combat.
This resiliency translates into readiness, which remains the number one priority, McConville said, even as the number of Soldiers dips toward 450,000 in the active component, 335,000 in the National Guard and 195,000 in the Army Reserve.
Of those remaining Soldiers, McConville said the onus is on them to be the best of the best.
"As we go forward, we'll be much more of an innovative total force. We're looking right now on how to bring in higher-quality troops," McConville said.
To ensure the caliber of incoming troops matches the level Army leadership wants to see, changes are in progress, from the initial recruitment of young civilians to the time they're sworn in at the Military Entrance Processing Station.
"We're going to start at the initial screening with the Occupational Physical Assessment Test.
"This is brand-new, and it's based on a scale. So, for example, if you want to go infantry, armor or artillery, you're going to have to score a certain level on each test. We're screening for physical fitness, and we're also trying to develop tests that determine who's resilient, who's mentally fit to do the job and who can actually do the job," McConville said.
And when Soldiers have finished their commitment, the Soldier For Life program continues to help them by ensuring they have the right tools to succeed outside the military. The program took the place of the Army Alumni and Career Program, or ACAP, in 2014.
McConville said 10 percent of enlisted Soldiers stay 20 years, versus 30 percent of officers who stay in until retirement. With Soldier for Life, troops have the opportunity to get involved with Fortune 500 companies and other agencies.
"Most folks are not going to be career Soldiers. We want them to serve, and we want them serve at least their first term, and then we want them to get ready to be go out there and become great civilians," McConville said.
"Right now, the Soldier for Life program is really focused on transitioning Soldiers. We owe folks the opportunity to have a good job when they leave the military," McConville said.