By The Honorable Pete Geren, Acting Secretary of the ArmyMay 10, 2007
Acting Secretary of the U.S. Army Remarks (As Prepared):
AUSA Institute of Land Warfare Breakfast
General Sullivan, thank you very much for that warm introduction. I appreciate your leadership of this great organization, and the work that AUSA does everyday to support our Soldiers and Families.
General Officers, Army executives and civilian employees, our partners in industry, Soldiers, and other distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen.
It is an honor, for me to stand before you as the Acting Secretary of the Army. When I came to the Pentagon, now nearly six years ago, I came with no expectation I would have this opportunity, this privilege, to work for our Soldiers and their Families. I came back to Washington in 2001 to work for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld on a three year hitch - to work on his transformation initiatives for the Department of Defense.
I am honored to be a part of President Bush's team - a Commander-in-Chief committed to a strong defense, a Commander-in-Chief dedicated to our men and women in uniform --- I thank him for the opportunities he has given me to serve our and women in uniform over these years.
I joined DOD in August 2001 -- two weeks into the job came 9/11 -- after 9/11, every American wanted to do something to help out - I was thankful I had the opportunity to play a small part. I was in the Pentagon as our servicemen and women began to go to war. I was inspired by the patriotism and selfless service of our Soldiers and humbled by the unwavering support and sacrifice of their families. It is truly the honor of a life-time to have the opportunity to work for our Soldiers and their Families during this time.
I have had the privilege to work with some remarkable men and women, in and out of uniform.
Before I go further, I would like to acknowledge and thank two of them: Fran Harvey and Pete Schoomaker. Thank them for their service to our Army. They left behind a great legacy - an enduring legacy. They led the Army in one of its most challenging periods in its 232 year history - they served our nation well and I know I speak for all gathered here today when I congratulate them and thank them for their service. It is our job to sustain their momentum.
General Casey and I are working on seven initiatives to do that, and make course corrections where circumstances require. In broad terms, we seek to accelerate growth and readiness, continue modernization, improve leader development , enhance support to Soldiers and Families, complete the transition of the Reserve Component to an operational force and adapt our polices to better support an Army that is now expeditionary and at war. I will discuss several of these today.
Before I do that I would like to highlight upfront a matter of great concern to the Army, the impact on the Army of the delay of the FY07 Supplemental spending bill. The Army - like any large organization relies on steady and predictable funding to maintain the functions of the organization. The delay in receiving supplemental funding has caused serious negative impacts on Army operations and functions at home and around the world.
Our top priority is the 148,000 Soldiers in combat and we will deplete every available account to ensure that this delay will not impact our support to the troops in the field, but the rest of the Army suffers, including the readiness of our non-deployed units and quality of life for our Soldiers and Families.
We have been forced to initiate spending restrictions, including: freezing civilian hiring; slowing the purchase of repair parts and other supplies; deferring repair of equipment not required for next deployers, and canceling and restructuring service contracts.
Additionally the supplemental also includes the BRAC funding for 2007, already six months late.
The longer the supplemental is delayed the deeper the cuts must become to ensure we can sustain the war effort. Bottom-line ---- this is no way to run an Army at War. We need that bill right away.
Now, looking ahead: Recently, the General Casey and I were invited to appear before Senator Lieberman's Armed Services subcommittee to discuss the future of the Army. I would like to use his letter of invitation, the question he posed to us, to frame my remarks today.
Senator Lieberman asked us is, "the Army is properly sized, organized and equipped to respond to the most likely missions over the next two decades, while retaining adequate capability to respond to all contingencies along the spectrum of combat."
That question and our answers, in a variety of forms, should drive everything we do as your Army's leadership. It should drive our budget decisions, our acquisition and personnel decisions, and our policy decisions. This room is filled with men and women in and out of uniform, in and out of the Army, whose job it is work together to provide answers to that question-recognizing that the future we face is not static. Nor can the answers be static.
Let me begin to answer with an assumption, a foundational principle for your Army leadership: the years ahead will be years of Persistent Conflict. We must organize our programs and policies to reflect that reality. We must prepare the Total Force-active, Guard, and Reserve-as well as our Army families accordingly.
Beyond that, what does the future hold' How can we best prepare for it'
If history teaches us anything about predicting the next two decades, it teaches us to be humble. To take out an insurance policy in case you get it wrong - In the case of the Army, that insurance policy is strategic depth - something we need more of.
I have a public record in predicting the future; I was in the House of Representatives from 1989 to 1997 and served on the Armed Services Committee for much of that time. We looked into the future, and we got it wrong.
We experienced the euphoria when the Wall fell and when our Coalition forces triumphed in the First Gulf War.
Our failure was bi-partisan. I served in the House under Republican and Democratic majorities, with Armed Services Committee chairmen as philosophically diverse as Ron Dellums of California and Floyd Spence of South Carolina, during both Republican and Democratic administrations.
Although there were differences of opinions on the margins, as a Congress, Republican and Democratic, and as a nation, we embraced the drawdown of our military capability. We looked into the future and decided to cash the Peace dividend. Hope triumphed over experience.
As a Committee, as a Congress, and as a nation, we made some decisions that do not hold up well when judged with the benefit of 20/20 hindsight. To use the words of Pete Schoomaker "we dug holes in the yard we are still trying to fill."
Smart, hard-working and patriotic people did their best to predict the future, and planned accordingly, but the future surprised us nonetheless.
We drew down the active duty Army from 781,000 to 482,000 troops. We slashed our defense modernization budgets. The Reserve components -- National Guard, and Army Reserve became a full 55 percent of our total Army. Yet we failed to develop policies or make the investments in the reserve component commensurate with its new and expanded role. We said we were One Army, but we did not put adequate resources behind our rhetoric.
Our experience was not unique or even unusual, I am reminded that Donald Rumsfeld, in his confirmation hearing as Secretary of Defense, neither offered testimony nor was asked about Afghanistan. The same with Dick Cheney and Iraq. And Robert McNamara and Vietnam. And we were caught flat-footed by the North Korean attack on the South. On August 12 1941, four months before Pearl Harbor, the House of Representatives fell just one vote shy of ending the draft.
History teaches us humility - but we must try to answer the question the best we can and act on it. We have no choice.
It takes years to shape a 1.3 million-person organization of Soldiers and Army civilians. It takes decades to design, build, and deploy new weapons systems. Whatever we plan and do now, we will live with for a long time. What we choose not to do now, we will also live with for a long time. Our Abrams tanks, Bradley Fighting Vehicles, and our Black Hawk and Apache helicopters are the progeny of the 1960's and 70's -- older than most of the Soldiers operating them in combat today. Will they remain the workhorses of our force 20 years from now' Can we afford that'
What are the threats of the next two decades' Certainly counter-insurgency warfare, for which we organize the majority of our combat forces today. But the list of other threats is long -- near-peer competitors; a loose-nuke scenario; the proliferation of nuclear weaponry; chemical, biological, or nuclear attacks on the homeland or against our allies; increasing radicalism in regions of the world with a history of antagonism to the United States-to highlight a few.
How do we best plan for that type of uncertain future'
The best insurance for our myopia is a strong defense, as President Reagan reminded us. "Of the four wars in my lifetime, none came about because the U.S. was too strong."
For your Army to be prepared for whatever is out there, we must enhance our strategic depth beyond what it is today. We must build full spectrum readiness. We have a lot of work to do on that front.
Can we transform and modernize our Army and fight a war at the same time' Yes, we can-and we are. The demands of the war and the threats over the horizon give us no choice in the matter. And the demands of the war give us opportunities to make hard decisions about the future we would never make in peacetime.
Transformation of our Army to modularity, and to a Brigade-centric structure have better prepared us for the threats of this century and must proceed apace.
The needs of the present are great, but we cannot stop modernization. We cannot allow the undeniable demands of the present to rob the future. We cannot afford a modernization holiday.
The Future Combat Systems -- spinning into the force now and over the next two decades-will provide our Soldiers the training, technology, and tools to remain the world's preeminent land power. We must not use FCS as a bill payer for today's critical needs. The Soldier is the centerpiece of the FCS. We do not want to ever send our Soldiers into a "fair fight."
And the future is now; through "spin-outs" we are already providing early FCS capabilities into the current force: unmanned aerial vehicles, unattended ground sensors, unmanned ground vehicles and robots that are saving Soldiers lives -- TODAY.
The majority of our theater commanders' operational needs statements coming out of theater request the capabilities we are developing within FCS, proving it's relevance to the current fight.
We never want a fair fight, and with FCS, our Soldiers will have the ability to see first, understand first, and act first. FCS serves the present through spin-outs, but it is the future. We must keep it on track. The cuts under consideration by the Congress put the future of the program at risk.
We must grow the Army, and we are working to do that, adding 65,000 Soldiers to the active-duty force, 8,000 to the Guard, and 1,000 to the Reserve over the next five years. We must remain flexible to adjust the numbers and the growth rate as circumstances and our vision of the future require. At this moment, we are examining ways to accelerate that growth from five years to two.
Another priority is Security Cooperation: We also must build the capacity of our international partners and allies. We cannot face the challenges of the future alone. That is a top priority of President Bush and this administration.
Just as FDR invested in the "Arsenal of Democracy" to defeat the Axis powers during World War II, we must invest in our allies and build partnership capacity to share the burdens of the Global War on Terrorism - invest with partner nations who know the culture, language and geography of our enemies. They are a force-multiplier and we must invest in them.
How do we prepare for the next two decades'
One of my sisters-in-law has a sign in her kitchen that says "The future is uncertain, eat your desert first". For your Army, it would read "The future is uncertain, build full spectrum readiness and strategic depth". We cannot answer Senator Lieberman's question with certainty - we must be prepared for a future of surprises and that is how we do it.
Although there is much about the next two decades we cannot predict, let me close with a few facts-undeniable certainties.
FIRST, the All Volunteer Force is a national treasure. It is a treasure that must be protected. We must be careful-it can be squandered.
With over half of our Soldiers married, the health of the All Volunteer Force depends upon the health of Soldiers' families. We must provide those families a quality of life commensurate with the quality of their service and reflective of their sacrifices for our nation. Education, health care, and housing - they deserve our best. It is the right thing to do. But, further, our ability to recruit and retain our Soldiers depends on the health of those families. And our readiness requires it; the future of the All Volunteer Force demands it.
We have asked much of the Army family and with 15 month deployments we are asking even more - and we must do more for them.
And we must care for those who will have borne the battle - and their Families. President Lincoln committed our nation to that compact 150 years ago and every generation must re-affirm our commitment with deeds and not words.
We pledge never to leave a fallen Comrade - that means on the battlefield, in the hospital, in the outpatient clinic ---- for as long as that comrade needs a helping hand. That is a core Army value and we will live it.
President Bush has charged the Department of Defense, and his entire Administration to fulfill that commitment - and we will.
SECOND, the Reserve Component-the Guard and Reserve together-are no longer a strategic reserve. They are a part of the operational force. We are one Army. We must organize, train and equip the Guard and Reserve so that we can train and fight as one Army.
They must be ready to meet the needs of our Governors and our Combatant Commanders.
Policies and budgets must reflect that reality.
THIRD, we have nearly 148,000 Soldiers in combat today, soon to be over 152,000. We must plan for the future but can never take our eye off that ball. We owe those Soldiers and their families everything we can do to help them succeed in the mission they are shouldering for our nation. They are the best led, best trained, best equipped force we have ever put in the field. They are the best-they deserve our best.
We are a busy Army, an Army under great stress, fighting a war, implementing BRAC, modernizing business practices, transforming to a modular brigade-based organization, building a campaign-quality expeditionary Army, and making needed investments in the present and the future readiness.
We are asking much of our Soldiers and their Families. Working with many of you here today, we will sustain the momentum of the last five years - build on those successes. We will work together to take care of Soldiers and their Families. We have a great team - Army Strong. I look forward to working with you in our service to our Army and the nation.
Thank you -- Army Strong