Secretary of the Army Pete Geren

UTC HASC Hearing

February 28, 2008


It is an honor for General Casey and me to appear before you to discuss our Nation's Army - an Army built by the partnership between the Army, led by our Commander in Chief and the Congress - a partnership older than our Constitution and affirmed in it.

The President's budget for 2009 is before the Congress - $141 billion for the Army. As is always the case, The Army budget is mostly about people and operations and maintenance to support our people -- personnel, operations and maintenance make up 2/3rds of the Army budget. As Creighton Abrams reminded us often: "People are not in the Army - they are the Army." And our budget reflects that reality.

Today - we are an Army long at war - in our seventh year in Afghanistan. And in March, we will be 5 years in Iraq.

The third longest war in American history, behind the Revolutionary War and the Vietnam War. The longest war we have ever fought with an All Volunteer Force.

Our Army is stretched by the demands of this long war - but it is an extraordinary Army. It is the best led, best trained and best equipped Army our Nation has ever put in the field. With Army Families standing with their Soldiers as they serve and as they re-enlist. An Army of Volunteers - volunteer Soldiers - volunteer Families.

We currently have 250,000 Soldiers deployed to 80 countries around the world, with over 140,000 deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Our 140,000 in harm's way are our top priority and we will never take our eye off that ball. This budget and the supplementals ensure that our Soldiers have what they need - when they need it.

And today, and over the last 6 years, our Reserve Component, Guard and Reserves, continues to shoulder a heavy load for our Nation. Since 9/11, we have activated 184K Reservists and 268K National Guard Soldiers in support of GWOT. And they have answered the call for Katrina and Rita, for forest and brush fires and other domestic crises, and are in support of operations on our borders.

We are one Army - the AC cannot go to war without the National Guard and Reserves. A challenge before us is to continue the transformation of the Reserve Component to an operational reserve - match the organizing, training, and equipping with the reality of the role of today's Guard and Reserves. This budget continues the steady investment in new equipment in our Reserve Component.

Although we will not complete the recapitalization of the National Guard until 2015 - we are not where we need to be, but - it is important to acknowledge the progress that has been made. Looking at a few pacer items:

In 2001, the Guard had 290 FMTV trucks. Today, 9,280. SINCGARS radios: 2001 - 41,000, today, 82,000. M-4 rifles: 2001 - 5,800, today 123,006. Night-vision goggles: 2001 - 53,000, today 112,000.

This budget includes $5.6 billion for Guard equipping and $1.4 billion for the Reserve. Over the next 24 months $17 billion of new equipment, 400,000 pieces of new equipment will flow to the Guard. We are making progress. In the meantime, state compacts and Active Duty support ensure that our governors have the resources they need.

And the strength of our Army - Active, Guard and Reserves - comes from the strength of Army Families. Our Army Families are standing with their Soldier loved ones, but this long war is taking a toll. We owe our Army Families a quality of life equal to their service.

Over half of our Soldiers are married, with over 700,000 children in Army Families. Nearly half, 48%, of Soldiers who deploy have children two years of age and younger. When a married Soldier deploys, he or she leaves behind a single-parent household and all the challenges of that family dynamic.

When a single parent deploys, he or she leaves a child in the care of others.

In the 2009 budget, we are doubling funding for Family programs. Adding 26 new Child Development Centers to the 35 the Congress funded for 2008. Over the past year, with your strong support, we have expanded the availability of and reduced the cost of child care for Army Families.

We have asked much of the volunteer network of spouses that has carried the burden of Family support programs, since 9/11 a burden that grows heavier with each successive deployment. They need help. Our 2008 and this 2009 year budget provides much needed support. We are hiring over 1,000 Family Readiness Support Assistants and nearly 500 additional Army Community Service staff to provide more full-time support to our spouse volunteers and Army Families.

And, we are fielding 35 new Soldier Family Assistance Centers at major installations to improve the delivery of Family programs. To meet the needs of geographically displaced Families, a great challenge with the Guard and Reserves, we are fielding the Army Integrated Family Support Network, an internet portal to bring together Army, other government, public and private Family support programs into one user-friendly site. The Yellow Ribbon Program you authorized will provide much needed support.

In the late 90's, Congress launched the privatized housing initiative for our military. An initiative that has replaced Army "housing" with Army "homes," that has built neighborhoods and created vibrant on-post communities. This budget builds on the great success of your initiative. Our budget for Army "homes," new and refurbished, is $1.395 billion for 2009.

For single Soldiers, we are modernizing existing barracks and building new ones. Today, 75% of our barracks meet our new 1-plus-1 standard. Over 2009 - 2015, with your support, we will reach our target of 147,700 Soldiers in modernized barracks.

This budget continues the programs that the Department of Defense, the VA, the Congress and the Army have made in meeting the needs of Wounded, Ill and Injured Soldiers.

In your 08 Authorization Bill you gave us additional authorities to hire needed medical personnel, provide better health care to our wounded, ill and injured and meet the needs of Family members who are supporting their loved ones.

You gave us new authorities, resources and the flexibility to allow Soldiers and Army civilians to build and adapt a new outpatient care system to meet the ever-changing challenges of taking care of those who have borne the battle.

We have stood up 35 Warrior Transition Units to serve our Wounded, ill and injured Soldiers with each Soldier supported by a triad of care.

This budget continues to advance those initiatives - continues to address personnel shortages, improve facilities, and work to accomplish the seamless transition from DoD to VA for our Soldiers returning to private life.

And we will continue to grow our knowledge and improve the care and treatment of the invisible wounds of this war, PTSD and TBI, and better meet the needs of Soldiers who suffer these wounds and better support their Families. The generous support of Congress last year has provided us resources to make great progress on this front. And we have much to do.

In 2008 and 2009, we will continue to transform Army contracting, pushing ahead with the reforms offered by the Gansler Commission and our contracting task force.

In this budget, we look to the future. We never want to send our Soldiers into a fair fight. This budget continues our investment in the programs of tomorrow: our highest modernization priority, FCS, which will shape the future of our Army, is spinning out technologies into today's fight. The Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter, the UAVs, the Light Utility Helicopter and the Joint Cargo Aircraft are part of that future - thank you for your past support of the critical programs that will ensure that we can say tomorrow what we say today - that we are the best equipped Army in the world.

And this budget makes a major step forward in insuring the long-term strength and health of our Army by moving the cost of 43,000 active-duty Soldiers from supplemental funding to the base.

And we have accelerated the 64,000 growth in the active-duty from 2012 to 2010, with a commitment that we will maintain recruit quality at least at 2006 levels.

We are a Nation long at war facing an era of persistent conflict. Our Soldiers and Families are stretched - we are an Army out of balance. And we are consuming our readiness as fast as we build it. But our Army remains strong - stretched, out of balance, but resilient. Those who seek parallels with the "hollow" Army of the late 70's will not find it. 170,000 young men and women proudly join our Army every year. 120,000 proudly re-enlist every year. Volunteer Soldiers - Volunteer Families. Proud of who they are and what they do.

We are inspired by their service and humbled by their sacrifice.

Mr. Chairman, members of this committee, thank you for your support of our Soldiers and their Families - for the resources and authorities you provide every year. And for traveling across our country and around the globe to meet with Soldiers in the hospital, in the garrisons and in the 80 countries where they are on point for our safety and freedom.

Thank you for your partnership in building and sustaining our Nation's Army.