By Beth ReeceDecember 15, 2006
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 15, 2006) - The Army's top general said yesterday he wants to grow the active component and gain better access to the Army Reserve and National Guard, which together make up 55 percent of the total Army.
"As it currently stands, the Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the global war on terror and fulfill all other operational requirements without its components - active, Guard and Reserve - surging together," Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker told a Guard and Reserve Advisory Panel.
Active brigade combat teams are spending less than a year at home before redeploying. "At this pace, without recurrent access to the reserve components, through remobilization, we will break the active component," he said.
Because almost all reserve-component units have deployed in support of the war on terror and DoD policy requires that reserve-component forces have five years between deployments, the Army has come to rely on individual volunteers from the Army Reserve and National Guard - a fact that Schoomaker believes runs counter to the military's goal of forming and training cohesive units.
"Current policies restrict our ability to remobilize reserve-component units, and, in my view, the current policies are more restrictive than need be under the law and hamper our ability to remobilize the best trained, best led and best equipped units," he said.
The belief that we are closer to the end than the beginning of what the general called "the long war" may lead some to think the current demand for forces will soon lessen.
"However, the situation in the Middle East and rest of the world leads me to conclude we are on a dangerous path that dictates we must increase our strategic depth, increase readiness and reduce our strategic risk," Schoomaker said.
Without giving an exact number, the general said the Army could optimistically add another 6,000 to 7,000 Soldiers a year. This would take a significant amount of time and increase the equipment-investment strategy, he added.
The Army has undergone its biggest reorganization since World War II in the last five years, through modular conversion, rebalancing of the current structure and Army Force Generation.