Army 'Enormously Capable,' Defense Secretary Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2006 The Army is making revolutionary changes in its transformation process and is becoming a more capable and effective force, not a strained institution in danger of breaking, as recent criticism has suggested, Secretary of Defense Donald H. Rumsfeld said here today.
Two reports released today that characterize the Army as extremely strained and in danger of facing recruiting crises misunderstand the situation and do not take into account the accomplishments of the past five years, Rumsfeld said.
"The world saw the United States military go halfway around the world and in a matter of weeks throw the al Qaeda and Taliban out of Afghanistan, in a landlocked country thousands and thousands of miles away," he said. "They saw what the United States military did in Iraq, and the message from that is not that this armed force is broken, but that this armed force is enormously capable."
People need to understand that the U.S. is at war and the role of the military is therefore different from what it is in peacetime, Rumsfeld said. The Army is under greater demand, he said, but it has performed well and proven its capability.
"It is a force that has been deployed, functioned effectively and is, as I say, battle-hardened," he said.
Work still needs to be done in rebalancing the active, National Guard and Reserve components of the Army, but solid progress is being made, Rumsfeld said. At the end of the transformation process, 75 percent of the Army will always be ready to respond to a crisis, he said.
Retention is high, and the Army has met its recruiting goals for the past seven months, Rumsfeld said. More recruiters and higher financial incentives have been added to ensure the numbers stay up, he said.
The Army is also transferring many institutional jobs from military to civilian to increase the warfighting capability of the force, Rumsfeld said. The effectiveness of this transition and the entire transformation process will need to be analyzed before any decisions about total Army end strength can be made, he said.
The Army is already starting to draw down its forces in Iraq as the conditions permit, Rumsfeld said. The percentage of National Guard and Reserve forces deployed has gone down and Iraqi security forces are becoming more effective, he said.
"We're transferring bases, we're transferring real estate, we're transferring responsibilities, and we're training people to handle the combat support and the combat-service support," he said.
As always, the reduction of U.S. forces in Iraq will be determined by conditions on the ground and not by a perceived need to reduce strain on the Army, Rumsfeld said.