Army Secretary: 2005 Brought Solid Accomplishment
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jan. 19, 2006 Army re-enlistments in 2005 were the highest they've been in five years, with more than 69,500 soldiers choosing to continue their service, the Secretary of the Army said here yesterday.
This surplus in retention made up for recruiting shortfalls the Army has faced, Francis J. Harvey said at a Pentagon news conference.
The U.S. Army is the most capable, best trained, best equipped and most experienced force the United States has fielded in more than a decade, and 2005 was a year of many significant achievements, Harvey said. Speculations that the Army is severely stretched or "broken" are incorrect, he added.
"To be sure, the Army is facing great challenges, but it is more accurate to describe the Army as a full-spectrum force with a portfolio of capabilities that are relevant to the 21st century," he said.
The Army recruited more than 73,000 soldiers in the last fiscal year and has met its recruiting objectives for the last seven months, Harvey said. The number of recruits who have signed an enlistment contract to date is almost 25 percent higher than it was at the same point a year earlier, he said. New authorizations provided by Congress for financial incentives will help that trend continue.
The unusual demands on the Army in 2005 proved the service's capability and versatility, Harvey said. When Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast, the Army was able to surge 50,000 soldiers to the area in little more than a week, he said. The Army also responded to the Southeast Asian tsunami and the earthquake in Pakistan, while still maintaining its role in the war on terror, he added.
The Army would not have been able to support all these operations without the National Guard and Reserve, he said.
"2005 reaffirmed that we are truly an 'Army of One,'" he said.
Under transformation initiatives, the Army stood up four new modular brigade combat teams and one Stryker brigade combat team in 2005, Harvey said. Seven existing brigades were transformed to the modular design in the past year, and 37 combat or support brigades have now either completed the transformation process or are well along in the process, he said.
In 2005, the Army continued to reverse its funding shortages of the 1990s, Harvey said. The Army's budget included $2.9 billion for the Future Combat Systems program, in which 18 of the critical technologies have a model or prototype fielded and tested in a relevant environment, he said. The budget also included $10 billion for other research and development, and $5 billion for the Army Modular Force Initiative, he said.
The Army also excelled at force protection, fielding more than 4,400 new up-armored Humvees and 16,000 add-on armor kits in Iraq and Afghanistan, Harvey said. Almost 700,000 sets of Interceptor body armor and more than 170,000 sets of additional protection for shoulder and upper-arm areas have been fielded since the beginning of the war, he added.
The political, military and economic progress being made in Iraq and Afghanistan is due in large part to the efforts of the U.S. Army, and 2006 will be another year of solid progress, Harvey said.
"This is clearly an Army that is highly trained and ready, playing a pivotal role in the global war on terrorism," he said.