Schoomaker Says Army Transformation on Track
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Jul. 21, 2004 --Lessons learned during the war on terror are helping guide the Army's transformation into a force that's agile and flexible enough to confront the threats facing the United States, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker told Congress today.
Schoomaker testified before the House Armed Services Committee that the Army's efforts to reorganize and re-equip itself to deal with terrorism and other current threats while modernizing for the future are on track and advancing on schedule.
"The Army has to be relevant to our nation's needs," Schoomaker said. "We have to have the capability to deal with the threats that face this nation."
Unlike during the Cold War, when the Schoomaker said the Army "was focused on an enemy we knew a great deal about," today it faces "a cloud of ambiguity." This range of threats isn't new, he said, showing its first signs as early as the 1972 Munich Olympics, "and it is not going way" anytime soon.
The Army's transformation which includes sweeping changes in the way the Army trains and fights to confront this threat and others in the future is progressing in "a deliberate, controlled fashion" that ensures no capabilities are lost as new ones are introduced, he said.
Schoomaker stressed that this transformation isn't simply about new equipment, vehicles, doctrine, tactics or training. Rather, it represents a total overhaul in the way the Army trains and fights an effort he said "will go on to infinity" as the service adapts to changing circumstances and threats.
To channel its current efforts, Schoomaker said the Army is concentrating on 17 "focus areas" to ensure it can respond to "this different world we have today."
These focus areas include developing soldiers with "a warrior ethos" and creating modular brigade-level units capable of responding "within hours, days and weeks," he said. They also includes rebalancing the force to maximize the mix between the active and reserve components, stabilizing units so they're more cohesive and ensuring that they have the best combat systems possible for whatever missions they're called to fulfill.
"We need to train and equip our soldiers and grow leaders for the military and the nation," Schoomaker said, while providing "relevant, ready land combat power."
Schoomaker said these initiatives and other aspects of the Army's transformation will give soldiers the edge as they wage the war on terror and face whatever uncertainties may confront them in the future.
"We never want a soldier to go into an even fight," Schoomaker said. "We always want it to be to their advantage."