Rumsfeld Says Better Management Needed for Force
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 4, 2004 Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld highlighted efforts being made to transform the military even as the war on terror continues.
Rumsfeld testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee today. He told the senators that the military force is stressed now, but that it is more a management problem than a force size problem.
The secretary said one effect of the war on terror is a significant increase in operational tempo and an increased demand on the force. "To manage the demand on the force, we first must be clear about what the problem really is, so we can work together to fashion appropriate solutions," he said.
Operations in Iraq are causing a "spike" in the number of forces deployed, Rumsfeld noted. There are now 115,000 U.S. service members serving in Iraq. They are being rotated out, and another 110,000 U.S. service members are replacing them. "For a moment, the increased demand is real and we've taken a number of appropriate actions," he said.
The United States is working to increase international military participation in Iraq. South Korea is sending forces to Iraq, and the Japanese Self-defense Force is sending soldiers to Iraq to aid in reconstruction efforts.
The coalition also has accelerated training of Iraqi security forces. More than 200,000 Iraqis now serve in the police, civil defense corps, border police, the new Iraqi army and the facilities protection service.
Rumsfeld said another way to deal with the increased demand on the force is to add more people. "We've already done so," he said. "Using the powers granted by the Congress, we've already increased active duty force levels by nearly 33,000 above pre-emergency authorized end strength."
He said DoD will use the same authorities in the future if the situation demands it.
But even given all DoD is doing, what the figures show is that the department has a management problem, not a personnel problem, he said.
"Think of it. At this point we have a pool of about 2.6 million men and women, active and reserve," he said. "Yet the deployment of 115,000 troops in Iraq has required that we temporarily increase the size of the force by 33,000. That suggests strongly that the real problem is not the size of the force per se, but rather the way the force has been managed, and the mix of capabilities at our disposal."
That challenge, he said, is not going to be solved for the long term by adding to end strength. The secretary said all troops -- active and reserve -- need to be accessible.
The same management problem surfaces specifically with the reserve component. "Fact is, since Sept. 11 (2001), we've mobilized only 36 percent of the selected reserve -- a little over one-third of the available forces," he said. "But while certain skills are in demand, only a very small fraction of the Guard and reserve -- just 7.15 percent -- have been involuntarily mobilized more than once since 1990."
That means that the same people in high-demand skills are getting stressed, while others -- in less needed skills -- are not. "The vast majority of the Guard and reserve are not being used," he said. "A full 58 percent of the current selected reserve -- or about 500,000 troops -- have not been involuntarily mobilized in the last 10 years." These statistics argue that too few Guard and reserve forces have the skill sets that are in high demand, the secretary said.
The statistics also show the need to rebalance the force mix within the reserve components and between the active duty and reserve forces, Rumsfeld said.
All in all, he said, the statistics show "we need to transform the forces for the future, making sure we continue to increase the capability of the force and thus our ability to do more with the forces we have."
The secretary said it comes down to more than just the numbers of troops, tanks, aircraft or ships. Capabilities are key, he said.
"Today the Navy is reducing force levels," he noted. "Yet because of the way it is arranging itself, it will have more combat power available than it did when it had more people."
The same is true in the Army. "The Army has put forward a plan that will increase force levels by about 6 percent, but because of the way it will do it, they will add up to 30 percent more combat power," he said. "Instead of adding more divisions, they are focusing on creating a 21st-century modular Army made up of more self-sustained brigades that are available to work for any division commander. As a result, 75 percent of the brigade structure would always be ready in the event of a crisis."
The focus needs to be on more than just numbers, Rumsfeld emphasized. "We should be focusing on finding ways to better manage the forces we have and by increasing the speed, agility, modularity, capability of usability of those forces," he said.