Proposed Budget Provides Tools to Manage Demand on Forces
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2004 With 2.2 million men and women on active duty and in the reserve component, there's no shortage of manpower to support the war on terror, Pentagon Comptroller Dov Zakheim told reporters here during a Feb. 2 briefing.
"We have about 2.2 million people serving in one way or another, and yet people are telling us there's a strain in maintaining the forces in Iraq," Zakheim said. "That's a management challenge. And we have to manage the demand on the forces."
Zakheim said the president's proposed fiscal 2005 budget will provide critical funding required to help the Defense Department make the most effective and efficient use of its manpower.
That initiative, he said, involves expanding the military's capabilities, rebalancing the force, retaining critical skills, receiving authority for higher personnel levels during peak demands, and converting some military positions to civilian and contractor jobs.
Part of this effort involves expanding the military's capabilities so it is able to fulfill missions with smaller forces. This far-ranging initiative involves everything from improving weapons systems to reconfiguring the U.S. presence overseas.
One aspect of this is the Global Defense Posture Review, started in mid-2002. "We are looking at where we might move troops to be in a more relevant place for future threats and where we might reduce troops that are already serving or based somewhere overseas," Zakheim said.
As critical as it is to provide the best-equipped and best-supported troops at the right locations, Zakheim said, it also is imperative that the Defense Department continues rebalancing its force to reduce its reliance on the reserve components.
The goal, he said, is to limit involuntary Reserve mobilizations and to reduce the need to call Reservists and Guardsmen to active duty within the first 15 days of military operations. Zakheim said the department ultimately wants to ensure that members of the reserve components are required to serve no more than one year of active duty every six years.
This will require beefing up the active force's early response support capabilities: logistics, transportation and medical, among them. It also means retooling the missions assigned to the reserve components. "We don't need as many people in artillery (in the reserve components)," Zakheim said. "We need a lot of people in military police and in civic affairs, medical and transportation."
By continuing to implement the National Security Personnel System, Zakheim said the department will be better positioned to compete with other employers to hire top-quality candidates with critical skills. The new system also will enhance the department's ability to smoothly convert some military positions to civilian positions, he added.
"You have a lot of military folks who are actually doing the work of civilians in defense agencies," Zakheim said. He called hiring civilians to do those jobs and returning the uniformed members to their services to fill military jobs "a win-win: a more efficient civilian side, a more effective military side."
These conversions already are under way. During fiscal 2004, Zakheim said, 10,000 military-to-civilian conversions are scheduled, with an additional 10,070 projected for fiscal 2005.