Perry Says Technology, Tactics, Training Add Up to Quality
By Linda D. Kozaryn
American Forces Press Service
FORT BLISS, Texas, Aug. 22, 1996 We're the best, we know it, and so does the rest of the world.
That's the message Defense Secretary William Perry had here for students and faculty at the U.S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.
"We have today the highest quality military in the world," Perry said during opening ceremonies for the academy's class of 475 senior enlisted Aug. 15.
The American military demonstrated that quality, Perry said, during "very demanding, real-world operations in Desert Storm, in the flawless insertion of forces into Haiti and in the magnificent performance of our forces in Bosnia.
"It is demonstrated each month in unglamorous but technically very difficult operations such as the evacuation of thousands of Americans and other refugees from Liberia -- all done without a single casualty," he said.
The U.S. military serves as the world's model because of its proven quality, Perry said. "Defense ministers all over the world send their officers and NCOs to our military schools," he said. "They send their units to our training ranges, and they send their units to exercise with us."
Keeping the force the world's best takes technology, tactics and training -- and it takes quality people, Perry said.
During Desert Storm, commanders had more battlefield information than ever before, he said. They used intelligence and reconnaissance technology to detect the enemy's exact locations. They used precision-guided munitions to strike targets effectively. Stealth technology protected U.S. forces attacking targets.
New technology, new tactics and training -- are Perry's first three ingredients for an effective fighting force. Training, he said, is key to maintaining the current high level of readiness. During exercises at the National Training Center at Fort Irwin, Calif., and at Nellis Air Force Base, Texas, U.S. forces make mistakes on a test range where they're embarrassing rather than on a battlefield where they can be fatal, Perry said.
The mock Bosnia set up in Germany "complete with snow, mud, opposing forces, paramilitary forces, black marketeers, and even CNN" has paid off for the Army's 1st Armored Division, Perry said. "When I was in Bosnia last month, soldiers told me of incidents that occurred in Bosnia that were almost identical to the incidents that occurred in training," he remarked.
DoD must not divert its training budget to other purposes, Perry said. He vowed to protect training funds so "every armored brigade will make its scheduled rotation to the National Training Center, every fighter squadron will make its scheduled rotation at Nellis."
Perry's final ingredient for a high quality military is quality people. During the 1970s, he said, experts debated the value of the new technology because, they said, "The troops will never be able to operate this new equipment in the field."
"What they were implying was that our troops would not be smart enough to handle the new technology," he said. "The experts were wrong. Not only can the troops operate it, they can repair it -- and they are thinking up creative new ways to use it."
The military continues to recruit quality people, Perry said. Ninety-five percent of all 1995 and 1996 recruits were high school graduates. Seventy percent scored in the upper half of the Armed Forces Qualification Test.