Top Army Leader Praises All-Volunteer Force
By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Aug. 19, 2007 Calling today’s Army the best that’s ever been, a top leader said yesterday that he doesn’t want to return to a draft-filled force.
“None of us who joined the Army during Vietnam want to go back to a draft Army,” said Army Vice Chief Gen. Richard A. Cody in an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “Fox Online” program with Jamie Colby.
“It took us 35 years to build the best Army in the world. Right now, these young men and women who are serving downrange in Iraq and Afghanistan, or who are getting ready to serve, are in the best Army we’ve ever built.”
Cody said the Army was too small going to the Iraq war, forcing it to rely on frequent deployments and to depend heavily on the National Guard and reserves. Now it is time to re-balance and add more soldiers, he said.
“We’ve got to size it properly. Clearly, we’re stretched right now because the size of this Army when we came into this war was not large enough,” Cody said. “We’re going to put ourselves back in balance by growing the Army by 65 (thousand) or even bigger and balance out the Guard, reserve and active force structure.”
Cody said recruits from “all walks of life” are enlisting in the Army now -- many of whom have watched the war in Iraq through high school and now want to join the fight.
Combat veterans also are re-enlisting despite frequent deployments and hard duty, he said.
“This generation is so remarkable. They understand the importance of this mission. They are re-enlisting in large numbers because they want to stay with their buddies. They are re-enlisting because they are make a difference, and they are re-enlisting because they know they’re the shield that protects America from these terrorists,” Cody said.
Cody’s two sons have served in combat. He said 120 general officers have sons and daughters serving and have sent them to war.
Cody’s oldest son now flies an Apache helicopter nicknamed “Rigor Mortis,” the same aircraft that Cody flew leading the team of eight Apache helicopters of Task Force Normandy that fired the opening shots of Desert Storm in 1991. The crews used Hellfire missiles to destroy Iraqi air-defense sites in a nighttime raid.
Cody said that he sends his sons off to combat with the same fears as any parent, but that he has confidence in the Army they are serving and appreciates the importance of the mission.
“I know that they are in good hands because I know the type of leaders that they work for. I know they are in good hands because I know the type of soldiers they are serving with,” the general said. “I also know they’re serving this great country and they’re in the best Army in the world.”
Cody also fielded questions about improvements made in soldier care at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. He said the Army has added leadership, counselors and mentors to help get “wounded warriors get back on their feet, get back reintegrated into the civilian world or back into their Army job.”