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Keeper of Force Quality and Readiness
Prepared statement of Gen. John J. Sheehan, USMC, commander in chief, U.S. Atlantic Command, The Senate Armed Services Committee, Tuesday, February 14, 1995

Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I appreciate this opportunity ... . As requested, I will provide a brief threat assessment, review Atlantic theater issues -- including an assessment of ... operations in Haiti and Cuba, highlight the command's strategic goals, talk about USACOM's role as the joint force capabilities integrator and trainer, discuss ACOM in the context of its juxtaposition with the headquarters of the NATO Allied Command Atlantic and conclude with a few comments on readiness and budget issues.

As you recall, as part of the 1993 reorganization of the Unified Command Plan, USACOM now bridges military capabilities across the continental United States with the Air Force's Air Combat Command, Army's Forces Command, Marine Corps' Marine Forces Atlantic and Navy's Atlantic Fleet serving as its service components. As a result, USACOM has combatant command of over 80 percent of the active force structure.

CinCUSACOM retains combatant commander responsibilities within its assigned Atlantic area of responsibility -- the Atlantic bridge to Europe, the southern hemisphere and beyond. Concurrently, command of NATO's Allied Command Atlantic has been retained, as supreme allied commander Atlantic, reinforcing the alliance with the joint capability of CONUS forces.

The command's newest mission -- provide joint trained and ready military forces where needed throughout the world in support of Atlantic theater and forward CinC requirements, and ensure those forces are trained as joint units capable of carrying out their assigned tasks -- is its most challenging task.

Other additional and enhanced missions require:


  • Identifying, training and facilitating deployment of joint force packages in support of peacetime presence, contingency response, peacekeeping or humanitarian assistance operations;
  • Developing a joint training program for, and providing military support to, civilian authorities and military assistance for civil disturbances within the 48 contiguous states, the District of Columbia and the geographic AOR;
  • Planning for the land defense of CONUS and combined Canada-United States defense of Canada;
  • Providing forces for worldwide strategic and theater reconnaissance; and
  • Planning for and conducting counterdrug operations in support of U.S. law enforcement agencies.

USACOM must prepare its forces to respond to a wide array of challenges in both the Atlantic AOR and the AORs of the forward unified CinCs.

The challenges in USACOM's AOR include political instability, primarily in Cuba, continued narcotics trafficking through the Caribbean and the reality of a significant maritime capability by the Russian northern fleet in the North Atlantic. Excepting Russian naval capability, the scenarios of challenge to U.S. national security in the Atlantic AOR fall into the lower end of the conflict spectrum.

Since our primary focus is to train U.S.-based forces for joint and combined operations outside of USACOM's AOR, we maintain acute awareness about the threats facing the forward unified CinCs. These threats cover a wide assortment of potential crises from political instability to major regional conflicts similar to Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

Finally, there are significant nontraditional challenges and threats such as the proliferation of advanced weapons worldwide and growing potential for mass migration of the economically, socially and politically deprived.

USACOM's first year of existence set a standard for joint operations. The success of combined and multiagency operations in Haiti and migrant operations in Cuba met or exceeded expectations. We are continuing to build on that strong foundation.

Haiti. Commencing with the mid-1993 Governor's Island formula for restoration of the duly elected government of Haiti and subsequent United Nations Security Council resolution, U.S. forces have led a coalition of nations in the enforcement of economic sanctions against the illegitimate Cedras-Francois-Biamby regime and humanitarian assistance to the thousands that fled.

U.S. forces were introduced into the country of Haiti in support of United Nations Security Council Resolution 940 on Sept. 19, 1994, as part of Operation Uphold Democracy. The purpose of this interdiction was to restore the democratically elected government of President [Jean Bertrand] Aristide and provide for a mechanism to assist in sustaining a secure and stable environment to allow for democracy to sustain itself in this long deprived nation and reduce the flow of Haitians leaving in unsafe boats in an attempt to reach the United States.

This operation is the best case study to date in the execution of a multiservice, multiagency and multinational synchronous operation. Forces of the U.S. Army, U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Coast Guard, nonmilitary elements of U.S. government and state agencies, and a multinational military and police force, and a host of international nongovernment and private volunteer organizations all contributed unique capabilities.

On Oct. 15, 1994, President Aristide returned to Haiti and began the process of re-establishing his legitimate government. U.S. military force levels in support of this operation have been reduced based on operational requirements from a high of 20,000 to currently [about 2,400, as of May 1; contingent is part of U.N. Mission in Haiti, which assumed peacekeeping duties on March 31]. ... An agreement has been reached between the U.N. and DoD on the composition of the U.S. contingent to UNMIH. Total U.S. strength will not exceed 2,400 personnel.

Cuba. No longer a significant military threat, economic decline and political oppression increase the prospect of illegal mass migration and regime threatening civil unrest. Since the breakup of the former Soviet Union, the political system and economic infrastructure of Cuba have significantly deteriorated, a situation that will only further increase in seriousness and import for the United States in the remaining years of this century.

This continuing decline of the economy in Castro's Cuba, coupled with Castro's array of tactics to get international attention, continue to encourage migration by any means for Cubans seeking relief. The Cuban migrant challenge in 1994 was the largest since the Mariel boat lift in 1980. Concurrent with the migrant flow from Haiti, the Cuban migration severely stressed facilities at Naval Base Guantanamo Bay. A joint task force, JTF 160, was established at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, to support relief and migrant processing centers for migrants of both countries.

We continue to provide humanitarian assistance to ... Cuban migrants at Guantanamo Bay in coordination with designated nongovernmental organizations and private volunteer organizations, and in support of other U.S. government agencies. ... Over 20,000 Cuban migrants are still being cared for. JTF 160 provides reception, housing, subsistence facilities and medical care for migrants; safety for U.S. personnel; coordination with appropriate agencies to provide support for the screening, processing, paroling and movement of selected migrants to CONUS and other designated locations, and to optimize the quality of life of all migrants both in the interim and long term.

To the maximum extent possible, Cuban migrant ... participation in and contributions to camp administration and support has been encouraged.

In addition to the more than 6,300 U.S. military personnel there are approximately 187 civilian personnel supporting migrant operations in Guantanamo Bay. They represent various U.S. government agencies, NGOs and PVOs. Examples of these organizations are Department of State, Immigration and Naturalization Service, International Organization on Migration, Community Resources Services, U.S. Public Health Service, United Nations High Commission on Refugees, World Relief Council and the International Red Cross.

While we are at a sustainable steady state for the moment, the favorable and peaceful resolution of this situation will only occur with the end of totalitarian rule in Cuba.

Our primary objective is to sustain and improve the readiness of military forces based in the continental U.S. We are planning, training, organizing, exercising, rehearsing and deploying units and individuals capable of operating as joint task forces capable of operating in a joint environment. Our standards are the joint mission-essential tasks, by which USACOM, the combatant commanders and the joint staff identify critical tasks, conditions and standards required of our forces.

The key to the training concept is a three-tier approach. The Tier 1 foundation is service training, where soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen attain their core competencies. In Tier 2 our focus is on achieving service and joint mission-essential task standards at the tactical level. It is field training of forces, bringing together units from all ... components on the ground, in the air and at sea to rehearse those unit-level joint tasks that would be required of them in wartime.

It is at the third level of training where that value is added to achieving joint operational readiness. At this level USACOM combines simulation and computer-assisted decision making to train JTF commanders and their staffs more efficiently. The seamless functioning of this three-tier formula is key to improving joint readiness.

USACOM's centerpiece for component joint task force operations, planning and staff readiness is the new Joint Training Analysis and Simulation Center. On track to become one of the world's premier centers of next-generation computer modeling and simulation, the JTASC will provide the mechanism by which we can train JTF commanders and their staffs without the expenditure of massive resources normally associated with large field training exercises.

The next USACOM goal is to sustain America's competitive edge in combat multipliers. These include strategic lift; logistic agility; technological advantage; and command, control, communications, computers and intelligence interoperability.

With the CinCUSACOM dual-hatted as the supreme allied commander Atlantic, USACOM is in a unique position to influence multinational operational readiness. In this light, the command will pursue leveraging the existing infrastructure of NATO and friendly nations in exercising the combined joint task force concept and encourage other nations to participate in planning and exercising regional or coalition response.

Next, the command will continue to cultivate interagency relationships and cooperative knowledge that can be capitalized upon in contingency planning execution. We also want to factor in non-DoD agencies, nongovernment organizations, private volunteers and private sector capabilities in all appropriate JTF plans and exercises.

Finally, USACOM will actively support the Department of Defense and joint services program planning and acquisition process. This will be accomplished by active participation in the Joint Requirements Oversight Council process, drafting joint mission needs statements for future-oriented missions and developing integrated priority lists.

America has a superior competitive advantage in military capability, led and operated by the most dedicated and highly skilled military personnel in the world. A declining resource base need not tear at the coherency of this capability nor at the morale of our people. A significant part of the answer to ensuring the capability and readiness of our military capability to defend against future challenges is keeping pace with the technology, management and leadership skills available in this new age. We must invest in what our instinct tells us will work in the future, not necessarily in what we planned to employ in the past.

Given this requirement, USACOM's charter is to retain and evolve the readiness of CONUS-based forces and maintain our ability to respond to contingencies while continuing to reduce force structure to the levels specified in the Bottom-up Review. We are doing this by leveraging technology and joint training to maintain forward readiness. The key is seamless interaction between the supported and supporting CinCs across the spectrum of U.S. military capability.

Historically we have responded to theater requirements from a threat-oriented perspective with fixed combinations of forward-stationed forces and standard augmentation-reinforcement packages. From our current response orientation we are moving toward capability-based planning. Trained and ready joint forces, trained to theater CinC joint mission-essential tasks will be ready and provide a menu of options from which theater commanders may select suitable joint capability in response to current and projected scenarios. These joint forces will be capable of deploying on short notice to meet requirements in any theater. The concept of tailoring and training joint forces in CONUS for worldwide applications will continue to evolve as we restructure to meet the challenges of the new security environment.

A visit to USACOM or its components would demonstrate that we have the highest quality military force our nation has ever fielded. Our components are capable of executing the missions required of them. However, to examine the issue of readiness one must look at three indicators.

First, the current readiness system only measures static metrics. It does not measure joint readiness, nor is it predictive in nature. DoD is doing a great deal of work in this area. USACOM's approach to joint training will help satisfy the development of a methodology to apply indices or indicators on joint readiness. Readiness should not be characterized solely by static measurements of on-shelf supplies. Readiness should be determined also by the ability to effectively assemble, train and employ the capabilities of units and subunits of potential joint task force configurations.

USACOM stands in a unique position to advance joint unit readiness status even further, as we implement the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff's exercise and scheduling program.

Of near-term concern is the adverse impact of unprogramed contingency operations on readiness. Because supplemental funding of contingency operations remains uncertain and untimely, too often USACOM components absorb contingency costs through drawing down operations and maintenance fund accounts, resulting in lost training opportunities and declines in force readiness. When supplemental funding arrives, it is often too late to recapture these training opportunities and restoration of readiness levels may be too late if unanticipated force demands must be satisfied.

In addressing this problem we must first rapidly pass this year's emergency supplemental to restore depleted O&M accounts in all USACOM components. Subsequently, we need to develop a new funding mechanism and additional fiscal authority to preserve funds for readiness and accelerate the reimbursal of the services for other funds expended on contingency operations.

Finally, we must devise a recapitalization process that will allow all the services to procure required systems for the future. The proposed FY 96 DoD budget is a step in the right direction.

The Bottom-up Review force levels provide adequate future force structure provided we adopt efforts to employ and deploy capability relevant to our national security objectives; provide BUR-specified force enhancements [and] better joint training; and provide requested funding to achieve more capable combat forces.

Our war-fighting capabilities and doctrine must be melded to optimize efficiency.

Advanced technology, however impressive, serves only as a force multiplier. It cannot substitute for forces. Meeting future operational demands will still require the capabilities inherent in our performance platforms, our fleets, our air wings, our amphibious and land maneuver forces, and the manpower needed to operate these performance platforms.

America's security is based on the quality of our armed forces -- keeping our personnel and equipment ready. Most importantly, we must provide for our people with adequate compensation, quality of life programs and some measure of career stability.

In closing, joint training has been and will continue to be a major focus of our readiness efforts at USACOM. As we move into the 21st century and continue to face a changing national security environment, our ability to maintain readiness at the joint level will become the linchpin of our ability to field a credible and affordable military presence worldwide.


Published for internal information use by the American Forces Information Service, a field activity of the Office of the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs), Washington, D.C. Parenthetical entries are speaker/author notes; bracketed entries are editorial notes. This material is in the public domain and may be reprinted without permission. Defense Issues is available on the Internet via the World Wide Web at