Media Availability with General Norton Swartz, J-3 Operations, General Richard Cody, Army Operations Chief
Whitman: Let me just cover the ground rules real quick. We put this release out this afternoon I think. Everyone's got this. This is the release on some additional troops that have been identified. It's pretty straightforward, but I didn't want to not give you the opportunity to ask some questions if there's something that was unclear about this.
General Schwartz (Lt. Gen. Norton Schwartz, J-3) has agreed to come down and talk on this topic and this topic only, and General Cody (Lt.Gen. Richard Cody, Army operations chief) will be joining him. But it is about this issue right here. We'll be on the record, and I think we can probably exhaust your questions in 10-15 minutes max.
Sir, would you like to say anything about it before we open it up?
Schwartz: As you recall, we made an announcement some weeks back about the combat forces that would succeed the existing complement of units. That included among other things three enhanced separate brigades, a National Guard headquarters, active assets and what have you.
In the interim since that time what we did was execute the other piece of this, the very important piece, and sometimes it's not as visible and that is the combat support and combat service support side of it.
So we identified initially the major units and then our obligation naturally is to identify the support units that go along with it. So what is announced here in part is the segment of the deployment for OIF-3. That includes some 37,000, at the moment, active and reserve, combat support and combat service support troops. Everything from transportation to military police to logistics and maintenance and what have you, intelligence, so on and so forth.
The other piece of this is the announcement that the units which the Secretary approved an extension for just a couple of weeks back, that is the 1st Armored Division, two brigades, and the 2nd Light Cavalry Regiment which currently are serving in the south central sector of Iraq, you'll recall that the Secretary indicated not more than 90 days in Iraq and then not more than 120 days before they were home. We'll honor that, but we will be succeeding those units with the ones which are reflected here, that is an Army brigade from the 10th Mountain Division and two MEUs, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast. That is a Marine Expeditionary Unit, excuse me. That, round numbers, along with air support of about 2500 folks or so, about 10,000 altogether, will succeed the folks that are currently on extension.
That will take us into a sustained level for now of around 135. It might be a little higher than that, but today we are about 138 and that will probably, so we'll bounce around between 135 and 138 for awhile.
Q: Sir, how long will the 135,000 --
Schwartz: We are currently planning for this level of supporting, again. This is plans and circumstances are such that if there's a change in the security situation we'll adjust accordingly, But this is for what we are calling Operation Iraqi Freedom 3, which begins with deployments in the fall of this year and continues through '05.
Q: Sir, this appears to be the first half of the 20,000. Have you identified the other 10,000? And if so, when will we hear about those?
Schwartz: We have identified, there is another increment of combat support and combat service support yet to come. It is, round numbers, probably in the neighborhood of 10,000, and we are working that intensively and will clearly, after the Secretary approves it, will announce both the precise number and the sourcing, that is the units, where they come from, and the mix of active and reserve forces.
Q: I was a little confused by your explanation of why the 37,000 are going now if the OIF-3 rotation didn't start until the fall. So why are they going now?
Schwartz: They're not going now. They're being announced now, and in some cases there's about 16,000 of this 37 is reserves forces and there is a timeline associated with alerting and mobilization and training and preparation, so the reason for this is that it's, again, trying to provide predictability to the maximum extent that we can for the forces that will begin to move in the fall or even later, in some cases after the first of the year.
The other part of the announcement, however, of course is a more near term replacement because to succeed the 1st Cav and the 2nd LCR means the folks need to be in theater in early July.
Q: So when the 37 go in they're going to one-for-one replace 37 or so that are coming out. It's not a net increase.
Schwartz: That is on the support side, that is correct. It is not a one-for-one replacement though for the 1st Armored or the 2nd LCR.
Q: To make sure I'm clear, the level of 135, 138, you're saying the plan is to keep it at that level through the end of this year?
Schwartz: Through the OIF-3 rotation. That is the current plan and that's what we're working toward.
You understand if more is needed we'll make adjustments. If it turns out less is needed people who currently are tap will either not go or will come home early.
Q: The 10th Mountain and the two MEUs, where were they originally planned to deploy? Did this change, the theater they were going to deploy? Or can you talk a little bit about that?
Schwartz: In the case of the Marines they were scheduled to go a little bit later, so we've moved them up. In the case of the 10th Mountain, we moved them up as well.
Cody: I agree with everything Nordy says.
Q: Does this mean you're going to have, are these additional 20,000 troops to augment going to be staying for a year, correct?
Schwartz: Up to one year.
Q: Does this mean you're going to have a group of 20,000 people sort of perpetually out of sync with the rest of your rotation forces?
Schwartz: It's important to understand that one of the things we attempted to do with this rotation that we just completed, in fact, and we're going to even magnify it further next time, the September through February of '05, was to spread out the flow.
This year we moved roughly, well it's less than that now, but over 200,000, let me put it that way, in about a four to five month period. We have considerable prowess in this area, but even that was a challenge for the armed forces. So the goal here was not to try to spike the transportation requirements or squeeze everything into a very tight envelope, but to try to spread it out such that it was a more manageable process. That's in terms of transportation, in terms of mobilization of reserves, in terms of again, anticipation of what's going to come, and as a result that's why, you begin to see that it's not as clear what is OIF-2, what's OIF-3, what's OIF-4, because we started the war in March of '03, so on a calendar basis what we were calling OIF-1 was March of '03 to March of '04; OIF-2 was '04 to '05; three would be '05 to '06; but we're actually moving forces that are associated with those rotations earlier to try again to level the spikes.
Q: You announced the National Guard and Reserve call ups are combat arms. When are you going to announce what active duty divisions will be going and when?
Schwartz: Let me mention that to Dick. I think the bottom line is that we have a site picture on what those units are and I'll be happy to take that and get back to you with it specifically. You're talking about the OIF-3 rotation. Sure. We'll be happy to do that.
Cody: For the Army we know exactly what units we're preparing, what units we're resetting to go back in, and we're waiting for the official announcement for the proper notification. But the chain of command knows.
All the units, if you remember, when we redeployed the OIF-1 units, all the units were given a certain timeline to reset for follow-on contingencies if required, so for the Army in particular units that came back out whether they were combat support or combat service support or combat formations, all had an aggressive reset and retrain program after the soldiers took the required leave and everything else, so that we could maintain a strategic contingency capability.
Then what we're doing in the Army as we look at this is to try to shape our flow of forces for OIF-3 and for follow-on operations in Afghanistan, to do it in such a way that we're able to continue with the modularity of our combat brigades, but at the same time continue to provide the combatant commander with all the requirements he needs. In the cases of OIF-3 and the next rotation for Afghanistan, we'll have been able to generate at least four more combat maneuver brigades to be able to give us a pool, and from that we'll be able to lengthen the dwell time of units between combat tours.
Q: Excuse me, General, maybe I just am not too clear on this. When you talk about OIF-3, when you talk about maintaining the 135 to 138,000 you said OIF-3, and then you said through '05. Are you talking about through calendar year '05 or --
Schwartz: Calendar '05.
Q: So you're talking about the current plan is to maintain 135 to 138 through calendar year '05, that could change but that's the current plan.
Q: Can you tell us how long --
Q: --last year, sir, for '05. Was it --
Schwartz: We had planned for a lesser number of brigade equivalents and given the security situation on the ground, and you will recall that, I think even I might have said on the platform at one point if the security situation changes we'll adjust accordingly. Clearly that's what happened in this case with the extension of the 1st Armored and 2nd LCR and so we're currently looking at, naturally, a higher level of force structure. We were thinking about in the neighborhood of 115 originally and now we're looking, again, in the neighborhood of 135.
Q: What's the [inaudible] in terms of the supplemental debate?
Schwartz: I am not one of the finance guys. I consume resources, I don't program for them. But the bottom line is that it will cost more money, obviously to do this and the department will have to make allowances for that.
Q: How much time will these units that are leaving next summer has spent resetting or resting from the last deployment?
Schwartz: It depends on the unit.
Q: These three units that you've identified here for the 10,000.
Schwartz: It's important I think to differentiate. We have things about patches and flags and those are units, and then there's the issue of who in the unit actually served, and this is particularly true on the Guard and Reserve side, for example, about who's done what.
But in the case of these units the 2nd of the 10th has been a very active unit and it's what we call dwell time is less than nine months. But the Army is going through an effort to work hard to man the unit in such a way that it minimizes the mobile combat tours.
Q: Do you have a similar dwell time number for the Marine units?
Schwartz: I don't recall what they are off the top of my head, but they're better than the 2nd of the 10th, so they're in the neighborhood of 12 months.
Q: Are the Marine units looking at seven month rotations?
Schwartz: The Marines are using, at the moment, a seven-month rotation scheme. The way it works for them, it's essentially seven months in, seven months out. So it's still one-to-one.
The standard, ladies and gentlemen, that we have been attempting, the minimum that we attempt to manage to what we call one-to-one dwell time and that has to do such that the individual soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines time at home after a combat tour is equal to the time he spent in theater.
Now that is a wartime metric. That is not what we would want to do necessarily in a peacetime situation. You clearly want to have more time than that. But one-to-one is what we are using as our threshold and in the case of the Marines they're much closer to that threshold than 2/10th is in this case.
Q: Can you describe what risk you're accepting here by accelerating the MEUs? They're often viewed as the QRF for the nation. Do you feel a little more vulnerable? Korea, Latin America, Africa, somewhere else.
Schwartz: We still have a reaction capability in the United States. It's a great question and --
Cody: DRB from the 82nd will be fully operational on the 7th of May. That's the unit that came out of Iraq, so the full DRB out of the 18th Airborne Corps will have completed their reset and retrain and assumed the DRB status on the 7th of May.
Q: What's DRB?
Cody: Ready brigade.
Schwartz: In essence we have designated units that have a reaction mission in the event of unanticipated contingencies. And the bottom line is that part of this process that we go through on behalf of the Chairman and the Secretary is to source those reaction capabilities just as we do those that are deploying.
Q: General Schwartz, this will be happening, some of this rotation will start happening about 60 days after what is planning to be a handover of authority. How does the new environment, a completely different political environment over there change the training that you're going to be giving these folks that are going over, the equipment you're going to be sending with them? Just what their mission is going to be when they get over there.
Schwartz: The mission remains essentially the same, it's security and stability. We may well equip the units somewhat differently than we had planned some months back. We may be aware that originally we had anticipated, particularly in the Army formations, that it would be a one-third/two-third arrangement. That is one-third heavy, two-third mobile infantry. And Dick can address any adjustments that the Army might be considering in that regard.
Q: Is it accurate to say that the 37,000 support troops were given six to seven months notice before they have to deploy?
Schwartz: It is safe to say this is May, it's at least five months and probably more.
Q: I'm sorry, sir, that's for these guys right here, the various units from the Army National Guard and Reserve are included in this deployment with the 2nd of the 10th and --
Schwartz: I'm talking about the 37,000. The 37,000 which is the combat support and service support for circuit number three.
Q: Most of those people have already been notified, right?
Schwartz: If they haven't been, they certainly have been this week. What we end up with again is that those movements predominantly are September through February of '05, so that's the window. The ones that are somewhat shorter term, obviously, are those associated with units going back.
Cody: Let me talk about the process just for a second. This was the official notification of the 37,000, but well before that at Joint Forces Command, at our Army Forces Command, both of which are -- Joint Forces Command is the Joint Force provider; and Forces Command is the force provider for the Army that has probably about 75 percent of our combat troops. They also oversee the training, readiness, oversight of the National Guard and Reserve units.
We've been looking at the sourcing requirements for OIF-3 for about four to five months, and as you go through and look at your sourcing options for truck companies or engineer companies or medical service companies or whatever it is we know we have to replace with the units that are downrange, in doing that the chain of command of those units that are back here that we can deploy are already being notified. If we select your unit, what will it take to get you ready? Will you be ready by this time?
So none of these unit commanders or certainly their leadership, they've been well in advance consulted with, and training plans were devised based upon readiness; resourcing decisions were made based upon readiness; and then a final decision was made by the Secretary as to when these units would flow and what the units were based on the courses of action. So this has been an ongoing process throughout OIF-2 when we did it and now OIF-3, and I daresay -- I can speak for the Army, I'm already looking and talking to guys, to our commanders about OIF-4 and OEF-6 in Afghanistan. Because we're in that type of rotation and the predictability that we're providing.
Q: Can you close the loop on the mix of forces? You talked about one-third heavy. What's that going to be?
Schwartz: Sure. For OIF-2, I'll go backwards in history. For OIF-2 the combatant commander asked the Army in particular to source the 1st Cav Division, the 1st Infantry Division, and the Enhanced Separate Brigades that came with them -- the 30th out of North Carolina, the 39th out of Arkansas, and the 81st out of Washington -- to have them come in with one-third of their mechanized forces and two-thirds of their combat forces in motorized formations.
What that means is if you're a mechanized infantry battalion one of your companies would deploy with Bradleys and your other two companies would deploy with 12-16 up-armored HUMVEEs, and that was done for the patrolling purposes. So that's how we deployed the 1st Cav Division and the 1st Infantry Division in those three brigades.
The Stryker brigade deployed full-up with its 300 Stryker vehicles.
For this next rotation the combatant commander has asked us to look at the division to be named that we're preparing to come in in a heavier formation, and he's asked us to look at the three National Guard brigades -- the 256th, the 116th. The 256th is out of Louisiana; the 116th out of Idaho; and the 278th out of Tennessee, to look at have them come in in a heavier formation which would equate for them five companies being motorized and four of their combat companies being mechanized, either tanks or Bradleys, in a brigade. So there's nine maneuver companies in a brigade. So we're looking at that and we'll meet the combatant commander's requirements. But we --
Q: The bottom line, this is a more dangerous environment.
Cody: That this allows us to do is it allows us to cascade. By doing that we'll displace up-armored HUMVEEs from the 1st Cav and from the 1st Infantry Division and from the other brigades that are over there now. We'll be able to displace some of those to the combat service support units and do that at the same time as we're continuing to produce more up-armored HUMVEEs.
Q: In response to questions about the size of the military and given the OpTempo, over the last year senior officials have said this is a short-term spike in operations. It's going to diminish sort of after this year. Now the numbers are going up instead of down. I'm wondering whether this has changed any of your assumptions about this spike or about your capability to handle this OpTempo.
Schwartz: I think we can handle the tempo. It is demanding, there's no question about it. But I have not come to the conclusion personally that we need to grow the force yet. I'm not there yet. But that depends, again, on how circumstances develop here. But my take is that certainly for the next rotation we can maintain this level of effort and that's what we're shooting for.
Q: If you get more money.
Whitman: We've already talked previously about where we're at in the mid-term reviews. If we want to do money, we can kind of do that off-line.
That's a good place to end it, I think. Thank you for your interest.