BRIGADIER GENERAL ANTHONY CUCOLO (chief of Public Affairs, U.S. Army): Good afternoon, ladies and gentleman. I'm Brigadier General Tony Cucolo. I'm chief of Army Public Affairs.
We know that after the secretary of Defense's briefing yesterday you probably had a lot of questions, a lot of questions. He did mention that we would have an Army press briefing this afternoon. That is that briefing.
And our senior panel members today is Lieutenant General James "Jay" Lovelace. He is our chief of operations. And with him today, to his right is Major General Thomas G. Miller. He is the chief of operations at Forces Command. To his right is Mr. Stan Steenrod (sic/Lewis) from our director of Resources, the G8. To General Lovelace's left, our personnel and human resources team, Colonel Dennis Dingle, director of Human Resources Policy; and Mr. Roy Wallace, director of Plans and Resources in G1.
And with that, I'd like to turn the panel over to General Lovelace.
GEN. LOVELACE: Thanks, Tony.
First off, thanks for being here today. What we want to do is make sure that y'all understand what the policy is, as opposed to what it is not, and what we want to do is make sure we give clarification on why and the justification.
Yesterday, the secretary of Defense announced that all active- duty Army units now in Central Command area of responsibility and those headed into that AOR would deploy for not more than 15 months and then they'll be able to return home for not less than 12 months. That's a very important piece here.
The Army asked for this change, the chief of staff of the Army, the secretary of the Army, and together -- they realize this is a difficult decision after careful thought and deliberation. They know that this is a hard decision for those that are deployed whose families are back at home station, and for those that are about to deploy, thinking they were going to go for a year.
We've been at war for over five years now. Americans' security and Americans' future is at stake.
We're in it to win. That's our mission. And we take this very seriously. And our soldiers and their leaders deployed now understand this.
With the current rotation plan and this plus-up, we faced a situation with increasing probability of sending combat units into the AOR that did not have enough dwell time -- and we'll make sure y'all understand what that means -- at home station in order to get trained. And so what the Army leadership was faced with was a trade-off between how long they stayed in theater versus ensuring that they had sufficient time at home station, because what we say is -- our standard is that you will not deploy unless you're the best-trained, best-equipped, best-led force.
And so we faced already, though, an increase in extensions even prior to the plus-up and this uncertain duration. And I know all this well -- -- some of y'all I know -- I've been doing this for two and a half years, and y'all have been here with me.
What I'm going to do now is, is I'm going to turn to this screen up here, if you don't mind, because I'm going to begin to lay a cornerstone of what was -- about dwell.
You know, yesterday the discussion resounded about -- between extensions or what was then going to be less time at home station. And so all I want you to do here is -- this is how we build the ready unit. This is the pieces, the integral pieces, the algebra, that -- as you add it up, what you see is, is that this is a unit -- they come home, after having transfer of authority. What you see is, their equipment arrives. The soldiers are basically going on a block leave. And during that next several months, what we're doing is, we are resetting the unit. We're not only resetting the equipment, but the leaders are leaving. They're going away to school, professional development. We're getting new leaders in. You're getting new soldiers in.
Basically we deploy each unit with about 40 percent combat veterans.
And so also during that time is when we begin to lay down the basis for individual training.
Once you get all your equipment and then you're fully manned at appropriate percentages, then we begin a collective cycle that leads to a mission rehearsal exercise, MRE. And you can see where that falls. That falls just about four or five months prior to the time that a unit is now deploying again back into theater.
And then on the back side of that 12 months, about 10 to 11 to 12 months, then the equipment is prepared for deployment, and then it's shipped. The soldiers go on block leave, and then they go latest arrival date. And you can see the legend right at the bottom.
And so that's the 12 months, that's the 12-month calendar, that's the 12-month life cycle. And that's why we need to now maintain the sanctity of those 12 months.
Now, next slide.
You can see that if we had to now go to an abbreviated dwell back at home station, you begin to truncate off pieces of this. All that means then, is instead of having all this time to train collectively, what do you have to do? You now have to insert the pieces while you prepare to deploy and ship your equipment.
Make sense to everybody?
And so that's why, then, yesterday the secretary of Defense, upon the recommendations of General Casey and the acting secretary of the Army, Mr. Geren, established the policy about ensuring then that what we had was a 12-month dwell back here at home station. And then what that caused then was the policy to extend units up to 15 months in theater.
And so that's the operational cornerstone. And what I'm going to do now is, is I'm going to -- because we understand then what we are asking of our families, of their leaders and of the soldiers. But we want to now also address then the things that we as an Army have a responsibility to do, is to take care of the soldiers and their families.
The first one I'm going to have address Roy Wallace, and he'll talk about compensation.
MR. WALLACE: If we could have the next slide, please.
What I've tried to do here is to break out -- take a soldiers pay, and I've picked a staff sergeant here, and E6, and one of the cornerstones that Secretary Gates talked about was compensation.
And what you have in the middle column is what the normal soldier deployed to Iraq gets. And when you look at that, it's about $780 a month more than a soldier that's just back here in the United States on any one of our posts, camps and stations.
But when you go over this 12-month time period, the compensation shifts, and another $200 is added to hardship duty pay, and another $800 is added to assignment incentive pay for a total of a thousand dollars. So the added incentives for being -- or compensation for being extended over 12 months in country involuntarily by the secretary of Defense ends up being $1,780 per month per soldier as we go through this.
GEN. LOVELACE: What I'm going to do now is have Colonel Dennis Dingle speak. Dennis has been the lead for the Army as we've extended both the 172nd Striker Brigade up in Alaska and also when we extended the 1st Brigade, 34th Infantry Division, the Minnesota National Guard. And so that's why he's here today. He's going to talk a little bit in general then how we're going to address the needs of the families.
COL. DINGLE: Thank you, sir.
First of all, I'd say our purpose with the Tiger Team is to continue to show the Army's commitment to its soldiers and its families. We recognizes that extensions in some cases cause extraordinary circumstances for soldiers and our garrisons, and our rear detachments do a tremendous job of supporting soldiers and families during deployment. But when the 172nd was extended, a decision was made to stand up a Department of the Army Tiger Team, a multidisciplinary Tiger Team, and as the slide says, to reinforce the capabilities of the unit in the garrison.
Next slide. Sorry.
They have the responsibility for supporting our soldiers and families, but they also have the capabilities of the Department of the Army behind them to take care of those extraordinary circumstance that face our soldiers and families. Some of the things that we were able to do is streamline the processes and not have all of the issues go through the ordinary channels to get to the Department of the Army, and we were able to quickly fix a number of those issues that face our soldiers and families.
You'll see on the slide, we talk about several of those.
One of them is assignment instructions. As our commander in Alaska said, there were 3,700 soldiers. And when they were extended, there were 3,700 new plans for those soldiers. And we made a commitment on part of the Army to ensure that those soldiers would continue on, to go where they were assigned, to go where they were going to school, that their families have some certainty that their follow-on assignment will remain the same.
We also saw soldiers and families who incurred expenses directly as a result of the extension, and we were able through secretarial authority to provide reimbursement authority for them so that they do not lose money directly as a result of the extension. We continue this tiger team operation today. It's here at Department of the Army. It's prepared to support soldiers and families for these units who have been extended in theater and we'll execute those operations to do the right thing for our soldiers and families.
GEN. LOVELACE: Real quickly before we turn it open for questions, this is about winning. It's about -- the Army's task is to field forces for victory. And it's about ensuring then that they are trained, ready, equipped -- best-trained, best-equipped, best-led force. And we do that by maintaining the 12 months dwell back at home station.
We considered this -- the senior leadership of the Army considered this in making the decision for a long war which is unknown duration right now. And so it's to give sustainability to the force. It's to give flexibility to the commanders, and it's to give predictability to the soldiers and their families.
So go ahead and take questions.
GEN. CUCOLO: I think you all know me, and I know all you. So just get my intention and I'll get you. (Inaudible) -- I'll let the first question go to AP, Bob Burns.
I see you, Pam. I promise I'll get everyone in. Go ahead, Bob.
Q General, why didn't you include the National Guard and Reserve in this new policy? And by having essentially a two-tiered system, are you creating perhaps some friction between those who are going to have to serve 15 months and others who will be given 12 months.
GEN. LOVELACE: Hey, it's a good question.
You can see that we went through a series -- the secretary of Defense went through a very -- a series of decisions. We established first the mobilization policy, the remote policy for the national -- for the RC, which was a 12 months mobilization. That was important.
You know, at the heart of your question is really about, what are the -- setting the expectations of service. And those expectations were set appropriately for the National Guard and who -- our Reserve soldiers. At the same time then for our active soldiers, they understand their commitment and therefore understand then that is their full-time job, day in and day out.
Q You don't see any situation you're creating where you have different standards for different soldiers who are in the field doing the same thing?
GEN. LOVELACE: As the secretary of Defense said yesterday, this is but an interim step to get us to the opportunity where we can go 12 months boots on the ground, 12 months dwell. And ultimately we will get ourselves to 12 months boots on the ground, 24 months dwell.
GEN. CUCOLO: Pam, go ahead. UPI.
Q To follow that question, what relationship is there between the decision to limit the Guard to 12 months on the ground and that -- I know that in January when that decision was made, it was made immediately and it did cause perturbations with the active duty, because when you deploy a Guard unit for 12 months total, that limits, actually, their time on the ground to 10 months or nine months, with the training that goes on -- (off mike). So did that decision impact the decision to extend the active duty?
GEN. LOVELACE: The answer to your last question first is no. And it might be a little bit difficult to understand that.
What the policy did that the secretary issued on 19 January basically gave us assured access to the Reserve component. It allowed us a remobilization policy where we could assure, then, the contribution -- appropriate contribution of the Reserve component for each rotation. That was not there before. We were "remobing" flags, but we were not "remobing" units. And at the heart of that was maintaining the unit cohesion, the integrity of the unit. Those were the additional points that laid inside of that mobilization policy, which allowed us then to be able to mobilize a more ready Reserve component formation.
GEN. CUCOLO: Tom Bowman, NPR.
Q General, you keep hearing from people that the Army's overstretched, it's strained, some say it's breaking. And although your recruiting and retention numbers look good, I'm just wondering if, going to this 15-month tour, are you worried you're going to see some slippage in recruiting and retention?
And to Mr. Wallace, you mentioned a thousand dollars extra a month. Do you think that number is sufficient, or are you going to look at increasing, perhaps, that number?
GEN. LOVELACE: I'll let Roy go first.
MR. WALLACE: (Laughs.) Right now that is the Department of Defense policy. And right now I know of no efforts to increase from the thousand dollars a month that has been set forward right now.
Q So you think it's sufficient?
MR. WALLACE: We do believe it's sufficient now.
GEN. LOVELACE: But to your point, you know, we look at everything for the moment in time. We do assess at each moment. Each day is different. So we assess each day differently. And so -- but to your point, yeah, I know the statistics. The active component is exceeding its mission. It's exceeding our reenlistment goals. The USAR is basically coming up a little bit short on its enlistment, but the National Guard is recruiting great guns, and also retaining, and so is the USAR. And so that's an overall great picture for the health of the force.
And so, now for the future is there a concern? Just as the chairman talked about yesterday, the answer to that question was yes. But we need to be appropriately on guard for those kinds of things.
GEN. CUCOLO: Fox News, go ahead.
Q Mr. Wallace, with regards to the $1,000 a month, is that money going to be tax free? And if it's not, do you think it should be?
MR. WALLACE: It is tax free in the combat zone. To every enlisted soldier, all of the pays that they get are tax free. For an officer, up to the sergeant major of the Army's pay plus the hostile fire pay is non-taxable.
So unless you're a senior lieutenant colonel or a colonel, pretty much for the officer corps, all of your money is tax-free too.
GEN. CUCOLO: Luis, go ahead. ABC News.
Q Yeah. Yes, sir, I believe you mentioned that you faced this challenge even prior to the plus-up. Can you run us through when you decided that -- or when you first gave consideration to this idea beyond just the individual unit extensions and decided to go with the blanket extension plan.
GEN. LOVELACE: What we're referring to in this incident is, is that basically we knew that the demand or requirements that were coming out of CENTCOM, we saw this -- have been seeing this. We manage the force on a quarterly basis, I mean, we look at this in a very dedicated way on a quarterly basis. So -- and we assess then what is the requirement that's coming out of theater. So we began at that time to see, as the demand was exceeding the supply, then what we were going to need to do was either extend or break dwell. And that's why then we knew going in that what we would need to do is how do we preserve the integrity of what was the 12 months back at home station. And so we saw that and have seen that as we were walking into this position for the plus-up.
GEN. CUCOLO: (Armed ?) Forces Press Service.
Q Sir, two questions really. First, you talk about units going in for 15 months. And I'm just curious, are the individuals who go in from the Army, are they under the 15-month rule too? In other words, a person being assigned to a headquarters somewhere by himself, would he go in for 15 months?
GEN. LOVELACE: The answer to that's yes. And let me help you -- let me help clarify this for you. Basically, for those like MNC-I, you're going for 15 months. And, you know, in other words, Ray Odierno's headquarters, they're there for 15 months. The Divisional Formation Headquarters are there for 15 months.
Q How about above that -- (inaudible)?
GEN. LOVELACE: Basically, we're working through what are all the permutations of that right now.
Q And for Colonel Dingle, you know, it's one thing to have a Tiger Team that's taking care of 3,500 members and the families from Alaska; but you're asking -- this is a far larger task. Do you think it will still work, given the numbers of people that are affected by this?
COL. DINGLE: Yes. We have a pretty good handle -- because we've been to Alaska and to Fort Drum and in support of the 134th, we have a good idea of what those issues are, and have socialized those issues with our major commands, with our garrison commands. And our Tiger Team structure is both boots on the ground and virtual, and so we have the experience and the resources here at Department of the Army to support the installations and the units and the soldiers and families.
: If I could just add to that a little bit.
COL. DINGLE: Sir.
: Basically, we have standards of service out there in all of our garrisons; in other words, that they have to perform to a certain level and standard. And so what Dennis is really referring to is is that it is incumbent upon those garrisons to begin to absorb those responsibilities, those lessons learned as we begin to teach them on what it is that -- the unique thing that they're going to have to address. And so that's what he means. In other words, we're going to take on the first several; then after that, what we hope to do, have institutionalized those -- not hopefully; we will -- we will have institutionalized this, as we will across the force.
GEN. CUCOLO: Sir, before I move to the next question, were you addressing -- (off mike)?.
?): No, I was talking about just, you know, the -- (off mike) -- Central Command AOR.
GEN. CUCOLO: Okay. David Cloud, The New York Times.
Q General, two quick questions. One, there was reference yesterday to two brigades that are currently in Iraq, I believe, that would not be extended to 15 months. Can you just tell us which ones those would be, just to clarify that? And then second, there was also reference to -- with the policy change being able to sustain the current force level in Iraq through the end of next year, and I just wanted you to kind of parse that out a little bit. Does that mean essentially by the end of next year, you will run out of combat brigades who have been at home for a year, you know, and would have to go back for 15 months? In other words, you would have to extend beyond 15 months at the end of next year?
GEN. LOVELACE: Can I answer the first question -- each of your questions first, all right?
GEN. LOVELACE: There were two brigades. One of them was in Iraq and the other was in Afghanistan, okay?
GEN. LOVELACE: And one of them is the 310 Mountain out of Fort Drum.
And then the other is the --
STAFF: First and --
GEN. LOVELACE: First of 34th, which was the Minnesota National Guard.
Both those units, see, had already been extended. The 3/10 Mountain had been extended for 120 days. And then they're being backfilled with -- by an already announced -- the 173rd, out of Italy. And just the ability to get there is -- the physics is too hard. And so we -- but we're going to try.
But both of those, while the message was very clear, the intent is to try to carve as many days as we can out of that, based upon what is the final transportation plans.
But with the 1/34, see, that was the Theater Security Brigade in Iraq, and they were extended for 124 days. And see, it's just the ability now to move forward the unit that's replacing it as quickly we can. And we have the mission to see how much of that we can carve off.
So -- and your last --
Q On the second one, extending the 3rd, sir --
GEN. LOVELACE: I've got the question. I remember what it was. I was just teasing with you here.
So -- the -- what the question was -- because you're asking the question, perhaps, that -- the way the secretary of Defense asked it. They asked him how long are we prepared to do this, and he said for about a year. And then he came back, and he said a year from now. And that answer was yes.
And all that we're being asked to do is to -- right now is to presently build that capability, to be able to sustain this through next year. All right?
And so that's the limits of advance, because it -- what it is -- it -- like he said, it is conditions-based. They are making habitually, periodically assessments on the ground. And they -- and as they make those assessments, then they decide how much -- how many forces you need.
Q No, but I'm not asking whether it in fact will remain at the current level.
GEN. LOVELACE: Okay. I'm sorry.
Q I'm asking: Do you have the capability -- how long do you have the capability, under the new policy, to sustain the current force levels in Iraq?
GEN. LOVELACE: Good question. I'm not going to answer it.
GEN. LOVELACE: All right? Fair enough? (Chuckles.)
Q No, but could you -- (inaudible).
GEN. LOVELACE: (Off mike.) I can get you -- (off mike).
Q All right. Thanks, General Lovelace.
A couple questions on a subject weighing heavily today in the news. I'd like to get your thoughts on the Green Zone attack today and indications of how explosives might have gotten into the checkpoints there and into the convention center.
And secondly, are these attacks -- with all of the security that we have in place and the diligence that's been in place there to do that, are these attacks just a risk that everyone will have to live with, potentially?
GEN. LOVELACE: Sir, I'm going to have to answer you I will have to get back. Let me tell you how my day has been. I've been on the Hill testifying this morning, I came back and conducted a Requirements Board, and then I came right to this. And so I'm aware of the incident; I'm not aware of the details. And so I would not want to speculate at this time. I would prefer, if you really want, then I can get back with you.
Q In general, then, you know, given all the security that we're all so well aware of, is there just a certain level that we can get to and then it's just something we have to be prepared for no matter what security we have put in place?
GEN. LOVELACE: I've been out there a couple of times I mean, I've been over there more than once, and the security is very good. And I'm not familiar enough with the details right now to really address -- that would be, I would feel, a little bit immature for me right now to leap into an answer.
But the security is superb over there. This is done in a very thoughtful way. And they adapt the security plans accordingly. This is a thinking enemy; but on the other hand, against some pretty smart young men and women over there who are also -- you know, we are lucky. We have the best soldiers in this world. They are a treasure. And at the heart of what we're all talking about today is preserving that. They are the spirit of the United States Army. And the spirit is because they do adapt themselves. They think. They're there to win. They're there to do their mission. We're very, very fortunate to have their service.
MODERATOR: (Off mike.)
Q I want to go back to first principles here. Back in March -- February or March of '03, what were the Army assumptions about how many brigades there would be in Iraq in '05 or even today? General Melcher has a chart, I think, from -- what were some of the assumptions, and how would they vary from today, just for a historic baseline here?
GEN. LOVELACE: I have seen the chart, but the chart is classified. Now, those are not Army assumptions, those are coming out of theater, and those are probably a little bit more appropriate to be handled by the Joint Staff. I mean, all I do is respond to the requirements.
We knew, again, getting back to the question, I think, over here, is that we knew at a point in time, is that if the theater requirements sustained themselves at certain levels, even though we had in place strategies that we thought were perhaps going to now be different, then we knew that we would have to now begin to do things like extend or break dwell. And the preference here -- the tradeoff is to extend.
Q Can you answer one follow-up?
Just for those who don't follow every brigade-size issue here, how many active-duty brigades does the Army have? How many will be committed to Iraq by mid-June, when the surge units come in? And how many brigades does that leave you for contingencies around the world should emergencies arise?
GEN. CUCOLO: Approximately 41 active-duty --
GEN. LOVELACE: No, look -- I know the number. (Laughter.) I'm just -- I wasn't wanting Carl to answer.
GEN. CUCOLO: He's being careful.
GEN. LOVELACE: I'm being careful, all right? Anybody can tally up the number of brigades that we have right now. We've got in the high 30s available, all right? And we're building out, as you all know, to 42. We're building two more as we speak. We've started those at Hood and we've started it at Fort Riley, Kansas. And then behind that come two more. That gets us to what was going to be the QDR strength, all right? So that kind of gives you the number. And you know what the grow-the-Army number is, which is the 48, but that takes us over the POM until fiscal year '11.
And so you can count the brigade flags. You know, we run about 13. We've got two more AC -- active component formations in Afghanistan, and we've got another deployed in Korea. And that's basically where we are right now. And then you -- of course we've got the -- you know, we -- a little bit overlooked, but we have six brigade equivalents with the National Guard, all right? And then we've got additional capabilities that they provide to train the Afghan national army in Afghanistan, and they also take care of the formations, both in the Sinai and in the Balkans.
GEN. CUCOLO: (Off mike.) The gentleman in the purple is next. Then I'm going to work my way around.
Go ahead. Purple tie, go ahead, sir.
Okay, Pam, go ahead.
Just to sort of follow up on that, sir, if -- I know the Army like plans for the demands in Iraq, you know, say if they stayed the same. Given the projected growth in brigades and increase in brigades, then how long would it take to get to a 12-month tour, a 12- month dwell, and then to the 12-month tour, two-years dwell?
GEN. LOVELACE: You're talking about the demand would have to go down. I mean, that's the real variable in this regression equation; that's the greatest degree of variance is with the demand. Demand would have to go down considerably before we can get to that. Although we're growing the force, and that was all part of what was the secretary of Defense's decision back here in early January, based upon a decision by the president, was to grow that force, demand has to go down.
Q Well, could you give a sense of -- you know, I mean, it is sort of a mathematical equation. How far would the demand have to go down? So -- in other words, you could never get to that, sustaining this level. So how far would it have to go down?
GEN. LOVELACE: It would have to go below 15.
GEN. CUCOLO: Mike Mount, CNN.
Q Sir, since the war started, the Army's seen an increase in desertions. Can you talk a little bit about if you've kind of looked at what this extension plan will do to the desertion numbers for the Army? And second, have you also examined what the costs will be per year for this extension plan?
GEN. LOVELACE: I'm going to pass this one to Roy. But I'm just thinking, nobody's going to desert, I hope, in Iraq. (Laughter.) But, you know, as we hoped nobody was going to desert also with us in Korea, because how are you going to get off the peninsula?
I'm sure Mr. Wallace wants to answer that question.
MR. WALLACE: We'll take a shot at that one here. I believe what you're talking about is this year's figures are higher than last year's figures. If you go back in time and you look even before we started this, and you go back to 1999 and before, you'll see that the numbers are relatively the same as they are right now. So is that a spike or is it not? We've gone back to historical norms, is the way that we look at it, with the force. And we're growing the force at this time too, so I have a lot more people that are in the force right now.
Q Have you taken a look, though, at what -- if you might be looking at increased desertions? Is that something to look at now?
MR. WALLACE: Absolutely. Every month the Army G1 goes through all of the statistics, whether it's desertions or it's other things that we look at to take the pulse of the force, whether it's sexual assault or the other things that we worry about a lot.
And we are looking at this one really hard. But when you look at it and you compare it to history, yes, it's more than it was last year; but when you go back and look at before the war even started, we're right about where we always have been.
GEN. CUCOLO: I saw a hand.
Q I have a second question -- (off mike). The cost of the extended time in-country, if you've broken that down to what that would cost per year?
MR. WALLACE (?): I don't have the costs per year. I don't have --
: I think it's a little premature. What we're doing now is going through all the units. When you look at this, it's first based on where their unit has been extended, okay, but then you have to go inside of that unit, and you look at the individual soldiers. And some of these units have people that have gotten there and been there only for six months. So we're going through by Social Security Number right now to take a look at that to put a cost on it, so we're not there yet.
GEN. CUCOLO: I saw a hand, Army Times.
GEN. LOVELACE: Could I just say one thing here?
GEN. CUCOLO: Yes, sir. Go ahead. I'm sorry.
GEN. LOVELACE: You know, I guess the way I look at this -- if I were to answer your question, it would be this way. You know, every kid that's coming in now -- has come in since -- you know, most of these skill level one soldiers, all these young people that are predominantly the ones going out, they have volunteered to come in since 9/11. They know what they're getting into. That's why I think we look back at it in a historical perspective, and so that's kind of how we look at this.
There's not many things that you all can ask us that we're not looking at. We might not look at it the same way, but we -- but again, I think the question's appropriate. But you can see how, you know, we put it in a little bit of a perspective.
Q A couple quick questions. I want to clarify --
GEN. LOVELACE: You all know there's a couple of people on panel here. (Laughter.)
Q I know.
GEN. LOVELACE: Make sure you all --
Q This applies to MiTT teams as well, is that correct?
GEN. LOVELACE: Yes, it does.
Q And then, the secretary mentioned yesterday, five brigades that might have had to deploy before the end of their 12-month dwell time. Could you name those five?
GEN. LOVELACE: I can't name them off the top of my head, no.
Q Can I get those from somebody?
GEN. CUCOLO: You can call me. I'll see if I can get that for you, Michelle.
Is that it? Okay.
Fox News, go ahead.
Q Just so I understand, sir, if the surge were to end, would you need these additional 15-month deployments or would you be back to a stage ready, could go back to 12 --
GEN. LOVELACE: It's implied that once the -- it's conditions based, all right, and the conditions are going to determine, then, you know, how much forces you need there, and then that will determine, you know, then when we can start bringing troops out.
And so, I mean, we respond to what the combatant commander tells us they need. And so once the conditions and things get better, then we start coming out.
Q Could I just clarify on that? The issue of those 15, would you automatically go back to a 12-month rotation, or would that just be a separate decision?
GEN. LOVELACE: No, see that -- okay. See, what we said was is that we were headed already, see. And so we would have had -- you know, so somebody was going to have to extend anyway. And so that's why I was -- that was the preamble to the earlier -- I forget whose it was, but preamble to the earlier question. See, we were headed towards extensions anyway, and then with the plus-up, it's created --
Q So it would not be an automatic -- obviously, an automatic -- you wouldn't go back to 12 months if you got down to (15 ?), it would be a separate kind of decision.
GEN. LOVELACE: Yeah. That's why whoever asked the question about the numbers, you know, you can see it based upon supply and demand, you know. And it's not exactly -- you can't put them head to toe, see, because you overlap by 40 days or so in theater, see. It's about 1.15. So.
GEN. CUCOLO: Tom Bowman.
Q Yeah, I wanted to get back to the earlier questions about Secretary Gates saying this could go into next year. Could you maintain this, you know, beyond -- indefinitely, if you have access to Guard brigades? Could you just keep going after next year?
GEN. LOVELACE: Sir, I think what the secretary said was -- and I'll confirm, but I did read what he said. Now, what he said was -- he said how long can you do this? And what he said was for another year, and then from now. That's what --
Q What do you say?
GEN. LOVELACE: Well, I would say the same thing the secretary of Defense said! (Laughter.) But -- no, but -- let me -- let me --
Q (Off mike) -- or does it get to a point where you're just basically wearing out the service -- is there something you --
GEN. LOVELACE: Sir, you know that -- and it's been said we are stretched right now, and that is a fact.
Q But I'm wondering what would stop you from continuing into, you know, '08? What would? Would it be a concern about recruiting and retention? Would it be soldiers saying, "Listen, I've done two, three, four 15-months tours; I'm not going to do anymore." What exactly is it? Is it that concerns?
GEN. LOVELACE: We have this wonderful thing called the all- volunteer force, and that is something that has been with us now going on the fourth decade. And the preservation of that wonderful thing called the all-volunteer force is so important.
But at the same time, that all-volunteer force is here to do one thing -- is to win, is to win on behalf of our nation.
We've got great young men and women, and right now they're sticking with this.
And so when you asked me the question, we entered into a little bit of uncharted territory here. And that's why all the questions about concerns -- are there concerns? You bet, as we all have sons and daughters, friends and relatives and -- you know, who are serving overseas. And so we are very, very aware and need to be, appropriately, of this thing that we have there, this very wonderful thing, this all-volunteer force, who represent the best that this country has to offer.
And so we're very -- we're not careful with it. We don't treat it like China. But on the other hand, we understand, then, how we have to take care of it.
And that's why, then, as we walk ourselves into -- we will do what this nation asks of us. And we will win, no question about it.
Q But --
GEN. LOVELACE: And that's what every young man and woman over there want. They want to be part of a Super Bowl team. They want to win. They don't have free agency here. What they do have is, they've joined something that's bigger than themselves, and they realize it. And that's why once they come in, they stay. And that's why they're continuing to come in. So --
Q But it sounds like you're saying if you go beyond next year, you're worried about breaking the --
GEN. LOVELACE: So I'm not saying that. I'm not -- I did not say that. I -- you know, as I say, as we'll -- this is like -- you know, as we are walking towards finding out where the edge of this is, that's what we're doing. We're trying to find the edge.
GEN. CUCOLO: Here. Armed Forces Press Service -- (off mike).
Q Sir, we are asking a hell of a lot of a really precious resource there. I would imagine, if you find that things aren't -- you know, maybe reenlistments aren't as high as they once were, or maybe you're not recruiting the numbers you need, the Army is prepared to sweeten the pot. Is that the case?
GEN. LOVELACE: Coming my way again, (Bart ?)? (Soft laughter.)
The answer to that is that, you know, that's kind of what we've been doing. We have incentivized. We understand the market.
Y'all have had -- the former chief walked off with this. Y'all understand, then, between the ages of 18 and 24, what the market size looks like. It's about 2.4 million people.
You understand how many of those are actually eligible to come in the armed forces; it's less than one-third. And we're competing with, what, those who want to go to college. This is a premier market, and so, you know, you pay market price. That gets to your point.
Q Absolutely. It's economics.
GEN. LOVELACE: But I don't -- the point that I want to be very careful of -- I do not want this Army characterized as a mercenary; no, it's not that. It is -- these are young men and women who have in their hearts something about selfless service, who believe in what this nation is about. And so I don't want to put a price tag on it; I want to make sure we treasure what the spirit of this force is, and it's about what they believe in, not about what you pay to get them to serve.
GEN. CUCOLO: Sir, we have time for two more. Ann (sp), will you do the first one, and then we'll go to Tony, and then we're going to be complete.
Go ahead, Ann (sp).
Q (Off mike) -- do you think that a decision should have been made earlier to increase the size of the Army? And at what point -- at what point do you believe that the -- you know, that the newer units, the new brigades that are going to be coming on line -- at what point do they provide any relief for the situation?
GEN. LOVELACE: Well, you know, what we've done is basically -- you know, we went into this with the -- General Schoomaker, and the plan was to basically grow from 33 to 42 and make a decision point then to whether we were going to go to 48. I mean, that was kind of the original plan. And then that -- we then got to a point where we plateaued at 42. And so we're still building. I mean, can you imagine where we would have been if we had not made the decision several years ago to build this force in the way that we had? We would not have had these additional brigade combat teams that could have rotated in and out.
And so everybody asks the question about, you know, the decision to grow the force if we made it several years ago. Hey, we've been trying to grow this force. I mean, y'all have heard this. This is not new. We have tried -- we were trying to grow this force for several years. We're only at about as of today 507K -- 507,000 people. And so that's where we are. And so that's with -- I don't want to say a lot of effort, but it was with effort.
And so now we're going to grow this force to 547,000, and that's we're going to go on the AC and the 358,000 with the National Guard and 206,000 with the USAR. And so when we say we've made this decision, we did make this decision. And to me, we're at a point again where all we did was springboard off of the platform in which we'd already built. So it was really a -- and a guy who's been there, you know, been here back in the Pentagon for five years, so I've really kind of seen this whole thing here is is that it was just a normal en route march across phase lines here up to intermediate objective to -- what is at least another larger, intermediate objective about growing the force to 547,000.
Q But so with the 7,000, approximately, additionally coming on every year, I mean, you know, will they -- will that provide some relief? Or is it just --
GEN. LOVELACE: You bet.
Q -- you know, I mean, so when would that happen --
GEN. LOVELACE: But y'all see the math. I mean, it's we're going to grow the force until fiscal year '11, and in the fiscal year '11, it's only -- I think it's only 1K, because we've grown the force basically predominantly through fiscal year '10. It grows the force in a very slow way.
All I'm trying to say is that we're growing the force; one of the things we want to do is maintain the quality, and -- so.
GEN. CUCOLO: You get the last question. Go ahead.
You know, it's become a cliche that the Army is a broken force --
: He asks too hard a question. (Laughter.)
Q What are some of the leading indicators you watch for whether in fact the Army is deteriorating in terms of retention and recruitment figures? I'm thinking of retention of, like, NCOs and captains. What are the fair leading indicators that all you gentlemen watch to see if in fact the Army is deteriorating?
GEN. LOVELACE: You want to start off and then I'll finish up?
: You mentioned recruiting and retention. We measure that in infinite detail as we go through, by recruiting station, by part of the country, by ethnicity, by everything, because we recruit the entire strength of the Marine Corps every year. So it's pretty big business for us, and we go after that. We look at all what we call the bad things, and I can probably let Colonel Dingle talk about those because he deals with a lot of them. But we look at desertions, we look at sexual assaults, we look at --
GEN. LOVELACE (?): Drug and alcohol abuse. Some discipline.
: Right. And we measure those and go through those at least on a monthly basis as we look at those. So we take the temperature of the United States Army in a thousand different ways every month to see if we can pick up any cracks in the armor or get an azimuth on where we're heading.
And like General Lovelace said, we've grown half of our goal already in combat. So we've done some pretty amazing things over the past few years to get ourselves in the position and position ourselves for the future.
I'll let someone else take over here.
GEN. LOVELACE: Well, I'll just finish up with the question. I mean, we do. I mean, we leave very -- we don't leave a stone unturned -- (inaudible) -- I mean, we don't leave a stone unturned. I mean, whether it's in the surgeon general's arena, whether it's in the morale welfare, that lies both -- that spans both to G1 personnel or in General Wilson's area, which is in the insulation management. They have programs -- family programs that they then have a responsibility for taking care of.
All those things then lie -- have visibility to the very senior leaders inside the Army, and then those are shared with the various senior most leaders, with the chief and the secretary, along with the vice and the undersecretary of the Army. Those people see those kinds of things, and so in order to now make sure that we are maintaining the integrity and the health of the all-volunteer force.
Q Is there a new trend line, though, that's troubling at this point? You paint a picture of a force that will replenish itself in a time of war, but I mean, are there one or two trend lines that you're concerned about?
COL. DINGLE: I would say no. I mean, generally, the ones that we watch in my directorate are a relatively steady state. I mean, we'll see rises and falls as we go over time, but none come to mind, as Mr. Wallace said, taking a historical perspective, that are way off the charts. That doesn't mean there aren't some that are increasing, and we're continuing to watch them closely and adjust our programs and services in support of our soldiers and families to address those, but not that I see that are off the charts.
GEN. CUCOLO: General, thanks for coming today. I appreciate it.
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