Rush Limbaugh: We’d like to welcome to the program Dr. Francis Harvey, Secretary of the Army. You were sworn in on November 19, 2004, what were you doing prior to that Dr. Harvey?
Secretary Harvey: Rush, I was in the private sector. I was the chairman of a couple of companies and on the boards of several others. I had a long career with Westinghouse where I ended up as the chief operating officer.
Rush Limbaugh: And what was it that stood out for you among your work that the administration sought you out to be the Secretary of the Army?
Secretary Harvey: Well, I had a long, first of all, I fundamentally know how to lead, manage and change large organizations. Of course you know the Pentagon is in a phase of transformation starting under Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership. Furthermore, if you look at my corporate career, I was involved for the most of that, I was in the defense and aerospace industry involved in approximately, from a contractor point of view, approximately 25 major programs. I have a great knowledge of the, uh, the defense industry. And I have a great deal of experience as I say in leading, managing and changing large organizations.
Rush Limbaugh: I am really grateful and a lot of us here are grateful for people like you. You’re in the snake pit now as evidenced by, and you don’t need it. So I look at you as somebody who’s willing to take all this on because you genuinely want to serve the country.
Secretary Harvey: You got my primary motivation, to give back to the country what this great country has given to me. I had a successful business career and I want to serve the country and this is my time to serve.
Rush Limbaugh: Well we appreciate it. We also appreciate your time for joining us. I want to ask you about this Pentagon-contracted study. I don’t know what a Pentagon-contracted study is, and you’re in the Pentagon. Uh, it says the Iraq war risks breaking the US Army. And the Secretary of Defense, Mr. Rumsfeld, had a briefing earlier this week saying that the force is not broken. What is this all about? It’s hard for me to not think that this is political. There are so many leaks that have come out of State, out of the Pentagon over the course of the six years of this administration and I’m suspicious of this.
Secretary Harvey: I don’t think this one was political. It was a study contracted to get kind of an outside point of view. And let me say the conclusion that the Army is broke or the Army is stretched severely thin, we don’t agree with, um, ‘thank you very much for your point of view, but we don’t agree,’ because today’s Army without a question is the most capable, best trained, best equipped, best led and most experienced force this nation has fielded in well over a decade, so I can tell you the Army is performing magnificently. I think you see it in Iraq and Afghanistan. I think you see it in the response to Hurricane Katrina and so, and Rita, so I think the evidence, uh, the evidence, shows otherwise.
Rush Limbaugh: Well, the report says that soldiers and brigades are being deployed more frequently and for longer periods than what the Army believes is appropriate in order to attract and retain, uh, recruits basically. It’s puzzling to me that the Pentagon asked for this report. The report comes out and the people that asked for it say ‘no, this is wrong.’ And I, it probably confuses a lot of people.
Secretary Harvey: Well, I’m sorry it does confuse a lot of people, but the evidence says otherwise because last year we had the highest retention rate in the Army we’ve had in five years and I think retention is the greatest indicator of morale and stress on the force. And all these, these other, uh, all these other statements and as I said, uh, we retained 69,500, the highest in five years. Um, and I think, uh, if you, if you think about that retention it’s a great indicator of uh, of, a number of things. First of all, it says the soldier is satisfied and has confidence in the leadership. The soldier is, uh, satisfied that he has the equipment he needs to do his job. The soldier is totally satisfied with the job he’s doing, the difference he’s making in defending the peace and freedom of this country. And that he likes his quality of life. So those, all those factors are answered by the retention rate and if you want to get into more detail, just look at the retention rate of, uh, of the 3rd Infantry Division that’s just rotating out of Iraq this month. They beat their retention goal by 36% and that goal was the highest that anybody can remember in their history. So, and by the way, that was their second deployment. So all the indicators and the general retention and specifically, with a unit that had been deployed twice now in Iraq, indicate that the, uh, the Army is not broke, that the soldiers have high morale, and, uh, they’re deriving a lot of satisfaction out of the difference they are making in the world. And they’re very, very proud of being the liberators of, um, 50 million people and providing them with a democratic way of life.
Rush Limbaugh: The Associated Press is reporting that a retired Army officer wrote the report, uh, Andrew Krepinevich…
Secretary Harvey: That’s correct.
Rush Limbaugh: Do you know him?
Secretary Harvey: I do.
Rush Limbaugh: You do? Well, he’s concluded that the Army can’t sustain the pace of troop deployments in Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency. And he cites as evidence the Army’s 2005 recruiting slump, which they say missed the goal for the first time since ’99 and I’ve, I’ve read just the opposite. I’ve, I’ve read that the recruiting goal not having been met is a trumped up story and it sounds like it is from what you just said.
Secretary Harvey: Well, that’s, we were talking retention, Rush, Now, now, by the way I think that correlating recruiting goals with stress on the force, um, is not the proper correlation. Our recruiting goals in the sense, uh, have nothing per se to do with the stress on the force. Its’ retention, and as I said, retention is at a, at a, five year high. Now, addressing recruiting. We did miss our 70, uh excuse me, our 05 goal, but let me put that in perspective and tell you what we’ve done and what we’re doing right now. Uh, we had a goal last year of 73,400 in round numbers. The 10-year average of our recruiting was 74,400, so we missed it by slightly less, less than a thousand or approximately a thousand. So, historically, we did not do, do bad against or our performance was, was not that out of line with , with, uh, past performances. We are trying to grow the Army, so we have a goal of 80,000, so that is our challenge. For the last seven month s we have made our monthly goals and the reason that is is because in the early spring we started missing goals, we developed and implemented a number of initiatives, from increasing the number of recruiters to increasing the incentives to changing and, and enhancing, our advertising campaign. So we took a whole basketful of initiatives and I think that has a positive effect. And as I say we’re on track so far this year, but make no mistake about it. It is challenging. But we are, I think, being very proactive about it and so far so good this year.
Rush Limbaugh: Well, I think, to me, just as an average citizen, we’ve got, essentially, an all-volunteer Army and, uh, everyone that signs up for the Army these days knows very much the odds are pretty good they’re going to go off somewhere, uh, into combat…
Secretary Harvey: That’s right…
Rush Limbaugh:…or into a theater of battle. I, I think it’s profoundly positive. It says something tremendous. When you look at the diversity of this country, uh, I, I, it strikes me how you, you can go to a city, you can find 19, 20 and 21-year olds partying like there’s no worry about anything in the world. And in other parts of the country, in the same city, you can find the same age people who have a totally different outlook, who want to join the military in these times, in a time of war to defend and protect the country. And I’m not criticizing either side. I’m just, I think it’s amazing no draft is required. There’s no conscription here. I, I think this is something the American people instinctively know and are very proud of the U. S….
Secretary Harvey: I can say, I can say on my part that I’m very proud of our young soldiers, they’re, and our young men and women that decide to serve. Like I said at the beginning, you know, I’m, I’m giving back to this great country and my opinion is that serving our nation is the greatest work of life. And our young Soldiers and the young recruits that decide to do that have made the same decision and I, I can tell them, I tell all the young people out there that the Army is a great institution, a respected institution. And if they join it, they’re going to gain a skill, they’re going to improve their citizenship and most important, they’re going to be part of the organization that, that, uh, an organization that the nation relies on to preserve its peace and freedom and, and defend its democracy. And that’s what our soldiers are doing. So…
Rush Limbaugh: Did, did this report address specifically the Army or all branches?
Secretary Harvey: It was really focused on the Army and quite frankly, Rush, the, the, the suggestions, uh, that were made in that, uh, we are already doing. Uh, likewise, the suggestions in the Perry report that came out about the, a couple days ago, all those suggestions or recommendations we have been, we have been, uh, taking action for at least the last year one to two years on all the recommendations. So, we’re moving out and we have moved out and we will continue to implement initiatives by, uh, which we preserve this all-volunteer force because, as you noted, the quality’s high and it’s all volunteer and it’s doing the mission. So, um, uh, we’re doing everything we need to do in my opinion to preserve and sustain that all-volunteer force. It’s very important for the country. It’s certainly not my Army. It’s not the chief of staff’s Army. It’s America’s Army and it’s the nation’s Army and, um, it’s very important that we sustain that, that high quality that we have and, uh, that’s through all volunteer.
Rush Limbaugh: Well, Dr. Harvey, I appreciate your time ‘cause the people, uh, uh, because it’s a volunteer force, because it’s a time of war, because there are so many harping voices, uh, of a political nature, saying that, uh, soldiers can’t hack it, they don’t have what it takes, when they read a report that says the Army’s broken, it concerns them. So I’m, I thank you for your time to come on …
Secretary Harvey: That’s just the opposite of the case. I think, as I’ve said this afternoon, I appreciate being on your show and uh, and uh, good afternoon.
Rush Limbaugh: We’ll talk to you again.
Secretary Harvey: Yes, and I’ll be glad to come back any time.
Rush Limbaugh: We’ll be glad to have you. Dr. Francis Harvey, the Secretary of the Army.