United States Department of Defense United States Department of Defense

News Transcript

Press Operations Bookmark and Share

Transcript


DoD News Briefing with Gen. Schoomaker

Presenters: Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker, Director, Army National Guard Lt. Gen. Clyde Vaughn, and Chief of the U.S. Army Reserve Lt. Gen. James Helmly
February 02, 2006

DoD News Briefing with Gen. Schoomaker

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Okay, good morning.  Our purpose in meeting with you today is to explain the Army's plan for force structure changes, especially those that affect the National Guard and the Reserve.  We also hope to answer any questions you might have.   

 

            But before I go on, I'd like to say right up front how proud we are of the contributions of all the components of the Army in the global war on terrorism, and that we are continuing to build an Army that is going to serve this nation in the way that the 21st century is going to call upon us to serve. 

 

            We think that it is important that you get an accurate picture from the Army's uniformed leadership regarding what we propose and how it will benefit the nation, Army and the states.   

 

            First and foremost, the Army is committed to growing and balancing capabilities within and across active, Guard and Reserve components of the Army.  Our mission is simple:  Support the nation's global operations, prevail in the global war on terrorism, and conduct expanded state and homeland security missions.   

 

            To be clear, we have no intention of cutting the number of Guard or Reserve brigades, reducing the number of Guard or Reserve Soldiers, or cutting the level of Guard or Reserve funding.  We have every intention of building active, Guard and Reserve units that are fully manned, trained, equipped and led to perform the most likely missions that we will face in the 21st century operating environment.   

 

            The Army Reserve and National Guard are no longer a strategic reserve with months to prepare its people and equipment for deployment.  Today they are the nation's operational force and reserve.   

 

            They must be ready on relatively short notice for wartime deployments or to react immediately to domestic situations and missions. 

 

            On 9/11, given years of under funding in the '90s, many Guard and Reserve and active units had low readiness levels.  To meet recent wartime requirements, we had to pool personnel, vehicles and equipment from across the force to make some units whole before deployment. This approach is not sustainable.  Therefore, contrary to what some have heard, we are not cutting the number of brigades.  The Guard will remain at 106 total brigades, 28 brigade combat teams and 78 support brigades of varying types.  The Reserve -- Army Reserve will retain 58 supporting brigades.  The only thing that will change is the mix of these components and the mix of units. 

 

            Perhaps, more importantly, something critics are not mentioning, we absolutely committed to fully manning, training and equipping these brigades backed up by a robust and comprehensive modernization effort. In fact, regarding modernization, for the National Guard alone we have budgeted approximately $21 billion from 2005 to 2011, which is about a four-fold increase over the level of funding for equipment modernization from the '99 period. 

 

            Turn now away from force structure and to the issue of end strength.  At this time, the Army National Guard is authorized by law to reach 350,000 Soldiers.  This is not a change, but it actually has approximately 333,000 on the rolls.  The Army Reserve is authorized 205,000 Soldiers and currently has approximately 188,000.  Although our budget has programmed funding for Soldiers in uniform, we have committed to funding the Guard and Reserve to the level to which they can recruit up to their Congressionally-mandated end strengths. 

 

            From a management perspective, this only makes sense.  Given the current environment, we believe these plans are in the best interest of the nation, in the best interest of the states and the best interest of the Army and service to the nation. 

 

            Before we take some questions, what I'd like to also end with here very quickly is that we are extraordinarily proud again of all the young men and women who are serving us, their families and all of those that are not in uniform who are supporting us.  What we're talking about here is different than the battlefield.  This is much more mundane stuff, but it is crucial to our success on the battlefield, and especially our success as we face these increasing challenges of the 21st century. 

 

            I'm going to turn it over here to General Vaughn from the Army National Guard and let him make a statement. 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Thank you, sir.  Thanks very much. 

 

            I would anticipate, of course, quite a few Guard questions, so I just want to tell you first of all that this a great Army, a great Army Reserve, a great Guard, and there's a lot of pride out there in what we're doing.  And when we talk about this 350,000 end strength, I can tell you that the states and the adjutant generals are out doing remarkable things.  You need to kind of focus on what's going on.   

 

            A lot of people think maybe we're not in such good shape in recruiting, and I can tell you we're setting all kinds of records right now.  People are dwelling on too much pessimism here and what the way ahead's going to be.  So we're going to move forward as one Army.  We're going to take this chance.  We're going to take this particular time in history to get our structure right.  We're going to be collaborative with the TAGs and do this, and I look forward to your questions. 

 

            GEN. HELMLY:  Good morning.   

 

            I will tell you that from my perspective, while this is important -- and I won't say it's much ado about nothing -- I'll say that this is a waypoint that has received some notoriety on a path that we've been embarked on for some years.  The Chief mentioned 9/11.  After that, when I came into this position, I quickly assessed that we were not structured, we were not prepared for the kinds of threats our nation faces in this century.  We were prepared for those in the last century, with a larger structure than strength. 

 

            We've set about for some time, working with the Army and working within ourselves and within our National Guard brothers in arms, to build a complementary force of skill-rich Soldiers that complement the capabilities in the Army and Joint Force.  We're embarked on that. What's happening here is that, similar to other large organizations, the specificity is starting to receive some notoriety. 

 

            I would remind you, in closing, that bigger is not better.  We know what better is in our Army.  It is an Army that is strong as we are today.  It is an Army that self-perpetuates, that we grow for the future -- we're doing that -- and is an Army that's ready and responsive.  And this is all about making ourselves more ready, more responsive to the kinds of threats, as the Chief said, that we face in this century, as opposed to a sort of linear way of going about business in the last century. 

 

            So we look forward to your questions, and I echo what our Chief has said.  When you see our Soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines not only on the battlefield but here, you understand the real importance of this.  It's not about numbers.  It's about people.  Thank you. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Okay.  Charlie? 

 

            Q      General Schoomaker, are you saying that you're not going to go to the 350,000 authorized end strength for the National Guard and you're going to keep it at 333,000? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  No.  I said that we will fund to what they can recruit.  If they recruit to 350,000, the funding's there.  Their authorization remains 350,000. 

 

            Q      Do you believe you can get to 350,000? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Sir, I absolutely believe it.  And I will tell you that as you look at the January numbers come out -- and I'm front of the Chief on this, because normally we keep them all together, but this is a very important press conference -- we set all-time records in December recruiting.  We're getting ready to set an all-time January record for recruiting. 

 

            We are on a glide path, you know, to get to 350,000.  And the adjutant generals have pledged to do that.  And when you have some real time, get into some details, we took a revolutionary approach to recruiting.  We changed something that we've done not quite right all these years.  And that'll be the subject of another long conversation, probably.  But I'm firmly convinced and -- as are the adjutant generals -- that they're going to make 350,000 this year.  And we'll lay those slides out this next week or so and show you what's going on. But there's a major success story right in front of us on that. 

 

            Q      General Schoomaker, what about major opposition in Congress and among the governors that's been voiced in Congress, among the governors, to this plan?  How are you going to get by that? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Well, I think the important thing is, we're listening to them, and we are working together.  And we met with all of the -- I think -- what, 49 TAGs -- 

 

            STAFF:  Yes, sir. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  -- and then the representatives are the ones who were missing -- the other night.  And they had a lot to say, and we listened to them.  And we're doing the adjustments, trying to balance and reconcile both from the standpoint of the national strategic perspective, as well as the perspective and the impact at the local level.   

 

            So I'm convinced that we're in a dialogue here that will bring us to resolution that is going to be best, as I said, for the whole thing. 

 

            The other thing I want to tell you, this imbalance is not going to be fixed in 2006 and 2007.  This is a journey that we're on that is going to take a long time to reconcile.  And so there will be a succession of budgets and programs that are going to require a sustained effort out of the Congress and, you know, out of the department to bring us to resolution. 

 

            When I said that we were underfunded, I'll be real specific here. We had almost $100 billion in under-resourcing in the decade prior to 2011 in investment accounts, just in the Army.  That was part of that peace dividend everybody talked about.  And the level of hollowness that existed across all components, to include some hollowness in the active force, and the dearth in actual modernization that was occurring, hurt us as we were preparing to go into this.  And so we've had to go to extraordinary levels, and we've had great support out of Congress.  We've had tremendous response out of these components beyond what was expected of them before.   

 

            And so what we are trying to do is go to school on ourselves and what we've learned, and we are listening to people and we are moving in a direction and informed by the kinds of things that we're doing and the level of operations that we've had to rectify this and to put ourselves onto a path that is the path that this nation must be on. I mean, we have to do this. 

 

            Q      So would it be fair to say that you think you've developed a good plan (within) major budget problems for the foreseeable future? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I wouldn't say we have major budget problems. The United States Army, across the force, is growing in terms of our base budget, and we've gotten extraordinary supplemental support to help us do what we're doing. 

 

            Q      General Schoomaker, what is the cost difference between the 333 level and the 350 to -- in other words, what would it cost to grow that -- 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I'll have to get that -- I don't have -- 

 

            Q      General Vaughn? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  I don't have those numbers. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  But be sure that we've got the flexibility. You know, what we're talking about here is if we were at rest and everybody was inside their component and we had not mobilized large numbers of Soldiers, that this is what you budget to.  The reality is we have an army of over 600,000 people mobilized, which means that they're being paid for, these mobilized Soldiers, with supplemental funding, which means they're uncovering program funding as though they were at home in our armories, which means we've got some flexibility in the reprogramming that we can do, with the support of the Congress and the administration, to do that. 

 

            Q      Can I ask General Vaughn a question? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Sure. 

 

            Q      General, the arguments that the adjutant generals have made in opposition to this plan, do you see merit in some aspects of their argument, and in which way? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Absolutely.  And as far as arguments, I got to tell you that we as an army have worked a force structure piece unknown to a lot of people of 348,000, those that deal with numbers.  And you realize that that force structure allowance is actually inside of 350,000. So they were already set and going that way to take that hollowness out of the Army Guard. 

 

            Q      Three fifty and 348? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Three fifty at end strength.  And of course, we have to attain that.  And we were taking a structure inside the Army -- we had already agreed to take that structure, if we could, to 348. That had been socialized with the TAGs, it had been worked with the governors and had been up to the Hill and it's been briefed to them, you know, at various times.  And basically when the TAGs met and discussed this with me -- and the Chief will share you his perspective of that -- but all they said is, "Look, you know, we want to take our force structure inside of our end strength.  We got it, and we will get there.  Just give us time to help work what's best for the country in terms of the homeland and the war fight." 

 

            And so as we explore these different excursions in force structure, you know, you'll hear a lot of bubbling out there, but, believe me, we are on the right track on this thing, and the Chief is standing there solid behind this thing and he met with them.  And again, he discuss with you what his engagement was with them. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Let me -- if I could just follow-up on that and then I'll take another question. 

 

            I think  -- this is very complicated stuff.  And so I think the numbers you need to think about is the end strength is 350, and that's what it was before, and that's what it's going to stay. What we had before was force structure allowance.  In other words, there were spaces, there were units that had more spaces than there was end strength. 

 

            How -- by how much? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Twenty-seven thousand right now. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Yeah, but before -- before we started -- 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Early on … 3,000 when we started. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Okay.  So we had all these extra spaces without people to fill them, and what happened was that allows a lot migration around in there.  Therefore, you get this hollowness.  Yet you also have to have what the Active force has, which is called a TTHS (Trainees, Transients, Holdees and Students) account.  This is where you hold people that are not in units that are in school or in a hospital or -- or moving around. 

 

            And so when we talk about end strength, end strength's what's -- what we pay for and what's -- you know, those are faces, those are people.  When we talk about force structure allowance, we're talking about actual unit spaces.  It is healthy to have a delta between your end strength and your force structure allowance.  In the Active force, we have over 50,000 delta there.  That's how we send people to the War College and to Fort Leavenworth and everything without making a hole in the unit. 

 

            And so that's what we need in the Guard and Reserve, so that we can fix this problem of having people that are not MOS-qualified, people that have not been to the Basic Course and all that are sitting inside of units.  You can only do that if you establish this account and get your stuff now, and so this is the arcane discussion that's going on, that it -- what we're trying to do is build about an 8,000 TTHS account inside the National Guard as an example, so that we move people around and get them rebalanced, because we have a tremendous amount of rebalancing going on. 

 

            So, you know the discussion about cuts, we are not cutting brigades.  We are trying to balance the force structure allowance inside the end strength, and we will pay to the level -- up to 350,000 in the Guard, up to 200,000 in the Army Reserve, if they can recruit to that level. 

 

            Please, go ahead. 

 

            Q      Yes, the National Guard Combat Brigades, initially the goal was 34 brigades, now it's 28.  So why was that goal revised down?  And if you're not actually cutting brigades, what are those extra people going to be doing? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  We are going to rebalance the people that are in those brigades into things that are more useful that we need, both for the Army at the national strategy level, as well as the states. Things like engineers is an example that we need more of; things like transportation, et cetera.  Now -- 

 

            Q      So the reason you're changing the combat brigades has to do with these other needs that you have? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Well, let me explain to you what was happening in the Guard.  The Guard had 34 brigades, combat brigades.  And we -- because of the resourcing situation, had what was called 15 of those "enhanced."  You might have heard about the enhanced brigades.  Those were brigades that in fact had a higher level of readiness and had more of their equipment present and were manned to that level and trained a little bit higher level than the other brigades.  In the active force, of course, we're trying to maintain equal readiness across the board. In the Guard we had this kind of a thing.  What we are doing is building from the 15 enhanced brigades to 28 fully manned, resourced, trained brigades -- equipped brigades, just like they are in the active force.  This is a tremendous investment.  This is not taking things down, this is building wholeness up to 28 rather than the 15.  

 

            Let me give you a couple of other numbers.  We have deployed about 55 brigade combat teams equivalents out of the active force, so far on this.  About 13 of those brigades have been twice, and two of them have been three times in rotation.  We've deployed 15 brigade combat team equivalents out of the National Guard, and they have done wonderfully.  But as we said, we had to aggregate, just like we had to in the other.  And we have touched all 34 brigades. 

 

            (To General Vaughn)  Is that fair to say? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Across the board on all the missions. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Across the entire Guard on all the missions.   

 

            So what we are now doing is building capacity in here and we are shifting force structure so that we get a better balance of capacity inside the Guard.  This is like the Rubik's Cube, and we are moving wholeness around in a balance that we need.  And this is difficult, I mean there's a lot of change.  It impacts people at all levels and it requires a great deal of explanation.  But boy, if you look at the level of resource and commitment that we've got into this transformational effort, that will speak for themselves. 

 

            Go ahead. 

 

            Q      I think I understand.  But, I mean, if it's as straightforward as that, why is there so much confusion on the Hill? Why are these folks lined up against your plan? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  First of all, we've used 34 brigades all over the world, and we've had to cross-level big time since 9/11 to make this happen, because we have had this force structure end strength imbalance.  We put 26,000 folks, you know, guarding bases and ammo plants.  We've carried the -- all the Noble Eagle stuff with our brigades and our divisions.  We do the Kosovo SFOR big time.  We've taken the Sinai.  And we've taken a heck of a chunk in Afghanistan in the training.  And, as the Chief related, we've had a big investment in Iraq. 

 

            We can't build combat power today until we mobilize and cross- level our Soldiers because of the things the Chief talked about.  We don't have a TTHS account.  So, you know, where that really affects communities and employers and whatnot, is it takes folks away from their families for 18 months rather than 10 or 11 months. 

 

            And, you see, if we could build that combat power before we mobilize, we'd be a heck of a lot better off. 

 

            Now what we've done -- again, what I said earlier -- is we socialized and worked with the states and the governors to 348,000 in the four-structure allowance.  This is 28 fully-resourced trained and equipped BCTs.  We've never been fully resourced with anything.  I mean, in the history of the Guard, we've been on the bottom end of this thing.  So this gives us an opportunity to get up on that first step, you know, in terms of equipment. 

 

            He talked to the $21 billion.  That's a big deal for us.  No one's ever made that kind of a commitment to the National Guard -- 28 BCTs. 

 

            Now there are 34 brigades out there.  Collaboratively with the TAGs, we've got to figure out how we work through what's best for the nation here in the homeland and in time of war, and the adjutant generals and states have a big part of that.  They will help figure that piece out, and they pledged to the Chief to do just exactly that. Now what those other brigades consist of -- think about this -- we're in a long war.  We still have to cross …even if we drop the hammer today to do something different, we still got to cross level.  We have to have all those brigades for some period of time until we get our force structure right, whatever that right is.  And that right happens to be a heck of a lot of combat engineers, it happens to be aviation.  It's all the way across the force.   

 

            And there have been a number of excursions run -- and the Chief has put that fire out and said, "It's 348,000 like you're doing now. See if you can take that thing to 342,000 with an 8K TTHS.  There will be no cuts in any armories out there, and the end strength will stay at 350,000."  And the excursions that we run, based on a lot of other stuff right now, it -- you know, once that -- he talked to the TAGs up here, had the TAGs' concerns and of course he caught me real quick and said, "Let's get this right."  It's the time to get this right, and that's what we're going to do.  We're going to get it right for America. 

 

            Q      But the fact that you're openly saying now that you will not be using as many Guard members in Iraq in the coming year and the following years -- is that what increases your -- the feeling that you can recruit more people?  Isn't that one reason why you've had difficulty recruiting? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I think it's been just the opposite.  I think what we've found is those that are deployed have been the ones with the highest propensity to re-enlist.  That's certainly what we've seen across the components on the -- 

 

            Q      (Off mike) -- you plan to have fewer Guard people in Iraq? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Let's let some other people ask a question. 

 

            Q      Gentlemen, you've described what we're talking about here today as arcane, as complicated.  I'm wondering if you could try to, in the most basic terms, using no acronyms, that the -- you know, talk to the average American sitting on their porch in Kansas and tell them how this -- what you're talking about today will impact their life, their security, their safety; if they have a son or daughter in the Guard, how this will change their life. 

 

            Can you just really cut to the core and make it understandable for them? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  This will be -- it's not just the Guard.  It's the entire Army, and the Guard is an important part of the Army.  And what we are doing is balancing the entire Army, across all components, to match the requirements that we're going to have for the 21st century.  There's no acronym in anything that I just said.   

 

            The second thing is, we're designing an Army force generation model that we have started to populate, that will have active, Guard and Reserve units on a predictable rotational path, so we can tell people, two years from now, your unit -- Reserve unit, Guard unit, active unit -- is going to be in the hoop; prepare to deploy to whatever is going to happen.  And we line things up so that people have some predictability in life.  And because of the modular nature of the force, we now can interchange active, Guard and Reserve seamlessly. 

 

            What it means to the American people is, they're getting better return on their dollar, their tax dollar, and they're getting greater security.  And we're getting better predictability for the Soldiers and their family members, and better management of the force. 

 

            GEN. HELMLY:  (Off mike.) 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Now I can't -- yeah, go ahead. 

 

            GEN. HELMLY:  I think if I were to put that in the hometown America context, we'll put it in the case of a fire department that we're all dependent on.  We have a fire department that has 10 fire engines, and -- but we only have the fire crews for eight of those fire engines.  And so the American people, as we've seen, whether it's for war in Iraq, Afghanistan, or whether it's for hometown support, want responsiveness and readiness.  They want capability applied.   

 

            So if they want 10 fire engines, if the fire demands 10 fire engines, they want them to show up in time to quell the fire and to quell the suffering, and they don't want us to have to call on the town next door to provide more fire crews.  They want their fire crews to be ready.   

 

            I've used that analogy because, frankly, they're not as visible. The Army Reserve's been out, frankly, planning for this for the last  couple of years, and I've been asked those questions frequently, as you just said:  "Help us understand out here where were are," rather than in Pentagonese, if you will, which is, I think, what you accused us of. 

 

            So that's my response to try to help the communications effort here.  Whether it's the regular Army, the active component, the Army National Guard or ourselves, America wants capability, responsiveness and readiness, and it wants quality of effort.  It doesn't want us to sit back here and say we have to take 90 days to move people all around to fill the requirement, because then what happens to those other towns' fire departments when you pull their firemen?  They're empty.  In fact, they're more empty.  So that's just my simple effort. Perhaps as a former infantryman, I hope that came across. 

 

            Q      General -- for all three.  How many reserve component brigades right now are butting up against the two-year within five-year limitation in terms of deployments?  And how will that impact the stress on the active duty Army if you have more reserve component brigades off the table, basically, for Iraq?  Could you flesh out how you're going to manage that issue? 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  Well, that's a great question.  The Army force generation model will really help us manage that.  What a lot of folks don't really pay attention to is that we regenerate a certain percentage of our force every year; you know, those new recruits and folks that come in from the (other ) service and so on, and that's about 18 percent across the line.  So when you start to look at that in broad terms, and if it were flat-lined over five years, you'd say, well, 90 percent of your Soldiers are almost all new in five years. That's true.  So, you see, once every five years, we come real close to regenerating the whole force anyway.  What ends up staying in your force over that period of time are the people that want to stay there, which are your leaders, which is the way it ought to be. 

 

            So to give you exactness on how many are butting up against that, all of the brigades have been deployed, but within each brigade and each battalion, that percentage is continually getting better that haven't deployed, as far away from the deployment as you can be.  Does that make sense to you?  We're getting ready to regenerate our force all over again. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Let me just add to that to that, and then I'll call on you.  Take the 3rd Infantry Division, which is now returning from Baghdad.  That division has finished its second tour.  Sixty-two percent of the 3rd Infantry Division had been on the previous rotation somewhere.  Fifty percent of it had been in the 3rd Infantry Division on the previous.  Twelve percent had come from another unit wanting to go back with the 3rd Infantry Division.  And the 3rd Infantry  Division's reenlistment rate this year in Baghdad was 136 percent. What he's saying happens at a little faster speed in the active force, but it's exactly the same dynamic as you go through.  It's like a river.  

 

            Please, go ahead. 

 

            Q      I have an active-duty Army question.  You have 19,000 fewer privates now than you did in September of 2001, and you're trying to grow to 512.  

 

            This year -- or last year you ended with about 6,000 U.S. Soldiers in the entire Army -- or in the active-duty Army than you did the year before.  Are you setting your recruiting goals high enough to reach that 512?  And when do you think you will hit 512, if at all? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Well, I think you're mischaracterizing it a little bit.  We set our goals higher last year, and we missed our recruiting goal of 80,000 by 6,000. 

 

            Q      Right. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  And that goal was set higher over the previous year to grow the Army, and -- 

 

            Q      Yeah, well, even you had reached that goal last year, your Army would have stayed the same size because you're 6,000 fewer now. If you had gotten all 5,700 that you missed last year, you would be the same size as you were -- 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Well, I'm -- I'll have to go back, and we'll have to give you some figures, because I can't -- you know, I can't field strip them like that.  But let me just -- 

 

            Q      (Off mike) -- 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  If you look across, we are setting our goals to grow the force. 

 

            Q      Right. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  That's what we're doing.  We're setting our goals to grow the force.  It is not only what we recruit, but what we retain.  We are recruiting across the active, Guard and Reserve, every year our goals are the size of the entire Marine Corps.  The Marine Corps is about 177,000 Marines.  And our recruiting goal across active, Guard and Reserve in the Army is right at about 175,000, I believe.   It's in the -- it's in that category, might be a little bit higher than that. 

 

            If you take a look at our retention, last year in the active force we set a retention goal that was higher than before, and we exceeded that retention goal.  So -- 

 

            Q      Right, but the Army's smaller this year than it was last year, and you're trying to grow it.  So when do you hit 512 under your current projections? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Well, I guess I can't answer the question.  I'm going to have to -- if I don't agree with your characterization of it, so I may have to look at it. 

 

            Okay. 

 

            Q      Can you discuss the concerns about the cartoon in The Washington Post?  There was a letter to the editor -- 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I'm glad you asked that one.  

 

            Q      Thank you.  

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  We are all very upset about that.  We think it is exactly what we said in our letter.  That was not a letter that was hard to write.  In fact, you know, as far as I was concerned, I'd have written it a little bit stronger.  So -- 

 

            Q      Could you -- can you tell us what you said in the letter? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  You can read the letter.  It's on the -- it's in the paper. 

 

            Q      General -- 

 

            Q      Any response from The Washington Post, sir?  Have you gotten any response from the Post? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  It's -- they published it in the editorial page, I understand.  Is that correct? 

 

            STAFF:  Yes.

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  You know --  

 

            Q      General, can you quickly address the issue of equipment? Because you said 21 billion (dollars) over the next five years, and that's a major issue with a lot of Guard units, with their equipment in Iraq -- are broken.  How soon -- for people sitting across the country, how soon will they actually see that money being reinvested to seeing their Guard units fully reequipped? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I guess we will take time.  And it will take time in the active force, too. 

 

            Last -- on the 22nd of November of 2005, we issued our 500,000 set of soldier equipment -- the new soldier equipment, what we call the RFI, Rapid Fielding Initiative.  We are now at about 700,000 sets  of body armor.  We didn't pop it like popcorn.  It took two years from the time we dropped that money in there to build it.    

 

            You know where we started on up-armored humvees?  We now have over 11,000 up-armored humvees in Iraq alone, Level 1, and we started with about 500 worldwide in the Army. 

 

            So the difficulty in this whole thing is that the impact of your investments take months and years to realize.  And so that is why it's so important that we do this and get this balance and get this investment done and do it.  

 

            I'll say it one more time.  I've testified before the Hill. Nobody would invest in the stock market the way that we invest in Defense.  We wait till there's a problem and buy high, and then we sell low.  And we can't continue to do that.   

 

            So I think -- are we done?  Okay.  Thanks a lot.  Appreciate it. 

 

            Q      General, one thing, though.  Could you at least from the podium address the Reserve component mix in Iraq over the next year? It's going to drop, apparently.  Can you just give a sense of how -- it's been like 40 percent, and it's going to drop -- 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  We're going to continue to meet the combatant commanders' requirement on that. 

 

            Q      Right. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I'm in the business of force provision.  So you know, you will see what's announced when it's announced, and we will continue to do -- but you're correct; there is less of a reliance on the Reserve components in this particular rotation.  The reason we had a high reliance on Reserve component last rotation was to give the active force time to get the 101st and the 4th ID modularized, so we could get them over there and take some of the stress off of things.   

 

            Q      Can you quantify that it was roughly 40 percent and it's going to drop in this next rotation to 20 or 25, whatever it is? 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Do you know what -- probably ought to get -- 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  We wouldn't go into details on that.  It appears to be quite a bit less.   

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Yeah. 

 

            GEN. VAUGHN:  And so that's probably a fair characterization. 

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  I think we can get the figures, yeah, eventually. 

 

            STAFF:  We'll provide it.   

 

            Thanks very much.  

 

            GEN. SCHOOMAKER:  Thanks so much.

 

(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE.

NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.  ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED.  UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION.  FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT.  NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES.  FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.