Army Must Change to Remain Relevant, General Says
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
TACOMA, Wash., March 12, 2006 The U.S. Army is the greatest it's ever been, but to remain effective for the future, it must make changes, a top Army commander said here yesterday.
"As good as the Army is today, we will need a better one tomorrow," Army Gen. Dan K. McNeill, commander of U.S. Army Forces Command, said at the Pacific Northwest National Security Forum. "We will need it because the strategic landscape in which we operate is changing; it is becoming considerably more complex."
The U.S. no longer faces enemies with traditional armies as it did in the Cold War, but a network of insurgents who employ irregular tactics and have no regard for human dignity, McNeill said. The Army, along with the other services, is changing to more effectively fight these enemies and to be prepared for unforeseeable future threats, he said.
As the Army undergoes transformation, leaders keep in mind four key ideas that bring the force together, McNeill said.
First, Army leadership remains committed to producing units that are trained and ready for the challenges they will face, he said. To do this, the Army has overcome years of under-funding and has changed the way it does business to ensure resources will always be available, he said.
Second, the Army recognizes that intellectual change precedes physical change, so the Army is changing the way it trains leaders to make them more versatile, McNeill said. The Army needs versatile, adaptive leaders that are able to operate in changing environments and make tough decisions, he said. To that end, the Army is undertaking a major review of how it trains, educates and assigns leaders, he said.
The third idea is that soldiers' effectiveness depends on a national commitment to recruit, train and support them properly, McNeill said. This commitment must be underwritten by consistent investment in Army equipment and programs, he said.
Lastly, as the Army transforms, leaders must remember where they started, McNeill said. At the beginning of the war in Iraq, many units were under-equipped or ill-prepared for deployments, especially reserve and National Guard units, he said. To fill these slots, the Army pulled people from other units, which created a domino effect in readiness, he said. Army leaders learned from these mistakes and have changed the way they do business so that will not happen again, he said.
The Army is on the right road of transformation, but it still has progress to make and will need continued financial support in key areas, McNeill said. Recruiting and retention efforts, the Future Combat Systems program, the Army Force Generation Model, and Army installations are all things that will need funding to ensure the Army remains able to perform its mission, he said.
"We have to change to maintain this great Army as a relevant force tomorrow," he said. "To remain the preeminent land power on Earth, it is clear to all of us who have leadership responsibilities that we have to change."