War on Terror Gives Impetus to Army Transformation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, July 26, 2004 With the nation at war, it is more crucial than ever for the U.S. Army to restructure. And the pressure of war is giving the service the means and -- more importantly -- the will to transform, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.
The general spoke at a press conference in the Pentagon today. He said that "as unfortunate as war always is," the global war on terror is giving the service and DoD the "momentum and focus and resources to transform that you might not have outside of this."
Schoomaker said the changes the Army is going through are the greatest since during World War II. Then the Army transformed itself from one ranked 17th in the world below Yugoslavia to the greatest fighting force on Earth.
The chief said there are currently more than a million soldiers in the Army, with more then 276,000 of them deployed around the world. "Our soldiers are performing their duties with honor, dignity and courage and respect," he said. "They are the heart of our Army, and I'm proud to serve with them."
But while the soldiers are fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and remaining on alert in many other areas, the service is still transforming. "I've often compared this to tuning a car engine while the engine is running, which is not only a complex task, but as you know, it could be dangerous as well," he said.
He said transformation is moving ahead based on three basic principles. "The first is that we are restructuring the force into modular formations," he said. "We're calling these the combat forces, brigade combat teams, units of action." The Army will go from a force of 48 brigades across the active Army and the Army National Guard to one that has somewhere between 77 and 82 brigades available, he said.
A force structured this way would have about 3-year active duty rotation. The Army National Guard and the Army Reserve would be on a five- to six-year rotation, the chief said.
The second principle is rebalancing the mix among the components of the Army active duty, National Guard and Army Reserve.
Finally, the Army is working to stabilize the force.
Schoomaker said the Army will grow by 30,000, which will give the service the cushion it needs to make the changes. He said that as the service rotates forces in and out of combat zones, they are "reset" for the future.
He said this is a huge management challenge both in fighting the war on terror and to implement transformation. "But in fact, this convergence is very fortuitous," he said. The service is taking advantage of supplemental funding to maintain the Army transformation and modernization programs. The war is also giving the service "the head room that we need to do these changes and maintain the force."
The Army plan will mean "more cohesive and combat-ready formations, more stability, and a more predictable lifestyle for our soldiers and their families," he said. The changes will mean "more agile and tailored units, more high-demand units and skills, and more commonality across the entire Army."