Army Strength Adequate for War, Transformation
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 11, 2005 The Army chief of staff is confident that with the plus-up in numbers, the service will be able to transform and fight the global war on terrorism.
Gen. Peter Schoomaker testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee about fiscal 2006 budget priorities Feb. 9.
The general said the authorization that the Army has to raise the end strength to 512,400 through fiscal 2009 will allow the service to continue its transformation plan. That plan is to build to 43 active brigade combat teams and 44 reserve component brigade combat teams 34 National Guard, 10 Army Reserve and the support units needed to maintain them.
"Our requirement is to be able to deploy and sustain 20 brigade combat teams," Schoomaker said. "To do that on a sustainable model, we believe that we must be able to go to one deployment in a three-year term for active forces and a deployment in a five- or six-year term for your reserve forces."
The 512,400 active duty figure is based on continued access to National Guard and Army Reserve troops. Key to that is having units trained sufficiently prior to deployment. "If that's not true and the National Guard and reserves are not available to us under those assumptions, then my belief is we'll have to grow the active force," he said.
The Army is trying to grow itself. In the 1990s the army dropped from 780,000 to 480,000 active duty end strength. "It didn't take us long to do that just like cutting down 300,000 trees," he said. "Well, we're trying to grow 30,000 back -- 10 percent. And there is a corollary there in the length of time it takes. We've been building this force back with the authorizations that we have received as fast as we can."
He said the service has grown by about 20,000 soldiers trained, organized and equipped. The Army will continue to grow, but it takes time.
Changing the force levels is one thing, but changing the nature of units helps also. "We cannot at these force levels have single-purpose units that are not capable of operating across the entire spectrum," Schoomaker noted.
The key role of reserve components cannot be stressed enough, the Army chief said. "We're absolutely dependent upon our reserve structure to be available to us," he said. "We have to be assured of its availability to us and its readiness to meet the requirements."
The joint nature of warfare is also key. The Army depends on the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps for other capabilities an "interdependence" among the services in a way that wasn't there a few years ago.