Last updated Friday 22 December, 2006 03:23 PM

Statement by General Peter Schoomaker, Chief of Staff United States Army, before the Commission on National Guard and Reserves

General Schoomaker became the 35th Chief of Staff, United States Army, on August 1, 2003."

Mr. Chairman and distinguished Members of the Commission, as I've said before, this is perhaps the most dangerous period in our lifetime. America's interests are threatened by an array of traditional, irregular, catastrophic, and disruptive challenges. We are now five years removed from 911; the Army continues fighting this long war with high levels of force deployment, while preparing for an uncertain and complex future. This effort is as unprecedented as it is critical. I therefore, thank you for this opportunity to speak to you today about our Army, and specifically about the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. On behalf of our Secretary, Dr. Francis Harvey, and the approximately one million active, Guard, and Reserve Soldiers that comprise the Army - more than 125,000 of whom are serving in Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom today - I welcome the opportunity to emphasize our need for recurrent, assured and predictable access to the Army Reserve and Army National Guard. This is one of the most significant challenges affecting the readiness and capabilities of our Army.

The changed conditions of warfare have greatly affected our armed services with the significant and sustained demands for Army forces across the globe continuing to exceed the strategy set by the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review. As it currently stands, the Army is incapable of generating and sustaining the required forces to wage the Global War on Terror and fulfill all other operational requirements without its components - active, Guard, and Reserve - surging together. Fifty-five percent of our Army is in the reserve components, and while our armed forces have made drastic changes adjusting to the post 911 strategic environment, our mobilization policies have not.

As you know, the Army is steadfast in its determination to transform the total force from a Cold War structured organization into one best prepared to operate across the full spectrum of conflict; from full-scale combat to stability and reconstruction operations, including the irregular war that we face today. This effort includes modernization, modular conversion, rebalancing our forces across the active and reserve components, and a force generation model that provides for continuous operations. Through the Army Plan, we are driving change at an unprecedented pace across the force - Active, Guard, and Reserve -to provide the Combatant Commanders with a broad and necessary set of capabilities required to protect the Nation today and tomorrow.

Today's reserve components hardly resemble the reserve components of the Cold War, which were - by design - principally elements of the Nation's strategic reserve. As such, they were organized and resourced at lower levels than most active component units. In 1970, the Army was twice as large as the force we have today with over two million men and women in uniform; 1.36 million in the active component and 667,000 in the reserve components. Over the next decade and a half, the Army reduced its total end strength by over a half-million Soldiers. In 1991, with 732,000 active Soldiers, the Army had enough strategic depth to contribute 400,000 Soldiers to Operation Desert Storm while maintaining the reserve components as a strategic reserve. However, during the 1990s, the total Army force drew down another half-million Soldiers with the active component authorized 482,400. Today, the active Army is less than 40 percent of its size 35 years ago, and the sustained high operational demand for volunteer Soldiers is unprecedented. By necessity, the Army's reserve components have become an integral part of the deployed operational force. However, requiring the reserve components to become part of the operational force, on top of their traditional role as the strategic reserve, requires us to change the way the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve are organized, resourced, trained, and mobilized. We recognize, with great clarity, that today's dangerous and uncertain strategic environment demands that all units are maintained at a high state of combat readiness and prepared to rapidly deploy as part of the total force.

Following 911, our Army began its most significant reorganization since World War II to ensure that the formations of all components are fully manned, equipped, and trained. We have made significant progress in this regard through modular conversion and balancing the current structure between the active and reserve forces. Specifically, the Army is building a pool of 70 brigade combat teams (BCTs) and 212 support brigades of various types among the three components. We have completed the conversion of 31 brigades into BCTs, and we are currently in the process of converting 20 more, including 16 Army National Guard brigades.

Equally as important, we are rebalancing the force across all components to ensure we have the right types of units and Soldiers with the right skills that are in the greatest demand - infantry, engineer, military police, military intelligence, and special operations forces. The Army National Guard provides a total of 106 brigades and the Army Reserve provides 58 brigades. The ongoing force structure decisions are a collaborative process and we are working closely with the Army Reserve, National Guard Bureau, the Adjutants General Force Structure Committee, and others within the Department of Defense to address the right mix of capabilities across the force. The end state of this process will be a fully manned, trained, and equipped force with comparable structure, equipment and capabilities balanced between the active and reserve components.

Hand-in-hand with our modular conversion and restructuring, we have implemented the Army Force Generation (ARFORGEN) model to synchronize the cyclic readiness of all Army forces, better manage the available force pool, and provide some measure of predictability to our all- volunteer force. Our goal is to generate a continuous output of fully manned, equipped, and trained forces adequate to sustain one operational deployment in three years for the active component, one in five years for the Army Reserve and one in six years for the Army National Guard. This will enable us to maintain a continuous supply of up to 19 BCTs to meet the requirements outlined in the 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review. Sustaining this level of effort requires the availability of up to five Army National Guard BCTs during each ARFORGEN cycle and the associated combat support and combat service support units; many of which are provided by the reserve components.

In addition to our dramatic modular conversion and rebalancing efforts, we have made great strides increasing Soldier and unit effectiveness through our modernization and reset efforts. This is improving how we equip the Army across all components, including the National Guard. Frankly, we entered this war flatfooted. Investment accounts were under-funded by approximately $1 00 billion, resulting in nearly $56 billion in equipment shortages across the Army. To make reserve component units combat ready, we had to pool personnel and equipment from across the force. We also cascaded older equipment to the reserve components. This is no longer the standard. For example, we have fielded new Abrams Integrated Management (AIM) tanks, howitzers, and communications equipment to the National Guard. The reserve components receive our bed night vision equipment, GPS receivers, battle command equipment, and trucks. The reserve components are getting modern equipment at an unprecedented pace.

Given the National Guard's role as both an operational force and the States' first military responder for homeland defense and civil support, the Army is comitted to resource the Army National Guard consistent with those roles. For instance, we teamed with the National Guard leadership to identify dual use equipment in their "essential 10" capabilities. We have since fenced more than $21 billion for ground systems procurement and $1.9 billion in aviation equipment in fiscal years 2005 through 2011- greater than a four-fold increase over fiscal years 2003 to 2009. In close collaboration with the National Guard, we have also fielded over 11,000 pieces of critical equipment to priority hurricane states. The Army Reserve remains the Nation's First Title 10 responder to provide assistance in serious natural or manmade disasters, accidents, or catastrophes that occur in the United States and its territories. To ensure they can meet these responsibilities we have fenced $1.9 billion for Army Reserve procurement in fiscal years 2005 through 2011.

Our current system of integrating the active and reserve components is complex, and it works, as proven by the progress we have made in five short years. With the passage of this year's National Defense Authorization Act, the President can now involuntarily mobilize a Soldier under the Presidential deserve Call-up for 365 days versus 270. This measure will reduce turbulence in missions such as those in the Balkans, which are almost exclusively dependent on the reserve components, and is a welcome step. But we need to reexamine our mobilization policies, authorities and practices which evolved from laws written more than 50 years ago for a conscripted force and a strategic reserve.

Over the last five years, the sustained strategic demand of deployed combat brigades and other supporting units is placing a strain on the Army's all-volunteer force, now being tested for the first time in an extended period of conflict. The dwell time between deployments for active brigade combat teams is less than a year. At this pace, without recurrent access to the reserve components, through remobilization, we will break the active component. Further, because almost all reserve component units have already been either partially or completely mobilized in support of the Global War on Terrorism, current mobilization policies and practices require the Army to rely on individual volunteers from the reserve components. This runs counter to the military necessity of deploying trained, ready, and cohesive units. In my professional military judgment, we must not perpetuate the mistakes of our past mobilization policies; the practice of soliciting individual volunteers got us to where we are today. In my view, we must deploy our force in cohesive units, not as individual volunteers. This will require us to remobilize units and reserve component Soldiers, and this position is strongly endorsed by our reserve component leaders.

While our Soldiers are responding with extraordinary commitment, particularly in the face of adversity and personal hardships, we cannot allow this condition to persist. We have three choices: reduce demand; gain recurrent, predictable, and assuredaccess to the reserve components; or grow the active component.

The Nation must begin by acknowledging that these are increasingly dangerous times and realize that we are actually closer to the beginning than the end of the Long War. The first option is to believe our current high demand will shortly be reduced. However, the situation in the Middle East and rest of the world leads me to conclude we are on a new long term plateau of high operational demand, and in my view we are on a dangerous path that dictates we must increase our strategic depth, increase readiness, and reduce our strategic risk. It is ill advised for us to undertake additional strategic risks by assuming a future of significantly reduced demand. Our history is replete with examples where we have guessed wrong: 1941, 1950, and 2001 to name a few. We don't control the conditions that reduce demand.

Our second option, which I recommend, is to gain the necessary authorities to enable recurrent, assured, and predictable access to the 55 percent of the Army represented in the reserve components. Current policies restrict our ability to remobilize reserve component units, and, in my view, the current policies are more restrictive than need be under the law and hamper our ability to remobilize the best trained, best led, and best equipped units. If left unchanged, these policies will perpetuate the dilemma we are facing. Changing these policies is the most logical, efficient, and fastest way to rectify the current situation. Aligning mobilization policies with the law and the Army Force Generation Model will better enable us to meet the operational demand over the Long War and level the stress on the force.

The third option is to continue to grow the Army, most importantly the active component. Current demand on the force makes this a wise and prudent action. As you know, we have been working several years just to grow the active force by 30,000. If the Nation decides to further increase the size of our Army, it will take a significant amount of time and commitment from the Nation. Optimistically, we could add 6,000 to 7,000 Soldiers per year. Additionally, we will have to revise our equipment investment strategy and gain additional resources to support that strategy.

We are at a critical point in generating Army forces for this long war. In my view, our Nation should continue to grow the Army and fully use the reserve components as an integral part of the total force. To meet current operational requirements, we must make these decisions now, and I solicit your support.

In your invitation to appear today, you asked for my opinion on several questions related to the proposed legislation contained in H.R. 5200 and S. 2658. In my view, these proposals would introduce unnecessary complexity and confuse lines of authority, thereby detracting from the unity of effort that we strive to achieve.

Before I close, I'd like to take a moment to highlight the magnificent performance of the Army National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers. They have proven that they are indispensable partners with the active Army in defending our Nation's interests, at home and abroad. Every day, the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve prove their worth. Since 911, Army Guard Soldiers have comprised over 186,000 of the more than 650,000 Soldiers who have deployed to combat terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq. The Army Reserve has mobilized over 164,000 Soldiers to combat terrorism around the world and defend the homeland against the constant threat of attacks. Over 56,000 of these Reserve Soldiers have served on multiple deployments. In the past five years, over 192,000 Army Guardsmen have been part of the nationwide effort to secure the homeland. Last year, over 50,000 National Guardsmen - along with more than 10,000 active duty and Army Reserve Soldiers and Army Civilians - rapidly responded to assist their fellow citizens during Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. And this year, we deployed nearly 5,000 Army Guardsmen to secure the Nation's southwest border. None of these missions could have been fully executed without them.

Finally, as I said before, I would ask that you consider recommending authorities the Army needs for recurrent, predictable, and assured access to the reserve components in a way that best readies them, the entire integrated Army, and the country for war. I look forward to working with the Congress, State leadership, and this Commission to enhance the readiness of our Army. The thousands of Soldiers - active and reserve - who willingly put themselves in harm's way, away from those they love, tour after tour, deserve nothing less than the best our country can do for them.