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In recent testimony before the House Armed Services Committee, U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard A. Cody called management reforms under way in his service “the most significant change of your Army since 1939.”
As a result of initiatives Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld began even before September 11, 2001, to restructure them from fighting the old Cold War, U.S. military forces have been undergoing massive change. The terrorist attacks put these reforms higher on the agenda and required adjustments in plans for unconventional warfare but only made the change more urgent.
Nowhere has the transformation been greater or more difficult to integrate into the service management philosophy than in the Army. There it involved transforming a heavy-division structure into a more mobile, brigade-oriented force equipped with Stryker armored vehicles. Gen. Cody said 43 of these new modular brigades were in various stages of being formed or deployed. The Army’s first modular brigade, from the 3rd Infantry Division, was now posted to Iraq, while the 101st Airborne and 10th Mountain divisions were being transformed.
The Army now has 300,000 soldiers overseas in 120 countries, including 116,000 soldiers in Iraq and 14,000 in Afghanistan. The 30,000 additional troops Congress insisted be added have been integrated into the Army and will make change easier. Yet, the large commitment of troops overseas has brought an unprecedented activation of the National Guard and reserves, which today constitute 60 percent of active military forces.
That imbalance, the general said, causes planners to “pull out their hair” but recommitted the Army to transformation even with its “stress on the force.”
To effect the change, the active-duty Army has been reducing its logistics, field artillery, air defense, engineer and armor units, while increasing the numbers of low-density, high-demand support troops, such as military police, intelligence, civil affairs and psychological operations to round out its new brigade-structured units. “We’ve been able to change 40,000 slots in 2 years while we’ve been at war to make these new formations,” he concluded.
The Navy has been active too. Adm. Vern Clark, told a Senate committee the Navy has maintained 20,000 sailors a day as part of carrier strike groups in the Persian Gulf region, has flown 3,000 air sorties and delivered more than 100,000 pounds of ordnance in Iraq and has kept more than 2,000 ships at sea to deter, delay and disrupt terrorist movements.
There were more than 7,000 sailors on the ground in the Middle East, including SEALS, medics with the Marines, Seabees and hundreds of support personnel in Iraq and the region. At the same time, the Navy has focused on transformation, including the difficult elimination of one carrier group.
The Air Force has had more difficulty transforming because it has the “oldest fleet ever” that is fully deployed and highly reliant on reserve forces. Gen. John Jumper testified a day earlier that the service continues transforming into the Air Expeditionary Force concept but “We now have 270,000 out of 360,000 active duty members in the AEF deployment cycle” plus 2,000 airmen working on the ground in Iraq.
“The Air Force reserve components are playing huge roles in the worldwide operations. About 55 percent of our 170,000 airlift sorties and our 36,000 air refueling sorties last year — more than half of those were flown by Air Force — are Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve.”
Yet, he said, the Air Force is also looking to the future and transformation. Unmanned aerial vehicles, the FA-22 Raptor and the Joint Strike Fighter, better worldwide command and control systems and integrating information and intelligence seamlessly across the command spectrum will all make the Air Force effective for the future.
Retired Vice Adm. Arthur K. Cebrowski, director of the Defense Department’s Office of Force Transformation, emphasized the importance of the revised Unified Command Plan and “significant” changes in all military departments. He praised the personnel effects, especially the “very large number of NCOs and junior and midgrade officers who have combat experience” under the new transformational doctrine.
“That changes the force,” he explained, noting a large majority of all service members have been involved in transformation. He said the Army and Marine Corps have “a very robust way of capturing these attitudes, turning them back into the training for the forces that are going to deploy again.”
As Adm. Cebrowski emphasized, transformation has taken hold across the Defense Department and “will be with us a very, very long time.” The military is moving toward transformation and the nation cannot be anything but better for it.
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