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April 01, 2004

Here's something I can share.


...because the Chief of Staff wants it shared. It's a mixed bag of good and bad, and what some will see as good, others will see as bad. Bottom line, it represents how the Chief intends to address the challenges the Army faces.

Yesterday afternoon (?) at the AFNORTH Theater, MG Bargewell (MG B) gave a rather detailed rundown of a meeting he and other General fficers (GOs) had with the Chief of Staff (CoS) of the Army, GEN Schoomaker. The topic was the transformation of the Army and my notes follow (most of this information can be found on AKO and all is UNCLASSIFIED):

1) The presentation consisted of one slide the text of which was the Soldier's Creed. At the bottom of the slide was a saying/motto that GEN Schoomaker coined, "Warrior: Are you wearing your dog tags?" MG B stressed that the CoS is committed to instilling into each soldier two things: the Warrior Ethos and the fact that the Army is an expeditionary force. To this end, he has mandated the wearing of the American flag on the Battle Dress Uniform and, although he has not made it mandatory, wants soldiers to wear their dog tags. The CoS stressed that the mindset of the soldier must be one of always ready to deploy. The nature of the asymmetrical threat (as he characterizes terrorism) dictates this mindset and it looks as if it will be the reality for the forseeable future.

2) The CoS has determined that Basic Training is not producing enough
soldiers proficient in the basic skills of fire and maneuver and has ordered a revamp of the training to ensure that every soldier can perform these critical tasks (see the front page and accompanying article of this week's Army Times). To illustrate the CoS's point, MG Bargewell referenced the 507th Maintenance Company's (Jessica Lynch's unit) performance when ambushed by a relatively small enemy force last April in Iraq. MG B said that while they may have been great mechanics they were not ready for combat because they had not been afforded the opportunity to train in a combat-like situation (the 507th trained at both the National Training Center and Joint Readiness Training Center but remained in the Corps Support Area, thus, were not exposed to the direct fire/combat/POW situations they encountered).

3) The CoS outlined to the GOs seventeen areas on which he will focus,
only two of which MG B addressed:

--The Soldier: The CoS stated that it has become such a familiar mantra over the years for senior leaders to talk about "the soldier's well-being" as the "No. 1 objective" that it has become lip service. The CoS has directed that every deployed soldier in a combat situation is outfitted with the latest technology in both body armor (The Interceptor bullet-proof vest) and weapons.

--The Bench: Junior leaders (both enlisted and officer) in the active-duty Army/National Guard/Reserves need to be ready to step up to increased responsibilties due the "First Team" not always being available due to high


4) A favorite analogy, according to MG B, of the CoS is that the Army is like a fifty-five gallon drum with the spigot too high. That is to say, there is an untapped reservoir of personnel. On any given day there is a "ghost army" consisting of 81,000 non-deployable soldiers due to PCSs, schools, medical hold, and special assignments such as the Black Knights and the Army entertainment shows. While some of this is unavoidable, some changes are in the works so minimize this number ("lower the spigot"). For example, the Army is going to institute a stabilization program whereby a soldier will be stationed at an installation for seven years with the by-products being better cohesiveness within units and lower PCS costs. Furthermore, changes will be made in the Officer/NCO Education Systems. These include eliminating certain schools (CAS3 is operating the last of it's courses right now and then in the words of MG B "it is history"), curtailing the time spent in some schools (the CoS mentioned CGSC, the Sergeants Major Academy, and the First Sergeant's Course), and offering some schooling through Distance Learning.

5) The CoS talked about a new initiative which will affect the organization of the Army's ten divisions with the buzzword being "modularity". By FY 07 the number of brigades will increase from 38 to 48 which is roughly five per division. The brigades will be made smaller in the hope of increasing their maneuverability. Furthermore, the CoS wants to standardize the brigades giving him the ability to reach out and pull, for instance, the Aviation Brigade from the 82d and attach it to a Task Force as needed. Right now, each of the Aviation brigades are different hindering his ability to pick and choose.

6) 18,000 soldiers will be transferred on either a mandatory or volunteer basis to combat arms MOSs. The CoS said that by FY 07 the Army will create (counting Active-duty/NG/Reserve) 149 new MP units, 16 Transporation units,
11 Bio-chemical units, 9 Petroleum/Water Puirfication units, 8 active-duty Civil Affairs units and 4 PsyOp units. The Combat Arms units will also see an increase. He mentioned 22 new Infantry units, as well as 22 new Armor units. A few of the pros of this is an increase in the number of leadership positions and increased time spent with troops. He specifically mentioned that the MP Corps will re-focus its wartime mission to return to a more combat-oriented role. MG B mentioned that in WWII MPs acted almost like scouts in that they would be among the first units in an area thus increasing their chances of enemy contact. They will return to being utilized in such a manner.

7) The CoS is looking at linking retirement pay more closely to the amount
of years served and raising the mandatory retirement age. As it stands, whether a soldier serves 26 years or 38 years (as MG B has) they still receive the same percentage of retirement pay. The CoS intends to create incremental percentage increases based on years served over 26 years.

8) At this point, MG B segued into how the federal budget will drive many of the changes the CoS wants to make. According to MG B, the CoS said that
the FY 05 and 06 military budgets are relatively set and look good. In FY 07 and FY 08, however, the CoS anticipates things getting tighter due to the lack of funds available to pay for all of the Baby Boomers that will begin receiving retirement benefits (specifically, Medicare and Social Security).

The CoS believes that cuts will have to be made to pay for these underfunded programs and fears that the military budget could absorb the brunt of the cuts. As a result, the CoS wants to institute as many changes as is feasible over the next 2 1/2 years in order to take advantage of the favorable budget climate.

9) The CoS emphasized that the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT) will be long,
with high OPTEMPO and deployments being the rule rather than the exception.
Furthermore, he anticipates the use of NG/Reserve soldiers to get tougher
with more justification required before their call-up.

10) MG B wrapped up the session by saying that he worked for 14 straight years with the CoS and knows him to be a straight shooter when it comes to communication. He told that GOs that "everything is on the table for review except the Army Values." For example, the CoS stated that he is "getting rid of the Finance branch because they don't do anything but screwup our pay anyway." The CoS said that after coming back on active duty to act as the CoS he didn't get a paycheck for 4 1/2 months. One day his wife received a letter from the VA saying "how sorry we are about the passing away of your husband...." (This is the Chief of Staff of the Army!) He also said that he is getting rid of half of the Human Resources Command (formerly PERSCOM) because they have too many people and not enough work. Finally, the CoS talked in generalities about the the future of the Army overseas. He did say that he anticipated probably five "bases" to remain in Europe--combat brigades in Grafenwoehr and Vilseck, the hospital in Heidelberg, SETAF in Italy, and some kind of task force in Eastern Europe.

With that the session was concluded.