Army Readiness Detailed
September 13, 2006
The United States Army is the best in the world, primarily because of the uncompromising values of our Soldiers and the exemplary leadership of our Commissioned and Non-commissioned Officers. They are the face of America that the world sees every day, and in that role they have clearly come through as the emissaries of a kind and just people. The Nation and free peoples around the world sleep better because of the willingness of our Soldiers and Officers to sacrifice everything so that others might live in peace and freedom. This is our Army today. It is imperative to provide our Soldiers and their families a quality of life and resources needed to fight and win today’s wars.
Today, two Congressmen held a press conference and released a document that contained a number of inaccuracies pertaining to Army readiness. We are currently reviewing this document to clarify the statements in this report. Several examples follow. This document contains many inaccurate statements about recruiting and retention including asserting that “the Army may fall short by about 1,000 recruits.” The reality is we expect to meet that goal, the same goal as last year and the second highest goal since 1990, sometime next week.
Although accessions waivers have gone up recently, the category that increased is mainly misdemeanors. For the Active Army and Reserve, serious crime waivers remain below one percent, medical waivers have gone down and drug and alcohol waivers remain below one percent. Furthermore, drug and alcohol abuse has not ‘skyrocketed.’ For example, drug positive rates have decreased from 2.13 percent (FY02) to 1.91 percent (FY05).
There are also claims that “similar to last year, current data indicates that the Army is struggling to meet its reenlistment goals for mid-termers.” Actually, the Army reenlisted 103% of its 2005 mid-term NCO goal and is on track to meet its 2006 goal. Two out of three Soldiers eligible to reenlist, continue to reenlist.
The information about Category IV recruits is misleading. We have found that test taking ability does have some correlation to trainability, but it does not measure loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, personal courage, or attrition. The Army builds its leaders from America’s young people. They grow, learn and adapt to become tomorrow’s leaders. The Army complies with the Department of Defense standard for allowable recruits from Category IV, which is four percent and continues to do so. Every Soldier we recruit is fully qualified for the specialty they enlist for. These specific recruits, qualified in every way except they score in the 15 to 30th percentile on our aptitude batteries, have and continue to make excellent Soldiers. Currently, less than 4% of our recruits are in this category, while in 1980s approximately 10% recruits were in category IV—and that is the Army that triumphed in Desert Storm. Furthermore, only about 25% of today’s American males are fully qualified to serve in their Army, yet more than 60% of our recruits score in the top 50th percentile.
The Army pays close attention to attrition rates and the attrition rate has markedly dropped since 2004. This positive trend is the result of outstanding leadership in the training base, commitment on the part of the cadre and new Soldiers to meet and exceed standards, and increased rigor and relevance in training. The Soldier graduating from Basic and Advanced Individual Training today is a better trained and prepared Soldier than we've ever put in the field - by any measurable standard. We have increased rigor through training on 40 warrior tasks and 11 battle drills critical to success on today's battlefield. We've added combatives, weapon immersion, the wear of body armor, a new physical training program and extended field exercises.
And finally, Soldiers are ready to go into battle. Soldiers receive all the equipment required to execute their combat mission upon arriving into theater and assuming their area of responsibility.
We are an Army at war and there is a cost to war. The Army senior leadership to include the Secretary of the Army, the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army have been actively working with Congress on Army Readiness, modernization, reset, the Army Force Generation Process, recruiting and retention, to include many other important topics that are critical to the United States Army’s ability to fight today’s conflicts and address tomorrow’s uncertainties. Through open testimony, responses to Congressional requests, classified and closed session briefings to Congressional members, Caucuses and Committees, we have sent and continue to send clear messages to request resources for our forces to remain ready to meet our Nation’s needs.
The following is a statement recently made by the Chief of Staff of the Army on July 26, 2006 in light of recent statements about the U.S. Army’s readiness and budget realities during war:
"Recently, there have been several public statements about the readiness of the U.S. Army. The Army has been at war for close to five years now and I am extremely proud of all of our Soldiers, civilians, and families. We have asked a lot of them, from repetitive combat tours, to transforming the Army, to expanding our training base, to resetting our combat equipment. Simply put, this is the finest Army this nation has ever put into combat. Our Soldiers' collective efforts have been magnificent. I have testified to the facts about our readiness and I remain concerned about the serious demands we face. During my recent House Armed Services Committee testimony I made clear that the Army needed four things to address our readiness; 1) timely passage of a Defense Bill, 2) growth of the Army's Base Budget, 3) $17.1 billion in supplemental funding for the Army's reset in Fiscal Year 2007, and 4) $12-13 billion a year, for two to three years following this conflict, to reset the Army if we remain at the current level of consumption. The Army and the Defense Department staff are addressing these issues. The President, the Secretary of Defense and the Congress have worked very closely with the Secretary of the Army and me in the past, and I am confident we will have a way to meet the many challenges that lie ahead during these dangerous times." -- Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, Chief of Staff, U.S. Army
The Army senior leadership’s priorities continue to be the well-being of Soldiers and their families – ensuring that they have the training, equipment, and support necessary to fight and win America’s wars. Today’s Army is the highest quality Army this Nation has ever produced – it has not ‘gone South.’ To imply otherwise is an insult to the young men and women who have volunteered to protect our Nation’s freedoms.
The bottom line is the U.S. Army is the best Army in the world – it is the best manned, trained, and equipped force that has been fielded in over a decade.
For more information, contact Army Public Affairs , Paul Boyce, 703-697-2564.
Join the GlobalSecurity.org mailing list