Army Far From a Broken Force, Officials Tell Congress

 By Jim Garamone
 American Forces Press Service

 WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2006  - The Army is going through a remarkable transformation and is far from a "broken" force, DoD officials told the House Armed Services Committee today.

Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld said the Army is becoming a more agile and deployable force capable of handling and sustaining missions around the world.

"Those who use words like 'broken Army' are flat wrong," Rumsfeld said. "Many of the criticisms and dire predictions about the Army have come from people who may be well-intentioned but who nonetheless are proceeding from outdated and inaccurate information."

"The Army is not broken," Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker also emphasized to the representatives. "I was in a broken Army before; many of us were that have been around. A broken Army is one that's got low morale, it's one where you've got (high) discipline rates, where you've got all kinds of other problems. We know what that looks like, smells like, and this Army's not there.

By contrast, "this is the best Army that I've ever been associated with in my life," he said, "and it's going to get much better. But we've got to go through the labor pains to get there."

Rumsfeld said the Army has demonstrated its capability, not in training exercises, but "in the crucible of combat." Soldiers have performed superbly on a regular basis in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere.

"They have made the extraordinary so routine that it's sometimes hard for people to notice just how much has changed and how good they have become," he said.

The secretary confronted questions about cutting the reserve components. "The answer is no, the Army is not cutting the National Guard or the (Army) Reserve. The rumor is false," he said.

Schoomaker said the Army had close to $56 billion in equipment shortages when terrorists attacked the U.S. on Sept. 11, 2001. "It necessitated taking equipment from units in the states, active, Guard and Reserve, and pushing them into the war zone so that we were assured that we would have absolute complete capability in the hands of the warfighter," he said.

Schoomaker said the United States is in a long war, and the country and military are learning and adapting. "And every day we see different kinds of capabilities and capacities that are required, and we're doing the kind of adaptation that's required," he said.

The Army is "gaining momentum, because of the war, to fix these things much faster that we would ever be able to do in a static peacetime environment," the general said.

Schoomaker said the Army is growing capabilities, not cutting them. "I just want to 'foot stomp' the fact that we are not cutting the Guard or the Reserve or the active force in terms of the end-strength," he said. "We are rebalancing inside of that end-strength cap. And there is some discomfort and some pain associated with it that will require some cooperation."

He said the service is working with the state adjutants general, the National Guard Bureau and the leaders of the Army Reserve.