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Public Statements

Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - State of the United States Army

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Location: Washington, DC


Hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee - State of the United States Army

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SEN. EDWARD KENNEDY (D-MA): Thank you very much.

I listened carefully, General Casey. You talked about the attitude about the defense of our country after Desert Storm and the Cold War. And that's where we were in 9/11. But at 9/11, the Army had 1,370,000 active duty -- 1,300,000 in active duty.

And we're battling against Iraq at 25 million that had been beaten 10 years before, against -- whose army had been disbanded, military had been put in jail, Iraqis who had fought the Iranians during that period of time. We have 1,300,000.

Five years later, you're saying the current demand on our forces exceeds the sustainable supply. We are consumed with meeting demands of the current fight, unable to provide ready forces rapidly as necessary for potential. Our Reserve components are performing an operational role which -- where they are neither originally designed nor resourced. Current operational requirements for forces and limited periods between deployment necessitates a focus on -- (inaudible) -- to the detriment of preparedness for a full range of military missions. Soldiers, families, equipment are stretched by demands of lengthy, repeated deployments, equipment used in a harsh environment wearing out at far greater pace than expected.

Who is this mythical military that's battling and taking on an army of 1,300,000 people and find ourselves in this kind of shape? Who is this incredible military force that is challenging the greatest military force that we had even in 9/11? Who are they?

GEN. CASEY: Are -- you're talking about the --

SEN. KENNEDY: I'm talking to you.

GEN. CASEY: -- the insurgents and the terrorists that are operating inside Iraq and Afghanistan.

SEN. KENNEDY: I'm talking about who has challenged our military, that have put the military in the condition that you've just described, when we had 1,300,000 at the start of the war against a country of 25 million which we had successfully beaten 10 years before, and whose army had been basically dismissed, the military had been put in jail. And now we have this incredible force, and you talk about how we are going to, in the military, we're going to have to take on this increasingly threatening force that is out there, the enemy.

How did this all happen? How did the greatest military in the world -- and how is this going to alter and change -- how are we going to alter and change it and shift it?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, I go back to what we said about decisions that were made in the '90s. This force, in numbers, was 1.3 or --

SEN. KENNEDY: One point three million.

GEN. CASEY: But it was not organized, trained, and equipped fully.

SEN. KENNEDY: A million three hundred thousand against what? What were they against? Who were they against?

GEN. CASEY: Half of those are in the Guard and Reserve.

SEN. KENNEDY: All right, but who are they -- who's their opposition?

GEN. CASEY: The opposition was originally the Iraqi military, which we dealt with quite rapidly.

SEN. KENNEDY: And the military, they were defeated and disbanded. So who is the -- with this million three hundred thousand, who is it that we can't handle?

GEN. CASEY: But I go back to that 1,300,000, Senator, was not properly organized, trained, and equipped.

SEN. KENNEDY: To take on an Iraq of 25 million --

GEN. CASEY: To take on anything.

SEN. KENNEDY: -- that had been defeated 10 years before and had a defense budget of what?

GEN. CASEY: To take on anything, Senator. You know, the National Guard, there's a perception --

SEN. KENNEDY: Okay.

GEN. CASEY: -- that the National Guard left a bunch of its equipment in Iraq and Afghanistan. They never had it.

SEN. KENNEDY: All right -- (inaudible) -- keep moving. Just to follow up on Senator Levin on the numbers of people in the -- as I understand it, over half of the West Point class of 2000 left as soon as possible, 2001 fared slightly better, 54 percent. So are we losing half of the West Point class now? Is that -- are these figures that we've been --

GEN. CASEY: Those figures sound about right, Senator, and as I've told Senator Levin --

SEN. KENNEDY: And that is the best that we can do?

GEN. CASEY: And that is slightly above historical norms.

SEN. KENNEDY: And that's been -- that's acceptable for -- you know, just as somebody who's been appointing, I take it seriously, the people I appoint to the Military Academy. I'm really rather shocked that the people that I appoint, that get that opportunity to serve, are not staying in there. They make all kinds of representations when they're looking for these appointments to go to the Military Academy, and they're outstanding young people.

But why is it that they refuse -- that they're not staying on in, with the kinds of opportunities they have? And the expressions I'm sure they've made to each and every one of us. We appoint a certain percent; the House, the president selects the others, and only half of the people that we appoint are staying in the military, West Point?

GEN. CASEY: Yup. And Senator, all those decisions to stay or go are very personal decisions. As I talk to the young captains and majors, a big factor is the extended deployments that we're putting them on. And I say we have to put ourselves back in balance.

SEN. KENNEDY: Just let me come to the point that Senator Warner, in -- this is in today's Washington Post. It talked about Army Lieutenant General Odierno, the commander. It's unclear how long the window, as Senator Warner pointed openly -- the decline, and at least as they define, in attacks, sharp reduction in attacks on troops and civilians. The lack of -- it's unclear how long the window, the lack of political progress, calls into question the core rationale behind the troop build-up President Bush announced in January, premised on the notion of improved security to create space for Iraqis to arrive at new power sharing. And what if there is no break through the next -- (word inaudible)? If that doesn't happen, Odierno said, we're going to have to -- have to review our strategy.

Here's General Campbell, First Cav, complained last week the Iraqi politicians are out of touch, ministers don't get out, they don't know what the hell is going on on the ground. These are military figures talking about -- Aren't we effectively outsourcing American military and security issues to the politicians in Iraq that refuse to leave the buildings and go out and see what's going on and making an accommodation so that we could --

GEN. CASEY: I will disagree with that.

SEN. KENNEDY: -- so that we might be able to see the beginning of the withdrawal of American troops?

GEN. CASEY: I wouldn't agree with the statement they were outsourcing security, Senator.

SEN. KENNEDY: Well, what's another way of stating that the generals, these generals are saying -- you couldn't say it any better. The ministers don't get out. They don't know what the hell is going on on the ground. And we're still staying over there. How long are we going to stay over there till the civilian leadership understand what's going on the ground?

GEN. CASEY: Senator, I think the better way to say it is what we have all said, that the solution in Iraq is ultimately not a military solution, and it's a political solution. And I applaud those officers for speaking out about that.

SEN. WARNER: And I join you and applaud those officers for speaking out, because that's the type of information this body needs.

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