Hearing Of The House Armed Services Committee - Fiscal Year 2010 National Defense Authorization Budget Request From the Department of The Army
Chaired By: Rep. Ike Skelton
Witnesses: Pete Geren, Secretary, United States Army; General George W. Casey, Jr., Chief Of Staff, United States Army
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REP. SKELTON: Good afternoon. The House Armed Services Committee meets now to receive testimony on the Fiscal Year 2010 Army Budget Request.
Our witnesses today, the Honorable Pete Geren, secretary of the Army and a former member over here, General George Casey, chief of Staff in the United States Army. And we welcome you and thank you for coming to our hearing.
Afghanistan and Iraq have driven big changes for the Army. New doctrine manuals on counterinsurgencies, stability operations, and security forces assistance have all been issued in the past years and they all point to the increasing interests on balancing the effort of the Army between traditional convention war and stability operations and irregular warfare and this too may drive force structure changes and Army looks to build the advice and assist brigades that the president mentioned as part of changing our mission in Iraq.
What these will look like, whether we institutionalize these brigades and how they'll be used in the future are all significant questions. Budgets, as we often say, are the actual demonstration of our strategy and the way ahead. I think the Army budget has been submitted and it certainly points to big changes; the cancellation of the FCS vehicle, the decision to build only 45 instead of 48 active duty combat brigades; and the handoff of the joint cargo aircraft program to the Air Force are just a few of the very significant changes in our budget.
I'm sure our committee will have many, many questions about these program changes.
At the same time we ask about the future we shouldn't lose sight of the present in doing so. Our readiness levels are still unacceptably low. I hope we will hear today about how we will fix that readiness problem, particularly since the budget appears to flat line operations and maintenance funding.
Army recruitment and retention, on the other hand, seem to have recovered significantly from the levels of a few years ago, although it remains to be seen what happens when the economy begins to recover. In the past we've moved to aggressively to cut funding for recruitment and retention and I hope that we will hear more about this today.
Back home this budget appears to continue the commitment to take care of our troops and their families by funding a 2.9 percent pay raise and increasing funding to care for the wounded and the injured. Best of all, this budget moves those funds to the base budget, institutionalizing them for the future.
Famous support programs such as child care and spousal support also fare well.
I have long said that our people and their families our first priority. I'm glad that this budget appears to adopt that point of view.
In short, the budget signals many changes for the future. Some, like the continuing commitment to our personnel, are welcome. Other decisions, however, will no doubt generate many questions. Decisions made today will develop the Army of the future and should not be entered into lightly. We've heard the General talk about this at length.
We need to understand the future environment that's envisioned and the way these programs will address them. I hope our witnesses here today will help us.
I now turn to my friend, the ranking member, gentleman from New York, John McHugh.
REP. MCHUGH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. It's good to see you again, Mr. Chairman. It's been a while since we've seen each other. A little time together the last 36 hours or so. I was quipping earlier about this time if I want to know if I need to shave I look at Ike Skelton's face but -- we're honored, of course, to have our distinguished panelists. As you noted, Mr. Chairman, we've had, on the plus side, some opportunity to say thank you some remarkable leaders and today, this afternoon's panel is certainly no exception.
General Casey and Secretary Geren have been incredible leaders in an army who's success story has been, first of all, a tribute to that leadership and second of all a real testament to the men and women who wear the uniform of the United States Army. And it's remarkable in the midst of a war and two very different theaters, the Army has completely transformed its structure of the forces, adapted to the enemy environment and moved ahead with its modernization. And those are hard things to do under the best of circumstances and obviously these have not been the best, they've been very challenging circumstances and, gentlemen, thank you and please convey all of our deepest appreciation to those brave men and women who wear the Army uniform for all that they have done and continue to do in remarkable ways each and every day.
Two years ago, gentlemen, both of you testified before this committee regarding the Army Strategic Initiatives. You, I felt, made it very clear at that time that the Army was out of balance, it was not a secret, not a surprise. You made it clear as well as you continue to shepherd our way through those challenges that it would probably take three to four years to reacquire that balance and in the process having the Army seek to achieve four objectives; sustain, prepare, reset, and transform.
And the question is, the chairman I think rightly outlined, is does this budget request fail or succeed in the many choices that it had to make to support those efforts?
And let me just pick off a few areas that I think we need to explore and obtain your opinions on. The fiscal year 2010 Army top line request is advertized as being rather significant 2.1 percent increase over '09. But that can be somewhat misleading when you add together the funding that was received in the past through supplementals and the drop off as we migrate those supplementals into the base it looks more like the fiscal year 2010 Army budget will be funded at something around four billion less than fiscal year '09.
Secondly, those costs associated with end-strength, the increases in reset, which are so important.
Our men and women in uniform, the heart and soul, our efforts to grow this force that many on this committee, in fact, the vast majority of this committee have worked hard to achieve has been funded through supplemental appropriations, approximately $20 billion a year.
I support doing away with supplementals. I think the president and Secretary Gates have taken an important step forward but again, as we consider that migration into the base, the Army's budget and supplemental, now called the OCO, the Overseas Contingency Operation account, doesn't appear to have increased accordingly. If fact, the fiscal year 2010 OCO funds reset at $11 billion. We have more forces going to Afghanistan and more equipment returning from Iraq and yet reset is reduced by several billions of dollars.
In that same vein, procurement accounts for the Army, not including JIEDDO, the Joint IED Defeat Organization, in the past were funded at some $61 billion in '08, 37 billion (dollars) in '09, yet the request for fiscal year 2010 totals about $30 billion.
I remember very clearly, Mr. Chairman, and you may recall as well, that then Chief of Staff General Schoomaker coming to this very room and telling us the Army entered the post 9/11 world with a $56 billion procurement short fall. He called it holes in the yard.
And the question, therefore, is pretty simple, does this budget signal the start of yet another procurement holiday? Or does it represent an equitable balance of hard choices?
Just a couple other areas of concern; Army R&D accounts were funded at 12 billion (dollars) in '08 and '09 yet the 2010 request has been decreased to 10 billion (dollars).
And while the president and secretary of Defense have said they support the army's plan to grow the force, something I credit the president with, that is putting into one of the highlights of this proposal a 2.1 percent increase when adjusted for inflation causes me some concern that the army might have to pay for much of this increase out of pie.
And lastly, before the QDR, the Quadrennial Defense Review, has really even begun a decision has been made, as the chairman referenced, to cut projected army force structure by three BCT's.
Was this a cut, again, as a matter of hard choices on balance or what it, I fear --- I'll rephrase, I hope it is not, and that is a lack of commitment to growing the force. And chief, you and I have talked about this and I think it's important to have your views placed on the record. I think they're enlightening.
So in conclusion, gentlemen, we look forward to your comments. All of us stand together as one team. That's the pride of our nation's military forces and it's also, frankly, the pride of this committee that we work in ways that for all the differences we might bring to the table we understand our unified commitment has to be to those men and women in uniform that serve us so bravely.
So again, gentlemen, thank you for all you do and with that, Mr. Chairman, I'll yield back the balance of my time.
REP. SKELTON: I thank the gentlemen.
During our hearing yesterday the secretary and Admiral Mullen, as well as this morning when we had the Navy and Marine Corps here, we were interrupted by votes on the floor and I anticipate that might happen again. So we ask you to bear with us. We shall return and continue our hearing.
SEC. GEREN: Thanks, Mr. Chairman, and Congressman McHugh.
It's truly an honor for General Casey and me to appear before you and discuss our United States Army, an army that's been built on a partnership between this great institution and the soldiers of our army, a partnership that goes back to the first Continental Congress and continues to this day.
We provided the committee a full posture statement and I ask that that be introduced into the record.
The Army family suffered a horrible tragedy in Baghdad Monday, two days ago, and I know all of our prayers and condolences go out to the loved ones who lost their lives in that incident.
Sergeant John Russell has been charged under the uniform code of military justice with five counts of murder. I know many of you have questions concerning the tragic incident. However, because of the role of service secretaries in the military criminal justice system and concerns about command influence, we won't be able to discuss that in this hearing today. I just wanted to address that at the outset.
Mr. Chairman, the president's budget for 2010 is before the Congress and it recommends $142 billion for our army. The army budget is mostly about people and the operations and maintenance to support our people. Our personnel and O&M accounts make up a full two-thirds of our budget, reflecting General Abrams' axiom that people are not in the army, people are the army.
Our army, soldiers, families, and civilians were stretched by this long war but our army remains the best trained, best led, best equipped force we've ever put in the field and this committee's ongoing support has much to do with that and we thank you for that.
Mr. Chairman, the non-commissioned officer is the backbone of this great army and we designated 2009 as the year of the NCO. At the front of every army mission, here or overseas, you will find a non- commissioned officer. This year we give our non-commissioned officers special recognition and commit to enhance their professional development to be able to meet the demands we place on them.
I'd like to recognize former non-commissioned officers who serve on your committee; Congressman Coffman, Congressman Conaway, Congressman Marshall, and Congressman Reyes.
This year we are honoring all non-commissioned officers, past and present. And next week we're going to honor all former NCO's who are members of Congress with a parade at Fort Myers' Whipple Field on May 19th and we hope all members can join us to recognize these great soldiers who are now serving our country as members of the United States Congress.
Currently we have over 710,000 soldiers on active duty, with 243,000 deployed in 80 countries around the world. Additionally, we have over a quarter of a million army civilians providing support.
Our National Guard and Reserves continue to shoulder heavy burden for our nation. Since 9/11 we've activated over 400,000 guardsmen and reservists in support of OIF and OEF and we're all thankful that our reserve component carries such a heavy load in responding to domestic emergencies.
We truly are one army. Our National Guard and Reserves are transitioning from a strategic reserve to an operational force and I'd like to discuss some of the progress we've made.
In 2001 we spent about $1 billion on National Guard equipment. This year we're spending $4 billion and we have for the last couple years. The '10 budget calls for $4 billion dollars.
As a result we anticipate that the last Huey helicopter, the venerable workhorse dating from the Vietnam era will leave guard service by the end of this year. At that time the guard will have 40 brand new light utility helicopters and nearly 800 new Blackhawks, with more on the way.
Additionally, over 8,000 new trucks have been provided to the guard and the famous deuce and a half soon will go the same way as the Huey.
This 2009 hurricane season is the first since 2004 in which the guard is not going to have to borrow equipment from the active, or the reserve components to meet their planning needs for the hurricane season.
And we've also made good progress in implementing the recommendations of the commission on National Guard and Reserves with 14 of the 19 army led implementation plans completed.
Mr. Chairman, as you well know, soldiers are our most valuable asset. The strength of our soldiers depends on the strength of army families and the support of those families is a top priority in this budget. From FY '09 to FY --- excuse me, from FY '07 to FY '09, with your support, we've more than doubled funding for our army family programs and this FY '10 budget it includes $1.7 billion in the base budget for family programs.
We have made many changes in how we support families. We've provided full time personnel to family readiness groups to provide support to our volunteer spouses who carry such a heavy load in this time of multiple deployments.
We're providing expanded child care for families of deployed soldiers including 16 hours per child per month of free child care for every deployed soldier's child.
The budget maintains SRM and continues to push ahead with RCI, the program that you championed. They're at a level that will ensure that we provide our soldiers and families with the quality of life they deserve.
The budget continues improvement in the care and support of wounded soldiers. And we have initiated programs to better diagnose and treat the invisible wounds of war, PTSD and traumatic brain injury. And with Congressional leadership we're investing unprecedented amounts in brain injury research.
The FY'10 budget also will let us work towards a seamless transition from the department of Defense, the Veteran's Affairs, for those wounded or injured soldiers who return to private life.
After seven plus years of war with an all volunteer force we are in uncharted waters and our soldiers and families are carrying a heavy burden for our nation. We're working to reverse the tragic rise in soldier suicides. It's a top priority throughout our army and our vice chief of staff of the army, General Chiarelli, is leading that effort.
We've partnered with the National Institute of Mental Health on a five year, $50 million study to incorporate their world renowned expertise in mental health research into the Army's suicide prevention efforts.
We're educating all soldiers in new and innovative ways of suicide risk identification and reduction. Every NCO knows how to recognize the symptoms of a heat stroke and knows what to do about it. Our goal is for every soldier in the army to be able to identify the symptoms of a potential suicide and know what to do about it.
We've also launched new initiatives to attack the problem of sexual assault and harassment. And as we work to prevent sexual harassment and sexual assault, we're also working to become the nation's best in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault.
We've used the highly qualified expert authority that you gave us a couple years ago to hire national experts to work with our investigators and prosecutors. We want to be the nation's model for the prevention, investigation, and prosecution of sexual assault.
To meet the mental healthcare needs of a growing force, MEDCOM has increased their mental health providers by about 40 percent and we have more than 200 behavioral healthcare providers deployed to theater. But even with these increases we do not have all the mental health support that we need and we will continue to work with this committee to address that issue.
Whether the problem is PTSD, suicidal ideation, the trauma of sexual assault or dealing with any mental or emotional health issue, we're working hard to remove the stigma that stops some soldiers from seeking help for their mental health needs.
We've improving how we do business, instituting major reforms in our contracting acquisition processes, while continuing to provide the equipment our soldiers need to the more than 250,000 soldiers scattered around the world.
We thank you for last year, you authorized five new general officers for our contracting command and it's going to make great strides for us in building the bench that was depleted over the last 15 years. And we're adding nearly 700 military and over 1,000 civilians for our contracting workforce.
Being a good steward is more than just taking care of our money. Our goal was to lead the department and the entire government in protecting the environment. Our army's energy security strategy reduces energy consumption and carbon dioxide emissions by using innovative technologies.
At Fort Carson we build a two megawatt solar project. We have solar projects at 20 other locations and currently we produce nearly 19,000 megawatts of non-fossil fuel energy on our installations around the country. We're planning for a 500 megawatt solar farm at Fort Irwin, bigger than any solar project in America today.
At Fort Myer you can see some of the 4,000 electric cars we're in the process of acquiring. Those 4,000 cars will cut fuel consumption by 11.5 million gallons and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by over 100,000 tons per year and we are investing of $54 billion in green buildings. I'm pleased to report that we are on track to finish BRAC by 2011.
Mr. Chairman, in summary, we're a busy, stretched and stressed army with soldiers, civilians and army families doing the extraordinary as the ordinary every single day. Our nation's finest young men and women are ready to respond to whatever our national leaders demand around the world and here at home.
In 2008 nearly 3,000 men and women enlisted or reenlisted in our army, joined our army, or reenlisted in an army at war. They're volunteer soldiers with volunteer families. They're proud of what they do and we're proud of who they are.
For the past seven and a half years I've watched soldiers go off to war and I've watched their families stand with them and watched our Congress stand alongside them every step of the way.
Mr. Chairman and members of this committee, thank you for your support of our soldiers and their families and for the resources and support you provide us every year.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you, Mr. Secretary.
And now for the uniform leader of our army, General Casey.
GEN. CASEY: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And before I start though I'd like to pick up on the secretary's theme about the year of the non-commission officer.
SEN. SKELTON: General can you get just a little closer to the microphone?
GEN. CASEY: I can.
As I said, I'd like to pick up on the secretary's theme about the year of the non-commissioned officer and I'd like to present to you some great non-commissioned officers and the spouse of a fallen non- commissioned officer.
First I'd like to introduce Sergeant Joel Dulashanti. He's a sniper from the 82nd Airborne division from Cincinnati, Ohio. He was wounded in Afghanistan, fairly severely, lost his right leg and he's the holder of a Purple Heart and Army commendation medal for valor. He's here recovering and expects to be back in a couple of months to his unit.
Second, Staff Sergeant Brian Tidwell. Sergeant Tidwell has two tours in Iraq, both with striker units and he, like the other three NCO's you'll meet now, are all helping us in our program executive office for soldiers. They're giving us direct combat experience into preparing equipment for our soldiers. Thank you Sergeant Tidwell.
(Inaudible)- Sergeant Jonathan Holmes, one tour in Iraq. He's an air defense artillery non-commissioned officer and, again, he's helping us there develop systems for our soldiers.
And that's Sergeant Mark Griffith, six tours in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Rangers and with the Strikers and a great experience there being applied to our soldiers. Thank you Sergeant Griffith.
And I've got one more person I'd like to introduce and that is Dana Lamberson and Dana is the spouse of Sergeant First Class Ran Lamberson who's bracelet I wear, who was killed a little over three years ago in Ramadi, Iraq and she sits on our panel, my panel, to help us better understand the needs of surviving spouses and she's made great contributions here. So, Dana, thank you very much for coming.
REP. SKELTON: General, thank you for bringing these great American's with you and the very best to you and thank you for your service and your sacrifice.
GEN. CASEY: Thank you chairman and members of the committee.
I'd like to give you just an update of where we are and where we've progressed over the last year here.
You'll recall, and Congressman McHugh mentioned this in his opening statement, that last year I came before you and said that the army was out of balance, that we were so weighed down by our current demands that we couldn't do the things we know we need to do to sustain this all volunteer force for the long haul and to prepare to do other things.
I can tell you we have made progress to put ourselves back in balance but we are not, by any stretch of the imagination, out of the woods yet.
I also told you that we had a plan in place, centered on four imperatives to achieve balance by 2011, that we had to sustain our soldiers and families, that we had to continue to prepare our soldiers for success in the current conflict, that we had to reset them effectively to go back, and that we had to continue to transform for an uncertain future.
I'd like to give you just a progress report on our six major objectives to get ourselves back on balance.
Our first objective was to complete the growth that was directed by the last administration in February of 2007. I can report to you that as of this month all components, active, guard, and reserve, have met the directed end strength targets that were originally not going to be achieved until 2012. Now we still have some work to do to put those people into units, match them with equipment and train them but that's very good news for us and a very positive step forward.
Why is it a positive step? First, it allows us to begin coming off of stop loss this year. And several months ago Secretary Gates announced that our Army Reserve will begin deploying units without stop loss this August, our Guard in September and the active force in January.
This is something that we have been working toward as we modularize the army and put it on a rotational cycle. And we, because of finishing our growth, we are in a position to put ourselves in a place to deploy without stop loss by 2011 as we had planned.
The second reason it's important that we finished our growth is that it's one of the elements of increasing the time soldiers spend at home. And I have come to realize after two years in this job that the most important thing we can do to get back in balance is to increase the time our soldiers spend at home. And completing the growth helps us do that.
Dwell time, or the time spent at home, it important for several reasons. One, because it gives our soldiers time to recover from repeated combat tours and twelve months is not enough and we have to continue to expand that.
Second, it gives them a more stable preparation time for their next mission. If you're only home for 12 months, you're going back out to the field shortly after you get back and that's not good enough.
And then lastly, it gives our soldiers time to do other things to prepare for different kinds of missions besides Iraq and Afghanistan.
And I'll tell you that in 2007, based on what I thought the force structure would be over the next four years, I thought we wouldn't get quite to one year out, two years back by '11. If we execute the president's Iraq drawdown plan, and I have no reason to doubt that we will, we will actually do better and actually get to a one to two or even better ratio. We have to do that. It's very important to the long term health of the force that we meet that goal in 2011.
The third element of balance is to continue our move away from Cold War formations to formations that are far more relevant in the 21st Century.
In 2004 we began what we said was a modular conversion of our army. We're 85 percent done. And that's 85 percent of the way through converting all 300 brigades in the army to modular designs that are far more relevant today.
The other element of this is we're about two-thirds of our way through rebalancing the force, moving soldiers out of skills that we needed for the Cold War into skills we need today.
Some examples; since 2004 we have actually stood down 200 tank companies, artillery batteries, and air defense batteries. And we have stood up a corresponding number of military police units, engineer units, special forces companies, and civil affairs companies, those skills that you hear that we need all the time. That's a big step for us.
Together this represents the largest organizational transformation of the army since World War II and we've done it while we are deploying 150,000 soldiers over and back to Iraq and Afghanistan every year.
Fourth, we're moving to put the whole army on a rotational cycle, much like the Navy and Marine Corps have been on now for many years and we believe that's important because we need to be able to sustain the flow of trained and ready forces to combatant commanders and we need to do it in a manner that provides our soldiers and families a predictable deployment tempo. And so we're moving out on our way to do that.
Fifth, as Secretary Geren mentioned, we're halfway through our rebasing effort and the combination of BRAC, global re-posturing, the building facilities that were growing is resulting in new basing arrangements for 380,000 soldiers, civilians, and families across the army. And we're about half way through that and we'll finish by 2011.
One of the great benefits of this is the improvement in the quality facilities for our soldiers and families.
And sixth, and our final objective here, Mr. Chairman, is to increase our strategic flexibility and the longer our soldiers spend at home the more time they have time to prepare for other things. And what I've told them is that if you're home for 18 months or less stay focused on your irregular warfare mission. If you're home for 18 months or more, start to rekindle some of the skills that have atrophied while you've been in Iraq and Afghanistan. And so as we build time at home we'll also build resiliency to do other things.
So that's where we are. We have made good progress but we're not out of the woods yet and the next 12 to 18 months, I think, will be the most difficult time. And the reason for that is we'll actually increase the number of forces we have deployed slightly before the drawdown begins. But, we will get through the next 12 to 18 months and then we'll be in a much better position.
Now, if I could briefly just make a few comments about how the budget helps us get ourselves back in balance and sustain, repair, reset and transform. First of all: Sustaining our soldiers and families. Number one priority. And the budget contains housing, barracks, child care centers, youth care centers, warrior transition units, and operational facilities -- all critical to improving the quality of life in our soldiers.
We have put more than 1.7 billion dollars in the budget for soldiers and families. That's about double where we were two years ago and we are absolutely committed to delivering on our soldier family action plan. I will tell you, Mr. Chairman, I've just been over the last seven weeks visited five of our stateside installations here and been to Djibouti and Afghanistan and it continues to be clear to me that our families are indeed the most stretched part of the force and that is why we are paying such close attention to their support.
On the prepare side, Mr. Chairman, probably the most significant thing that's happened over the last year is the infusion of about 10,000 MRAPs into the field and I talked to soldiers in Afghanistan and sometimes they gripe a little bit about being hard to drive off the road, but anybody that has been in an MRAP and had an IUD go up underneath them and live is a convert. And, so they're already making a great difference.
On reset, number three, there's 11 billion dollars in this budget to reset the force and that's absolutely critical to our ability to keep preparing soldiers properly to go back. And lastly, on transform, we are in an era of what I call persistent conflict and I believe that we need land forces that can do four things in this era. One is we have to prevail in a protracted global counterinsurgency campaign. Two, we have to be able to engage, to help others build capacity to deny their countries to terrorists. Three, we have to provide support to civil authorities at home and abroad. And, fourth, we have to deter and defeat hybrid threats and hostile state actors. And, we're building an army to do just that.
It's an army with a versatile mix of tailor-able organizations, organized on a rotational cycle so that we can provide a sustained flow of trained and ready forces to combatant commanders and hedge against uncertainties. And we can do this at a tempo that our soldiers and families can sustain. I'll close, Mr. Chairman, by talking about one more non-commissioned officer and that's Sergeant Christopher Waiters and he received the distinguished service clause -- our nation's second highest award for valor -- for actions in Baghdad in April 2007.
Sergeant Waiters was in the striker following a Bradley Fighting Vehicle on patrol. The Bradley hit an improvised explosive device, blew up, burst into flame. He realized the soldiers in there were trapped and couldn't get out. He left his striker, fought his way over a hundred yards to the burning Bradley, dragged two soldiers out back to his striker, treated them, and realized there was still another soldier inside. He went back across the open area, back into the vehicle as the ammunition was exploding, realized the soldier inside was dead. Went back to his striker, got a body bag, went back, and recovered the soldier, never leaving a fallen comrade. So, our non-commissioned officers are the glue that's holding this force together at a very important time. So, Mr. Chairman, thank you very much and I do look forward to your questions.
REP. SKELTON: General, thank you for your excellent statement. General Bill Caldwell was kind enough to give me briefings on the two new manuals regarding the wide scope of potential warfare. You and I have discussed this before and I question, and I ask you to explain to our committee, how you can train soldiers to do the entire spectrum of warfare. On the one hand, convention such as we've had in Korea or elsewhere or during the Second World War in most places. And on the other hand, insurgency/terrorism type of warfare on the other. I think we'd appreciate your explaining.
GEN. CASEY: Thank you very much and, as you suggest, this is not an easy question and it's one that we have been wrestling with, frankly, for the last two years as we adopted the doctrine of full- spectrum operations. As we thought about this, frankly I was originally in a position where I was thinking conventional war or irregular war -- two different things. And the more we thought about this, that's less and less useful.
What we're really talking about is war in the 21st Century and as we view the character of conflict in the 21st Century, we believe that our doctrine of full-spectrum operations -- where we say army formations will simultaneously apply offense, defense, and stability operations to seize and retain the initiative and achieve decisive results -- we believe that that is a very relevant operational concept, not only to fight the wars that we'll be fighting, but also to use as a vehicle to train our units and to develop our leaders. It is not an attempt to train everyone to be good at everything all the time, as you suggest. That's impossible.
And, for example, on leader development. What we say is "I don't want someone who is good at everything. I want someone who is very good at their core competency, and then is broad enough and educated enough to deal with a wide range of challenges that may be presented to them". And as we look to develop our leaders, we're looking to add what we're calling "broadening windows" on to their officer development timelines. Are they late Captain and late Major and we put a range of activities in those windows that they could choose from. And, so we want broad leaders as well as tactically-competent leaders.
So, when we publish a new doctrine, as we did in February 2008, we fully expect that it will take us several years to ingrain that doctrine in the force and one of the greatest challenges that we have is exactly the question that you asked. But, we've given it a lot of thought and we will continue to evolve in our ability to do that. But, we believe it's the right doctrine and we believe it is doable.
REP. SKELTON: I have a question that's bothering me for quite some kind as to whether our war colleges are producing first-class strategic thinkers and, in addition to that, identifying them, putting them in the right positions, and keeping them. I had an interesting discussion with General Peter Pace -- now this is long before he retired -- and I asked him how many graduates -- I used the National War College -- how many graduates in the National War College could sit down and have a good discussion with the late George C. Marshall? He said three or four.
That's not bad. That's good if you're producing -- everybody that goes to the National War College and I'm sure that's true with your war college as well, understands strategy. They know it when they see it. They know it's good or not. But, those that can actually lead the charts in the thinking is going to be a limited number. How do you identify them? How do you put them in right positions? And how do you keep them, General?
GEN. CASEY: Mr. Chairman, that's another great question. It's something that as the Director of Strategy and Policy on the Joint Staff several years ago, I came face-to-face with. And I'm inclined to agree with your assessment that we, as a country, have not done a good job of identifying, training, and capturing not only good strategic thinkers, but strategic thinkers who can apply the art of strategy to the complex strategic and operational problems that we're dealing with today like Iraq and Afghanistan.
We have a course out at Leavenworth called the School of Advanced Military Study. The focus of that course in the past has been largely at the operational level of war. We have augmented that course recently to include a block on strategy and the thought was to try to identify at the major rank, officers who may have the capabilities as they go on to become the strategic thinkers and the strategists that you're talking about. It's going to take us several years, I think, for that program to mature, but it's a step in the right direction. I very much agree with your assessment there that we have more to do there.
REP. SKELTON: You ought to have in the right place -- I've seen instances where the different services that that type of person has been overlooked and not used to their potential. Mr. McHugh.
REP. JOHN M. MCHUGH (R-NY): Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. Again, gentlemen, welcome. Chief, when you made your opening comments, you observed that the 11 billion dollars provided in this budget for reset is critical. I think we can all agree with that. It's absolutely essential, but going back to my opening statement as I noted, we traditionally in those accounts, in the supplementals, have had about 20 billion dollars in strength and reset. In the OCO account -- now the Overseas Contingency Operation account -- which is the budget line for these activities in the base budget, is for this document about 11 billion dollars. At least on its taste, that seems to be quite a change. Why is that not cause for concern?
GEN. CASEY: I think the larger part of the change, Congressman, is that we're resetting less units than we were before. Now, as we get the -- we just got the details of the drawdown plan from General Odierno Monday, and so our staffs now are starting to work that and we may have to come back at a later time as we look at the timing and the scope of equipment coming out of Iraq and ask for some additional funds.
But, the money in the budget for right now, allows us to reset the units that will be coming out of Iraq and Afghanistan during the period covered by the budget.
REP. MCHUGH: So, based on conditions, then, you feel currently the 11 billion is an adequate figure even at a 9 billion dollar level less, but you reserve the prerogative, if you will, of reevaluating that and obviously trying to plus that account up at some future point?
GEN. CASEY: I do. Once again, once we get an idea of the scope -- I mean, there's a lot of stuff that's going to come out of Iraq -- (cross talk) -- moving that out. But, I don't have a good enough feel for it to put a number on it. I must say, the other big change in the OCO budget was some new rules about procurement and about buying material that wasn't directly related to the war effort. And, we had used that in the past and so that's another reason why the number went down. But, again, 11 billion gives me the money that I need to reset the units coming out of Afghanistan during this period.
REP. MCHUGH: Yeah. On that point, those excluded items -- I mean, they still require money. Where do we get that from?
GEN. CASEY: Well, it's -- I mean, over the long haul, Congressman, we're going to have to make judgments about will we want to fix the things that are coming out, but we're going to have to make prioritized decisions about where we invest all of our money.
REP. MCHUGH: I wish we didn't have to make those choices, but I understand how those kinds of things play out in the real world. Similarly, on procurement, I mentioned General Schoomaker's comments about a post 9-11 environment and the figure he quoted was 56 billion dollars in procurement shortfall and the recent history of those accounts, has been, as I mentioned in '08, $61 billion, in '09, $37 (billion). Yet, in 2010, it's $30 billion.
A lot of us were here through what seemed to be a pretty good idea at the time -- because of the so-called peace dividend that go on what we now call the procurement holiday and, of course, those brave folks who sit behind you have to struggle with those judgments that we're all a part of. How does this trend line, particularly the procurement account in 2010 of 30 billion assure us that doesn't represent the start of another procurement holiday?
GEN. CASEY: It certainly is too early to tell and I don't feel that it is. We have benefited substantially from a plus-up in our investment accounts over the last several years and that has substantially helped us fill some of those holes. We haven't filled all of them, but we've filled more than I would have thought possible and that's a very good thing. I think we owe this committee and our Department of Defense an affordable modernization strategy that allows us to build a force that can be capable into the future and an investment strategy is a big part of that. And, we're actively doing that now and we'll sharpen it over the next year.
REP. MCHUGH: I take it then, based on your last few comments, that if I were to ask you to provide a figure as General Schoomaker said, how much are those unfilled holes going to cost, do you have a ballpark figure or are you still on the calculation tables for that?
GEN. CASEY: Yeah. I have periodically gone back and said, "Okay. Show me what we've received and have we filled the holes". And, I don't have that today. I can get that for you, though.
REP. MCHUGH: I'd appreciate that. Mr. Chairman, I recognize we've got some votes coming up. I obviously have other questions, but we have other valuable members here who want to ask, so I'll yield back at this time.
REP. SOLOMON P. ORTIZ (D-TX): Thank you. First of all, thank you so much for your service and good to see both of you. I have the honor and privilege with serving with my good friend, Pete Geren when he was a member of the Congressional Texas Delegation and thank you both for your service and dedication in keeping our country strong and free and I hope we can keep it like this.
But, one of the things that I am concerned with and I know that we're about to increase our presence in Afghanistan and, of course, we will have soldiers in Iraq is the medical services that the soldiers get. I just read an article last four or five days about the impact on the health services and that story came about because he talked about the contractors who were there. I think we have 3 or 400,000 contractors and they're utilizing the health facilities that are there for our soldiers and the impact that it's having. And, not only that, the article mentioned that the contractors are not paying their bill.
Now, we have our soldiers there and this is one of the things that may be for another hearing. We're going to find out how the contractor get this contract and whether they're supposed to hire doctors and nurses to treat their workers. Will this increase of the 17,000 to 20,000 soldiers also put a huge load on your back when they have to treat both our soldiers and the contractors?
MR. GEREN: Well, the question of whether the contractors are supposed to reimburse for the medical care, and they are and we're working through that issue and whether it's food services or medical services, they are supposed to reimburse. And, we are, as we ramp up in Afghanistan, we're ramping up the medical services.
One of the issues that we've spent a great deal of time on over the last four months is working on the MEDEVAC that will be available for the soldiers in Afghanistan. The terrain and the altitudes post some special challenges there that we don't have as much of in Iraq, but this buildup -- the medical plan to support the buildup is well developed and we're resourcing it. We're moving more helicopters into Afghanistan to be able to enhance the MEDEVAC services and we fully expect that we will have medical care there that will meet the needs of the soldiers, not only for physical issues, but mental health as well.
And, one of the areas that we have emphasized a great deal over the last couple years, is moving mental health care forward to the soldiers, both having the mental health care at the division level, the brigade level, and the combat support hospitals, and we even have mobile teams that will go out and provide mental health care. If there's an IUD explosion in some area, the mental health professionals go to that site and start working with those soldiers immediately. We've learned a lot about what this environment requires in terms of medical care and I feel good about the plan that we have for the Afghanistan buildup.
REP. ORTIZ: You know one of the things that I've asked before this came about, has been training. Are we providing better psychological training for our troops before they're deployed and even while they're there? This has been of great concern to me and members of my Readiness Subcommittee. Are we doing better as far as providing this type of training for them?
MR. GAREN: We are and the chief and I, I think, both would like to speak to that issue. On many different levels, and we're also continuing to look for ways to improve the training, the resiliency training -- different ways to judge the mental health preparedness for a soldier and when you look at all these different factors as far as how they're handling the stress of deployments, but we have some very specific training, we have a train-teach program for post-traumatic stress for our soldiers.
Literally, every soldier in the Army, we're attempting to give them a module of training on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder -- how to spot it themselves, what to do about it. Same with suicide prevention and we've got a program underway right now. We're in the middle of a train-teach program that literally teach every soldier in the Army about how to identify in himself, in his buddies, the possibility of suicidal thoughts, ideation and what to do it.
General Casey has been working on a project having to do with developing the total soldier fitness and resiliency -- a program we're going to emphasize over the course of this summer and I'd like the chief would like to speak with that resiliency training and the program that General Cornum is developing.
REP. ORTIZ: Chief, go ahead, sir.
GEN. CASEY: Thank you, if I could.
As we look at the challenges, the mental health challenges that we're facing, that's one of the things that worries me most. When people ask me what work keeps me up at night. Now last year we had 13,000 new cases of Post-Traumatic Stress identified in the Army. That's about double what it was two years before. Now, that's a high number, but the good news is, more and more people are feeling comfortable enough to come forward to get the treatment, which is the important thing.
But, I was worried that we were being too reactive. That we were getting there after the fact. And, so we over the last year have been building what we call a "Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program". And the intent of this program is to raise mental fitness to the level that we give to physical fitness. And, the idea is to build resiliency in all soldiers so that we can enhance their performance. And, a lot of people think that everyone that goes to combat gets Post-Traumatic Stress. And, that's just not true. Everyone that goes to combat gets stressed. No doubt about it. But, the vast majority have growth experiences, because they're challenged by something that's very, very difficult, and they succeed.
And, so the idea is to give resilience skills to more and more of the force so that more and more people have growth experience and are able to expand and enhance their performance. And, so, I would expect in July, we will start with this program. It will include Master Resilience Trainers, just like we have Master fitness trainers and our first class of non-commissioned officers is scheduled to go the University of Pennsylvania next week to begin training. We'll ultimately build our own school.
There will be a self-diagnostic test that soldiers will take and they will be given personal feedback on where they stand on a range of things and then they can connect through the computer to modules that will give them self-help leads to help them out. And, then there will be standard modules to be given before, during and after deployment and in every one of our developmental schools with officers and non- commissioned officers. But, I believe this is a proactive way to get at this and help us build resiliency.
MR. GEREN: If I can say something really quickly, though, Chairman. I don't want it to sound as if we think we've solved the problem. The stress of combat, the stress of multiple deployments takes a heavy toll on soldiers, takes a heavy toll on families and we have this partnership with the National Institute of Mental Health -- a five year program. We recognize that there's knowledge, experience, and expertise outside of the Army that we could take advantage of and that's one of the initiatives that we feel will bear fruit for us going forward.
So, we're working very hard in this area. High priority for everybody in the Army, but I don't want it to sound as if we think we've got all the answers, because we don't. We're learning. We're in uncharted waters. We've never been at seven plus years of war with an all-volunteer force. We have never had soldiers who just kind of deployments over and over and over, so we're living and learning, but I can assure you it is a priority for everybody in our Army and we're working both inside the Army and outside the Army to do the best we can in this area.
REP. ORTIZ: Thank you. The chair recognizes Mr. Bartlett.
REP. ROSCOE G. BARTLETT (R-MD): Thank you very much. Thank you, gentleman for your service. I'm going to ask two brief sets of questions. The first relates to body armor. As you know, our military people are frequently in a quandary. They know they need the protection from the body armor, but it is so heavy and cumbersome that it restricts mobility, and so they decide, for some missions, that the increased mobility is more important than the protection.
I wonder if we have had an aggressive enough program to reduce the weight of body armor. For instance, for MRAPs and for ISR, we set up task forces to look intensively and broadly at what might be done to advance technology in those areas. I'm not sure that the extent of the Army's R&D effort to reduce the weight of body armor is large enough and I wonder are there any plans to include a program element in the base budget for lightening of body armor and equipment, since it's so important to lighten those too?
The second set of questions deals with the Joint Cargo Aircraft. As you know, this was originally an Army vision. The Air Force was a very reluctant partner to this. Some might say that they were dragged kicking and screaming into this relationship. The Army originally said that they needed 78 of this and the last couple of weeks, we've had witnesses from both the Army and from the Guard that testified that there was no study that indicated that we needed less than 78 of these. And, by the way, that 78 did not include the aircraft that the Air Force might need. That was to be factored in later. Now, we understand, that the total number is going to be 38, that the program has moved totally over to the Air Force and I'm kind of mystified by that and wondered if you could comment on it.
General, you are quoted this week as telling a reporter that you are comfortable with the transfer of this program to the Air Force because they told you they were going to support you down to the last tactical mile. Yet, for several years, the Army has steadfastly defended the program requirement to support tactical delivery of supplies and the Guard's homeland defense missions. Now, if you are convinced that the Air Force is going to meet your needs, and I don't see how they can with 38 planes when the Army thought -- we had testimony the last couple of weeks that the 78 was still the need. How are we going to support the needs of the Guard back home here?
You're also reported as saying that we might need more than 38. I agree we need more than 38 planes, and the question is, how are you going to get those and where was the money coming from?
MR. GEREN: I'll take your body armor question and then I'll --
REP. BARTLETT: If time -- I'd rather have you report on the body armor thing, a written response, and if time remains, both certainly. But, how about first, the JCA aircraft and then the armor.
MR. GEREN: Certainly.
GEN. CASEY: For me, there's two issues here for me. First of all is, who should have the mission? And, Congressman, my core competency in the United States Army is not flying cargo aircraft. We can do it. We do it. But, as I look at this, I need the service. We need to be able to resupply our four Brigades in places that can't be accessed by a C-130.
And so, I've talked to the last two Chiefs of Staff of the Air Force and said, "Look. I need the capability here. If you all can provide that to me, then I am comfortable with you taking this program over". Norton Schwartz agreed to that. Now, we are still working out exactly how that transfer will take place and have a requirement to get back to the Department at the end of this month to say how we're going to do that. And, the issues you raised with the Guard -- you know, whether it's in the Army Guard, the Air Guard, we've got to work through those modalities.
REP. BARTLETT: But, you don't believe, sir, that the Air Force could get twice the effectiveness out of these aircraft that the Army could, so the Army needed 78. The Air Force only needs 38 to meet your needs?
GEN. CASEY: That's the second element. The second element is the number of aircraft. We put a requirement on the table for 78 aircraft. I believe it was 78. Okay, 78 aircraft, and I believe that requirement is still valid. Now, what General Schwartz wants to do to, you know, merge those aircraft in with his C-130 fleet and whether he ultimately needs the full number to support us in the way that we need to be supported, I think that remains to be seen and discussed.
REP. BARTLETT: General, I have here a little diagram from a report done by the Institute for Defense Analysis. I think in our '08 Defense Bill we asked for that. They had on the abscissa the cost and on the, on the ordinate they had the effectiveness. Obviously if you put a little four quadrants there, you'd like to be in the upper left quadrant, where it costs less and is more effective. The only plane they had in the upper left quadrant out the C-5, the C-17 and the C- 130, was the JCA.
GEN. CASEY: I'm happy for that. And it's been a while since I've dealt with ordinates and abscissas. (Laughter.)
REP. BARTLETT: The plane that was the most effective, we're going to buy less than half of what we need. I'm having trouble understanding that.
GEN. CASEY: I, I understand.
REP. JIM TAYLOR (D-MS): Thank you, Mister Chairman, and Secretary Geren, General Casey, thank you very much for your service to our country.
For those of you who have not been around here as long as I have, I ought to tell you that Secretary Geren, you, would have been sitting right here. And that he left Congress about 15 years ago so he could spend more time with his family only to come back and spend even more time working, serving our nation as the Secretary of the Army. And so, Pete, I very, very much appreciate your service to our nation. I very much, on behalf of every family of a trooper, I appreciate the great job you did in turning things around in Walter Reid.
And General Casey, thank you for your service. Thank you for what you said about the MRAP's. We, I'm in violent agreement with you. I think we're saving kids' lives every day with them and towards that end, you know, for years I've been hearing the Army tell me that they train as they fight. And they fight for this training. We still have a significant shortfall of MRAP's at the training installations. I very much appreciate General Chiarelli on a very frequent basis letting me know that he is increasing the number. And I appreciate the updates. It's, I still don't think it's enough. I don't think that we can honestly say we're training as we fight with the few that we have. I appreciate that you're going in the right direction. I want to encourage you to get some more to the training installations as we now have the industrial capacity. And I'm going to yield my remaining time to a member of the Ranger Hall of Fame, Mister Marshall.
REP. JIM MARSHALL (D-GA): Well, let me, let me just start by saying that a lot of people make reference to, you know, advocacy for the MRAP in various quarters, but, if my history is correct, if my recollection is correct, here in the Armed Services Committee, the advocate, the major advocate is Mr. Taylor. And he deserves an awful lot of help, thanks, from an awful lot of people. We would not be where we are where the MRAP is concerned, but for Mister Taylor pushing the hell out of this.
General Casey, you and I have already talked a little bit about JCA. I'll just second what my good friend has just said on that subject and, and I just hope we continue to think about this thing and that the Institute for Defense Analysis' study, done at our request under your supervision is taken into account as we move forward thinking about a mix where error is concerned. And, and that we not have, sir, a repeat of the sort of back and forth that we experienced where the Caribou was concerned in the Vietnam era, and that's how I'd just encourage you to sort of look at that history.
Pete, you've been a great secretary, I just, you've been so responsive and you care so much about our troops. I mentioned to you Fort Stewart and the reliance that Fort Stewart and, and the local community has already incurred with regard, in anticipation of another BCT. And I told you that I was going to get to you a figure of the reliance that this community has, well, cost that the community has incurred. And the figure that I have, and I can't give you the piece of paper at this point because I want to vet it a little bit more, but it's $441 million in public and private dollars put into getting ready for this BCT.
It seems to me, for a community that's been that great, for a fort that's been that great over many, many years, in support of the military, we've got to figure something out here so that that, you know, this event will get harmed to that extent in the course of rethinking how we're going to do our BCT's. Some, some compensation needs to occur, or, we just need to rethink this idea or we need to station some folks there to, so that that reliance just doesn't go to waste.
MR. PETE GEREN: On that point, and thank you for getting me that number, the Fort Stewart community, we, has embraced Fort Stewart as long as there's been an installation there. And the Army encouraged the community to step out, to build the schools, build the roads, build the housing and, as we've seen with the other two community that are impacted by the decision, we have seen folks really step up and make the investments to accommodate these, these soldiers where those are factors we've got to take into consideration as we move forward. We will continue to go to communities and ask them to do things for soldiers and communities need to able to, it's a two way street.
REP. MARSHALL: It's a partnership.
MR. GEREN: It certainly is a partnership. And I appreciate the opportunity we've had to discuss it. And it's, it's certainly a factor that, as we move forward and work through this very recent decision that's been made, we've got to take that into consideration.
REP. MARSHALL: Well, I appreciate that response. In this partnership it's clear it's a two way street, as you say, and we have some obligations, frankly, to those communities that have relied extensively on our promise and our request that they do so. Thank you both for your service and the service of those that you lead.
REP. IKE SKELTON (D-MO): We will try to get one more member's questioning in before we break for the vote. As I understand it, we have three votes but they will be the last of the day and we hope that our members will return. Mister Hunter.
REP. DUNCAN HUNTER (R-CA): Thank you, Mister Chairman. Gentlemen, thank you for your service. I remember Secretary Geren in 2000, let me see, it was 2002. I was at the Basic School at Quantico and we did our 20 mile hump that we had to do. We started off at about one in the morning because it was summer and we wanted to get it done while it was cool and Secretary Geren and my father, the former Chairman of the Armed Services Committee here walked with us for three miles and by then it was like 1:30 in the morning and, and they left because they said that they had to catch a flight and the traffic was really bad. So they, they were able to get out of the other 17 miles, but, great to see you here.
I've got a question. It's kind of a touchy one because there's no right answer to it, I don't think. First, General Casey, have you signed off on any Medal of Honor citations since 2000, let's say 2001?
GEN. CASEY: I have. I'm trying to --
REP. HUNTER: Or --
GEN. CASEY: -- I know I signed off on -- (cross talk).
REP. HUNTER: Let me, let me rephrase. For living recipients.
GEN. CASEY: For living recipients, no.
REP. HUNTER: Okay.
GEN. CASEY: I don't believe I have, no.
REP. HUNTER: What I want to understand is, either our soldiers and marines and sailors, and this goes for every service, but, were either not as brave as we used to be, there's no more acts of courage and valor, which I don't think is true because I've compared side by side citations from World War II, Korea, Vietnam to the citations we have now for lesser awards, or the criteria for the Medal of Honor has changed that you have to die. And that story you told me about the soldier running back and forth, if you compare that to Korean War, probably Medal of Honor winner. Who knows? But there has not been a living recipient that earned the Medal of Honor since Vietnam. The last person to receive it earned in, like, 1971.
So, the question is why? Are we not as brave? Are we not as courageous? Are there no more acts of valor? Have the criteria changed? Or is it no longer that battlefield commander making the recommendation that gets that Medal of Honor approved? Is it brass, which I think, not necessarily brass but possibly civilians in the DOD that are shooting this thing down at higher levels than even those people sitting here today in this room?
GEN. CASEY: I can tell you. I can come at this from two perspectives. One is, my time in Iraq. And the other, my time here as Chief, seeing these awards come across my desk. The criteria hasn't changed, that is, that's been the criteria and, you know, the criteria for the award has been in our regulations and policy for years and it hasn't changed. And I have seen, neither in Iraq nor here any effort by anyone to consciously downgrade and downplay the valor of our soldiers when it comes to awards. What I can tell you is what I have seen is, every organization has a process where they bring these awards before a board of officers and noncommissioned officers and they review them and discuss them to see if they meet the criteria.
And I can tell you, I have seen some hugely heroic acts and read about some hugely heroic acts. And in my own mind they haven't mind, they haven't risen to the, to the level of Medal of Honor. And sometimes, as you suggest, the line between a Distinguished Service Cross and a Medal of Honor is, it's quite thin. But I can tell you, there is absolutely no effort to try to press down the, the criteria for Medals of Honor.
REP. HUNTER: So the answer really is that there has not been an act of valor that warrants, that you've seen in the Army, that warrants the Medal of Honor in the last eight, eight years of combat.
GEN. CASEY: For a living person.
REP. HUNTER: Correct.
GEN. CASEY: For a living person, I said, I mean, I think I would go back to your opening comment. There is no right answer to this question.
REP. HUNTER: Well, it's a, the right answer is that the criteria has probably changed a little bit meaning you have to be dead.
GEN. CASEY: No --
REP. HUNTER: That's, that's what I would say but --
GEN. CASEY: -- I don't think that's the case. I mean, I have never heard that stated.
REP. HUNTER: There --
GEN. CASEY: I have never heard that stated.
REP. HUNTER: -- there have been Medal of Honor recommendations that have gone all the way up the chain and have been stopped back here in DC when everybody on the ground in Iraq and Afghanistan concurs, the people that actually saw the combat, concur that that's a Medal of Honor Award that the soldier or sailor, marine or airman should get the Medal of Honor, so it's not just the Army, it's every service. There's not a single one from any service has been given out since the war started. But, I would ask you to think on it. We're trying to track down where the, the Medals of Honor are being, are being hijacked at, because they are being stopped, in my opinion, but thank you. If you have anything else left to say than you could take the rest of the time.
GEN. CASEY: One point as I'm sitting here reflecting is, as you're talking about awards that have come across my desk in the last two years, where the recommendation to downgrade has been made here in Washington and maybe one or two. Most of the ones I see that are downgraded are downgraded out of (theater ?). But, let me get back to you because I'd like to, I'd like to find out the answer to that myself.
REP. HUNTER: Let me, if I may, Mister Chairman, have there, are there any being processed right now for any -- (cross talk)?
GEN. CASEY: There may be. There may be. I'll check that as well.
REP. HUNTER: Thank you, general. Thank you, secretary. Thank you, Mister Chairman.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you, gentlemen. We have three votes. We shall return. I urge our members to come back so we can continue.
REP. SKELTON: Who's next?
STAFF: Mister Kissell.
REP. SKELTON: Mister Kissell, wherever he is. Gentlemen, from North Carolina, Mister Kissell.
REP. LARRY KISSELL (D-NC): Thank you, Mister Chairman and general and secretary, we certainly welcome you all being here today and all the special guests you had with you. Thank you so much. I claim Fort Bragg in my part of North Caroline. We come right to, right to the Fort's edge with our district, but I claim Fort Bragg. And one, one thing I want to just mention to you today. And I'm going to do this very quickly. And I'm going to be following up on this. I told Chairman Skelton about it earlier today. Some people came to my office yesterday and part of the Army has incorporated this idea already, it's a box that can hold blood at the proper temperature for 72 hours without refrigeration, between two degrees and eight degrees Centigrade.
It allows blood to be taken to the combat area where we could potentially keep people from bleeding out instead of having to carry the wounded soldiers back to where the blood would be, we can carry the blood to the soldiers. Don't even know if you all are aware of this or not, it was just brought to my attention. I am going to be following up with this, but it's just something that could save lives that we're excited to be pursuing this.
MR. GEREN: I'm not familiar with it but I'd certainly like to learn, learn more about it.
REP. KISSELL: Well, we will follow up and it's just an exciting development and the question I have is, is the Wounded Warrior Program. It's such a delicate balance between having individuals who are at the same time soldiers but also patients. And, and I can just, I've spent time at Fort Bragg talking with the people, talking with the patients. I know the intent is wonderful, but sometimes we have these, these patients soldiers fall between the cracks and just wondering what you all thoughts are on the Wounded Warrior Program, maybe what weaknesses you see, the strengths and maybe how we can improve it as we go forward.
MR. GEREN: I think we can probably both speak to that. I was recently at Bragg and met with the Warrior transition unit soldiers and as you know, we started that approach to meeting the needs of soldiers in outpatient care just about two years ago. And we've come a long way in developing a system that's responsive to the needs of the soldiers. It's, it's a great step forward as far as meeting the needs of soldiers, letting them focus on healing. We hope and our goal is to work with them and give them an opportunity to return to service in the military. For those who choose to go on to private life, our goal also is to help to make that transition successfully.
Work with the VA, help them develop the skills that they would need to be successful on the outside. We have had some situations, in fact, we had one at Fort Bragg that I've spent quite a bit of time working with the, with Medical Command and with the head of the Warrior Transition Unit. It is a delicate balance. You've got, you've got soldiers that have, the cadre there are, most cases, they are soldiers that come from, who have served in combat. They are, they are great leaders and we're selective on who we pick to be in that cadre. They get special pay to be in that cadre. But it's a new skill for them to lead, to be a noncommissioned officer and lead these soldiers who are patients and they're also soldiers.
And striking that right balance to help that soldier heal and progress as a soldier, it is, it's a balancing act. I think though the, it's, it's been a very good approach. By and large it's worked very well. We've had a very high percentage of soldiers have returned to active duty or have returned to the Guard or reserve, but I go around, and I know General Casey does, and other members of our leadership, we meet with these Warriors in transition, we ask all the cadre to leave, we ask all the leadership to leave and want to hear from them without anybody present, what can we do to make this better? I always tell them, you're, you've got two jobs. One is to heal, the other is to help us make the Warrior Transition Unit approach a success.
Because it is still a work in progress. And the input that we've gotten from these soldiers have helped us continue to tweak it and make it better. But, by and large, it's been a great success. I had talked to General Schoomaker and now General Cheek, before him General Tucker, I mean, General Tucker. They've done a great job with building it but it's, we continue to work to make it work better for the soldiers. But I appreciate your interest in that issue.
GEN. CASEY: If I could just add. You asked for things to make it better.
We're still not where we need to be on the Medical Evaluation Board process and the bureaucracy of the process. We've got more work to do there. Automating it, streamlining it, but that, that's the area where we need to focus some attention.
MR. GEREN: Very briefly on that point. Doctor Gates and General Shinseki are working, they have a partnership at that level across the whole Department of Defense working with the Department of Veterans Affairs, and their commitment is to make that process better. We, in the Army are working it but it is something that personally Doctor Gates and General Shinseki are working.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you gentlemen, Mister Coffman.
REP. MIKE COFFMAN (R-CO): Thank you, Mister Chairman. Secretary Green (sic), a Colorado specific question. I just wonder if you could talk about for a minute whether or not there is a valid requirement to expand the Pinion Canyon Maneuvers Site in southeastern Colorado.
MR. GEREN: Congressman, thank you for your support of that initiative. Expanding the Pinion Canyon Training Range is a priority for us. We've, there's some debate what the exact right number of acres is that we need to, to meet our goals, but we want to, we've cherished the relationship we've had with the state of Colorado. We want to be a good neighbor. Colorado's certainly been good neighbors to us. Fort Carson is such an important part of our military and you talk to soldiers who serve at Fort Carson, they appreciate very much how their neighbors in Colorado Springs and in Colorado embrace them.
As you and I have talked, I think we got off on the wrong foot in some regards in trying to, the effort to expand Pinion Canyon. Our goal is to accomplish the expansion, but, we want to do it in a way that accommodates the legitimate needs of the neighbors up there. We want to be a good neighbor. We know that their goal is to be a good neighbor as well. So we would like to continue to work with you and other state leaders in figuring out a way so we can accomplish what we need and, and the landowners in that area can get their needs met as well. As you know, we've taken eminent domain off the table. We're not going to force this. We want to work in a cooperative way to get this done. We're hopeful that with that approach, that over the coming months, or it might take years, we'll be able to put it together. But, thank you for your leadership on it. I appreciate your help.
REP. COFFMAN: Secretary Green (sic), how would you respond to critics who claim that the Army has not yet adequately justified its need to expand the Pinion Canyon Maneuvers Site?
MR. GEREN: The original expansion was over 400,000 acres. We, we have reduced our goals for that and it's, there's still some debate over exactly what the right size is. But you look at the training requirements we have today and the space we need in order to achieve a realistic representation of the, of what a brigade combat team would experience in combat today, we do need to grow it. I think most people would say the 400,000 acres that originally was proposed, not needed. We have looked at numbers considerably less than that, but, we need to expand it and it's the accessibility of it, the proximity of it to Fort Carson saves us considerable amount of money, so, we don't have to send those brigades a long way off to get that type of training.
REP. COFFMAN: Thank you. Secretary Green (sic), is, I think that there have been expressed some concerns by local citizens of southeastern Colorado that if the Army gets the authority to expand the Pinion Canyon Maneuvers Site as to whether or not the Army will live up to their commitment in terms of jobs in that, on those local communities. I wonder if you could respond to that.
MR. GEREN: Well, our installation command as well as the civilian leadership has been working with the local communities and Trinidad, I believe, is one of the communities that have had some concerns about that, and, again, our goal is to make it work for the whole community, make it work for the region. And want to continue to work for those communities so that the economic benefits of that expansion would benefit the region. So we're, we want to listen, we want to figure out how to, how to make it work, and I know that we've looked at some military construction on the, in certain areas, and also there are some of the contractor and the support workforce that would be coming into the region and working with the communities to determine how we best site that so that it does provide the economic benefit to the area.
REP. COFFMAN: I'm sorry, Secretary Geren, sorry about that. Quick question, last question, are you committed not to go forward with the Environmental Impact Statement until these issues have been worked out with the local community, or what's your position on the Environmental Impact Statement?
MR. GEREN: Well, you know, I need to get back with you on that. I'm, we have limitations that were put upon us by the Congress as far as what kind of funds that we could spend and, as we research this undertaking and I would have to get back with you on whether or not the, what the impact is on the EIS. I don't know the answer to that.
REP. COFFMAN: Thank you, Secretary Geren. Thank you, General Casey.
MR. GEREN: But we are going to work with the Congress. The Congress has put some restrictions on it and I assure you we're going to live up to those restrictions.
REP. SKELTON: Mister Massa.
REP. ERIC J.J. MASSA (D-NY): Thank you, Mister Chairman. Mister Secretary , general, thank you very much for being here. Later on today I have the pleasure of just cancelling a flight to be able to sit and have a conversation and I appreciate your patience and also, as a veteran myself I honor your service and recognize all that you and your team do for our troops every day in the field. That having been said, I'd like to register a very significant concern that I have been in conversations with the leadership of the United States Army now for some 120 days. As I look at the future of communications in the United States Army, a field of endeavor not entirely unknown based on my own personal professional past, I am exceptionally concerned about the more than $700 million that is about to be spent on a single channel, frequency hopping VHF radio when alternate technologies that are far more compatible with the future needs of the force are extent in the commercial world.
And I speak today of SINCGARS radios. Satisfying an (order ?) and a requirement that is more than 25 years old is not what I consider to be forward thinking. And I am certainly not advocating on behalf of a single company, corporation, producer or manufacturer, but rather on the reality that in the last 25 years we have seen tremendous increases in mobile telecommunications and radio technologies. And from my own personal experience in the field, if you have the opportunity to offer a platoon leader, a sergeant, squad leader a handheld radio that is a single VHF channel operations significant capability, or one, at the same time, that at a flip of a switch it gives you VHF, UHHF (sic), satellite, satellite data capability for the same cost, I have yet to meet a soldier in uniform that does not take the more capable radio.
And so, I register today officially exceptional concern about some $700 million that is about to be spent on a radio that is both fundamentally incompatible with your number one acquisition priority, which is the Future Combat System, and the needs in the field. I don't know how else to place my words on the table for the official record. I have had conversation after conversation after conversation with general officers, but more importantly, the same conversations with individuals fresh home from Iraq who are the end users of these communications devices, who, without my prompting, concur with the fact that we are about to waste one heck of a lot of money. And in a budgetary environment where literally we are counting by billions, which is something I don't quite understand, I think we're about to make a horrific mistake.
And, Mister Secretary, I speak to your announcement that this contract award is about to be made. I worked very hard in the supplemental to have funds reprogrammed to higher priorities, but I don't have the capability to change this $700 million plus that you're about to spend other than to, with the utmost of respect, and professionalism, ask you and your team to reconsider. Your comments, sir.
MR. GEREN: Well, thank you for raising that issue. As you know, we are, we do have a competition now to complete the --
REP. MASSA: Sir, if I could just, and I'm sorry to do this because I know it sounds disrespectful. The Army is competing a single channel VHF radio. That's not competition.
It just doesn't work that way, sir, and I, and I'm sorry to be contrary. I'm not trying to be confrontational, but the statement that the Army is competing is just not accurate.
MR. GEREN: We have a competition that's in its final stages to complete the buy of the SINCGARS radio 56,000, the last 56,000 of the buy. We are making tremendous investments in the next generation radio. This will complete our buy. It's been going on for years and it is the last step of the, of the process. And we will be announcing sometime fairly soon the outcome of that decision.
REP. MASSA: Mister Secretary, I'm sorry, for the record, I absolutely disagree with you.
MR. GEREN: I respect that.
REP. MASSA: And the facts do not bear out that statement. I'm sorry. We are competing a single channel, SINCGARS radio that does not match up with the needs of the force. And this is not my opinion, this is the opinion of warriors and combatants who have returned with this story to me. Not anecdotally but in overwhelming preponderance of evidence. It is evidence of an acquisition process that is so unable to react to the requirements on the field that we are buying 53,000 radios --
MR. GEREN: 56.
REP. MASSA: I'm sorry, 56,000 radios. Thank you for making my point for me. And every general officer with whom I've had this conversation, every single soldier with whom I've had this conversation, when given the opportunity to buy better technology for the same price, would rather do that. It is an example of an acquisition process that has gone awry. And I, I can't agree with you, sir, but thank you for stating your position. I yield back my time.
MR. GEREN: I appreciate your observations. Thank you.
REP. SKELTON: Mister Mike Rogers, please.
REP. MIKE ROGERS (R-AL): Thank you, Mister Chairman. I want to thank both of you for being here and your service. Very much appreciate it by the whole country. I want to talk to you about the budget request on the Stryker. As you know, we have, I keep hearing calls for additional variants on the Stryker and I hear that the Army wants to keep production warm, in anticipation of the QD, the QDR. And given the significant investments we've made in the Stryker, you know, 260 new Strykers in supplemental, and another $390 million for enhancements and modifications, where do you see the Stryker in the future? Where is it going? And either one of you or both of you can take that.
MR. GEREN: We're, we're looking at the future of force mix, examining what, what it's going to look like in the years ahead. And it's, it's possible that at the end of this process that the decision will be made that some of the heavy brigades could become Stryker brigades. The Stryker brigades have served to great effect in the current conflict. It's been an extraordinarily successful program. And, we're working within the Army and working with the OSD with the QDR and I think that at the end of this process, it's, it's, the issue of the future of the Stryker could end up being in a different place than it is today. It's hard to say where it will come out, but it's, I think it's quite likely that we'll see an expanded role for the Stryker in the future. That's looking at a crystal ball. Chief, do you want to add something?
GEN. CASEY: I mentioned in my opening statement about the need to have a versatile mix of tailor-able organizations organized on a rotational cycle, because as we look to the future, one thing we know is we never get it quite right. And so, we want to have available, with every rotational cycle, a mix of capabilities. Strykers, heavies, lights, and probably some lights infantry units on MRAP's and things like that. That's the type of thinking we're doing as part of this QDR to build the versatile mix of forces that we need for the 21st century. And I agree with the secretary that it's likely or possible that the Strykers could have an increased role in that.
REP. ROGERS: Great. And the secretary made some reference to Future Combat Systems. Obviously you all made some, there have been proposed some significant cuts in Future Combat Systems. My concern is, or my, the thing I'd like for you to respond to is, if we continue to pursue these cuts, is there a chance it's going to make us much more reliant on our current legacy fleet, things like the M113 which we have heretofore have been phasing out?
GEN. CASEY: And let me, if, if I, thank you. The only element of the Future Combat Systems program that has been canceled is the manned ground vehicle. And then, I include the non line of sight cannon that's part of that. And as we went through the deliberations here, first of all, Secretary of Defense very comfortable with the things we call the spinouts, the network and everything else. And that's going forward. And it's not only going forward, it's going forward to all of the brigades, not just some of them. When it came to the manned ground vehicle, I was not able to convince the Secretary of Defense that we had incorporated enough of the lessons learned from the current operations we're in, into that manned ground vehicle.
And so what he asked us to do was stop, take out a clean sheet of paper, incorporate the lessons that we've learned, use the technology that we have developed from the Future Combat Systems, because we know where vehicle technology is because that program has helped us get there. And that's, put it together and come back with a, with a new ground combat vehicle that will be full spectrum. That wouldn't necessarily be optimized for the, for major combat operations like the (tanks ?) and the Bradley, but would maybe be able to do that. And so, that's what we're doing. And we expect to come back and have a, a new concept design after Labor Day.
And then we'll bring that forward and we want to work very closely with Congress, as we're working with the department to get a program that's supported. But we need a fighting vehicle. And this ground combat vehicle will be a fighting vehicle and we've also put on a time horizon of five to seven years which tells us we need to use the technology that's available today to go forward. And I think that will help us. That will actually deliver that ground combat vehicle around the same time that we would have had had that other feature gone as programmed. So we're treating this as an opportunity.
REP. ROGERS: Thank you. Thank you both for your service.
REP. SKELTON: Mister Wilson.
REP. JOE WILSON (R-SC): Thank you, Mister Chairman. And Mister Secretary, general, thank you for being here. And Mister Secretary, congratulations on your success and service. You've proved there can be life after Congress. And general, it's, I found out from a mutual friend of ours, Mike Flack who is the director of the Columbia Metropolitan Airport, that the three of us were cadets, Army ROTC cadets at Indiantown Gap Military Reservation in Annville, Pennsylvania during the summer of 1968. And so, Mike and I are very impressed and appreciative of your success and I'm grateful to be here in particular because my dad served with the Flying Tigers Army Air Corps.
I'm a son of a veteran. I served 31 years in the Guard and reserve myself, but I'm particularly grateful I have four sons serving in the military and three of them have, of course, have chosen to serve in the Army National Guard. And one of our sons served field artillery in Iraq. Another has served signal in Egypt. The fourth guy just joined the National Guard, but he's Army ROTC, so, I'm very, very much appreciative of your promoting national defense, but providing opportunity for young people to serve our country.
And, Secretary Geren, as we, I'm very grateful to be on the Military Personnel Subcommittee with Chairwoman Susan Davis and we've been reviewing problems of the past couple of years in regard to suicide, sexual assaults, criminal behavior, drugs, has the Army's waiver policy contributed to this problem? And is the quality of recruits what it should be?
MR. GEREN: (Per say ?) that in, only three out of 10 young people today meet the requirements to join the United States Army. Meet the academic, meet the moral and the physical requirements to be a soldier today.
Top 30 percent of our kids. The other screen that tells you a whole lot about the young men and women who join the Army is they're joining the Army in the middle of a war. So, we are getting outstanding young men and women in the Army. As far as the issues that you raise, we have examined very closely the performance of the soldiers that have come in under the waiver process and I would say none of the issues that you raised have we found any connection between wavers and those issues. In fact, we just recently finished a look to look at soldiers who came under waivers and suicide rates, and the suicide rate among the soldiers that came in under waivers was, was lower than it was those that didn't.
You've mentioned sexual assault. If you are a registered sex offender, you don't get into the United States Army period. We have found no, no connection between the number of waivers and the incidence of sexual assault. We have, we watch these issues very, very closely. We have learned with our recent study of waivers that there are a couple of categories that have not performed as we would like them to. We've been giving drug and alcohol waivers. Those people who test positive for drug and alcohol, we have been working with them and some cases going through this 10 step process in giving a waiver, providing them an opportunity to join the Army. We've found through this recent review that we've done that the recidivism rate for those soldiers is higher than other soldiers who came in through other processes.
So we've recently closed that category. You're no longer eligible if you test positive for drug or alcohol. You're no longer able to get into the Army. So, our recruiting process has been a living and learning as we've worked with the waiver process, we will open up and try some areas. If we learn that there are problems associated with it, we, we shut that down. But, by and large, the young men and women who've joined the Army over the last eight years, those who have come in under waivers, have performed with great distinction. In many cases achieved valor awards at a higher rate than those who came in through the other category. It's a very labor intensive process to come in under a waiver. It is, as I mentioned, a 10 step process for every one of those. It's really handpicking, but as we learn about some of those categories' performance, if there are problems, we are shaping the waiver process to work them out of the system.
REP. WILSON: Also, in our subcommittee, we've been following this situation of sexual assaults and response. You had announced in January specific positions to be added. What's the status on adding positions to address this situation?
MR. GEREN: If you look at the, the way the private sector handles sexual assault investigation and prosecution, it's become a very specialized area with specialized investigators, specialized prosecutors. We're recreating that in the Army and we're using the highly qualified expert authority that you all gave us a couple of years ago to go out and get the very best people in the outside world in investigation and in prosecution and building, within the Army, what we believe will be one of the best teams in that area in the country.
REP. WILSON: Thank you very much.
REP. SKELTON: Nearing the end, and I couldn't let you leave without the general talking about the joint cargo aircraft. (Laughter.) How would you like to tell us about the decisions, one of them, regarding the joint cargo aircraft?
GEN. CASEY: Sure, Chairman, I'd be happy to. We had been working, we've been working on this program for a while. And when I got there I reviewed the program and it is something that we need. We need to be able to supply our units in forward bases out of airstrips that can't accommodate a C-130. And we're doing that now in places in Iraq and Afghanistan with the Sherpa. But as I thought my way through that, and I look at the range of things that the Army is doing these days, as I said earlier, you know, flying cargo aircraft isn't my core competency. It's the Air Force's core competency. And I felt that if I could get the Air Force to take over the planes and give me the service, that would be the best, the best of all worlds.
And so I worked it with General Moseley. We weren't able to bring it to conclusion. And then I worked it again with General Schwartz. And we had a broad conceptual agreement. We still have to work out the details of how that might, you know, how we'll do this. And we have until the end of May to come back and tell the department. So, it's one of those things that I felt was an Air Force Mission. As long as I got the service, they're the experts and so I felt comfortable giving that to them.
REP. SKELTON: How about the Army National Guard joint cargo aircraft units?
GEN. CASEY: That's, that is part of the details that has to be worked out. And I, you know, I, originally, in my thinking, I expected the aircraft would stay in the Guard. It might be the Air Guard and we might work something creative where our Army pilots shift over to the Air Guard for a time until they retire so that we --
REP. SKELTON: Wouldn't you have to change the entire unit to be Air Force Guard?
GEN. CASEY: That's one of the things that we're trying to work our way through. We've asked General Craig McKinley, the Director of the Guard to work thought that and help us do that with the Army Guard and the Air Guard.
REP. SKELTON: When will you have a trial decision on that?
GEN. CASEY: We owe a report by the end of May back to the Department on the implementation. I don't know that we'll have the whole memorandum of understanding, you know, to do all this, by then, but we'll have a preliminary report by the end of the month.
REP. SKELTON: Will that include the Army National Guard units, your report in May?
GEN. CASEY: I don't know that we'll have complete resolution on that by the end of May, but they will be, the Guard will be very much included in the discussions. They are, very much included.
REP. SKELTON: If you transfer Army National Guard cargo aircraft units to the Air Force National Guard, wouldn't there, would there be a problem in retaining rank and longevity, et cetera for you? Say, the sergeants, and the corporals and the captains?
GEN. CASEY: Chairman, I don't know, and, as I said, we are, we have to work through the modalities of all that. And I said that was a possibility. I wouldn't want anyone to leave here thinking that that's what we decided to do. That's one of the options that --
REP. SKELTON: If you did that, you would have to guarantee that the person who's been in the Army National Guard for years and years will not be penalized should he wear a different color uniform doing the same mission.
GEN. CASEY: Absolutely. Absolutely. Anything that we do will take into consideration the people aspects of this.
REP. SKELTON: Thank you. Thank you so much. John McHugh? (Off mike) -- gentlemen thank you so much for being with us. I appreciate your testimony and we are very grateful for the hard work that you do for our soldiers.
MR. GEREN: Thank you, Mister Chairman.
GEN. CASEY: Thanks, Chairman.