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Hearing of the Subcom. On Total Force of the House Committee on Armed Services on Reserve Component Transformation and Relieving Stress - Transcript

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service March 31, 2004 Wednesday

Copyright 2004 The Federal News Service, Inc.
Federal News Service

March 31, 2004 Wednesday

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE SUBCOMMITTEE ON TOTAL FORCE OF THE HOUSE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES SUBJECT: RESERVE COMPONENT TRANSFORMATION AND RELIEVING THE STRESS ON THE RESERVE COMPONENT

CHAIRED BY: REPRESENTATIVE JOHN M. MCHUGH (R-NY)

WITNESSES PANEL I:

ALBERT C. ZAPANTA, CHAIRMAN, RESERVE FORCES POLICY BOARD;

MAJOR GENERAL DOUGLAS BURNETT, U.S. AIR FORCE, ADJUTANT GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND ADJUTANT GENERAL, FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD;

MAJOR GENERAL ROBERT MCINTOSH, U.S. AIR FORCE RESERVE (RETIRED), EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF THE U.S.;

PANE II: THOMAS F. HALL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RESERVE AFFAIRS; LIEUTENANT GENERAL H. STEVEN BLUM, U.S. ARMY, CHIEF, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU;

LIEUTENANT GENERAL ROGER C. SCHULTZ, U.S. ARMY, DIRECTOR, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD; LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES HELMLY, U.S. ARMY, CHIEF, U.S. ARMY RESERVE; VICE ADMIRAL JOHN G. COTTON, U.S. NAVY, DIRECTOR, U.S. NAVAL RESERVE; LIEUTENANT GENERAL DANIEL JAMES, III, U.S. AIR FORCE, DIRECTOR, AIR NATIONAL GUARD; LIEUTENANT GENERAL JAMES E. SHERRARD, III, U.S. AIR FORCE, CHIEF, AIR FORCE RESERVE; LIEUTENANT GENERAL DENNIS M. MCCARTHY, U.S. MARINE CORPS, COMMANDER, MARINE FORCES RESERVE

LOCATION: 2212 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

TIME: 1:00 P.M.

BODY:

REP. JOHN M. McHUGH (R-NY): The hearing will come to order. Let me first of all welcome our witnesses. We have two very distinguished panels today to explore some very, very important issues. But also to those of you have joined us in the audience, we appreciate your interest and your efforts to be here.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
REP. JIM COOPER (D-TN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your holding this important hearing today. I know all of us hear more about these issues back home probably than any other military issue.

I have a question about restructuring the Guard-and perhaps this would be more appropriate for the next panel, but I'd like your insight if at all possible. It seems to me that restructuring the Guard and Reserve may end up destructing a significant part of it. Perhaps that's good, we don't know. But I'm wondering if you gentlemen have any information about how many National Guard battalion headquarters may disappear as a result of various restructuring proposals that are coming forward?

MR. ZAPANTA: Mr. Cooper, I'm going to punt to the gentleman that are going to be right behind us, because that's really their-that's their lane. But to the more fundamental and broader part of your question, is the rebalancing in our estimation of-what we're trying to be able to do is get those kind of units that are not being utilized-some of the heavy structure combat units, whether it's artillery or armor, into the areas where civil affairs, intelligence and some of the ones that are really on an op tempo-and they're doing that right now in such a way that you-you don't want to kill the structure so that you can't basically deploy what you have to deploy when you need it. And so it's a combination of looking at that mission, what is the real capabilities?

And the beauty of the Guard and Reserve and I have this-I'm going to get on my soapbox for a minute if you don't mind, Mr. Chairman. But the ability that the Guard and Reservist brings is that civilian acquired skill that would cost us a heck of a lot of money if we try to keep it in the active. And that's the ability to reach back and bring those kind of individuals that can come and take that six months or year out of their life. It's not just all about combat infantry units. And so answering your question, those are the kinds of things when we restructure, and I think you're going to hear it, that the R.C. is trying to put in place that we can give it the depth while at the same time not costing a big price tag.

GEN. BURNETT: Congressman Cooper, responding to your question about the battalions, again I would defer for the most part to General Blum and Lieutenant General Schultz. However, I would say this: as we restructure, I think it's important we have this TTHS account, Transient Trainees Holdees and Students. The Army Reserve has come out strong saying we should have this. The Army has it. It gets into a question of how many people can we send down range to do business? So if you've got force structure here and assigned strength here, when the Army calls us this is what they see, this high level, and they say, come to the fight with this. And we say, well, hang on, I've got between here and here to get there.

For example, sir, in Tennessee I think you have 10,700, which is your force structure, and I think you have assigned 9,450. Well, when you start mobilizing some of those elements, you've got to pull from here and there. For example, 11 Bravos, the infantry solider. Pull one from here or there that used to be 11 Bravo, now is doing something else, went forward for a promotion opportunity, but we've got to pull them back. So I think some of the plans I've heard General Blum advance brings that down to where when they call us, we're assigned to have this, we're paid to have that and if we recruit right, train right, all those things, I think it will happen.

Back to your question on battalions. It's very, very important to the National Guard and Reserve component that we have promotion and opportunity for leaders. Folks that train to lead want to lead at the next level. It's not about rank or pay grade. It's all about responsibility and accountability and stepping up and making a difference to those that follow. So if we don't have battalion headquarters and brigade headquarters where promotional opportunity to lead at that level is not there, I can assure you we will have not good formations. We will not have good companies, we won't have good battalions because they don't see that mentoring piece to move up. So I think we have to look closely as we work through this balancing act we talk about. And, again, I used the word integrity of process. It's very important that we don't build something that looks good maybe in one city, maybe looks good on paper but doesn't fit that soldier down here in Armory USA, because that's what it's really about.

REP. COOPER: Any idea how many armories may close in individual counties, because a lot of folks focus on that?

GEN. BURNETT: Well, sir, that is something to look at. I know in Tennessee you have 109 armories and I'm certain that that's a concern for folks. This soldiering piece is all about small town America, armories all over this great nation that supply troops. Maybe one town can't supply 100 troops when you need them; maybe they can supply 85. But it's that 85 that makes the difference in the fight. We have to look, significantly, at that side of the equation we start balancing this out. I think we can do that and still keep armories open 'cause it is an unbelievable important piece of our recruiting base, the communities with which we serve 'cause we're citizen soldiers.

REP. COOPER: If some of our troops are converted to other skills, who pays for that conversion? How does that work?

GEN. BURNETT: Sir --

REP. COOPER: I mean, we have an artillery battalion being retrained right now as M.P.s

GEN. BURNETT: I would have to let General Blum and General Schultz address that. Basically, you pay for it.

(Laughter.

)

REP. COOPER: Well, the taxpayers do.

GEN. BURNETT: Yes, sir.

MR. ZAPANTA: The whole area of cross-leveling, Mr. Cooper, and the area of the retraining and all, the services are taking it out of hide, and I think they'll tell you that. But that's okay in the sense that they're trying to make sure that they can manage their resource and their ability to build those units to be able to deploy them. But, yeah, it costs money and we're talking about equipment, as well, to try to upgrade it, and so there is a price tag to it. I'm sure they'll bring it up.

REP. COOPER: Last question, Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence.

Perhaps other questions have covered this, but the current utilization level of Guard and Reserves seems to be about 100,000 and --

GEN. BURNETT: It's 132,000 that are mobilized today, sir.

REP. COOPER: Was that a plateau or is that a spike?

VOICES: (Off mike) Sixty thousand -

REP. COOPER: Is that a plateau, is that a spike? You know, is that what it looks like for the foreseeable future, that level, or about, is going to be necessary to supplement our active duty forces.

GEN. BURNETT: I think we're going to see that for the foreseeable future. As the Army came down from 900,000 to 482,000, certainly our country knew that we would be using the National Guard and I think our soldiers understand that, the distinction being between equal and equitable, which Dr. Snyder well pointed out in his January 21 testimony.

Equal is like the football stadium, I think you said, sir. Ten commodes in a men's bathroom and 10 commodes in a women's is equal. But that's not equitable because the line is going to be a long line outside the women's. So I think we al in the military need to adopt that as equal and equitable because it certainly applies to the Guard and Reserve and the active. And I think we have a great partnership and I think honorable people are working to flatten out these spikes so we have some symmetry of knowing where we're going to be mobilized.

REP. COOPER: I thank the chair.

BREAK IN TRANSCRIPT
REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I've been in suspense all afternoon because the Chairman Zapanta said he was going to punt the ball to this panel, so I've been waiting to see whether you all would catch it or not. Now it's the moment of truth.

REP. McHUGH: Fair catch.

(Laughter.)

REP. COOPER: No problem with that. I'd asked earlier about an expected downsizing in battalion headquarters, also any expected downsizing in armory. If you could respond to those two questions, that would be great.

GEN. BLUM: Thank you, I appreciate the question. All three of those questions are very insightful questions and they're very legitimate questions and they need to be answered in the context of something I discussed just a little bit earlier. But if the other members will permit, I'll-a real quick review at it. If I throw up this chart that shows you the strategic reserve moving to an operational reserve, and which is taking us from what the Guard was organized, resourced, set up in statute and set up in policy, equipped-all the parameters to include-it included an over structured force bigger than it could fill. And that made a lot of sense when we were a Cold War deterrent force. It was going to be filled up over a long period of time, where we pumped money and equipment and draftees mostly into filling up our vacancies and we could be a cadre level force.

The problem is today we're an operational reserve and we're required to go out to do it C-1. In other words, 100 percent manning, 100 percent trained, ready to go, your equipment is ready, all your people are filled up, all your skill sets are there. When you have a unit that is not filled up completely, it's like that pitcher of water on the table. If you want a full pitcher of water as a combatant commander, you have to take two of those pitchers, perhaps three, and pour them together to level off one. And you have one full pitcher and you send that overseas. But what you have is two degraded pitchers. So the next time you need a pitcher of water, it gets tougher. And then by the time you get to the third iteration, which we're on right now, it even gets tougher and pretty soon you've got an empty pitcher.

But you-and then we'll be in here explaining to you why we don't-why we can't-why we have this empty structure. Well, we were designed that way. We need to move away from that, sir, and we need to move the full-time manning, the resourcing, the equipping piece from this over structure into a smaller, more capable, more ready force. That means we will have to take down some headquarters. The exact number, nobody knows. There is not a human being on Earth that knows the answer to that right now, period.

Now, the Army is going to modularity, which means they're going to have smaller-more units, smaller units, little more capable, more agile units.

That plays very, very well and serves the National Guard community based model very, very well. And it probably means that the number of units that come down will be significantly mitigated because the Army will go from three companies in a battalion to four, three battalions in a brigade to four, four brigades in a UEX of three to four. So there is about a 25 percent growth in combat, combat service support units Army wide. As we redistribute and rebalance the Army, we will benefit from that.

So if you were to ask me how many units will Tennessee actually lose, I don't know. Nobody knows. If you ask me how many will they gain, I can't tell you that. But what I can tell you is they will have all the units they can fill. They won't have any more units than they can fill with trained and ready and deployable soldiers. And right now if we were to do that, that means if General Burnett's numbers that he was using earlier are even close to accurate-and I think they are-we're talking about a 10 percent reduction in the size of the Tennessee Guard, which means about a 10 percent reduction perhaps in the number of units that are there, mitigated by the modularity. Which means it may only be a 5 percent reduction in the number of units, but there will be nobody in the Tennessee National Guard that would have to get out of the National Guard because we don't have a place for them.

They may be doing-they may be reclassified, doing a different job. For instance, they may no longer be artillery that's no longer relevant or useful to fight the global war on terrorism and the future threats we see. They may convert from artillery to military police, or they may convert to civil affairs, or they may convert to information operations, or to an intelligence unit, or something that would-something that we see as-or maybe one of these civil support teams or weapons of mass destruction counter response units, which are both useful not only to the governors but useful to the combatant commanders overseas, because none of the combatant commanders will ask for some of the structure that exists in an Army Guard. We are over structured in some things that really are no longer relevant for today's global war on terrorism or any of the future threats that we see on the horizon.

That doesn't mean we're going to get completely out of artillery. That doesn't mean we're going to get completely out of any combat, combat service support or combat support area. It means we're going to take a legitimate look at what we have too much of that has not gotten into the warfight because it's the wrong kind of unit with the wrong kind of capabilities, both for governors and for General Abizaid over in Southwest Asia, or any other combatant commander, and then-and change that unit to be something that is ready, reliable and relevant and accessible for both homeland defense, the one on the national security strategy, the homeland defense, and on the 421. I want them to be equally relevant against all four of those sets. I hope that is helpful. REP. COOPER: Thank you. And I'm not faulting rebalancing because that probably is a good idea. But we need to know the specifics and we need to know them with enough advance notice so that we can be effective representatives. And I was a little worried because last year we got a proposal to restructure DOD civilians, all 700,000 of them. I think we had about 10 days from introduction of the proposal to vote.

GEN. BLUM: Well, what I've committed to the governor of Tennessee and to the adjutant general of Tennessee is that the National Guard will not rush to failure on this and we will not give things up before they know what those things are going to be replaced with. I think that's fair and I think it's a fair requirement on their part to know. And the other part, sir, that would be useful to know is every single state and territory has an obligation to submit their state plan to us. They should be building their future force in Tennessee and sending that to us. Optimize their demographics, their geography, what they really need in their state to handle not only the homeland defense/homeland security mission, but what do they really want to have available in what percentages, so that they can deploy their fair share of burden share to 25 percent at a time overseas.

REP. COOPER: So we could be proposing to beef up civil affairs and --

GEN. BLUM: Absolutely. Absolutely.

REP. COOPER: MPs, things like that?

GEN. BLUM: Absolutely.

REP. COOPER: Would it help you in doing your job if the National Guard had a separate procurement authority, so that you don't just have to deal with surplus equipment and hand-me-downs from the active duty folks?

GEN. BLUM: That has been proposed over time. It's been carefully studied. The right answer to that is that the services have to shoulder the full responsibility for their Reserve components. That's the right answer. And the pressure really ought to be on the service components to deal with the active, Guard and the Reserve and train, organize and equip them in a like manner. If that were done, what you're proposing would not be necessary.

REP. COOPER: But they don't do that?

GEN. BLUM: They are making the first genuine, honest attempt at it that I've seen in my entire military career under the current chief of staff of the Army and the Air Force. The Air Force has been doing it. I want to separate the Air Guard from this discussion because they've been doing it for about 20 years. The Army has never done it fully until now, and they are making an honest effort to do that. They are putting their money where their mouth is and if they continue to do the actions that they're taking right now, what you're suggesting would not be necessary. If for some reason they were to depart from that and walk away from that, that may be something worth exploring.

GEN. JAMES: Could I add something to that? I don't want to take too much credit for the blue suit. I would say-and I would ask Jimmy to either agree or add to this-that if it weren't for the (AGR ?) account, we would not be as capable and as relevant as we are today. There are certain things that we've been able to procure because of that account, like lightning pods and other things, that have made us relevant for the warfighter and gotten us in the fight and an active member of the team.

Yes, we are probably ahead of the Army, in a way, in our relationship with the active Air Force, but I can't emphasize enough how much you do for us when you give us the latitude to procure items that we need that are unfunded requirements from the total force-total service point of view, that you give us that latitude and that flexibility to acquire those items, those pieces of equipment. And I just want to make that point.

GEN. BLUM: That's a great point. It really is a great point. It does make the difference. It makes a significant difference. For the Army in the past it has meant our survival, frankly. And we're not ready to walk away from that until we-we've got a lot of catch up all to do with equipping the Army Guard.

REP. COOPER: When the unit is converted from artillery to, say, MP, who picks up the cost of that? Is that depleting your budget if you have to eat that cost? Or who's paying for it?

GEN. BLUM: The cost of that would be paid by the services. We are doing this in full-this is being done in full partnership with the Army conversion, the Army transformation, the Army Guard transformation. And General Helmly can talk to the Army Reserve, but I will tell you that this is the most collaborative team approach that I have ever seen actually attempted and actually working. I mean, this is no longer three Armies at war with itself. This is one Army trying to fix what makes sense for the United States of America. I will tell you that I am not-I could never have said that before today in a hearing like this.

REP. COOPER: Well, you're very encouraging. I wonder if previous committees and previous panels would have had heard that we have in fact three Armies at war with themselves? Usually people tell us more the positive spin. But I'm glad --

GEN. BLUM: I've witnessed the Army at war with itself and it is not a pretty sight.

REP. COOPER: Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

END

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