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Public Statements

Hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on Operation Iraqi Freedom Force Rotation Plan

By:
Date:
Location: Washington, DC


Federal News Service

HEADLINE: HEARING OF THE HOUSE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE

SUBJECT: OPERATION IRAQI FREEDOM FORCE ROTATION PLAN

ACTING CHAIR: REPRESENTATIVE JIM SAXTON (R-NJ)

LOCATION: 2118 RAYBURN HOUSE OFFICE BUILDING, WASHINGTON, D.C.

WITNESSES: GENERAL PETER SCHOOMAKER, ARMY CHIEF OF STAFF; GENERAL MICHAEL HAGEE, MARINE CORPS COMMANDANT; LT. GENERAL NORTON SCHWARTZ, DIRECTOR FOR OPERATIONS, JOINT STAFF; LT. GENERAL JAMES CARTWRIGHT, DIRECTOR FOR FORCE STRUCTURE, RESOURCES AND ASSESSMENT, JOINT STAFF

BODY:
REP. SAXTON: (Gavel.) Committee will come to order. This morning, the committee kicks off the new year with an opportunity to learn about the most significant large-scale rotation of American military forces since World War II.

Chairman Hunter has asked me to fill in for him today as he was unable to make the necessary travel connections last night. He sends his regrets and also wishes to thank our distinguished panel of witnesses for agreeing to appear today on this important topic.

It's a pleasure to welcome our witnesses today. General Peter J. Schoomaker, chief of staff of the Army, will be with us shortly. Just for everybody's information, the general is at the White House, and he will be here as soon as he possibly can. General Michael Hagee, commandant Marine Corps; Lieutenant General Norton Schwartz, director of operations of the Joint Chiefs-Joint Staff, and Lieutenant General James Cartwright, director of force structure, resources and assessment of the Joint Staff.

Gentlemen, we look forward to your testimony.

As Washington prepares to consider the president's budget defense proposal for the coming fiscal year, it is critically important that Congress gain a better understanding of one of the most crucial national security issues we face, the global war on terror, and how the U.S. military will accommodate its growing requirements.

How the Department of Defense and each of the military services as force providers choose to meet this challenge will in many respects shape the U.S. military for many years to come.

Decisions on active-reserve mix, mobilization and rotation rates, force protection, personnel tempo and other key issues are already and will continue to have a lasting impact on our all-volunteer force.

On the other hand, the situation also provides an unprecedented opportunity to examine long-standing personnel and organization policy, since most of the underlying assumptions used to build today's force decades ago are about to be put to severe tests.

-BREAK OF TRANSCRIPT-

REP. JOHN KLINE (R-MN): Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you, gentlemen, for being here today. Thanks for standing in the trenches for us all. I'm very pleased with the presentation that we got today about the movement of troops out of theater and into theater. I think it's probably a very good plan. I'm not surprised a bit, but nevertheless I find myself delighted again to hear about that we are paying attention to lessons learned, and we've got language immersion going on in the Marine Corps, modifying tactics and procedures to adjust to the new situation. And I trust, General Schoomaker, the Army is also doing some intensive language training.

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: Sure are.

REP. KLINE: I am very proud of course of my active service in the Marines, and very proud of my son's active service in the Army. He's been in for 10 years, and he too is proud of his service in the Army, in the active-duty forces. But I want to share my concern along with my colleagues about the Guard and the Reserve. And, General Schoomaker, you said that the proper mix of active and Reserve and Guard forces was a question for the future, I think you said. And I think you're sensing that from our perspective it's a question for today.

Looking at the force mix in theater, at the end of the troop rotation-we now have different numbers-I guess it depends on whether you're talking Army, total force or service-but around 40 percent of the force in theater will be from the Reserve and Guard component.

So let me just cut to sort of a straightforward question. If you are successful in your transformation, moving from three brigades to four and so forth in the active Army, and if we complete the movement from artillery units to military police that wee see going on in the Reserve component and upgrading if you will some of the Guard components to make them more deployable, what would you guess that mix would be in theater?

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: I think it would reflect-well you know, it's hard to tell the future --

REP. KLINE: I understand that, but if you had it in place today in the tactical situation was in Iraq was what it was today, if you had that force mix, what would the active and Reserve component mix be?

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: I think there would be clearly heavier weighting on the active component than the Reserve component.

REP. KLINE: Even though you are increasing the number of military police in the Reserve component, and increasing combat brigades in the Guard component? I mean, it sounds to me like your plan, which I am not critical of at all, because we do need to change, is still putting a pretty heavy reliance on being able to call up-to mobilize and activate Guard and Reserve forces. And I'm just wondering if that's --

GEN. SCHOOMAKER: No, I think that there's no backing off the fact that the Reserve components exist to give us surge capability and reinforcing capability in times of emergency. But part of the restructuring of the active side is also to increase the percentage of civil affairs, MPs, transportation, aviation, all the rest of it that right now is in heavy demand. And I think that, as I said, the Rubik's cube includes active, Guard and Reserve in terms of restructuring both within it and across those boundaries in terms of capabilities within the force structure that's --

REP. KLINE: Right, I think I understand. I don't know how to solve a Rubik's cube myself, but I understand the complexity here of what you're talking about. My point is that I hope that at the end of this restructuring plan that you're working on that in the current circumstances, we would not be relying as heavily on the Guard and Reserve, because I am heartened to hear that the retention and recruitment numbers are high in the Marine Corps and in the Army for Guard, Reserve and active forces. But the other side of this, which I think some of us are frustrated here, that we are getting a little bit of a tin ear from the Pentagon, and that is that we have employers who are losing valuable employees to active duty, being called up to active duty. And we have a reliance in our communities for firemen and police and so forth who are no longer there. They have been called up to go over and serve in Iraq. And so this reliance-and I'm afraid that this war on terrorism is going to last awhile-this heavy reliance on the Guard and Reserve is having an impact in our communities, and our businesses in our districts, that I think we need to as a nation, and as a committee here, and as members of the armed forces, we need to put the whole picture in there.

So I am heartened to hear that you think there would be less reliance on the Guard and the Reserve. I hope so. I am eagerly looking forward to working with all the services, but frankly particularly the Army. General Hagee is getting a little bit of a break here today. It won't always be so, General, but I am looking forward to working with you on that, and I hope we are moving in that direction, and quickly. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

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