Archive for Thursday, December 21, 2006

Army brass visits fort, weighs in on draft, war

December 21, 2006

Success in Iraq and Afghanistan may require additional reserve forces, but not a draft, a top Army official said last week at Fort Leavenworth.

Gen. Richard A. Cody, vice chief of staff of the Army, was the guest of honor for the Command and General Staff College's first-ever winter graduation ceremony on Friday, Dec. 15. At a news conference before the event, he said that even in the 10 months since the officers began their training at the CGSC, there have been significant changes to the armed forces. But the training that the graduating majors have received is one of the key components to the strength of the armed forces.

"We're the finest army in the world because our stock in trade is leadership. Our stock in trade is adaptive, agile, educated leaders," Cody said. "I believe that's what's held this army together these last five years, is our investment in leader training."

But ensuring that all personnel are receiving the adequate training may require recruiting many new soldiers as well as mobilizing additional reserve troops, Cody said. Without them, it's harder to allow active troops time to return for additional training. And the situation is putting unnecessary stress on the armed forces - stress that could be relieved by more soldiers.

"We're talking to the administration and talking to the Department of Defense about growing the Army a lot faster than we have been growing. Just because we see this as a long fight - a long struggle - not just centered on Iraq and Afghanistan, but certainly in that region and in other places."

Lt. Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the CGSC, said steps already were being taken to bolster the quality and quantity of training for those preparing for combat deployment. The program established by Cody and the Army's chief of staff to commit the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley to training military transition teams before they deploy is a major indicator, Petraeus said.

"That's one of our Army's 10 active divisions devoted to the preparation of these transition team members, and I think it represents a huge investment in that particular effort and therefore shows the emphasis that's being placed on it," Petraeus said.

Additional troops would ensure more thorough preparation by allowing soldiers returning from combat more time to retrain. The current 13-month cycle of combat deployment and retraining needs to be closer to a 24-month cycle, Cody said.

"We're spinning the active force so much we're not training them for full-spectrum operations right now, because you don't have time. That doesn't leave us with enough strategic readiness and strategic reserve," Cody said. "So that's why we're going forth and saying we need to raise the end strength of the Army. Not just active, but also in the guard and in the reserves, so that we can build some buffer there for them and not wear them out at the same time."

Cody, a four-star general and alumnus of the CGSC, said the younger officers who graduated on Dec. 15 exemplified the commitment, sacrifice and perseverance that was the strength of a volunteer army. But motivating more people to join is critical to ongoing success, he said.

"We need to get this nation mobilized for war," Cody said. "I wake up every morning thanking God that we have the soldiers who have signed up after 9-11 and those who have re-enlisted after 9-11 knowing full well that they are enlisting in an army or re-enlisting in an army that is going to deploy them to combat.

"The problem is we don't have enough of America doing that."

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