SPEAKERS CONTENTS INSERTS
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[H.A.S.C. No. 10825]
NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACT
FOR FISCAL YEAR 2005H.R. 4200
OVERSIGHT OF PREVIOUSLY AUTHORIZED PROGRAMS
COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED EIGHTH CONGRESS
TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE HEARINGS
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TITLE IVMILITARY PERSONNEL AUTHORIZATIONS
TITLE VMILITARY PERSONNEL POLICY
TITLE VICOMPENSATION AND OTHER PERSONNEL BENEFITS
TITLE VIIHEALTH CARE PROVISIONS
MARCH 31, 2004
TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
JOHN M. McHUGH, New York, Chairman
TOM COLE, Oklahoma
CANDICE MILLER, Michigan
PHIL GINGREY, Georgia
JIM SAXTON, New Jersey
JIM RYUN, Kansas
EDWARD SCHROCK, Virginia
ROBIN HAYES, North Carolina
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VIC SNYDER, Arkansas
MARTY MEEHAN, Massachusetts
LORETTA SANCHEZ, California
ELLEN O. TAUSCHER, California
JIM COOPER, Tennessee
MADELEINE BORDALLO, Guam
Lynn W. Henselman, Professional Staff Member
Elizabeth McAlpine, Staff Assistant
C O N T E N T S
CHRONOLOGICAL LIST OF HEARINGS
Wednesday, March 31, 2004, Fiscal Year 2005 National Defense Authorization ActBudget Request on Reserve Component Transformation and Relieving the Stress in the Reserve Component
Wednesday, March 31, 2004
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2004
Page 4 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFISCAL YEAR 2005 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTBUDGET REQUEST ON RESERVE COMPONENT TRANSFORMATION AND RELIEVING THE STRESS IN THE RESERVE COMPONENT
STATEMENTS PRESENTED BY MEMBERS OF CONGRESS
McHugh, Hon. John M., a Representative from New York, Chairman, Total Force Subcommittee
Snyder, Hon. Vic, a Representative from Arkansas, Ranking Member, Total Force Subcommittee
Blum, Lt. Gen. H. Steven, USA, Chief, National Guard Bureau
Burnett, Maj. Gen. Douglas, USAF, Adjutants General Association of the United States and Adjutant General, Florida National Guard
Cotton, Vice Adm. John G., USN Director, U.S. Naval Reserve
Hall, Hon. Thomas H., Assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve Affairs
Helmly, Lt. Gen. James, USA, Chief, U.S. Army Reserve
James, Lt. Gen. Daniel, III, USAF, Director, Air National Guard
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McCarthy, Lt. Gen. Dennis M., USMC, Commander, Marine Forces Reserve
McIntosh, Maj. Gen. Robert, USAFR (Ret.) Executive Director, Reserve Officers Association of the United States
Schultz, Lt. Gen. Roger C., Director, Army National Guard
Sherrad, Lt. Gen. James E., III, USAF, Chief, Air Force Reserve
Zapanta, Hon. Albert C., Chairman, Reserve Forces Policy Board
[The Prepared Statements can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Burnett, Maj. Gen. Douglas
McHugh, Hon. John M.
McIntosh, Maj. Gen. Robert A.
Snyder, Hon. Vic
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Zapanta, Hon. Albert C.
Hall, Hon. Thomas F. Hall
Blum, Lt. Gen. H. Steven, joint statement with Gen. Daniel James, and Gen. Roger C. Schultz, National Guard 2005 Posture Statement
Cotton, Vice Adm. John G.
Helmly, Lt. Gen. James R.
Sherrard, Lt. Gen. James E., III
McCarthy, Lt. Gen. Dennis M.
DOCUMENTS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Documents submitted can be viewed in the hard copy.]
The Naval Reserve Association
QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS SUBMITTED FOR THE RECORD:
[The Questions and Answers can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Page 7 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOCFISCAL YEAR 2005 NATIONAL DEFENSE AUTHORIZATION ACTBUDGET REQUEST ON RESERVE COMPONENT TRANSFORMATION AND RELIEVING THE STRESS IN THE RESERVE COMPONENT
House of Representatives,
Committee on Armed Services,
Total Force Subcommittee,
Washington, DC, Wednesday, March 31, 2004.
The subcommittee met, pursuant to call, at 1:06 p.m., in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building, Hon. John McHugh (chairman of the subcommittee) presiding.
OPENING STATEMENT OF HON. JOHN M. MCHUGH, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM NEW YORK, CHAIRMAN, TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
Mr. MCHUGH.The hearing will come to order.
Let me first of all welcome certainly our witnesses. We have two very distinguished panels today to explore some very, very important issues.
But also to those of you who have joined us in the audience, we appreciate your interest and your efforts to be here.
There is a photograph circulating on the Internet of an Army truck convoy in Iraq that perhaps says as much as anything I have seen in capturing what this hearing is all about today.
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It underscores why it is necessary that we focus, not just this afternoon but in the days and weeks ahead of us, on the reserve component (RC) elements of the total force.
The photo summarizes exquisitely the new era and new realities that the men and women of the reserve components today are struggling with. And it should serve as a wake-up call for all here who make the policies and laws regarding the total force that there are new realities that we, too, must deal with.
What you can see in the photo is a sun-lit cargo truck. It has a driver and a vehicle commander sitting in the shadows behind that windshield. It is just two reserve component soldiers doing their jobs in a place they probably never thought they would ever see, let alone be in.
We might never have known their thoughts about that job on their new circumstances in life except for the modest cardboard banner that they pasted in the windshield of the truck. That message from them on that, admittedly crudely but I think well and aptly lettered sign in soldier-direct words reads, ''One weekend a month, my ass.'' [Laughter.]
We have copy of that up there for those of you who may not have had the opportunity to see it.
That is the way soldiers talk. And it speaks volumes.
Indeed, somewhere between 1990 with the start of Desert Storm/Desert Shield and today, America's contract with its reserve component underwent a major modification. Certainly for the last decade, the Nation has been asking far more than one weekend a month from its reserve component, and those men and women who have answered the call have done so magnificently.
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We are at warplain and simple. Some would say that such circumstances are exactly why we have a reserve component, and it is the circumstance that most reservists should have expected to face when they volunteered.
But the new reality is that this war demands more from the reserve components than previous conflicts.
Take just one metric: During Desert Shield/Desert Storm, mobilization tours averagedaveraged156 days; during Kosovo, Bosnia and Haiti, about 200 days; and during Noble Eagle, Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom, 319 days, average.
Moreover, during Desert Storm, reserve components were called, went to war and then came home. Today in the near term, 100,000 to 150,000 reserve component personnel will be mobilized annually for extended periods to sustain troop levels in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The longer-term planning metric is that each reserve component member can expect to be mobilized at least once every five years, if not more frequently for periods of up to a year or longer.
That is a far cry from one weekend a month.
These are fundamental changes and we must pay attention to their implications. Today's hearing is part of the effort by this subcommittee to better understand not only the stress being experienced by these reserve components, but also to examine what is being done and what should be done to sustain the viability of the reserve component in general.
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Before I introduce our first panel of witnesses, let me yield to the ranking member, a gentleman who has been a leader on these issues and has been a great partner in this subcommittee effort, the gentleman from Arkansas, Dr. Snyder.
[The prepared statement of Mr. McHugh can be viewed in the hard copy.]
STATEMENT OF HON. VIC SNYDER, A REPRESENTATIVE FROM ARKANSAS, RANKING MEMBER, TOTAL FORCE SUBCOMMITTEE
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you for your efforts on behalf of our men and women in uniform.
I think this hearing is particularly timely today. We not only have increased operational demands but also transformational demands which has impact on our Reserve Forces.
And it is not just due to what has been going on in the last couple of years. We have known since 1991 that we have had increased expectations from our Guard and Reserve Forces.
In fact, in Kosovo and Bosnia and operations are sustained today by Guard and Reserve Forces. And these demands don't seem to be diminishing anytime soon. I think that any reasonable observer expects that we will see this increased operational tempo on our Reserve Forces and our entire military for the foreseeable future.
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We also have questions about the medical and dental arrangements of our troops as they come in. And the medical stories that came out of Fort Stewart were very concerning for a lot of members. I know it was for the military also.
We look forward to hearing your perspective on that.
Mr. Chairman, let me thank you once again for having this hearing.
I thank the gentleman, and I look forward to your testimony and your response to questions.
[The prepared statement of Dr. Snyder can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman again for his commitment to these issues across the board.
Before we begin, let me ask unanimous consent that two statements be entered into the record of this hearing, first the statement from the Air Force Sergeants Association and also a statement from the Naval Reserve Association. Without objection that will be so ordered.
[The information referred to can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. I welcome, as I said earlier, our panel of three witnesses, three distinguished gentlemen who certainly have a very unique, very professional and very important perspective on the questions that Vic Snyder and I have just tried to outline in general terms.
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Perspectives of the Reserves Forces Policy Board as well as the views of the associations representing both the Reserves and the National Guard, and I would like to introduce the Honorable Albert C. Zapanta who is the chairman of the Reserve Forces Policy Board.
Also we are honored to be joined by Major General Douglas Burnett, United States Air Force, Adjutants General Association of the United States, and he is also the adjutant general of the great state of Florida, National Guard.
And also Major General Robert McIntosh, United States Air Force Reserve, retired executive director of the Reserve Officers Association (ROA) of the United States.
Welcome to you.
This is the first opportunity for two of you to testify before this committee, although General McIntosh has appeared before us in his capacity as the reserve component adviser of the chairman of the Joint Chiefs in the past.
But, General Burnett, today you are wearing two hats, as I mentioned: one as the representative of the Adjutants General Association and another as the adjutant general of Florida.
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So that certainly gives him the broad as well as the micro, macro and micro, perspectives.
And, Mr. Zapanta, you chair the congressionally mandated Reserve Forces Policy Board, which is designed to provide Congress with an independent view of matters pertaining to the reserve component. Your perspective here today is certainly both welcomed and anticipated.
To all three of you, we look forward to your testimony.
It may be appropriate in the order in which I introduce you, Mr. Zapanta, if you would like to start, our attention is yours, sir.
STATEMENT OF HON. ALBERT C. ZAPANTA, CHAIRMAN, RESERVE FORCES POLICY BOARD
Secretary ZAPANTA. Thank you, Chairman McHugh, Congressman Snyder and members of the subcommittee. It is an honor to testify before you today on behalf of the Reserve Forces Policy Board and the extraordinary men and women who serve the reserve component.
My remarks will focus on several strategic areas and issues the board has addressed, or has interest, and that affect the reserve component today and will continue to affect them in the future.
Page 14 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I request that my written statement be entered in the record.
Mr. MCHUGH. Without objection, so ordered.
And if I may intrude for one moment, Mr. Zapanta, I would note to all the witnesses on both the first and second panel, without objection all of your testimony in its entirety be entered into the record.
Without objection, so ordered.
Thank you, sir.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Pursuant to Title 10, the board is the principal policy adviser to the Secretary of Defense on all matters relating to reserve component and, as required, to prepare an annual report on reserve programs and other matters considered by the board for transmission to the President and Congress.
The board consists of 24 members that include myself as the statutory chairman, the assistant service secretaries for Manpower Reserve Affairs, flag and general officers from the active and Reserve Forces and the Coast Guard.
Congress has repeatedly stated its desire that the board act independently in its advisory and reporting roles, a position the board steadfastly maintains and feels is more important now than at any time due to the increased reliance on the RC.
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We meet at least quarterly, conduct field visits to talk with combatant commanders and our mobilized Guard and Reserve personnel and conduct Citizen Patriot Forums with business, community leaders and families of deployed RC members.
Our statutorily required annual report is in final coordination and should be to the Secretary of Defense for transmission to the President and Congress prior to our April 20th board meeting.
In the past two years, we have visited all nine unified commands to include Guard and Reserve personnel who are serving with utmost professionalism and esprit de corps in the United States, Puerto Rico, Guantanamo Bay, Bosnia, Kosovo, Korea, and we plan to visit Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan in the very near future.
We gather significant data on the mobilization issues during these visits as well as collect the data from various published reports.
We have learned we must develop fair and equitable compensation, entitlements and benefit packages, including special pays, basic allowance for housing and travel per diem entitlements, improve pre-mobilization medical and dental screening and care, improve personnel and pay systems immediately, and develop a joint automated system to track and manage mobilized RC members from activation through demobilization.
Equipment modernization modification and replacement must be on par with the active components (AC).
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Consideration should be given to legislative changes that provide for greater flexibility in allowing the services to accomplish pre-mobilization training and utilization of RC volunteers which when coupled with force rebalancing and continuation of service initiative will serve to greatly improve predictability for the RC members, their families and employers.
An often-heard comment from our mobilized RC members has been one been of inequitable treatment such as billeting personal protective equipment and organizational clothing. This second-class treatment shows a level of insensitivity that must be changed to ensure our Guard and Reserve members serve equally with their active duty peers.
We are asking our RC members to do more, often at the expense of their families and employers. The old paradigm of one weekend per month and two weeks per year is no longer the standard for many of our RC members.
If we continue to utilize RC members at the pace we are today and expect to continue to meet retention or recruiting goals, then we must develop the best possible compensation and sensitize our leadership to ensure fair and equitable treatment.
Transformation and rebalancing between the active and the reserve components, and within the RC, is occurring in areas of civil affairs, military police, law enforcement, installation and port security forces, air crews and intelligence officers.
As it relates to stability operations, this is an area where creative ideas might provide solutions for the future.
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One idea that arose from our 2003 symposium was the concept of a universal command, an RC organization containing military and civilian volunteers.
Our January conference on stability operations yielded the need for quick response force that reflects modularity and flexibility.
Our upcoming May symposium will focus on rebalancing, stabilization operations and homeland defense.
With our increasing reliance on our RC forces as they serve to fight the global war on terrorism, it has never been more important for the board, with our 52 years of history, to provide independent, unvarnished policy advise to the Secretary of Defense and continue to provide our annual report to the President and Congress.
Mr. Chairman, thank you for your sincere interest in this topic and your willingness to address these difficult issues. We remain steadfast in our mission and stand ready to serve.
I would be pleased to answer any questions.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Zapanta can be viewed in the hard copy.]
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Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir. I deeply appreciate your willingness, and your fellow members of the Reserve Forces Policy Board, to dedicate yourselves to these issues.
I know the Secretary of Defense appreciates your input, and we deeply value your perspective as well.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Thank you.
Mr. MCHUGH. Next we have Major General Douglas Burnett, Adjutants General Association of the United States and adjutant general of the great state of Florida's National Guard.
STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. DOUGLAS BURNETT, USAF, ADJUTANTS GENERAL ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES AND ADJUTANT GENERAL, FLORIDA NATIONAL GUARD
General BURNETT. Thank you, and good afternoon.
Mr. MCHUGH. How has the weather been down there? All right?
General BURNETT. Sir?
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Mr. MCHUGH. Weather in Florida been okay?
General BURNETT. Yes, sir, it is beautiful. A little warmer than here but we have our cold moments as well.
Mr. MCHUGH. I am from southern Canada and I will show you cold. [Laughter.]
Come visit us at Fort Drum. But I understand what you are saying.
We are happy you are here. Thank you very much.
General BURNETT. Yes, sir. And, Mr. Chairman, I am honored to be here today.
Congressman Snyder and members of the subcommittee, thank you for this invitation to appear before your committee. I know you are deeply committed to national security and have been very supportive of the National Guard, and not only the National Guard as a necessary and capable force, but our soldiers and certainly the well-being of their families as well. We thank you for that.
As you said, today I speak on behalf of the Adjutants General Association of the United States and the adjutant general of Florida.
Page 20 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC The National Guard has a long and proud history in its provision of citizen soldiers and airmen to the defense of our nation. We are equally proud of the superb job Guardsmen across this country have done in their state missions as well.
We have truly evolved from a force in reserve to a force in being. In fact, in the last 15 years, we have been whatever the active Army is or wherever the active Air Force was deployed.
As you know, the events of September 11th dramatically increased our operational tempo, and for the most part, that operational tempo continues.
And I am proud to say we have made our readiness commitments to the Army and the Air Force and to our respective governors.
Within minutes of the attack on 9/11, combat-loaded F15 jet fighters from the Florida Air Guard's 125th Fighter Wing were flying combat air patrols over the southeastern United States, flying with other Air Guard fighters, tankers and support operations across the country as other Air Guard units throughout the country were responding quickly to enhance our security posture.
In the months following September 11th, we activated National Guard formations to protect airports, seaports and other potential terrorist target sites.
In February 2002, the Florida Army Guard began mobilizing and deploying units for action in Afghanistan. And then the big one came on December 26th, 2002, the 53rd Infantry Brigade units were activated for Operation Iraqi Freedom.
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Ten days later, elements of the 53rd Infantry Brigade arrived at mobilization station at Fort Stewart, Georgiaand that was a short time frame of 10 days; we usually use a 30-day guidance.
We were proud to do that.
The 3rd Battalion arrived in January. These units were among the first conventional forces into Iraq.
During the ground campaign, these elements of the 53rd Infantry Brigade moved forward with the 3rd ID and 1st Marine Expeditionary Force. In the months which followed, we conducted security and stabilizing operations in Baghdad and Ar Ramadi and later on across Iraq.
The Florida National Guard has also provided units for operation in the Philippines, Guantanamo Bay, Kosovo and Bosnia. We have provided combat-ready units for the United States Army and Air Force through an emphasis on standards and readiness.
The Florida National Guard's mobilization and deployment and operational tempo is similar to that of that of National Guard forces in other states and territories.
In the past three years, more than 132,000 Florida National Guard members have been activated for Federal duty. Tragically, more than 60 Guardsmen gave their lives in defense of freedom. And today we still have more than 60,000 Guardsmen on active duty.
Page 22 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC By any measure, valorous awards, unit citations and commanders' reports, the contribution of National Guard soldiers and airmen has been truly extraordinary.
Despite our commitment to readiness and preparation for mobilization, these deployments produced a variety of stresses. In many cases family members were not prepared for the quick call-up or the lengthy separation of their loved ones.
Employers of guard members, our unsung heroes, were forced to act quickly to fill vacancies.
The mobilization itself identified both policy and procedural disconnects.
For the most part, these challenges have been resolved through close cooperation with the National Guard bureau and the military departments.
Senior Army leaders, like General Larry Ellis, commander of U.S. Forces Command; Lieutenant General Joe Inge, 1st Army commander; and the training support brigade commander, so essential to our training success, like Colonel Mace Crowe has been instrumental in ensuring the adaptive National Guard system continues to evolve to meet the needs of our soldiers and their families.
My experience and the experience of other adjutants generals have identified challenges that must be addressed. Let me briefly highlight five.
First, we must resource Army National Guard formations at the level the Army expects these units to meet at mobilization. In most cases, this is C1 or C2. We are funded at C3 for training. And that is something every adjutant general will want me to tell you today.
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And I can't emphasize enough, sir, training must be resourced, that is, funded at the C1 level to include funding for exercises that enhances the collective training experience.
We miss significant opportunities to train with the current funding level.
Second, we must remove measures which force guard units into cross-leveling soldiers from one unit to another during mobilization. This creates a significant amount of turbulence and chaos. We are willing to do it, but it can be done more efficiently.
Third, recent mobilizations have again demonstrated the need for active and reserve component modernization processes to be concurrent with the active forces.
Our trucks in the guard, for the most part, are not in the Army inventory. We also need up-armored Humvees that are organic to Guard units. In fact, our Humvees won't even accept, for the most part, the up-armored kits because they are the older models.
Full power manning: This is very critical to readiness. We must improve to 100 percent of the requirement for full-time manning in the Army National Guard.
The Air Guard is funded at 100 percent of their requirement. The Army guard is only funded at 58 percent of the same validated requirement. There is almost a direct result on readiness for each additional full-time person we hire.
Page 24 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, finally, reservists, their family members and employers require predictable information in deployment and return schedules. The one-year-boots-on-the-ground policy, which under current scenarios means mobilization for almost 18 months, will be a serious challenge for future retention as well as recruiting.
We should look for options and strength objectives that will result in the maximum of one year mobilization. This will require better investment and up-front training and a close adherence to what I call integrity of process.
The policy, one-year-boots-on-the-ground, also serves as a disincentive to be efficient in post-mobilization training in moving the troops to and particularly from theater.
This is the subject matter of a very complex discussion. But regardless of the outcome of the debate, the real vote regarding retention and recruitment will be in hometown USA and in our armories.
I look forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of General Burnett can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General. Again, welcome. We appreciate you being here and your testimony as well.
Next we have Major General Robert McIntosh, United States Air Force Reserve, retired, executive director, Reserve Officers Association.
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STATEMENT OF MAJ. GEN. ROBERT MCINTOSH, USAFR (RET) EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, RESERVE OFFICERS ASSOCIATION OF THE UNITED STATES
General MCINTOSH. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The 75,000 members of the Reserve Officers Association, from all five branches of the armed forces, thank you for this opportunity to speak today.
As you and Congressman Snyder said so well in your remarks, many of America's citizen warriors are continually being asked to repair their disruptive civilian lives after demobilization and then return to military duty on a repetitive basis.
Our nation has experienced similar challenges in the past. In the postwar 1940's, Congress passed needed legislation to provide benefits for returning soldiers and sailors to ease their transition to civilian life and to ensure a higher state of reserve readiness for when America needed to use its citizen military in the future.
Today, we are fighting another global war. And once again, it is necessary to update policies and to take legislative actions.
The focus now is how to retain and recruit the brightest and best citizen soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.
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As we know, sustaining an all volunteer force requires different actions than those needed to maintain yesteryear's drafted force. Despite the work to date by the Congress and the Department of Defense (DOD), much remains to be done to ensure reserve and National Guard recruiting and retention remain healthy in the future.
We must preserve one of America's greatest resources: a skilled and dedicated citizen military.
Several important initiatives would enable our nation's reserve components to optimize their support of national defense and national security.
For your consideration, ROA's formal written testimony includes a detailed description of several immediate changes and improvements.
The following is a partial list of these initiatives: full health care options for selective Reserve and their families; tax credit for employers; a formal National Guard and Reserve equipment appropriations process; reducing the antiquated age 60 Reserve retirement eligibility criteria; improving Montgomery GI Bill provisions; repairing the 130th rule for special incentive and skill pay by making the compensation qualification-based; increasing re-enlistment bonuses; and repairing the unfair degradation of survivor benefits at age 62.
Many of these initiatives not only affect reserve readiness and the individual reservist, but also impact spouses and families. Family considerations are having a remarkable influence on whether citizen soldiers choose to remain in the military.
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Regarding the transformation and force structure rebalancing initiatives by the services and DOD, the Reserve Officers Association supports these efforts in concept. But at the same time, we have significant concerns.
We urge careful consideration and understanding of the attributes of a properly balanced total force. We worry that the rush to control personnel costs could lead to flawed force structure planning.
We acknowledge that some changes in structure and mission assignment are appropriate. However, the overall cost effectiveness of having a robust and experienced reserve component force to complement a more expensive regular force must be considered carefully before we eliminate or shift significant numbers of reserve component billets.
Even after factoring into the budget the cost of TRICARE eligibility, for the selective reserve and their families and the cost of better incentive and retirement programs, citizen soldiers remain a highly cost-effective national asset.
Additionally, the bond between the U.S. military and the citizens who live in America's communities is strengthened by the visible mobilization of neighbors and fellow workers, reservists and National Guardsmen.
The continuing mobilization of citizen soldiers is a clear reminder that we are at war and heightens national commitment and resolve across America, particularly in a long and difficult struggle.
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I look forward to answering your questions and again thank you for your invitation to speak today.
[The prepared statement of General McIntosh can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General.
Thank you gentlemen all. As I have said several times, we appreciate your being here and appreciate deeply your perspective.
Back in December of 2002, I had the honor of meeting a congressional delegation upstream of the potential Iraq incursion. And the purpose of that was exclusively to meet with Guard and reservists, to try to get a measure of individuals' in the field attitude and perspective toward this new paradigm.
We took the commanding officers out of the room and had some very, very frank discussion.
Honestly, what we heard that day to me was disturbing. We heard about individualsand some of this was reflected in the comments that I heard in your testimony and I have read in your testimonycomments about being placed in jobs for which they didn't train, not the reason they joined; inequitable treatment based on a variety of measurements; the uncertainty of deployment, et cetera, et cetera, et ceterayou know these better than I do.
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And that was 2002.
Since that time I have been to Iraq twice. I just got back from Afghanistan a number of weeks ago. And everywhere I went, of course, we saw Guard and reservists and heard much of the same: No hesitation about serving, no qualms about the sacrifice they were making, but concerned about this new reality that I, in part, tried to describe in my opening statement.
Those are anecdotal, I suppose. But as we come back to the United States and we hear from other individuals and organizations, which you gentlemen represent, we hear similar concerns.
And yet, from the Department of Defense, we are told that by their measurements of stress, in the high-demand/low-density jobs you have moderate stress, and the rest of force at best you have low stress.
And if you look at recruiting and retention as a snapshot of the moment, there are no signposts that things are in jeopardy.
My question to you to start off is: How do you feel about the way in which the department and the services measure those stresses? Are we measuring the right things? Are we measuring enough?
Do we indeed have an adequate way in which we look at the stresses on the families? We just saw in the past week a poll, if you will, a survey conducted by The Washington Post on families of the 10 most deployed bases, not guard and reserve exclusively. They are talking to the families.
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Then there were some good things in there, but some distress and things, as well.
Do we need to develop new metrics? Or are we in a pretty positive position with respect to how we are measuring the future right now with respect to recruitment and retention?
General BURNETT. That was my question, sir.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, it was all three of you. You are in uniform.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Mr. Chairman, I agree 100 percent that there is that sensitivity, especially family members.
One of the things that we have done with the RPV is, when we go out to visit the various locations, and combat command, we actually take an afternoon and meet with the whole board and what we call stakeholders, what we call our Citizen Patriot Forum. They are first responders, they are businessessmall, medium-sized, largefamilies of deployed members, to really try to get a sense of and really listen so that we can feed it into our process.
Page 31 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And, yes, there is stress. There is always stress when you are in a combat situation.
Are we handling it adequately? I think we can always do better. But I do feel, as you will probably hear it from the chiefs, that the services are very, very cognizant of it, and they are focusing on it.
People in leadership are trying to get something done about it. And I think you are going see some of that action.
So, stress is there. It will be there. There are varying degrees of it.
Are we handling it? I think we are. And I think the department knows that we have to do that, so I am comfortable in saying that.
Can we do better? Yes. We always can.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir.
General BURNETT. Mr. Chairman, if I mayI think when we talk about stress, it boils down to some basic concepts: It is how the soldiers see we treat them and it is how we see they trust us.
Page 32 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Those soldiers in that picture behind us, in my view, are all four-star generals. We owe them the best we can do.
As Congressman Young has said, we owe them the best equipment we can get, not necessarily the equipment we can afford, but the best.
The stress on our National Guard soldiers has been significant. I will go back to what General Shinseki said: ''Soldiering is an issue of the heart.''
And I think at the beginning of the day, they come out, they have been called, sir. But during that day, the stresses that come their way, whether they have the correct body armor or they have other things they need, like the sure-fire lights on their weapons, which I saw many of them buy, and they had duct tape for the weapon barrel when they came back.
It is those kinds of things that we send and say, ''Yes, this great nation is doing all we can for you.'' To me, it is the price of doing business in a democracy.
It is expensive to do this stuff. But it protects this great land.
I think that as we huddle together and look at lessons learned, it is important that we look at things like post-mobilization, post-traumatic-stress syndrome, because I don't really see the kind of sense of urgency to look at that.
Everyday I get up and think about our 5,200 soldiers that mobilized in Florida. And, certainly, the almost 2,000 that have just come back as infantry guys from Iraq, how are they dealing with their families? How are they dealing with these disorders that we know are out there, from lessons learned in Vietnam and certainly even Desert Storm.
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I think we need to look more at what we should be doing daily and what our health care providers, particularly the Veterans Affairs (VA), is capable of doing. But that takes funding.
I think that will relieve a lot of stress.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
General MCINTOSH. First, I would like to start by saying that we appreciate the efforts by the services and DOD relative to fixing some pay problems and some other processing problems in mobilization and demobilization.
There has been a hard effort by the leaders from the Pentagon to do that, and I think it should be recognized. And it certainly is, by our association, on the record.
Certainly, that being said, what is the manifestation of stress? Will it be a big exodus of the reserve components eventually?
What we feel, from talking to our members, is initially there will not be because people are proud of their service. They know the country is engaged in a long war. And they know that they signed up, over the long haul, to win that war.
Page 34 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That being said, the application of stop loss, the decisions that will be made more by the spouse and family once a soldier gets away from the unit and faces an employer who has had to bring on temporary help, the stop loss coming off at that time, those problems with family, employers, may manifest itself down the road.
And so what our members are really saying is that ''there are certain things you can do for us to ensure that you retain us and you can recruit us in droves.''
And the biggest one they are saying is health care. And not necessarily TRICARE, cross or selective reserve, but some options in terms of either using TRICARE as a selective reservist or having an offset to their medical insurance relative to some kind of governmental problem.
The second thing they are talking about is the stress on their employers. Guardsmen and reservists in our association are very sympathetic to medium-and small-sized employers. And certainly the tax credit issue, we think, would indirectly remove that stress.
Talking about retention of the family: If TRICARE was available for most guardsmen and reservists, and it was time for the guardsmen and reservists to decide to get out, it would be the spouse that would say: ''You are not going to get out because little Johnny is due a heart operation. And you remember you negotiated your salary with your boss so you wouldn't have any medical insurance. So we, by golly, are not going to leave the reserve component. You keep that uniform on and keep serving.''
Now, that is anecdotal. But we think that is how important the medical issue is also.
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Small things like the GI bill would relieve stress. If we could let reservists use the GI bill while they are mobilized, if we would change from six to four years, their obligation, if they do use it, and if we would not start their clock on the GI bill until they use it the first time, these are all things that would help reservists and guardsmen handle the stress, live with the stress, because stress is a part of being a good soldier, and they understand that.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir.
I couldn't agree more that the kinds of benefits that you mentioned, General McIntosh, are important. And we have made a very meager but I think an important start on that, and we need to continue.
What I do worry about, though, is that at the end of the day, are benefits enough to sustain a guard and reserve that is an integral part of the force?
I mentioned the new policy of deployment and activation once every five years. I think that is a minimum.
Can we find enough good men and women? And can we find enough good men and women who are employed by meaningful, or I should say sensitive employers, that are willing to do that.
We certainly need to ensure that that is the case.
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Let me ask it this way: Do we measure today the stress in the attitudes of the families and the employers in adequate ways?
You mentioned, General McIntosh, having anecdotal information. That is what I have. That is all I have. And I know the services take surveys.
But are you satisfied that when we talk about stress on the force, the current matrices are sufficient to give us an accurate picture?
General MCINTOSH. Can I address that?
Mr. MCHUGH. Absolutely.
General MCINTOSH. First of all, the answer is, no, they are not adequate, but it is not because of a Herculean effort by the department to try to listen to the soldiers. It is just that we are new to this game, and so we need to come up with certainly better ways of measuring it.
One of the things that may be overlooked in the restructuring and the rebalancingmaybe it is notis that if you take civil affairs, for example, or another kind of high-demand-type mission, if we in our restructure put enough force structure, robust enough force structure, in those areas that we know that are going to be used in this new kind of warfare so that reservists and guardsmen can rotate through six-month deployments, four-month deployments, eight-month deployments, and know with some predictability that they have somebody waiting back home to replace them in eight months and it won't be their turn to go again for two or three years, that is the kind of force structure analysis that probably is going onI am not aware of itbut that we really ought to look at to relieve some of this stress.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Mr. Chairman, I agree with General McIntosh.
One of the things we found both with our board members as well as our meetings with the RC chiefs is the whole area of predictability so that the rotation is critical because not only employers but family members can plan.
One of the tough things that happened in the mobilization this time was, many times we had a short alert and people are mobilized quickly.
I think lessons have been learned, and I see a real movement toward trying toand that is a stress factorto try to relieve that nonpredictability or the ability for people to really plan their life ahead.
And it also goes to not just the family but that employer who has really looked to support. And that is one of the things we have heard every time we have gone out in public.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
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General BURNETT. Mr. Chairman, if I mayin Florida we tried to look last year at what we thought would be coming this year as our soldiers returned. And as we did that, I went out to 10 cities in Florida and visited with the families of our mobilized soldiers and listened to their concerns, took specialists with me and a lot more things that we fixed pretty readily: pay issues, those kinds of thingswhich is another thing we need to look at, by the way. We need to advance the fielding of the forward comparable pay system for the Army National Guards. We can get this pay thing right. It needs some work.
But any rate, the thing that I brought back from these families was essentially this: When you are gone from home, beyond that major concernand I am just bringing a few reports, sir. I don't have the ability to analyze that data. But I can tell you, that was a common threat. And I spent several hours in each city with these families.
I have also chartered a blue ribbon panel chaired by Dr. Frankie Godwin, who is a psychologist, to look at what we see the requirements for family readiness programs in a post-mobilization situation as these soldiers come home, and to look at stresses on the force, the range of things that has been discussed here this morning.
We have also contracted with some graduate students at University of Central Florida to help us with data collection so we can come up with some meaningful statistical data that is asked at the right time.
I saw the data that was collected by Stars and Stripes, and I am not so sure, sir, that taking a pulse of morale in a combat zone where soldiers have been eating Meals Ready to Eat (MRE)s for three months and going through some tough times, sleeping in sand in the night, gives you an honest figure.
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I guess that, not being delicate, be like asking your wife halfway through labor about having another child. It is a good question; I don't think it is the right time.
And I think we have to look at those things.
And, sir, I think this panel will give us some good information. I will be glad to forward that to you. It should be forthcoming in the next few weeks.
Mr. MCHUGH. Yes, we would appreciate that very much.
Well, gentlemen, thank for your responses.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I want to quote, if I might, from Secretary Charles Abell, who testified here a week ago. It actually got some press play over the weekend.
We had asked him what kinds of things keeps him up at night over personnel issues. And I just want to read part of what he said and then have you all respond to it.
He said, ''I worry about the sweep of compensation of benefits that come, and I worry from the perspective that you and your colleagues are very generous to our folks and in most cases our folks deserve everything that you give them.
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''However, I do get worried that it is possible to create a force that is too expensive for the nation, especially when it comes to programs that are essentially deferred compensation, or when the benefits accrue to only those who no longer serve.
''I worry about the cost of that and what that does to our labor costs within the Department of Defense.''
I don't know if you saw his comments in the paper or not. But you all have, as one of you mentioned, you have given a very detailed account of changes that you think we ought to make or consider making. I think most of them would cost some additional funds, which is all right. We are going to do what we have to do.
But what are your thoughts about that? I thought it was a very candid comment that he made.
Just go down the line, Mr. Zapanta?
Secretary ZAPANTA. Well, Dr. Snyder, I can tell you that I know the department, especially within the services, are looking at the 30 days prior, and I think it is 180 days after, to try to ensure that as our RC members are brought on active duty that those kinds of issues are keeping them inside the, I guess, the scopes of the tracking of some of the areas that not only bring on stress but the questions as to some of the inequities that some of our members have voiced.
Page 41 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But let me specifically say that I know the department, I know the secretaries of the various services are looking at it, they are dealing with it.
You and I both know that when a soldier, a sailor, Marine, airman or Coast Guard person stops their noise or their I think carping, then we have a problem. And I can tell you we saw it during my 10 years in the two wars that I was part of. But at the end of the day, there is no question about the morale and the esprit de corps that is out there.
They just want to be sure that when they come home, that when their families are looking for the support that they are looking for, that it is there. And I think that is where the real connection is, and that is why we have been spending a lot of time listening to those families.
Dr. SNYDER. General Burnett?
General BURNETT. Dr. Snyder, as it relates to medical and dental, I think there is a direct effect on readiness, particularly with the dental piece.
Plenty of Americans don't have dental plans. We can tell you, in Florida our soldiers don't have benefit to those things.
General Schultz, the director of the Army National Guard, pushed out a lot of money for us to fix teeth before this started happening. We knew the mobilization was coming. For example, in Florida, last year we treated 260 soldiers that we knew were going to be mobilized at a cost of $100,000and that is in 2003.
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So far in 2004, we treated 126 patients at a cost of $41,000.
Now, that was a direct effect on readiness, because if they were category threewhich means you are not going down range, you are not going to be deployedthen we had a great investment in readiness but yet we can't reap that investment.
So dental is huge when it affects readiness.
I can tell you that about 42 percent across the country of guardsmen have health insurance. Major General John Smith and Adjutant General Howe put this empirical data together. That has an effect too.
But dental is very much up front because it is, like, right now. And our soldiers have benefited from this readiness issue General Schultz has very well addressed.
I think it is important to our soldiers and their families.
Dr. SNYDER. So, if I hear what you are saying, what you are saying is, yes, there are things that cost money, but there is not cost in it coming down the line, they are expenses that we incur right now that we get an immediate benefit from.
General BURNETT. Yes, sir, it is an immediate benefit.
It is not something nice to have. I am addressing needs, not wants.
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Dr. SNYDER. I understand.
General MCINTOSH. The affordability issue, I think can be spoken to by others in the other panel better than I, in terms of what capability a particular service gets from its guardsmen and reservists relative to a specific mission versus the percentage of that services budget that that guard and reserve organization spends. And you will find you rapidly go from 30, 40 to 100 percent capability for 8, 9, 10, 12 and 13 percent of the total budget.
So that makes the further obvious case that guardsmen and reserve are cost effective and very affordable.
If we create a guard and reserve that has fewer people in it because we cannot recruit and retain if we are not willing to spend money on medical readiness, on employer tax credits, on TRICARE, then we will incur another cost of extensive turnover or continually to recruit non-prior service people who haven't been in and haven't been in the war zone and recycled numerous times.
So my answer to the affordability question is: We cannot afford not to do what it takes to keep the brightest and best citizen soldiers in our military.
Dr. SNYDER. General Burnett, have you been to Iraq?
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General BURNETT. Yes, sir, Dr. Snyder, I visited Iraq in December, a few months ago.
Dr. SNYDER. Have you found as a tag that the number of times you would like to be able to go seems to be more than what DOD is actually able to work out for you to go visit your folks there?
General BURNETT. Yes, sir, I would like to go. I think my command sergeant major needs to go, and I also think my assistant adjutant general-Army needs to go.
I certainly respect the concern of having too much brass in the field, and I know that is also a war-fighter concern as well.
But we need to be over there. It was the most rewarding aspect of my trip. To tell the truth, I wish I could have stayed with my soldiers till they came home, and I really feel that. I think it is very important to go see these things.
Dr. SNYDER. Yes, that was my impression too. And in fact, I had a personal conversation with Secretary Rumsfeld about that. But I see you guys as being different, the adjutant generals as being different. Because not only are you dealing with your troops that are over there, but you have the ones back home that may well be going. And then you have the folks back home that are related to the folks that over there, family members, and then you also are going to be dealing with these folks when they get back there.
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And it seems to me, that somehow about a one visit a year or so is just not adequate for what you could get out of it. I don't know how to deal with those exactly.
But you mentioned medical holds, General Burnett, in your statement, or the problems you have had with people not being ready to go. Has the evolving policy on medical holds, has that resolved a lot of the cases that you had?
General BURNETT. Yes, sir. I am very impressed at what has been done at Fort Stewart. I can tell you that the Army, without question, did their usual thing of great leadership. Actions on the objective made a huge difference. The National Guard Bureau has been involved there too.
Florida had 107 non-deployable soldiers, which is about 2.2 percent of our 4,800. And that reflects favorably with about the three percent average that is running.
But medical hold is another piece of trust with the families and their soldiers. They watch what we are doing.
And I can tell you, this health organization, community-based health organization, which has been funded by the Congress I think for $8 million or so is working. Are there better ways to do it? I don't know. But we have one of those 10 organizations in Florida, and we are managing the reserve component and National Guard, case managing, getting them appointments, following up. And follow-up is the key to everything in this business.
Page 46 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So we think that is coming along great. And honorable people have resolved most of that problem.
Dr. SNYDER. I think that is all I have for now, Mr. Chairman, thanks.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman.
The gentlelady from California, Ms. Sanchez.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
And thank you, gentlemen, for being before us today, in particular, my good friend, Mr. Zapanta, good to see you today.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Good to see you, Congresswoman.
Ms. SANCHEZ. I, too, as the chairman, was concerned about The Washington Post article in this past weekend with respect to the survey taken and the families suggesting that their members won't be signing up again if they have a choice.
And you know, I am always struck by this, because I travel back and forth to California every week, and inadvertently I am always sitting next to somebody who is a reservist or on active duty. And whenever I ask them about signing up again, their answer is always, ''Well, I would, but my wife won't take it anymore.''
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When I went to Iraq in December right before Christmas and I actually, you know, would talk to all of the generals, and they all said, ''Morale is great, and our soldiers are doing a great job, and morale is great, morale is great.''
And then when I got the soldiers all by themselves, they say, ''You know, we can't wait to get out of here. Get us out of here, Congresswoman. This is a horrible place. There is not enough people here to help us. I am supposed to have six people in my unit and there is only two of us. We are working 17-hour days. We are working seven days a week. I am a reservist. What the heck am I am doing here? I didn't sign up for this, and I am never going to sign up again.''
And so then, you know, we see the survey and I think it was Lieutenant General Hagenback who confirmed that the internal polls from the Army, in particular, looked the same way.
How big of problem do you all really think we are facing?
And I guess this would go straight to my good friend here: What do you really think? Are these polls reflective of a real crisis we have on our hands for the future?
Secretary ZAPANTA. I think it is a portend. In other words, it is something if we don't do certain things to try to stem that potential outflow, I think we are going to have an impact.
Page 48 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I think there are some things that need to be stated at this point about not just the stress but the retention and recruiting. We can do a lot of things that we aren't doing. You are going to hear it from the chiefs in particular that in fact it doesn't cost money.
It is leadership at that unit level. It is the kind of attention to listening to those troops, also listening to that family, that family support.
At the end of the day, Congresswoman, there is no doubt in my mind that if you treat them well and they know you are fair and they know they are getting paid just like the person next to them, whether they are active, reserve or guard, they are going to feel, then, pretty good about being there.
If they are not being treated that way, they are not happy. And did they not know that they were going to be there for a year?
You know, the one thing that I recall about Vietnam that was right is that we knew that when we went there we were there for one year, period, and that we just took that out of our lives.
And I think what we are seeing now, not only are we balancing, but how we transform mobilization is, we are trying to get to that rotation that gives us predictability. And again, I think you will hear that from the next panel.
But am I concerned? Sure I am.
Page 49 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Why? Well, I think I want to state it in the context that we are in a very different environment. We are in a global war on terror. We are not fighting a nation-state. We can't put our hand on that enemy. We can't end it next year or six months from now.
And so when you don't have that ability to kind of predict what you think the outcome will be, it puts a very, very questionable environment in place.
And so I think when you lay that on it, and if you look at some of the things we had to do quicklyand we did it welland I say this unabashedly that we did well because we did it on the back of those soldiers, those reservists. And everybody really pushed and stretched and made it happen.
We have learned a lot.
And I think you are going to see that start to change, because as we go through the rebalancing, we are trying to not make the same mistake of what we may have done 10 years ago, to try to put too much structure in one type, whether civil affairs and reserve affairs, or reserve whatever it might be.
Ms. SANCHEZ. What do you think
Secretary ZAPANTA. I don't have the number, though. To answer you directly, do I think it is going to be above 20 percent, because that seems to be kind of the number that the services are living with right now in retention. I don't know, but I can tell you I am worried about it.
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And I think that is something that we need to look at and continue to look at.
Ms. SANCHEZ. You know, when I was out there, I was also out in Germany and met with a lot of the families whose soldiers were down in-theater. And they are pretty savvy, particularly these women are pretty savvy about, you know, ''My guy has a particular Military Occupational Specialty (MOS). I am never going to see him again for the next five years.''
I mean, no matter how much the general that was with me, you know, tried to deflect these things, these people are pretty savvy about what is going on. They know their soldiers are gone, and if they have a particular skill, until we fix this problem, they are going to be there and they are going to be there over and over again.
So I happen to think it is going to be a real concern for us with respect to retention if we don't get some of this under control.
What do you think is the most significant hardship? I mean, do you think it is financial difficulties? Do you think it is separation due to the length of deployment? Do you think it is because they feel they are lied to? And they actually used those words, ''We were lied to. They told us six months.''
You know, I happened to be there at a time when people were into their second six months, and they were just beginning to feel the fact that they were going to be there now 18 months, let's say, in-theater.
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So lie is a very good word that some of them used.
Do you think it is all the little extra things that happened to families, the lack of child care, for example, which was a piece of information when I was Germany that just hit me over and over again, was, ''We don't have any child care'' or ''my wife is''for the guys who were in the family and the wife was in the military.
What do you think? I am trying to figure out what is that we can do to make this better for them?
General MCINTOSH. If I may, Congresswoman, I think it is a combination of the things we have been talking about today.
What we hear from the families of our members that are deployed is, number one, medical care and the difficulty of getting it and sorting out the paperwork, et cetera.
Number two, medium and small employers putting pressure on people.
And then more isolated but evident are pay issues relative to pay stoppage, blips in the computer system, et cetera.
So I think it is a combination of all the things we have been talking about today.
Page 52 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I would like to say, this is not Desert Storm and Desert Shield. But I was in the command structure when people were waiting to come home from Desert Storm and Desert Shield, and they waited in the desert much longer than they thought they should, and we heard, ''As soon as I get home, I am getting out.'' And when they came home, some of them did get out and some of them we didn't want to lose got out, but there were relatively few.
So I think we do have an issue. We do have something we need to pay attention to, but I do not think it is the 50 percent number we have been reading in the press.
General BURNETT. If I may, Mr. Chairman
Mr. MCHUGH. Please.
General BURNETT. I would agree that one of the significant issues that we have as leaders is: What is the future about retention of these soldiers? And I can assure you, their wife, their family, those that are around have a lot to do with that vote.
And I am not qualified to give you an answer, ma'am, on the troop-to-task ratio. That is way over my pay grade.
But I will say this: I think soldiers sign up knowing it is going to be hard work. They know it is risky, they know it is tough, and they know the days are going to be long.
And they endure that because that is part of getting that job done. They are trained to do it, they want to go practice that leadership piece.
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But as they are doing that, again, back to the core piece: How do we treat them? Not how we can treat them but how we do treat them.
Just like bringing our soldiers home, they can't be released from active duty expecting to get home in one day and eight days later here they come. That is not how you do that.
I was a commercial airline pilot. I am aware of how contract airlift works. And we need to seriously look at how we bring these soldiers home.
I was at Fort Stewart for nine days, and only expecting to be up there days, screening 850 soldiers. And I had 400 families up there waiting that period of time because these flights were delayed.
Now, that has been fixed. And I can give credit to General Handy at U.S. Transportation Command (TRANSCOM) and certainly General Dick Myers, the chairman, for working that.
But that should have never happened.
So it is things where as leaders we have opportunity to treat these soldiers and they will come back and say, ''It was tough, but, man, those guys are looking after me.''
Page 54 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So those kind of things that we can do it, and those aren't necessarily so costly. It has to do with having a passion for getting it right for our soldiers.
We, in Florida, put together five phases of walking these soldiers home. I think as a nation and state we missed this in Vietnam and maybe missed it Desert Storm because of the way we mobilize.
We have five phases. We greet the soldiers, every one, at the airplane at Hunter Army Air Field, shake their hand, select the senior leadership and VIP guestselected officials, if you will.
Then back at Fort Stewart, Colonel Kidd's doing a superb job with that garrison there, welcoming soldiers home.
They come into the Army to the Army song, report from Iraq, families are jumping up and downwhat an emotional moment. And I wish you could see one of those post-mobilization events done at Fort Stewart. It is class.
And then they come back into their armories in Florida with a police escort and streets are lined with kids with flags, ''Thanks for what you have done.''
We have now planned five phases of the huge welcome in five big cities in Florida. All around, these will be attended by Governor Bush, who is committed to every one, the lieutenant governor, even the very senior leadership in this city will be down there for some of those events to say, ''Thanks for what you did.''
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Those are the kind of things we do that I think will make a difference. And certainly these things we heard from General McIntosh and Mr. Zapanta, we need the resource.
But there is some things we can do that are just good common sense.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Well, let me ask you also directly on something that we are working on: there is the Bankers Association and Mortgage Bankers that are looking for these trained reservists and guards that are coming back, and they are from the inner cities, whether it is an individual that just has a high school degree, but they are willing to train them and put them into either banks or into lending institutions so that they can continue on a path to have a good job.
But guess what? If we do it in the reserve and guards as part of a process that tries to help them, not when they come back and, ''Thank you for time. See you in a month for your weekend drill,'' but to try to help them back into society.
And it doesn't cost money. I mean, I have seen employers in these associations that we have been dealing with that basically are looking to do it.
And so that is an area that we are now looking at to see how we can help.
So I think it is continuing that link beyond when they get back.
Ms. SANCHEZ. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
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Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentlelady.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I love what you said about Fort Stewart, because I was at Pope Air Force Base on Saturday morning when 241 all-Americans from 82nd Airborne returned, and I want to come see how they are doing at Bragg, how you get up to that level.
But we appreciate what is being done. Certainly it is not perfect. And the chairman has been very diligent in traveling the world in making sure that we are listening carefully.
Last week we had a great hearing, and we still have some work to do on track here for families of deployed spouses. But we are moving in that direction.
So from your perspective, would you just comment briefly on track here, anything we can do here to help that go forward in a more positive, more expeditious manner?
General MCINTOSH. Certainly, my mantra here today has been to talk about TRICARE across the selected reserve as an option for guardsmen and reservists.
I think we are aware of the huge price tag that has been put on that, due to various studies, if you did it across the guard and reserve.
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But I think what is not appreciated is how you would cut down the turnover on the cost of retraining, and how readiness would be affected on the front end of a mobilization, giving our commanders many more options when asked to decide who they are going to deploy and how many units they have to colluge together to get a combat-ready unit that have good teeth, for example.
We need to look seriously in the TRICARE area of doing everything we can do to ensure that the guardsmen and reservists are medically ready to go, and that we, the government, have footed that bill, and then once we tell them they are going, that their families are protected.
There has been a lot done in that area. You have done a lot. And that is very much appreciated.
But I think we need to go a step further. And it is fairly expensive. But I think it is time to consider the pros and cons of that.
Certainly our association says, TRICARE, across the selective reserve, as an option, with the premium paid by the guard and reserve family, is something we would appreciate a serious look at.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Let me address something, Congressman, that I think hopefully will bring some clarity to I think the question, which is a good question.
Page 58 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC One of the real problems that we run into is obviously the budget. And when you start to look at health costs, of course that is going to be one that basically gets a lot of attention.
What we really are talking about is maybe approximately 30 percent or thereabout of our RC members that are being brought on active duty, mobilized, and many of those units, such as civil affairs and some of the Military Police (MP) units, are in a very fast Operation Tempo (OPTEMPO) rotation.
They need to be part of that TRICARE. But there may be 70 percent of the RCby the way, it is also on the active sidethat were not in the war, were not boots on the ground.
So how do we really manage it? How do make the equity of the RC members that are on that mobilization and make sure that they have the same, equal compensation, same health packages, TRICARE, for their families of that active service?
Once they come out and come back to their reserve or guard unit, then that comes back into a different program. And that is where I think I know the department, that I think you are going hear from in the next panel, that is what we are trying to look at, that is where some of the studies.
And that is one the things I know you here in Congress are looking at.
How do we manage that process so that nobody falls in the crack?
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Mr. HAYES. Thank you all.
Thanks, again, Mr. Chairman.
My pointand you have raised additional oneswhen that mom, in the example of 4 o'clock in the morning with a young child with the croup, I want to be able to get to somebody and get help for that child. And that is so important.
Thank you all. Thanks particularly to the soldiers, the sailors, airmen, Marines that you serve.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Tennessee, Mr. Cooper.
Mr. COOPER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I appreciate your holding this important hearing today. Because I know all of us hear more about these issues back home probably than any other military issues.
I have a question about restructuring the guard, and perhaps these will be more appropriate for the next panel but I would 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 is good, but we don't know.
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But I am 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?
Secretary ZAPANTA. Mr. Cooper, I am going to punt to the gentlemen that are going to be right behind us because that is really their lane.
But to the more fundamental and broader part of your question is, the rebalancing in our estimation, what we are trying to be able to do, is get those kind of units that are not being utilizedsome of the heavy structure combat units, whether it is artillery or armorinto the areas where civil affairs, intelligence and some of the ones that are really on an OPTEMPO.
And they are doing that right now in such a way that 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 is a combination of looking at that mission: What is the real capabilities?
The beauty of the guard and reserveand I am going to get on my soapbox for a minute, if you don't mind, Mr. Chairmanthe ability that the guard and reservists 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 is the ability to reach back and bring those kind of individuals and that can come and take that six-months or a year out of their lifenot just all about combat infantry units.
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And so, answering your question, those are the kinds of things when we restructureand I think you are going to hear itthat the RC is trying to put in place that we can give it the depth while at the same time not costing a big price tag.
Mr. COOPER. Thank you.
General 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 is important we have this TTHS accounttransient, 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 downrange to do business? So if you have 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 have 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 have to pull from here and therefor example, 11-Bravo is the infantry soldierpull one from here to there that used to be an 11-Bravo is now doing something else, went forward for a promotion opportunity, but we have to pull them back.
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So I think some of the plans I have heard, General Blum's advance, brings that down to where when they call uswe are assigned to have this, we are 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 is very, very important to the National Guard and reserve component that we have promotion opportunity for leaders. Folks who are trained to lead want to lead at the next level. It is not about rank or pay grade. It is all about responsibility and accountability in stepping up and making a difference to those that follow.
So if we don't have the battalion headquarters and brigade headquarters, we are at promotional opportunity to lead at the next step, the 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, as I use the word, ''integrity of process,'' it is 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 there in Armory USA, because that is what it is about.
Mr. COOPER. Any idea how many armories may close in individual counties? Because a lot of folks focus on that.
General BURNETT. Well, sir, that is something to look at. I know in Tennessee you have 109 armories, and I am certain that is a concern for folks.
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This soldiering piece is all about small town America, armories all over this great nation that supply troops. And maybe one town can't supply 100 troops when you need them. Maybe they can supply 85, but it is that 85 that makes a difference in the fight. We have to look significantlyat that side of the equation we start balancing this act.
I think we can do that and still keep armories open, because it is an unbelievable important piece of our recruiting base, the communities which we serve, because we are citizen soldiers.
Mr. COOPER. If some of our troops are converted to other skills, who pays for that conversion? How does that work? Our only artillery battalion being retrained right now is MPs.
General BURNETT. I would have to let General Blum, General Schultz address that. Basically you pay for it.
Mr. COOPER. So the taxpayers.
General BURNETT. Yes, sir.
Secretary 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 will tell you that.
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But that is okay in the sense that they are trying to make sure that they can manage their resource and their ability to build those units to be able to deploy.
But, yes, it costs money, and we are talking about equipment as well to try to upgrade it. And so there is a price tag to it. I am sure they will bring it up.
Mr. COOPER. My last question, Mr. Chairman, with your indulgence, and perhaps other questions have covered this: The current utilization level of guard and reserve seems to be about 100,000.
General BURNETT. It is 132,000 that are mobilized today, sir.
Mr. COOPER. Does that apply total, or is that a spike? Is that a plateau? Is that a spike? It looks like for the foreseeable future that level, or about, is going to be necessary to supplement our active duty forces.
General BURNETT. Yes, I think we are 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 21st testimony.
Equal is like the football stadium. I think you said, sir, 10 commodes in the men's bathroom and 10 commodes in the women's is equal. But that is not equitable, because the line is going to be a long line outside the women's.
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So I think we all in the military need to adopt that as equal and equitable, because it certainly applies to the guard and the 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 we are going to be mobilized.
Mr. COOPER. I thank the chair.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman. He asked some very important questions.
Talk just a bit about medical hold, medical deployability. And you have all talked TRICARE for the guard and reserve, and certainly we have asked that certain steps be taken. It hasn't gone as far as some of us would like.
But let me just pose to you what we hear in return and let you comment upon it.
Statistically, 80 percent of the reserve Force has private health care insurance. So you have about a 20 percent universe out there that obviously is in need of assistance.
And yet, with 80 percent covered, we still have a very, very significant medical hold issue and nondeployability issue with respect to not being fit under medical conditions. Those 80 percent apparently are not utilizing their available health care coverage prior to deployments to keep up that level of deployability.
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How would you respond to when we are told extending TRICARE across the board makes no sense either because 80 percent isn't using it to begin with? Can you give us any help there?
General MCINTOSH. I would like to comment, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. General McIntosh?
General MCINTOSH. The standard for deployment, T1 issue and other issues is, as it should be, higher for a military person that it would for one of us walking the street and working our civilian jobs.
And that 80 percent is getting from their insurer, their insurance company, rights under that insurance to maintain a standard that is quite often lower than what the military would require on day one of mobilization.
So that is a reason for part of that disconnect. And I don't know if that is helpful or not.
If TRICARE were implemented at a shared-cost basis, and the instruction to the guards and reservists, when they signed up for TRICARE, that they would maintain T2 status for their teeth and other health requirements, then the issue that you just brought up, I believe, Mr. Chairman, would go away very rapidly.
Page 67 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Mr. Chairman, I think that if we can pre-screen before people are mobilized, that is going to help us. And I know that the services are doing much more of that.
Because it doesn't make any sense if you have a unit and you may have 10 percent that are going to be dropped out or put on medical hold.
Because when I was a young battalion commander out in California in the 40th Infantry Division, we could not use training time on a weekend to have our people go through medical or physical exams or anything.
But that is changing. And so if we can do that on the front end, we should have no question about bringing anybody on active duty if we already know what the problem is.
And so that is another kind of way to try to, I hope, maybe stem some of that.
What do we do with those individuals? That is another question I think that is at a service and command level.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
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General BURNETT. If I might, Mr. Chairman?
Mr. MCHUGH. Yes, sir.
General BURNETT. Sir, I think we, again, as Mr. Zapanta very well said, we need to look at the front end on medicals. For example, on the Air National Guard side, annually you see a practitioner. You fill out a form, and that form has a matrix, and the matrix for what you get looked at is a function of age and other thingsEKG at 35 and those kind of things. It is a preventive providing system, if you will.
However, on the Army side, you only get a actual eyes-on physical every five years. There is a Department of the Army form that the soldier fills out, but its administrative in nature, as I understand it, and of course, the idea is if a soldier be forthright, but everybody can't diagnose things, you know, onset of diabetes, those kinds of things.
But they fill this form out and at the end of five years, someone looks at them.
So in my view, we need to bring these two programs together and perhaps take a look at funding more medical practitioners in the guard, because we can recruit them, we certainly do in Florida, we are full upso that we can get a better look at folks up front.
And, sir, I will have to go back and check my data because I know I must be wrong, but I don't think we are anywhere near 80 percent of our soldiers having medical care. And even if they have dental care, a lot of times it doesn't cover the bigger cost of things like oral surgery, which is huge, and that is where our big money has been spent.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Well, two comments.
One, you are right, that is an average. My dad used to say, you know, if you have two one-legged farmers walking their cow to market, on average everybody has two legs. So there is a wide variance there.
The second thing is, I am not sure it does include dental. I think it is health insurance which, if you are in the Federal Government, for example, does not include dental.
So those are important differences.
Are we properly incentivizing unit commanders to make sure that their units are medically deployable? And if so, how are we doing that? And if not, what should we do?
General BURNETT. Well, it is something that we have looked at. And I can tell you, two years ago in Florida we went back and said, ''Okay, what do we think is going to happen and what do we need to do to be prepared for it?'' So at the mobilization site, for the United States Army, you say, ''Our states are ready to do business.''
So we went back and started looking closely at a lot of things like that. And perhaps your message here is instructive; we need to go back and take maybe a closer look at how that works.
Page 70 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Certainly we are trying to do those things. But we have 39 days to train, and again, if we were funded C3, if we had more full-time, I think we could overcome the concerns you have stated.
Mr. MCHUGH. Have you worked up a figure on the different costs between current C3 funding and C1? That is a big number and maybe you haven't.
General BURNETT. Sir, it is probably a huge number. The Air Force does fund the Air National Guard for training at that level. We can deploy from where we are right to the fight and get it done.
And I think, in all candor, sir, that is the one issue thatI have called five of six adjutant generals and they all said, ''Doug, tell them: Got to fund training at C1.'' And, sir, I don't know what the cost is.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
General McIntosh, any comments on the incentivization of unit commanders' medical deployment?
General MCINTOSH. I think General Burnett hit the nail on the head. I think we need to look at that.
Page 71 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC But, again, the front-end loading of having a vehicle where people can keep their teeth, for example, in deployable status is what the commanders will come back to us and ask for and sayif I had that, if our individuals had funding through a TRICARE program or some kind of program where they had supplementals or civilian insurance to stay combat-ready medically and didn't have to take it out of their pockets, then I, as the commander, could solve that overnight.
Secretary ZAPANTA. I think some of the services will tell you that they may have a physical exam that they have their individual members go through, but it may be only once every four or five years, not every year.
And I know they are looking at that.
So, what is the right tempo so that you are able to screen as you go through over a three-to five-year period?
But I do think on the front end we could really eliminate a lot of these problems.
Mr. MCHUGH. If my colleagues will bear with me, I had a general from my district, a guard general, who was also a physician. And he was talking about the good old days when they used to have teams of medical professionals who traveled to the various guard training sites, and I got the impression in between drills they conducted the physicals, that the main challenge for commanders and soldiers and sailors and airmen and Marines, Coast Guard, alike, is getting away to get that physical.
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Can we meet that need of the training requirements and also the medical deployability examination requirements by perhaps going back to the good old days and having traveling units? It sounds to someone such as myself who probably is not as informed as I should be that would not only work, it sounds cost-effective. Any thoughts on that?
Secretary ZAPANTA. I will take it from my day as an infantry
Mr. MCHUGH. In your good old days.
Secretary ZAPANTA [continuing]. Guardsman. So in the old days, that was back in 1980.
We couldn't use training time to do that. And so what I did is quietlybecause we were at Los Alamitos Armed Services Reserve Center, so you had all the services there. We had a general hospital there, and they were not getting enough training.
And so it was just happenstance that the head of the hospital and I had a chance to visit. And so he said, ''Geez, can you send me some of your soldiers and we would love to be able to put them through our process so I can keep my people trained.''
And so we would take a company at a time, or a platoon at a time, and try to just rotate them through while not degrading the training time. And that was, of course, when we were at that site.
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Now, the other times as we were shooting out where it is now the National Training Center (NTC), you really don't have enough time to really impact or cut into your training. Because you are really trying to put a lot in that five-pound bag, so to speak.
So my sense is, it can be done, but it has to be done in a way where those local commanders can actually massage what they have to get done while at the same time give them that resources or time where they can go to that medical facility to get it done.
Can they travel? I mean, that is one that I think I am going to let my colleague here to the left answer that.
Mr. MCHUGH. The medical teams travel, not
Secretary ZAPANTA. Oh, excuse me, I didn't hear you. I thought you meant the unit.
Mr. MCHUGH. No, the medical teams travel to the sites.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Oh, definitely.
Mr. MCHUGH. By the way, that was a benefit that the general-doctor, doctor-general had listed as well in that the medical teams get training they might not otherwise get.
Page 74 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Secretary ZAPANTA. Exactly.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir.
General BURNETT. Mr. Chairman, if I maywe are doing that, sir. In Florida, we use contract doctors, and this is a lot of bang for the buck. It really is.
In fact, one group had a huge van, and they had a cycle, a process, set up that was very efficient. I forget the numbers of soldiers they could process through that.
But I felt it was very cost-effective. Again, this is something the National Guard Bureau has funded for us, and it works very well.
On the Air Guard in Florida, we have a medical squadron in Jacksonville at the fighter wing, and eight other units, and they deploy a team, every drill weekend they go somewhere to one of my other eight units scattered around Floridathey are support and not flying unitsand they take care of the immunizations, some of the dental. And a lot of that is done up front.
So I think we are being pretty efficient in that point. We need to better, though.
Mr. MCHUGH. I think that is great and I am glad to hear it. But it may not be necessary to buy it all. I mean, you have medical units in the guard that could come to you in the same way without the same costs. Is that not true?
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General BURNETT. Yes, sir, we do. But with 10,500 Army soldiers in Florida, and I think I have 15 physicians and 15 physician assistants, it is spreading the peanut butter pretty thin to cover that base.
Mr. MCHUGH. Oh, they couldn't do it all.
The Georgians appreciate your promotion of peanuts.
It couldn't do it all, I agree with you. But it could be a part of it, I would think.
General McIntosh, any comments?
General MCINTOSH. I guess back, Mr. Chairman, what I said before, I think certainly after this conflict or in the midst of correcting things that we have seen, we will take more seriously the medical screening up front.
But again, it comes back to an authorization funding issue relative to how that individual does those things they need to do to stay medically fit once they are identified with a shortcoming.
So I think it as a two-piece issue.
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Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, sir.
Dr. SNYDER. Mr. Chairman, I like that peanut butter metaphor because I like yours about legs and cows. I am still trying to sort that one out. [Laughter.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, you have four legs on the
Dr. SNYDER. Just a couple of comments, really, in response.
You know, I was a family doctor before I got into this business. And it is interesting to me, you can't talk to anyone today, I don't think, anywhere that doesn't recognize that we have some real stresses and challenges in our health care system. I don't mean just for the military, I mean for every person.
And so all this conversation, what you all are talking about and what we are talking about, what your written statements are talking about, is you all are trying to solve the fact that American society as a whole has not solved the problem of health care.
Page 77 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And whether you talk to business or doctors or hospitals or consumer groups or folks representing the uninsured, we have a real challenge to the point now that you all are testifying here today that our health care system is affecting our military readiness. You think about that.
Your testimony here todaywe are the richest country in the world, that our health care system is failing us at the national security level. I think that is a pretty profound statement. I hope your voices get heard a lot more.
My recollectionand I am not a military historianbut my recollection is that some of our commodities and nutrition programs began in one of the waves of drafting young men into the military when they were all coming in undernourished and they just had some real nutritional problems. It was an impetus for doing something about it because it was affecting our military readiness.
And what you all are telling us today is, we have the same thing going on, probably not to the extent it was in the past. But I think that is a big constituency.
I think it is going to be a difficult challenge for us because we are trying to plug holes. I mean, you are going to have people coming in and out all the time. It is going to be a new group of people who are coming in. And your folks, sometimes they are going to have health insurance and sometimes they are not.
We say there are 43 million uninsured, my recollection is that impact over a year's time is something like 75 million people. Because on January, somebody is uninsured, they get a job in February and they do have health insurance, they got some pre-existing problems here but they get rid of that, but then somebody else has health insurance, they lose their job, they move to something else.
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So I think it is very difficult for everybody in this room, as smart as you all are, to solve this problem when we haven't solved it as country.
The second thing, Mr. Chairman, this issue of Montgomery GI Bill, General McIntosh mentioned that. And we have thisyou all educated me last time about itwe have this dual bill here where the reserve component of it is taking carethe Montgomery GI Bill, we do in our committee here, and then the veterans part of it is done in the Veterans Committee. And they are not running in tandem.
And so a couple of years ago, a year and a half ago, we made what we thought were some pretty good improvements in the Montgomery GI Bill. And I think if you ask most members, they would say everything is really pretty hunky-dory. But we didn't do anything about the reserve component of it because the Veterans Committee didn't have jurisdiction.
We may want to consider trying to, I don't know, do a joint hearing once a year, or something, on Montgomery GI Bill with our folks from the Veterans Committee to where we could talk about together where those bills are at. Because I think we have left the reserve component behind. I don't think your benefit is anywhere what it was before in just inflation.
I guess there was not a question there except about that legs and cows thing.
Well, thank you all for being here.
Page 79 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. I am not sure if Mr. Cooper would want to ask another question or not.
If you could just bear with us for one second.
My point on the cows
Doesn't want to hear my explanation about cows and averages? No? Never mind.
Well, gentlemen, many, many other issues we could explore and need to explore. And I know you both understand and appreciate that.
Accordingly, we would ask: In the immediate future we will undoubtedly share with you some written questions that we would deeply appreciate your responses for the record so that we can ensure that we have as broad a range of opinions from you and suggestions as possible.
Until that time, as I have said before, we deeply appreciate your service. This is a new world, a very different world from the balance between the reserve component and the active component that existed not so many years in the past, and it clearly is setting a field of challenges that we have to address.
Page 80 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If the guard and reserveso important, in my opinion in terms of this nation's attitude toward its military, and the relevancy of our civilian-based military needs to be preserved and protected, as I have said. We have a lot of work to do to make sure that that happens in support of the great work that you and your organizations do.
We appreciate your service, and thank you again for being here.
With that, have a nice day.
General MCINTOSH. Thank you.
Secretary ZAPANTA. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
General BURNETT. Thank you.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, let me introduce our second panel of witnesses. It is a weighty panel both in terms of its size and its importance.
We are thrilled to be joined by such an array of distinguished leaders.
Let me welcome you all.
First, let me introduce the Honorable Thomas F. Hall, assistant Secretary of Defense for Reserve AffairsSecretary, welcome; Lieutenant General H. Steven Blum, United States Army, chief of the National Guard BureauGeneral, welcome; Lieutenant General Roger C. Schultz, United States Army, director, Army National GuardGeneral, good to see you; Lieutenant General James Helmly, United States Army, chief, U.S. Army ReserveGeneral, welcome; Vice Admiral John G. Cotton, United States Navy, director, U.S. Naval ReserveAdmiral, welcome; Lieutenant General Daniel James III, United States Air Force, director, Air National GuardGeneral, welcome; Lieutenant General James E. Sherrard III, United States Air Force chief, Air Force Reservewelcome; and Lieutenant General Dennis M. McCarthy, United States Marine Corps, commander, Marine Forces ReserveGeneral, welcome.
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Generals, welcome all.
Most of you are old handoh, I should say experienced hand at this.
General Sherrard, I understand you will be retiring, this will be your last opportunity in uniform to appear before us. I want to thank you on behalf of the subcommittee and the committee and the United States Congress but also the American people for your long service and wish you all the best in the future.
We will try to take it easy on you on this your final appearance.
General SHERRARD. Thank you, sir.
Mr. MCHUGH. Yes, sir.
And with that, Secretary Hall, we look forward to your comments. Thank you for being with us. Our attention is yours, sir.
STATEMENTS OF HON. THOMAS H. HALL, ASSISTANT SECRETARY OF DEFENSE FOR RESERVE AFFAIRS
Secretary HALL. Yes, sir.
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As you can see at the table, from the gray hair and lack of hair, you have, counting my 38 years of active service, 300 years of military service testifying before you today.
I want to echo what you said to Jim Sherrard, he has given most of his adult life in service of his nation, and we, as his colleagues, are deeply appreciative of it.
Mr. MCHUGH. Hear, hear.
General SHERRARD. Thank you, thank you very much.
I just would question ''most of my adult life''that could mean just a couple of days, maybe. [Laughter.]
Secretary HALL. Our guard and reserve is 46 percent of our military today, numbering 1.2 million. Today we have 170,000 on active duty, mobilized. We have mobilized a total of 320,000 since 9/11. We have used 37 percent of our guard and reserve in this effort. We have 63 percent we have not touched. This makes it the largest mobilization since Korea.
I will keep my remarks very short because I know you want opening remarks from everyonebut just to say that we are all worried, on this panel, about the same thing: stress on the force.
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Although since 1995, we have only double, triple or four times tapped 28,000, which is 3.3 percent, it is a small percentage, we keep tapping the same ones. We keep mobilizing civil affairs, military police, and we are concerned about that, thus the rebalancing effort.
And what you are going to hear is that the rebalancing effort is one within the active force as well as within the active and guard and reserve. It is not moving both ways.
We want to get, in many cases, a larger pool. We want to look at the groups that have been mobilized over and over again and increase the amount of pool, build more of them, so that we can develop predictive models.
And along those lines, it was referenced in the other hearing, the one in five, one in sixthat is a planning factor; that is not a policy.
The services have been asked to look at: If you mobilize one in every six years, do you have the necessary balance to do that, do you have the necessary size to do that?
So we are using as a planning factor it might be one in four, it might be one in ten, in might be one in seven, so that is very important.
We are worried about our families. Sir, the families are extremely important. I know during my many deployments in the Navy, my wife wanted to know, ''When are you going? When are you coming home? How long are you going to be there?''predictability.
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So we worry about those families.
You will hear about the support we give those families, the 400 National Guard Family Service Centers throughout the country, the 700 Family Service Centers throughout the country that in a joint way help our families; our Web-based initiative so that our families can call 24 hours a day, seven days a week to get help.
We recognize how critical families are.
you will hear about recruiting and retention. And you will hear that all of the services, the Reserve and Guard, are making are making their end strength. However, their recruiting is slightly below where they want it. But they are retaining more. And I will leave it to them to tell you why they think they are, why they think they will meet their end strength.
But with stop loss inwhich ends in the Army, for instance, 90 days after you returnsometimes the snapshot you need to take about recruiting and retention is not right now; it is at the four-month point.
So what we need to concentrate on is after you have been home four months, do you feel the same way as when you walked off of the airplane?
We are worried about equipping, that we have the same compatible equipment. When they cross the berm from Kuwait into Iraq, do you have the best, do you have the same kinds of equipment? All of us are dedicated toward that end.
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Training has come up a number of times. One of the initiatives we would like to seewe are prohibited now by legislation in mobilizing for training purposes only. We think that needs to be changed.
Because we could attack a lot of things by mobilizing for maybe a two-or three-week period to send people to school, if you know you are going in a year and a half from now and you need a schoolor mobilize to take care of medical, take care of some of those things.
Without that authority, we think that would give us a little bit of additional leverage.
We are worried about the continuum of service where we have people that serve from zero, 38 days to 365 days. We would like to provide a systemand we have a number of initiatives that I could discuss with youthat allow us to have our citizens serve as volunteers, serve in a more productive way, serve at longer times.
There are number of archaic laws that are industrial age laws, the 179-day rule, the other kinds of things which prohibit us using guardsmen and reservists the way we think.
All of our initiatives coming forward cost nothing. Guardsmen and reservists will like them. It will make their continuum of service better, and we would like for you to consider those.
Page 86 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC And then the area of benefits: We try to focus and worry about benefits on readiness. And if we take the medical benefitsthere has been a lot of discussion by the other panel of TRICARE for guardsmen and reservists and their families all the time. That is very costly, $10 billion or more.
We want to focus on what promotes readiness. Because when guardsmen and reservists come on active duty, they and their familiesnow, in fact, 90 days prior to that, thanks to what you passed last year, and for 180 days after they come off, have the very same benefits. And that is very important.
When they are not on active duty to enact very expensive types of benefits might price the guard and the reserve out of the picture, depending on how often we use them.
There is a zero tolerance on sexual harassment in all of these services. And I will leave it to my colleagues to talk about that. It is a crime, it is abhorrent, and they are committed to zero tolerance in the area of sexual harassment, and they can certainly speak to that.
In the end, what we need to do, I think, is to develop a predictability model that we can tell employerswho are very important in the equation, and particularly small businesses of four, five and six, those are the ones; the large ones are not as much of a problemwhen the person that works for you is going to go. If there are initiatives that might help those businesses, we would be happy to discuss those.
But we need a predictability model for the family, for the guardsmen and reservists and for those employers in order to make the service attractive for the future.
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I look forward to your questions.
[The prepared statement of Secretary Hall can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, very much, Mr. Secretary, we appreciate you being here.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. H. STEVEN BLUM, USA, CHIEF, NATIONAL GUARD BUREAU
General BLUM. Chairman McHugh, Congressman Snyder, Congressman Cooper, other members of the committee, thanks sincerely for the opportunity to be here.
We have entered our statement for the Army and Air and the National Guard for the written record, please. And we would ask you to take our oral testimony as well.
This committee is all about people. In the end, that is what our organization is, it is all about people. So I brought some people here that are the real experts if we really need to get expert opinions.
I brought my command sergeant major of the National Guard. He is the senior enlisted adviser for 460,000 citizen soldiers and airmen, Command Sergeant Major John Leonard, who has been mobilized twice. But he has some experience once for Vietnam and once again for Desert Storm.
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And then we have three true American heroes that just have returned back from deployments overseas: Senior Master Sergeant Drew Horn from Pennsylvania, noncommissioned officer (NCO) from the 193rd Maintenance Squadron, Pennsylvania Air National Guard; Sergeant Luke Daugherty, who is probably going to be, if he isn't already announced, as the NCO of the year for Nebraska Army National Guardjust back from Bosnia, but he has also pulled tours of duty in Kuwait, so he has operated and been mobilized twice in both theaters; and Specialist Fourth Class Jeremy Long, right out of Schenectady, New York, who was mobilized out of Fort Drum, knows well the issues there, and he is here today and he is recovering from wounds he suffered in-theater, being attacked by an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) in an unarmored Humvee.
So I would like them to stand and be recognized.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, gentlemen.
If I may interrupt you for just a second, General Blum, because you are absolutely right. That is why this subcommittee exists. And for all of our passion toward high-tech secret weapons systems and exotic platforms and stealth this, at the end of the day, it is still the soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marine and Coast Guard men and women who make the difference.
And gentlemen, I want to welcome you and certainly to the command sergeant major, as well. But to Specialist Long, whom I had a chance to visit with just prior, we are awfully proud of him, of course. And Sergeant Luke and Senior Master Sergeant Horn, God bless you for your service. Thank you for being here today.
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And there ought to be a medal for sitting in a committee hearing room for this long with the lights on in your uniforms. [Laughter.]
I am sorry. We haven't done that yet. But if we ever do, you are first in line to get one.
But we are deeply in your debt, gentlemen, thank you so much.
Thank you, General, I appreciate you letting me interrupt your testimony.
General BLUM. No, no, sir, you just shortened my presentation. That is great.
Your National Guard has three priorities, and I will keep this brief. One is defend the homeland, both here or abroad. We can do both. We need to do both. We need to do them simultaneously.
We support the war fight, any time, any place. That is what we signed on to do. That is why the guard was created 367 years ago. And we will be here as long as we are a nation, and we will do whatever the Nation asks us to do.
And then last, we have to transform because we are no longer running around with muskets and plows like the original Minuteman. We are now running around with much different equipment in both hands. But the values, the core values and the necessity of having a citizen militia capable of transitioning from citizen to soldier at a moments notice for homeland defense or support the homeland security, and in weeks and months notice for overseas deployment, is still as a reality, as we have seen.
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Your National Guard is transitioning from a strategic reserve to an operational reserve. And this chart kind of gets to that, and I will just pop it up there. And if it is useful to you, we will leave it. But if not, we will take it down.
But it shows the reason that so many of the things we talked about here today are the way they are. They are wrong because that is the way we designed them. We designed them for the wrong utilization of our reserve components.
All of the reserve components represented here today, and I can only speak for the National Guard, but it is common to all of us, we were all built for a strategic reserve, to go in case of World War III to be overstaffed, overstructured, underresourced and to be filled up with people by a draft and to get money and equipment and training over a long period of time before we would go anywhere after we had exhausted the active force.
That is not the way any of us are being used today, and we are not complaining. We are doing like the guys with the cardboard sign. I don't think that is complaining. I think that is a badge of honor. I think they want people to realize that they are professional military people. And they are soldiers, American soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines first and foremost. And they are citizens when the country doesn't need them to be soldiers, sailors, citizens and Marines.
And to do that, we have to move from this old structure to what we need to be. And I am really sorry Congressman Cooper is not in here because this gets to every question he asked for. We can't be overstructured and be ready and relevant. We can't be overstructured and be resourced properly. We cannot be underresourced in full-time manning and do the myriad of things that we talked about here, each one of those called taking care of people.
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And you have to have people there to take care of people. And to have two people in an Army to take care of 100 is a formula for failure. And that is the way your Army National Guard is set up.
It is not the way your Air National Guard is set up. The Air National Guard has been an operational reserve for 20 years. It was resourced at C1. It was manned, equipped and trained to be a ready, relevant, reliable and accessible force. That is what we need to do with the Army National Guard.
So we have to transform from what we were to what we need to be. And it is going to create some discomfort in everybody's congressional sector when we do this because everybody's tea cup is going to get filtered a little bit in this transition. But it has to happen. It is what is right for America, not what is right for any particular Army or jurisdiction.
We need some new approaches. We need to do this transformation as we continue to deploy 100,000 people, roughly, for the foreseeable future. And we need to give our soldiers, their families and their employees the predictability.
So we have built a predictability model, which I shared with you the other day. And that is the other chart. That is a pie chart that I can throw up if you like. In fact, put it up there, it might be useful.
It shows about a quarter of our force deployed at any given time, in green. It shows a quarter of the force in yellow that is getting ready to deploy. And it shows half the force that is always available and up to three-fourths of the force that is always available out of the Army or the Air Guard to the governors to respond to homeland defense and homeland security.
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So we are both deployable warriors for the overseas fight or the away game or homeland defense in depth. And we are guardians of our homeland 24/7 and every day that ends with ''Y.''
And to end the way I started, it is all about people. So we have to balance all of these things that we are trying to do while we take care of our soldiers and our airmen and their families and their extended family, their employers.
I anxiously await your questions, sir.
[The prepared statement of General Blum can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General.
I have to tell you in all candor that Jim Cooper has been a member of this subcommittee for a year and a half, and that is the first time anybody has said they wished he was here. [Laughter.]
And I say that out of deepest respect, and I mean this. He asks very, very tough questions, very probing questions. And I appreciate that. And I should tell you, there is not any more loyal member in terms of attendance. He had to step out. And he told his ranking member as he left he is going to make every effort to come back. But if that is not possible, we will certainly share with him your response.
Page 93 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC General BLUM. Thank you, sir, appreciate it.
Mr. MCHUGH. Next, Lieutenant General Steven Blum. Oh, I just introduced you. Lieutenant General Roger Schultz, I am sorry, director, Army National Guard.
General Schultz, welcome.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. ROGER SCHULTZ, DIRECTOR, ARMY NATIONAL GUARD
General SCHULTZ. Thanks, Mr. Chairman.
Members of the committee, thanks for your unwavering support for our soldiers, our families and our employers. As we talk today about our priorities, your priorities have been every bit up to the task in terms of focus all the time on our people.
Mr. Chairman, as I talk about what the guard is doing today, I just go back and perhaps recap for a second, we have called over 175,000 to active duty since the September 11 attack. Today we have 95,000 soldiers on duty. As we speak today, we are bringing home thousands from duty. We are also alerting and mobilizing thousands.
Mr. Chairman, I am aware of your interest in recruiting and retention.
We made our first quarter objectives. In fact, we exceeded them slightly. We made our retention goals for the second quarter, actually exceeded them slightly; 137 percent of my reenlistment goal has been realized.
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Our recruiting objectives for the second quarter have been off just a little bit. I am short 2,011 of the goal that we set for the second quarter.
Mr. Chairman, I am the senior pay clerk in the Army National Guard. I work pay issues personally when necessary. I want the committee to know that I take very personally the issues that we have dealt with regarding your discussion on pay, your concerns, your attention to soldiers that haven't been served as they should have been with regard to the way we pay soldiers, the systems that process it.
And you have my personal commitment to doing everything that we can possibly can to keep this system together until we field the forward compatible pay system in March of 2005.
Perhaps, Mr. Chairman, in perspective, as I am talking to a squad leader who was about to depart for Iraq assigned to a duty station at Fort Hood recently he said, ''I am not really concerned about all the policies and all the bonuses you are asking me about right now. What I really want to do is bring my squad back home safely.''
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
[The prepared statement of General Schultz can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, General. We deeply appreciate your being here and your service.
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Next, Lieutenant General James Helmly, chief, United States Army Reserve.
General, welcome, sir.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. JAMES HELMLY, USA, CHIEF, U.S. ARMY RESERVE
General HELMLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman and members of this distinguished subcommittee, thank you for the opportunity and indeed the honor to testify on behalf of the 211,000 soldiers, 12,000 civilian employees and their families of the United States Army Reserve, an integral and proud component of the world's greatest army, an army at war as we have noted today for a nation at war.
I am joined this morning by Command Sergeant Major Michelle Jones, the senior soldier of the United States Army Reserve, and two Army Reserve veterans of the current war in Iraq, First Sergeant Bradley Iris and Sergeant Andrew Carnahan of the 299th Engineer Company, United States Army Reserve.
Mr. MCHUGH. I have to interrupt you, General, because you introduced some heroes.
And Sergeant Major, welcome.
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But to the First Sergeant and Sergeant, thank you, gentlemen. As I indicated before, you are the backbone of this military and the folks who have ensured our freedom for over two and a quarter centuries. God bless you. And you are inheritors of a proud tradition, and you have upheld it extraordinarily well. Thank you.
General HELMLY. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
The 299th Engineer Company is a non-divisional engineer bridge company, which marched on the road to Baghdad with the proud and heroic 3rd Infantry Division and for the first time since World War II, conducted opposed river crossings in support of the 3rd Infantry Division as that division seized Baghdad.
Today, as we speak, nearly 60,000 Army Reserve soldiers are on active duty in Iraq, Kuwait, Afghanistan and the continental United States and elsewhere around the world as part of America's global war on terrorism serving courageously and proudly.
They are joined by another 151,000 Army Reserve soldiers training and preparing for mobilization or resting and refitting after being demobilized.
Since September the 11th, 2001, approximately 100,000 Army Reserve soldiers have served on active duty as part of this global war on terrorism.
Page 97 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Tragically, some 27 Army Reserve soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice in service to our nation, to keep their fellow citizens and their families and neighbors safe and free.
We are forever and deeply in their debt and honor their memories by our actions here today.
Your invitation to testify comes at a time of profound and unprecedented change and challenge in the dynamics of our nation's security environment.
A critical issue that should be recognized is that this is the first extended duration war that our nation has fought with an all volunteer force. January marked the 30th anniversary of the all-volunteer force.
This immense policy change in our nation has brought the Army Reserve and all of our armed forces and their components an unheard of and unprecedented quality in people who populate our ranks.
Yet the all-volunteer force also brings certain expectations and sensitivities that we must confront with regard to how we support our people and how we train them and how and when we deploy them.
To meet the demands of our nation and the needs of our Army and joint force team, we must change the way we man the Army Reserve. We must change the way we organize, train and prepare the force. And to accomplish this change, our culture internally must change.
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This is a period of deep change from the old to the new. But we must forge this change while simultaneously continuing to fight in the current war.
We are simply not afforded the luxury of hanging a sign outside the United States Army Reserve Command Headquarters at Fort McPherson, Georgia that says: Closed for remodeling.
The culture must change from one that expects one weekend a month, two weeks in the summer to one that understands: ''I am first of all an American soldier; though not on daily active duty, before and after a call to active duty, I am expected to live to show Army values. And I must always prepare for mobilization as if I knew for certain the hour and the day that it would come.''
I look forward to your questions, Mr. Chairman, this afternoon.
[The prepared statement of General Helmly can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General. I appreciate your being here and bringing those proud soldiers with you.
Next, Vice Admiral John Cotton, United States Navy Director, U.S. Naval Reserve.
Admiral, thank you for being here.
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STATEMENT OF VICE ADM. JOHN G. COTTON, USN, DIRECTOR, U.S. NAVAL RESERVE
Admiral COTTON. Good afternoon, Mr. Chairman, Representative Snyder.
Heroes aren't only overseas. And I would just like to remind you that a couple of weeks ago at Naval Reserve Center Baltimore, there were some heroes that responded in some angry weather and rescued 21 folks from a capsized water taxi. And I just want to let you know that their accomplishments will not go unrecognized.
In two weeks, we plan on having a ceremony there which will be in the press, of course. And many dignitaries are invited to honor these heroes that proved that we can be ready here at home to aid in homeland security as well as, like General Blum says, have another mission to deploy overseas.
So it was a very, very graphic representation of the dual mission of not only our reserve force on an everyday basis, but as well as the guard.
Just two points I would like to make. Number one is manpower. we have talked a lot about the importance of our sailors, our soldiers, airmen, Marines, Coast Guardsmen. I have to tell you right now I am very encouraged by what I see.
For the first time in the Navy, in January, I saw a Navy one star active duty admiral brief reserve retention and recruiting.
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Through combined efforts, we are concentrating on the individual leaving the Navy and keeping them on the Navy team in the reserve component.
In February, we turned around recruiting to make 116 percent of our goal, and 85 percent of those were Navy veterans. That is a huge change from where we were last year when we were relying a lot on non-prior service recruitment, which just added to the training bill of training folks before they went overseas. That was a huge success.
Now these folks that are in the reserve today, we kind of operationalize the Navy Reserve starting about 12 years ago after Desert Storm. Back then, Rear Admiral Hall started this charge with peacetime contributory support, which just recently we changed into operational support.
And we have developed the metrics to look at this now where we can say today that 20,085 people in the Naval Reserve are on some set of orders this week performing support to a fleet as well as training with the fleet so that they can deploy. This is a 24 percent number of our total 86,000 force.
So they are very much leaning forward to support the fleet. That is one good message.
And second, I would like to add that the current readiness have never been better. Thanks to Congress with the National Guard and reserve equipment appropriation, we took that to Navy. We utilized the funds this year to recapitalize our current readiness, in particular to that we could deploy the units to U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and have them in a ready status.
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So manpower and current readiness, they have never been better.
And I look forward to your questions, sir.
[The prepared statement of Admiral Cotton can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, Admiral.
Lieutenant General Daniel James, III, United States Air Force, Director of the Air National Guard.
General, welcome, sir.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. DANIEL JAMES, III, USAF, DIRECTOR, AIR NATIONAL GUARD
General JAMES. Good afternoon, and thank you.
On behalf of the over 107,000 men and women of the Air National Guard, thanks for the opportunity to be here with you today.
Before I give my brief remarks, I would like to acknowledge not only Senior Master Sergeant Drew Horn who is with us today, along with other fine soldiers, but also my Command Chief Master Sargent, who is my senior enlisted adviser. She is my eyes and ears. She travels more than I do, and she knows more of what is going on with the airmen out there in the field, both here in the continental United States and abroad.
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She has been in theater more than I have, and when she comes back, she gives me a one-on-one debriefing of what is really going on out there.
So at this time, please stand and be recognized.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much for your service. Welcome here today. And we appreciate all that you do in service to your country.
General JAMES. As we all know, Mr. Chairman, this is has been an incredible year for the nation. It is also been an incredible year for the Air National Guard.
We continue to actively participate in the global war on terrorism with pride and determination just like our the other members of the services.
Because, as has been mentioned, we have already made the transition from a reserve, to a strategic reserve, into an operational reserve. We feel as though we are in somewhat of a vanguard of that transformation process. And I will be talking more about that later. But I will say that because we have been resourced properly and trained properly to fight, we have been able to perform at levels that our nation expects of us.
Over the past two years, as of September 11th, we have been mobilized at a peak, one time over 300, a total of over 36,000 people have flown over 100,000 missions; and with that, 340,000 flying hours.
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In Operation Iraqi Freedom, alone, we had 30 percent of the Air Force aircraft engaged in that operation. And yet, with all of that tempo, just as the others have said, our retention remains very high. In fact, it is a percentage point plus higher than what we projected it to be at 95 percent, 95.4 percent.
We have begun the transformation as we fight the war on terrorism, the Air National Guard has begun its transformation. We have a vanguard initiative that allows us to lay out a strategy that will, in fact, hopefully prepare us for the future and get us involved in other new weapons systems that we were not originally slated to be involved in, such as the Predator, the unmanned aerial vehicles and the FA22.
Just like the other gentlemen sitting here at this table, people are still our most important asset and will continue to be.
As I look past you gentlemen and see the picture depicting what appears to be World War II or career air troops it reminds me of just how far we have come.
I see there in that picture basically an all-male force. And of course we have come a long way from thatno people of color, no females, reflective of the time and the status of our armed forces are not like that today at all.
And that is why it is important that we be responsive to the challenge we have right now that is facing us in many parts of our services that deal with sexual assault and sexual harassment.
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We also have to deal with the challenges of taking care of our families because the soldier and the airman who performs, the Marine and the sailor who answers the call does so at a great sacrifice to his family and sometimes his employer.
That is why at every flying institution, at every unit that we have, the 88 different units in the Air National Guard, we have one, at least one full-time contracted person.
And we are asking for funding, in the future, to have another full-time contracted person at all 54 of our state joint forces headquarters.
I just want to thank you again for your support and giving us the opportunity to speak at this hearing today. And I will be ready to answer your questions when my time comes.
[The prepared statement of General James can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General. I should tell you, like many members on this subcommittee and committee, I have traveled to, as I mentioned, Iraq twice, just took a rather long trip to Afghanistan, and went most of the way with Air National Guard. We appreciate the lift. [Laughter.]
General JAMES. We will send you the bill.
Page 105 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Well, that is all right. I can send it to somebody else. [Laughter.]
Mr. MCHUGH. But, your folks are doing a great job, as all of your individuals are.
Next, Lieutenant General James Sherrard III, United States Air Force Chief Air Force Reserve.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. JAMES E. SHERRARD, III, USAF, CHIEF, AIR FORCE RESERVE
General SHERRARD. Thank you.
Mr. MCHUGH. Again, best wishes in your future and whatever endeavors you may choose to take up.
General SHERRARD. I want to thank you very much. And thank you for those kind words. And Congressman Snyder and distinguished members of the committee, just let me say that it is indeed an honor and a privilege to have the chance today to come before you representing the men and women of Air Force Reserve Command, almost 80,000 strong, counting both military and civilian members.
We currently have over 6,100 folks mobilized, having, as General James mentioned, at the peak an excess of 28,000 mobilized.
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Our men and women are very proud of what they do and they do it unselfishly with the great help of their families and employers.
We have three key priorities that we really stress in our way of doing business because we know that they, in fact, are the foundation upon which everything that we are able to do is based upon.
And the first one obviously is people, making certain that our recruiting and retention initiatives and programs meet the needs of our members so that they can, in fact, do the things that we ask of them.
It is important to know that we want to ensure that they have a work place that is safe, free of discrimination, free of harassment, and we insist on that.
And as Secretary Hall had said earlier, the issue of sexual assault, it is, in fact, a zero-tolerance within the Air force Reserve Command. And, it is a crime. It is something we can not condone, will not condone. And for certain, we have to make for sure that we have processes in place which protect the member, so that we don't end up having someone who is afraid or fears coming forward because of something that is improper within our organization.
We also would tell you that under the people umbrella, we want to make certain that we seek fair and equitable compensation for our members. The compensation review report that has just come over has some excellent ideas and studies.
Page 107 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC I tell you, it is a work in progress, and there are things that we need to do, as the first panel addressed as well as the my first colleagues addressed. There are issues and initiatives that I think we need to look across the board as to what is important in terms of retaining our members and allowing us to do that.
With failure to do that we, in fact, will impact the capability of our force to meet the future needs. And as it was mentioned by my other colleagues also, the importance of family support and employer support are critical for us to be able to do the job that we are asked to go do.
The second priority aspect that we have is readiness in the Air Force, Air Force Reserve, Air National Guard. We are very proud. There is one tier of readiness. There is one standard.
That standard is the Air Force standard. We trained to that. Our members are evaluated on that standard, so that there is not an issue. When our force, General James' force or inactive force is tasked to go do a mission, we know exactly how that mission will be carried out.
In order for us to do that, we have to go to the third priority, which is modernization. We have to ensure our weapons system are compatible, they are relevant and interoperable, not only with the active force and Air National Guard, but also with coalition partners.
We need to make certain that we continue to do that.
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Another major piece that I placed under the modernization umbrella lies in the fact of the way we are doing operational integration. We have been doing it in the Air Force Reserve for a long time under the mantra of the associate program in the large aircraft of the strategic airlift side of our business.
And we have now expanded that with the ability for us to provide highly skilled fighter, qualified individuals to become undergraduate trained instructors to air education and training command, relieving the active force fighter pilot force to go and fly inside the organizations.
We have 225 full-time equivalents doing that, doing a remarkable job.
We have fighter associate programs that we have initiated in both the F16, and we will be commencing the F15 this year, as well as an AWACS and special operations in the MC130, as well as the MC130P and MC130E, both Combat Talon and Combat Shadow.
We are very proud of the accomplishments of our members. In our prepared statement, there are many facts that I think you will find most interesting. Our people are proud to do that. They don't ask for any special favors; they just ask for fair and equitable treatment to ensure that their families are protected, communications lines stay open. And they very proudly serve above and beyond each and every day.
So I thank you again for the great support that this committee has provided to us. As was mentioned by Admiral Cotton, monies that you have given to us to allow us to modernize our fleets are absolutely essential. And we can't thank you enough for that.
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And I stand ready for any questions here.
[The prepared statement of General Sherrard can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much. We deeply appreciate your service General Sherrard. And as I said, best wishes to you.
Next, Lieutenant General Dennis McCarthy, United States Marine Corps, commander Marine Forces Reserves.
STATEMENT OF LT. GEN. DENNIS M. MCCARTHY, USMC, COMMANDER, MARINE FORCES RESERVE
General MCCARTHY. Chairman, Congressman Snyder, thank you very much for the opportunity to appear here today. As you stated Mr. Chairman at the outset, we are all dealing with a new reality or a new set of circumstances in the employment of the guard and reserve.
Rather than a one-time surge effort, we are now challenged to sustain a level of mobilization over an extended and what appears to be an indefinite period of time.
Page 110 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC That presents new challenges to Congress. Certainly, it presents new challenges to the leadership of the reserve component. We have to ask ourselves questions that, frankly, we haven't asked before.
But some things haven't changed, and that is the absolutely phenomenal performance of the young men and women who served in the Marine Corps Reserve and in all of the reserve components.
Whatever the new reality may be at the policy level, they are out there every day just performing in an absolutely superb fashion.
In the Marine Corps Reserve, we had 26,000 mobilized, most from the Selective Reserve, but a good number from the Individual Ready Reserve, the vast majority of whom were volunteers.
We have 5,000 Marines or a little bit over 5,000 Marines serving on active duty today. And as I said, the sailors who serve with us have served with distinction with the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force in Iraq, served in Afghanistan, Africa, Japan, around the world.
The force that we have today will require undoubtedly some adjustments. And we are engaged, as all of the reserve components are, in a relook or a look at our balance. But I would tell you that the force that existed, the Marine Corps Reserve that existed on September 11th, 2001, was a balanced force, it was a pretrained, ready-to-mobilize force. I think that we are going to see that it is a sustainable force over the long haul.
Page 111 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So while we will make some adjustments, I don't think that you will see radical changes in the force structure of the Marine Corps Reserve because it is relatively well-balanced today.
We have increased some of our security forces. We have increased some of our force structure devoted to intelligence. I think we will make some other adjustments, but I don't think that we will see a radical restructuring, nor do I think that one is necessary.
I look forward to answering your questions on that subject or any others that you may have.
[The prepared statement of General McCarthy can be viewed in the hard copy.]
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much, General.
Again, gentlemen all, thank for your service and your presence here today.
Mr. Secretary, let me just start with you.
You have heard a lot, particularly from the first panel, about health care benefits. And it is obviously an important question whether you are dealing with medical hold or just the appropriateness of ensuring that we can recruit to the new environment for both the guard and the reserve.
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The Congress extended TRICARE benefits to certain guard and reserve members, those who are receiving unemployment compensation or those who didn't have coverage in the private sector.
Your written statement talks about setting up a program, and you are really focusing on a demonstration program, rather than the broad-based.
As you know, the authority for this TRICARE enrollment expires in December 31 of this year. I am curious, are you interested, is the department interested in having Congress extend that authority so you can go ahead with the demonstration program? And if so, has anybody costed that out what the bill would be from December 31 to the end of the fiscal year on September 30, 2005, because there is no money in the budget to do that, that the administration sent up, as you are aware?
Secretary HALL. Well, first, let me say that the TRICARE initiatives passed by Congress were very well received and I think were needed.
The provision of 90 days before mobilization they entered into the program, synchronizing the guard and reserve benefits with the active duty for 180 days afterwards were very needed.
The demonstration project is certainly being worked by Dr. Winkenwerder, our Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs. He has been here. They are moving to implement that as soon as possible.
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One of the things I think should be considered is, since they want to do it right and to make sure we have it correct, is there enough time.
So I think one of the options that should be considered is extending past the 31 December.
I don't have cost figures on that. They are developing that, they are looking at it. But I think we have to consider that as we pursue that program.
Mr. MCHUGH. Would that be something that perhaps the administration would consider as including it in the supplemental?
Secretary HALL. I can't answer that now. I will take that back. Certainly I consider that a very fair question, and I will get that back.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you, I appreciate that.
There were some commentsand I have some figures, and I won't bore my distinguished ranking member with another statistical analogy. I am not sure we have a disconnect, but I want to make sure the figures that we are working from here on the subcommittee are correct.
According to the data that we have been provided, the Air National Guard right now is achieving 73 percent of its recruiting goal. Let me just go through these, and then each of you can respond.
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The Air Force Reserve is achieving 86 percent of its recruiting goal. The Air National Guard is achieving 92 percent of its recruiting goal. And although I don't have it in front of me, we know the Army Reserve is struggling to meet it too.
General James, you spoke about exceeding your target, so I just want to make sure we are all on the same page. Is that 73 percent correct? That is the most recent we have available. I am sure it has changed.
General JAMES. The figure I was referring to was the retention.
One of the reasons our recruiting performance is lower is because they are inversely proportionate. We are retaining many more people than we thought. We thought we would be retaining approximately 88 percent of our folks. We are retaining, at this point, 95-plus percent of our folks.
Now, that number ramps down as the year goes on, and we probably will end up at the end of the year at about 88 to 90 percent.
But because at this point we are retaining 95 percent of our people, we are not concerned with not meeting the goal that we set early in the year for recruiting.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, I appreciate that and that is an important point.
Page 115 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Help me understand, however, as you go through the process and you set a goal and, as you noted, that goal probably needs to be flexible as you meet other parameters that require that goal to be a certain level, such as retention.
Do you attempt to make your original goal, given that your retention is exceeding your expectations? I assume you kind of rachet down your recruiting because you don't need more people than you need. Is that correct?
General JAMES. We do that, because we have an end-strength figure that we have to meet at the end of the year. Last year was approximately 107,000, I believe. This year it will be, I think it is 106,450 or something of that nature. It is even smaller than last year.
By statute, we have to meet that end-strength goal by the end of the year.
So we don't have the same problem as the active component has in that they are thousands and thousands of people over their end strength and will have to release more people than we will.
So we do not adjust our recruiting goal as the year goes on. We leave it the way we set it earlier in the yearmight want to consider doing that in the futureand what we do is, we adjust the numbers of people that we recruit, so we are not ending up at the end of the year with a larger end strength than we are authorized to have by Congress.
Page 116 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. MCHUGH. Fair enough.
General Sherrard, 86 percent recruiting goal.
General SHERRARD. Yes, sir.
Mr. MCHUGH. A similar circumstance?
General SHERRARD. I believe, sir, the numbers you have are derived. It is a straight line. And we obviously, in our world, we don't recruit on a straight line. The largest portion of our recruits will occur in the late spring, early summer time.
So if you were to just draw the straight line out, that is exactly where I am is 86 percent of the goal. But, one, I don't have the school slots to even enter them into school to be at 100 percent at that point.
The other issue would also be, we continually review what our retention numbers are, what our end-strength numbers are, again as General James said, so that we don't exceed our 100 percent or our 102 percent, which we have the authority to go to by advising and asking secretarial approval of that.
But the other piece that I would tell you that, if in fact I saw that my recruiting goal was too high, I would change mine. My recruiting force, being I think probably the smallest of any of us sitting at this table, we have on the average brought in aboutaverage about 36 recruits per production recruiter. And that is just about their limit. In fact, my director of recruiting will tell me that is the limit.
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In fact, we are trying to look to how we can provide more recruiters. This committee was very gracious to us a few years back and allowed us to have 50. I said at the time we did that that in fact was not the right number. That was the maximum number I could train at that given time.
And we are looking, in fact, in our Program Objective Memorandum (POM) that we are developing right now there is in fact another growth in recruiters based, again, on how we see the force structure that we will be required to man to, looking at the numbers, the small numbers of active duty separatees that we will have access to, realizing then the only option that we must go to is for greater numbers of non-prior service members to come into our force.
That takes longer to recruit. And once we do recruit them, it then takes longer to train them up to the skill levels, the five levels, the seven levels that we need, considerably longer than grabbing that experienced member that separates from the active force and bringing them right into our fold. Maintaining that high level of experience base is essential for us to be able to do the things we do and meet the requirements that we are being asked by our Air Force.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you.
General Blum, any challenges or
General BLUM. Yes, sir, I will defer for the Army piece, for the details of it to General Schultz. But suffice it to say that the Air National Guard has a different challenge. It has to get down to a number. The Army National Guard has to maintain a number, grow to a number, or replenish to a number. So they are almost apples and oranges. Although in the end state, they both have to match their authorized end strengths.
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So I don't know if that was clear to everybody in the subcommittee that it is a different challenge. Most of us are trying to grow to fill our authorized strength. We are slightly under and we are trying to grow to it. And in the Air Guard they have a different challenge. They have to grow down to what they are authorized. They have more people than they have positions for right now.
I don't know if that was fairly clear.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, it is a relevant point. I think the Navy is facing a similar challenge.
General BLUM. Right. General Schultz may want to add to
Mr. MCHUGH. General Schultz, I was just bouncing down the line on the table, but General Schultz, please.
General SCHULTZ. As I said a few minutes ago, our recruiting is off a little bit. Our prior service is off more so than non-prior service. So what I will do is I will tell our recruiters to enlist more non-prior service members, members of the graduating classes across this country, high school classes. And what that means is I will place additional burdens on the Training and Doctrine Command, meaning we have more requirements to train soldiers than we would originally forecast, which means more money in the wrong places.
Page 119 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC So our recruiting for this year is challenging as of this second quarter. Retention is 137 percent of our target. So we are actually far exceeding our retention target here.
A couple years after Desert Storm, for example, our turnover in the Army Guard was 28 percent; that is against the assigned strength. And turnover in our units today runs right at 16.7 percent.
So I am not alarmed at what we see to be the current set of circumstances. I will also offer, though, it is a little early to declare victory. [Laughter.]
We have necessarily seen soldiers coming back from one year of tough duty in the face of an enemy for 360-plus days. Obviously that weighs pretty heavy on a person, on a soldier in our case.
I have seen, for example, soldiers come off the ramp and eight out of 10 say I am going to have to leave the uniform. And 90 days later when they come back to drill, eight out of 10 are staying.
So I think there is a dynamic at work here. And it was brought up earlier, and that is as we care for our soldiers, look after our families and in a really special way make sure that all the employer issues are worked out these days, I think we can mitigate a significant issue with regard to the catastrophic condition that some were outlining.
We will make our end strength, Mr. Chairman.
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Secretary HALL. And those ceremonies that Congressman Hayes was talking about and that General Burnett was bragging about, rightly so, are hugely valuable in determining who is going to stay with us and who isn't.
How we receive these citizen-soldiers back off of active duty and how we reassimilate them into their jobs and their families, how they are treated in that process will have a great deal to do with how many we are able to retain and how many we would lose because we appear to be not caring or not appreciative of sacrifices that they have made and their families have made.
Mr. MCHUGH. Amen.
I would just say in partial response to General Schultz's comment, it is a little hard to put a percentage on your retention when you are utilizing stop-loss. I mean, that skews it.
General SCHULTZ. Right. We have 19,000-plus soldiers today in the Army Guard affected by the stop-loss rule. By that, I mean, their extensions have been obviously a result of a stop-loss policy. About 4,000 of those we estimate would leave the guard, typical rotations.
So while that figure may skew what is to be kind of our overall retention profile, not to a significant degree in terms of our numbers.
Page 121 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. Chairman, if I could?
Mr. MCHUGH. Sure.
General SCHULTZ. Our prior-service market is off a little bit for perhaps this reason. Active component soldiers coming back from their tours of duty are processing out of the Army are just looking for a break. I talk to our installation career counselors all the time. And they meet with all the soldiers that I am talking about, who in previous times would join the guard in higher rates than they currently are.
And the message is, they just want a break. They don't have a bad attitude, but they would like to get to know their family, raise a family, get to know their kids. And so that is kind of the reality that we are dealing with in terms of our prior-service market being off a bit.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, and that may be a leading indicator of deeper problems. I mean, that is all of our concern. And you gentlemen are concerned. This is something you work every day.
And then I think one of the frustrating aspects of this is there is no perfect metric by which you can accurately judge what a soldier, sailor, airmen, Marine, Coast Guard member is going to do next month or next year based on what they are experiencing right now until they get to it.
And, you know, we can talk about it as the first panel did, and we need to talk about it. We need to react to that. Doing some things to make guard and reserve service more palatable, you don't know what is enough and what is unnecessarily too much.
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Or at least, I don't. That is part of our challenge and why we are here.
I am going to leave the department and Navy alone over here and the Marine Corps and the Navy because you folks, at the moment, at least statistically are doing just fine. And I appreciate that.
I have a few more questions, but I wanted to defer to Dr. Snyder.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Secretary Hall, I just had a couple of quick questions for you. I don't know if you were here when I asked the The Adjutant General (TAG) from Florida about the issue of our adjutant generals, in my view, don't get to visit to the Iraq theater as often as they would like. I guess it is more of a comment.
I would hope you would be an advocate with the administration to somehow work that out. I think they are different than other VIPs, brass, top brass that visit because there is little over 50 of them in the country and they have a very particular relationship with their troops, both going over and coming back.
And I think it can be helpful to all aspects of that if they are able to visit their folks more often. And it is my understanding, there are limits.
Secretary HALL. I don't disagree. But I have one quick comment on that.
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It is my perspective of being a field commander remotely throughout my career. And if the 50 TAGs came at least twice a year, that could be 100 visits. If you combined that with congressional visits, which you need, visits from my headquarters, I can only tell you as a field commander, I used to wish people would not visit me and leave me alone and let me fight the battle and put weapons on target.
And I am not saying we shouldn't do that, because we learn a lot. But I try to balance it. When I think about it, I think it as the demands of the person there who needs to protect those delegations, take care of those delegations and fight. And it is not always in combat.
But I always look at it from that perspective, that we can over-visit and perhaps sometimes we need to let the commanders do their business and fight the war.
But there is a good balance, and I take your point, sir.
Dr. SNYDER. Well, I would treat them about the same as a reporter myself. I mean, I think they want to visit. And their soldiers, and I think they understand what they are going to. If you treat them like Congressional Delegations (CODEL)s, then they will never learn anything.
Secretary HALL. Yes, sir, we take your point.
Dr. SNYDER. I also wanted to ask you. You made the comment about, I think your phrase was, when people cross the bermI may not have the right quotebut that concerns me if that is our goal. I mean, I think our goal, is it not, or should it not be that they have the proper equipment, that they train with back home before they ever get over there.
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I mean, if the first time they get the right radios and the right Small Arms Protective Inserts (SAPI) plates, then they are going into combat with different arrangements than they used in training. And I would think that would be a problem. Plus, and this has been a lot of our experience, I don't care how many times you tell someone that we have been assured you will have the proper equipment before you go into Iraq, until they see that equipment, it is an apprehension for them and their family.
And so, I would think our goal is we have to step back further. It is not just crossing the berm. It is in training.
We had this problem with radios several years ago, that active was using a generation of radios that the guard wasn't, and they did not have the ability to communicate with each other. It was only after they were activated that they got that radio.
And so I think it is more than just crossing the berm. Do you have any comments on that?
Secretary HALL. I don't want to leave the wrong impression. What I was commenting on was General Schoomaker's point just a few days ago at that event, that he wanted to ensure that in-theater for protection we have a goal. And I think the goal is to have them train it.
I have been to the National Training Center, watched the 81st and having 40 pounds of armored vest on you and practicing that in an up-armored Humvee is much better. And I only hearken to flying airplanes all of my life, flying a simulator is not like flying the airplane. It hurts more if you crash in the airplane than in the simulator.
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So you certainly would like to have for training purposes, the same equipment you are going to operate. And I think the goal of all of us is to achieve that.
Dr. SNYDER. And I don't know who to address this question to, but I don't understand exactly what we are saying and how it is going to work and what the practicalities are of this continuum of service?
It seems to me, I mean, maybe Secretary Hall if you want to do it, or someone else wants to do it, I don't understand how it is going to work in terms of the practicalities of record keeping. If you get all of the flexibility you need, how will that work? Explain that whole process.
Secretary HALL. Sir, we would like to perhaps come over and talk to your separately about that. But briefly, it is to allow flexibility for right now if a Guardsman or reservist serves beyond 179 days, they go on to the active duty list for end strength. They go on the active duty promotion list rather than remain on the reserve list, where they should be for competition.
We have no way of assessing and using volunteers. We are asking for volunteer authority for volunteer organizations, the largest untapped manpower in my view, that we have not used in this conflict, our retirees. We have thousands of retirees out there that want to come on board, want to serve, are physically ready. They call my office. They probably call your office.
Page 126 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC If we had authority to just assess them and form volunteer auxiliariesnot for pay. They don't want pay. They just want to come on and serve.
So there are a number of artificial barriers that are prohibiting people from serving in a continuous way, flowing over to the civilian world for a couple of years and back into the reserve and back into the active. And we could come talk about it a bit longer.
What we want to do is ease the manner in which people can flow and serve and the artificial barriers. And these don't cost a lot of money. They are just structural barriers in past time. And we would be happy to come and talk about that more.
Dr. SNYDER. I would like to do that.
And I just want to make a comment and if any one wants to respond, they can. It came up in the previous panel about working with employers. And many of the taxpayers, as is true for a lot of members, I am one of those employers. Now I have a young man that has worked for me for several years. He did it in Kuwait or is in a convoy right now on his way to Baghdad. He is going to be there for a year. He is an Army Reserve, in the Army Reserves. But my own personal experience was the first of this year he was activated to do his Officer Candidate School (OCS); he became a second lieutenant.
He came back in June. He has two children. The family was kind of hoping they would get a little bit of time, but then in October he was then activated probably for a year-and-a-half. And you know, he is a great guy. We are very supportive of him. I brought in a temporary person the first go around. Brought this person back again. And, you know, this is the person that handles my veterans and military affairs stuff.
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But as you know, any time you make that frequent personnel shifts some things can get lost. And you work real hard at not doing it.
The suggestion was some kind of a tax credit for businesses. I am not sure that that is going to be satisfactory. Maybe it would be helpful. But it is more, I think, the frequency and the unpredictability and the length.
Does anyone have any comments about that? Or maybe that is more my comment than a question.
Secretary HALL. The stress on the force has two parts. It has the frequency, and I talked some about that, the rebalancing. But it has duration. It has grown from 156 days to 320 days in the current area. So it is both duration and frequency. And that is one of the primary reasons that we have to be successful in rebalancing, that we need to look at 100,000 to 120,000 billets and perhaps look at that 63 percent of the force that we have never tapped.
And all of these gentlemen should be involved so that we can build the base so that we don't have to, as you described with your individual, keep calling them up repeatedly because that is going to have an effect on them, but on their employer and on their families.
And that is why we are working so hard on this. And we agree with you on the difficulties of your example. But many others experience it.
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Dr. SNYDER. I wanted to ask you, General McCarthy, I think we will have a test going on because of the length of the Marine Corps tours in Iraq versus the length of the Army tours in Iraq. How do you foresee the shorter tour impacting on your mobilization of your reserves?
General MCCARTHY. Sir, I think the shorter tour is a positive factor for us from a mobilization standpoint. I do believe that the duration of deployments, the duration of mobilization periods is a significant contributor to the stress. And so being able to send these Marines for a seven month tour rather than for a full year or the shorter period of total mobilization I think is a plus for us.
The one thing that we wanted to make sure was that the Marines, whether they were active or reserve had the same tour length. So I believe the commandants judgment about it for the active component was right. I think it has been a plus for us in the reserve.
Dr. SNYDER. So the general routine, someone would be mobilized and they would probably undergo training for three to four months, spend seven months on the ground and would be discharged shortly thereafter. Was that
General MCCARTHY. Yes, sir. I think that probably the front-end training will be a little less than three to four months. And there will be a reasonable time for decompression at the end. What we want to do is give commanders a lot of flexibility on that end piece.
Page 129 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC There will be some Marines who would like to be released from active duty as promptly as possible. There would be others who would like to stay for the full period because it becomes a more predictable return to school or whatever the situation in their life is.
So on the back end, we want commandeers to have some flexibility in terms of when they release people from active duty.
Dr. SNYDER. General Sherrard, we talked about health care issues several times today. It is my understanding that the Air Force Reserve has less problems with medical and dental readiness than other components of the reserve forces. Is that accurate? If so, why is that?
General SHERRARD. Sir, I can't address whether my statistics are better than the others or not. But I would tell you, as was stated by the TAG from Florida in the first panel. We are unique, I believe, in the blue suit community in the fact that we have our own organic medical capability inside our organization. And that gives us the ability to give the physical assessments and the dental assessments there.
That being said, the dental assessments are very, very tough for us because we have a small number of dentists. We have the annual dental exam that is necessary. And we are trying to offer some initiatives that possibly could help that.
We cannot provide any service to them. If they find there are cavities or something of that type, we are not allowed to go do that unless they are on an active duty tour for which they are qualified then for TRICARE support.
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At our host locations, at our Air Force Reserve Command (AFRC) locations, in order to help with that physical requirement, we actually initiated several years ago a 27-person physical evaluation team so that we could give physicals without impacting on the readiness of the remainder of the medical squadron that has combat readiness training that they must do.
Because we were finding that we were providing physicals for our forces, but at the same time, our medical readiness was going right down the tubes in terms of what the medical personnel had to be capable of doing in order for them to deploy. And we have been able to keep both ends afloat by having this medical evaluation team doing it.
Dr. SNYDER. And my last question, General Sherrard, is for you. It is kind of your speak now or forever hold your peace question. This is your last time to testify here. Are there things that we haven't touched on that you think would be helpful for us to know, for the Congress to know, or topics we haven't addressed? Or we have also had great metaphors today of cows, tea cups and peanut butter. If you have any good metaphors you would like to use, this will be your last chance for that too. [Laughter.]
But is there anything that you are concerned about or things we should be thinking more about that we haven't talked about?
General SHERRARD. Sir, I, you know, there are a lot of things I would like to say that I really can't because it is not proper for me to even address them other than if you had all the capability in the world to fund whatever you wanted, this is what you would go do in a perfect world.
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But I would go back to what I said in my earlier statement. I think the most essential thing for us to do from my perspective is, one, to make certain we have recruiting and retention capability that we keep the most qualified force.
I briefed this committee before in years past and I will still tell youand again, I speak for the Air Force Reserve, I won't try to speak for my other colleaguesit is essential for us to retain our members, in our world, for as long as we can because of the high experience base they give us.
Currently today, all enlistment incentives stop at the 20thactually at the 14th year, for the six year enlistment they may get. So at 20 years, it is all over. They are critical and valuable assets from year 20 to 30, or 33 if you take them all the way to high-year tenure.
The other piece that I would push very hard for is the issue of fair and equitable treatment and studying that as seriously as we can to make certain and not be afraid of someone saying you are pricing the reserve components out of existence.
Because I go back, and again, I will only speak for my force, we are providing approximately 20 percent of the Air Force capability for about 4 percent of the Air Force Theatre of Operations (TOA). That is a great return on America's investment that they have made in each one of us. We need to retain those members as best we can.
And in terms of fair and equitable, we need to make certain that they, in fact, up on the time that they would be serving a full 30-day period, there shouldn't be a difference between what a reservist can earn and the benefits that he or she is entitled to, vice an active duty member.
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And I know in this compensation report that has just been released it talks about the 1/30th rule. The 1/30th rule is fine. We just need to make sure that the opportunities for compensating that member based on the 1/30th basis is in fact fair. And there are two examples I would give you that I spoke to earlier today in another presentation.
Enlistment bonuses in the Air Force Reserve, we are allowed to do one re-enlistment bonus at a six-year period with a very small stipend. And I appreciate that we have it at all, compared to the active force who can do multiple, a larger number, there is a great inequity there.
Critical skills bonus, we don't have that authority to grant, and yet, the active force has it.
If on mobilization you truly then run into the issue of the have and the have nots, when you have two people working side by side, doing the same job, the same skill that is viewed as critical, and yet one member is not able to be compensated appropriately.
I think those are things that we as a body all have to work in order to keep those highly experienced members in our force.
Dr. SNYDER. Thank you. Thank you for your service.
General SHERRARD. Thank you, sir.
Page 133 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Dr. SNYDER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Kansas, Mr. Ryun.
Mr. RYUN. Mr. Chairman, thank you very much for holding this hearing.
I would like to thank the panel for their patience and also for their dedication in serving our country. We all owe you a great deal of debt as a result of what you have done.
I would like to direct my question, if I may, to General Blum.
A recent Defense Science Board study concluded that if the U.S. homeland was attacked, the Department of Defense could be called on to assist with incident response. However, the execution of this mission would require capabilities in areas where the department is deficient, including mitigation, the ability to surge medical capabilities and communication operability.
This report went on to call for increased emphasis and priority in funding for these areas.
I believe you are aware of one specific proposal to address this deficiency. This proposal would establish an Air National Guard wing tasked with providing dedicated support for U.S. Northern Command (NORTHCOM) for homeland defense and homeland security missions.
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This proposal further calls for this dedicated mission to be co-located with civilian support teams and emergency medical support units. This would allow an immediate and appropriate response for homeland security missions.
I understand there are concerns about where we secure these C130's for such a mission. I realize that is a real problem.
But let me focus on the mission itself.
Do you believe that providing a dedicated mission of this type is important and consistent with the National Guard homeland security mission?
General BLUM. Yes, I do. Now, I am not referring specifically to that unit and that specific capability that you are talking about to be located in that exact location, although it may come out that that is exactly where it goes and that is exactly what it looks like in the end.
Mr. RYUN. But you see the need for it.
General BLUM. But in general, the National Guard is insufficiently organized, trained, equipped and resourced to do what the Nation expects it to do when we are talking about homeland defense and being the first DOD responders called out by the governors, initially, to support a lead state agency and ultimately support a lead Federal agency when either left in Title 32 status or switched over to Title 10 status and federalized because the Department of Defense wants that same force working for Northern Command or DOD.
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It doesn't matter who we are working for. The work is there, the requirement is there, the threat is real, and that is why we are transitioning. Without waiting to be told what to do, we are converting and developing capabilities in the Army and the Air National Guard to do urban search and rescue, to do mass decontamination, to do exactly the type of things you are talking about.
And the forcing function for that is the joint force headquarters that has already been established in every state and territory in this country.
We see a dire need for that. I hope we need it. But the day we need it will be the day we better be able to produce it and we better be able to respond as National Guardsmen, as 21st century minutemen, in minutes and hours, days and weeks. And then we will be in this committee talking about why we didn't foresee what we should have foresaw and taken the actions that we are taking right now.
Mr. RYUN. So you see the need for it, even though there is not the funding at the moment
General BLUM. Absolutely.
Mr. RYUN [continuing]. And it is coming together in terms of a general plan?
General BLUM. Absolutely. And we have developed 10 regional weapons of mass destruction, chem/bio response force packages that couple these capabilities I am talking about with existing civil support teams so that there is a force package that can respond to any region, any Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) region of this country if called on either by the governors or called out to respond to General Eberhart of the United States Northern Command or Admiral Fargo in the Pacific, in Alaska and Hawaii and Guam and the Marianas.
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You know, in case our citizens of our states and territories need this capability, the guard is committed to delivering it.
Mr. RYUN. Well, thank you very much for your time.
Mr. MCHUGH. I thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from North Carolina.
Mr. HAYES. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Going back to the topic of TRICARE for our families at home, I left out a very important term.
We had the gentlemen here that provides the private health plans that encompass health care, but I did not use the term when I asked the question, ''health benefit advisers.'' These are the folks that are available to help people find the care and the treatments that they need.
Can you all comment on how you will move forward with the folks that are providing the service to make sure they have the health benefit advisers, particularly the people in rural areas?
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General comments on that would be helpful.
Secretary HALL. I can comment on it and any of my colleagues that want to.
We, as authorized, are hiring the 11 providers. And of course the regions are changing to three. And how exactly you will use the eightbut we are proceeding. Those names are being provided to us. And those are ready to be provided by region.
In addition to those, though, there are over I think 400 of the advisers nationwide that can advise our members, both active, Guard and Reserve, on their benefits.
So we are moving forth to provide the coordinators by region. And as we neck down to three regions, we will have this centrally coordinated.
But we will have other coordinators throughout the region that can specifically talk to health care benefits for both active, guard and reserve for TRICARE.
And so that is sort of the broad way. And that is done. Now those names are being provided, the people are being hired as those senior providers.
Maybe some of my colleagues want to discuss that for their particular area.
Page 138 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. HAYES. General Blum.
General BLUM. In North Carolina, with the 30th now deployed, you should be able to go to any of the armories from that brigade that are deployed, and there should be a person that can direct any family member with a pay problem or a TRICARE problem or an employer problem or any other family support, family readiness-type issue, they should be basically trained and qualified to direct and remedy that problem or get that family member to a person who can in fact do that.
The joint force headquarters in every state and territory, we have 400 of those locations stood up mostly in armories of units that are deployed with a cell that is left behind so that the family member knows they can go to the local armory to get that problem addressed.
We will also do that for any other service member, active or reserve, that happens to be in that zip code or local area, if they want to come in there for assistance also.
And I don't know if General Schultz wants to address any further on that or General James or anybody else.
General BLUM. If you should find, sir, that they are not trained and adequate to handle TRICARE, pay problems or the Employee Support of the Guard and Reserve (ESGR) problems or in the full scope of family readiness issues, if you will get back to me, we will assure that they either get the training they need, or we will get somebody down there who can.
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Mr. HAYES. Well, I appreciate that. I just want to be sure that you all, in the roles that you play, keep this issue in front of the providers and everyone else. I have been working with Nurse Schwartz. She understands the whole thing very well.
General BLUM. Yes, sir.
Mr. HAYES. Did you happen to see the broadcast news yesterday?
General BLUM. Pardon?
Mr. HAYES. Secretary Bremer was included.
General BLUM. Yes, sir.
Mr. HAYES. If you did, if I am not mistaken, General Hickman was sitting beside him.
General BLUM. I did not see that, but I would not be surprised, because General Hickman
Mr. HAYES. For you all who are not in the loop, General Hickman is with the 30th Brigade in the North Carolina National Guard, and General Blum and I were in Fayetteville. I, we, not only welcomed them back, but General Myers and General Blum were there to give them a tremendous and rousing sendoff. And I failed to mention that, but I happened to just have walked in and seeing it, I think that is who was sitting there.
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Again, thank you all. Stay at them.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
The gentleman from Tennessee.
Mr. COOPER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
I have been in suspense all afternoon, because the Chairman said he was going to punt the ball to this panel, so I have been waiting to see whether you all would catch it or not.
Now it is the moment of truth
Oh, fair catch, no problem with that.
I had asked earlier about an expected downsizing in battalion headquarters, also an expected downsizing in armory. If you could respond to those two questions, that would be great.
General BLUM. Thank you. I appreciate the questions.
Page 141 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC All three of those questions are very insightful questions, and they are 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, a real quick review of that.
If I throw up this chart that shows you the strategic reserve moving to an operational reserve, in other words, taking us from what the guard was organized, resourced, set up in statute and set up in policy, equipped, all the parameters, 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 that 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 are an operational reserve, and we are required to go out the door at C1, in other words, 100 percent manned, 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 is 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 are on right now, it even gets tougher.
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And pretty soon, you have an empty pitcher and then we will be in here explaining to you 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 overstructure 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 are going to have smaller, more units, smaller units, with 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, from three to four. So there is about a 25 percent growth in 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 of the units they can fill. They won't have any more units than they can fill with trained and ready and deployable soldiers.
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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 accurateand I think they arewe are 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 reclassified, doing a different job.
For instance, they may no longer be artillery that is 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 informations operations or to an intelligence unit or something that we see asor 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 overseas will ask for some of the structure that exists in an Army Guard.
We are overstructured 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 are going to get completely out of artillery. It doesn't mean we are going to get completely out of any combat, combat service support or combat support area. It means we are going to take a legitimate look at what we have too much of that has not gotten into the war fight because it is 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 change that unit to be something that is ready, reliable, relevant and accessible for both homeland defense, the national security strategy, the homeland defense, and on the 1-4-2-1.
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I want it to be equally relevant against all four of those sets.
I hope that is helpful.
Mr. COOPER. Well, I am not faulting you and I am not faulting rebalancing. But probably it is a good idea. But we need to know 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. And I think we had about 10 days from introduction of the proposal to vote.
General BLUM. Well, the governor of Tennessee and the adjutant general of the Tennessee National Guard will not rush to failure on this and will not give things up before they know what those things are going to be replaced with.
I think that is fair, and I think that is 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 and homeland security mission, but what do they really want to have available and what percentages so that they can deploy their fair share, the burden share, of the 25 percent at a time, overseas.
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Mr. COOPER. So we could be proposing to beef up civil affairs, MPs, things like that?
General BLUM. Absolutely, absolutely.
Mr. COOPER. Would it help you in doing your job if the National Guard had separate procurement authority so that you don't just have to deal with surplus equipment, hand-me-downs from active folks?
General BLUM. That has been proposed over time. It has been carefully studied. The right answer to that is that the services have to shoulder the full responsibility for their reserve components. That is the right answer. And the pressure really ought to be on the service components to deal with active, guard and the reserve and train, organize and equip them in a like manner.
If that were done, what you are proposing would not be necessary.
Mr. COOPER. But they don't do that..
General BLUM. They are making the first genuine honest attempt at it that I have seen in my entire military career under the current chief of staff of the Army and Air Force. The Air Force has been doing it.
I want to separate the Air Guard from this discussion because they have 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.
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And if they continue to do the actions that they are taking right now, what you are 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.
General JAMES. Can I add something to that? I don't want to take too much credit for the blue suits. I would say and I would ask Jimmy to agree or add to this, that if it weren't for the added account, we would not be as capable and as relevant as we are today.
There are certain things that we have been able to procure because of that account, like new pods and other things that have made us relevant for the war fighter and gotten us in the fight and an active member of the team.
Yes, we probably are 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 to give us the latitude to procure items that we need that are unfunded requirements from the total service point of view, that you give us that latitude and that flexibility to acquire those items and those pieces of equipment. And I just want to make that point.
General BLUM. It is a great point. It really is a great point. It does make the difference. It does make a significant difference. For the Army in the past, it has meant their survival, frankly. And we are not ready to walk away from that until wewe have a lot of catch-up to do and with equipping the Army Guard.
Page 147 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC Mr. COOPER. When the unit has been converted from artillery to say, MP, who picks up the cost for that? And is that depleting your budget if you have to eat that cost? Or who is paying for it?
General BLUM. The cost of that would be paid by the services. 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 could never have said that before today in a hearing like this.
Mr. COOPER. Well, you are very encouraging. I wonder if previous committees and previous panels would have heard that we had in fact three armies that were at war with themselves. Because usually people tell us more of the positive spin. But I am glad
General BLUM. I have witnessed the Army at war with itself and it is not a pretty sight.
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Mr. COOPER. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank the gentleman.
I was remiss in my first round of questions when I talked about the recruiting goals and went down the line. I skipped General Helmly. If you would like to make comments, I don't want to deny you that opportunity.
General HELMLY. Congressman, I appreciate that. I can very quickly give you the statistics. At current, we are almost 99 percent of our enlisted recruiting mission for the year. Our retention mission is off. We are at 90 percent.
And I would next state that retentionI agree with General Sherrard. We should be seeking ways to retain soldiers longer. And indeed, General Sherrard's remarks about the fact that in the reserve components our members are allowed to receive one enlistment bonus vice multiples, those bonuses are smaller.
I give you an example. The Army came here, received authority to pay a selected re-enlistment bonus that now is providing a $10,000 bonus to a soldier who re-enlists while serving in Iraq, Afghanistan or Kuwait. And of course the advantage for the soldier there is all or most of that is tax free.
I went out, ordered that that be implemented, believing on the advice of our attorneys that it was applicable to reserve component forces. In the space of five days, we had 11 members who signed re-enlistment contracts. I then was informed that it was not applicable to reserve component forces and that the reserve component member can only get $2,500 for a three-year reenlistment, or half, $5,000 because now the Army is using $10,000.
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I cite that as proof positive thatand as Secretary Hall said, when our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are serving in the operational theater, that is where they are serving side-by-side. And they perceive inequities bases on examples such as I just gave you because they are saying we are both in intermingled companies, squadrons, et cetera, and that that is an inequity.
Last I would cite simply that as we use this force, we should be sensitive to the people side. And the longer we retain our people, the higher quality we have. That transfers into higher rates of readiness. They are proven. They are strong. And we, in fact, have a somewhat industrial-age process toward looking at recruiting and retention. And we recruit as many as we retain.
If we can lower that number, we will save ourselves money. We will improve readiness. We will improve quality. We will improve leadership.
And so I believe that dollars in retention are all well-invested dollars.
Mr. MCHUGH. Thank you very much.
I can tell you that I think every person on this subcommittee and full committee as well fully agrees with your observations with respect to those re-enlistment bonuses and the tax implications. And they are significant. And the unfairness of that, we are going to fix that in our bill. And I think the department supports that. And that is just plain wrong. And I am not sure how that happened.
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General HELMLY. I believe it was oversight, Congressman. I might add, because I believe that on the Title 10 part of that, that read was that it was applicable, but it violated another provision in Title 37, which is another example, because the Title 37 is the title that starts to restrict. If we didn't have that $10,000 bonus in theater, it restricts, as General Sherrard said, the number of bonuses a reserve component member can receive, et cetera.
Mr. MCHUGH. Or lack of oversight, perhaps.
General HELMLY. Correct.
Mr. MCHUGH. Let me ask a final question, not counting the written questions we are undoubtedly going to submit. General Helmly just mentioned the inequities, and they are important. And I heard that a lot in our first trip. Mr. Hayes was gracious enough, along with some other members, to join us.
The members of the guard and reserve are very, very sensitive to that. They are all being asked to do the same job. They are obviously in the same base, same theater. And they had a real perception they were being treated inequitably and unfairly versus their active component counterpart.
Let me reverse that a little bit, though, and ask you your opinion. We have asked this of previous panelists that have appeared. A lot of talk and we have had some legislative initiatives that would try to do the right thing, and I truly believe that, in providing a mechanism, taxpayer funded, that would make up the difference between what a guard and reserve member who had been mobilized makes in the private sector versus what their guard and reserve pay is.
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And there is a real price to pay amongst these people, and particularly the independent business men and women and those who have single practices, whether they be physicians or insurance or real estate or whatever. Sometimes they lose their business. So I think the motivations are understandable.
However, what challenges, if any, does that provide that where now you have two soldiers out there doing the same job, taking the same fire, you know, in Fallujah or wherever they are where one is getting paid substantially more under the provisions of that act, versus the active component receiving the standard pay?
And obviously, you folks represent the guard and reserve. Do you see that as a problem?
Secretary HALL. I would like to comment on that.
Mr. MCHUGH. Mr. Secretary, please.
Secretary HALL. My 34 years were all active service, so let me speak from the active duty side because you are asking a questionI now represent the guard and reserve.
And what I would say is, first, we have about 350 companies that are freely doing that. And we applaud those companies that are making up a difference. That is a private decision by them.
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But I would urge caution if we go into any sort of income-type of differential that is funded. Not that it isn't a good idea, but I think we do have to think about that active duty person.
Many of the people I serve with throughout the time were active duty as sailors. E3s, E4s, E5s, they didn't earn as much as a lot of the higher range.
And when that person might see the same person come from the civilian word who might be earning $150,000 or $200,000, and now comes down to their pay, and we have a taxpayer-funded differential that brings them back up to that, I think it is a legitimate question that that person will say, ''Well, I have been earning this $40,000 for the past 10 years trying to support my family. What do you earn?'' He says, ''Well, $200,000.''
We just have to be cautious on that.
I recognize that the person in the guard or reserve at the $200,000 level has obligations and mortgages and lots of things, and lots of reasons they are supporting their life style.
But I do think we really have to think, on the reverse equity, of those two. And we might want to do something. We might be able to develop that. But we have to do it in a very cautious way. Because those sailors will talk, those people will talk, and they will ask each other what they earn. We have to be prepared to have a legitimate reason why we have an E4 earning $200,000 from the private sector and E4 earning $50,000.
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Mr. MCHUGH. We had an insurance approach back in the first Gulf War that failed miserably. But would perhaps a new approach to that offer be a better..
Secretary HALL. We thought about that, and none of us would want to return to the one which failed. Because as you recall, we did not have anyone paying in and capitalizing the fund. You only took out the insurance when you knew the hurricane was going to hit.
And at that point, we are about $80 million along.
So should we do that, it would have to be a fee-based, we would have to capitalize it.
I don't think we should discard it just because we had a flawed program. There may be some sort of a private insurance which you would pay into, capitalize it, might be one of the ideas and we are looking at that.
But again, we don't want to rush into that and have a repeat of that.
General HELMLY. Congressman, may I comment please?
Mr. MCHUGH. Absolutely. General Helmly?
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General HELMLY. I do not disagree with Secretary Hall at all. But I would approach it from a different perspective.
While we are all concerned about, if you will, fairness, and concern for service members active, guard and reserve and their families, I approach it from an institutional perspective that says there are certain skills that the department relies upon more heavily in guard and reserve members. And if I may, I would like to cite professional medical skills.
It is one thing if I am making $200,000 as a real estate or a private attorney or something; that is the issue that we just touched on. And I believe there that we should all emphasize to our members, there is an element always of service and sacrifice to the Nation involved, and just emphasize that up front.
But on those skill areas that the department is more reliant upon reserve components for, and in the Army, the Army has two-thirds of its battlefield medical care professional force in the Army Reserve. Those are the areas that we can provide some specialized, discreet protections for those forces.
Perhaps income protection is not one. But in the case of practitioners, dealing with their malpractice insurance is one that has been often cited that would be helpful. Because when they close their practice, they still have to pay into their medical malpractice insurance because there is now way of telling when cases that they took over in private practice would file a suit against them, and then they are away.
Page 155 PREV PAGE TOP OF DOC In fact, we tried to only rotate those professionals now for 90 days at a time, being sensitive.
Perhaps income protection for them is not the answer. But certainly the specialty pay is one that might make sense. Because in the reserve components, in fact, we have some very highly skilled physicians and surgeons, and they are still subject to the 1/30th rule.
So it is my judgment that we should look at these discreet areas with a speciality, perhaps not for income protection, but to ask ourselves what we can do to protect that source of very specialized skill-rich manpower, which our forces rely upon.
And when the soldier, sailor, airman and Marine is lying on the table in a combat support hospital in Baghdad, they aren't asking, ''Is it an Army Reserve physician?'' Is it an Air Force Reserve technician who is administering them on the medivac plane to Germany? They just want help. And we want to provide them with the very best.
Mr. MCHUGH. Anybody else?
General SCHULTZ. Mr. Chairman, not everybody in the Army Guard is disadvantage by the current system.
Mr. MCHUGH. Right.
General SCHULTZ. We estimate 70, 75 percent perhaps are not at all adversely effected, similar pay comparable kind of entitlement from the current programs to where they are today.
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But I do believeI am with General Helmly on thiswe need to focus on a target of population that perhaps considered none of the skills we have to have but might be at risk of staying in our formations. And you know, we desperately need them.
So I think that would be the discussion I would have, is to focus on areas in the population that would have to have some kind of special attention.
Mr. MCHUGH. In fact, about a third make more money.
Secretary HALL. Yes, they do. About one-third make more, about one-third the same, and about one-third do suffer some loss.
Mr. MCHUGH. And the record should show, we are not going to ask those who make more money to give anything back. I don't think would be appropriate.
General SHERRARD. Sir, I just would echo what I said initially. I think it would be wise for us to look attake an evaluation of makingI will use the word compensation in the broadest terms it equitable across and see if that changed your one-third, one-third, one-third formula. My belief is it will.
And then if it still does not correct the issues that General Helmly and General Schultz have talked about, then that could be the next step to go look at.
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But I think if we just walked up and laid out the compensation that could be made if we made things fair across the board, that if in fact they were all on a 30-day tour, if everybody there, everybody looks the same, I think you would reduce that one-third number rather significantly and start down the road toward making it really something that we can all stand for, and explain why there is an issue, why we have the circumstances that we face today.
Mr. MCHUGH. Well, the reason it is warm in here is not the lights. It is that we have 24 stars shining at the front table here.
You have been here a long time, and gentlemen, we appreciate that.
Now, Mr. Secretary, you have at least three, maybe four, so we have quite an array. We are deeply appreciative, as I said, of your being here and your service.
We will have some written questions that we would be very appreciative for you to respond to for our record.
In the meantime, General Sherrard, again, best wishes for the future.
Best wishes to you all and to the brave men and women that you represent. Mr. Secretary, thank you for your service as well. And we are all pulling in the same direction. And hopefully, we can together, serve those men and women as well as they are serving us.
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God bless them.
Secretary HALL. Chairman, I was remiss also in introducing someone of my command, Sargent Major Holland. And it is very important because I hired him after he came back from Iraq and Afghanistan as a combat veteran. And as soon as he got back, he deployed his wife to Afghanistan. And she has recently returned safely. And he is an experienced combat soldier. And I would like for him to stand up. He represents all of us.
Mr. MCHUGH. And this is on C-SPAN so just in case your wife is watching, Sergeant Major, we know you didn't deploy your wife directly.
Well, thank you all very much. And thank you, as I said, for your service.
And with that, we will adjourn the subcommittee.
[Whereupon, at 4:25 p.m., the subcommittee was adjourned.]