03 February 2004
Rumsfeld on Creating a "Modular Army" for the
Op-ed column by Secretary of Defense
(This column by Donald H. Rumsfeld, who is Secretary of Defense,
was published in the Wall Street Journal February 4 and is in the
public domain. No republication restrictions.)
New Model Army
By Donald H. Rumsfeld
In just 28 months, U.S. forces, with our Coalition partners, have
overthrown two terrorist regimes, captured or killed thousands
of terrorist leaders and operatives, disrupted terrorist cells
on virtually every continent, and undoubtedly prevented a number
of additional terrorist attacks. Our troops have performed magnificently
-- despite the significant increase in operational tempo of the
global war on terror, which has increased the demand on the force.
Managing that demand is one of the Department of Defense's top
priorities. Doing so means being clear about the problem, and fashioning
the most appropriate solutions. Much of the current increase in
demand on the force is most likely a temporary spike caused by
the deployment of nearly 115,000 troops to Iraq. We do not expect
to have 115,000 troops permanently deployed in any one campaign.
Nevertheless, for the moment, the increased demand is real, and
over the past two years we have taken a number of immediate actions
to alleviate it. We are increasing international military participation
in Iraq and Afghanistan. We are accelerating the training of Iraqi
security forces -- now over 200,000 -- so Iraqis will increasingly
take responsibility for their own security and stability, and we
are hunting down those who threaten Iraq's transition to self-government
Another way of relieving the increased demand on the force is
to add more people -- and we have done that as well. Using the
emergency powers granted to the president by Congress, since September
2001 we have increased active force levels above authorized levels
-- by 33,000, or more at times. If the situation demands it, we
will not hesitate to add still more -- whatever is needed. However,
the fact that we have to increase force levels at all should give
us pause. U.S. Armed Forces currently total about 2.6 million men
and women -- 1.4 million active forces, 876,000 guard and reserve
in units, and 287,000 individual ready reserves. Yet despite these
large numbers, the deployment of 115,000 troops to Iraq has required
that we temporarily increase the size of the force.
That should tell us something. It tells us that the real problem
is not necessarily the size of our active and reserve military
components, per se, but rather how forces have been managed, and
the mix of capabilities at our disposal.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. Pete Schoomaker compares the problem
to a barrel of rainwater on which the spigot is placed too high
up. The result: when you turn it on, it only draws water off the
top, while the water at the bottom is not accessible or used. Our
real problem is that the way our total force is presently managed,
we have to use many of the same people over and over again. In
Gen. Schoomaker's analogy, the answer is not a bigger barrel of
more than the current 2.6 million men and women available, but
to move the spigot down, so more of the potentially available troops
are accessible, usable, and available to defend our nation. The
department must promptly reorganize to gain better access to the
fine men and women who make up the all-volunteer force, and to
ensure we have the skills needed available as and when needed.
Clearly, we are not doing so today.
Take the Guard and Reserve for example. Since Sept. 11, 2001,
we have mobilized roughly 36% of the Selected Reserve. Those mobilizations
have concentrated on certain skill sets: installation security
forces, air crews, military police, Special Forces, civil affairs,
and intelligence officers. Yet even now, we have not mobilized
over 60% of the Selected Reserve to fight the global war on terror.
Indeed, 58% of the current Guard and Reserve force have not been
involuntarily mobilized in the past decade. Clearly they have not
been stressed. That suggests that our problem is certainly not
too few forces. Rather, it is that we have too few forces with
the skill sets that are in high demand, and too many forces with
skills that are not in high demand.
We are working hard to fix that -- by rebalancing skill sets within
the Reserve component and between the active and reserve force.
In 2003, we rebalanced some 10,000 positions. We expect to have
rebalanced a total of 50,000 positions by the end of next year.
Simultaneously, the services are transforming to increase combat
capability while relieving demand on the forces. For example, the
Army has put forward a plan that, when implemented, will use our
emergency authorities to bring the Army's temporary strength up
by nearly 30,000 troops above its peacetime statutory limit --
it is today about 7,000 above that limit. But the proposal is to
use that increase, and all the movement in the system during the
force deployments and redeployments, to increase the Army's combat
power by up to 30%. How? Instead of simply adding more Divisions,
the Army is focusing instead on creating a "Modular Army" comprised
of smaller, self-contained brigades that would be interchangeable,
available to work for any Division.
The new more "Modular Army" will be appropriate for
the 21st century. In the event of a crisis, the 4th Infantry Division
commander, for example, could gather two of his own brigades, combine
them with available brigades from, say, the 1st Armored Division
and the National Guard, and deploy them together. The result is
improved interoperability within the Army, even as the Army is
becoming more interoperable with the other services, as we saw
in Iraq. This is a bold proposal and the DoD leadership is working
with Congress on it.
In addition, other initiatives are underway to improve force management
and increase capability: We are taking military personnel out of
civilian jobs to free them up for military tasks. We are reducing
the number of troops and dependents that are constantly being rotated
in and out of foreign bases and facilities. And we are fixing the
mobilization process to make it more respectful of troops, families,
The key to these initiatives is flexibility -- to be able to increase
or decrease as demand requires, and to manage the force as the
security circumstances permit. Today, with authority granted by
Congress, the DoD has the flexibility to adjust troop levels as
the security situation requires -- and we are doing so. A permanent
increase in statutory end-strength, as many are proposing, would
significantly reduce flexibility.
The president charged us with the responsibility of transforming
the department for the challenges our nation faces in this century.
The American people expect this: that we maintain the best force
in the world, and that we be respectful of the people in that force
and of the taxpayers who support it. And that is what we are doing.
(Mr. Rumsfeld is secretary of defense.)