Military Goes to Where (Potential) Recruits Are
Message to Military Recruiters: If you can’t bring the teenagers
of America to recruiting offices, then bring the recruiters to the
For the services, that means opening up recruiting stations at
major shopping malls, said Bernard Rostker, undersecretary of defense
for personnel and readiness. One of those stations will be located
at Potomac Mills, in Northern Virginia, one of the largest shopping
centers on the East Coast. Setting up shop at crowded malls is an
expensive proposition, said Rostker. But it should ensure that recruiters
would have access to large numbers of teenagers.
"In the past, recruiting stations were treated as offices,
not as a place for walk-ins," Rostker said during a breakfast
with reporters in Washington, D.C. The Army, for example, has shied
away from high-rent retail areas, but the reason they are expensive,
he said, is because they have "high traffic."
Rostker expects the investment will pay off, in the form of large
numbers of new recruits. "An all-volunteer force is a fragile
beast" that must be fed constantly and requires a lot of attention,
Army Transformation on Track, Says Vice Chief
The Army is on schedule to make critical decisions in 2003 about
the kinds of technologies that it intends to install in the Future
Combat System (FCS)–the next-generation combat vehicle that
is currently under development–according to the service’s
vice chief of staff, Gen. John M. Keane.
"It looks very promising," he said. "We asked the
Army Science Board whether those technologies would be available
in time for a 2003 decision, and the answer was, ‘yes’
in about 90 percent of the cases. … The technologies are in
the laboratories, and you can touch them."
As the Army increased the lethality and survivability of its combat
vehicles over the years, the Abrams tank grew to 70 tons, Keane
noted, sacrificing agility and mobility.
"The new principle is, ‘avoid being hit,’"
he explained. "That doesn’t mean that you sacrifice survivability
for those inside the vehicle. Quite the contrary."
The new Initial Brigade Combat Teams (IBCTs) now taking shape at
Fort Lewis, Wash., each include a reconnaissance and surveillance
battalion–"an intelligence battalion"–Keane
"The reason that it’s there is to assist us in finding
out where the enemy is and what his strength is, so that we can
hit him before he hits us."
The IBCTs do not contain helicopters, Keane admitted. But that
doesn’t mean that they will be solely reliant on ground transportation,
Most Army combat brigades do not include helicopters, he said,
and it will be the same with the IBCTs.
"We will augment the brigades with reconnaissance helicopters,
with attack helicopters, with lift helicopters, as needed,"
Navy Counting on the JSF
Adm. Vern Clark, chief of naval operations (CNO), made it clear,
in a recent talk with defense writers, that he hopes the new administration
will not cancel the Joint Strike Fighter.
"I am counting on the Joint Strike Fighter," Clark said.
"My air force is too old. It is older than it ever has been
in our history. We have real clear indications that the cost of
maintaining this force is escalating ... and this is making it real
hard to maintain the current readiness."
Three out of four of the executive boards that Clark has convened
since taking over as CNO last fall have dealt with the issue of
"escalating costs in the flying-hour program," he said.
"The aging reality of our air force is driving that problem."
The Navy, Clark said, needs "not only new aircraft. We need
aircraft with the kind of reliability and maintainability that change
the calculus of what it costs to maintain a ready air force.
"That is why I am on board with the Joint Strike Fighter."
Breathe Easy, Marines
The Marine Corps needn’t worry about the Army’s effort
to transform itself into a lighter, more deployable force, said
Gen. John W. Hendrix, commanding general of the Army Forces Command.
The Army is never going to assume the Marines’ role, he told
"Yes, there is some redundancy, I suppose, built in there,"
he said. Both services can do rapid forced entry when necessary.
"But the difference in missions are clear, understood and the
services are very cooperative in making sure that we don’t
go after the mission of another service."
The Marines, he noted, are particularly prepared for the amphibious
mission. When "you can get ships very quickly to a place where
there is a crisis, the Marines are very suited to do that, quick
reaction," Hendrix said. "If it goes longer, the Army
is your sustaining force. The Army is the force that will give you
a decisive victory in a sustained war."
Navy Needs Better C4ISR
The Navy and Marines need better command, control, communication,
computer, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (C4ISR)
systems for L-class ships, said Marine Maj. Gen. William Whitlow,
director of Expeditionary Warfare (N-75) for Naval Operations. L-class
ships are the amphibious assault vessels that transport Marine Expeditionary
Units (MEU) to hot spots.
As they presently exist, L-class ships are "deaf, dumb and
blind," Whitlow said. "We can no longer have ships like
this," he said. "We have to have real-time, continuous
communications that can go hundreds of miles over the horizon."
Indiscriminate systems that do nothing but dump "masses of
information on a commander that cannot be deciphered immediately"
should be avoided, he said.
Amphibious assault ships "are not troop transports in the
old MacArthur or Eisenhower mode" any longer, Whitlow said,
"but world-class surface combatants." C4ISR is not all
that expensive, he said. If U.S. armed forces are going to have
fewer casualties and successfully "maneuver force from the
sea," they need the best C4ISR that money can buy, and they
need it now, he asserted.
Planning for Future Warfare–Not an Exact Science
The Pentagon’s strategic blueprint, which calls for being
prepared to fight two major regional wars nearly simultaneously,
should not be changed, said Bernard Rostker, undersecretary of defense
for personnel and readiness.
The principle is known as the two-MRC (major regional contingency)
strategy. It was adopted as part of the 1997 Quadrennial Defense
Review (QDR). A new QDR will be developed by the incoming administration.
"I think the two-MRC construct is an important strategic concept,"
Rostker told reporters in Washington, D.C. The reason, he explained,
is that "you don’t want to tell an adversary that you
are not prepared to fight in two theaters, [regardless of] whether
you have all the resources to effectively do it, in exactly the
way you like."
All the planning in the world, however, is meaningless when it
comes to fighting a war, Rostker noted. "What," he asked
rhetorically, "will happen on the 20th day of the war?"
Anyone trying to predict that "exactly will be wrong, because
the war will never be fought exactly as we do the planning. The
fact is that we are capable of engaging two adversaries of the size
of North Korea and Iraq. [Our capabilities] might not be as robust
as one would like, in every instance."
Time to See What Works
Marine Lt. Gen. Emil Bedard, deputy commandant for plans, policy
and operations, added his voice to those beating the drums for improved
command, control, communication and computer (C4) capability.
"In the past, we’ve bought a lot of boxes, whistles
and bells that didn’t communicate with one another,"
he said. "We can literally drown a commander in information.
But it’s not necessarily the information that is needed to
make important, timely decisions."
Now–while the United States is not at war– is "a
great time to be experimenting to see what works," Bedard said.
"Don’t waste any more time or money on stuff that doesn’t."
Army Forces Stretched Thin
The commanding general of all Army combat units within the United
States estimates that his service needs 40,000 to 60,000 more soldiers
"to maintain the level of operations that we have today."
The Army today is "extraordinarily stretched," Gen. John
W. Hendrix, head of the U.S. Army Forces Command, told a group of
The Forces Command alone–which includes most of the Army’s
combat personnel–needs an $800 million increase to its $3.4
billion budget for this fiscal year, Hendrix said.
"We are asking our soldiers to do many things without adequate
resources," Hendrix said. "I don’t see a quick exit
for many of the things that we are doing." Instead, he said,
"I see other possibilities out there globally for similar types
Australia’s Defense Plan
More than a year in the works, the Australian defense white paper
finally was unveiled last December. The essence of the document
is Australia’s desire to pursue a "policy of self-reliance"
in defense matters, said Rear Adm. Simon Harrington, Australian
defense attaché in Washington, D.C. The white paper predicts
that Australian defense spending will stay in the range of $13 billion
to $14 billion a year during the next decade.
As far as Australia’s ties with the United States, Harrington
told reporters that "we will be buying hardware from the United
States." Exactly what will be bought and when has yet to be
decided, said Harrington. The only certainty, however, is that "we
have to remain interoperable with the United States."