Why did you send copies of the book America's First Battles to the
House and the Senate?
Appointed Army chief of staff in June 1999, he is calling for an Army
transformation that will better prepare it to fight the new 21st
century wars. As part of this effort, he wants to put a brigade combat team
anywhere in the world in 96 hours, a division in 120 hours and five divisions
in 30 days.
It's a perspective of what our nation, and primarily our army, has seen over
our history. And it is an army that oftentimes went into those first battles
less prepared than they could have been, and certainly than they should have
been. It was background as I went to testify on why transformation was
important to this army at this period of time. I wanted to at least share that
perspective, so that this discussion didn't start nowhere and end nowhere, but
had a foundation.
What was the experience you were trying to convey to them?
It's less than stellar. The first battles of all of the wars we have fought
have seen tremendous price and human loss because of our lack of preparedness
for that war. This it the fiftieth anniversary of the Korean War and we are
about to celebrate events like Task Force Smith--valorous fighting by great
young Americans. Unfortunately, they were not as prepared as we should have
been for that conflict. And it's about not repeating the Task Force Smith
experience. We're better than that, and that's a matter of being able to
generate the support that we need for this transformation.
At the U.S. Army armor conference, you said that if we took lessons from
Desert Storm, our enemies did, too. What do you mean by that?
If you go back and look at the events that led up to that very decisive victory
that the our army and our allies won in Desert Storm, the precursor events that
led up to that victory pointed out some operational shortcomings. And that is
when Saddam began his move south and overran Kuwait City, and was moving very
quickly towards the border with Saudi Arabia. South of that border lay the
airfields and the ports that we would have needed to get into with our heavy
forces. It looked like he was on a time line that we were not going to be able
Our response was to take a brigade of light infantry, our airborne infantry,
the great Eighty-second Airborne Division, airlifted them quickly and put the
in the desert to block. And they dug in with not much in the way of lethality
of anti-tank capability or artillery. But they went into the desert to take on
that movement that was coming south. It's not a battle that we would have
designed. Heavy mechanized forces were coming up against light infantry, and
frankly, we held our breath.
For reasons still unexplained, Saddam stopped for six months and then, of
course, everything else is history. But our condition ten years ago has not
been corrected today. If we had the same situation and had a breakaway threat
and had to respond, our move would be with the light infantry and primarily the
Eighty-second Airborne Division again. That would be our strategic response.
Then we'd wait for the heavy divisions to arrive, which would be a number of
weeks. We need to correct that. That's an operational shortfall. I
personally feel a moral obligation to those soldiers that we would first have
something to go in right behind them to give them the kinds of capabilities
that that brigade of the Eighty-second did not have ten years ago. They didn't
have technical mobility. They didn't have weapons platforms and they did not
have an assault gun capability. And frankly, this is something we have to take
What would you say then was the biggest lesson that enemies watching took
away from the Gulf War?
That when they commit to battle, they should not take a six-month pause. They
should follow up their early victories with sustained momentum, because the
pause is what gave us the opportunity to structure the outcome of that war.
You had an intense statement on transformation within days of your
appointment as chief of staff in June 1999. What prompted you to want such a
Transformation is only a word. If you want it to lead to something, there's a
foundation that only comes with 30-plus years in this profession. And it's
being around to see what worked and what didn't work--being around to listen to
young soldiers talk about how things could be better or what their concerns
are. It comes with spending 15 months as a deployed operational commander in
places like Bosnia. It's reading the lessons of Desert Storm, not the
headlines of Desert Storm. The lessons of Desert Storm tell you about the
incident I just described to you. And in order to make transformation a vision
for something that has real potential for achievement, you have to begin with
those foundations that tell you where you want to end up once you begin this
What's the outcome if things stay on the same course?
It's how not to continue preparing for the last war. And frankly, the
magnificent army that fought in Desert Storm is a great army, and it still is a
magnificent army today. But it was one we designed for the Cold War, and the
Cold War has been over for ten years now. As we look forward to the next
century, we've seen a bit of what that next century is going to look like, and
the kinds of deployments we've had in the last ten years. And yes, it is
Desert Storm. But it's also Somalia and Haiti and Panama, Bosnia, Kosovo, and
Look at the condition of the army and our ability to move quickly to these hot
spots. We need to have sufficient capability on the ground to deter and to
hold crises where they are, with the intent of then returning to stability.
That takes a kind of agility and flexibility and versatility that we need in
the force. It's looking for solutions to these kinds of problems that have
given us a bit more focus on what to accomplish in transformation. It is not
just the low-end business, but it's also being able to fight those wars as we
did in Desert Storm. We need an army with versatility and agility to be able
to do all of those missions on the spectrum. And today we are a bit focused on
our capabilities. The heavy divisions to do the war fighting, the light
divisions to do lots of things, but are a bit more challenged in the
high-intensity war fighting. We have not looked after their lethality or their
survivability quite as we have done for the heavy force.
What did you mean when . . . you said that our intellectual doctrine hasn't
quite kept pace in dealing with small actors on the one hand, and the high end
on the other?
This does tie to that. If you look at the elements of power any nation
employs, we would agree there are about four of them: political power for sure;
economic power; information; and military power. . . . Look in the headlines
for the kinds of things that are happening, whether it's the relations between
India and Pakistan, China and Taiwan, the Koreas, or southwest Asia. You can
see all of those elements of power being employed in a variety of ways, whether
they're economic sanctions or political initiatives being used to leverage
behavior and stability from the protagonists. If you look at the use of the
military as one of those elements, you'll see us in places like Bosnia and
Kosovo. And so you see a requirement for those capabilities. If you read the
articles in the newspaper closely, you'll also see the emergence of some things
that I would call "complicators," for lack of a better term.
I'm talking about organized crime. I'm talking about narcotrafficking. I'm
talking about terrorism, and maybe the fourth piece is the one that I would
lump as weapons of mass destruction. All four of those actors seem to be
gaining a kind of nexus where organized crime is generating dollars through
narcotrafficking, the use of terrorist actors and the employment of weapons of
mass destruction. If they come together, they provide a significant capability
that we doctrinally don't have a way of describing, intellectually, how we
would deal with it today.
For the military element, we talk about missions. We talk about war fighting.
We talk about peacekeeping. But these complicators provide us what I would
describe as a low-end actor with very high-end capabilities. If they were to
employ weapons of mass destruction, how do we deal with them? As a military
force, this doesn't necessarily fall into our description of missions. There is
a good opportunity for us to do some intellectual work here that will help
answer some of these questions for us.
When you testified this year to the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee,
Senator Lieberman asked you if you can articulate a vision similar to the
German general who created the blitzkrieg doctrine. You said that you have a
lot more things to worry about than the German general did . . . like Haiti,
Bosnia, and Somalia. . . . What you were trying to convey to Senator
It's the challenge of being in an army that has global recognition for
significant capabilities, for doing good work in a variety of mission profiles
and then being called upon to do it. It's an army of ten active component
divisions. There are six National Guard heavy divisions, two more National
Guard divisions that have specialized missions, and then a host of other units
that deploy early out of the army reserve. The reserve, the guard and the
active component come together with their very special skills to put together
forces that we can deploy rather quickly.
The missions that we're asked to perform run from humanitarian assistance,
fire-fighting, and non-combatant evacuation from the most remote corners of the
world. When American representatives are there at the behest of our government
and when the affairs of those countries start to unravel, our responsibility is
to get them safely out on very short notice. It is about peacekeeping. It is
also about the high-end business. That's the business of war fighting, and
dealing in an environment where violence is very much a part of that
The challenge is to understand how to organize your limited forces to do all of
those things. You can't fall into the trap of organizing yourselves for
specific missions, and then not being able to perform other missions when the
conditions change very quickly--as they can in places like Kosovo--in 20
minutes. You find yourself having to go very quickly intellectually and
physically from what was a peacekeeping mission into war fighting. And how
have you prepared your youngsters, both intellectually, from a point of being
trained and prepared, and with equipment, to be able to very quickly prevail in
that more intense higher mission requirement?
This is about versatility. If you were to design forces, you would want to
design them for the high-end business of war fighting. When the conditions
change and put you into this very intense war fight, your units would prevail.
But then you have the requirement to train those same forces to be able to
adjust, and to perform some of the lower-end missions.
You also said . . . that the biggest threat to us is being predictable, such
as having to go through an airport or a port, and having a big logistics tail
behind you. You said, "If I were the enemy, that's where I'd come after us."
How would a transformed force try to deal with that?
All of us who have grown up with this profession understood that we could take
on our adversaries in a number of ways. We could meet them at the front line
where all of this combat capability is arrayed the way he wanted it-- all of
his guns looking at us, all of his artillery pieces prepared to engage us. Or
we could take our adversaries on a bit differently and reduce his capability
for sustaining a war fight--take away his soft targets, his command and
control. Take away his artillery, and his logistical support, and within 24
hours his ability to continue the fight would have been seriously degraded.
If you look at it on the larger scale, our ability to get into areas of crisis
today is very much determined by where we can get our strategic lift in,
whether it's airlift or sealift. And it's ports and large airfields. For the
asymmetric actor out there, who has limited opportunity to influence our fight,
we provide the kind of predictability they're looking for. So if we can find a
way to get our forces quickly into theater without having to go predictably
through the ports or through the airfields as we have in the past, we have
begun to change the equation and the calculus of the battlefield. We're then
able to reduce our vulnerability and deny predictability in our operations.
Then they must face us when we are deployed and ready to do combat.
. . . Are you just focusing on speed? Is that a vulnerability of the new
transformation? Or does it take into account being denied theater access
through airfields and ports?
Transformation is more than just one piece of the spectrum here. It's not just
about platforms. When you look at our lift requirements today, the heavy
divisions' requirement for strategic lift is eighty to ninety percent in our
logistical tail. It's not in the weapons platforms. Those weapons platforms
count for maybe twenty percent of our lift. The rest of it is in our
So as we talk about transformation, we intend to get into the design of our
units. It is about looking for a common chassis design. It is about looking
for smaller caliber ammunition. It is about fuel efficiency. It is about
micro-technology. As we reduce the size of our platforms, we also reduce the
size of this rather significant logistical footprint, and that gives us the
kind of agility that will put us in places that are least expected. We can
reduce our predictability and get in there faster. And then when we have to
change directions and go on another mission, we will also have the agility to
be able to do that.
By bringing together these various principles and designs, eight to ten years
down the road the force will have the characteristics that the future force
will need. It is about responsiveness. It is about deployability. It is
about agility, versatility and lethality--better than we have today, and
survivability much better than we have today. It's a far more sustainable
force than we have today.
When you were a commander in Bosnia, you saw things that we could not do, or
that we would rather have done differently. Are those things that could be
taken care of by a transformed force--in the way that you're thinking?
We discovered that most of our heavy equipment, in a country that was wrestling
to reestablish itself economically, tore their roads up so badly that commerce
could not get through. And then we had to come back in and repair those roads.
And a many-ton combat vehicle is going to leave an imprint on the ground. If
the weather goes bad and the ground gets soft, that imprint is far, far more
significant, to the point where commerce was seriously impacted.
You probably know that, in time, we put most of that equipment on a ready
status inside our installations in Bosnia, and really went to patrolling with
much lighter wheeled vehicles. Our Humvees are fine for driving the roads, but
when you go to a hot situation you would revert back to those heavier pieces of
equipment. I think we need something to do both, and it's not just in Bosnia.
A majority of the places that we've deployed to in the last ten years are
encumbered, or at least our missions are encumbered by the heavy platforms. So
thinking about how would we do this differently drives some of the designs
we're looking at in transformation.
Is the two major theaters war scenario (2MTW ) getting in the way?
The two major theaters of war scenario is really a sizing function. It tells
us how many formations we need to be able to respond to the demands of the
regional commanders in chief who have to fight those wars for us. It's a
reasonable scenario, because it stresses us in our planning to go one direction
and then, with a brief 45-day period to go in another direction. It would
stress any institution.
There is some talk that 2MTW may be passé. Perhaps. Those discussions
are part of strategic decision-making. But for the time being, the 2MTW
scenario is the one that I have been asked to plan for. It makes sense. I can
execute it today with the forces that the army provides. The first one is a
moderate risk, the second MTW is at high risk. And I think all of us who sit
on the Joint Chiefs of Staff would come to the same conclusion. Whether it's
two major theaters of wars or a single major theater of war with multiple
complex contingencies. I guess it would come down to definitions. . . And what do we specifically mean by a complex contingency? Is
it a Bosnia or a Kosovo? Is it a Somalia or is it a Desert Storm? We need
those defined, because those are the descriptions that will decide how much
capability is sufficient.
One requirement of our scenarios that has not been quite understood today is
the element of time.
In what way?
Time as a factor isn't really addressed in either the two major theaters of war
scenario or one-plus scenario. Time on the front end has the sense of urgency.
It's getting there with the right sufficient capability to be able to be
decisive quickly. The standing military force is about the only capability you
can rely on. Time on the back end of an operation has a different quality, and
it has to do with the longevity that goes with these deployments. We have been
in Kosovo now a year. We're coming up on five years in Bosnia. The Sinai
Desert is 18 years, and Korea is 40. Each mission begins to strip away
inventory and capability. So when you arrive at the point in time where you're
now talking about however many major theaters of war you're going to try to
provide forces for, that inventory has now been spread-eagled on a variety of
missions. We need to address what that element of time does to us on
You've said there's an innate tension between those having to deploy in the
Sinai or in Kosovo or in Korea or in peacekeeping operations, and maintaining
the readiness for 2MTW.
The tension is there because there are really two demands here. One is today's
demand, and the demand for any commander in the field meeting today's
requirements. . . . If it's training, it's the military contact. If it's units
deploying for training, it's sending out small mobile training teams to help
the professional armies that we work with. Always in the background is the
long-term requirement of being ready to fight that major theater of war, should
that crisis develop. So you have this dual focus. You're always being ready
to do the major theater of war requirement, but you're dealing with today's
challenges. And commanders live in both rooms.
A year ago we had North Korean fishing boats bumping into South Korean naval
vessels. The discussion between the commander in Korea and myself was being
sure that we were watching the same situation closely, and that if things went
badly, we were prepared to respond with those four fighting forces. When those
boats are not bumping into each other, or Saddam isn't rattling his saber, then
the discussions between the chief of any service and that commander still
occur, but they have a different flavor. It's about today's requirements, it's
about mobile training teams and it's about training exercises between units.
What can we do better, and how much more capability should we provide?
We need to do both things--look after today's needs, and always have that
capability to respond on a very, very short time line in case we go to crisis,
Those two are in tension, and require a C-1 military readiness rating. A fully
ready army does both well. But they do compete, and today, frankly we are not
at that full C-1 capability. Historically we have been, and so we know how to
operate at that level. We are challenged at our rate of about a C-2 army,
which is an army with some deficiencies, to insure that we have the
capabilities properly balanced for both requirements. We need to be a C-1
Last year, General Campbell rated the Tenth Mountain Division as C-4: not ready. Is there a readiness crisis? Was the firestorm over that
division and the other unit a real crisis?
The firestorm occurred in Washington. It didn't occur in that unit and it did
not occur inside the army. Certainly I think General Campbell will share with
you that he felt that he made his assessment, and that his report of C-4 was
intended to get the attention of the army. He could not meet the timelines I
just described to you, given the current condition of his force. As a result,
we addressed his shortfalls to give that capability back to him. It had to do
primarily with being able to get quickly out of Bosnia back to home station;
getting his unit then trained for a war fight; then deploying on the timelines
that he had been asked to meet that war fighting requirement some commander in
chief out there expected of him. And when he did his analysis and could not
meet it, he raised his hand and said, "I've got a problem." The great virtue
in all of this is that you've got a superb young commander, and I think you'll
find him to be exactly someone who had the confidence to make that tough call.
No one does that willingly, but he did and got our attention and we took care
The Apache helicopter mission in Kosovo (Task Force Hawk) was an
embarrassment. The army appeared to be slow to the punch. What was the lesson
that you took away from the Task Force Hawk experience?
Just as I've cautioned us not to study the wrong lessons out of Desert Storm,
we need to be sure that we take the right lessons out of Task Force Hawk. And
there are some very good lessons in terms of how we prepare aviation units and
how we have looked after their equipment. And frankly, I think embarrassment
is an unfortunate word. I certainly would not subscribe to that. There are
those who have described this as not a good moment for the army, but I think
most of that has played out in the media, and not in the professional
What you had was a commander in chief in Europe who decided that he needed this
capability in-country. The flow of equipment and personnel to meet the mission
Task Force Hawk was more than just a number of helicopters. It ended up being
a very significant heavy force of about 5,000 people to include tanks,
artillery pieces, and engineering equipment. The flow into the airfield there
in Tirana, in Albania, was complicated because it was also the center of a
large humanitarian effort to care for refugees that were crossing the Albanian
border. They had to balance both missions. You had a real world life-saving
mission, and a real world military requirement. And of the capability in that
airfield, eighty percent was given to taking care of the Albanian refugees,
and twenty percent was given to the arrival of Task Force Hawk.
With the arrival of heavy equipment to that part of Albania, there were no
roads that we could drive on, and the early-arriving units literally had to
build an installation in which to then deploy those helicopters. Everything
was under mud. It wasn't unusual to see soldiers up to their thighs and hips
wading around setting up that station. So the early-arriving engineers brought
in rock to lay a foundation to bring in the heavier equipment, tanks, artillery
pieces, and infantry vehicles, in order to give that mission some capability.
That was very much tied to on a time line that the regional commander in chief
wanted. His time line was satisfied. And the fact that twenty percent of the
flow into that airfield was allocated to Task Force Hawk suggested that he was
comfortable that that was an appropriate time line.
He will also tell you it was not until Task Force Hawk arrived that the
Albanian government felt comfortable about moving to the border themselves.
And when that happened, you had a collision between ground forces in Albania
and the lineup of Serbia forces at Kosovo. When that happened, we began to
have tactical targets that the air force and our other weapons systems could
now identify and begin targeting.
Up until this point, most of our targeting was against bridges and buildings.
They were important targets, strategic targets, but they're not tactical. In
the business of war fighting, it's destroying those targets that bring about
the effect that we're looking for.
How would you respond to the statement that the air force won the war in
I don't think any one of the chiefs would argue that their service has the
capability to win the war single-handedly. I take my hat off to the great
pilots that flew those missions. They were tough. The affairs in Kosovo would
have gone far differently had we not had a complement of air and ground
capability. However, the air campaign resulted in an agreement that, ten
months later, still has significant ground force presence in Kosovo. And the
mission goes on. So it's not about winning or losing. We all contribute to
You talked in a congressional hearing about the country having a narrow
window to make the transformation like this. You call it "the most significant
effort to change the army in this century." Why is it so important, and why is
there so little time?
It has to do with the tenure of leadership, and I think that's true for any
enterprise, whether it's business or military. In my case, the appointment is
for four years. As I've looked back at the tenures of other chiefs, generally
the good ideas that found their way into implementation are the ones that were
begun early. There are other opportunities where chiefs attempted something in
their last two years of tenure, and generally those initiatives did not survive
the departure of the chief. I just believe that I've got to get the momentum
early. That's important to transformation, and my contribution to wherever
transformation ends up happening is providing that momentum so that future
chiefs can build on it.
How much time do you think you have?
About another year. I'm a year into this now. Frankly I'm pleased at the
momentum we've gotten. But this second year is going to require a lot more
progress, so that in the last two years we can begin to shape and define where
transformation, so it will go as we hand it off to the next chief. But
generally it's the first two years that'll make a difference.
And why don't you want this transformation identified with you? You're very
careful about that.
It's important in any organization that if visions have any reality at all,
it's because the organization believes that the vision is right and that they
share in it. Otherwise it becomes the good idea of one person, and that even
more importantly contributes to the sense that it will not survive the
departure of that individual.
So this is the army's vision. And it's my responsibility is to give it
momentum, to educate and to inform, and to get a buy-in from the rank-and-file
and from the very top. One of my senior generals said that every last driver
and soldier in a tank turret and truck should understand it and believe that's
what needs to be done.
What's the dilemma that we face with our heavy and light forces?
The heavy force is a magnificent war fighting force. It is not versatile or
agile enough to meet all the missions that we're asked to perform today, or
that I see that we'll be asked to perform in the next 25 years. The light
force is the best light infantry in the world. We can get them to all the
places that we're asked to go. But if it goes hot, they lack the lethality and
the survivability that our heavy forces have, and frankly we need to do
something about that. So it's bringing heavy force capability with light-force
deployability, and giving the light force the staying power that they currently
don't have, yet not sacrificing their speed in getting to places.
What are the medium brigades? What does the interim force buy us?
The interim force buys us the ability to close the gap that I described in the
situation with the Eighty-second Airborne Division in Desert Storm. The light
force is getting there quickly and then waiting for weeks until the first heavy
divisions arrive. These light brigades are a bridge between light force
capability and those heavy divisions. It provides tactical mobility. . . .
During the congressional hearings, you used the phrase "holding our breath"
in Desert Storm. Succinctly, just what happened in that situation with the
Eighty-second Airborne? What was the reaction for commanders like yourself who
were looking on?
The situation in Desert Storm was a quick break away by Saddam's forces headed
south to the Saudi border. We knew that if those forces overran the ports and
the airfields, we would not be able to get in quite as easily with our heavy
forces that would come by air or by sea. In order to deny Saddam that kind of
early success, we lifted a brigade of the Eighty-second in, put them in the
desert, and had them dig in to wait for the arrival of Saddam's forces. It was
not a fight we would have designed--heavy mechanized enemy forces against our
magnificent light infantry. And frankly, we held our breath. Frankly, to this
day, we are not quite sure why he stopped. But he did stop, and the six months
that he chose to do nothing allowed us to get the heavy force in.
It is a situation that we have not rectified in the last ten years. If that
same situation were to occur today someplace else in the world, our reactions
would be the same. The light infantry component would go in first, awaiting
the arrival of heavy forces and these interim brigades are intended to bridge
the gap in the interim between our light and our heavy forces. It's an
operational shortfall we've had for 10 years, and frankly, this chief feels
that there is a moral obligation to do something about it.
If we can do this in the interim, this gives us time to spend on the science
and technology and research and development efforts; they can be the quality
that we need to spend. Invested dollars will give us future technologies for
an objective force eight to ten years down the road.
You said you had a moral obligation to build this force. Yet you've got
critics who are saying that we're making ourselves vulnerable by going into
wheeled vehicles, that they can't go toe to toe with heavy armor, that they
can't go places that tracks can go. What is this focus on equipment?
If you read the three-page army vision statement, there is one sentence in
there that contrasts wheels and tracks. We say when technology prevails, we
are prepared to go in one direction. It may be unfortunate that it was put in
the vision, but it was primarily intended to get the attention of the army. If
you look at us, what better symbol is there for our heavy and light forces than
tracks and wheels? The commitment is to create a force with capability that
matches or merges both our heavy and our light capabilities today--war fighting
like our heavy divisions, and surviving and moving like our light
divisions--getting to places we need to get to.
So the question was raised about wheels versus track. The answer is
immaterial. We are interested in the best of the capabilities, whether it's
wheels or tracks or both. And I think it's a legitimate question that we
address as we look for the long term, as technologies become investigative.
For those future objective vehicles, it may be wheels; it may be tracks; it may
be neither But I think it's a legitimate discussion to have.
The interim force is where you've heard the wheels and track discussions
resonate most loudly, and frankly, none of us cares. If the solution is
wheels, fine. If it's tracks or a mixture of both, that's fine as well. Just
for the interim, we would like the very best capability we can get off the
shelf, to very quickly get that operational shortfall addressed.
. . . This subject of wheeled vehicles is their sticking point for the House
Armed Services Committee. It seems to matter to some folks, and especially to
some folks on the Hill. Why is that?
. . . I don't know what the answer is. I've asked the question and I'd like
the debate to occur. Some who have already decided what the answer is are
certainly making their arguments. I just need to be sure that, as we go down
this road, that we maintain as much flexibility or as much openness so that we
get to the right answers. I can tell you about today's condition. Twenty
years ago, we did a track versus wheel study, and at that time, at about 24
tons you had to go to tracks as a solution, because cross-country navigation
required track vehicles. If we look back over the last 20 years, what we'll
also understand is that wheel technology has come a long way, primarily because
of our own recreational habits--four-wheel drive vehicles, all-terrain
vehicles, tires that run flat. I'm not sure that the same kind of energy has
gone into track technology. And my raising the issue of wheels and tracks was
to insure that those who are proponents for tracks would also get into the
intellectual investigation of whether or not today's track technology is good
Perhaps the concern that's being reflected by some members about wheels is
because someone has convinced them that the army has already predetermined that
wheels is the answer. And frankly that answer is left for the next chief to
decide. That answer will come with the technology investigations that we hope
to have returned to us in the next three to four years. That will help answer
this final issue.
How does an army change from the ground up?
There are three vectors in this effort. Transformation looks at a legacy force
that we have to maintain and keep war fighting ready today. The second vector
is the objective force that will involve sincere technology, research and
development and experimentation, wheels versus track. These are all
appropriate questions that should be left to that vector, where science,
technology, research and development are designed to take care of experimental
questions. The third vector, which is where much of this discussion has become
resident, is the interim force. And as I have described earlier, the interim
force is designed to fix a current operational shortfall. We know what it is.
It is the lack of staying power in our light infantry, and the need to bridge
between the insertion of light infantry and the arrival of heavy divisions
I am not sure what we gain out of experimentation. We had our experiment in
the desert ten years ago, and we didn't like it. This is an operational
shortfall that must be addressed. And the requirement to conduct a
side-by-side test of comparable organizations, first of all, is going to place
a requirement that will involve time. It'll take us probably a year to stand
up this kind of an experiment, and it may be most of another year before we get
I talked about momentum earlier, and I find this a significant challenge to the
army's ability to develop momentum here in this very early and critical period
in such a way that transformation will carry on beyond my tenure.
Experimentation for the interim force is probably less helpful. The comparison
between an interim brigade and the lack of capabilities in the light brigade is
the comparison we're looking for. It is not the interim brigade compared to
some other mechanized capability.
We interviewed Ralph Peters, the retired army officer and author, who is
very supportive of your efforts. He said basically that what you do is test
your unit, and your doctrine will follow. . . . Is that what's going to
We will do that with these formations. There is still a lot of learning that
goes on. We've begun some of that in computerized force on force modeling. We
have an idea about the organization, and as we create the units that will have
resident in it the kinds of off the shelf equipment we're looking for. We will
take them and work them in the desert and learn from those experiences.
But frankly there's an even more important piece here. As you take these units
and exercise them in these training environments, you're growing today's
leaders who are going to be commanding divisions ten years from now. When the
objective force arrives, it'll arrive with platforms. What we also need are
leaders who are prepared to organize, command and fight those formations. And
they will not appear unless you include that kind of training ground as part of
this development. That's where these interim brigades provide us the
opportunity to create today's brigade and battalion and company commanders who
are going to be more senior in their future objective formation.
You mentioned the computer model. We were at the Army War College a month
ago when that was going on. What were the lessons that you learned?
The computer modeling I'm talking about was done inside TRADOC (army training
and doctrine command). What we did was experiment with different kinds of
formations. For example, in the new interim brigade, you'll find what is
called a Reconnaissance Surveillance Unit. It does not exist inside our
brigades today. It's a new organization that we're creating.
That modeling was done with captains, former company commanders playing company
commander roles who are instructors in the TRADOC institutions. But they fell
back in on this modeling effort and played the roles of company commanders,
former battalion commanders. Now instructors came to play the roles of
battalion commanders and so forth. And so we created units with experienced
personnel and created a war game. We used a variety of organizations and
capabilities based on equipment that we knew was on the shelf today. And we
began to design this interim brigade combat team. And that's what you'll see
if you were to go up to Fort Lewis today and investigate the first of our
interim brigades, the Third Brigade, Second Infantry Division.
The lessons that we learned out of that modeling experiment suggested that
inside these brigades, you had certain capabilities that must be resident. Not
just the ability to fight, but the ability to see and understand our
surroundings, so that before you venture into that fight, you have a pretty
good understanding how to shape it and what the outcomes will be.
In the early 1980s, there was another experiment out at Fort Lewis, with the
Ninth Infantry Division. Was that an experiment that many people
thought was ahead of its time?
As I recall going back to the Ninth Infantry Division's high-tech experiment,
the big challenge there was getting momentum. The initiatives contained in the
Ninth Infantry Division's experiment were good ones. We see many of those good
ideas showing up in the force, even today, 20 years later, which suggests that
there was nothing wrong with that experiment. It just didn't get enough
We are off to an excellent start with this transformation. . . . There is a
very good chance that we will develop the kind of momentum we need, both in
support from Congress, support from OSD (the Office of the Secretary of
Defense) as we continue to find funding and build momentum. But an early
start--an early momentum--is essential.
What is your background?
I am an armor officer. I grew up as a part of the team that helped to field M-1s and M-60-A3s to the army back in 1980s. It's still a magnificent tank,
and we designed it for the Cold War and central Europe. It continues to excel
today. It is a great tank. To all the places that we can take it, it
continues to be the difference in capabilities. But frankly all the places
we're asked to go are challenged to accommodate that tank--bridges, roads, the
support system in terms of fuel, distribution, the ability to distribute parts.
So it's important that we make this a reasonable decision for those who have
fought with the M-1 tank and those great armor soldiers out there. That is
still a great tank. And any institution that is going to undertake significant
change is challenged. An army that fought and won a war decisively finds it
even more difficult to undergo change. But this is the right step in order to
prepare ourselves for future conflict and not saddle ourselves with preparing
for the last war.
What is this new future combat system that you're working towards? Why do
you think it's vital to the brigade combat teams and to the future
What we have to do is go and look at new technologies to enable us to design
platforms in a different way, and I've begun doing that. I've gone to the
army's research lab. I have been to some of the labs of our industrial
partners. And I must tell you, I am encouraged by what I see out there. They
go far beyond where I thought we were. And I think there's a real good
opportunity that, in about three years, we will get the kinds of answers to our
questions that will make design of this future combat system a reality.
There's a camp that says we can build it right now. . . . And we have
another group that says you're talking a fantasy. You're not five years away,
you're not ten years away. What is the reality?
The reality is that I think all of us need to hear both sides. There is a need
to educate. . . . I can tell you that the technologies that I'm looking for are
already being worked on. They're not mature enough. I have seen the makings
of a microturbine the size of your thumbnail. Is it good enough? No, it's not
good enough. Is there a great potential here? Absolutely. That will give us
a capability to power in a way we don't do today. Fuel efficiency; low
observable technology; the capability to handle lethality at smaller calibers
than we do today on our heavy weapons systems; all of this is going on. That
research is underway and I've seen it. So for those who say that this is
beyond the realm of the possible, we need to educate. We need to share.
These are good folks. They have invested a good bit of time in our profession,
and I think if they see what I've seen, they'll be very pleasantly surprised.
To those who say that the solutions are here today, I'd like to see them. I
have asked the question, and that's what I hope to get answers on.
How important are science and technology, research and development to you?
We interviewed General Paul Funk (retired). He says he thinks you're the only
chief who ever came to an Army Science Board meeting when their summer study
was hot off the presses.
Twenty years ago when I worked on the tank team and we were fielding new
equipment, I had the opportunity to be exposed to the great capability and the
great potential and the great patriots that we have serving in our labs--
primarily civilian scientists. And it was an insight that's never left me.
There is tremendous potential in this country in science and technology. And
frankly, we need to do more to harness it.
Our advantage has always been to overmatch, and it is in those laboratories
that overmatch becomes a reality. . . . My challenge is to find enough money to
be able to stimulate the thinking and the investigation that gives us not just
answers in 2003, 2004, but good answers and many of them, so that we can have
the best of our choices as we put them together for the future combat
We're going down to the Institute for Creative Technology in Marina del Rey,
California. We're going to be sitting in on a session on future combat
systems. . . . It seems like a rather strange alliance of the army and
Hollywood. Where did that come from?
There are lots of strange alliances. . . . In Hollywood, there are
capabilities with information technology that we tend to think are
entertainment. In fact, it's information technology, whether it's in
entertainment or in my profession. It's important because it deals with the
human dimension. It's dealing with people who have to understand what they are
about and then make decisions and carry through. I think there's much to be
learned out of out of Hollywood.
What do you say to a critic who says that all that General Shinseki is doing
with his medium brigades is building a peacekeeping force?
If you were to go back to my explanation of how the interim brigades bridge
between the early-arriving light infantry forces and the arrival of the heavy
divisions weeks later, you'll understand that they're intended to have a war
fighting responsibility. And they provide tactical mobility to that initial
infantry element on the ground, so you could pick them up and move them to
another battle position on the battlefield. Otherwise they stay where they
are. It gives them mounted weapons platforms and it gives them assault guns.
These are capabilities they don't have today, and are important if we're going
to add to their lethality and their survivability.
That's not the only capability we want to have in the interim brigades. We
also want them to perform peacekeeping missions as well. We would see them get
to a crisis very quickly and have combat capability on the ground that
outmatches any one else's. If we're able to get them there early, we're able
to stabilize the situation and not have to go to war fighting. Just the fact
that you've got early deploying combat capability allows you then to shape the
outcome of a crisis.
And if they're going to be there for a while, then you need more than just one
or two or three brigades. If you're going to rotate these units in over a
period of time, you're really talking about five brigades. We have been in
Bosnia now for five years, going on six. And if you're going to have a
long-term rotation policy as we do now--six months per unit--you'll need more
than just three interim brigades. You'll need something on the order of five,
as a minimum. So for both our small-scale contingencies and the war fighting
requirements, these interim brigades will be able to provide that
What about the critics who say the transformation that is underway is a very
short-term answer to the deficiencies of Task Force Hawk?
No effort to transform ever ignores any of those experiences where we lacked
capability that we would have liked to have. Although Task Force Hawk is part
of it, it is not the only contributor here. As I've indicated, we have had an
operational shortfall in the force that goes back ten years. And frankly we
need to do something about it, and the interim brigades are intended to correct
Critics say you are just lightening the force, not changing it. They say
that in order to really have radical transformation, you've got to attack the
division structure, and unless you restructure it and get rid of divisions and
make brigade combat teams, all you're doing is tinkering around the margins.
How do you respond to that?
We are a force that has seen deployment across a variety of situations, from
war fighting down to peacekeeping in Bosnia. We have a division headquarters
in Bosnia. Despite the fact that there's only a brigade there, we have a
division headquarters deployed and a division commander with staff. We will
continue to look at how we are organized, and how we are structured. That's an
appropriate question for some time down the road, when objective force
formations have arrived. But until then, for the next eight to ten years if we
went to war, we would go with formations we have; and we are organized as
brigades, divisions and corps today.
All good institutions look at themselves over time, and challenge our own
assumptions. We will continue to do that. Those who have decided that
brigades are the way to go have really shorted themselves on a larger
intellectual discussion about the versatility required in the force.
It does seem that you've actually begun to adopt some ideas of smaller
self-contained units, in that the new brigades are combined arms teams. They're
not pure units. You've introduced the reconnaissance and intelligence (RISTA)
squadrons to them. Is this already the beginning of changing the old
We talked about combined arms battalions years ago. And we started down an
experimental path and then decided not to go any further. We think this is a
good time to go and look at the lessons that were gained then, put them in
place, carry this the next step forward, and create brigade combat teams that
are in fact combined arms at the battalion level.
But is there a built-in resistance to combined arms, because you've got
these pure units. They all have their histories. They all have their centers
It is tough and these are what make change in any institution difficult. But
it's important that we have people understand that branches won't go away, but
that we have to organize for our primary responsibilities. And our primary
responsibility is to war fight, and prepare and organize and equip our units
and then train them so that they can function properly. In this host of
missions that we're going to be asked for, conditions change very quickly.
We'll have our branches, but we need to organize properly.
Nothing is free. By your estimate, the transformation is going to cost $70
billion over ten years.
I've heard several estimates, and I like the lower ones.
Let's just take $70 billion through 2014. Half will go to developing and
preparing new weapons, but the next biggest chunk is upgrading the legacy
systems. Why not take advantage of the strategic pause and cut back on legacy
weapons? . . . Some people are saying that we can't pay for two forces, much
less three forces at once. If the army isn't willing to cut the old to pay for
the new, how serious is it about transformation?
If you look at what's happened in the restructuring of the force, I think you
will find that the army has done exactly that. We understand that in the next
eight to ten years, some predict that this is going to be a strategic pause.
I'd like to have the same assurance. But if any of us are wrong, I do know who
is going to have to meet that deployment requirement, and it's going to be an
American solider. And I just want to understand that we have done right by him
and her in the next eight to ten years. So we have taken the risk. We have
focused our recapitalization efforts into a single corps--three division corps
in which things like the M-1A2 tank and other modernization efforts will be
focused. . . .
But for the rest of the force, we will sustain them in their war fighting
capability pretty much as we know it today. About the only thing that may be
inserted would be our digitization efforts. But for the most part we will
freeze in place the rest of the force with the capabilities they have today.
And we will turn the rest of our investments into science and technology for
the future objective force. The future readiness of the force and the current
readiness of the force is the responsibility of the chief--to insure that we
got those requirements properly balanced. And I think that's about right.
Other critics say . . . that General Shinseki is sacrificing
near-term war fighting capability for this long-term vision--that he's already
sacrificed ten weapon systems.
It's tough never being right (laughs). I think you know that's an appropriate
question to ask--and we are not in fact doing that. We are very much concerned
about near-term readiness. We have taken risks, and we think, with this
strategic pause, most agree that is something that we ought to consider. We've
taken risks in concert with that and focused our modernization or our
recapitalization efforts in a way that we've generated funding to take care of
the science and technology investments that we believe are equally
We didn't get all the help that we wanted when we entered the budget
discussions this past fall, but it's understandable. Transformation was
launched by the army after a budget was submitted and before the second budget
was being discussed. It's hard to change the budget process once you're
mid-stride. And so we accepted where we were and did some reasonable
adjustments. We made some tough decisions that allowed us to generate funds
ourselves to begin to get momentum. And then we looked for the opportunity to
discuss some help with Congress for the year 2001. Then we'll be able to go
back to our counterparts in Defense to get support for the budget years 2002 to
2007, which is what we are doing right now. . . . We think a good bit of the
discussions regarding funding and resources will be settled. But we're hopeful
that momentum will continue to build. It looks good.
Senator Joe Lieberman said, "We're able to sort of make things happen this
year, but next year push is going to come to shove." . . . Is it the simple
fact that the army doesn't get its fair share?
These are tough decisions. I would say each of the services come with its best
arguments for why it justifies its share of the budget. I will tell you that
the balance between readiness and transformation places significant pressure on
the army. There frankly is not enough money to do both, and to do it quickly.
We don't want to come out with the wrong answers in the transformation process.
And so the army is forced to be able to describe a requirement for more money,
and I think that's appropriate.
If you look at where we are in terms of our defense budget, I think you would
find that currently about 2.9 percent of our gross domestic product goes to
defense. And historically, if you were to look back, I think you would find
that investment significantly higher. There is a reasonable discussion to see
whether a modest adjustment to that investment is appropriate. The American
people ought to decide that. If you enjoy living in this country--which
happens to be a lead nation--if you like the economy the way it is, does a
strong defense and a strong military contribute to that? And if it does, is
2.9 percent the appropriate level of investment?
The House Defense Appropriations Committee report was interesting. On one
hand, it gave the money that you asked for, but it also handed it out with
almost a lecture to the army. It was almost a scolding, and it said basically,
"We've taken a dim view of the slow and protracted way that the army
procurement process has happened before." . . . What would you say to
I happen to agree with them regarding the length of time it takes us to acquire
and field new equipment and new capabilities. You will see the eight to ten
year period to the objective force is very much my concern. . . . And some of
this is driven by a sense of urgency that I am trying to create in the force.
If we can't get there in eight to ten years, then anything longer challenges
our ability to remain relevant over time.
In terms of experimentation, when you're designing an objective force
experimentation needs to be part of that process. We want the right answers.
But all that is driven by how much you are able to invest early on to begin
asking the questions and getting the right answers, creating the capabilities
that answer the shortfalls that we see. That takes funding. And frankly, the
army's funding accounts have been pretty tight over the last ten years.
Hopefully we can begin to make the right arguments, the reasonable arguments
that transformation is right for the army, and that this is the right direction
to move to justify additional investments.
You have served your country for over 30 years. You were wounded three
times in Vietnam, and remained in the service. Les Cotton says you're the
finest person and the best officer he ever served with. What does it mean to
you to be a soldier?
The reason I stayed on active duty at the time I did was because I had the
utmost respect for the young American soldier I encountered in a place called
Vietnam. And even though we came back to a country that wasn't quite sure that
we did great work there, that young soldier did everything we asked of him and
her and never complained. And I just thought that I could not serve in a
better organization--that's why I stayed.
In my 35 years, I've always enjoyed since a great relationship with
non-commissioned officers. Les Cotton was one of my very first. I was a young
lieutenant in Vietnam when I encountered him. And in many ways, I grew up to
be the officer that Les Cotton trained, and he and I have never forgotten it.
But there is inside each and every one of our formations in the army a great
relationship of human beings working very hard, handling difficult tasks that
underscore the phrase "soldiering is an affair of the heart."
Today you spoke to these Army War College graduates. These are the people
who are going to lead the force. . . . What are your hopes or fears for
I would like them to understand that the army is people, and our
responsibilities for meeting our obligation to the nation in providing war
fighting capability is a non-negotiable contract with the American people. When
called to fight and win those wars for our nation, the army is about
people--about readiness. This army has a requirement to transform itself in
the years ahead to be ready for the kinds of missions that we see in this next
century. As we talk about transformation, much of our discussion today has
talked about platforms and equipment and what's right. . . . But I'd like those
young leaders to remember that the centerpiece of our formation is the American
soldier. It's not the tank, it's not the infantry fighting vehicle, it's not
the attack helicopter. It is the American soldier who is the centerpiece of
that formation. And all of our magnificent achievements as an army have been
delivered by those young soldiers. Those leaders' responsibilities to our
formations is to provide inspired leadership, the passionate service that
creates in those youngsters a willingness to carry on with the very difficult
tasks we ask of them.
In the army we do two things ever day. We train our soldiers and then we grow
them into leaders, because frankly, we don't hire out. We grow our own
leaders. It takes 15 years to produce a battalion commander doing the kinds of
tough work our officers do to be ready for that kind of command. It takes 19
to 20 years to grow a brigade commander, and the command sergeant's major that
accompanied them in those responsibilities. It is about leadership, training
soldiers and growing the leaders for our future conflicts. I would say it's
our stock in trade. It's developing leaderships for future conflicts.
When we were out at the Gettysburg battlefield with Major General Scales,
the discussion was how both commanders in that historical time did not really
reap the lessons of the past. . . . They didn't see . . . technological
change, and they didn't see that they were letting men die unnecessarily
because they weren't willing to change the way they thought about the way wars
were fought. Do you see a lesson here in terms of the transformation for the
Absolutely. There is a great parallel here for us to understand the lessons of
the past, but not be shackled by our experiences, and to look forward with as
much clarity as we can to design future capabilities in new ways. And so as we
talk about transformation, I think any unwillingness to go forward at this
point would clearly place us as an army looking only backwards at the last
victorious war that we fought.
The time is right. Our country is at peace, and we lead the world
economically. There is potential here. There is a pause in world affairs
where we can advantage ourselves to make some changes with minimal risk.
. . . Otherwise, we will go through transformation at some later date when the
risk is much higher. And if our history of first battles is any suggestion,
that may come on the eve of the next war. And that would be unfortunate.
What prompted you to push this army transformation at this time in
As I arrived at the position of chief of staff, I looked back, because I
understood I was going to be the chief that would walk through the door of this
century. I looked back historically to see what the last chief and the last
secretary were thinking about a century ago. . . . I'm not sure that they saw
that the First World War that was only 15 years away. All of their papers, all
of their discussions and decisions in 1899 would not have reflected that they
understood they were only 15 years away from a major global conflict.
And so I asked myself in the year 1999, "What do you see 15 or 20 years down
the road?" We think we see better, but I'm not so sure. So the encouragement
is while you have this opportunity in terms of peace and economic capability
and the opportunity to transform this army, why not move up? Why not your
align of your capabilities for future missions when you know that there is
relative peace in the world now to get this done?
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