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Army a 'Cinderella service'

The Army has been short-changed for years in favor of its glamorous and pricey sisters the Air Force and Navy. Now it's the land service's turn for the big bucks, Army chief of staff General Pete Schoomaker tells GovExec.com:

Historically, the Army's been a Cinderella service. We paid the lion's share of the so-called peace dividend in the 1990s. We had a $100 billion shortfall in investment in the 1990s. We cut the Army by 500,000 soldiers -- active, Guard and Reserve. Defense Department investment was $1.89 trillion between 1990 and 2005. And the Army's share of the pie was 16 percent.
The result, Schoomaker says, was an under-manned and under-equipped force, which is only now turning around:
You cut 500,000 soldiers out of the Army and then try to grow 30,000 back -- it's a little like trying to grow oak trees. They're easy to cut down, but it takes years to grow them back. ... _39769583_schoomaker_story_ap.jpgEverybody knows the Guard and Reserve had serious equipment shortages; not only that, they had serious modernization problems - Korean War era trucks, shortages of aircraft, wheeled vehicles, older versions of tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles. The active force also had serious shortfalls. We had six active heavy divisions. None of them were the same because of the various degrees of modernization, the various degrees of organization. When you go to war with a $56 billion deficit in equipment, you have to aggregate that equipment and push it forward to the war, which means that on the backside, you now have issues in training, you have issues in reconstitution and reset. That is the challenge that we've been dealing with. If you take a look at our depot backlog, we have over 600 tanks unfunded. Almost 1,000 Bradley Fighting Vehicles, 2,500 wheeled vehicles are sitting in depots right now that if we had the money, we'd be repairing them faster.
Schoomaker says there's increasing appreciation of the Army's unique capabilities. That means more money for the service, especially at the expense of the Air Force, which is shedding 40,000 people and 1,000 aircraft, almost 20 percent of its fleet. The general continues:
I believe in airpower, and there's nothing like having somebody on the other end of the radio when you need something done in a hurry. But to overstate what's possible with airpower is easy to do, and people have a certain tendency to love things that go fast, make noise and look shiny. Like I told you, never confuse enthusiasm with capability. It takes a team. I wouldn't denigrate airpower at all, but anybody who thinks that you can win these kinds of things in one dimension is not being honest.
Fiscal Years 2004-06 were the first in a long time in which the Army got at least as much money as the Air Force and Navy -- and that's not counting supplementals, which last year totalled more than $100 billion, most of it for the Army. The Army got less in '07 than its sister services, but not by much, and supplementals will surely change that.Schoomaker closes the interview with a plug for his service's prize program, Future Combat Systems, a $250-billion gobbler that rivals the multi-service Joint Strike Fighter for the record of biggest weapons program ever:
FCS right now is on schedule and under cost. We have 3 percent actual cost growth in the program. This is really not just a program of record, it's a strategy. We have already either terminated or adjusted 126 of our programs in the Army to do the things we have to do. I'm fairly sure that we ought to play hardball on FCS, and that's what we're doing.
--David Axe
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