Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1977



For over two hundred years the U.S. Army has had a continuing goal-to make the best possible use of its resources to meet a threat to the nation's security. Through cycles of feast and famine, war and peace, prosperity and depression, the Army frequently had to adjust its sights to cope with shifts in the domestic situation, but the main objective never changed. Although the means and methods employed varied in direct relation to availability of funds and the views of contemporary leaders, the overriding precept remained the same. Fiscal year 1977 was no exception to that rule.

With the end of America's involvement in Vietnam, the Army shifted its focus back to Europe and to the exigencies that might arise in the event of a major confrontation with the Communist nations. If that occurred, the United States and its allies would be faced with superior strength and would have to hold out until assistance could be dispatched from member nations of the coalition. Under these circumstances, the Army had to be prepared not only to react strongly on the battlefield, but also to move rapidly at home from a peacetime to a wartime footing. Balanced, combat-ready troops on the frontlines backed up by reinforcements, both active and reserve, that could be quickly deployed and sustained were therefore indispensable if the nation was to have any prospect of withstanding a serious threat to international peace.

The end of the war in Vietnam produced other consequences. The Army underwent a series of reductions in strength and, at the same time, had to cope with steady inflation that eroded the real value of its budget allocations and challenged its ability to remain ready for combat. Like many American wage earners, the Army discovered that it had to work harder just to stay even.

Given these conditions, Army leaders concentrated on making the best use of resources to fulfill broad responsibilities at home and abroad. Under the total, Army concept, the whole Army-active, National Guard, Army Reserve, and civilian-had to work together to mold a first-class team capable of meeting any challenge. Basic to the concept was the recognition that people are the key to success in any enterprise and that the Army must do its utmost to attract, train, and retain the best available men and women.

To bolster the human factor, the Army also took the stand that it had to furnish its soldiers and civilians with superior equipment to carry out their duties. Reduced manpower inevitably demanded greater use


of machines as well as increased human productivity, and a modern army required highly sophisticated and expensive weapons, vehicles, communications, and support systems to operate on the battlefield. In the face of limitations and ever rising costs, which often delayed the replacement of obsolescent items, the Army attempted to acquire what it would most urgently need in the opening stages of hostilities when the outcome might well be decided.

Although the Army was doing everything possible to improve its ability to react swiftly and effectively to any crisis on the time-tested theory that strength and preparedness were the most potent deterrents to aggression, much remained to be accomplished. The summary that follows sets forth the record of the Army's effort in 1977 to achieve its primary goal.



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Last updated 27 August 2004