Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1977
In many respects, the role of the Army during the past year of peace was similar to that of the large city fire department. It had to be ready to cope with anything from a one- to a five-alarm call for forces to meet an emergency. While waiting, personnel had to be kept highly trained and motivated, so that they could shift rapidly at a moment's notice from the boredom of fire-drill training to battling everything from brush fires to raging conflagrations. They had to have strong and capable leaders from top to bottom who knew how to take effective measures quickly and to direct their units with confidence. If the blaze got out of control, the Army, like the fire department, had to have reserves that could be tapped and arrangements with neighboring communities for mutual assistance. And the equipment had to be the best available to handle the wide assortment of fires or conflicts that might break out, whether it be a simple grass fire requiring a single truck and plain water or an inferno at a fuel storage depot demanding general mobilization and sophisticated means of extinguishing a threat to the whole community. In addition, the Army needed a support system to keep its apparatus in working order, and maintain adequate stocks of fire-fighting materials.
In periods with few fires, the fight for funds to sustain readiness, retain top-notch personnel, and acquire more advanced equipment and materials is always more difficult. The Army had to manage its resources carefully and demonstrate that costs were reasonable and waste and duplication were kept to a minimum. With peace and inflation, maintaining an effective, well-trained, and well-equipped force became more complicated. The slow erosion in strength and the mounting costs of readiness demanded increased ingenuity, flexibility, and an extra measure of dedication in using dwindling resources in the best way possible. Despite the prevailing circumstances, the Army has done its utmost to fulfill its responsibilities and maintain a two-century tradition of service and reliability.
Last updated 27 August 2004