Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1978



As charged by law, the Army's mission is to protect American interests and support American policies in both war and peace. To fulfill its peacetime role, in recent years the strategy has been to deter war through readiness for war. In fiscal year 1978 the Army's principal effort was honing its readiness to a keener edge.

Readiness became the Army's watchword because it has become essential to be able to react to threats with unprecedented speed. The greatest threat confronting the Army today is the Soviet-led Warsaw Pact forces in Europe, long a region of vital interest to the United States. Pact forces have been steadily strengthened and modernized, and their deployment has given them the ability to attack the NATO coalition with little or no warning.

Readiness for European operations, then, was the Army's first priority. At the same time, since American interests were global and potential threats existed elsewhere, such as in the Middle East, the Persian Gulf, and Northeast Asia, the Army had to be prepared to deploy forces wherever needed without delay.

Of course the Army has always been concerned with readiness. But readiness has usually been measured in terms of the ability of a unit to accomplish its mission in light of its members, equipment, and training. This year the Army placed particular emphasis on force readiness, a more inclusive and complex measure which applies to the total Army, to the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve as well as the active Army. To focus attention on force readiness, the term was officially defined as "the readiness of the Army as measured by its ability to man, equip, and train its forces and to mobilize, deploy, and sustain them as required to accomplish assigned missions." Force readiness thus encompasses all factors of the Army's ability to go to war.

The Army's efforts to improve force readiness during the year were hindered by tight money allocations and rising costs. Indeed, in the acquisition, development, and use of resources, prudence was required to ensure that the most compelling needs would be met.

To meet its central need, for people, the Army's task was three-fold: to recruit the required number of soldiers, to attract men and women with the right qualities, and to nurture their commitment to service. The Army also had to maintain an


adequate body of trained and dedicated civilian employees. Four years of filling the ranks with volunteers had proved the all volunteer concept a success for the active Army, if a qualified one, but not for the reserve components. New and greater incentives were thus developed to bring the reserves up to strength and retain recruits.

To ease personnel shortages, the Army offered women more spaces and an expanded role. To foster commitment among its members, particularly among the lower ranks, the Army gave considerable attention to improving the quality of service life. Leadership practices received careful review to ensure they met the needs not only of Army operations but also of individuals, for a 'soldier's dedication depends as much or more on proper leadership as on such tangible benefits as pay and housing.

To improve materiel readiness, Army Chief of Staff General Bernard W. Rogers set three priorities: near-term readiness, mid-term modernization, and long-term sustainability. The first means getting better products into the field quickly by improving existing hardware, as in the case of the M60A3 tank. Mid-term modernization is a five-year plan to deploy many systems that began development earlier in this decade. It also involves improving the ability of NATO forces to fight as a coalition by working toward common weapons, equipment, procedures, and doctrine. Long-term sustainability means retaining a responsive industrial base by upholding production planning agreements with private industry and by maintaining the Army's investment in government-owned production facilities.

As the largest user of strategic lift, the Army tried to reduce shortcomings in the system for deploying and sustaining forces. It supported Navy and Air Force programs to increase their respective sealift and airlift capacities. It took steps to fill and add sets of unit equipment prepositioned in Europe so only the personnel and minor equipment of deploying units would have to be airlifted for rapid theater reinforcement.

It was essential that the Army maintain a qualitative edge over potential adversaries by adapting modern technology to military needs. Technological advances had to be applied to designs for new equipment, with a parallel modernization of organization and doctrine.

Finally, management practices had to be improved. For only through sound management can the Army use its money, people, equipment, and time most efficiently.

The following summary is the Army's record of work in these and other areas in fiscal year 1978.



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Last updated 7 September 2004