Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1980



By the close of fiscal year 1980, the Army had made notable progress in preparing for the challenges of the 1980s described by Army Chief of Staff General Edward C. Meyer in his white paper on the state of the Army issued just after the year had begun. It was evident, however, that serious internal and external problems were hampering the Army in attaining the readiness posture required to perform the missions national strategy placed upon it.

On the positive side, active Army and reserve components enlistment programs picked up steam and the drill pay strength of the latter continued on the rebound. Congress enacted legislation that provided substantial boosts in military pay and benefits that aided enlistment and retention efforts. Reinstitution of draft registration offered prospects of some relief to the mobilization problem posed by woefully inadequate Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) strength in meeting filler and replacement needs, while improved administration of the IRR made for more efficient management of this important resource. Production of new weapons on a par with those in the War­saw Pact arsenal—such as the XM1 tank, Patriot air defense system, and the M2 infantry fighting vehicle—moved forward. The need for light forces to meet contingencies outside the NATO area was recognized and the Rapid Deployment Force containing Army ranger, airborne, air assault, and armored forces was organized. As the year drew to a close, General Meyer announced a new set of proposals—covering pay, promotions, taxes, assignment and rotation policies, uniforms, and awards—that were designed to enhance unit esprit, strengthen the role of unit commanders, and promote personnel stability.

Major problems facing the Army at the close of the fiscal year had to do with manning, equipping, and sustaining the force. Despite enlistment gains, the reserve components were considerably short of peacetime and wartime manning levels and the number of high school graduates who joined the active Army declined. Reductions in the training base, a shortage of junior leaders, and the diversion of NCOs and other soldiers to perform base support functions that a reduced civilian work force could not manage impaired training. And while a significant amount of new equipment was entering the inventory, there were units in all components that lacked essential


training. A number of factors affected the Army’s ability to sustain combat forces should war come. These included the concentration of support units in undermanned and underequipped reserve component units, the low strength of the IRR, the civilian work force short­fall, inadequate war reserve stocks to support forward deployed and reinforcing units, shortcomings in the industrial mobilization base, and insufficient sea and airlift.

In the coming year the Army will build on its own strengths and a hoped for increase in budgetary support in tackling these problems and preparing itself for the defense of the nation.



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Last updated 17 September 2004