Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1982
Dramatic and significant change does not always emerge sharply out of the evolutionary processes of a large and complex organization like the United States Army in the comparatively brief span of one year, especially during peacetime. But while this was generally true of fiscal year 1982, there was still a remarkable story in the progress the Army achieved in modernization, and therefore readiness, in the period from 1 October 1981 to 30 September 1982.
The year's developments took place against a backdrop of presidential commitment, citizen consensus, congressional funding, Army dedication, and the Soviet threat. Throughout the twelve -month period the Army, along with the other armed services, was engaged in what has been characterized as the most comprehensive military modernization since World War II- one unlike any that had gone before considering the volume, diversity, and technological complexity involved and its significance for the military and the nation.
The tone of the period was set at all levels of authority. President Ronald Reagan stressed the point that "war comes not when the forces of freedom are strong, but when they are weak." Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger, calling attention to "our collective failure to preserve an adequate balance of military strength during the past decade or two," observed that our investment in forces and weapons had declined "while our principal adversaries engaged in the greatest buildup of military power seen in modern times." At the top of the Army organization, Secretary John O. Marsh, Jr., emphasized that "the threat we now face extends across a full spectrum of conflict that ranges from terrorism and unconventional warfare, through minor and major conventional war to, ultimately, the risk of theater and strategic nuclear war." The Army's two principal missions, Secretary Marsh stressed, "are to deter any threat to our national interests and, failing deterrence, to fight and win on terms favorable to the United States."
At the apex of the uniformed sector, the Chief of Staff, General Edward C. Meyer, saw the problem of equipment shortages as "serious and continuing," requiring a "long-term program of investment in land force materiel." He saw successful moderniza-
tion as "our only assurance that, over time, we will be prepared for the many diverse tasks we may be called upon to accomplish."
The obvious conclusion to this net assessment was simply that continuity is as important as clear beginnings and endings in the annual process of providing for the common defense. National security is open-ended; research, development, procurement, production-all of the elements that go into establishing, equipping, maintaining, and fielding adequate and effective military forces-must be funded at realistic levels from year to year.
The Army did reasonably well in fiscal year 1982, given the realities of competing demands and the ever-present dilemma of reconciling requirements with resources. The question of how much is enough represents far more than creation of a wish list, since it involves national security policy, military capabilities, service roles and missions, Army doctrine, and the general readiness of forces. "How much is enough" starts with money. All else flows from the base.
In fiscal year 1982, the Army was allocated $53 billion of the $214 billion Department of Defense budget. Total Army resources for the year, comprising monies carried forward from previous years, direct congressional authorizations, and various customer accounts, were $82 billion. Obligations for the year were $68 billion, while actual outlays were just above $44 billion. Such variations in the levels of appropriated funds are the rule rather than the exception, coming from budget delays, reprogramming actions, fluctuations in foreign currencies, and cancellations or delays in obligational plans. All are inevitable elements in the operation of one of the largest businesses in the world.
The dimensions of that business -of running the Army while completing, continuing, and projecting numerous elements of a modernization program that was in full swing during the year- are suggested by the funding levels of the major budget components. More that $16.7 billion was obligated and $16.4 billion expended for personnel purposes in 1982. Another $4.3 billion was allocated to research, development, testing, and evaluation, with $3.2 billion in outlays. Procurement accounted for $14.7 billion in obligations and $8.3 billion in expenditures; $1.8 billion covered construction obligations compared with $877 million in expenditures. Finally, operations and maintenance-the be-all and end-all in funding-had $18.8 billion in obligational authority and $15.4 billion in outlays.
These funds sustained an Army strength of 780,391 and a major organizational structure of sixteen active and eight re-
serve component divisions. Army civilian strength rested just above 380,000 as the period ended. In the reserve components, paid drill strength in the Army National Guard was just over 409,000, while that of the Army Reserve was close to 243,000. Significant shortages existed in the Individual Ready Reserve, the pretrained manpower pool.
Personnel developments during the year augered well for the quality of the Army and its ability to carry out its mission. The percentage of high school graduates among first-term enlistees edged above an already elevated level at the upper end of the scale. Reenlistments soared as well. This gratifying progress in both recruiting and reenlistment represented "a resounding turnabout," as the Army's personnel chief put it, from conditions in the late 1970s, and paved the way for a shift from quantity to quality in unremitting efforts to improve the Army's overall readiness. Several factors entered into the favorable equation, among them the military's increased acceptance in American life, the satisfaction of service to country, the teamwork and pride in military service, substantial improvements in military compensation, and, not least of all, the influence of a depressed economy. Yet, widespread affirmations of job satisfaction confirmed that altruistic and vocational inducements were as important as pecuniary considerations in the motivational mix.
Leading into and throughout the present operational period, the Army emphasized organizational as well as personnel quality over quantity. Despite the need for more divisions, and plans to augment the number several years down the line, the Army concentrated on achieving quality across the board within the existing structure rather than accepting a lower standard for people, equipment, training, and readiness within an expanded framework. Visible strides were made on the personnel side of the existing force, both in numbers and standards; but more remained to be done in equipping the force and achieving sustained improvement on an annual basis.
One significant development of the report period was the continuing evaluation, begun in May 1981 and described in some detail in last year's report, of a unit manning system designed to reduce the turbulence inherent in the traditional method of individual replacement. The first of twenty company-sized units reached the midpoint of an experiment under which soldiers were assigned to and would remain with a unit throughout training, stateside assignment, and overseas deployment. Although obstacles were being-identified, the new manning experiment promised to pay dividends by reducing personnel turbulence and promoting unit cohesion.
At a higher level in the development of the new manning system for the Army, substantial progress was made on an Army regimental system. Under this concept, the regiment would become a nontactical grouping in which like battalions overseas would be paired with like battalions in the United States. The regiment would have a home base, an honorary colonel of the regiment, and an adjutant; the headquarters would be the custodian of the organizational colors and traditions. As the year closed, the initial moves toward the new structure were scheduled to take effect in a matter of days.
Modernizing an army that is distributed throughout the United States and deployed around the world was and is a challenge of the first magnitude in a process that involves not just the replacement of several existing pieces of equipment but an infusion of 583 new systems utilizing advanced technology. This current and ongoing modernization extended across the entire force structure of the Army, involving organization, doctrine, tactics, weapons, equipment, construction, training, and multiyear funding. Above all, the Army had to continue to function efficiently and effectively while it modernized. New weapons and equipment were being produced, delivered, integrated, operated, maintained, supported, and sustained, while displaced materiel was being distributed in combat-ready condition to other elements-part of the so-called high-low mix that is an inevitable concomitant of modernization. As General Meyer remarked during the year, "the complexity of the task is guaranteed to tax the imagination, innovation, and patience of the entire Army."
Orchestrating modernization while maintaining force readiness was an exacting challenge. The process obviously extends from front to rear, side to side, top to bottom. Procurement must be geared to funding and production to industrial capacity; spare parts packages must be developed and technical and training publications written or modified; transportation must be scheduled and deliveries and facilities adapted to meet new requirements; personnel must be trained to operate and employ new materiel, and training and maneuver areas must be modified to fit; and doctrine and tactics must be molded to harmonize with completely new or substantially changed procedures, weapons, and equipment. All of these activities proceeded during the ongoing modernization in 1982.
Some products of previous years' funding and procurement actions came to fruition during the year. By the end of the period, three Army battalions-two of them in Germany-had been equipped with the M 1 Abrams tank, production was proceeding
on the Bradley fighting vehicle, the first production contract had been signed for the AH-64 Apache antiarmor helicopter, and the first production unit of the Patriot air defense missile system had been received. Fielding continued on the Black Hawk helicopter, the Stinger manportable air defense weapon, and the Firefinder counterbattery and countermortar radar systems. In the important area of modernizing current and proven weapons, the first production aircraft of the CH-47D medium-lift cargo helicopter program was delivered well ahead of schedule, and work proceeded on existing models of tanks, guns, helicopters, cargo vehicles, and communications equipment destined for National Guard and Army Reserve units.
That the Army does not exist in a vacuum, completely walled off from public life, is nowhere more evident than in the realm of mobilization. The nation cannot, of course, wait for the onset of an emergency to mobilize its manpower and industrial resources; plans must be in place to allow instant response to contingencies of any size and nature. Thus the Army was engaged during the year in reviewing and rewriting policies related to the responsiveness of the industrial base; trying to obtain legislation for the funding of surges required from industry during an emergency; seeking relief from social and environmental constraints on the defense industry; and improving mobilization procedures for ammunition and materiel. Personnel management initiatives were also taken to improve mobilization response.
In the 1983 budget hearings held in February 1982 before the Defense Subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee, Secretary Marsh and General Meyer jointly addressed the subject of deployment of Army forces to meet global commitments and the capabilities of the sister services to provide adequate airlift and sealift to meet the strategic mobility needs of the ground forces. "U.S. strategic mobility forces," they noted, "are currently unable to meet NATO reinforcement objectives or to project credible U.S. forces to areas where our national interests are threatened. Without additional outsize airlift and responsive fast sealift, our ability to respond to global contingencies is dependent upon the readiness of our forward-deployed units, upon the prepositioning of unit equipment and war materiel, and upon timely political decisions." The senior officials stressed that, although individuals in the combat forces were ready, units were short of equipment and war reserve stocks were inadequate for many contingencies.
In March 1982, at the midpoint of the fiscal year, the Chief of Staff, testifying on the 1983 budget before the Defense Subcom-
mittee of the Senate Appropriations Committee, lamented the widespread practice both in and out of the service of viewing the Army in terms of tanks, trucks, helicopters, and other weapons and equipment instead of looking at it from the standpoint of "why we need an Army and what kind of an Army we need." He stressed four basic characteristics to support a rationale for the kind of Army the nation would need in the decade ahead. First of all, it would have to be flexible so that it could respond to all types of warfare. Second, the Army would require weapons systems equal to or better than those of a prospective enemy. Third, the Army must be strategically deployable, with adequate airlift and sealift to support it. And finally, the Army must exhibit sound tactics and doctrines in order to be effective on the battlefields of today and tomorrow. Only sustained procurement of adequate quantities of modern equipment would satisfy these compelling needs. The rest would be up to the Army.
All in all, the Army fared reasonably well in the 1982 fiscal year. The interval coincided with events on the international scene-notably in the Middle East, Poland, Afghanistan, and Central America-that prompted the American public to support a prudent strengthening of the armed forces after a period of decline. Yet the countervailing influences of inflation, expanding deficits, and social needs raised the prospect that annual defense budgets would come under sharp scrutiny in national debates over use of the tax dollar.
How the Army used its 1982 funds and how it carried forward the myriad activities of its national security role are covered in the various functional chapters of this report.
Last updated 24 May 2004