Tactical Successes, Strategic Challenges

By Sullivan, Gordon R. | Army, October 2004 | Go to article overview

Tactical Successes, Strategic Challenges


Sullivan, Gordon R., Army


On October 24, 2004, at the signal from Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker, the twentieth Army Ten-Miler will begin. This great Army sports event, the largest ever Ten-Miler, will kick off the 50th AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition-A Professional Development Forum.

The runners from all over the Army-active, National Guard, Army Reserve, retired, civilian, unit, family members, ROTC and West Point cadets, international army teams and members of our Army of One Team-will run the race for glory, self, unit, installation and team and for fun. Other ten-milers will have already been run in Korea, Germany, Fort Lewis, Wash., and Fort Bragg, N.C.-to name a few-to select the teams for the annual TenMiler in Washington.

The runners in the Ten-Miler personify the Army today-trained and ready, capable of going the distance-be it the quick two-mile run of the APFT (Army physical fitness test), the Ranger run or the Army Ten-Miler itself. To compete successfully in these events, runners must train arduously and consistently, be agile and maintain a strategy for the race-all while preparing physically and mentally for the next race.

Our Army today is engaged in the third year of our nation's global war on terrorism and finds itself not unlike the successful distance runner: running well in a current race, preparing physically and mentally for the next and maintaining strength, agility, stamina and focus for future contests, while maintaining a winning tradition.

In the first decade of the new century, we find parallels to past decades. In the 1940s, the Army and its Chief of Staff, Gen. George C. Marshall, faced a worldwide conflict with determined, resourceful enemies whose goal was to challenge and eliminate America and its principles of freedom. Gen. Marshall also had to transform an Army neglected for years into a magnificent fighting machine that could win our nation's wars in conjunction with our Navy and the air forces of the Army and Navy.

The Army had to prepare, train, equip, transport, sustain, care and fight, while transforming from the neglected Army of the 1920s and 1930s. This transformation was all encompassing: personnel, training, installations, logistics, materiel and equipment, doctrine, leader development and operational art. As we all know, the success of Gen. Marshall's leadership in warfighting and transformation efforts came from the contributions of many elements of America-industry, science and technology, civilian support, congressional resolve and public support; nevertheless, the ultimate victories, tactical and strategic, came from the essence of the Army-the American soldier.

Today, our Army finds itself as challenged as the Army of Gen. Marshall-at war and transforming for future successes in battle and in peace. It is a challenge our Army and its leaders are up to, as has been demonstrated in Operations Enduring Freedom, Iraqi Freedom and Noble Eagle. We should be proud of our soldiers and their leaders who are achieving the tactical successes in today's battles, all the while preparing and transforming for future successes in the panoply of strategic challenges in the developing national security environment.

Our Army is doing fine with its tactical successes in the Washington arena. The Chief of Staff of the Army (CSA) was able to restructure the Army helicopter program with the full support of civilian leadership and Congress. The ongoing Transformation troika of modularity, force stabilization and the rebalance of active component /reserve component structure and personnel will add to increased combat power, readiness, flexibility, adaptability and predictability. The restructuring of spiral improvements into the Current Force and its resetting in conjunction with a smoothing of the transition to the Future Force gives the Army the best as it moves forward in its transformational processes. …

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