Caldera resided as Army Secretary during an era of transition for the army. The Cold War was over for many years, and the war on terror was over a year away. The military was involved in smaller wars such as in Yugoslavia in the 90‘s. Peacekeeping and non-combat operation were increasing. At the same time recruitment levels for the Army were dropping at a time when the economy was doing fairly well. The continued relevance of the army was in question. Caldera and Eric K. Shinseki, the Chief of Staff of the Army, unveiled in 1999 a new vision for the Army. It would also involve a new shift in recruitment.
The restructuring is partly due to their experiences in Kosovo and Yugoslavia in the 90‘s. They were not equipped to use their strategies for the Cold War, which relied on fighting large, set-piece land battles. In Kosovo the M-1 Abrams tank was too big to roll through narrow village lanes, and the 70 ton tanks were only used as guard posts while patrols were done in Humvees by tank crews. While Yugoslavia was bombed for 78 days in 1999 not a single army unit was deployed. They saw that future missions would involve “peacekeeping” and other noncombat operations. Two weeks after the end of the Yugoslavia campaign in June 1999 Gen. Shinseki ordered an in depth review of the future requirements of the army.
The vision was unveiled at the annual conference of the Association of the United States Army. The new army would be more strategically responsive, and have a force that is “deployable, agile, versatile, lethal, survivable, sustainable and dominant at every point along the spectrum of operations.”(1) A key phrase here is “full spectrum dominance,” used by the military to mean total control over air, sea, land, and even space. A doctrine of empire. Shinseki said the plan was to transform the army “into a more dominant and strategically responsive force.”
The new plan would emphasize ligther equipment and fighting units, in order to deploy rapidly but “still pack sufficient punch to fight all-out battles.”(2) The vision established a goal to deploy a combat capable brigade anywhere in the world within 96 hours, a warfighting division on the ground in 120 hours, and five divisions within 30 days. They would reduce the number and types of systems it deploys as the technology permits, overall reducing the logistical footprint of deployed forces. It would involve reducing demand to replenish supplies at the places it deploys. This would involve reducing its number of systems.
They started with plans to create prototype brigades.(3) But the whole plan involved a restructuring of the entire structure of the army.
Caldera stated: “we stand today as a nation at the threshold of a new century and new millennium as a free and prosperous people. The Army’s highly adaptive strategy to man, modernize and manage America’s vital land-power capitalizes on insights gained during deployments and the Army’s intense experimentation efforts. These changes will protect our national interests while investing in the well being of some of the most courageous people in our history – American soldiers. Our commitment to meeting these challenges compels comprehensive transformation of the Army.”
Other changes in the structure announced at this time included the following:
*Responsibility for conducting computer warfare (cyberspace is another area it wants full spectrum dominance) to the four star general who heads U.S. Space Command in Colorado.
*The name of Atlantic Command changed to Joint Forces Command, which previously oversaw U.S. military operations in the Atlantic, now focused on fostering joint experimentation among all the services and deploying new weapons and tactics. It also had a permanent task force set up by the Pentagon to coordinate military support to civilian agencies if the U.S. is attacked by biological or chemical weapons. Civil liberties groups complained about this encroaching involvement by the military in agencies traditionally controlled by civilians.
All of these changes would also require new personnel. This was the beginning of Caldera’s plan to get more Hispanics in the Army. We will explore this in future articles.
1. Press release. “Army Announces Vision for the Future.” http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/army/unit/docs/r19991015vision095.htm
2. Suro, Roberto and Bradley Graham. “Army Plans Lighter, More Mobile Forces; New Armored Vehicles, Recruiting Strategy Part of Push to Change With the Times.” Washington Post. October 8, 1999. Pg. A4.