Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1976
In retrospect, the record of the past fifteen months reflects the endemic problems facing an army in peacetime. With the threat of war on the wane and the costs of maintaining armed forces swiftly mounting, economic factors tended to play a greater role in determining the rate of change and the general status of the Army. During periods of postwar retrenchment there are fewer changes, and the military establishment generally receives less public attention. This fiscal year was no exception to the rule.
General Weyand, the Chief of Staff, summarized the positive and negative aspects of the period just before his retirement at the end of the fiscal year. Although he believed that the Army had attained operational readiness standards higher than ever before in peacetime, he pointed out that deficiencies still remained. The shortages in combat support units, such as artillery battalions and armed helicopter companies, for example, would make it difficult to sustain this initial readiness.
In his characterization of the officer and enlisted ranks, General Weyand had high praise for their high sense of professionalism. He pointed out, however, that the Army was having a difficult time in recruiting and retaining qualified and motivated people, especially for the reserves. One effect of this failure was a serious shortage of noncommissioned officers in the middle grades; another was a steadily decreasing number of ready replacements in the event of crisis. Basic to the problem was a lack of resources to provide sufficient economic incentives for the young soldiers to remain on active duty or for civilians to join the reserves.
In the Chief of Staff’s opinion, the situation in arms and equipment was also mixed. Congress had recognized the need to accelerate the production of some major items, and the equipment posture in the reserve components had also gradually improved. On the other hand, significant shortages of important equipment would be likely for some years to come.
In balancing off the gains and losses of the year, the Chief of Staff was saying, in effect, that the Army was doing the best it could under the circumstances. Given the constraints imposed by budget limitations and continuing inflation, it was trying to use its resources wisely to attain the highest possible combat readiness, to organize its management, command, and force structure efficiently, and to develop and procure the best equipment and weapons for its troops as rapidly as possible. The potent
obstacles to reaching these goals were the lack of an immediate threat to peace, the need to rely upon volunteers, the prevailing economic conditions, and the high costs of raising, equipping, and maintaining an effective army—and there appears to be little prospect of radical change in these factors in the offing. In this interim phase, barring unforeseen developments, the Army will continue to carry out its 200-year-old role of holding the fort.
Last updated 7 September 2004