Department of the Army Historical Summary: FY 1989



Nearly every facet of the Army's history recounted in this summary had roots in the past. From the narrow perspective of FY 1989 the Army's future was uncertain, buffeted by changes that stemmed from arms control agreements between the United States and the Soviet Union and the more accommodating strategic posture enunciated by Mikhail Gorbachev in FY 1989. The strategic shift, associated with the possibility of an altered strategic balance in Europe brought about by changes in the Soviet Union, induced expectations of changes in the United States' strategic and conventional forces.

Paradoxically, the strategic alternatives that appeared to be emerging in the Eastern Bloc reflected in part the soundness of the Army's strategic role, which centered on its long-standing commitment to the defense of Western Europe. In FY 1989, even before the dimensions of a new East-West strategic balance were clear, the Army faced questions about the relevancy of its past and current policies to new realities. Questions regarding the pace of modernization, the size of the force, and missions were among the broader issues raised.

General Vuono, the Army Chief of Staff, quickly articulated a strategic vision to guide the Army's transition into the 1990s and beyond. This vision professed that the essential characteristic of the Army as a strategic force was its inherent capability to provide sustained land power. To maintain its primacy as a strategic conventional force, the Army must be able to project power, undergo continuous modernization, possess a high degree of lethality and sustainability, and fight as part of joint and combined forces. Reductions in strategic offensive weapons and the elimination of certain tactical nuclear weapons underscored the strategic importance of conventional military power.

The process of change in the Army in FY 1989 resonated with the interplay of past and future. It was apparent in the deliberations associated with Army doctrine, force structure, modernization, the role of the reserve components, training, and personnel policies discussed in this historical summary. The past exerted an abiding influence on many facets of the Army 's vision. Doctrine looked forward to war in the twenty-first

century as it wrestled with questions of integrating newborn technologies into the Army and the chronic issues of joint and combined warfare and close air support. General Vuono maintained that today 's Army was trained and ready when it could take units with neither a warning nor train-up time and deploy them, as in Operation NIMROD DANCER to Panama in May 1989. Nevertheless, past neglect of strategic air and sealift presented vexing questions regarding the Army 's ability to carry out its strategic roles.

Other factors affected the Army of the future. Budget reductions compelled the Army to slow the pace of modernization during FY 1989, to cancel some programs, and to consider reductions in manpower and force structure. Congressional oversight pervaded nearly every aspect of the Army. Its influence was most apparent in acquisition reform, in the scrutiny of modernization plans, and in mandates for greater emphasis on joint education and service. The Army's efforts in FY 1989 to harness emerging technologies to warfighting in the future threads its way through this historical summary. Weapons modernization and incorporation of computer-generated systems to enhance management, communications, command and control, intelligence, and training, along with the Army's pioneering work in the space defense programs, illustrated this theme. Research and development faced the vicissitudes of fiscal constraints, external oversight, balancing of intra- and inter-service requirements, the complexity of highly technical systems, and the uncertainties of a changing strategic equation.

Notwithstanding its interest in technology, the Army was a complex human system. For the senior Army leadership the quality of the soldier was the foundation of the force. Reforms in the NCO corps, revamping of the warrant officer personnel system, provisioning of the soldier, the attention to human factors in equipment development through MANPRINT, realistic individual and unit training, the nurturing of leadership and professionalism, and the attention devoted to the quality of life of soldiers and families attested to the pervasiveness of the human theme during FY 1989. The Army also shared common concerns with the larger society-drug abuse, AIDS, equal treatment by gender and ethnic group, and the quality of social services. While it upheld traditional family values in FY 1989, the Army increasingly adapted to the changing lifestyles of its members and to the force's changing demographics. Day care, employment assistance for working spouses and parents, youth services, and other quality of life issues received increasing attention as part of the Army's time-honored tradition of taking care of its own.

General Vuono embodied the primacy of the individual soldier with this statement: "The American soldier-forward deployed or based in the United States-is our first echelon of strategic deterrence." Even though


the threat of either a nuclear or major conventional war ebbed, Army forces would remain in Korea and Europe for the foreseeable future. To a greater extent than at any time in the past forty years, conventional forces would likely shoulder the major burden of deterrence. Force projection to deter or combat regional aggression and to protect American interests was exemplified in FY 1989 by the rapid dispatch of Army forces to Panama. These circumstances conferred a high priority on the need for fully structured, trained, and ready forces. Many of the Army's endeavors examined in this summary were directed toward this goal.

Throughout FY 1989 the Army demonstrated a multiplicity of strategic roles-deterrence, international peacekeeping, force projection, and security assistance. In its traditional peacetime role as a versatile national resource, the Army performed a variety of tasks-fighting forest fires, conducting disaster relief and humanitarian assistance at home and abroad, addressing environmental concerns, participating in the war on drugs, and assuming a larger role in countering terrorism. All institutions must successfully adjust to change to survive and remain meaningful. In charting the Army's course for the future, Army leaders in FY 1989 concentrated on developing its capabilities to fight successfully across the complete spectrum of armed conflict. This goal relied upon preserving the positive attributes of the Army's experience that affected readiness and transforming the Army as an institution to be a productive instrument of national power.



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