Army Personnel Chief Aims to Keep Ranks Full
But when the occupation proved more troublesome than envisioned, with dozens of daily attacks on U.S. troops and more than 800 now dead, those troop levels were revised repeatedly. The Army kept 135,000 soldiers in Iraq through this spring, but hoped to come down to about 115,000 after that.
Then, in a second wave of revisions following an upsurge in violence in April, the Pentagon decided to keep the troop level at about 135,000, and said it is planning to maintain that size force through the end of 2005. There is no more talk at the Pentagon of Iraq being a spike.
Now Hagenbeck's subordinates are combing through Army records, looking for troops and units that might have been overlooked and can be used to relieve the load on the troops in Iraq -- 20,000 of them extended beyond a year of duty there.
One major effort is a look at the Individual Ready Reserve, a generally dormant pool of about 118,000 people whose terms of active military service are over and who are not assigned to a reserve unit -- but under the law can be recalled to duty. Hagenbeck said that records are being reviewed to ensure the Army has the correct names and addresses for those people, but he said there are no plans to call up those reserves in large numbers.
"We're just kind of looking to see what do we really have out there, in the event that we need to recall them," Hagenbeck said. "If you start taking the perspective that we're in this fight for a long time, we need all the assets that we've got."
In another sign of how pressed the Army is for troops, it announced earlier this week that it will send overseas two crack units normally used to train deploying troops. Those outfits -- the 11th Armored Cavalry Regiment of Fort Irwin, Calif., and the 1st Battalion of the 509th Parachute Infantry of Fort Polk, La. -- play the role of the "Opfor," or enemy force, at the Army's two premier training centers in the United States. At the moment, Hagenbeck said, the key to the Army's personnel situation is the value that soldiers see in their service. He noted that the reenlistment rate for soldiers who have been deployed on a combat tour is higher than for those who have not.
"The soldiers are very proud of what they've done; they think they've made a difference," he said.
He said that he would oppose reinstituting the draft for a number of reasons, but the one he feels most strongly about is that the Army needs to maintain high levels of education, training and discipline in its soldiers. "Having lived through that, the quality of troops from when I signed up in 1971 can't compare to today," he said.
Today's troops are different in other ways than when he joined the Army out of West Point 33 years ago. "When I came in, you were faced with a pretty static environment," Hagenbeck said. "You knew basically where you were going to fight if the balloon went up."
Now, he said, soldiers understand that in any given set of a few years, "they are going to be deployed somewhere, sometime."
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck, at a briefing while deputy commander of U.S. operations in Afghanistan, said his job as head of Army personnel is the hardest he has had.
(Mikhail Metzel -- AP)
Lt. Gen. Franklin L. Hagenbeck
Title: Deputy Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army for personnel.
Education: Bachelor's degree in science, West Point; master's of science in exercise physiology, Florida State University; master's in business administration, Long Island University; attended Army War College, 1993.
Age: 54.Born in Rabat, Morocco, the son of a career Navy sailor.
Career highlights: Batboy, St. Louis Cardinals spring training, 1963; assistant football coach, Florida State University; assistant division commander, 101st Airborne Division; deputy director for current operations, Joint Chiefs of Staff; commander, 10th Mountain Division; and deputy commander, U.S. operations, Afghanistan.
Family: Married; two children and four grandchildren.
Favorite book: Rick Atkinson's "An Army at Dawn: The War in Africa, 1942-1943."