RUSH: I’d like to welcome to the program Dr. Francis Harvey, Secretary of the Army. You were sworn in on November 19th, 2004. What were you doing prior to that, Dr. Harvey?
SECRETARY HARVEY: Rush, I was in the private sector. I was chairman of a couple of companies, on boards with several others. I had a long career with Westinghouse and ended up as the chief operating officer.
RUSH: And what was it that stood out for you among your work that the administration sought you out to be secretary of the Army?
SECRETARY HARVEY: Well, I had a long — first of all, I fundamentally knew how to lead, manage, and change large organizations. Of course, as you know, the Pentagon is in a phase of transformation starting under Secretary Rumsfeld’s leadership, but furthermore, if you look to my corporate career, I was involved for the most of that within the defense and aerospace industry, involved in approximately, from contractor point of view, approximately 25 major perhaps. So I have a great knowledge of defense and have a great deal of experience in, as I say, leading, managing, and changing large organizations.
RUSH: Well, I have to say, I really am grateful, and a lot of us here are, for people like you, because you’re in the snake pit now, and as evidence — and you don’t need it. I mean, you really don’t. So I look at you as somebody who’s willing to take all this on because you genuinely want to serve the country, and I would —
SECRETARY HARVEY: My primary motivation is to give back to the country what this great country has given to me. I’ve had a successful business career and I want to serve the country, and this is my time to serve.
RUSH: Well, we appreciate it, and I also appreciate your time in joining us, because I need to ask you about this Pentagon-contracted study. I don’t know what a Pentagon-contracted study is, and you’re in the Pentagon. It said that the Iraq war risks breaking the US Army, and the secretary of defense, Mr. Rumsfeld, had a briefing earlier this week saying, “No, the force is not broken.” What is this all about? It’s hard for me not to think that this is political. There’s so many leaks that have come out of state, out of Pentagon, over the course of the six years of this administration, and I’m suspicious of this.
SECRETARY HARVEY: Well, I don’t think this one was political. It was a study contracted to get kind of an outside point of view, and let me say that the conclusion that the Army is broke or the Army’s stretched severely thin, we don’t agree with. Thank you very much for your point of view but we don’t agree with, because today’s Army without a question is the most capable, best trained, best equipped, best led, and most experienced force this nation has fielded in well over a decade. So I can tell you that the Army is performing magnificently. I think you see it in Iraq and Afghanistan, I think you see it in the response to Hurricane Katrina, and Rita. So I think the evidence shows otherwise.
RUSH: Well, the report says that soldiers and brigades are being deployed more frequently and for longer periods than what the Army believes is appropriate in order to attract and retain recruits, basically. It’s puzzling to me that the Pentagon can ask for this, the report comes out, and then the people that ask for it say, “No, this is wrong.” It probably confuses a lot of people.
SECRETARY HARVEY: Well, I’m sorry it does confuse people, but the evidence says otherwise, because last year we had the highest retention rate in the Army we had in five years. And I think retention is the greatest indicator of morale and stress on the force and all these other statements. As I said, we retained 69,500, the highest in five years, and I think if you think about that retention, it’s a great indicator of a number of things. First of all, it says the soldier is satisfied and has confidence in the leadership. The soldier is satisfied that he has the equipment he needs to do his job. The soldier is totally satisfied with the job he’s doing and the difference he’s making in defending the peace and freedom of this country, and that he likes his quality of life.
So all those factors are answered by the retention rate, and if you want to get more detailed you just look at the retention rate of the 3rd Infantry division that’s just rotating out of Iraq this month. They beat their retention goal by 36% and that goal was the highest that anybody can remember in their history. That was, by the way, their second deployment. So all the indicators in the general retention and specifically with the unit that had been deployed twice now in Iraq indicate that the Army is not broke, that the soldiers have high morale, and they are deriving a lot of satisfaction out of the difference they’re making in the world, and they’re very, very proud of being the liberators of 50 million people and providing them with a democratic way of life.
RUSH: The Associated Press is reporting that a retired Army officer wrote the report, Andrew Krepinevich…
SECRETARY HARVEY: That’s correct.
RUSH: Do you know him?
SECRETARY HARVEY: I do.
RUSH: You do. Well, he’s concluded that the Army can’t sustain the pace of troop deployments to Iraq long enough to break the back of the insurgency, and he cites as evidence the Army’s 2005 recruiting slump which they say missed the goal for the first time since ’99, and I’ve read just the opposite. I’ve read that the recruiting goal not having been met is a trumped up story, and it sounds like it is from what you just said.
SECRETARY HARVEY: Well, we were talking retention, Rush. Now, by the way, I think correlating recruiting goals with stress on the force is not the proper correlation. A recruiting goal have nothing per se to do with the stress on the force. It’s retention, and as I say retention is at a five-year high. Now, addressing recruiting, we did miss our ’05 goal, but let me put that in perspective and tell you what we’ve done and what we’re doing right now. We had a goal last year of 73,400 in round numbers. The ten-year average of our recruiting was 74,400. So we missed it by slightly less than a thousand or approximately a thousand. So historically we did not do bad against or our performance was not that out of line with past performances. We are trying to grow the Army, so we have a goal of 80,000. So that is our challenge. For the last seven months we have made our monthly goals — and the reason that is, is because in the early spring when we started missing goals we developed and implemented a number of initiatives from increasing the number of recruiters, to increasing the incentives, to changing and enhancing our advertising campaigns. So we took a whole basketful of initiatives, and I think that has a positive effect, and as I say, we’re on track so far this year, but make no mistake about it: it is challenging, but we are being, I think, very proactive about it, and so far, so good this year.
RUSH: I think, to me, just as an average citizen, we’ve got essentially an all-volunteer Army, and everybody that signs up for the Army these days knows pretty much the odds are pretty good they’re going to go off somewhere into combat or into the theater of battle.
SECRETARY HARVEY: That’s right.
RUSH: And I think it’s profoundly positive, says something tremendous about — when you look at the diversity of this country, it strikes me how you can go to a city and you can find 19 and 20 and 21-year-olds partying like there’s no worry about anything in the world, and other parts of the country, in the same city, you can find same age people who have a totally different outlook who want to join the military in these times, in a time of war to defend and protect the country — and I’m not criticizing either side. I just think it’s amazing. No draft is required. There’s no conscription here. I think this is something that the American people instinctively know and are very proud of the US Military.
SECRETARY HARVEY: I can say on my part I’m very proud of our young soldiers and our young men and women who decide to serve. Like I said at the beginning, you know, I’m giving back to this great country, and my opinion is that serving our nation is the greatest work of life, and our young soldiers and the recruits that decide to do that have made the same decision. I tell all the young people out there that the Army is a great institution, a respected institution, and if they join it they’re going to gain a skill, they’re going to improve their citizenship, but most important they’re going to be part of the organization that — an organization that the nation relies on to preserve its peace and freedom and to defend its democracy, and that’s what our soldiers are doing.
RUSH: Did this report address specifically the Army, or all branches?
SECRETARY HARVEY: It was really focused on the Army, and, quite frankly, Rush, the suggestions that were made in that we’re already doing. Likewise, the suggestions in the Perry report that came out a couple days ago, all the suggestions and recommendations we have been taking action for at least the last one to two years on all the recommendations. So we’re moving out, and we have moved out, and we will continue to implement initiatives by which we preserve this all-volunteer force. Because as you noted, the quality is high, and it’s all volunteer, and it’s doing the mission. So we’re doing everything we need to do in my opinion to preserve and sustain that all-volunteer force. Very important for the country. It’s certainly not my Army. It’s not the chief of staff’s Army. It’s America’s Army, and it’s the nation’s Army, and it’s very important that we sustain that high quality that we have, and that’s through all volunteer.
RUSH: Well, Dr. Harvey, I appreciate your time, because, you know, the people, because it’s a volunteer force, because it’s a time of war, because there are so many harping voices of a political nature saying that soldiers cannot hack it, they don’t have what it takes, when they read a report that says the Army’s broken, it concerns them, so I thank you for your time to come on and address it.
SECRETARY HARVEY: That’s just the opposite the case. I think, as I’ve said this afternoon, I appreciate being on your show and good afternoon. I’ll be glad to come back any time.
RUSH: All right. We’ll be glad to have you. Dr. Francis Harvey, Secretary of the Army, back in just a moment.
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