Well, to, again, we have to take a look at the condition that the Army was in. The Army was in search of a mission because there were questions being raised at that time as to why an Army? I was the Deputy Commandant at the Army War College in 1973 and was called by the Chief of Staff of the Army and said, we need to be able to articulate why we need an army.
There's questions today as to what role the Army will play in the future. Uh, there were those who felt that the Army should only have a role in Central Europe
and not have a role world wide. So there's a question as to what role the Army should play, what kind of tactics and doctrine should be involved, what kind of personnel policy should be involved to ensure that we were able to overcome the kinds of problems that existed in Vietnam.
So we took a look first at what role the Army should play, and were able to come up with the requirement to have a global need for the Army, which meant that we had to have a combination of varied forces that can operate at low intensity warfare all the way up through the role that they play as part of the NATO alliance in Central Europe
. That then laid out for the future the kind of equipment that we would need.
We didn't do that in isolation, we worked with our NATO allies, so that there was an agreement there, and also with allies around the rest of the world to ensure that there was an agreement as far as the tactics and doctrine, because there's the opportunity to improve our capabilities by getting our allies to carry a larger share of the role. Then we had to address the most difficult problem, and that problem was how to correct the manpower issues.
In 1979, we had a situation in which we truly had a hollow Army we had zeroed out over one third of the squads in the United States Army because we didn't have enough people to man them. We were some 15,000 short in non-commissioned officers. And by some standards, the quality of the young men and women that we were receiving were not all high school graduates or of aptitude areas that were competent to be able to carry out some of the tasks we were asking them to perform.
Oh, so we had to take a look at how we went about resolving those basic issues. The first was working with the administrations, both the Carter Administration and the Reagan Administration, to ensure that there was a clear understanding between the Army and the civilian leadership as to what they wanted the Army to do.
And I think that's reasonably clear now that they want an Army that's flexible, able to respond across the full spectrum of warfare, from the very low intensity counterterrorist all the way through their role as part of the mobilized force. Greater reliance upon National Guard and Army Reserve.
Uh, second, then is the tactics and the doctrine that are necessary so that we're not guilty of preparing for WWII now instead of ensuring that we have a force in being that's perceived by the Soviets, by our allies, by our American people as being a good quality force, because that's what's going to deter war and prevent us from ever having to use that force if it is that kind of force, and that's of course what we all pray for. And then the third is the issue of people.
The lessons from Vietnam are quite simple, and they are that you don't fight as individuals, you fight as a unit. People have more loyalty it's not just from Vietnam, I shouldn't say that, it's lessons of wars past and will always be a lesson, that people fight for one another, the flag is beautiful but you still fight for your buddy. And so, what we have attempted to do is provide stabilized leadership by putting people out in command for long periods of time, up to three years.
Before they were commanding in Vietnam, as you'll recall, for six months. The association that existed between commander and lead wasn't able to mature. So the importance of having a leader in there long enough that he is not just trying to get credit for command, but understands that he has responsibility to train and develop and teach and for those soldiers now can occur.
The second is that we had to rebuild the non-commissioned officer corps, because the non-commissioned officer corps had been decimated, and so it's taken a lot of training, we've developed schools to teach the non-commissioned officers, both first sergeants, sergeants majors, across the board, and given them time to develop.
And that takes time, that's someth-, that's not something you can do overnight, you can't create a sergeant overnight. We tried to do that in Vietnam, where we called "shake and bake" non-commissioned officers. The smartest guys who came out of the basic training were immediately put into a non-commissioned officer corps, and nine months later they were sergeants, leading, so if you wonder why we had problems in the latter stages of the Vietnam War, it's because of that lack of experience.