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Friday, May 07, 2004

The Hearings Today: General Schoomaker's Opening Statement.

General Peter Schoomaker is the Army Chief of Staff. Former Commander of Special Forces, he was pulled out of retiremen to accept this most difficulty post. His statement today was eloquent, and gives a vital perspective to the the current media firestorm.

SCHOOMAKER: Chairman Warner, Senator Levin, distinguished members of the committee, I'll be brief. As the chief of staff of the Army, I am responsible for the training and equipping of our soldiers and growing our Army leaders.

I am also responsible for providing ready and relevant land power capabilities to the combatant commanders and the joint team.

Though not in the operational chain of command, I am responsible for our soldiers' training and readiness. Therefore I take it personally when any of them falls short of our standards.

To put it in perspective, what we are dealing with are actions of a few, as has been pointed out. These are conscious actions that are contrary to all that we stand for. This is not a training issue, but one of character and values.

Our Army values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage are taught to our soldiers from the moment that they enter the training base.

There's no question that the potential consequences are serious. But we must not forget that these are a few among a great many others who are serving with great honor and sacrifice, as has been pointed out.

We must be careful how we proceed, as it will affect the morale and safety of the great majority of our soldiers who are meeting the standards and are daily placing themselves in harm's way. I promise you they, too, take this personally.

SCHOOMAKER: I am reminded that in the report by Major General Taguba, he spoke of several soldiers in units who were challenged by the same set of demanding circumstances at the same place, and they did what was right. The inexcusable behavior of a few is not representative of the courageous and compassionate performance of the overwhelming majority of our soldiers who served with pride and honor.

We are currently undergoing an extensive investigation of every allegation. The system works, and will result in fairness and justice. We will also learn and adapt.

Our Army has already taken corrective actions. Our soldiers are performing with distinction and I am proud of them all. We owe them our confidence.

Our Army is taking this very seriously and will meet the standards that our nation expects as we have for 229 years.

Thank you.

WARNER: Thank you, General.

That statement on leadership reflects your own strong record of leadership. And we're fortunate to have you at the helm of the United States Army today.

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