May 7, 2009
Our Nation is in its eighth year of war, a war in which our Army—Active, Guard, and Reserve—is fully engaged. The Army has grown to more than one million Soldiers, with 710,000 currently serving on active duty and more than 255,000 deployed to nearly 80 countries worldwide. Our Soldiers and Army Civilians have performed magnificently, not only in Afghanistan and Iraq, but also in defense of the homeland and in support to civil authorities in responding to domestic emergencies.
Much of this success is due to our Noncommissioned Officers. This year, we specifically recognize their professionalism and commitment. To honor their sacrifices, celebrate their contributions, and enhance their professional development, we have designated 2009 as the “Year of the Army NCO.” Our NCO Corps is the glue holding our Army together in these challenging times.
Today, we are fighting a global war against violent extremist movements that threaten our freedom. Violent extremist groups such as Al Qaeda, as well as Iran-backed factions, consider themselves at war with western democracies and even certain Muslim states. Looking ahead, we see an era of persistent conflict—protracted confrontation among state, non-state, and individual actors that are increasingly willing to use violence to achieve their political and ideological ends. In this era, the Army will continue to have a central role in providing full spectrum forces necessary to ensure our security.
The Army remains the best led, best trained, and best equipped Army in the world, but it also remains out of balance. The demand for our forces over the last several years has exceeded the sustainable supply. It has stretched our Soldiers and their Families and has limited our flexibility in meeting other contingencies. In 2007, our Army initiated a plan based on four imperatives: Sustain our Soldiers and Families; Prepare our forces for success in the current conflicts; Reset returning units to rebuild readiness; and Transform to meet the demands of the 21st Century. We have made progress in all of these and are on track to meet the two critical challenges we face: restoring balance and setting conditions for the future.
Our Army is the Strength of this Nation, and this strength comes from our values, our ethos, and our people—our Soldiers and the Families and Army Civilians who support them. We remain dedicated to improving their quality of life. We are committed to providing the best care and support to our wounded, ill, and injured Soldiers—along with their Families. And our commitment extends to the Families who have lost a Soldier in service to our Nation. We will never forget our moral obligation to them.
We would not be able to take these steps were it not for the support and resources we have received from the President, Secretary of Defense, Congress, and the American people. We are grateful. With challenging years ahead, the Soldiers, Families, and Civilians of the United States Army require the full level of support requested in this year’s base budget and Overseas Contingency Operations funding request. Together, we will fight and win the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, restore balance, and transform to meet the evolving challenges of the 21st Century. Thank you for your support.