In a visit by Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and his wife, Sheila, to Fort Monmouth Wednesday, the Army's senior-ranking general officer talked to Fort Monmouth leaders, its workforce and future officers about the Army's four imperatives to "restore balance" now and for the future: Sustain, Prepare, Reset and Transform.
Following a welcome by the CECOM Life Cycle Management Command Commanding General Maj. Gen. Dennis L. Via, and other senior leaders, a command overview and a Base Realignment and Closure implementation briefing, Gen. Casey addressed approximately 500 Fort Monmouth personnel at Pruden Auditorium.
Video teleconferencing made the presentation available to numerous members of Army Team Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, or C4ISR, personnel in Fort Monmouth's Myer Center main auditorium; the McAfee Center, Tobyhanna Army Depot, Pa.; Information Systems Engineering Command, Fort Huachuca, Ariz.; the Central Technical Support Facility, Fort Hood, Texas; and at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.
Sheila Casey visited with senior spouses and hosted a family forum during the visit where they exchanged ideas on Army family support. Topics of the discussion included supporting special needs children, extending Montgomery G.I. Bill benefits to military family members and qualifying for in-state tuition for family members stationed for tours at Army installations.
Following his remarks, Gen. Casey discussed the four Army imperatives with U.S. Military Academy Preparatory School cadet candidates in an address in the USMAPS Auditorium. He took questions from audience members at both locations.
Gen. Casey explained that shortly after he began his job as chief of staff of the Army in April 2007, the development of the four imperatives occurred after hearing "chatter" about a hollow Army that was not ready. He said he went around the world with his wife talking to Soldiers, leaders and families. "What became clear to me is this is a hugely resilient, committed professional combat-seasoned force. And the evidence of that is what we're seeing in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said.
However, Gen. Casey said, "It was also clear to me that we were being stretched to operate at a pace that we can't sustain either from the perspective of sustaining our Soldiers and families and civilians, or from rebuilding the strategic flexibility to do other things."
Having to find the right words to talk about the condition of the Army publicly, "I started saying we're out of balance. We're not broken. We're not hollow, we're out of balance." Gen. Casey explained that it that would, "take every bit of four years," to put the Army back in balance.
The first imperative, Sustain, refers to sustaining Soldiers, families and civilians "They are the heart and soul of the Army. We restated our commitment to families, we doubled the amount of money we put toward Soldier and family programs, and hopefully you're starting to see some of the impact of that," Gen. Casey said.
The second imperative, Prepare, continues to prepare Soldiers for success in the current conflict. "You all contribute every day with the work you're doing here. I went to Iraq in June of 2004 and left in February of 2007, and I will tell you that the forces that we're sending to Iraq and Afghanistan have improved in leaps and bounds in terms of the (Army Team C4ISR) equipment that they're bringing with them," Gen. Casey said.
Gen. Casey explained that the third imperative, Reset, refers to bringing Soldiers and units back to a capability that allows them to begin preparing for their next missions quickly and efficiently. The first element is equipping, "And I'm very impressed with what I see CECOM doing here getting out to the units and putting a team out there that fixes their communications equipment. It gets rave reviews every place I go around the Army, so good for you on that."
Also in terms of resetting the force, Gen. Casey said, "We are working to put every returning unit in the Army on a six-month unit reset model, because we are moving away from the garrison-based Army that lived to train as we did before Sept. 11th. Gen. Casey then likened the Army to a naval aircraft carrier returning to dry dock for six months. "Our expectation is that the same kind of thing goes on with our units - they establish property accountability, they put Soldiers on leave, they do changes of command, they start some new equipment fielding, and they send their noncommissioned officers off to their professional education."
Gen. Casey described the final imperative, Transform, using how the Army prepared for dealing with the Cold War threat from the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact nations during the 1970s and 1980s. The Army will now have to prepare to operate across a full spectrum -- from major conventional operations to irregular warfare to peacetime engagements.
"We can't optimize for one or the other. We have to build a force that is capable of effective operations across the spectrum. This is a much harder task for the Army. Fortunately, we have a combat-seasoned, experienced force that's capable of dealing with this."
One aspect of the imperative, Transform, touched an issue near and dear to the hearts of the Fort Monmouth audience -- Base Realignment and Closure. Gen. Casey placed BRAC in the context of larger realignment efforts being undertaken by the Army, including the return of forces from Europe and Korea, the growth of the Army by 75,000 Soldiers and the re-basing associated with those actions. "We will move about 380,000 Soldiers and families in the next three years. That's the largest re-basing of the Army that anybody can remember, probably since World War II."
"It's an opportunity to reset ourselves to be the expeditionary force that we want. I was very pleased to see the efforts that have been going on here for the move, and to mitigate the impacts on people because that's very important to all of us."
In the address to more than 230 cadet candidates and their USMAPS instructors, cadre and leadership, General Casey praised the service of the men and women serving in today's Army.
Gen. Casey noted that last year, approximately 290,000 men and women enlisted or re-enlisted in the Army, including the Army National Guard and Reserve. "Every one of those men and women, just like you, enlisted knowing their nation was at war and that they would go to war [or] lead Soldiers into war," he said.
"That speaks an awful lot about your character and the character of the men and women serving in the United States Army today," Gen. Casey told the cadet candidates.
Gen. Casey noted that last Memorial Day he laid a wreath at Arlington National Cemetery and spoke at the Vietnam Veterans Memorial and he and his wife also visited the Korean War and World War II Veterans Memorials.
"I was struck by two things," he said "By the scope of the loss represented, but I was also struck by how lucky we are as a nation to have generation after generation of men and women who are willing to serve. And you represent another generation that is willing to serve our nation and protect our values and ideals from the threat of extremist terror."
Also during Gen. Casey's visit, he received several presentations and demonstrations of Army Team C4ISR technologies including Blue Force Tracking, electro-optic/infrared radars and other systems which support the Warfighter.
The visit provided the CECOM LCMC an opportunity to highlight numerous accomplishments supporting America's war-fighters. It had been almost 10 years since Fort Monmouth was honored by a visit by a chief of staff of the Army.