<b>Gen. George William Casey, Jr.
Nominative SGM Conference remarks
Jan. 5, 2009</b>

It's great to be here talking to the drivers of our Army. Let me take this opportunity to talk to you about where we're headed in 2009. The direction that we're going to take in '09 is intended to move us to where we're trying to get by the end of '11.

Some of you have been around and have heard me say a couple of times ... and I've been saying this about the past 18 months ... that we're out of balance. We're not broken; we're not hollow. In fact this is the most resilient, combat-seasoned force I've ever been associated with in 38 years of service. But we all know we're not where we want to be. I use the term out of balance to describe it.

We set out on a path last year to put ourselves back in balance by '11. And when an organization of one million people gets out of whack, you just don't put it back together in a year.

So what do I mean by out of balance' What I mean by out of balance is that we are deploying at an unsustainable rate. A rate that's unsustainable both in terms of what our Soldiers and Families can sustain and in terms of the lack of strategic flexibility that we're able to provide for the country. We're great at irregular warfare; we're not as trained as we would like to be in major conventional operations.

So what we did, we set out to put ourselves back in balance. Let me just run through with you the six major objectives that constitute balance. This is where we want to be at the end of fiscal year '11.

First of all, we want to complete our growth. You know that in 2007 the President of the United States told us to grow the Army by 74-plus-thousand -- 65,000 in the active force, the rest in the Guard and Reserves. We are well on our way to achieving that goal.

You might remember when we first came out with the plan to increase the size of the Army, we said we're going to be done in 2012. I'd go around and talk to auditoriums full of Soldiers and Families, and I'd say, "Yeah, we're going to get bigger. We're going to get bigger by 2012. We're going to have to deploy less." They'd look at me like, "You've got to be kidding me, General. 2012 is not on our radar."

With the help of the Secretary of Defense, we moved it forward to 2010. The personnel guys tell me now that we will meet our end strength goal this year, in '09, because of recruiting and retention.

Now the structure is still going to come in at about the same pace. We can't accelerate that. But we'll meet our end strength goal this year, and that's a big step. Last year, 290,000 men and women enlisted or reenlisted in the Army Guard and Reserves. That's a healthy force. But we're still stretched. So completing our growth ... and that's the growth of the people and the structure ... by '11 is the primary target.

Why is that so important' Because it has a fundamental impact on a second key element, and that's improving the BOG/dwell ratio. And I am convinced now, after almost two years in this job, that the most important element to putting ourselves back in balance is to increase the dwell. We just sent seven brigades back to Iraq who were there for 15 months and home for 12 or 13. That ain't sustainable. The only way we're going to get better at that is to build ourselves out. That's where the growth comes in.

What we should expect to see as a result of the growth, if we hold the demand steady, we're about 1:1 right now for the active force, about 1:3.5 for the Guard and Reserves. Our goal is to get as close as we can to 1:2 for the active force by '11; and 1:4 for the Guard and Reserves. We're not going to quite make that, but we'll be close. What you should see is this year that average dwell should be almost 18 months ... average. Next year, it ought to be 18 months. The year after that, '11, almost 24 months, 1:2. That's important to us from the perspective of resting the force. More time at home also allows us to get the people and the equipment to the units more effectively. It also allows us to begin training for other things.

Again, some of you were at the Training and Leader Development Conference, and hopefully most of you have read the training and leader development guidance that came out. And what I've told the force is that, if you're home for less than 18 months, stay focused on irregular warfare; if you're home for more than 18 months, then I want you to take about 90 days to work on rekindling your conventional skills. I want you to do it at home station, and I want you to do it in a way that doesn't knock everybody into the dirt. Because even though we have a combat-seasoned force, it's a tired force. We've got to think differently about how we train.

So getting back to the appropriate BOG:Dwell ratio is the key element here.

Third, we're going to complete our modular reorganization and rebalancing by '11. We'll be 98 percent done in both. We started the modular reorganizations in late 2003, early 2004. We're 85 percent done. We started rebalancing about the same time; we're 60 percent done. Rebalancing is taking Cold War skills and moving them into more relevant skills for the 21st century. We'll be 98 percent done with that by '11. Between that and the growth, it will be a fundamentally different Army in 2011 than it was in 2001. We will have done in one decade what normally would take us three or four decades to accomplish in transforming our Army.

We're going to complete restationing. Now some of you drive around the post here and see what's going on at Fort Bliss. There's about $3 billion of construction coming in here. There's $65 billion of construction going into Army bases all around the world as a result of BRAC (Base Realignment and Closure), as a result of our growth, and as a result of returning forces from Europe. In the next three years here, we're going to affect about 380,000 Soldiers, Families, and civilians as we rebase this force. That's a lot of stuff.

It reminds me of the story of the old guy from New York. He's following this pickup truck full of chickens around the windy roads of West Virginia. Every once in a while the guy stops the truck and gets out and shakes the crates. He gets back in the truck and keeps driving. Finally, the guy's curiosity got the best of him. He went up to the guy and said, "Hey buddy, I've got to ask you. Why do you keep stopping the truck and shaking the chickens'" He said, "Well, I've got a half-ton truck, and I've got a ton of chickens. I've got to keep half of them in the air all the time." [Laughter]. That's kind of what we've got going on here, and you know it. You're living it, as we move the force around.

But by '11, we will have rebased this Army. The only thing we'll have left hanging is whether or not we're going to have two brigades back in Europe or not.

The next element of success is to fully implement the Army Force Generation Model. We've been working at that. But I think even though it was well intentioned, we didn't fully appreciate the significance of the change that was going to be required to get where we needed to go to implement the Army Force Generation Model.

We are putting the Army on a rotational cycle. That's a fundamentally different Army than we had before September 11th. Think of it. You were there. I was too. We were a garrison-based Army ... before September 11th ... a garrison-based Army that lived to train. That ain't what we're doing now. And we're not going back there. But all of our institutional systems -- our education system, our training system, our family support systems -- were all designed to support that kind of Army. As we work through this, we're not implementing ARFORGEN the way we'd like to right now. We're getting it done by brute force and ignorance because the institutions haven't been adapted to support that kind of Army. The Navy and Marine Corps have been doing this for years. But I believe we fundamentally have to do this, and we're moving out. But it's going to take us until the end of '11 before we do it. It's going to take a lot of institutional change to get there.

The last element of this is we need to have forces prepared for full spectrum operations. What happens is, as the dwell increases, you have progressively more forces that are home for 18 months or more. As a result, you have progressively more forces who can train for other things. So what you'll wind up with in '11 is about 15 brigade combat teams that are ready for irregular warfare, and about 13 or 14 that have the opportunity to train for full spectrum operations. That feels pretty good to me. It's a heck of a lot better than where we are now.

That's the context. Those are the six key things that we're trying to accomplish as an Army by '11. At the end of that, what we'll have is an agile, disciplined warrior team that is dominant across the spectrum of 21st century conflict. That's what we're doing.

We've got two tough years ahead of us. I don't think there's any question about that. We're not out of the woods on this by any stretch of the imagination. But let me just hit a couple of highlights here of what we expect to see in 2009.

First of all, our plan to put ourselves back in balance is built upon four imperatives. I'm sure if I called on Sergeant Major Johndrow he could knock them out just like that. I notice Sergeant Major Johndrow now has his hand over his eyes. [Laughter].

Sustain our Soldiers and Families. Continue to Prepare Soldiers for success in the current conflict. Reset them effectively after they come back. And continue to Transform for the 21st century.

What do we expect to see in those areas in 2009'

First of all [under Sustain], you ought to expect continued progress on the Family support programs, and Soldier support programs. We're not backing off on that. We put $1.7 billion in '09 for Soldier and Family support programs. As long as I'm here, we're not backing off on it. The Families, as I went around, are the most brittle part of the force.

You're also not going to see us back off of what we're doing for the Warriors in transition. You all have been around long enough to remember medical hold. We're never going back there. We're going to continue to move out. We made good progress on the Warrior Transition Units. We still have a lot of work to do with the Veterans Administration on the Physical Disability Evaluation System itself. We - the Army - have volunteered to lead the joint effort with the Veterans Administration to figure out the legislative change it's going to require to do this. I've already talked to General Shinseki about it, and he is more than willing to move with us in this direction.

If you think about it, the disability system that we're living with now was designed to support a draftee Army ... not an all-volunteer force. Not the less than 1 percent of the population that's protecting this country. And it's also focused on disability, not on resilience and rebuilding. You've all heard, "Well, what's in a name'" But when you say it's a "disability" system, the people with the system already think they're different. That's not what our young Warriors are wanting to hear. So we've got to move out on that.

The next thing you're going to see under Sustain ... and I would say it's going to happen in the next 60 days or so. We intend to launch a comprehensive soldier fitness program that is designed to bring mental fitness up to the level of physical fitness. People ask me what worries me most. What worries me most is the impact of these repeated combat deployments on our mid-level officer and non-commissioned officers. It's our squad leaders and platoon sergeants that are going back with that same platoon and that same company for three and four times, losing soldiers and dealing with the reality of that that I worry about.

Hopefully you all saw the chain-teaching program we put out in 2007. Remember the big slide they had' We had the stick-man chart of 100 people. A hundred people are exposed to a catastrophic event in combat. Everyone is affected by it. We're human beings. Of that 100, 30 or 40 will be affected in a way they'll need some outside assistance. Maybe not much, but they'll need some outside help. And four or five will be affected in a way they'll need some significant outside help. All of our studies say the faster those folks get assistance, the faster they get better. This comprehensive soldier fitness program is designed to build resilience, both physically and mentally. And you can do it. You can exercise your mind just like you exercise your body. So we're going to start building that into the education system.

The last thing you should expect to see is continued emphasis on our Sexual Assault and Response Program. We kicked that off in the fall. And I need your help on it. Our program that we have been instituting up to now was focused on response ... what to do after the fact. It wasn't focused on prevention. And I believe that sexual assault, if it's Soldier against Soldier, is fundamentally at odds with the Warrior Ethos. We are a band of brothers and sisters. We have to treat it like it's a violation of the Warrior Ethos. Just so you know, our rates of sexual assault are double that of the other services. Double. And I don't take great solace in the notion that I'm told by the personnel guys ... "Oh, we report better." Baloney. We've got a problem. We've got to deal with it. It goes against everything that we cherish. So that's Sustain.

Prepare. The major thing we're going to do in preparing forces is we're going to decide as a government how we're going to shift our weight from Iraq to Afghanistan. We're wrestling with that right now. I don't know how it's going to come out. If you ask me what we ought to do at the Chiefs' level it's getting the civilian leadership to give our commanders in the field an appropriate mission statement. We need to force our civilian leaders to say, "What do you want to accomplish'" And then you tell the Chiefs, "Okay, then you balance the risk between Iraq, Afghanistan and the force." So we're wrestling our way through that right now.

What I expect to see here is, over the next several months, we'll make some decisions. I suspect our total deployed strength may actually slightly increase. Not significantly, but slightly. But I don't see any big changes in the number of forces we have deployed until about the middle of '10 because in '09 anything coming out of Iraq will probably be needed in Afghanistan. It will be about the middle of '10 before we turn below where we are now. We've got to sort out the mechanics of that, and we're doing that right now.

The other thing about Prepare ... and I've already talked about improving our conventional skills ... the other thing about Prepare is that we just put out Field Manual 7, Training for Full Spectrum Operations. There are two manuals that I ask you to look at. That one, about training, and FM-3, Operations. We put FM-3 out in February, the first capstone doctrine since September 11th. It is designed to lead us into the 21st Century. It won't do that unless folks like you get it, read it, pick at it, talk about it, and tell us what we need to change. It's not something you sit down and read at one sitting. You read pieces of it at a time. There's great stuff in there on leadership, operations, information engagement. That's the kind of discussion you need to get your head around.

The second is FM-7 on full spectrum training. We're never going back to the garrison-based Army that we were before September 11th. Especially on the training side, I talk to folks about training, and they can't wait to get back to normal ... the way it was back then. Forget it. You're never going back there. I intend FM-7 to cause us to think fundamentally differently about how we train the force and how we train for full spectrum operations.

Think about this. You've been around long enough to remember this. Going to NTC, right' 1st Cav Division, 1st Brigade, you're the OPFOR. 2nd Brigade, you're the O/Cs. 3rd Brigade, you're going to NTC. The whole division goes to the field for a month to prepare one brigade to go to NTC. Do you think we're going to do that today' Oh, by the way, when you get to NTC, would you bring 400 O/C augmentees with you' Come on! When all we did was train, we could afford to do that. Oh by the way, we didn't have a combat-seasoned force. Today, we've got a combat seasoned force. You've got to think differently about how you train that force. Fully two-thirds of the active force is combat veterans; over 40 percent of the Guard and Reserves are combat veterans. A different Army.

Now, we still have to train to standard and all follow the basic principles of training, but I need you to think differently about how you do that. That's what FM-7 is designed to do.

Reset. You will see in '09 a continued implementation of the six-month reset model. Some of you may know that we started a six-month pilot program for the reset last year. The reason it's a pilot is because we couldn't implement it Army-wide because we can't get the people and the equipment to every redeployed unit on time.

What we're trying to do is to get units to come back and go into "dry dock" for six months. There are no readiness expectations on you in that six-month period. In fact, we're going to see readiness reporting, a change to 220-1 coming out, that says, "Here, report C5 during that period." There's just too much frenetic activity that goes on when we come back. I appreciate that you're in Iraq and Afghanistan and going 100 miles an hour; it's hard to unwind. But the Chairman went out to Fort Lewis. The Stryker Brigade there was back for two weeks, and they were working until 10 o'clock at night. Come on! That was the officers, I'm sure. No doubt. [Laughter].

But come on. We want to take that six-month period to get the Soldiers and leaders back in shape, do the changes of command, reestablish property accountability, probably take on new equipment. But at the end of that period, you're going to be equipped at a level that you can begin training for whatever's next. You're going to see that expanded a little bit every year. We have in the range of 25 to 33 or so brigade-sized units that come and go every year. By '11, we want to get everybody on that program.

What I said in the training and leader development guidance is that I want people to implement the reduced optempo portions of this. Everybody can do that. What I can't do is get the people and equipment at the end of the six-month period. But we have to continue to push on that because I think you'll see that will become the basis of our expeditionary Army, the ability to bring ourselves back, refit in a very structured, methodical, even-tempo'd way so at the end of that we're ready to go forward and do some other things.

Lastly, Transform. Before I get into the specifics of transforming in '09, I just want to go over with you what we're transforming for. So that we have kind of a "mind meld" on why we're doing what we're doing.

As I said, we are at war. We have been at war for over seven years. We're at war with a global extremist terrorist network that attacked us on our soil. They haven't quit, and they ain't going to go away. They're going to have to be beaten. So you can do all the wishful thinking you want, but we're going to be at it for a while.

To that you add the kind of global trends that I see emerging here. Globalization is going to continue to connect folks, but it's going to continue to be leveraged by terrorists. Technology, same thing. Demographics are going the wrong direction. Sixty percent of the population of the world's going to live in cities by 2030. What does that say for where we're going to fight in combat' You add that to the fact that we're already at war. To me that equals a theory of what I call persistent conflict. We're going to be engaged, maybe not in combat, but we're going to be engaged as an Army, as armed forces, and as a country, for decades. It's not going to be one big battle, although you can't rule out state-on-state conflict. It's going to be a lot of small stuff. To do that, we need to build an Army that's based on six characteristics. That's what we're doing.

First of all, we've got to build a versatile force. We can all talk about the future all we want, but the one thing we know about the future is we're human. And we never quite get it right. The best we can do is get it "about right" and that's what these modular organizations are giving us. But we need versatile organizations and doctrine and equipment that leaders can adapt to the reality of the environment they're sent into. We're working on that.

Second, we need to be expeditionary. We're going to be fighting "away games." We'll do some civil support here at home. But hey, we're going to be operating abroad just like we're doing now. And that requires not only rapid deployment systems. It also requires an expeditionary mindset. I saw that in 3/10 Mountain when I went out and visited right before Christmas, and they just got their mission changed from Iraq to Afghanistan. And what you saw was a bunch of clear-headed professionals that understood the scope of what they had to do. They kind of said, "Look, I've got confidence in my unit, my equipment, my leaders. We'll figure this out." That's what we need to do.

Third, we have to be agile ... and not just intellectually agile, the ability to change directions and adapt in an uncertain environment ... but institutionally agile ... able to change directions quickly. You know, like Westwood did yesterday against the Vikings. [Laughter]. We're not institutionally agile. Think about how long it took to get up-armored HMMWVs into Iraq and Afghanistan. It took a couple of years. Think about how long it took to get MRAPs in there. It took several months. So we're getting better. But that's the kind of institutional agility that we need to set ourselves up to do. And I'm talking about departmental headquarters, Department of the Army now, we're pretty ponderous, as you well know and appreciate ... but your headquarters isn't. [Laughter]. It depends on your perspective.

Next, we've got to be lethal. Now look, lethality is our core competency. They put us in because we're the folks with the guns, right' We're doing a lot of other things, but our core competency is the military side. And we can never forget that. And yes, we have to get better at integrating the civil and military effort, but we can never forget that lethality is our core competency.

Fifth, we have to be sustainable. Sustainable not only in an austere environment, but also where we have to build systems that are more fuel efficient, that require less support, that require less people support. IEDs are going to be part of our environment for as long as you and I and our children are in the military. The more people you keep off the road, the better off you're going to be. The other aspect of sustainability is this rotation cycle. You build and sustain missions for as long as it takes to accomplish your national objective.

Lastly, we've got to be interoperable. This isn't just about having the same radio frequency and having the same caliber of ammunition. We've got to be able to operate with all of the different elements of land power. It ain't just us ... the Marine Corps, Special Forces, indigenous forces, interagency forces, other services. All of those elements make up land power, and we have to be able to integrate them. What I've been saying at my level is, "Look, you ought to treat the planning and organizational capabilities of the armed forces as a national asset. And you ought to allow them to integrate civil and military entities." We'll see how that plays out over the next few years.

So that's the type of Army, the characteristics of the Army, that we're building. And we're doing that because we see an era of persistent conflict.

Now what's that mean for us in '09' First of all, you're going to hear the continued talk in '09 about how we are integrating Future Combat Systems with the Army. And what I'm starting to see is the work we did last spring for Future Combat Systems. What the Army of the 21st century is going to look like is Future Combat Systems laid over modular organizations.

I don't know if you all picked up on it, but in May, we made a big decision in the program to take the five systems that are currently being tested here at Fort Bliss. And I meant to mention this to you, but it would be great if we could get the sergeants major out there or at least bring the stuff in here, so they could all take a look at it. But there are five systems that are in the hands of soldiers in the Army Evaluation Task Force that we will put in the infantry brigade combat teams starting in '11. So one of the last one or two new BCTs we build will be built with these five systems. With the small unmanned aerial vehicle, which is actually over in Iraq in small numbers now. There's a small robot. There are unattended sensors for both urban areas and for rural areas. There's a non-line-of-sight launch system that is basically a cruise missile in a box that you can fire off the ground or off the back of a truck that will fly into a window of a house. It gives infantry brigade combat teams a precision-kill capability. Then, there's the first increment of the network ... along with the Land Warrior or the Ground Soldier system that brings that network down to the team leader level. You're going to see that in three years. That's a huge step forward in situational awareness, precision intelligence, and precision-kill capability. We'll lay that on top of a modular organization.

For the longest time, FCS was kind of out here, moving along, and nobody knew what the hell it was. But this is a system of systems that will give us full spectrum capability in the 21st century. Honestly, we didn't start out that way. When we started down the FCS track, it was designed to fight major conventional operations as we thought they'd look like in the 21st century. We've adapted.

Secondly, I think we're going to see the continued operationalization of the Guard and Reserves. We have made really good progress on this, but there's still work to do. The policies and procedures governing the Guard and Reserves were done after the Korean War. Like anything else in Washington, something that's 60 years old has very deep roots, and it's hard to change. But we're fundamentally changing the paradigm of our Guard and Reserves. There have been 60,000 to 70,000 Guardsmen and Reservists mobilized for the last two or three years. That's significant. That is not a strategic reserve. It's an operational force. So we have to continue to work on that.

As I said, we'll complete our modularity and rebalancing. We'll complete restationing. We'll implement the Army Force Generation Model. So you'll see elements of all those different things in '09.

Now, one other thing you're going to see in '09 ... and I know the Secretary talked to you about this a bit ago. But as we look out at the contributions that our noncommissioned officers are making in this war and to this country, it seemed appropriate to the Secretary and I that we make 2009 - twenty years after we had the last Year of the Noncommissioned Officer - to make this the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer, so that we can recognize your courage, your commitment, and your competence, and your contribution to this war. Second, so we can inform the American people about what a national asset they have in their noncommissioned officer corps. And third, so that we can enhance what we're already doing. The Sergeant Major will talk to you in more detail, but those enhancements will come in the areas of education, fitness, leadership and [pride in] service.

Just some examples. On the educational side, we're going to complete the NCOES transformation this year that we've been working on since 2006 ... the Warrior Leader Course, the advanced course, etc. We will use the noncommissioned officer corps as a pilot of the Army Career Tracker, so that every Soldier - and ultimately probably every officer and every civilian - can match their career with their educational opportunities so that we can make structured self-development a reality. We can make life-long learning a reality. You'll also see this year more progress from Warrior University. You've got right now 14 universities that are partnering with us to give credit to noncommissioned officer education for Army schooling, so that our noncommissioned officers can take these course and get college credit to help them improve their education.

On the fitness side, you're going to see more improvement on what we're doing for fitness training and structured self-development. The Sergeant Major tells me we've got a Master Fitness program. Some of you I'm sure are Master Fitness Trainers. But nobody's going. They're too busy. And so what we're trying to do is raise the education level of all of our leaders on both physical and mental fitness. And this is where we're going to put in elements of the comprehensive fitness program.

The other element of the fitness program you're going to see is that we intend to put into the advanced portion of the senior course what you're seeing here now at the Sergeants Major Academy, where we do a health assessment. Interestingly, I'm sure you've seen this at the sergeant first class / master sergeant level. General Caldwell tells me at CGSC that the Majors are beat. The Majors are looking like Colonels when they come to the CGSC. So we've got to help people be more in touch with their fitness.

As we thought our way through this, I believe we're going to have a good program over the course of this year that will, as I say, recognize your contributions and the contributions of all our noncommissioned officers, that will inform the public about what a great national asset they have, and that will actually enhance the leader development process for noncommissioned officers ... doing it at the level where they can operate technically and they're competent.

As I said, there's no doubt in my mind that our noncommissioned officer corps is the glue that's holding this Army together and that's allowed us to accomplish the impossible every day. I can tell you we wouldn't be the Army that we are today without our noncommissioned officer corps, and I can tell you, I would not be the officer I am today without the noncommissioned officers that trained and mentored me throughout my career.

So thank you very much for what you do every day to win this war and take care of our Soldiers and Families.

With that, I'll stop and I will be very happy to take questions from anyone.

Page last updated Thu January 15th, 2009 at 08:55