Jan. 14, 2009 - Remarks at AUSA ILW breakfast
January 21, 2009
General George William Casey, Jr.
AUSA ILW Breakfast
14 January 2009
General Casey: Good morning, everybody. It's great to see you. It's amazing what people will do for SOS, isn't it' [Laughter].
What a great organization this Army is. It's the only place where I can get up and decide to put on one uniform and have 100 people think they're out of uniform. [Laughter]. Sergeant Major, you and I are doing okay. [Laughter].
I'd like to talk to you a little bit about what you're going to see from us in 2009. Before I start down that track, the Secretary and I started off this year out at Fort Bliss at the Sergeants Major Academy and at the Sergeants Major of the Army Nominative Conference. And we had to be back here for the Under [Secretary of the Army]'s farewell, so we started at 7:00 o'clock in the morning. I started to apologize to the Sergeants Major at 7:00 o'clock for having them get up early when I realized that they were on their second pot of coffee and had already done PT and I was the one who got up early. [Laughter].
We used it as an opportunity to kick off an important celebration across the Army this year: we've designated 2009 as the Year of the Non-Commissioned Officer. And we haven't done this for 20 years. Carl Vuono was the last one [CSA] to do it in 1989. If you think back to what we were doing in 1989, we were really consolidating an age of two decades worth of reshaping the non-commissioned officer corps-and we saw the benefit of that in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. [Since then,] we have only continued to expand on it.
As I've looked across the Army in the last couple of years it has been clear to me that it is our non-commissioned officers that are providing the glue that is not only holding this force together at a very difficult time, but is allowing us to accomplish the near impossible every day. So we felt that it was important to recognize what the Non-Commissioned Officer Corps of the United States Army brings-not only to the Army-but to the country. And we set out to do this along three tracks.
- First, we wanted to recognize what it is they provide to the Army and country.
- Secondly, we wanted to inform the country about what a national asset they have. When you go around the world and you talk to different armies they say they want to be like us. They want to be like our sergeants. And I've watched Iraqi Soldiers just mesmerized by what our sergeants could do.
- Thirdly, we wanted to enhance what we were doing for them. The Sergeant Major and the Army, we have a range of initiatives that we'll bring on line this year to enhance how we develop our non-commissioned officers and enable them with even greater skills in this era of persistent conflict.
So I'd just ask you all to join me here in a round of applause for the magnificent non-commissioned officer corps. [Applause].
Now let me just say probably more than a few words, take about 20 minutes or so, and talk about the direction that we're going to head in 2009. Then I'd be happy to take some questions at the end.
The first thing is, you don't have to throw away your slides. We're only in the second year of a four year plan to put ourselves back in balance. So the essence of what we're doing in 2009 is to:
- continue to sustain our Soldiers and Families,
- continue to prepare our Soldiers for success in the current conflict,
- continue to reset them effectively when they get back,
- and continue to transform for an uncertain future.
Really as I look to the next three or four years, we've got to get ourselves back in balance and while we're doing that we have to posture ourselves for the future. That's what we're about.
I've been saying since the summer of 2007 that we're out of balance; that we are deploying at unsustainable rates-unsustainable from a perspective of sustaining our Soldiers and Families, and developing the strategic flexibility to do other things. We've made progress over the last year and a half, but we're not done. And we still have two tough years ahead of us.
As you look at what's happening here, and I don't want to prejudge any decisions that might be made, but what I see is our committed strength going up slightly and staying up until about the middle of 2010 before we start seeing a net reduction in our deployed forces. That's going to continue to put stress on the force. So we're not out of the woods yet: 2009 and 2010 are still going to be difficult years.
But I thought it would be useful to share with this group what balance looks like, where we want to be here at the end of FY11-that's how long it's going to take.
First of all, we're going to complete our growth-- both in terms of bringing the new Soldiers into the Army but also adding to our force structure. When we started out the growth, you recall, the President said to increase the size of the Army by 74,000. We have been working toward that ever since.
Originally the growth was going to be completed in 2012. You can imagine, I'd go into a post theater filled with Soldiers and Families, and I'd say "yep, we're going to increase the size of the Army so you won't have to deploy as much and we're going to do it by 2012." -- That's how they'd look at me, like "Talk to me about something that means something to me." So the Secretary of Defense helped me move it forward to 2010. Recruiting and retention has gone well enough, that I'm told by our personnel folks we will meet our end strength objectives this year. It's still going to take us a couple more years to bring the structure on and line the equipment up, but I think that's a very, very positive thing. Just so you know, last year 290,000 men and women enlisted or reenlisted in the Army, Guard and Reserve. That's a staggering number. The country is still doing okay.
Second, we have to increase the time the Soldiers spend at home, increase the dwell. As I've looked at this in the last 20 months or so since I've been the Chief, it's become clearer and clearer to me that increasing the time the Soldiers spend at home is the most important element of getting ourselves back in balance. Why is that'
One, the Soldiers will need increasingly more time at home because of the cumulative effects of repeated deployments-to get themselves back in balance. And I look at the non-commissioned officers who are deploying in platoons and companies over and again, the same guys. It takes a terrible toll on folks. And 12 months at home between deployments was okay at the beginning. It's not okay now.
Some of you might remember we sent Brigadier General Mike Linnington around to talk to all of the redeploying brigades that came back after 15 months. They said three things, not surprisingly. First, 15 months is too long. Second, 12 months home, especially after 15 months, is too short. Third, you've got to show us some daylight. You've got to show us that this is going to gradually get better. So what I've been saying, one-to-one [boots on the ground: time at home] was okay at the start. It's not good enough any more. We have to gradually increase the time our folks spend at home.
The second reason it's important is because it gives us time to train for other things. The guidance I put out to the force is if you're home for less than 18 months, stay focused on irregular warfare. There is not enough time to try to do other things. If you're home for 18 months or more I want you to take about 90 days and focus on the conventional warfight, to rekindle those skills. Rekindle is not necessarily a term of military art, but it's somewhere between T [trained] and P [practice] if that helps. [Laughter].
I will tell you, I just was at the Second Infantry Division Warfighter Exercise in Korea, a full-up North Korean scenario. While visiting that AOR, I was opening some doors that had been closed for a while, but let me tell you, we still know how to do our business. We're rusty, but we still know how to do our business. We've got to rekindle that and start bringing that back. If you're home for 24 months or more, you should expect a Combat Training Center rotation with a major conventional theme, and a mission rehearsal exercise in irregular warfare. It's going to be a couple of years before we have units do it.
The last part about why dwell is important is the longer you're at home the more time it allows us to get you properly manned and equipped. Fifteen months time at home is about the minimum we can do it in. We can do it in 12, but it's brute force and ignorance. If we can get to 15, then what you'll see is a much more balanced approach to preparation.
So the second thing is balancing BOG/Dwell, and with our growth I expect us to see that dwell gradually improve out to the end of 2011.
Third, we're going to complete a modular reorganization and a rebalancing of skills that were most effective for conventional war and the more versatile skills required in the 21st Century. That's the largest organizational transformation that the Army's done since World War II. We're going to do it in about seven years, while we've been deploying. It's funny, I say we will finish by the end of 2011. Well, I'm always reminded that we never finish. But we will have a modular Army by the end of FY11. That's a fundamentally different Army than we had on September 11th. It's an Army that is well postured for 21st Century warfare.
Fourth, by 2011 we will complete our restationing. You all remember the BRAC 2005 and the growth, the construction that accompanies the growth of the force, and then restationing folks back from overseas.
It reminds me of the story about the guy from New York who was following this pickup truck full of chickens around the roads of West Virginia. Every once in a while the driver of the truck would get out and stop and shake the cages. Then he'd get back in his truck and keep driving. Finally his curiosity got the best of him and he pulled up and said hey, I've got to ask you, why are you doing this' He said, well, I've got a ton of chickens here, I only have a half ton truck. I've got to keep half of them in the air all the time. [Laughter]. That's kind of what we're doing with the basing. I'll tell you what, Dick Cody did a wonderful job of laying this out, but he was the only one in the Army that knew where everything was going. But we're working on that.
It affects 380,000 Soldiers and Families and civilians. So there's a lot of stuff that's going to go on there, but when we're done, we will have rebased the Army and it will be done by the end of 2011.
Fifth, we're going to complete the implementation of the Army Force Generation Model. Now that will posture us to have the Army operating on a rotational cycle. That is a fundamentally different way of operating than we had before September 11th. If you think about the Army that I grew up in, we were largely a garrison-based Army that lived to train. We went to the Combat Training Center and occasionally we'd do six months in the Balkans, but that was it. And all of our institutional systems were designed to support that type of Army. Our readiness reports were designed to support that type of Army. We are just coming to grips with the fundamental change that's required by having an Army that operates on this rotational cycle. And to do that we have to realign our institutional systems to support that Force Generation Model. Just think about it: recruiting, education, family support, training. All those things are going to be different, and we're going to do it in a different way.
We just published Field Manual 7 to guide us to think differently about how we train for full spectrum operations. And it is different. I just think about my own experience when we'd go to NTC. What would happen' You'd have 1st Brigade, you're the OpFor; 2nd Brigade, you're the observer/controller; 3rd Brigade, you're the training audience. The whole division goes to the field for a month. Can you imagine doing that today' And oh by the way, when your brigade goes out there would you mind bringing 400 additional observer/controllers with you' There is some fundamental change required. We have appointed Lieutenant General Bob Durbin, about six or eight months ago, to guide this institutional transformation. It will be in three parts.
- First will be to adapt our institutions to effectively support the Army Force Generation Model.
- Second will be to adopt an enterprise approach. An enterprise approach is both a mindset and a governance problem. It's about us instilling in the senior leaders of the Army an understanding of cost versus benefits. I will tell you, we operate unconstrained right now and we can't continue to go forward and have the type of Army we want if we don't adapt.
- Lastly, we've got to adapt our requirements process. I had an interview with CEO Magazine yesterday and we were talking about how CEOs operate. I always ask the business folks, "you don't have silos in your organizations, do you'" They all smile. We have silos. But I like the term "silos" better than stovepipes because silos have walls three feet thick. Nothing goes sideways, it only goes up. [Laughter]. We have some of those. Cross-silo integration is hard and we have to crack that if we're going to have the type of Army that we want.
So this institutional adaptation, while the key element is supporting Army Force Generation, there's a lot more to it than that. It's something -- it's not going to cost a lot of money, nothing's almost free -- It's going to cost us some things but it's going to help us down the road.
Lastly, we have to get our forces ready for full spectrum operations. Gradually as we have more units at home for longer periods of time we will begin to reach into those areas. But I'll tell you, it's a combat seasoned force.
In the Army I grew up in, we were training our brains out because we hadn't been tested. This force has been tested. It's seasoned. They know how to do the really hard things in combat. I'm not concerned; we'll rekindle those skills here, I think, fairly rapidly.
That's what balance looks like by the end of 2011, and that's where we're headed. We've got about 18 months under our belt. We're not done, as I said. We have a couple of tough years ahead of us. At the end of this we'll have an agile, disciplined warrior team that's dominant across the spectrum of 21st Century combat. That's what we're about.
Let me just shift gears a second to what you're going to see in 2009.
Under sustainment: sustaining Soldiers and Families. You're going to see continued effort on the family side. We issued the Army Family Covenant in 2007. We've made good progress. This is the year that we deliver on it. There's $1.7 billion in the 2009 budget that enables us to do that, and I've directed that all the family money gets out of the supplemental budget and into the base over the course of the year.
We're going to continue to sustain what we're doing with Warrior Care-we've made huge progress there. If you think about where we started, remember the medical hold' There's something fundamentally different out there now. We're doing a much better job of taking care of our Soldiers. We're going to push hard for physical disability evaluation system reforms. We have not moved on that as rapidly as we had thought. I've asked Fred Franks to help; he's been doing a study for me for about four months. And actually, I'm getting an out brief from him today. But we-not just the Army, but the country, needs to move forward on that. I think with Rick Shinseki where he is-not assuming confirmation-but, I have great confidence that we can move forward.
It's interesting, when Fred came back one of the things he said was you know, you talk about it as a disability system. What does that put in the head of the person who's in the system' I'm disabled. Rather than a rehabilitation and integration system-which is what our Soldiers are doing. So there are some fundamental changes. The other thing Fred points out is the system was designed for a draftee army, not a volunteer force. So we've got some things to do on that.
You're going to see in the next probably 90-120 days that we'll come out with a comprehensive fitness program, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness. What we realize is that we need to bring mental fitness to the same level of attention that we give to physical fitness because we're dealing with the realities of war. You can build resilience in mental fitness just like you can build resilience with pushups. So we're going to come out with that in about the March timeframe. We've been working on it for about nine months.
Lastly, you're going to see continued emphasis on our sexual assault prevention program. This is something that if left untouched will eat us up from the inside. But our rates, our sexual assault rates were double those of the other services. I took little solace from what the personnel folks told me, that we just report better than anybody else. Sexual assault is fundamentally counter to the warrior ethos. We cannot allow that to exist in our Army.
On the prepare side, what we're going through right now is how we appropriately balance the needs of the combatant commanders in Iraq and Afghanistan with the force. And we're actively wrestling with that right now. The new administration will come on board and make some decisions and we'll move out. But that's probably the most significant thing.
Under reset, I think you know we implemented a six month reset model last year, a pilot test of that to basically have a more systematic approach across the Army and to give us something to line our institutional support systems up against. But our intention is when you come back from a deployment you're in drydock for six months. We don't have any readiness expectations for you, other than to come out of that process manned and equipped at a level sufficient to get you trained for something else.
We have to slow the train down. God bless us, we come back and, it happened to me. You come back from Iraq or Afghanistan, you're going about 110 miles an hour. That's the way you've been going. And you can't slow the train down. The Chairman was out at Lewis, was visiting a brigade that had been back two weeks that was working until 10:00 o'clock at night. We can't do that. We've got a combat seasoned force.
The last one is transform. The first question is "transform for what' How do you see the future'"
I think you've heard me enough talking about how I see the future. One, we're at war and we've been at war for over seven years. We're fighting an enemy who attacked us on our soil. And they're not going to quit. You can't say okay, we're done, have a nice day. We're going to be at this for a while.
And the trends are all going in the wrong direction. Globalization has positive and negative impacts. Technology: positive and negative impacts. Demographics: completely in the wrong direction. Sixty percent of the population of the world is expected to live in cities by 2030. What does that say about where we're going to operate' And all of our operations are going to be about control of people and influence of people. You can only do that from the ground.
So we have to think, as we look to the future, I see a future of protracted confrontation among state actors, non-state actors, who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their objectives.
Look at Mumbai. That's exactly the kind of thing that's out there. That's not saying the United States military has to run out and take care of everything, but we have to be prepared for this over the next few years.
So we're setting ourselves up to do that. And I believe that to deal with that environment and to deal with the evolving character of conflict, I think some of you heard me speak about Hezbollah. Iraq and Afghanistan, okay, people generally understand what's going on there and how that nature of warfare has changed. But look at what Hezbollah did. A non-state actor, operating in one state against another state supported by yet another state. And they started the confrontation with 13,000 rockets. Not just the little ones they shoot at our bases, but the 220mm they shoot at cities. They used IEDs to channelize the Israeli forces into kill sacks where they shot at them with modern state of the art anti-tank guided missiles. Forty percent of the Israeli casualties came from anti-tank guided missiles. They shot down an Israeli helicopter with state of the art surface to air missiles. They shot a Navy Corvette in the Mediterranean Sea with a cruise missile. They used secure phones and secure internet for command and control. And they got their message out on local television. That's what we're up against.
So we have to build an Army that's centered on six characteristics. I talked about these at AUSA.
First of all, we need a versatile Army. I think as you look at this it gives you the sense of the kind of balanced force that Secretary Gates is looking for. But first we need a versatile Army.
One of the things we know about the future is we never get it quite right. So we have to have forces that are designed and organized that can rapidly adapt to the environment as it presents itself, not for the way they're organized. And these modular organizations that we have are what's giving us that versatile capability.
Secondly, we have to be expeditionary. We're going to be fighting away games. We'll do some civil support at home, no doubt, but where we're going to be engaging is going to be abroad. So it's not only the capabilities to deploy rapidly and sustain those deployments, but it's also that expeditionary mindset. That mindset that says I've got great confidence in myself, my unit, my equipment and my training, that I can go any place in the world and I'll figure it out. I saw that mindset in 3-10 Mountain when their mission shifted from Iraq to Afghanistan... mature, seasoned professionals saying we've got a new mission, we thought about it, we can do it.
Third, we have to be agile. Not only mentally agile, the mental agility that we build into our leaders, but institutionally agile. And we're not. We're getting better. If you think about how long it took to get up-armored Humvees into Iraq, it took several years. Do you know how long it took us to get MRAPs in there once we decided' Months. We're getting better. But we have to set our institutions up so that we can adapt rapidly to the circumstances that present themselves. And put the tools into their hands that they need. Our procurement processes aren't set up to do that right now. And it's not just procurement. But we have to be institutionally agile.
Fourth, we have to be lethal. Lots of talk about the military doing things other than warfighting. Lethality is our core competency. That's why they put us in. We can never forget that. And it's on us to ensure that we can maintain the appropriate emphasis, to ensure that we can sustain that core competency.
We have to be sustainable. We have to be sustainable not only to provide forces trained and ready for the duration of operations, but to sustain them in the austere environments that we're likely to be in. IEDs are going to be a part of the future battlefield and the more people we have off the roads because we're more sustainable, the less vulnerabilities we have through our lines of communications and our Soldiers.
Lastly, we have to be interoperable. We're well past interoperability having the same caliber ammunition and being able to talk on the same radio. If you look at what land power is, land power is the ability to achieve decisive results on land. And in the types of environment we're going to be operating in in the 21st Century, land power isn't just the Army. It's the Army, it's the Marine Corps, it's Special Operations Forces. It's the effects of the other services, that the other services bring to bear on land. It's indigenous forces. And it's the interagency. And all of those elements have to be brought to bear if we are going to succeed in the types of conflicts we're going to face in the 21st Century. And that's a challenge not just for the Army, but it's a challenge for the country. It's one thing everybody is very worried about.
So versatile, expeditionary, agile, lethal, sustainable, and interoperable. Those are the design characteristics for the Army of the 21st Century. That's the direction that we're going.
With that, I've exceeded my 20 minutes so I will stop. But I just conclude here by saying I heard a lot about the Army being broken, the Army being hollow when I first came back. People in uniform see it: It is the most resilient professional combat seasoned force that I've been associated with in 38 years. Bar none. And the American people should be extremely proud of not just their Army, but their military and the contributions that we're making around the world.
Thank you all very much and I'll be happy to take your questions.
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