VCSA Remarks (As Prepared) AUSA Eisenhower Reception Washington Convention Center, Washington, D.C
September 18, 2006
Good Afternoon. Thank you General Sullivan for the opportunity to again spend time with you and the members of The Association of the United States Army (AUSA), for your continued leadership and unwavering devotion to the Army. Thanks for your counsel, your friendship, and most importantly, for all that you have done and continue to do for our Army, our Soldiers, and our families.<br/><br/>I would also like to acknowledge the Acting Secretary of the Army Les Brownlee. Secretary Brownlee is a decorated combat veteran who understands Soldiers and understands how the Army can best serve our Soldiers.<br/><br/>We are in extraordinary times and as I have said many times in many other places I think we're in one of the most dangerous times of our history. As I've heard others say it might be the most dangerous time the United States has been in since the U.S. Civil War. The outcome of this struggle will have a direct impact on our way of life.<br/><br/>This is a test of wills and will require our deep and enduring commitment. Security of our homeland, the War on Terror, and our global commitments are the new realities of today's complex and uncertain operating environment. The future will be no less uncertain.<br/><br/>The Global War on Terror is not just a "contingency," nor is it a temporary "crisis." It is the new reality that will require constant vigilance. The complexity and uncertainty we now face and envision for the future reinforce the need for adaptation innovation and continuous learning.<br/><br/>It means our Army a critical component of the Joint Team, should expect that sustained operations will be the norm and not the exception. This is our new strategic reality. This is the context within which we must think, live, and act. We must develop our Soldiers and our leaders to be more like pentathletes and decathletes and we must build much more adaptable and flexible organizations as we engage our future.<br/><br/>In order to fulfill our duty and to meet the challenges we face we are aggressively reshaping and rebalancing our Army. Rather than focusing on a single well-defined threat or geographic region, we are developing a range of complementary and interdependent capabilities that will enable future Joint Force Commanders to dominate any adversary or situation anywhere in the world at any time.<br/><br/>Our experiences after World War II allowed us to focus primarily on an opponent that we knew a great deal about. We optimized ourselves to be able to deal with that potential enemy. That singular focus drove our doctrine, it drove the way we organized, it drove the way we trained and how we developed our leaders. Our emerging operational environment does not allow us to focus on a single entity or geographic area. To remain ready and relevant to our Nation's future needs, we must transform the way we conduct business and almost everything is on the table for evaluation except our values.<br/><br/>Transforming the Army while fighting the War on Terror is a complex endeavor. It means our Army is fighting and conducting extensive stability operations while preparing to deal with other known and unknown situations around the globe both today and in the future.<br/><br/>We liken it to tuning a car engine while the engine is running or as I have said in the past, "building an airplane in flight". It requires a careful balance between sustaining and enhancing the capabilities of current forces to fight wars and win the peace while investing in the capabilities of future forces.<br/><br/>When organizations face demanding new circumstances they must change to successfully meet those challenges. We are different from many other organizations facing change because the security of our Nation depends on our Army and our capabilities. But, like other organizations, our past experiences inform the future. Others have shown us the way. Elihu Root's historic reforms of 100 years ago ushered in a bold transformation of our Army. That transformation brought our Army into the 20th century. We are being equally bold as we transform our Army for the rest of the 21st century.<br/><br/>While the fundamental nature of war may be constant its methods and techniques constantly evolve to reflect the strategic context at hand and the operational capabilities required. The United States over the last decade has been driving a rapid evolution in the methods and techniques of war. Our overwhelming success in this endeavor however, has driven many adversaries to seek their own adaptive advantages through asymmetric means and methods.<br/><br/>Potential adversaries are developing capabilities and strategies that avoid the strengths of the U.S. military while tailoring their ability to attack perceived vulnerabilities. Others are developing asymmetric strategies to avoid or circumvent our current capabilities and our enemies are exceptionally agile and rapidly adaptive. They are unencumbered by rules and convention.<br/><br/>The convergence of our current momentum and the resources provided by Congress are providing our Army the opportunity for change to meet both the current and future threat a strategic window of opportunity. This window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely. That is why we must act now to meet the challenges of tomorrow. We must use this time the resources and our momentum wisely. We must achieve the Army's overarching strategic goal to remain relevant and ready by providing the Joint Force with campaign quality land power and expeditionary capabilities to dominate across the full range of military operations. We must get it right to deal with the challenges our nation will face in the remainder of the 21st century.<br/><br/>The lessons we have learned in over three years of war have already propelled a wide series of changes in the Army and across the Joint Team. These lessons have resulted in three focal points of change for our Army; the building of modular capabilities to increase strategic responsiveness and flexibility, rebalancing the size and capabilities of our active and reserve components, and stabilizing the force to improve predictability and depth.<br/><br/>In the area of Modularity we are moving to a Brigade-based Army. This includes the new STRYKER brigades, like 3/2 ID that have proven themselves so well in ground combat in Iraq. They effectively used speed and situational understanding during their deployment to great success. The speed and agility of the STRYKERS, has earned the 3-2nd a nickname among many Iraqis. Reportedly around Samarra they're known as the "Ghost Riders" because the STRYKER vehicles arrive and deploy their infantrymen with little noise or warning.<br/><br/>When radical Shia cleric Muqtada al Sadr's militia was wreaking havoc on the citizens of southern Iraq during the first weeks of August, a battalion task force of the Stryker Brigade traveled 500 kilometers from their area of operations around Mosul to Al Kut in the south and immediately began operating in an area they had never been to before. Along the way they engaged in a firefight at Baqubah all in a period of about 48 hours. That's operational agility with a strategic impact.<br/><br/>In addition to the STRYKER Brigades, we are increasing the number of other Brigades in the Army called Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Units of Action. Today we have three more Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Units of Action in our Army than we did at this time last year.<br/><br/>The first of these new units will deploy with the 3D Infantry Division early next year.<br/><br/>These Units of Action have a standardized unit design are more self-contained and are capable of independent action. They are providing relevant land power capabilities to the Combatant Commanders and the joint team today. When we finish with our currently planned increase in Brigade Combat Team (BCT) Units of Action, the increased rotational depth of our structure will enable our Army to maintain more forces with expeditionary qualities and enhanced capabilities at a high state of readiness.<br/><br/>Our Army is also rebalancing the force structure between the Active and Reserve components, as well as within each of the components. We are actively retraining and reallocating about 100,000 positions, converting old structure to more relevant capabilities. We have already converted some artillery units into Military Police and Infantry units to meet urgent requirements and to date, we have converted 34,000 of the 100,000 positions currently in our plan.<br/><br/>The new strategic environment places a high demand on several low-density capabilities many of which reside in the US Army Reserve. We are increasing the Active Component capabilities available to support the first 30 days of a rapid response operation while at the same time decreasing our dependence on mobilized reserves for early-deploying units in the future. As our Army rebalances across components, we increase options for Combatant Commanders enhance responsiveness and reduce the stress on the force.<br/><br/>Force Stabilization enhances unit readiness by increasing stability and predictability through an improved manning system, which capitalizes on the tremendous operational experience of our Soldiers and leaders. By reducing turbulence within our units, we increase the number of deployable Soldiers available and strengthen unit cohesion. Units will be able to build and sustain deployable combat-ready forces over a more predictable unit operational life cycle. Personnel turbulence will be concentrated during a unit's short "reset" phase. Through stabilization, Soldiers gain increased deployment predictability and because they will move less often, we can increase family stability and save millions of dollars in moving costs. By reducing the number of Soldiers in motion every year, our Army increases unit readiness and builds cohesive deployable combat-ready. We have already begun this effort with the 172D Infantry Brigade (Separate), the Army's third STRYKER Brigade Combat Team, located at Fort Wainwright Alaska.<br/><br/>These three focal points increase our Army's combat capability and flexibility. They are part of a larger program of change encompassed in our Army Campaign Plan. The potential of network-enabled operations demonstrated in Operation Iraqi Freedom reinforces our decision to continue development of Future Combat Systems (FCS) while enhancing our current force.<br/><br/>As we move from the Current to the Future Force we "spiral" in technological advances, as well as advances in doctrine, training, and leader education to provide our Soldiers better equipment and enhanced operational capabilities with which to fight today.<br/><br/>While these changes are complex, our greatest transformational challenge is the transformation of Army culture through empowered leadership and adaptive institutional changes. This will better prepare our Soldiers and leaders to face learning adaptive adversaries where ambiguity and uncertainty are the rule. We are directing our efforts to ensure that our Soldiers and their leaders distinguish themselves to our Army and the Nation by the character of their service both in combat and at home. It is the Soldier fierce, well trained, well equipped, and superbly led who serves as the ultimate expression of the capabilities the Army provides to the Joint Force and to the Nation.<br/><br/>Soldiers like David Rozelle, who participated in the Army Ten Miler on Sunday. He is a 31-year-old Captain. One of the many things that make him exceptional is that he ran the 10 Miler on Sunday in 1 hour, 38 minutes, without the lower part of his right leg. In June 2003 he was in command of K Troop, 3rd ACR, when he was wounded by an IED in the western part of Iraq. In addition to running the 10 Miler on Sunday, he has returned to the Ski Slopes in Colorado at the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic. He is now getting ready to take command of the Regimental Headquarters Troop, 3rd ACR, after recently being cleared to remain on active duty. That unit is preparing to return to Iraq with Captain Rozelle in command.<br/><br/>Soldiers like Captain Rozelle who demonstrate daily their commitment to live by the ideals contained in the Warrior Ethos and Army Values define the Army's character in service to the Nation.<br/><br/>Our Soldiers are central to all that we do. They remain the centerpiece of our thinking, our systems, and our combat formations. We have about 300,000 Soldiers deployed or forward stationed in 120 countries. Our operational tempo is high and our resolve is firm.<br/><br/>As we improve our capabilities through the introduction of technological leaps forward, we must not forget that our technology enhances, but does not replace the human element of our Army. Our Soldiers must remain the masters of the tough no-tech/lo-tech realities of combat.<br/><br/>On June 14, 1775 our Army began our tradition of winning and defending freedom for all. For over 229 years American Soldiers have answered the Nation's call to end tyranny, free the oppressed, and light the path to democracy for other struggling peoples. Today's challenges continue to require the deep and enduring commitment of every member of our Army, every leader, every Soldier, every civilian, and every family member and every person in this room today.<br/><br/>Our all-volunteer Army continues to serve with tremendous skill and courage around the world. Our Army is in good hands with Soldiers like Sergeant David and Specialist Nancy Romero. Sergeant Romero was born in Honduras and became a US citizen in 1988. Sergeant and Specialist Romero were married in 2001 and have two sons, David, Jr. and Daniel. Both Sergeant and Specialist Romero have deployed once in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and are preparing to deploy again as members of the 96th Transportation Company. Both of these Soldiers are recipients of the Purple Heart. In addition Sergeant Romero was awarded the Bronze Star with V for actions on 10 April 2004. These are the Soldiers that you find throughout our Army. They get it. They're committed. They live the Warrior Ethos.<br/><br/>The integration of our active National Guard and USAR formations in combat demonstrates the One Army that we have all talked about for years. In all my experience we are closer today than ever before and that is powerful. We should all be very proud of the sacrifices that our Soldiers are making for our country and our way of life. Be assured that our Army is not only highly capable and successful today, but we are building a force that will be even more relevant and ready tomorrow.<br/><br/>Thank you for your continued support. God bless you our Army and the United States of America.