Chief wants Army on long-term rotational schedule
Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. discusses the future of the Army at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, May 28.

WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 29, 2009) - The Army could benefit from a permanent rotational schedule, similar to the Navy and Marine Corps, with four force groups of the Army in varying stages of operational readiness, the chief of staff of the Army said Thursday.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr. made the remarks at a military strategy forum hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, explaining that the cycle would always have one group either deployed or available for deployments and a second acting as an operational reserve that could quickly respond to emergencies. The other two would be training or resetting from a deployment, with the goal of three years at home for every year of deployment.

"I define hybrid threats as diverse combinations of irregular, conventional, terrorist and criminal elements that are employed asymmetrically to go against our strength and weaknesses to allow the enemy to achieve their goals," Casey said. "So we are shaping ourselves to deal with those kinds of threats. All told, what we're trying to build is a versatile mix of (customizable) organizations that are organized on a rotational cycle to generate a sustained flow of forces for full-spectrum operations and to hedge against uncertainties, and to do that at a deployment ratio sustainable for an all-volunteer force."

To respond to such hybrid threats, the chief said that each rotation would include a diverse mix of heavy, Stryker and light forces. The Army could also generate one operational headquarters, four tactical headquarters, 14-15 brigade combat teams and about 75,000 enablers in artillery, engineering, civil affairs and psychological operations in each of the four segments. This would give commanders a range of options on the battlefield, and would include National Guard and Reserve Soldiers as well as active-duty troops.

This is crucial because Casey said that when he considers the future of war, he not only looks at Iraq and Afghanistan, but especially at Israel's confrontation with Hezbollah in Lebanon in 2006.

In that case, a non-state actor with state support used not only improvised explosive devices, but conventional and high-tech weapons such as anti-tank guided missiles, surface-to-air missiles, cruise missiles, unmanned aerial vehicles and secure cell phones and computers. He said the Israeli after-action report indicated that they had been so focused on counter-insurgency, they lost the combined arms skills and the ability to integrate air, fires and artillery they needed in this situation.

"That is a much more complex and difficult type of warfare and more and more I see the character of conflict in the 21st century as more like that than what we've been preparing to do all of these years," Casey said.

"The one thing we know about the future is that we're never going to get it quite right, so you have to be able to put together packages of forces that meet the reality that really presents itself, not the one you designed it to do. We believe the way we're organizing the Army will allow us to do that," he continued.

He believes America is engaged in a long-term ideological struggle that will only be exacerbated by globalization, technology, population growth - leading to competition for resources - weapons of mass destruction and countries and regions that are safe havens for terrorists.

As a result, Casey said that the military will probably need about 10 Army brigades and Marine Corps regiments for the next decade for actions in Iraq, Afghanistan and places we don't know about yet. That doesn't mean, he cautioned, that the Army has plans to stay in Iraq past the 2011 deadline to withdraw combat forces, only that the Army is prepared for an uncertain future.

"We have to prevail in protracted anti-insurgency campaigns and we have to win the wars we're in," he said. "We have to be prepared to help other countries build a capacity to deny their countries to terrorists. And it's not just us training military forces. It may be us helping train police forces. It may be us helping build rule of law institutions and a range of other things."

Casey said that acceptance of this rotation schedule is the most significant thing that could come from the upcoming Quadrennial Defense Review.

In response to a question about the Army's ability to respond to an outbreak of hostilities with North Korea, Casey explained that while Soldiers are well-trained and combat-seasoned, and the Army would react as quickly as possible, his rotational plan would allow them to deploy even faster because his second group, his operational reserve, would exist for just such an emergency.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16