FORT BLISS, Texas (Jan. 14, 2010) -- Army Secretary John McHugh and Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. delivered their 2010 plan for the Army to the most senior NCOs here during the annual Sergeant Major of the Army Nominative conference.

McHugh and Casey addressed more than 600 nominative command sergeants major and senior enlisted advisors - those senior NCOs who advise general and flag officers in command positions within the military's active, Guard and Reserve.

Underscoring the importance of noncommissioned officer leadership, McHugh referenced his recent trips to Afghanistan and Iraq. He stated that the constant presence of professional and highly trained NCOs at every forward operating base and remote corner of the fight elevated his confidence in the ultimate success of the missions there.

"You as the senior leaders of the Noncommissioned Officer Corps have guaranteed that our NCOs remain the best - and the envy - of every other army in the world," said McHugh. "I want to personally thank you for your selfless service on behalf of our nation and the sacrifices and commitment of your families."

In 2009, the Army recognized the special role of the noncommissioned officer by dubbing it the "Year of the NCO." McHugh impressed upon the NCOs the instrumental part each played in molding the future generation of Soldiers as the Army continues to change and grow to meet the demand of prolonged conflict during the 21st century.

"We need to build the Army in much the same way that senior NCOs build their units: by working directly with Soldiers and by helping them transform how they think and how they accept risk," he said.

McHugh suggested this be accomplished by direct mentorship and a career-long commitment to learning. He also stressed that contrary to previous wisdom, technology alone is not enough to "lift the fog of war" and that leaders must be developed who are both adaptable and resilient through a three-pronged approach: education, training and experience.

The Army Chief of Staff echoed McHugh's remarks. "We are in a seminal point in the transformation of our Army," said Casey.

The Army has transitioned from the conventional warfare that predated the 9-11 attacks to one that must operate across the full spectrum of conflict, said Casey.

In looking to the future of the Army, Casey stated that one of his biggest priorities was restoring balance to the force through implementation of the Army Force Generation plan. Dwell time, the time a Soldier has at home between deployments, is crucial to allowing a Soldier to rest and units to reset and train before being tapped for future deployments.

"The most important thing we can do to restore balance to the force is to increase the amount of time that Soldiers are home," said Casey. "And it's not only so that they can spend time with their families, and that's important, but so that the Soldiers can recover."

Soldiers, Casey said, are only human and the constant tempo of deployments has taken a toll.

It is because of the growth of the Army since 2004 that the buildup of forces in Afghanistan will not interfere with the goal to increase dwell time, require longer deployments or use stop-loss. The cycle of a two-year break after deployments for active-duty Soldiers and a four-year break for National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers should be met by 2011 for a large percentage of the force, and the remainder should meet this goal by 2012.

Both leaders also affirmed their commitment to the families of Soldiers. One of their objectives for 2010 is to streamline the programs available, ensure people understand how to take advantage of the current programs, and allow for flexible family services that vary from post to post.

Quoting former Army Chief of Staff, Gen. John Wickham, McHugh said, "The stronger the family, the stronger the Army, because strong families improve combat readiness."

These programs must endure no matter how big the Army or what mission arises in the future, said McHugh.

McHugh concluded his comments by stating, "Today, I challenge you to harness all that has made you successful and use it to accomplish your next mission, and never to forget the welfare of your Soldiers."

Page last updated Thu January 14th, 2010 at 11:57