Jan. 15, 2010 - Army Family Action Plan
January 19, 2010
General George William Casey, Jr.
15 January 2010
General Casey: Hi! I love this group. There is so much energy. I can hardly wait to hear the top five. [Laughter].
It is great to be here. Suzie Schwartz, Beth Chiarelli, thanks. Thank you for what you do.
This has been kind of a journey for me. I came down here in 2003 as the Vice Chief, and with the exception of two years while I was in Iraq, I've made it down here every year. This program gives us great impetus to drive the family programs that we've been trying to drive here as an Army really for over the decades. We're very glad to have Suzie Schwartz, the Chief of Staff of the Air Force's spouse with us. The Air Force is just as committed to taking care of their Airmen as we are [of our Soldiers].
What I'd like to do today is give you a little context for the next year so you can see how these family programs are going to fit into the broader scope of what the Army's going to be doing in 2010. Then, I'm going to ask [BG] Rhonda Cornum to come up and talk to you a little bit about the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program. It really is a Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness Program, and today--much to General Cornum's good luck--the family version of the [Global] Assessment [Tool] is actually on-line and available, and I think some of you have taken that [assessment]. If what we did with the Soldier program holds true, it's going to take a little feedback from you and some tweaking to get it where we want it, so that feedback has been very important.
Put up the one slide I have...I know a lot of you do the same thing. You sit down toward the end of the year or the beginning of the year, and you figure out what the heck you need to get done in the next year. We've been going through that process here in the Army. And these are the six major objectives that the Secretary and I want to accomplish this year.
I'm going to talk to you about the top three. The bottom three are really uniform stuff and I'd water your eyes with acronyms talking about that. Suffice it to say that we need to better manage ourselves and we're working on that. We're going to expand our leader development programs so that we can actually execute them while we're rotating Soldiers back and forth to Afghanistan, and we're going to significantly increase what we're doing for our Civilian workforce in terms of leader development.
Lastly, you know we've been transforming our Army while we've been fighting this war because we were a great Cold War Army in 2001. Over the last several years, we've been making good progress toward that. But really the intellectual work for the Army that we're designing took place in 2002 and 2003. As you can imagine, we've learned a heck of a lot more about what 21st Century operations are going to be like in the last five years. So now we have to take that knowledge and apply it to the Army.
Enough said about the last three. Let me talk about the first three, because I think those are the ones that have most direct impact on the things that we're doing here as Families.
First of all, I have been saying since 2007 that--as an Army--we are out of balance, and that we are so weighed down by our current demands that we can't do the things we know we need to do to take care of Soldiers and Families properly, and to prepare ourselves to do other things. In 2007, we executed a plan--as only the Army can do--to put ourselves back in balance by 2011. Wow, that's a long time. But--at the same time we're doing this--we're rotating 150,000 Soldiers over and back to Iraq and Afghanistan every year.
I will tell you: we have made great progress over the last two and a half years in our efforts to get back in balance, and with the drawdown in Iraq and with the growth [in the number of Soldiers] that we have made in the last several years, we will continue to make progress.
Frankly, I will just tell you, with the decision to draw down in Iraq, and with the decision to plus-up in Afghanistan--and, by the way, our portion of that 30,000 plus-up in Afghanistan is a little over 20,000--we will have greatest clarity over what our force requirements will look like for the next couple of years than we have had since the surge. That's a very, very good thing.
Now, what are some of the key elements of balance that we've been working on' One is growth. President Bush told us back in 2007 to increase the size of the Army by 74,000. Originally, that was going to be done in 2012. When I'd go into big auditoriums full of Family members and I'd say that to them, we're going to get bigger so you don't have to deploy more and we're going to get done in 2012, of course they'd look at me like you're looking at me: [Laughter] 'Tell me something that means something to me.'
With Secretary Gates' help, we moved that forward to 2010 and we actually finished [our growth] last year. All the components finished that last year. And even as we finished that, it was clear to us that that wasn't enough because we have about 10,000 Soldiers who are either in Warrior Transition Units or running Warrior Transition Units. We have another 10,000 Soldiers who are temporarily non-deployable because they've got that elbow or that shoulder or that knee fixed that they've been putting off for a couple of deployments and they can't go right now. And we have another 10,000 or so who are already deployed; they are on transition teams that are in headquarters. That's 30,000 total we couldn't put in units. So we were having difficulty filling the units to go.
So, we went back to the Secretary of Defense and asked that he let us continue to grow...He agreed to let us continue to grow another 22,000. So 74K and 22k, you're approaching 100,000 in the last several years. That's huge. And you should be starting to see the impact of that on the amount of time the Soldiers are away from home. It will only continue to get better. So we've made great progress. That's important.
The second thing I'm going to talk about the specific impact of the Afghan plus-up and Iraq drawdown when we get to that bullet.
The other things we've been doing is converting all our formations to modular organizations that are much better in the 21st Century. There are three hundred brigades in the Army. We've already done about 280. The rest will be done by 2011.
Then rebalancing: Taking Soldiers out of skills that were very beneficial in the Cold War, and moving them into fields more useful to us now. So we've got the right skills in the force. For example, we've taken down about 200 tank companies, artillery batteries, and air defense batteries, and we've stood up a corresponding number of Special Forces, civil affairs, and psychological operations. So we're getting the capabilities closer to what we really need.
The last part of this is base realignment and closure [BRAC]. You all have seen the impacts of that all across the Army. I can't go on an Army installation without seeing cranes. Yeah, there's a lot of turbulence ... but the output of that is usually improved facilities for our Soldiers and Families. That BRAC for us will affect 380,000 Soldiers and Family members over the next few years. But the quality of life that comes out of that is going to be much better.
Bottom line: we're on track to get ourselves back in balance by '11. I expect to continue to make great progress toward this goal over the next few years.
Second, the Afghan plus-up and responsible drawdown in Iraq: This is hugely important to you. We have just under 100,000 Soldiers in Iraq today. In eight months, we'll have half that; we'll have fewer than 50,000 Soldiers in Iraq. Eighteen months after that, there won't be any. I suspect there will be some Soldiers [there], but a relatively small number. You can already appreciate the impact that will have on the time that the Soldiers spend at home.
The other thing I mentioned was about our part of the Afghan plus-up, which is about 20,000. Because of the time it takes to deploy units into Afghanistan and because of the transportation requirements, when you lay that 20,000 over the Iraq drawdown, what you see is that we never have appreciably more forces deployed than we do today. So people think it's strange when we say we can accept this plus-up and still not have to go to 15-month deployments, or go to less than 12-months at home, and all-the-while continuing to come off stop loss. Stop loss is basically involuntarily forcing Soldiers to deploy. Starting the first of January, no Soldier has to deploy involuntarily. And we will continue that from now on.
This is a good news story.
The other part of this is dwell. We set goals for ourselves at the end of '11 to be at one-year-out, two-years-back for the active force; one-year-out, four-years-back for the Guard and Reserve. Even with the plus-up in Afghanistan, we meet that objective for 70 percent of the active force and 80 percent of the Guard and Reserve by the end of '11. And those that don't make it are in the 18 to 24 window. Those units will make it the next year.
Again, with a combination of the growth, and the drawdown in Iraq, we're going to continue to make good progress toward getting ourselves back in balance. And I will tell you, after doing this now for two and a half years, it's clear to me that the most important thing we can do to get ourselves back in balance is to increase the time that Soldiers are at home. We have done studies and demonstrated conclusively what we all intuitively know: it takes about two years at home to recover effectively from a year in combat. The Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs understand that, and are very supportive of our efforts to achieve our goals in '11 and '12. We're in good shape on that.
Now let me talk to you about the third bullet [on the slide]: Sustain Soldiers, Civilians and Families. That is part of getting ourselves back in balance. I have four imperatives: Sustain Soldiers, Civilians and Families; continue to Prepare Soldiers for success in the current conflict; Reset them effectively when they get back; and continue to Transform. This has been our major focus from the beginning.
There are a few things that I'm very interested in getting done this year. First is the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness [CSF] Program that I mentioned earlier. General Cornum is going to talk about it in a little detail here, but this is a program to provide our Soldiers--all of our Soldiers--all of our Family members, and all of our [Army] Civilians, the resilience and coping skills that will allow them to deal with the challenges that we're throwing at them. And it's designed also to enhance their performance and to make us all more capable.
CSF has four parts to it. First of all, there's an assessment tool--an on-line assessment tool. And, as I said, there's [now] one for the Families. It's been about 90 days behind the one for the Soldiers, and it's just come on-line today. You can go on-line in the privacy of your own home and take about a 20-minute assessment, and it will give you a strength rating in the five key dimensions of fitness: physical, emotional, social, family, and spiritual. It's a bar graph. You'll see where you stack up; it'll say you're strong here, strong here, and that you may need some work here. It will then allow you to connect to on-line self-help modules where you can get some points where you can help improve yourself.
Now the family modules are lagging a little bit. They'll be on-line a little bit later. But the Soldier modules are already on-line, and frankly, I don't think there's going to be that much difference.
The other element [of CSF] is that in every Army school--from Basic Training through the War College--our Soldiers and leaders will get progressive blocks of instruction on resilience.
And then lastly, we are growing Master Resilience Trainers, and our goal is to get a Master Resilience Trainer in every [battalion] in the Army by the end of this year. We already have almost 500 of those trained. Some Family members have actually gone up and attended the course.
The idea is to train these Soldiers to help other Soldiers build resilience. If you think about Master Fitness Trainers--some of you remember--we still have them. Hooah. Just like we can teach you how to do a good pushup, we can teach you some things that will help you be more resilient.
I believe this is hugely important because everything else we have is 'shooting behind the duck.' It's after the fact. With these [CSF] skills you can become more resilient. And so that's our goal: It's to get in front of problems and give you and the Soldiers the skills they need to move forward.
The second thing is the Army Family Covenant. What I've come to realize in my two and a half years as the Chief is when you start a new program, there's a lot of energy, right' Everybody goes out and says, 'hey, we're going to do this,' and you get it going. Then you turn your head and start working on something else and then the energy starts dissipating, right' So you have a plateau. About every year you've got to come back and boost it again. [Laughter]. Right'
We kind of did this with the Family Covenant. Everybody's doing great work, but I kind of got the impression last fall that we had plateau'ed. So we needed to just give it a little more juice here. I've charged General Lynch to be the juicer and move that forward. And those of you who know General Lynch--you know he is imminently qualified for that job. [Laughter].
So our intention is to continue with that.
Now you need to understand that we have already taken the money for these Family programs and put them in the base budget. It will not depend on the war funding. That's how serious we are. And we'll continue to put the right amount of money in there to do what it is we need to do.
The third element is 'Warriors in Transition'--treating our wounded warriors and improving their transition out of the Army or to whatever is coming after that. That's another one that we've made very good progress on. But, we need to take this to the next level, particularly focusing on smoothing the transition from the Army to the Veterans Administration or civilian life or into another Army job depending on wherever you want to go. We have some more work to do with that.
A fourth element is survivor outreach services. About 18 months ago, we started a program because--after five years of war--we realized that we were really doing just casualty assistance. Then, as the Secretary and I traveled around the Army and talked to the surviving spouses and family members, it was clear to us that they felt they were still part of the Army Family, and they wanted more interaction. And so we set out to try to expand the capability.
We just had a seminar and brought a lot of surviving Family members in from all over the Army--survivors not just from this conflict, but from others [as well]. What was clear to me in talking to them was that they'd never really had a voice. They'd never had someone out there really advocating for their services. Yes, there were some great actions in place outside the service, but they really hadn't had a voice. So we need to give them that voice. So that's another program we need to take to the next level.
The last element that I'm going to highlight for you is Family support to modular organizations. Earlier, I mentioned these modular organizations where you have a division headquarters, and it may be the case that all its brigades might not deploy with it. You get down to smaller units like companies and platoons that might not deploy with the battalion that they're with in garrison. There are a lot of second and third order effects associated with this situation. So, we need to think our way through a new family support paradigm for modular organizations. Like I said, we've learned by trial and error, but we need to codify some of those lessons so that we're more efficient as an operating force. I think some of you have some great insights on this, and that's one of the things we're going to try to bring together over the course of the next few months.
So those are the top three (of the six priorities) that I really wanted to talk about in a detailed context. The bottom line is: we have made good progress in our efforts to restore balance. We're not completely out of the woods yet, but I see us getting where we need to get by '11. And, as part of this 'Establish an Integrated Management System for Army Business Operations' [on the slide], we are aligning our support systems to support an Army operating on a rotational model. And that's a big internal change for us, but we're going to be operating on that particular model for a while. We have to. I would say within 90 days we will be able to lay out--and this will be about a 90 percent solution--who's going to deploy in FY11; who's going to deploy in FY12; who's going to deploy in FY13. So, we start getting some level of predictability and we start getting ourselves organized on a rotational model.
2011 is going to be a transition year. By 2012, we hope to have the rotational model cranked-up and running. We have to do that. Because of the demands in theater, for the first time, I see the possibilities of actually being able to execute that. It will be a heck-of-a lot better than what we've been living with for the last several years.
That's what I wanted to share with you.