CSA addresses worldwide challenges at Brookings Institution
February 1, 2010
By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Feb. 1, 2010) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said as the Army looks to the future, his two key concerns are weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and countries that won't deny safe havens to those terrorists.
Reiterating what he had stated in 2007 at the Brookings Institution, Casey returned to one of the country's oldest think tanks Jan. 29 to give an assessment of the present and future of the Army, adding that Iraq and Afghanistan were foreshadows to the future nature of conflict.
"We are in for a decade or so of what I call persistent conflict, a period of protracted confrontation among state, non-state and individual actors who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political and ideological objectives," he said. "That's what I said back in 2007, and that's what I still believe today."
He said the Army had been taking hard looks at what it thinks the character of war is going to be in the second decade of the 21st century. Casey cited a study of the conflict in southern Lebanon in 2006 where a non-state actor, Hezbollah, had the instruments of state power because they were supported by Iran and Syria which were able to provide them with surface-to-air, anti-tank and cruise missiles.
"They had secure cell phones, used secure computers for command and control and got their message out on local television, and about 3,000 Hezbollah operatives basically held off 30,000 well-armed, well-equipped Israeli soldiers," Casey said. "That's a much more complex struggle even than what we're doing in Iraq and Afghanistan, so we're continuing to refine our thoughts on that."
"This is a long-term ideological struggle and it's not one that we can walk away from," he said. "As we look at the trends that we see in the international environment, it seems to us that those trends are more likely to exacerbate."
Casey also said he had four imperatives he felt the Army needed to do to hold the force together and to bring it into a position of balance by 2011.
First, is to sustain Soldiers and families with a particular focus on mid-level officers and noncommissioned officers which he said take 10 years to grow.
Secondly, is to continue preparing and equipping Soldiers for the current conflict - something he felt the Army had made great strides in since the early years in Iraq when it took an excessive amount of time to get up-armored Humvees into country. He said delivery of Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles into Afghanistan took about nine months, so "we're getting better at that."
As his third priority, Casey is concentrating on expanding the reset period for Soldiers and equipment. He said 12 months of dwell time isn't enough for Soldiers or equipment to recover fully. He said the Army had recently completed a study to that effect.
"For the first time, we have scientific data that showed that after a 12-month combat deployment, it takes 24 to 36 months actually to recover stress levels to what they called 'normal garrison' stress levels," Casey said.
He said the one-year-out, one-year-back deployment/dwell scenario was not sustainable and that the Army would continue to work toward a one-year-out, two-year-back cycle for the active force and a one-year-out to four-year-back cycle for the National Guard and Reserve. The long-term objective would be one year out, three years back for the active Army; one year out and five years back for the Guard and Reserve.
"Lastly, we have to continue to transform. You don't stay at war for as long as we've been at war without figuring out better and smarter ways to do things," he said. "I can actually see the completion of the objectives we set for ourselves to get back in balance."