Gen. George W. Casey, Jr
Awardee Video Tribute and Remarks
March 4, 2010
Denver, Colorado

Presenter:

First presented in 1951, The Evans Award is named for John Evans, principal founder of the University of Denver. It is presented annually to distinguished alumnus or alumna who has demonstrated achievement in his or her profession, offered humanitarian services to the community, and demonstrated continuing interest in the University of Denver.

TonightAca,!a,,cs honoree has risen to one of the highest positions in the United States Army and, when his schedule allows, he actually meets with DU students when they are in Washington, D.C. General George W. Casey, Jr. graduated from Georgetown University with a BachelorAca,!a,,cs Degree in International Studies, and we are so proud to say that his MasterAca,!a,,cs Degree in International Studies came from the University of DenverAca,!a,,cs Joseph Korbel School of International Studies. General Casey will deliver tonightAca,!a,,cs keynote address after we learn a little bit more about him.

[Beginning of audio/visual presentation]

General Casey:

When I came in the Army, I came out of ROTC, I had a two-year obligation, and my plan was to stay in for two years and get out and go to law school. My wife tells me that my sense of time is not very good because itAca,!a,,cs the longest two years that she ever could imagine.

Narrator:

General George Casey has been described as the type of leader who is very approachable. An officer who makes anyone in his command, no matter what their rank, feel comfortable when talking to him. General Casey became the highest ranking officer in the United States Army on April 10, 2007, and it was a lifetime of service and the education he received at the Joseph Korbel School of International Studies that prepared him for the position.

General Casey:

It was really the most broadening experience of my career. I took advantage of the time there to think and to interact with the teachers and the other students. I came out of there a much broader officer than when I went in. Never did I imagine that I would actually be applying some of that during my thirty-two months in Iraq or in the run up to the Kosovo War or in the aftermath of the Kosovo War, where I had to take a lot of what I learned there and translate it and apply it directly into some diplomatic engagements that I was involved in.

Professor Jonathan Adelman:

George Casey was probably what you would expect. A very good student. He was bright. He was determined. He was hardworking. But I must tell you in all fairness, if youAca,!a,,cd asked me over twenty years ago whether I thought he would become Army Chief of Staff, I would have thought, I donAca,!a,,ct know. ItAca,!a,,cs really a very special feeling to think that the University of Denver had something to do with this, and he even talks about the classes he took here, including my class and how when he met Russian diplomats in the late 1980s, he remembered things that we had taught, and he said, "You know what, youAca,!a,,cre actually right."

Narrator:

As Chief of Staff, General Casey ensures that the worldAca,!a,,cs best Army is always ready to defend the country or itAca,!a,,cs allies and the Commanders in the field have what they need to get the job done.

General Casey:

ItAca,!a,,cs a hard business. And, IAca,!a,,cll just tell you, my time in Iraq, that was the most difficult, most complex thing that IAca,!a,,cve ever done. I believe that we advanced the ball during the time that I was there, and we set the conditions for our ultimate success, and I feel very proud of what weAca,!a,,cre seeing happen in Iraq.

Narrator:

Dealing with the death of soldiers from combat is never easy for General Casey, but the recent tragedy at Fort Hood was especially difficult.

General Casey:

This was a kick in the gut. It was our soldiers being killed on our base, and I tell you, that was a kick in the gut, and thatAca,!a,,cs how you feel, and I remember feeling that way in Iraq on numerous occasions when we lost a large number of soldiers in an attack.

Narrator:

General CaseyAca,!a,,cs commitment to the Army extends beyond the soldiers he commands. He also cares deeply about the families who stay behind when their loved ones are deployed. As Chief of Staff, he has invested a great deal of time working on their behalf.

General Casey:

The effects of eight and a half years of war are cumulative. People seem to think that once you get through a couple of deployments, itAca,!a,,cs easier, The fact is, it only gets harder, and so we issued what we call The Family Covenant. It is a statement of support from the Secretary of the Army and from me and the Sergeant Major of the Army to our families, pledging our continued support and our expanded support in the areas that they told us were most important to them. We doubled the amount of money weAca,!a,,cre putting toward soldier and family programs, and weAca,!a,,cve sustained them.

Narrator:

General Casey is the thirty-sixth person appointed Army Chief of Staff, a title once held by legendary soldiers such as Douglas MacArthur, Omar Bradley, and George Marshall. His office is adorned with memorabilia from his distinguished predecessors including an original Norman Rockwell. General Casey is making history of his own, and he is very proud to wear his countryAca,!a,,cs uniform.

General Casey:

This is a very rewarding job because youAca,!a,,cre in a position to make a significant difference in the lives of the soldiers and families of the Army and to shape this institution for the future.

Narrator:

Tonight, the University of Denver Alumni Association is proud to present The Evans Award to General George W. Casey, Jr.

[End of audio/visual presentation]

[APPLAUSE]

General Casey:

Thank you.

[APPLAUSE]

Sheila is the one that usually gets the blue boxes. IAca,!a,,cm not accustomed to that. Well, listen, thank you for that very, very warm welcome. I must say when I get a round of applause like that before I talk, it reminds me of the story about the Air Force pilot, the Army General, and the Marine Sergeant who were in a prisoner-of-war camp. The Commandant came in and said, "I have bad news. You face a firing squad tomorrow at dawn, but IAca,!a,,cm here to grant your last request." He looks at the pilot and says, "Major what would you like'" And the pilot said, "IAca,!a,,cd like to have my last dinner by candlelight with a beautiful woman." He said, "it will be done." He looks at the Army General and says, "General, whatAca,!a,,cs your last request'" And the General sucks himself up to his full height of five feet nine and says "IAca,!a,,cd like to address the troops one more time", and he says, "it will be done."

And he looks at the Marine Sergeant and says, Sergeant, whatAca,!a,,cs your last request' He says I want to be shot an hour before the General starts talking. {LAUGHTER}
So I hope you donAca,!a,,ct feel that way when IAca,!a,,cm done here.

Bob, thank you very much. It is a great honor and great privilege. Thanks to the members of the Board of Trustees. Dean Tom Farer, the University is going to bid farewell to you here in June, but I would just like to publicly recognize you not only for what youAca,!a,,cve done for the Korbel School but for your service to your country. Thank you very much.

[APPLAUSE]

My congratulations to my fellow awardees tonight. Ty Mills, I think you gave me a parking ticket when I was in graduate school, but you look pretty fit, we may need to bring you back on active duty there. A couple of my professors are here, Karen Feste and Jonathan Adelman, and Jonathan, IAca,!a,,cm as surprised as you are. My wife, Sheila, of forty years here in June is with me down here in the front row.

[APPLAUSE]

And some great friends of ours have come in from Colorado Springs and the area, Steve and Rose Durham, Brigadier General John and Marybeth Brown, and Chris Paulson and his date Megan, and Chris, your sister will be very happy to know you had a date tonight.

ItAca,!a,,cs wonderful to receive this award. IAca,!a,,cve had a lot of fun thinking about my time at Denver University and thinking about how itAca,!a,,cs impacted me and what itAca,!a,,cs meant. I had a chance to do that about eighteen months ago when I received an award from the Korbel School. But itAca,!a,,cs fascinating, some of you may know, we lived in Colorado Springs for a long time, about twelve years. In fact, I thought I was going to retire here until we had grandchildren on the East Coast, and then I was told I could retire here if I wanted to retire alone. But when I was in Colorado Springs, I was an Infantry Captain. IAca,!a,,cd been in the Army about eight years. I had spent all that time in an Infantry Battalion. I can tell you in the peacetime Army, garrison duty is pretty mundane. After eight years I was thinking to myself, there has got to be more to the Army than this. Later, I was offered the opportunity to become a Foreign Area Officer and to do that I was offered graduate school. I was going to be a Foreign Area Officer with a specialty of Northeast Asia. So I applied to Denver University, and I was accepted-- which was a great shock because I wasnAca,!a,,ct much of a student in college. I came up here and it was a big adjustment. Imagine coming from an Infantry Battalion into an academic setting, and I was very anxious that everybody there was smarter than me and knew more than me. I poured myself into my studies, which is a big change from college when I poured a lot of other things.

[LAUGHTER]

But I would go to class, and I would surprise myself because I had actually done the reading, and I knew the answers to a lot of questions. But I was still timid in my first few sessions. I was taking this one class, and IAca,!a,,cd gone through three classes and hadnAca,!a,,ct really said anything. I finally raised my hand, and the professor looked at me and said, "Aha, the laconic Mr. Casey." Ever since then, IAca,!a,,cve been known to my wife as the laconic Mr. Casey. Finally, I decided IAca,!a,,cd mingle with the faculty a little bit, and so I actually attended a couple of faculty meetings. I made a note to myself when I left the second one, this is not a good way to make decisions.

[APPLAUSE]

I had the opportunity to talk to some current students, masterAca,!a,,cs degree students at Korbel today. As I looked at their shining faces and their bright eyes, it reminded me of my time there, because I enjoyed what I was doing. I loved the studies, but I had no idea how it was going to benefit me, if at all, down the road. As I look back on what happened to me since I left the Korbel School, IAca,!a,,cm just amazed at how IAca,!a,,cve applied the things that I learned there. The idea that I would actually run elections in Bosnia and Iraq. I never imagined that. The notion that IAca,!a,,cd spend thirty-two months commanding coalition forces in an environment as complex and as challenging as Iraq. Never thought IAca,!a,,cd be able to do anything like that. I actually started going back and looked at some of the classes I took. I took a class from Professor Arthur Gilbert whoAca,!a,,cs still here and still teaching. It was called, How Wars Start. And those of you that know Arthur, heAca,!a,,cs a real character, but he really makes you think. I found myself as a Brigadier having a clandestine meeting with the Chief of Staff of the Serbian Army trying to get him to turn off his radars on the Mediterranean Coast in Montenegro so we could avoid having to start a war at all. I got teamed up with Dick Holbrook to go into see Milosevic ten days before the NATO ultimatum expired to give him one last opportunity to submit to NATOAca,!a,,cs demands. In the meetings, I was always "The General", and it was, if you donAca,!a,,ct do this, "The General" will get you. But as I was taking ArthurAca,!a,,cs class, the thought never crossed my mind.

Jonathan mentioned that we did a lot of work together on the Soviet Union and with Condi Rice. She was in those classes. Condi and I often in the Situation Room or in Baghdad weAca,!a,,cd talk about our times here at DU. Six months after I finished my studies here, I wound up on the Suez Canal with just myself and three Russians, right in the middle of the Cold War, debating the merits of communism over capitalism. And yes, there was vodka involved. Twenty years after that, I wound up negotiating the Russian role and presence in Kosovo at the end of the war, and they are every bit as difficult negotiators as Jonathan said they were.

Arthur Gilbert taught another course called How Wars End. You had to take that after the first one to find out the ending. But never did I imagine IAca,!a,,cd be paired with Strobe Talbott as the military member of his team as he negotiated the end of the Kosovo War with Prime Minister Ahtisaari and former Prime Minister Chernomyrdin of the Soviet Union. And the way it worked was Talbot and Chernomyrdin were doing the negotiating, Ahtisaari was refereeing, and what theyAca,!a,,cd do was theyAca,!a,,cd put an empty chair at the table. They called it the fourth chair, and that was Milosevic. But everybody knew that once the Russians signed off on the deal, Milosevic didnAca,!a,,ct have any choice. But it was absolutely fascinating.

I took other courses in International Security Policy, International Economics, Karen Feste taught some of those courses. Never in my wildest dreams did I think that I would actually use that to teach three Prime Ministers of Iraq how to structure the security infrastructure of their country. As I look back on these times here, as I said in the video, it was the most broadening time of my life. And what I saw was that I was surrounded by people who were passionate in their desire to understand the world around them and to make it better, and to pass that passion on to others. And they passed that on to me.

[APPLAUSE]

And now I feel like IAca,!a,,cve taken more than IAca,!a,,cve given here, and IAca,!a,,cm looking forward to continuing to give back here to the university.

Now, if I could, IAca,!a,,cd like to shift gears here for a few minutes, and talk about the Army and about the future. First of all, in my role as Chief of Staff of the Army, I have an institution role, not an operational role. I am responsible for recruiting, training, organizing and equipping our soldiers, and then I send them off to work for the Combatant Commanders, Generals like General Petraeus, and they actually employ the forces. But, I am responsible for one point one million people, about half of those in the Guard in Reserve, with an average budget over two hundred billion dollars a year. And itAca,!a,,cs an organization that has been at war for the last eight and a half years, and we will likely be at war for a few more years to come. As part of that job, I have to look to the future. I have to try to figure our what kind of Army weAca,!a,,cre going to need in ten, fifteen, twenty years, so weAca,!a,,cre not surprised. I would like to talk a little bit just about how I see the future, and I say right up front, I say that knowing full well that the best we can do is get it about right, because none of us have crystal balls. And as Yogi Berra says, "Predictions are hard, especially when youAca,!a,,cre talking about the future."

But, as we look out to the future, what we see is, first of all, weAca,!a,,cre at war. WeAca,!a,,cve been at war for eight and a half years. WeAca,!a,,cre at war with the global extremists terrorist network that attacked us on our soil. And this war, like it or not, is a long-term ideological struggle, and these folks arenAca,!a,,ct going to quit, theyAca,!a,,cre not going to give up, and theyAca,!a,,cre not going to go away easily.

Against that backdrop, the trends we see in the global environment, seem to me, more likely to exacerbate that situation rather than ameliorate it. What am I talking about' Globalization. Globalization is certainly, or at least it was, bringing prosperity to many countries around the globe. But itAca,!a,,cs unevenly distributed and the uneven distribution causes have and have-not cultures, or societies, and those have-not societies are much more susceptible to recruiting by terrorist organizations.

Technology is another double-edged sword. The same technology that is bringing knowledge to anyone with a computer is being used by terrorist organizations to export terror around the globe.

Demographics. Another trend thatAca,!a,,cs going in the wrong direction. WeAca,!a,,cve seen studies that say that the population of some of these developing countries is expected to double in the next twenty years. Can you imagine the population of Pakistan doubling and all the attendant problems that brings with it for an already strapped government' The population is increasingly moving to cities. Sixty percent of the population is expected to live in cities by 2030. That says an awful lot about where we will have to operate as land forces. The other part is that the middle classes in both China and India are already larger than the population of the United States. ThatAca,!a,,cs a lot of two-car families and thatAca,!a,,cs a lot of competitive demand for scarce resources.

The two things that really worry me most about future trends are weapons of mass destruction and safe havens-- countries or parts of countries where the local government canAca,!a,,ct or wonAca,!a,,ct deny their territory to terrorists. And these weapons of mass destruction are troublesome because there are over twelve hundred terrorist organizations out there. We know theyAca,!a,,cre seeking the weapons and when they get them, there is no doubt in my mind that they will use them against a developing country. IAca,!a,,cve been saying that since just before I watched the television show "24" last weekend. Now for me, itAca,!a,,cs not enough just to look at those trends and at the environment. We have to look at what war is going to look like in the twenty-first century. And you can look at Iraq and you can look at Afghanistan, and for sure, there are harbingers there. But I prefer to look at what happened in Southern Lebanon in the summer of 2006. There you had a non-state actor, a terrorist organization, Hizbullah, operating inside a state, Lebanon, supported by two other states, Syria and Iran, fighting yet another state, Israel. And that non-state actor, that terrorist organization, had the instruments of state power. They started the war with thirteen thousand rockets and missiles and not just the small rockets they shoot at our bases in Iraq and Afghanistan, large missiles they shot at Israeli cities.

They shot an Israeli helicopter down with a surface-to-air missile. They hit an Israeli ship in the Mediterranean Sea with a cruise missile. They had unmanned aerial vehicles to target the Israelis. They used secure cell phones and secure computers. And they got their message out on local television. In addition, about three thousand Hezbollah operatives fought a well-trained and well-equipped Israeli force to a standstill and denied them their objectives. To me, thatAca,!a,,cs much more relevant to the challenges that weAca,!a,,cll be facing, and itAca,!a,,cs something that weAca,!a,,cre working toward. When we look at all that, to us it seems like weAca,!a,,cre in an Era of Persistent Conflict-- a period of protracted confrontation among states, non-states, and individual actors who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political and idealogical objectives. WeAca,!a,,cre going to be at this for a while. One of the things that comes through to us in all this, is with all the complexity that we see, leadership is the key. And the country needs competent military and civilian leaders that can bring together both the hard and soft power that are required for success.

As we pursue those goals, education remains the key to our long-term success.

IAca,!a,,cd like to close with some thoughts about the freedoms that we enjoy in this great country. About two Memorial Days ago, I went to a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with the President. Then I went down and I spoke at the Vietnam Memorial. Since we were already on The Mall, my wife and I walked over to the Korean Memorial and then walked on down to the World War II Memorial. And I was struck by two things. I was struck by the scope of the loss-- hundreds of thousands of Americans have given their lives for this country. But I was also struck by how lucky we are as a country to have generation after generation of Americans who believe so strongly in the values and ideals that this country stands for that theyAca,!a,,cre willing to make the ultimate sacrifice. In this war, since September 11, we have had over five thousand men and women give their lives and another twelve thousand have received awards for valor. We in the US military understand the cost of our freedoms. Freedom that as Joseph Korbel said in 1964, freedom that knows no barriers, that scatters and deepens in all directions. An understanding of the changing face of freedom unveils the secret of progress and to peace. Our freedoms canAca,!a,,ct be taken for granted, and they will only be sustained when our leaders and our educators keep the values and ideals of this country alive, and our soldiers continue to hold them dear. That combination makes this country what it is today, the greatest nation on Earth. And itAca,!a,,cs what makes institutions like Denver University so valuable for our future.

Thank you all for tonight. IAca,!a,,cm honored. I thank you for the great gift IAca,!a,,cve received from Denver University, and I thank you very much for this award. Thanks a lot.

[APPLAUSE]

Page last updated Sat March 6th, 2010 at 11:19