LEXINGTON, Va. (April 15, 2010) Aca,!" Facing a future rife with unpredictability, the one certainty the ArmyAca,!a,,cs chief of staff knows George C. Marshall Award winners will encounter throughout the infancy of their careers is a period of Aca,!A"persistent conflict.Aca,!A?

Gen. George W. Casey, the ArmyAca,!a,,cs top officer, said he expects American troops to spend at least the next decade thwarting threats around the world.

Aca,!A"These are ruthless men and women,Aca,!A? he said, referring to terrorist groups and non-state organizations intent on furthering their agendas through violence and intimidation.

Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cre going to have to be beaten. ItAca,!a,,cs going to be a long-term struggle.Aca,!A?

Speaking to Army ROTCAca,!a,,cs top cadets on the campus of Washington and Lee University, Casey outlined the Army they will soon join, detailed the transforming force and spotlighted the environment that will challenge the new officersAca,!a,,c mettle. This was the third year the chief of staff has addressed Marshall winners.

And each year, he is blunt about the environment cadets will enter.

But Casey also is direct about their potential for success in an organization that is the Aca,!A"best in the world at what it does.Aca,!A?

Aca,!A"YouAca,!a,,cll be welcomed into an Army at war,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"That speaks volumes for your character and commitment to this great country.Aca,!A?

Even through a period of prolonged discord, the Army continues to undergo significant change, some of it driven by Casey.

His vision is to create a force tailored more to overcome the complex obstacles of a tactical environment where traditional battle lines are blurred and the enemyAca,!a,,cs weapons are more ideological than physical. ThatAca,!a,,cs why restructuring has eliminated some wheeled vehicle units in favor of ones focused on technology, intelligence and psychological warfare.

Aca,!A"These guys weAca,!a,,cre fighting ainAca,!a,,ct dummies,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"They can operate in a sophisticated way.Aca,!A?

The Army also is getting closer to setting rotational schedules that will allow active duty Soldiers to spend two years at their home post between year-long deployments. The aim is to afford troops more time to reconnect with their families and know definitively when they will be away.

Casey said the change is a pivotal part of a comprehensive fitness package that balances mental and physical fitness and better positions Soldiers for success.

Aca,!A"The human mind and body are not made for the rigors of combat,Aca,!A? he said.

Cadets, meanwhile, await the challenges.

Lorraine Rodriguez left CaseyAca,!a,,cs speech inspired. The student from Florida International University said his straightforwardness about the world new Soldiers will face provided considerable comfort.

Aca,!A"We join the military for deployment, not employment,Aca,!A? she said.

Western Kentucky University cadet Aaron Arflack spent five years as a non-commissioned officer, including time in Iraq, before pursing a commission. He was assigned with fellow U.S. Soldiers at Abu Ghraib prison about six years ago as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

As he prepares to re-enter the ranks as an officer, Arflack said his experience will prove beneficial in that he knows, from an NCO perspective, what to expect from a platoon leader. However, the demands of leading Soldiers as a second lieutenant pose a host of different challenges.

The transition wonAca,!a,,ct Aca,!A"be flawless,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"ThereAca,!a,,cs still a lot to learn. Nothing can really prepare you for that. You just have to step into it and trust your [noncommissioned officers] to guide you right.Aca,!A?

As for the ArmyAca,!a,,cs future and predicting precisely what Marshall winners will encounter once they commission, Casey subscribes to the philosophy of Hall of Fame baseball player Yogi Berra. The former New York Yankees catcher said predictions are hard, especially when one is talking about the future.

Aca,!A"If we get it 85 percent [right], weAca,!a,,cre golden,Aca,!A? Casey said.

Page last updated Thu April 15th, 2010 at 16:49