General George W. Casey, Jr
Army Chief of Staff
Remarks via VTC at the Army Diversity and Leadership Symposium
16 December 2010

LTG Bostick, Army G1: As I said in opening, the Chief [GEN Casey] has often said that diversity is a strength. So Chief, welcome. You have about 600 here in the audience, and we're glad to have you with us. (Applause)

General Casey: Great. Thanks that's a great lead-in. My parking story is that when I was a captain, I was going to the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk. [At the time,] I used to drive this Volkswagen bus. They had signs in the PX that said "Reserved for Captains and Colonels." I said, "Oh isn't that nice, the Navy takes care of Captains." I used to pull in there in my t-shirts and cut off shorts and wave at all the [Navy] Captains that were snarling at me.

Anyway, it's great to be able to have time with you today. I am sorry that I couldn't make it down there in person. As I look out the window and it's actually snowing here, I really do wish I was down in Florida.

What I'd like to do is talk a little bit about the importance of diversity to us and then give you the context that you're going to be operating in here for the next three to five years. That's the broad context that our Army is going to be going through. Then I will close out with my particular thoughts on the way ahead for diversity in our Army.

Let me start by saying when I first got to the job in April 2007, I had spent about 60 days with the transition team getting into all of the major issues with running the Army. Then, once I took the job, my wife and I spent four months going all around the Army talking to Soldiers, Civilians and Family members trying to get our own sense about the Army. In August, [of 2007] I was having dinner with a bunch of retired three and four-star [generals]. I do that periodically just to keep calibrated. That night Julius Becton looked at me and said, "Chief, how are we doing on diversity'" It struck me like a ton of bricks that in the 60 days of transition preparation and the four months of going around the Army, all over the Army, no one had ever used that word. I had never heard the word used. That spoke volumes to me. Then, through a couple of other data points, I kind of got the feeling that we were too busy. We were all fully engaged and committed to the war. If you couldn't carry the heavy ruck, we just didn't have time for you. So minorities weren't getting the mentoring, and care and feeding that they needed.

I started asking questions and confirmed what I thought. So we decided it was time to stand up a diversity task force and get a sense of where we were. We did that. We chose Belinda Pinckney to be in charge of that. She went out and did a great study for us and really helped frame the directions that we needed to go as an Army.

I'm going to break there about the diversity piece, and I'm going to pick up where we're going as an Army in general. The first thing I'll tell you is that what we have accomplished in the last six years as an Army is absolutely phenomenal. When you think back to 2004, we were a very good Army. But we were an Army that was organized, trained, and equipped to fight large armored battles on the plains of Europe or the deserts of Saudi Arabia. In the six years since then, we have made the largest organizational transformation of our Army since World War II and created a force that is much more capable and much more relevant to the challenges that we are facing today and will face in the later decades of the 21st Century. We've done that while we've deployed 150,000 Soldiers over and back to Iraq and Afghanistan every year.

No other organization could have done that. I look at what we've done here - we have converted almost all of the 303 Brigades in the Army to modular designs. That is a huge accomplishment. We've rebalanced about 150,000 Soldiers away from Cold War skills to skills more necessary today. For example, we've stood down about 200 Tank Companies, Artillery Batteries and Air Defense Batteries, and we've stood up a corresponding numbers of Civil Affairs, Engineers, and Special Forces Units. We also are in the process of relocating about 380,000 Soldiers, Family members and Civilians as a result of the Base Realignment and Closure Act. You know how that works - the law passed in 2005; we got some money in 2006; we did the design in 2007; we started building in 2008 and 2009. Now everyone's moving in the last 18 months, and we'll be closed out by the15th of September next year [2011]. Lots of turbulence, but the upside is a huge improvement on the quality of facilities on our installations for Soldiers and Families.

The other thing we've done: we've increased the size of the Army by almost 100,000. Most of that is in the Active Force, with a little bit in the Guard and Reserve. We were originally supposed to finish that in 2012. With Secretary Gates' help, we moved it forward to 2010, and we actually finished it last summer [2009] for all components. Finishing it early is what enabled us to execute this "plus up" in Afghanistan before we were out of Iraq without having to increase the time on the ground or increase the deployment time. So that was a major accomplishment. The growth plus the drawdown in Iraq has allowed us to get to a point, where this time next year, we will begin deploying Soldiers with an expectation of two years at home for the Active Force and four years at home for the Guard and Reserve. Finally, we will be able to breathe again. Again - a huge accomplishment.

Lastly, we're putting the whole Army on Rotational Readiness Model, and I think you've heard of Army Force Generation or ARFORGEN. We started it in 2005, and it was a good idea back then. When you have to deploy Soldiers one year out one year back, it doesn't work. So now that we have some breathing space, we'll be able to execute ARFORGEN in a far more sustainable tempo and a sustainable pace. The outcome of that will be increased predictability for our Soldiers and families across all components. So - huge transformational accomplishments, huge success in the wars that we've been fighting, and I absolutely couldn't be prouder of what we've accomplished here as an Army in the last six or seven years.

Now, as you know, especially [these days], you don't have time to rest on your laurels. Even as we've been doing [this transformation I just mentioned above], we've had one eye ahead on the future. And we do that very humbly, because as Yogi Berra says, "Predictions are hard, especially if you're talking about the future." We know, as hard as we try to look ahead, the best we're ever going to do is get it about right. I spent the first 30 years of my career learning to fight a war or training to fight a war I never fought, and the last ten years learning to fight a different form of war while I was fighting it. That's kind of the bane of militaries, but we have to look ahead. As we look ahead, here's how we see the environment-we are at war. We're at war with a global extremist network that attacked us on our soil and has tried three or four times in the last year to attack us on our soil. Some of you all have fought them, and you know that they are not going to quit, they're not going to give up, and they are not going to go away. So we can't just say, "Hey - sorry we're not playing anymore, the war's over" because they're coming after us. And we believe that we're involved in a long term ideological struggle. If you think about what we're involved in here more along the lines of the Cold War than Desert Storm, I think we have a much better feel for what we're thinking about here in terms of duration.

So against the backdrop-that we're already involved in a long term ideological struggle-we're looking at some of the trends that we see around the world. Those trends seem more likely to exacerbate the situation than to make it easier. So, take for example globalization. There is no doubt globalization is bringing prosperity to places around the world, but it also is creating "haves and have-nots." And the populations of those have-not cultures are increasingly susceptible to recruitment by terrorist organizations. Technology is another double edged sword. The same technology that is being used to bring knowledge to anyone with a computer is being used by terrorists for terror around the globe. Demographics is another trend going in the wrong direction. The populations of some developing countries are expected to double in the next decade. Can you imagine what would happen if the population of Pakistan doubled in the next decade and the problems that would present to an already strapped government' The other thing about demographics is that populations of the world are increasingly moving towards cities, which says a lot about where we'll have to operate. Some of you have been in the sprawling slums of Sadr City, where you have about a 3x5 mile area with two million people in it. That's a tough place to operate. The other thing about demographics-it is increasing demands for resources. The middle classes in both China and India are already larger than the populations of the United States. That's a lot of two car families, and that's lot of gas.

The two trends that worry me most-weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorist organizations and safe havens (countries or parts of countries where the local governments can't or won't deny their countries to terrorist organizations, thus giving terrorists the ability to plan and plot their attacks). So as I look at those trends against the backdrop of the fact that we're already at war, it strikes me that we are in for a decade or so of persistent conflict. I've defined persistent conflict as a period of protracted confrontation among states, non-states, and individual actors who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political and ideological objectives.

So what does that all mean to us' It means that we are going to be at this for a while. Just because we're out of Iraq at the end of next year, and possibly starting to draws down in Afghanistan, doesn't mean that this war is over. In fact I believe that we're likely to be doing something in 3-5 years that none of us is thinking about today. But the environment that we're operating in is so unpredictable and so uncertain that we have to maintain the versatility to react to a wide range of circumstances. As we look at that, we say the Army we need must be a versatile mix of tailorable and networked organizations operating on a rotational cycle. We need that Army so that we can sustain commitments to these counterinsurgency operations so that we prevail in the wars ahead. Secondly, we have to build a capability to hedge against the unexpected, and third we have to do both of those things at a tempo that is predictable and sustainable to this all volunteer force. So that's our challenge as we go forward.

As I look at the next three to five years, I set out three challenges. First, we have to maintain our combat edge because we're going to be sending 50,000-100,000 Soldiers to combat for another decade or so. Secondly, we've got to reconstitute this force. We've been at war for a decade. As I just said, we have converted all 300 Brigades in the Army. We've rebalanced 150,000 soldiers. There are a few property accountability actions that went on as a result of that. And by the way, we've done over 400 Brigade reliefs in place. You don't think there's some stuff in [storage containers] we need to shake out' So we have to reconstitute the force after a decade of war while we're still fighting it. Lastly, while we're doing both of those things, we have to work on building resilience for the long haul. Programs like Comprehensive Soldier Fitness are the kinds of programs that are going to sustain us over the long haul. So as I look ahead, I see an environment of complexity; I see an environment of uncertainty; and I see an environment where we are increasingly going to be operating among diverse cultures.

So when I think about diversity, I think about it as a strength. I think about it in terms of diversity of views. I firmly believe, and I see it every day, that given the complex environment and the complex decisions that we have to make, you need a diversity of views to make the best decisions. When we promoted [General] Ann Dunwoody to four stars, we had this organization on the staff. They called it the "three kings." It was the [Army Staff] G3, the G8 and the Military Deputy to the Comptroller. Ann came in to the guys and said, "I don't think the three kings is the right way to approach this." They said, "okay - she just thinks its sexist, so they changed the name." Ann wasn't saying it was sexist, what she was saying is you've got three middle aged white guys making all the decisions, and you need a little diversity in that group to get better decisions. I fully agree with that attitude and with that mentality.

So what I think that we need to do here as we go forward, given the potential, is increase diversity to actually enhance our capabilities in the years ahead. We also have the opportunity to build on the trust that has been fostered across the force through war, and the bonds of trust that exist at the Company and Platoon level after a decade of war are huge. You see it every day when you read the citations on Medals of Honor, Distinguished Service Crosses and Silver Stars. I believe that we have a great opportunity here and we need a little more structure than we have right now so that we attract a diverse population. Then we need a good mentoring and management program to take advantage of the folks that we bring in to ensure that they are moved along so that we get to the point that, when our young soldiers look up at the leadership of the Army, they see themselves. That's been our goal for a while, but that's the direction I think we need to continue to move. So with that, I'll stop and I'll be happy to take some questions if you have the capability to do that.

Participant: Good afternoon General. I'm CW2 Rudolfi from the Delaware National Guard, and I have a question, Sir, regarding diversity in the Army. How do you see leadership commitment exhibited from top down through the ranks'

General Casey: Honestly what I see is leadership that is going in a lot of different directions. We have tried to strengthen the commitment up and down the chain, but we have to figure out a way to continue to achieve our diversity goals in a force that's spinning at 110 miles per hour. I don't believe that the leaders aren't committed, but I'd say their attention is diverted. What I've been working on, starting with the [Army] Four Star [Generals] are ways (now that we have more time at home) to start focusing more on increasing people's attention on diversity. I'm just being pragmatic here, because if you look at what's going on at the Company level, those poor Company Commanders and First Sergeants down there are trying to implement everything that's going on. That's why we're trying to get a little structure in the program here on top: so we can move this along more consistently and more routinely. I believe they're committed, I just believe their attention is diverted, and we've got to figure out how to change that here in the next couple of years.

Participant: Thank you General.

Participant: My question, sir, is what is your vision for diversity in the Army' Why is it important, and how do we sustain it from the year 2010 and beyond'

General Casey: My vision is really what I said. I want the young soldiers in the Army to look at the Army leadership and see themselves. It's going to take us a while to get there. As I've laid this out over the last decade, we're making slow but steady progress. It seems to me that we ought to be able to pick the pace up a little bit. But my vision is just what I said: when they look up they see themselves. Now how do we sustain it in 2010' I didn't get the last part.

Participant: Yes sir, how do we sustain 2010 and beyond of your vision'

General Casey: How do we sustain that vision beyond 2010' What we're talking about here is (1): we've got to bring in more qualified minorities at the bottom end. We have to actually go out and recruit and attract qualified minorities; (2) then we need to manage their assignments better than we have been doing and (3) involve them in a mentorship program. We just had a session with the Four Stars where we reviewed all of the Colonels - high performing colonels, and we're working across this now where Four Stars and Three Stars take several of them and ensure that they get monitored and moved along. I've been trying to get that going for a while. It's actually what they do in business. I read a couple of years ago about Jack Welch, where they had highly qualified minorities that had a lot of potential. They managed them very carefully and mentored them very carefully. I think it's a matter of attracting great young men and women, managing them more carefully than we have been doing and ensuring that they get the mentoring that they need. Those are the three elements I think will move us where we need to go.

Participant: Thank you Sir.

Participant: Good afternoon Sir. I'm Sgt Major Pace and I'm from the Office of the Chief of Army Reserve. My question is: How do you see the future of the EO [Equal Opportunity] program'

General Casey: That's an interesting one. Honestly what I think is that we need to figure out how to blend EO and diversity. I said this a while back and everybody said, "Ah, the Chief doesn't like EO." Look, the principles behind EO are exactly right. The problem is over time I think it has become stale. When you say "EO" down at the Company and Platoon level, the immediate flashback you get is once a year sitting and looking at a bunch of PowerPoint slides and checking a block. That's not what we need. We need to have people embrace diversity because of its strength and the potential it brings to enhance what we're doing. The good thing about EO is it's got a structure that permeates all the way down to the Company level. So if we can figure out how to use that structure and meld it with the principles of diversity, I think we've got a home run.

Participant: Thank you sir.

Participant: Hello Sir. My name is Lt. Col. Enwood Wright from the Military District of Washington. Sir, my question is: What can we do better to ensure that we are maintaining an inclusive environment that includes and values knowledge, experience and backgrounds'

General Casey: The best ways I find to maintain an inclusive environment is for leaders to be cognizant of that. You've seen it - some people are naturally inclusive, and other people (just because of their natural personalities) aren't. So what we need are leaders who tend to be more inclusive and bring people in. I think when they do that they will bring in a much more diverse group, and as I've said a couple of times, they'll get better outputs out of that process. I'm not sure that's a great answer to your question, but your question was kind of broad and I'm trying to figure out how to attack it. Do you want to try to frame it again'

Participant: Sir, how do we value knowledge, experience and background of the people in our environment'

General Casey: We value all those things. That's something that I look for: "What's someone's experience'", "what's their background'", "how can they contribute'". I always try to bring in people from a lot of different backgrounds who've had a lot of different experiences so you get a breadth of views. I've been sending Generals down to business school at the University of North Carolina and there is this one class that they teach about decision making. What they show you is all the different ways that you can cut off debate as a leader. As the instructor goes through the examples, I watch all of the generals sitting there and they say, "Wow. I did that last week." What they encourage you to do to get effective decisions is keep as many options open as you can and encourage as many opinions and diverse opinions as you can.

Participant: Good afternoon sir. I am from US Army Africa. Sir just a thought - how about including diversity as one of the core values'

General Casey: That is a thought. You don't think respect covers it'

Participant: I agree with you sir (laughter)

General Casey: Good.

Participant: It's a current standard competency commitment.

General Casey: It's something to think about. When I think about respect though, that's what I think about - is treating everybody with dignity and respect.

Participant: Thank you sir.

General Casey: Thanks. Well, it was great to spend some time with you here. Again, I really do wish I was sitting there in Florida, instead of sitting here looking out the window at snow. Thanks for what you do. I am very, very serious here about leveraging the strength that comes from our diversity. I can remember in Iraq watching our Soldiers - a diverse squad going in on a mission and having the Iraqis look at me and say, "How do you so that' How do you get all those diverse soldiers to work together'" They couldn't understand it. We are an example not only for our own society, but for the rest of the world. So thanks for what you do. Take care. (Applause.)

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16