Jan. 16, 2008 - Remarks at ILW Breakfast
January 25, 2008
General George W. Casey, Jr.
Chief of Staff of the Army
8 January 2008
General Casey: There are a lot of people here! [Laughter]. It just goes to confirm that old maxim that no matter how old you get, Army people will go anywhere, any time, for good creamed beef. [Laughter].
Thank you very much for coming out. I was just walking in here at 6:45 in the morning. [Laughter]. I'm very impressed to have so many folks here this early. You guys are really hard. I'm very impressed.
Let me get right to it. A question I get asked all the time is how are you doing, where are you going' Let me just [explain] each of those for you here.
How am I doing' Pretty well. I just went around, made a pre-Christmas tour - Alaska, Korea, Japan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kuwait, Iraq. I work so hard to find the right term to describe the state of the Army because things aren't always what we would like. But it's certainly, by no stretch of the imagination, is it a hollow Army, nor is it a broken Army, but it is out of balance. Out of balance is the term that I've been using to describe our Army. Out of balance means that we are so consumed by the current that we can't do the things that we need to do to prepare for the future either organizationally or institutionally. We're at a point where we're having some difficulties just maintaining the all-volunteer the force.
That's kind of an impossible position, particularly when you need support of Congress and the American people. We have a plan to put ourselves back in balance but it's going to take three or four years. We have to do four things. These four things have become the four imperatives. That's sustain, prepare, reset, and transform.
Sustain. I called Shy Myers a while back. I said Shy, tell me about what happened in the '70s. You lived through it. I want to know what it looked like at the top end. He said George, it's all about the people. You have to keep the mid-level officers and non-commissioned officers in. And I will tell you that one of the major elements that's holding this Army together in a very difficult time is our non-commissioned officer corps. They're absolutely magnificent.
So we have to sustain that force, and we need the resources to do it. That starts with recruiting and it continues through the initiatives that we have going here to support the families. Some of you hopefully heard about the Army Family Covenant which is a restatement by the Secretary and I of our commitment to families and our partnership with families. We have put our money where our mouth is in the '08 budget supplemental which is working through right now, the supplemental is working through right now. It's $1.4 billion. That's about double what we normally do. We're absolutely committed to ratcheting up what we're doing for our families.
Prepare. We're also absolutely committed to making sure that every soldier that goes in harm's way is well trained, well equipped, and is manned to levels to accomplish the mission.
I will tell you, we're having a hard time on the manning side. The surge has sucked all of the flexibility out of the system. They'll start coming back here, they've already started, but as they come back over the spring we'll start getting more flexibility back in the personnel system and we'll start to fix it. But we can never look the other way when it comes to preparing soldiers to go into battle.
Reset. We can also not look the other way when it comes to fixing soldiers and families when they come out. That's equipment, it's training, and it's just out and out rest and recuperation. The effects of seven years of war is cumulative. The second deployment's harder than the first. The third is harder than the second. It wears on you. When you run a marathon, you go out and about three days later you feel pretty good. You go out and run another one. You can't because you've broken yourself down inside so much. The same type of thing. It takes longer to recover.
Reset is about, the congressional folks here know, it is about money. And the money needed to reset this force. If we don't, we'll start seeing problems emerging in the force. So it's the difference between a hollow force and a flexible force going forward into the future.
Lastly, transforming. Rik Shinseki and Pete Schoomaker got us on the right azimuth and we are still committed to building that campaign quality expeditionary force that can support the combatant commanders across the spectrum of conflict in the 21st century. There are lots of different elements to that. I think I'm going to defer specifics on that because I want to talk a little bit about how I see the environment and what kind of Army we need to build for that environment, which gets us to the transformation.
I think a lot of you have heard me talk about persistent conflict. That we're at war with a global extremist terrorist network. And as I look into the future I see a long term ideological struggle. And I see that struggle fueled by global trends which can take this in the wrong direction because they create a breeding ground for recruiting for these extremist networks.
Globalization. Positive and negative sides of it. Clearly it's enhancing prosperity around the globe. The negative side, that prosperity is not necessarily evenly distributed. If you look at South America, Africa, the Middle East, South Asia. There are estimates that by 2015 2.8 billion people around the world that live below the poverty level. That's not a good thing.
Technology is another double-edged sword. The same technology gives knowledge and information to anyone who's got a hook-up with a computer, and it's also used by terrorists to export terror around the globe.
Competition in resources, climate change, natural disasters, all contribute [inaudible].
The two trends that worry me the most are weapons of mass destruction and terrorists safe havens. Governments either can't or won't police their own territory and they become breeding grounds for terrorists.
On weapons of mass destruction, people ask me what keeps me up at night. There are about 1100 or 1200 terrorist groups out there. Most of them are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction. There's no doubt in my mind that when they get a weapon they'll use it. All those things contribute to a long-term need, commitment to the armed forces of the United States.
What's conflict look like in that environment' We've been doing a lot of work on this. In fact we're coming out with a new document the end of February that's in its final form. And it talks about how we see the future of that conflict. But as I look at it, I see a mix. It's a hybrid of irregular warfare, conventional warfare. I see it in a lot of urban areas. Sixty percent of the population of the world is expected to live in cities by about 2020. We're going to fight in cities. I saw some brutal fighting in Najaf, and in Baghdad. That's the kind of area we're going to fight in.
It's going to be fought I think more with non-state actors and individual groups than there will necessarily be with state actors. I don't necessarily think, I know we can't turn our back on state-on-state conflict because consequences of failure there are so egregious. But I do think that the things that we are [inaudible] more than anything else, [inaudible]. And I think Secretary Gates framed it very well at AUSA. He said the principle challenge facing the Army is to restore its conventional skills without losing the expertise gained over the last six years.
But when you're fighting non-state actors it gets a lot more difficult because they're not bound by the rules of warfare. They're not bound by the rules that we use to conduct ourselves with the media. It makes it harder. But probably the biggest difference that we see between conventional war and the contests that I think we're going to see in the 21st Century, is that we will be fighting more among the people than around the people. If you think about how in the past, you bypass the big cities. You have refugees, you move them out of the way. We don't have that luxury now. There are a lot of skills that are necessary to fight in that environment that you don't see in a conventional war. So we are working very hard to find the right balance in how we train our leaders and train our formations to operate along the spectrum of conflict on this.
We're going to depend on others for our success. You hear time and again about Iraq and Afghanistan. It's not a military solution. It helps, but it takes all the elements of national power coming together in this environment to be successful. Again, we heard Secretary Gates out in Kansas a month or so ago talking about the need not only for capabilities in the interagency of the government that can be expeditionary, but integrating those elements of power.
The next thing that we need in this environment is the ability to apply lethal effects very precisely. You're operating in urban areas. You cannot fire a battalion six on an apartment building. You need very precise intelligence, you need to apply your [inaudible] very very precisely. A little different environment.
The other couple of things we have to do, we're going to be operating with contiguous forces. We're not going to be fighting from here, we're going to be deploying to fight and no [inaudible] is [inaudible] transition. No free power has ever won a counter-insurgency without a capable contiguous force. None. So we have to develop our skills for working with other forces and influence these other forces.
All of this is going to be done with the unblinking eye of the 24 hour global media cycle. I'm saying it's bad, it just is. It's an element of the environment that has to be dealt with.
All of these things add up to a very very complex form of warfare that is very lethal and messy. One of the major elements of our way forward here is developing leaders of intellect and character that can operate in the complexities of these environments.
Where we see [inaudible]. Forget about Iraq, forget about Afghanistan for a minute. Think about Lebanon the summer of 2006. About 3,000 or so Hezbollah operatives embedding themselves in the population, in the urban areas north of Israel and being attacked by some 30,000 [inaudible] Israelis. This is a non-state actor who started the war with I think somewhere in the range of 13,000 rockets of all various sizes. Not just little [inaudible], great big ones. And they fired over 4200 of these. They shot surface-to-air missiles, shot down helicopters; they shot cruise missiles and hit a ship; they used unmanned aerial vehicles [inaudible] to get intelligence and to attack targets; and they blended asymmetric techniques with modern weapons. They used IEDs to channelize the Israeli forces [inaudible] attacked by [inaudible]. Their command posts were electronically [inaudible]; their cell phones were encrypted. That's the type of operation that we all need to be thinking about in the future and be preparing for.
So when we build a campaign quality expeditionary Army that can support the combatant commanders across the spectrum of conflict, the force has got to be versatile. Now I can talk about persistent conflict, I can talk about the future. Those are my views. But one thing we know, as you do, we have a very difficult time of predicting the future, in fact we can. We never get it exactly right. In fact we usually get it wrong. So whatever force we build has to be versatile and we have to structure it, train it, develop the leaders to operate across the full spectrum of conflict.
As I said, we're publishing a new doctrinal manual for our capstone document that will launch a concept called Full Spectrum Operations. In that concept it says that Army formations simultaneously apply offensive, defensive, and stability operations to seize and retain the initiative and obtain decisive results. That's the essence of that new doctrine. It is going to cause us to be moving and move in a different direction. And I intend it to stimulate an intellectual process, a discussion among the leaders of the Army. In fact I've already sat down with a group of very smart SAMS graduates out of Leavenworth discuss it. A bunch of War College graduates up at Carlisle to discuss it, and it's been discussed with audiences in our advanced courses around the country.
We've got a lot of experience out there and it's our intent to draw on it and bring that to bear on this difficult problem.
The force has got to be agile. Agile in its ability to deploy quickly and to change missions quickly, but also institutionally agile. Everything from getting the right equipment in the hands of the soldiers as quickly as we can, to how we train and develop leaders to support [inaudible]. We are not very agile as an institution. Frankly, our institutions were designed primarily for a pre-September 11th Army and we have to work very hard transforming to support an expeditionary Army at war.
I mentioned lethality and precision, we've got to have an intelligence system that allows you to get very precise intelligence so you can precisely apply your [best], and the force has got to be sustainable both in austere environments and for long duration operations. This is where the Guard and Reserve come in. We could not be doing what we're doing without the Guard and Reserve. But as we discuss among ourselves the policies and procedures for the Guard and Reserve, [inaudible] at war. They were written for a strategic reserve that is not the way we've been using the force the last six years. We have a major effort going here to try to change that to make the regulations support an operational force that's an augmentation to the regular Army that will allow us to sustain operations over the long haul. There are lots left to be done on that.
The last thing and probably the most important is developing leaders of character and leaders of intellect. These are part of the problems that take a lot of thought.
One of the other key elements of FM3 is it's going to describe an intellectual process that is the commander's role in battle command in full spectrum operations. It talks about the commander going through a process where he first has to build his own understanding of the problem he faces. Then he has to visualize it in a way that allows him to describe it to his staff and then direct the orders that allow him to accomplish the mission. I'm looking at pulling us away from this military decisionmaking process. MDMP. That is a good process but it is still a process. And we will be able to frame complex problems after some very thoughtful discussion.
But it's the leaders that will hold this together. As I go around, talking to advanced courses, talking to the majors out at Leavenworth, talking to the lieutenant colonels and the colonels in the pre-command course, I have never seen a more seasoned combat group of leaders that are really well seasoned to take on these challenges that I've just described. Some of us old dogs up there need to get shaken up a little bit, but we have a remarkable, remarkable group of officers and non-commissioned officers and warrant officers that are coming up.
The last element of this leadership that I mentioned is the character and intellect. We just started a few months ago up at West Point a Center for Professional Military Ethics. And in complex environments like we're going to be dealing with here, in the 21st Century, if your moral compass isn't fairly straight going in, the complexity of these problems becomes too hard and you cannot make reasonable decisions quickly. So we have to take that on. That's what we're doing right now.
The last thing. I always get questions about the quality of the force. The quality of the force is going down. Let me tell you. I was up in Alaska and I had the opportunity to present a Distinguished Service Cross to Sergeant Greg Williams. It's the sixth Distinguished Service Cross that we've presented since September 11th. Sergeant Williams was with his squad on a Stryker patrolling in the Hariyah area of Baghdad last October. The Stryker got hit by four EFP array simultaneously and that kicked off an ambush from about three different directions. The vehicle was on fire. Sergeant Williams was knocked out. He woke up to find the vehicle on fire, to find himself on fire, eardrum punctured, legs burned. He put out himself, he put out his buddy, he grabbed the aid bag, ran off the vehicle, started administering aid. Realized that his lieutenant was still back in the burning vehicle. He ran back inside the burning vehicle, grabbed the lieutenant, dragged him outside. They're still under fire from three directions. They're pinned down, they can't move. He realizes nobody's on the .50. He goes back on the burning vehicle -- which by the way had about 30 pounds of explosives, C4, about 200 feet of det cord and the rest of the ammunition. He goes back on there, gets on the 50 caliber machine gun, brings it to bear on the enemy, breaks the back of the enemy, breaks the ambush, and they get out. That's the kind of men and women in the Army today.
There was an article in the newspaper the next day that said I was standing there and I was having trouble breathing. I thought he was talking about Baghdad. He was talking about standing next to me. [Laughter].
That's the type of men and women that we have in your armed forces. It's out of balance. We're out of balance. There's no question on that. It's going to be hard work putting ourselves back in balance, but we're doing it with an eye toward the future and an eye toward the environment that we're operating in here for the rest of the century.
Thank you all very much for coming out for creamed beef this morning. I'll be happy to take questions from you.
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