Good morning!

What a great turnout -- thanks everyone for coming out this morning. I was told COL (Richard) Wilson and MAJ (Sean) Lanier timed their R&R from Afghanistan just to be here for the conference. Now that's a success story for your powerful organization when you have members that invested to plan their R&R around your conference dates! Thanks for your service--you represent today the hundreds of thousands of men and women in uniform. I also understand that the ROCKS has selected the 16 Cadet Recipients of the BG Roscoe "Rock" Cartwright $1,000 Scholarships. Congratulations to them on their selection to receive these esteemed scholarships, named in honor of BG Cartwright whom ROCKS is named after- an Artilleryman, close to my heart, a Soldiers who served historically in three different wars. Your recognized potential has already set you apart from your peers.

This really is a distinguished group here, and I'd like to highlight two real champions here today, who have set a strong precedent for all Army officers. ROCKS has a legendary president, BG (Ret) Clara Adams-Ender, who continues to do an amazing job leading this prestigious organization. She blazed trails as a true trend-setter for those following in her wake. She was the first female officer to receive an Expert Medical Field badge; she was the first woman to earn a Masters of Military Art and Science degree at the Command and General Staff College; and she was the first African American Nurse Corps officer in the Army. She served as the Chief of the Army Nurse Corps, and over twenty years ago in 1991, was the Commanding General of this installation. Quite fitting then that she is your president.

I'd also like to recognize LTG (Ret) Julius Becton Jr-- this man is truly a game-changer. Julius rose through the ranks during a time when the Army was segregated, proudly serving his country in the Phillipines, Korea and Vietnam. Upon making General Officer, Julius was selected to command the 1st Cavalry Division. There are still stories out there about him riding a horse. He later become the first African-American officer to command a Corps (VII Corps) in the Army. I'd also like to recognize LTG (Retired) Larry Jordan--a great mentor and leader.

It is greatly in part from ROCKS visionaries, past and present, that this organization has evolved to what it is today. Since the ROCKS inception over thirty-eight years ago, great strides forward have been made. You have come a long way from being "The No Name Club" growing from one chapter in 1974, to a membership of over 1100 and 18 chapters, plus overseas interest groups. The foundational attributes of this organization, being Resourcefulness, Officership, Commitment, Knowledge, and Scholarship are a strong compliment to the Army Values. It is in this context that I commend the ROCKS for all you've done to promote diversity and excellence in the Army's officer and NCO ranks. It really is all about creating opportunity and recognizing potential, which you do very well managing.

Your efforts in encouraging each other, in mentoring young officers, and in providing scholarships to the next generation of officer leaders -- they have all gone far toward extending opportunity and in making our Army what it is today, the best in the world. There is an expressed need for diversity in light of challenges facing our Nation. At the Army level, our goal is to have every Soldier see themselves reflected at every level of leadership in the Army by recruiting, retaining and promoting the best this diverse Nation has to offer. As I've gone around visiting Soldiers at various installations, it's clear to me that what makes the Army different than any other service and the strength of our Army, is diversity. So how do we better leverage diversity? This requires training and education to better prepare culturally adaptive leaders to meet global challenges through their ability to understand and value different cultures, resulting in increased readiness and capabilities.

It is clearly evident how effective this organization is in helping Army officers -- future leaders in our All-Volunteer Army -- from their formative years in high school ROTC on up through the progression of ranks. It was wonderful to hear that even the Afghanistan ROCKS interest group recently donated over $2,400 in scholarship money, so I believe their deployment money is well invested!

The ROCKS 2012 Conference Theme of "Mentoring Military Professionals for Global Leadership Challenges" aligns with the transitional changes planned for the Army as we refine and enhance our Future Force. It is fitting then, that ROCKS has such a steadfast mentorship campaign, even in overseas locations to include Korea, Germany, and Afghanistan.

As you are all well aware, for over 236 years, the Army is the center of our Nation's security. Today, we remain a truly a globally engaged Army, with over 95,000 Soldiers deployed and another 96,000 Soldiers forward stationed in 150 countries around the world, conducting a broad range of missions. I cannot say enough how proud I am of how well our young men and women today have performed. Their selflessness, resiliency, and dedication to the mission are inspiring, especially after fighting a decade in the most challenging of environments.

We now know that operations in Iraq are complete and we continue Surge Recovery in Afghanistan. We will shape the regional environs as well as the strategic environment as we move forward. In the Asia-Pacific region, we currently have some 66,000 Soldiers and almost 10,000 Civilians stationed throughout. In this key area where 7 of the 10 largest armies in the world are located, we will provide an array of tools -- through rotational forces of both Active and Reserve Component, multi-lateral exercises and other innovative engagements -- with our Allies and new partners.

During a time of great uncertainty in the Middle East, we remain committed and prepared to ensuring security and stability across the spectrum of conflict through our rotational presence and other available means. The Army plays a major role in guaranteeing security to our allies and partners in this area of the world. Instability in the Middle East would have a direct impact worldwide as many nations rely on Middle Eastern exports. This is especially true for emerging powers in the Asia-Pacific area. And in Europe, as we inactivate two brigade combat teams -- one in 2013 and one in 2014 -- we will utilize a series of engagement tools to build and sustain relationships with our European and NATO allies and partners. This will serve as a model of how I see us doing things in the future -- a combination of forward stationed and rotational forces -- using a tailorable approach by regionally aligned forces and pre-positioned stocks.

After ten years of sustained combat, we are now looking forward to shape the characteristics and capabilities of our Army of 2020 to better support and respond to the joint, interagency, inter-governmental and multinational force, as well as combatant commanders. Moving forward, our Army's primary purpose is steadfast and resolute: to fight and win our Nation's wars. But we all know that the Army must be able to do much more than that. Today, we require an Army that is adaptive and innovative, flexible and agile, integrated and synchronized, lethal and discriminate. Even more critical in today's complex and uncertain environment, the Army is the decisive arm of the Joint Force in a broad range of missions.

We are an Army in transition, and as we have many future officers in the room that will be joining the Army in the midst of these changes, I'd like to briefly discuss the Army's main focus areas that will pave the way for transitioning our future force.

Foremost, we will remain committed to our 67,000 (67,440) warfighters in Afghanistan, and continue to provide trained, equipped, and ready Soldiers to win the fight in Afghanistan. The Army will become leaner. By the end of FY17, the Army will decrease its end strength from 570,000 to 490,000 in the Active Army; from 358,000 to 353,500 in the National Guard; and the Army Reserve will reduce from 206,000 to 205,000. We will do this through a gradual ramp that will allow us to take care of our Soldiers and their Families, continue to provide forces for contingency commitments in Afghanistan, and facilitate reversibility over the next five years if we get it wrong. We must adapt our Army to operate in the complex environments of the future, not only dominating the ground but also the human domain, which requires us to build flexible organizations, and adaptable leaders who are agile.

As we go through this transition, it is going to be the leaders who help drive the changes needed to retain our credibility as the premier land-force in the world. I believe we can accomplish anything if we have the right leaders. To meet the challenges of the future, we have to fundamentally change our leader development, starting with officers in the earliest stages of their military career as cadets and officer candidates. This includes changing both institutional and operational leader development programs.

Leadership is paramount to our profession. Being a leader is not about giving orders. It is about earning respect, leading by example, fostering a positive climate, maximizing resources, inspiring and motivating others, and building teams to promote excellence. Along the way, you will make honest mistakes. You will face difficult decisions and dilemmas. This is all part of the process of learning the art of leadership. You must internalize the Army values, demonstrate unquestionable integrity and character, and remain truthful in word and deed. Soldiers must trust their leaders. Leaders must never break that trust, as trust is the bedrock of our profession.

As we move through this transition, it will take extraordinary leaders and mentors from the top, down to squad level, to help reinvigorate what I consider to be the Profession of Arms. We are held, expectedly, to a higher standard. Now is the time for us to embrace our history, as we move our Army forward while honoring the legacies of the legendary leaders who have paved the way before us. And that is why what you are doing in the ROCKS by mentoring and developing each other is so critical as we move forward. One of the Army's famed leaders, GEN Colin Powell, is a living testament to the power of a successful mentor. I worked with him on several occasions, and he was a mentor.

Frank Carlucci, who was the National Security Advisor to then President Reagan, saw firsthand General Powell's work ethic and abilities when he interviewed, hired and mentored him as a White House fellow in 1972. As a result of that relationship, he became a rising star, serving as Carlucci's deputy on the National Security Council, and later, succeeding him as National Security Adviser to President Reagan. Upon his promotion to Four-Star general, Powell became the youngest member to serve as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Never underestimate the influence you have as a mentor!

Now I'd like to pose a few questions to you: What is keeping the Army from achieving diversity goals? What else should theArmy leadership pbe doing, if anything, to convince influencers to guide themost-talented African-Ameriacns toward service in the Army? And why are certain branches of theArmy more, or less, attractive to African-Ameriacns and other minorities? What would change that? I want to challenge the ROCKS Organization to answer these two questions: What is next for the ROCKS and how can theorganization change to have greater influence and results from within the Army? And what can the ROCKS do to increase theattraction of the Army to talented African-Americans and their influencers?

I want to thank each of you, and all the ROCKS members, again for all you do to help preserve the quality of our Army by investing in its leaders -- those of today and tomorrow. Your investment reflects the pride you have in our Soldiers and their service. You have the opportunity to shape the Army to where it needs to be in the future.

• The strength of our Nation is our Army
• The strength of our Army is our Soldiers
• The strength of our Soldiers is our Families.
• This is what makes us Army Strong!

With that, I look forward to any questions you may have. Thank you.

Page last updated Tue April 10th, 2012 at 07:57