August 24, 2012 -- CSA Remarks at World Affairs Council of Northern California (As Delivered)
August 27, 2012
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Thank you. I really appreciate that wonderful introduction Anya. Good afternoon and thank you for inviting me to speak today. It's tremendous to be here. I have about 20 minutes worth of remarks, and then I look forward to your questions. It is great to be back in Northern California. Time flies though, as about 20 years ago I was a Battalion Commander at Fort Ord, just down the coast. Linda and I have fond memories of living and working in this part of the country.
I'd like to recognize today before I get started: Jane Wales. Jane, thanks for the invitation to address this great organization. It really is fun to be here, and it is an honor to be here. GEN (Ret) Mike Myatt, USMC - thanks Mike for your leadership. CSM (Ret) Joe Sweeney - Sir, thank you. BG (Ret) Tom Swidler -- I'm happy you can be here as well. Thank you Anya, for your service with the Department of State, and for your work as a fellow at Stanford, and for your diverse career.
It's great to be here at the Marine Association building at the heart of San Francisco. The Marines Memorial Club is quite a facility. It's important to be here because throughout history, we've worked side by with the Marines, and other services. Over the last 11 years, the Army and Marine Corps have worked together -- side by side, shoulder to shoulder -- in some of the most complex environments our Nation has known. As we look to the future, all the armed services will continue to build upon the lessons we have learned and what it means for us a military as we look forward. This afternoon, I would like to comment on the challenges of the global environment, and the Army's role in the environment in the future as I see it as we move toward the future.
As I look around the room, I see distinguished awards on the wall here--Medals of Honor, Silver Stars. It comes to mind, that since 2001, our Soldiers have earned over 15,000 medals for valor to include 6 Medals of Honor, 25 Distinguished Crosses and 654 Silver Stars. These are the type of young men and women that we have and the service of our Soldiers has been steadfast and unwavering through these very difficult times. Some people look at medals and aren't sure what to make of them -- those medals I just told you about, those Soldiers who earned them have said "they were just doing their job, they happened to be there with their comrades."
As I stand here today, we have 89,000 Soldiers deployed around the world. We have 65,000 in Afghanistan, and we have another 15,000 in other parts of the Middle East, as well as a presence on the Korean peninsula. Our Army continues to be recognized by our allies and antagonists and adversaries as the best Army in the World. That's the challenge - to ensure we remain the best Army in the world as we move forward. We must incorporate key lessons learned and project them into the complex future environments that we will face, while accounting for the fiscal realities that our Country face. GEN Omar Bradley said it best in 1951, when he was the first Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: "American Armed strength is only as strong as the combat capabilities of its weakest service. Overemphasis on one or the other will obscure our compelling need --not for air-power, not for sea-power -- but for American military power commensurate with our tasks in the world."
As we think about our tasks in this world, we have to assess the current situation. The Army must and will adapt to meet the evolving strategic environment. Today more than ever before, the strategic environment around us continues to evolve in many unpredictable ways. The widespread availability of advanced technologies, the proliferation of information fueled by a globally-connected society, and the emergence of numerous challenges to political and societal order are just a few of the many factors shaping the environment we now operate in.
Today and into the foreseeable future, the global environment will be characterized by both complexity and uncertainty. Many of you are aware of the Arab Spring going on in the Middle East. I would argue that the Arab Spring is in its infancy stages. We don't know what the impact will ultimately be on our own national security as we watch things play out in the Middle East. We are watching Syria play out right now in front of our eyes. What impact does that have on Israel, Iraq, Lebanon, Turkey, and Jordan, Iran? How will Egypt and Libya turn out now with new governmental orders, and what does that mean to stability in the Middle East?
Iran continues to be a destabilizing influence in the region with their pursuit of nuclear weapons. South Asia remains a complex environment, with various extremist groups impacting security in Pakistan and India. And in the Asia-Pacific, China's search for hydrocarbons has impacted their relationship with both the Philippines and Vietnam, while North Korea is now led by a 29 year-old, and its lack of transparency continues to cause us concern and continues to add to uncertainty that we face in this region. The range of threats we face is wide and diverse -- it includes traditional nation-states, near states, and proxies as well as transnational terror networks, criminal organizations, and popular movements.
We must be prepared to deal with multiple actors, asymmetric and technology enabled techniques, and exploitation of information. Here in San Francisco, so close to the centers of technology growth, you know how small technological developments can so quickly affect the entire world. Advances in social media and smart phones have quickly reduced barriers to information access. Today, these devices allow more actors to influence international audiences. This afternoon, I will visit Google to learn about what they are doing, and see how they might affect the future strategic environment.
We must understand the continual competition for wealth, resources, political authority, influence, sovereignty, identity or legitimacy. Unexpected opportunists and suppressed threats will emerge from this competition. And our responsibility in national defense is still to protect this country, sustain our freedoms and liberties, and keep our children safe for the future. That's the challenge we face. It is difficult to see the current strategic environment inherently trending toward peace unless we act to positively influence it. It depends on how we understand and engage in competition and cooperation with the globalized world. One thing I know for sure is we must remain engaged.
Understanding the current strategic environment is imperative to contextualize what I think the Army needs to look like in 2020. Moving forward, our Army's primary purpose is resolute: to fight and win our Nation's wars. But the Army must be able to do much more than that, so thinking through this, I've developed the following five priorities for the Army.
Priority number one is that the Army will remain committed to our 89K deployed Soldiers. They will continue to be the best trained, best equipped, and best led land force in the world.
My second priority is the continued development of the Army for the future as part of Joint Force 2020. Developing this Future Force will require a versatile mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment that will enable us to succeed in a full range of missions understanding the fiscal realities. Looking ahead, I believe there are several key characteristics that are essential to any future force. Our Army of 2020 must have depth and versatility; we must be adaptive to the ever-changing state of warfare and innovative to adjust to these adaptations; we must be flexible and agile in our responsiveness, integrated and synchronized within the larger effort of the Joint Force. And finally, it is imperative that we remain lethal and discriminate, or what I call 'discriminately lethal.' It's becoming more and more important as we move forward, that as we use lethality, it must be used precisely and with the right impact. I believe there is no more discriminate weapon than the American Soldier or Marine on the ground, being able to determine good and bad, being able to limit collateral damage, being able to limit the innocent killing of civilians. This is becoming more important, and we must recognize this.
My third priority is to sustain our high quality All-Volunteer Force. We are blessed with incredible volunteers and it is my aim to keep it that way.
Fourth, we must adapt our ability to develop our leaders for the future. We ask much more of our junior leaders today than what I had experienced as a Lieutenant, so it is imperative that we properly develop them to think through these complex problems, operate in these complex environments and uncertain situations that they will surely experience.
And finally, we must reinvigorate our commitment to the Profession of Arms throughout the Army. We are given unique responsibilities to fulfill important obligations to our Nation. Rightfully so, the military is held to a higher standard than other professions. The Army is built on a bedrock of trust - the trust between Soldiers, and the trust between Soldiers and their leaders. Values, standards, and discipline have long been our watchwords and they are more essential today than ever.
The past decade of conflict informs our thinking as we look ahead. Because we've adapted to the wars we've been fighting, the Army has been focused on a specific set of needs. However, those needs, and the means in which they are resourced, have changed so we must fundamentally change how we do business. As the United States confronts a record deficit and a record debt, we must ensure disciplined stewardship of resources in order to get the most out of the investment of our public dollars. It is imperative that we sustain a balanced investment between three key variables in the Army, which are end-strength, readiness and modernization programs. Over the next several years, we will be required to continually assess, refine and manage our resources. For instance, if we kept too much force structure or end-strength, but lacked the resources to keep it properly trained and modernized, the result would be what we call a hollow force.
The Army end-strength is going down, and over the next five years, reducing 85K out of our Army. We will do this with a sustained and deliberate ramp that will allow us to take care of our Soldiers, provide required forces for Afghanistan and other contingencies, and regenerate forces, if needed. The Army of 2017 -- although similar in size -- will be much different than the one of 2001. It is, of course, a more combat seasoned, experienced and capable Force.
In terms of modernization, we are making select investments even as our overall end-strength decreases and the dollars that are available decreases. We are developing a versatile and affordable mix of equipment to ensure the American Soldier remains the most discriminate lethal force on the battlefield. These include some priorities: Soldier Systems, the ability to gather information from individual Soldiers to senior leaders through the network; and we are developing the Ground Combat Vehicle, the Tactical Wheeled Vehicle, and rotary wing Aviation fleet. The Army's modernization program is focused on providing our Soldiers and small units maximum tactical capability while improving mobility, protection and access to information. Improvements to the Army Network will give our Soldiers and Squads precise, analyzed information from a range of sensors at the right time so they can make the best decisions on time. In total, these modernization programs will reduce risk on future complex battlefields by putting a squad with capability over-match in the right place with precision --with the right information, to accomplish their mission.
Additionally, we will continue to increase our rotary wing aviation. We will continue to increase our Special Operations Forces. We will complete the expansion of Army Special Operations Forces and their support forces. Together, these improvements will create dominant small unit capabilities which combined with our Soldiers' sophisticated understanding of cultures, religions and people to create what I consider to be strategic land power. This will be even more important as we re-emphasize our global posture towards the Asia-Pacific region in recognition of the many challenges and opportunities there. The Army does have a critical role in the Asia-Pacific.7 out of the 10 largest land forces in the world are in that region. 22 out of 27 of the Chiefs of Defense are Army. We will build on the strong foundation of strategic partnerships with our allies and partners, while also seeking opportunities to engage in new relationships.
Although America's Army is developing for the future, let me assure you that we stand ready and able to meet whatever challenges lie ahead starting today. Before I finish, I want to mention our Veterans --I know there are some here today. We are incredibly fortunate as a Country to have millions men and women, who have chosen to believe in the values and ideals that this Country stands for, that are willing to fight to preserve those rights for all Americans. The Army is committed to honoring the service of every Soldier, which continues for the rest of their lives whether in uniform or not. However, it is important that we recognize that over 200,000 Soldiers transition from active and reserve status to Veterans every year. Many people don't realize that. We need help from all communities to give these deserving individuals the chance to bring their special qualities and skills into the civilian sector. I will just close that America's Army will continue its long tradition of answering the Nation's call as it navigates through a period of transition. And I truly believe that America remains the Land of the Free, because of all those who have served, and because of their bravely. Thank you for allowing me to speak with you today:
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!