Casey: 'We are still a country at war'
December 27, 2012
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FORT MEADE, Md. (Dec. 27, 2012) -- Retired Gen. George W. Casey, the 36th chief of staff of the Army, was the guest speaker for the start of the 704th Military Intelligence Brigade's winter Family Readiness Group Leadership Training, Dec. 12, here.
Casey spoke about the impact of current international conflicts on the future of the Army, the importance of leadership and the value of resiliency before a packed audience of Soldiers and several military spouses at the Post Theater.
In his remarks, Casey noted the National Intelligence Council's recent release of the "Global Trends 2030: Alternative Worlds" report.
"It's a pretty good piece of work," he said, suggesting the audience review the report online.
The country, he said, is now 11 years and three months from the Sept. 11 attacks.
"We are still a country at war," he said. "The war that we are involved in still is a long-term ideological struggle."
Casey said although there has been progress in the fight -- primarily the deaths of Osama Bin Laden and American-born Al Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki -- the turmoil of the war is now being played out in countries such as Egypt, Yemen, Syria and Pakistan.
"The good news is we have the battle going on that we need to succeed in this war," Casey said.
The battle, he noted, is between the moderates and extremists in these countries as the people struggle for democracy.
While it is unlikely that the U.S. will go into another Arab country, said Casey, there are trends heading toward the year 2030 that are likely to exacerbate the tensions in these areas of the world.
The first trend is the increased power of global economies in developing nations. In a report cited by Casey, of the top 20 economies that had more than 2 percent growth, only two countries -- Sweden and Austria -- were developed nations.
The concern is that as the economies grow in developing nations, there is increasing maldistribution of wealth.
In addition, said Casey, 20 percent of the world's population control 75 percent of the world's wealth. About 3 billion people in the world live on less than $2.50 per day, he said.
These populations are "more susceptible to recruitment by terrorists organizations than people who are gainfully employed," Casey said.
The influence and power of technology is a trend that is a "double-edged sword," Casey said. "The same technology that is bringing knowledge to anyone with a computer or cell phone can be used by terrorists" to distribute their message.
Of the 1 billion Facebook users, said Casey, 75 percent live outside the U.S.
A third trend is the growing population of developing countries.
"The population of some developing countries is expected to double in the next decade," Casey said.
Sixty percent of the population in the Middle East is under age 25, he said.
"All the studies show that when you have a large, unemployed, young male population, the countries are more susceptible to social strife, war and terrorism," Casey said.
By 2030, it is expected that 60 percent of the world's population will live in cities.
"Cities are a tough place for the military to operate," Casey said.
In the future, there is also likely to be a greater demand for limited resources such as a water, food and gas.
Casey said the two trends that worry him the most are the use of weapons of mass destruction, specifically biological, radiological and chemical warfare, by terrorist groups and cyber attacks.
He said he is also concerned about the emergence of non-state actors on the global scene who operate outside traditional military conventions.
To deal with these pressing and complex issues, Casey said Army leaders in the 21st century must have vision, courage and character.
They must have the vision, he said, to "anticipate the way ahead" and articulate a common goal and common purpose to subordinates.
In making judgments about the future, which involves risk because humans are not perfect, Casey said Army leaders must have the courage to make tough decisions.
Leaders also must have character.
"Leaders with good values build strong organizations," Casey said. "They will do the right thing, when the going gets tough, for the organization and not themselves."
To close his presentation, Casey spoke about the importance of resiliency among Soldiers.
"If you build yourself up so you are physically, mentally and emotionally strong as a leader, you will have the courage not only to act but to pick yourself up when you fail," Casey said. "What's important is that you are resilient enough to pick yourself up and then pick the organization back up and move forward."
Casey said Soldiers must make time to read, think, exercise and get proper sleep.
"The clearer you are, the better it is for the organization," he said.
After his presentation, Casey answered a wide range of questions from Soldiers regarding ethics training in the Army, standards for physical fitness, the impact of noncombat missions on future troops and his thought process while he commanded the Multi-National Force in Iraq.
"I felt his spin on the current events, with his experience, provided a fuller picture than what I would often see on the news," Staff Sgt. Jesus Quintero said.
Sgt. Brad Goddard said Casey shared a "pretty good message" with the audience.
"I think he had some really good points, especially about international conflicts," Goddard said. "He has the institutional knowledge from the situation in Iraq."