General Odierno: Good morning. Let me discuss a couple of things as we get started. I am going to sit down with General Crosson and figure out what he does. Whatever he does, I want to do that. He looks terrific. I see him around town, and I want to follow in his footsteps.
As I was thinking about what I wanted to talk about today, I was having a hard time because, as you know, the Army has no issues. So there is very little to talk about, but I was finally able to find some things we can talk about and discuss. When I was asked to be the Chief, there was a joke made. One of the papers said he was asked to close down Iraq, and he was asked to close down the number in Afghanistan. This means he is going to close down the Army now. Although it was said as a joke, that may not be too far off, unfortunately.
I want to talk about a few things that are important today. I want to talk about modernization and the future. We have talked about the budget, end strength, and other issues. I think it is important for us to really walk through where we are headed in that area. Before I start, I like to remind everybody that as I stand here people tend to think that the Army is out of Iraq and Afghanistan, and there is not much going on. It reinforces to me as I travel around the Army how busy we are. It has not slowed down. A few months ago I was at Fort Carson and looked at all the missions they had for the next year. It is mind boggling just to listen to what we are doing. If you go to Fort Bragg to the 82nd Airborne Division, 18th Airborne, it is the same thing. Fort Bliss, Texas has many missions and requirements worldwide outside of Afghanistan. It is quite significant. The Army is not standing still. The Army is doing many, many, many things in order for us to shape the future environment and prevent conflict around the world.
I have a Battalion Commander and about 50 Soldiers sitting at the Embassy in South Sudan. They have been there for several weeks. We have forces that are tailored and scaled that are conducting operations, conducting training, building partner capacity, and doing many things in many parts of the world. That is what we will continue to do. By the way, we still have about 30,000 Soldiers in Afghanistan. We still have another 20,000 around other places in the Middle East. There are Soldiers in Turkey. We deployed air defense capabilities to Guam in response to North Korea. I always remind everybody that we are not standing still. People seem to think there is nothing for the Army to do; they are not very busy. Every one of our components are incredibly busy and continue to be. I just always like to remind everybody of that as we move forward.
In my mind there are certain things that we have to do as we move forward. One is we have to remain a highly trained ready professional Army as we move forward. We can never walk away from that. Everyone asks me about taking care of Soldiers. The way to take care of Soldiers is to make sure they are trained and ready to do the missions we ask them so that when we ask them to deploy somewhere, they are prepared. That is what we owe our Soldiers. We have to make sure as we move forward that we are doing that today. The Army is uniquely organized and has capabilities that are distinct from many of the other services. Our ability to organize ourselves with a variety of capabilities, whether it is light, heavy or air defense, fires, or Special Operations capability. These are found and developed in the Army. Our ability to deliver logistics around the world is unmatched. Our ability to provide intelligence support is unmatched. Our ability to conduct the Corp of Engineers and what they do around the world and in the United States is unmatched. These are competencies that nobody else has. It is these unique capabilities that we need to build on as we move to the future. We are the only ones who can deliver these capabilities. We have to make sure that we continue to do that.
I set five priorities, and most of you have probably seen them. Number one is about developing leaders. All we have to do is look at the papers every single day and understand that the world is become more complex everyday. In order for us to stay in front of that we have to develop leaders. In fact, I think responsibilities in a world where information travels so fast it will get pushed down to lower levels. So we have to develop our Captains faster than when I was a Captain. We have to develop our Lt. Colonels faster. We have to develop them with much more diverse understanding of the socio-economic, cultural, religious environments that are around the world because they are going to have to operate in those environments. We have to have leaders who can do critical thinking under pressure. We have to have leaders who can make tough decisions at the right time. That is why that is always going to be our number one priority. The advantage that we have today is an advantage that we must sustain into the future. The one thing that every day is apparent to me as I think about where we are going is the change and continuing development of our Non-Commissioned Officer Corp. When I deal with Sergeant Majors, Master Sergeants, Sergeants First Class, the level that they are at is so much higher than it was just 10-12 years ago. It is nowhere close to where it was when I came into the Army 38 years ago. Their amount of agility, their understanding of the issues we have is at the highest level I have ever seen it. We have to continue to develop that. That is what makes us different than anybody else, our Non-Commissioned Officers.
We have to be a globally responsive Army. What does that mean? We must be leaner, smaller, tailored, and scalable. We have to be expeditionary. We have to go to our expeditionary mindset. We have to be prepared to deploy very quickly. We have to get there in small packages and then potentially build on them. We have to get there with the least amount of support necessary. We have to be able to go to remote areas. We have to be able to go anywhere in the world. We have to build on our advantage of tactical operations and strategic mobility. We have to build our capabilities and our tactical and operational strategic command and control systems. Our command and control systems are too heavy today. I have challenged our people and said I can sit here in my chair and pull out my smart phone and talk to every continent in the world with one little smart phone. So why is it that I want to do caissons, I have to bring 50 trucks and 300 Soldiers. Why is that? Why is that? We cannot do that anymore.
We have to determine how we leverage the technologies that are out there. How do we leverage our ability to reduce our footprint to have better communications to secure data? We are working on making sure that as you are in a C-17 flying from Fort Bragg North Caroline to wherever, that C-17 should have complete visibility of the operations you are going to conduct wherever you are in the world. We are building that capability. Then we will move it across the entire Force. While we are doing that, the Officers need to continue to have that complete visibility. In the world we are in, information is everything. The ability for the Commander on the ground to understand what he is getting into is one of the most important things that we have to provide. Then we will be able to execute from there.
We have to understand what is going on in each one of the Combatant Commanders areas and be regionally engaged. That is just not a phrase. We have been doing that in the past, but the emphasis is different. We have to understand what is going on in the Korean Peninsula. It can't be just the 2nd Infantry Division that understands that. We have to understand what is going on in Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan. Just in case, we have to be prepared. We want to try to shape that. We want to try to prevent large-scale conflict. We have to understand what is going on in those areas.
We have to continue to build strong partnerships with our NATO allies. We have to figure out ways of how we are going to do that. The JMTC is going to be an international training center where we continue to share technology, share concepts, and work together. The future is working in coalitions with multinational partners. How do we develop that? These are the kind of things that we have to do when we talk about regionally engaged. We are going to the African continent. We conducted somewhere between 80-100 missions in Africa over the last 8 months. Some of them were 10 people. Some were 20 people, but they are key missions supporting the AFRICOM Commanders' objectives across Africa. We have to build a Force that understands what is going on there, and we will continue to do that as we move forward.
We have to be a ready, modern Army. Readiness is key. We are reinvigorating our combat training centers. Our units are going to go through the combat training centers. We are developing scenarios that are incredibly complex that reflect what we believe the future will look like, and we will continue to iterate that and improve that as we go forward. That is to ensure that our Soldiers are trained. It is not just about Brigade Combat teams. It is centered around Brigade Combat Teams, but it is about air-ground integration. It is about logistical integration. It is about mission command and the ability to use mission command in an incredibly complex operations. So we are focused on that to ensure we have readiness. We are focused on ensuring that we go back to ensuring all of home stations training is used, which we frankly have not done in the last 5-6-7 years. It has been very simple. We come back from Iraq and Afghanistan. We rest for a little bit, do some training, and then go back. We now have to be able to do things in a very diverse way. So home station training prepared in combat training centers is going to be important.
We are invigorating our exercise program. Every exercise that we do will be done in several levels with all complements. It is important that we train our leaders to operate that way. The one thing that was clear over the last 10-12 years is the Army has the only organization that you can build JTFs around, our Divisions and our Corps. You can plug. That is why we have had those over the last several years. We have to continue to build off of that and build that expertise. We have to figure out how we adjust that for the different missions that we might be asked to do. That is maintaining the readiness that we think is important.
Let me talk a moment about modernization. Our modernization program will still be centered around the Soldiers. They are the foundation of who we are. Sometimes we are who our history is. As I remember back to 2003, I remember that our Infantry squads were not all equipped properly. We had not achieved equipment readiness. Some units were not properly equipped with all the equipment we expected our squads to have. We fixed that problem. We are going to sustain that. We are going to continue to build it up to make sure that we have the best equipment for our Soldiers and squads because we are going to be deploying in smaller capabilities. When I say squads, I am talking about all, it is not just squads. It is our logistic squads. It is our artillery squads. It is making sure that they have the right capabilities and necessities because we are going to ask them to go somewhere. We need to make sure they have the right equipment. That is number one.
We all know because of the budget our modernization strategy is going to be a bit delayed. We are not going to do everything that we wanted to do. However, everything that we do must be affordable, versatile, tailorable. Additionally over the next few years we are going to have to rely on some mature technologies. We will continue to modernize the power. We will continue to make the cost effective improvements in the Abrams tank. We will continue to improve the Bradley fighting vehicle. We are going to continue to improve F4 carbines, F180 carbines. We are going to build new when it is absolutely essential, JLTVs, AFDs, replacements for the 113s. We have to have these systems. Do we need a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle? Yes. Can we afford a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle now? No. What I am hoping for is technology will continue to allow us in 3-4 years from now build a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle that is absolutely necessary for us as we go forward. We will continue to modernize our aviation fleet, but we cannot afford our aviation fleet today. We cannot afford it.
We are going to have to make some difficult decisions in our modernization strategy. We are going to have to reduce the number of systems that we have. We are going to have to focus on that. Is that what I want? No, but we have to do the best we can to mitigate the risks as we move forward. We have to make sure the systems we have are the best systems possible. We will continue to modernize our UH60 fleet. We will continue to modernize our CH47 fleet. We will continue to modernize our Apaches. We will get those in the hands of our Soldiers so they can train to do the best we can so we are prepared for the next fight. Does that mean I am walking away from the scout helicopter? No, I think we need a scout helicopter, but we cannot afford one right now. So we have to figure out what we do as we move forward.
During the next few years, it is important that we invest in science and technology. We have to really choose where we invest. We have to be able to have leap ahead technologies. As I look at aviation, we want to invest in new engines. We want to look at vertical lifts. What does that mean for the future? We will look at manned and unmanned aviation. What is that leap ahead technology that we need that could make a real difference for our Soldiers on the ground? What is the technology that allows us to decrease the weight so we can be more expeditionary? Over the last several years what we have done is we have traded mobility for survivability. We have to get back in line. I need mobility. I need tactical mobility for the future. So we need to move towards mobility and try to determine how we sustain survivability while increasing mobility. How do we increase lethality of our systems while increasing mobility at the same time? Those are the things we need. We need to leverage commercial technology, and I gave you an example of IT. How are we doing that? We have to determine how we maintain our industrial base. We have to focus that, and we have to make sure we have a strong organic base, an industrial base, and private industrial base that will continue to support us. These S&T investments in my mind are very, very important.
You have heard over the last several days from TRADOC this concept of Army 2020 that we are talking about. We need about 10 years to look at where we are going and what we need for 20-30 years from now. We got a bit short sighted while we are fighting two wars. That is absolutely understandable. We now need to start thinking about what we need to look like 2025. There will be continued pressure on the budget. So what do we need to do in order to ensure that we have the priority to meet the missions of the future? Are we going to have to operate in what some people call meta-cities? We are going to have to deploy very quickly to many different places. How do we organize ourselves to do that? We are putting something together that allows us to study what we have done over the last 10-12 years and also look at what we need to do in the future. We need to maximize our formations. How do we maximize our formations? What I have to have is more formations that are smaller and more effective. That is what I would like to see 10 years from now. Those formations are built on technology insert, new concepts for both tactical and operational.
We have to think about how we organize ourselves. Do we organize ourselves the same as we do today? We need about 10 years to sort that out. So what I want to do is sustain ourselves over the next 7-9 years, and then we will prepare to move forward. If it can happen faster, then that is good. We have to start that now. It is key. What are we looking for? We need to be smaller, leaner, agile, and responsive. How do we reduce our formations while maintain the same capability? I don't know the answer. Is it revolutionary or evolutionary? It could be both. Some of the concepts we have to look at is manned and unmanned teaming. What does that mean for the future in ground and aviation? What are innovative ways for us to provide logistics and reduce our tail? 3-D printing, I don't know what that means yet. I understand 3-D printing, but I don't know what it means to our organizations. I don't know how we take that and utilize that in order to reduce our footprint for the future.
What I am looking for is how to optimize our combat units; how we increase expeditionary capability; how we more effectively mission tailor and regionally align ourselves to be globally responsive. How do we provide flexible JTF capable headquarters? How do we continue to develop Forces that are capable of joint entry operations? How do we have Forces that are optimized to defend the homeland, specifically seaborne operations and counter-proliferation capabilities? How do we work to counter IADs? These are the challenges we have. These are the challenges that I give you. These are the challenges that I have given the Army as we move forward. They will be essential to us as we look ahead.
Let me stop there and finish by telling you that during this time of budget reductions, during this time of working through some complex problems, the one thing that remains steady is our Soldiers. Our Soldiers remain steady. As I travel around I am inspired everyday what they do. I am inspired by our leaders. I am inspired by their dedication. I am inspired by their continued work towards being the best that they can possibly be. We owe it to them to make sure that we provide them what is necessary for them to be successful 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. That is what makes us Army strong. Thank you very much.