By David VergunSeptember 26, 2014
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Sept. 29, 2014) -- These are "really tough times, where logistics and running our logistics organization has never been more important as we bring equipment out of Afghanistan, as we prepare for deployments to Africa, as we prepare for deployments to Iraq," said the chief of staff of the Army.
Gen. Ray Odierno, who spoke Friday, at a promotion ceremony at the Pentagon for the new Army Deputy chief of Staff G-4 Lt. Gen. Gustave Perna, said Perna is "absolutely the right guy" to lead in those logistical efforts.
Just hours after Odierno delivered his remarks, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey were at a Pentagon press briefing, discussing U.S. efforts in Iraq, Syria, Africa and elsewhere.
Hagel delivered some breaking news at efforts to broaden the coalition against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, known as ISIL:
"The governments of Belgium, Denmark and the Netherlands have announced their intention to participate in coalition airstrikes in Iraq. A few minutes ago, before coming down here, I spoke with Britain's defense minister, Michael Fallon. He called me as he left the chambers of the Parliament to inform me that the British Parliament had just voted 524 to 43 to join the air campaign in Iraq with the United States and our coalition partners."
Dempsey emphasized that a large ground force is needed to counter ISIL.
"The ideal force, in fact the only truly effective force that will actually be able to reject ISIL from within its own population, is a force comprised of Iraqis and Kurds and moderate Syrian opposition," Dempsey explained.
In reply to a reporter's question on why the U.S. Army was sending a division headquarters to Iraq, Hagel explained that personnel from other components will also be assigned to the headquarters, which will coordinate command-and-control functions.
Dempsey added to Hagel's remarks: The division headquarters "is a coherent, standing warfighting organization that understands how to integrate these multiple activities and to manage the activities of the coalition.
"The group that went in there initially was focused on just beginning to make the initial contacts with the Iraqi security forces and monitoring the activities of the assessment team," he continued. "This is an organization that actually has the bandwidth and skill sets to manage a campaign."
Wednesday, Hagel, signed a deployment for about 500 Soldiers from 1st Infantry Division headquarters, to deploy to Iraq from Fort Riley, Kansas, in October.
In addition to the division headquarters, there are six advise-and-assist teams that will embed with various Iraqi headquarters, Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said at a Pentagon news conference, Thursday.
Those Soldiers will help train, equip and advise moderate forces in the region and willing Arab allies fighting ISIL, Odierno said a week ago at a Defense Writers Group meeting at the Fairmont Hotel here.
Odierno discussed the strain on the Army that sequestration and the drawdown is having on the force, even as events unfold overseas where Soldiers are or may soon be required.
"I have two division headquarters in Afghanistan. I have a division headquarters in Korea. I'm going to send another division headquarters to Iraq; just a small headquarters; I'm going to send a division headquarters to Africa to work on the response to the Ebola virus. I might end up sending a division headquarters to Europe for rotational capability," Odierno said during the Defense Writers Group meeting.
The speed of downsizing has affected the entire active Army, including headquarters staff, he continued.
"I've reduced the size of our division headquarters," Odierno said. "We've reduced every headquarters in the Army down to the two-star level by 25 percent.
"The complexity of the environment we have to operate in now and probably over the next 10, 15 or 20 years, requires headquarters. You ask me where the real stress point is in the Army; it's on headquarters," he emphasized.
Odierno explained that the task of Soldiers in headquarters is to integrate multinational partners, agencies and other governments with the Army, and joint service operational efforts.
Although the Army is reducing the size of its headquarters, "the need is actually growing because of this complex environment we operate in. It allows us to make best use of the troops we're sending into these areas," he said. "Nobody has not been affected by the cuts. Every size headquarters has been affected."
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