By C. Todd LopezNovember 18, 2008
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Nov. 21, 2008) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. recently outlined three topics he believes are important for the Army to address with the incoming administration.
During an address to several hundred Army staff leaders Nov. 12 at the Pentagon, Casey said he believes it will be important to address the current strategic environment, the state of the Army, and Army transformation with the new administration.
"If you don't have a meeting of the minds at the highest level on the threat you are facing, and on the strategic environment, you never come together," Casey said. "You don't necessarily have to agree, but you have to know where you disagree."
The general reiterated a theme he's visited repeatedly during public addresses: the nation is engaged in a period of persistent conflict, which he defines as protracted confrontation among state and non-state actors who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political and ideological objectives.
"We are at war and have been at war for over seven years," he said. "It is an ideological struggle against a global extremist terrorist network, and it is one that it is going to take a long time to resolve. These folks are brutal men and they are not going to quit. That is the reality."
The Army must also be prepared to deal with what Casey refers to as hybrid threats, having combinations of irregular, terror, criminal and conventional capabilities, he said. Hezbollah in Lebanon, for instance, has used state-of-the-art anti-tank guided missiles, surface-to-air missiles, and cruise missiles. The terrorist organization blended those weapons and capabilities with asymmetric techniques and improvised explosive devices, the general said.
"As we look at this we ask ourselves what should be the role of the Army, in particular, and land power, in general, in this environment. We believe we must have the capability to operate across the spectrum of conflict," he said.
Casey said the Army must structure itself to conduct all aspects of full-spectrum operations, including offensive, defensive, and stability operations to seize and retain the initiative and achieve decisive results.
The Army must also discuss with the incoming administration the current status of the Army and its readiness to perform its mission. Casey said the Army is "out of balance." He said the service cannot indefinitely sustain its current level of commitments at its current force size and structure.
"We began this war on Sept. 11 with an Army that was too small for what the country ultimately asked us to do," Casey said. "As a result, we are so weighed down by the current commitments that we can't do the things we know we need to do to sustain the all-volunteer force and to prepare -- to give the country the strategic flexibility it needs."
Though the Army is out of balance, Casey said it is not a "hollow force," meaning that there are still adequate numbers of quality, combat-seasoned officers and noncommissioned officers available to fill important leadership positions.
"This is not a broken or hollow force," Casey said. "This is the most combat-seasoned, resilient, professional force I've been associated with in 38 years. But we all know we are operating at a pace that we can't sustain. One of the critical things we are going to have to work on Aca,!" and the chiefs are working this - is balancing potential strategic gains with the risk to the force."
Part of putting the Army back in balance is increasing the number of Soldiers in the service. Casey has said the Army planned to "grow" by as many as 74,000 Soldiers by 2012 originally, moved that up to 2010, and now could even be ahead of that schedule.
"I'm being told, and this isn't confirmed, we may well finish the personnel side of that this year, because of the success we are having in recruiting and retention," Casey said. "ThatAca,!a,,cs a big deal."
Increasing the number of Soldiers across the force as we hold demand steady means increased dwell time for all of the 76 brigade combat teams the Army expects to generate under its growth plan, the general said.
"We will build a 1.1-million-person Army -- Active, Guard and Reserve -- that will have 76 BCTs and about 225 enabling brigades," Casey said.
With that number of Soldiers, brigade combat teams, and enabling brigades, the Army expects it will eventually be able to provide 15 BCTs and approximately 70,000 enablers on a rotation schedule where active forces are deployed for one year with three years at home and where reserve-component Soldiers are deployed for one year with five at home.
"And we can do that at those ratios indefinitely," Casey said.
Allowing Soldiers the time to be back home means more time with families and personal recovery, Casey said. It also means time for Soldiers to train to do the next thing -- train for the full spectrum of operations, not just the irregular warfare skills needed now in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Casey told officers there are four things the Army must do to put itself back into balance -- sustain, prepare, reset and transform -- points he's hammered upon in the past.
"When mid-level NCOs and officers start leaving Aca,!" the people who take a decade to train -- it takes a decade to train their replacements," Casey said. "That's one of the reasons we put in that captain selective retention bonus last year, and one of the reasons we have put a lot of focus on families."
Sustaining Soldiers and their families prevents an exodus of knowledge and experience from the Army, and is a key factor in preventing a hollow force. Casey said focusing on families is one way to ensure Soldiers choose to stay in the Army -- that is one reason the Army has doubled the money it provides to family and Soldier programs and why it began the Family Covenant program, he said.
"We have to hold this force together, and keep the people with us," he said. "It's a combat-seasoned force and you don't want that experience walking out the door."
The Army has done well in ensuring deploying Soldiers are prepared for deployments by ensuring they are properly equipped and trained, Casey said. But he also told gathered officers the Army is seeing an increase in the number of non-deployable Soldiers, and is often learning of those cases without ample time to correct the situation.
"We have to watch that very carefully," he said.
The most visual physical embodiment of Army transformation he said might be Future Combat Systems -- composed of equipment including both manned and unmanned ground vehicles, unmanned aerial vehicles and ground sensors tied together with a network that also includes the Soldier as part of the system.
"When I came back from Iraq and looked at the systems that we had out at Fort Bliss, it didn't take a rocket scientist to see that's exactly what they have got to have in Iraq right now," Casey said. There are five systems -- unmanned aerial vehicles; unattended ground sensors; the non-line-of-sight cannon [the first manned ground vehicle proto-type]; unmanned ground vehicles; and the first increment of the network. Combined with Land Warrior -- which allows the team leader who is out there with the Soldiers to have a common picture and see where everybody is -- these systems Aca,!A"really give our Soldiers a decisive advantage in any environment they go into,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"The systems we are building for FCS are going to change the Army over the next decade or so."
The general also said the Army must address the legislative issues that could complicate the way it hopes to continue to use the reserve components -- the Army Reserve and the Army National Guard.
"We have been using them as an operational force to augment the active component in this sustained confrontation, and we couldnAca,!a,,ct have done it without them," Casey said. "The question is: how do you adapt laws and policies that were developed after the Korean War to the realities of the 21st century' And has the country accepted the notion that we are going to need to have 60 to 70,000 Guard and Reservists mobilized on any given day for the indefinite future'"