By Chief of Staff of the Army Raymond OdiernoApril 14, 2015
Good afternoon. It is a privilege to be here today at the Royal Military Academy to speak in the Kermit Roosevelt Lecture Series in the United Kingdom.
As some of you may know, this lecture series dates back to 1947, when LTG A.C. Wedermeyer, Commander in Chief of the 2nd U.S. Army, spoke here at Sandhurst. Since then, the lecture series has thrived, offering an annual exchange of ideas for nearly 70 years between the leaders of our Armies at service schools and locations in the U.S. and in Great Britain. General Carter and I agreed that each of us should lead off this year, to reflect the enduring value we both see in the event. CGS, Members of the Army Board, senior leaders, and Officer Cadets from the U.K. and around the world, thank you all for being here today.
I would like to speak with you about the growing number of challenges we face in the world today; about how the U.S. Army is adapting and innovating to meet the demands placed upon it; and about the importance of interoperability, and of working with our allies.
Before I get into change and adaptation, however, I'd like to talk about continuity. General Carter is, I know, aware of the rhyme of history, and a predecessor in his post arrived at a time of remarkable similarities to today.
Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson took over as Chief of the Imperial General Staff in February of 1918. The end strength of the British Army fell from 3.8 million in November of that same year to 890,000 a year later, and 430,000 a year after that. Several trouble spots rumbled on beyond the War, notably the Russian Civil War, and instability in Mesopotamia (Iraq) and Persia (Iran). In the harsh light of the post conflict world, overseas intervention had to be tempered by domestic and financial reality.
The central assumption of defense spending was that the British Empire would not be engaged in any great war in the foreseeable future, and that no Expeditionary Force would be required.
The Chief of the Air Staff successfully lobbied to save money with a plan to achieve military effects in Mesopotamia from the air rather than on the ground, among the people. Wilson disagreed with such a strategy, believing that land forces would be essential to achieving those aims, in Iraq or in any other campaign. Such debates--whether Armies are needed at all in places like Iraq--continue to this day.
But as history tells us, the connected chain of wars from one era to the next will not be broken any time soon. Such is the enduring nature of conflict. Yet it is equally true that the character of conflict is constantly shifting. Thus, both of our Armies must manage continuity and change, and must do so with an eye on the past, the present, and the future.
The present sees our Nations facing enormous challenges -- not only separately, but as key components of global networks and alliances. We are confronted by determined enemies with the desire, the capability, and an increasing capacity to threaten us in ways we have to work hard to understand.
And we continue to see an increase in the velocity of instability driven by a variety of social, transnational, and human dynamics.
This array of diverse and complex threats ranges from transnational extremist organizations to the aggressive action of several Nation-States. In the Middle East, we are seeing the expansion of sectarian conflict driving an unprecedented breadth and depth of volatility.
Extremist organizations are aligning with ISIL and attempting to proliferate across the Middle East and North Africa; while ISIL attempts to establish Iraq and Syria as the seat for a Caliphate. Iran's aggression across the Middle East is raising tensions in places such as Yemen, where order has fully collapsed, which has elicited a regional military response. Anarchy, extremism, and terrorism are running rampant in Libya and other parts of North and Central Africa.
In Europe, Russian aggression in Ukraine and the potential for further Russian actions is challenging the status quo and testing the resolve of the European Union and NATO. Across the Pacific, China's military modernization efforts alarm the U.S., the U.K., and our mutual allies, while North Korean belligerence continues. I could continue defining more problems but I will stop here.
Even as we confront these enduring and evolving threats, the U.S. is experiencing a significant internal debate regarding our Nation's budget and debt; the cost and investment in domestic programs, benefits, and entitlements; and on how much to spend on national defense. We are seeing a broad diversity of opinions on the U.S. role in the world, to include that of our dependence on current and future alliances; the future role of Air, Ground, and Naval forces; how much of our force should be forward stationed around the world; how much surge capacity should we maintain in reserve; and on what should be our expectations regarding our allies' capabilities.
The fiscal realities that we face compel us to draw down the size of our force and simultaneously make hard choices regarding sustained readiness levels and modernization. These compromises to readiness and modernization, combined with reductions to force size and capabilities, compound strategic risk.
Risk to our ability to prevent conflict through deterrence and forward presence; risk in shaping regional security environments with consistent engagement; and risk to sustaining readiness and capacity in order to surge military capabilities to win decisively if necessary.
Finally, we are taking far greater risk with our ability to conduct simultaneous operations on multiple continents as currently outlined in our defense strategic guidance.
We must recognize the fiscal realities imposed upon us and we must recognize the evolving nature of warfare. Therefore, we must adapt and innovate in order to mitigate the many risks we face.
In such challenging times, it is doubly important that we maintain sight of what history informs us--that the nature of warfare is enduring; and that in particular, it begins, develops, and ends in the human domain. But the character of warfare changes over time, as tactics, techniques, and technologies; and ideas and beliefs, evolve. So it is imperative--now more than ever--in the face of security threats abroad; and troop reductions and fiscal uncertainties at home; that our Armies work collaboratively in pursuit of lasting solutions.
In the U.S., our Army Operating Concept, "Win in a Complex World," is our path to discover new concepts to synchronize, integrate, and lead Joint, Interorganizational, and Multinational teams. It does so through the lens of both continuity and change. It describes how future Army forces will prevent conflict, shape security environments, and win wars while operating as part of our Joint Force (Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines) and working with multiple partners.
It provides the intellectual foundation and framework for learning and applying what we learn to future force development, while guiding our efforts to turn concepts into capabilities. It identifies the Warfighting Challenges that we face, and the first order capabilities that we must have to meet them.
The Army Equipment Modernization Strategy then applies resources to adapt materiel in the near-term using existing capabilities in new ways, modifying and adapting capabilities and rapidly exploiting new opportunities with innovative concepts to retain overmatch and enhance expeditionary maneuver. It will ensure that in the U.S. Army we procure capabilities, not "things."
The Soldier and Squad will remain the centerpieces of our formations and the heart of this strategy. Its objectives are threefold.
1) Enhance the Soldier by improving lethality, protection, and situational awareness; and increase the deployability, lethality, mobility, and survivability of our maneuver formations.
2) Enable Mission Command (which empowers subordinates) by investing in networks that pass and transfer information quickly to the Soldier level; as well as in agile and expeditionary Battalion, Brigade, Division, and Corps tactical command posts.
3) Remain Prepared for Joint Combined Arms Maneuver by providing tailorable and scalable forces, while increasing both the efficiency of logistics and the reliability of our systems.
4) The nature of future conflict will require immediate and decisive responses. Therefore, it is crucial that we improve our strategic and operational mobility.
We must invest in mobile-protected firepower and develop combat vehicles that provide land forces the appropriate combination of mobility, lethality, and protection to defeat enemy prepared positions, close with and destroy the enemy through fire and maneuver, and ensure freedom of maneuver and action in close contact with the enemy.
In the mid and far-term, we must reduce the size of our command and control footprint while ensuring constant, reliable, and protected information flow on the move. I often point out to our Acquisitions leaders that I can pick up my I-Phone and pass information to multiple continents simultaneously. But in order to set up a military communications network, I need hundreds of vehicles laden with commo equipment. So we must optimize and take best advantage of our investments in and connections with commercial industry.
We must also invest in light reconnaissance and security capabilities. We must upgrade the lethality of missiles, interceptors, and sensors. We must integrate directed energy, and we must develop a new Infantry Fighting Vehicle and a future tank that is lighter and that has autonomous capabilities. Force 2025 Maneuvers, the "Army's Campaign of Learning," is our way to analyze and assess new capabilities, design, and doctrine.
Today and into the future, I believe we will be increasingly challenged to maintain technological overmatch in a world where the proliferation of technology occurs at a much faster pace than ever before. Therefore, it is my belief that our ability to uniquely innovate, and to adapt technology to operational and tactical concepts, is how we maintain our advantage.
So not only will we conduct future studies and analyses of warfare and the impacts of emerging technologies, we will also test new concepts at Joint and Multinational exercises, CTCs, and test centers so we can begin to adapt and evolve interim concepts as we innovate long-term solutions.
Multinational solutions to our common strategic objectives are fundamental to our future success. The recent award of the Victoria Cross to Lance Corporal Joshua Leakey, who demonstrated exemplary courage during a combined U.K./U.S. assault on a Taliban stronghold, is another reminder of the long-standing, close relationship that our Armies have, and of the successes we achieve working together.
The Bilateral Vision Statement that I co-signed with the CGS two years ago describes a progressive plan, in which we deconflict, coordinate, and collaborate to achieve greater effects together than we could achieve alone.
Our strategy aspires to integrate a U.K. Division in a U.S. Corps, and a U.S. Division in the Allied Rapid Reaction Corps.
The Joint Operational Access Exercise currently underway at Fort Bragg, where American and British paratroopers are training side by side for Joint Forcible Entry operations, is a perfect example of how we must train going forward. I hope in time that it will be used as the model for developing other bilateral and alliance relationships, for extending the Global Landpower Network, and for building greater synergy with industry, research and development, and acquisition.
The complexity of the international security environment demands educated, visionary, adaptable, and agile leaders. I believe that our leaders, both officers and NCOs, provide us an asymmetric advantage over our enemies. And as I mentioned earlier, the causes of conflict remain in the human dimension, where land forces are uniquely suited to deal with ambiguity.
But there are still many who believe that wars can be won through superior technology and platforms alone.
The truth is that while overmatch is important, people win wars. And while the air, space, maritime, and cyber domains are important, warfare is essentially a "contest of wills" -- a human endeavor fought on land to influence the people where they live. So we need leaders and Soldiers who can operate in the human domain and shape the human dimension of conflict -- who are able to navigate complex challenges and create the conditions needed to achieve sustainable outcomes.
We must optimize our own performance and develop an understanding of the security and socio-economic influences of our friends and our adversaries. This is essential, from the generals to the privates. Soldiers need to be better prepared through education and realistic training that includes sustained operations in complex and chaotic situations, to include in urban environments.
Soldiers and leaders need to understand the cultural, tribal, religious, ideological, and economic drivers at the national and local levels. And they need to have the situational understanding that our enemies and adversaries may already have. So looking to the future, we must develop leaders who are mentally and physically tough; innovative and adaptive; able to inspire others to accomplish the unthinkable; and, most importantly, leaders of great character.
Our leaders must be able to think in complex, multi-domain environments. They must be culturally aware, and they must understand the populations where they operate. We want to create a multiple-dilemma environment for our enemies, by integrating and synchronizing effects on the ground from all domains: air, land, sea, space, and cyberspace. I want leaders who feel comfortable with complexity and chaos, and who in fact excel in this environment.
Now more than ever, as we face the many threats and uncertainties of the international security environment, we must challenge each other and work side by side to improve our capabilities. We share so much in common -- past and present -- that reinforcing a commitment to a shared future is not only in our best interests, but in the interests of peace and security the world over.
Thank you for the opportunity to speak with you this afternoon. I look forward to your questions.