By Chief of Staff of the Army Ramond T. OdiernoJune 11, 2015
It is great to be back up here at Carlisle. I remember just a short 20 years ago, I was sitting where you are getting ready to graduate from the Army War College. Bill, thank you for that kind introduction. Frankly, as I reflect on my time as Chief and on my time in the Army, I feel so fortunate that I have had the opportunity to serve with so many great young men and women who sacrifice themselves for the national security of our Nation. So thank you. It has been my honor to serve with all of you in this great Army. I want to thank all of the guests that are here. We have many VIPs. I am not going to go through and mention them all, but I want to thank all of our civilian leadership, our military leadership, our civilian leaders joining us here for the Army, Navy, Air Force, National Guard, US Army Reserve, Marines, and the international community. Welcome.
As we celebrate the achievements of the graduates sitting before you, I also want to thank the city of Carlisle and the Cumberland County community for continuing the extraordinary partnership that has been established throughout the years. Most importantly I want to thank the family members, many of whom have traveled large distances to be here to mark this important milestone in the continuing careers of all of our graduates and a continuing career in service to our Nation and their other nations as they go back to their own nations for our international students. This is another step as they move forward and take on more and more responsibility in this great Army of ours as well as the Air Force, the Navy, the Marines Corps, the Coast Guard, and many other nations. It is especially important in this time of great uncertainty that we face.
First, I will start by saying I have heard the Class of 2015's academic year has been a momentous one for many reasons. Your class benefited from a record high number of international students: 79 from 73 countries. I witnessed frankly a number of international alumni inducted into the international fellows hall of fame this year, a reflection of the great talent that comes through here from our partners and how much they cherish the opportunity to come here and learn and sit beside our own Officers, as we have to work together to move forward. The relationships you build here and the global networks being established by our partners around the world I believe will work together for regional and global security and stability in the future. For each of our international fellows, I am glad you are here, not only for the experience, but to bring some athleticism to the class (Laughter). I do understand the class of 2015 is a bit more intellectual than athletic. I won 't mention the Jim Thorpe competition. Oh wait a minute; I just did, or the fact that I have directed the Commandant to increase the number of athletic scholarships next year for the class of 2016.
What I can say is you did have the best pass rate of the oral comps that they have had in recent history. After years of reaching for the triple crown of writing competitions, your class placed first in both the Chairman's writing competitions and in the Belmont Stakes of the three, the Secretary of Defense Awards, you took third and fourth places. So close to winning the triple crown. I am very proud of you for that. As I listen to the papers that were written as they announce the awardees coming across the stage, I think what was most impressive to me was the topics that they discussed, many so current and so important to us not only as Americans and the United States Army, but also for the international community.
As I think back to my time here, what a great year it was for me personally. What I remember most about that are my classmates and those whom I had an opportunity to meet. In fact one of them is your instructor Steve Kidder, who is here today. He was one of my classmates here. I also remember my family and the time they had here. What a great place to be and what a great time to come for such an important experience. It is not just about learning with your partners and your peers from other services, agencies and nations, it is also about spending time with your family, which I think is incredibly important.
Your graduation today marks a critical junction in your career. This is the transition from tactical leader to operational and strategic leaders. Strategic leadership requires an understanding of the intricacies of the environment. It requires the ability to craft and communicate a vision. It requires selfless commitment to your mission and the people you lead. It requires that you demonstrate competence, commitment, and character in every action you take. Most importantly, it requires you take on the development and mentorship of the next generation of young leaders who will follow you. In my opinion there is no better time for you to join the ranks of this nation's and our world's strategic leaders for we are at a strategic inflection point. As experienced as the Army and the military are after the past 14 years of war, we must ensure that our Nation, our allies, our partners are prepared for the future's security challenges that we face.
Throughout the course of history world events have always presented states and their militaries with complexity and unpredictability. Today is no different. We are experiencing challenges across every continent, challenges caused by an increased competition for resources, shifting alliances, empowered networks, unprecedented information access and quickening evolutions of power. Hostile nation states and non-state actors are influencing the human dimension of conflict, sowing instability in the name of self-determination to gain access to resources to gain influence. Anarchy, extremism and terrorism threatens stability across regions all around the world. Radicalism is as predominant as it is corrosive.
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 it in particular begins to develop and ends in the human domain. The character of warfare changes over time as tactics, techniques, technologies, ideas and beliefs continue to evolve. So it is imperative now more than ever in the face of security threats abroad, troop reductions, and fiscal uncertainties here at home, that we and our partners work collaboratively in pursuit of lasting solutions.
We just published the Army Vision 2015 and 2025: Strategic Advantage in a Complex World. It outlines unique roles of the Army to consolidate strategic gains, integrate operations, enable sustained operations, and operate among populations. It also details the eight key characteristics of what we want our Army to be in 2025 and beyond: a force that is agile, expert, innovative, interoperable, expeditionary, scalable, versatile, and balanced. This vision will be accomplished through the new Army Operating Concept: Win in a Complex World.
In this concept, we set out to discover new ways to synchronize and integrate lead, joint inter-organizational 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 and working with our multinational partners. It identifies 20 critical warfighting challenges we must address and the first order of capabilities that we must have to meet them. These will provide the intellectual foundation and framework that will inform future force development and guide our effort to turn concepts into capabilities.
This will be followed by an Army modernization strategy that applies resources to adapt material using existing capabilities in new ways; modifying and adapting; and rapidly exploiting new opportunities with innovative concepts to retain overmatch and enhance expeditionary maneuver. It will ensure that the US Army capabilities mitigate and identify gaps and seams.
The Soldier and the Squad will remain the centerpiece of our formations and the heart of this strategy. Its objectives are three fold: enhance the Soldier by improving lethality, protection, and situational awareness; increase the deployability, lethality, mobility, and survivability of our maneuver formations; and enable mission command which empowers subordinates by investing in networks, and in an agile and expeditionary tactical command post. And remain prepared for joint combined arms maneuver by providing tailorable and scalable forces while increasing our efficiency and logistics.
Unfortunately, in every generation, we have individuals who believe battles can be won by engineering and technology advances alone. The truth is that while overmatch is important, people win wars. While the air, space, and cyber domains are critical, warfare remains a human endeavor, fought on land to influence and compel people's behavior. So we need leaders, Soldiers, and organizations who are comfortable operating in the complexity of the human domain and the ability 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 socioeconomic influences of our friends and our adversaries. This is essential whether you are a General or a Private. Soldiers need to be better prepared through education and realistic training that includes sustained operations in complex and chaotic situations to include urban environments.
Soldiers and leaders need to understand cultural, tribal, religious, ideological, and economic drivers at national and local levels. They need to have the situational understanding of what 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 we must have leaders of great character.
I am looking to you, today's newest operational and strategic leaders to shape the future, to read and understand the Army vision, to fully apply the Army Operating Concept, and to continue to build leaders of high character and help us build an Army that is capable of leading across the joint force anywhere around the world. I am asking you to provide leadership needed in critical positions across the joint, inter-organizational, and multinational environment. Your Army is counting on you, and your Nation needs you.
This is a time now more than ever where our leaders will make a difference; a time where our leaders will be required to step forward and solve seemingly insolvable problems; and a time where our leaders need to invest and lead our most precious resources, our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines and Coast Guard. You are those leaders. I know you are ready for that challenge.
I commend each of you for your longstanding service to your country, your willingness to take the higher levels of responsibility. I want to thank the incredible staff of the Army War College for their commitment to rigorous learning. Most importantly I want to thank each and every family member who stands alongside their graduates today. Thank you for your moral support, your love, and commitment that enable these great leaders to complete this tremendous milestone in their career and continue their service to their Nation. We do not take their sacrifices for granted. I also know we cannot succeed without the incredible support of our families. You should be very proud of what they have become and what they will continue to be asked to do.
In fact, four of your classmates graduated last week in order to meet immediate operational requirements overseas, a reminder that our Army remains committed around the world. As I stand here today over 140,000 Soldiers are deployed and forward stationed in 150 countries across the globe. We have ongoing operations across six continents, conducting humanitarian assistance, disaster relief, building partner capacity and conducting reassurance or deterrence missions around the world. Today, we have thousands of Soldiers honing their skills at our training centers, rebuilding our readiness so that our Army can continue to provide the foundational security required to protect us here at home.
Our Nation is depending on all of us. Our Army is depending on you. I wish each of you great success in your future pursuits and thank you for allowing me to share with you this wonderful celebration today. Thank you very much. May God bless you and your families. May God Bless the United States of America.
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.