WASHINGTON -- "War is very expensive, but the only thing more expensive than fighting a war is losing a war," said Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Mark A. Milley.

"War has not gone away," he continued. "It's clear that the faint clouds of a coming storm are on the horizon. It's our duty to be ready today, more lethal tomorrow."

Milley gave his address as keynote speaker at the Association of the U.S. Army's Annual Meeting and Exposition's Eisenhower Luncheon, Oct. 9.

The Army and the rest of the U.S. military is incredibly capable today, and it would be a grave mistake for enemies to take us on, he said. It would be better for them to talk with the Department of State. "And our capability will only increase in the future."

The chief touched on some areas where the Army is looking to increase readiness in the short term.

The objective is that all operational units will be filled with 90 percent authorized strength this year, 100 percent by 2021 and 105 percent by 2023 to ensure units are fully manned and ready to respond when called, he said.

The Army is also issuing manning guidance to fill critical institutional functions like observer coach/trainers at the combat training centers, recruiters and drill sergeants. They will all be filled at 100 percent strength by the end of this year, he said.

"We cannot sacrifice the institutional force for the operational force. Both must be fully manned," Milley emphasized.

Non-deployable Soldiers have been reduced. In 2015, 15 percent of Soldiers were non-deployable, he said. "That's the equivalent of an entire field army in World War II."

Through the hard work of commanders and leaders, that number is now much lower, at around 6 or 7 percent, he said. "We're on track to achieve 5 percent this year."

The growth of end strength will come about through a reduction of non-deployables, recruiting and retention, he said.

The new Army Combat Fitness Test, which is 80 percent correlated with essential combat tasks, will also result in injury reduction and that will contribute to a decrease in non-deployables, he added.

More units are going through the combat training centers and the training there has gotten a lot tougher, he said, reflecting an emphasis in combined arms maneuver and multi-domain operations.

The concept of multi-domain operations is being tested in the Pacific theater and will migrate to other areas of the world, he said. New multi-domain formations will be built and placed in strategic locations.

Multi-domain operations is about winning overwhelmingly in all five domains -- cyber, space, air, land and sea -- with joint forces and allies.

Lastly, the chief said that the Army plans to build out a total of 17 Armored Brigade Combat Teams -- up from 10 last year -- and a total of six Security Force Assistance Brigades.

NATION STILL AT WAR

The U.S. is still at war, Milley said.

"We must never forget the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines who have given their all," he said. "We must never break faith with them and we must give meaning to their sacrifices by remaining ready and following in their footsteps."