2023 Eisenhower Luncheon Remarks

By Maj. McKinsey HarbOctober 10, 2023

2023 Eisenhower Luncheon Remarks
Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army Gen. Randy A. George gives his remarks at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Luncheon during 2023 AUSA Annual Meeting and Exposition in the ballroom of the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington D.C., October 10, 2023. (Photo Credit: Sfc. Alexander Agrinsoni) VIEW ORIGINAL

Hello, everybody. Real honor to be here today. First, I wanted to just start by saying a big thanks to the AUSA team and General Brown for this amazing week. It's great to have everybody here. It's been a great venue, great opportunity to meet a whole bunch of Army chiefs that are here. We appreciate you, all of our allies and partners for being here.

I also want to recognize my great teammates: Secretary Wormuth, Sergeant Major of the Army, and the Under [Secretary].

I remember sitting here last year as the Vice. I've been to a lot of these speeches, and I was trying to eat the Under [Secretary]’s dessert. So, I’m in a slightly different position this year.

I've sat in a lot of speeches, and what I wanted to hear and what I wanted to be told was what the Army was doing in very plain terms. So I'm going to be very straightforward with you all today.

We're doing a lot of things really well, and we've got some work to do. And my goal is for all of you to understand your part.

First, I am proud of our Army. Recently, I visited several of our Army formations. In Germany, I saw Second Cavalry Regiment, who are clearly focused on building their warfighting skills and innovating to stay ahead of the threat. Instead of a fixed tactical operations center, the Second Cav Regiment commander commands and controls his formations from five Strykers that are physically dispersed, yet digitally connected across the battlefield. That commander understands the challenges of large scale combat operations and is adapting in real time to be more mobile, low signature, and lethal.

And more recently in Alaska, I met Soldiers from the 11th Airborne Division. Their second brigade Soldiers were out in the cold rain, working hard to earn their Expert Infantry and Soldier Badges. I've been up to Alaska in the dead of winter and I know this unit can train and fight in the most extreme environments.

Wherever I go, I consistently see Soldiers of every generation willing to innovate, train, and endure hardship for the team and the mission.

For my part – when Americans see our Army, I want them to see what I see. I want them to feel the pride that I feel. Because their Army is the best ground fighting force in the world. When our Army hits the dirt, our nation means business. Our allies and partners don't want to fight without us and our adversaries are wise to fear us.

Because when Americans see their Army, they see exceptional teams – tough, disciplined Soldiers who are proudly serving their country. Because in the Army, they see leaders who demand excellence and hold each other accountable. They see Soldiers who are fit and masters of their craft. And they see strong families behind those Soldiers who are a valued part of our team. And finally, and particularly important given our interconnected world today, they see an Army that knows how to innovate, adapt, and thrive in new conditions.

This is critically important because the character of war is changing. It's changing rapidly because disruptive technology is fundamentally altering how humans interact. Just look at Ukraine. On the battlefield today, everything is a sensor.

I recall when satellite technology brought news from the battlefield to Americans living rooms. That, in and of itself, gave a new dynamic to warfighting. Today, every one of us has better cameras in our pockets that are connected to the cloud. No one can hide and no formation is safe. Where we can see, we can hit. And we can see everywhere.

Along the same lines, electromagnetic signature management is vital. We all leak detectable, digital exhaust: emails, phone calls, even when sending a text. Now, warfighters must find ways to blend in with the noise all around.

Logistics are more complex because the logistics tails that we have grown accustomed to are conspicuous – they can be hit, sabotaged, and cyberattacked. And autonomous systems are changing the game for not that much money. I'm not just talking about unmanned aerial systems but ground systems as well.

But challenges are nothing new to the United States Army. In fact, they offer us the opportunity to assess and get better. We just have to stay grounded.

I've been reflecting on our Army's motto – “This We’ll Defend” – which was first used as a battle cry by the Continental Army. Today, it reminds us that our Army's purpose is timeless and clear – to fight and win the Nation's wars. That is our mandate from the American people and it requires action in four focus areas: Warfighting, Delivering Ready Combat Formations, Continuous Transformation, and Strengthening Our Profession.

First, I'm going to focus on Warfighting.

Warfighting is the reason our Army exists. We are not a Europe Army or a Pacific Army. We're not brigade centric or division centric. We are a global force that fights when called upon, at the scale required. We have always done that.

In my four decades of service, I’ve seen our Army answer the call in Desert Storm, Bosnia, Kosovo, Afghanistan, and Iraq. And we rapidly deployed to NATO's eastern flank to stand with our allies and deter Russian aggression – tens of thousands of troops plus tanks, Bradleys, Strykers, and helicopters.

Our Army answers whatever and wherever the mission. In such a complex strategic environment, we must stay focused on our core purpose. So how do we get after this?

First, we have to ruthlessly prioritize how we use time and resources. Our days, dollars, and decisions must be spent on building lethality and cohesive teams. Commanders and leaders out there, we trust you to figure out what you should NOT be doing. Communicate that up so that the leaders above you can underwrite risk.

Second, we must reduce complexity in how we fight, how we equip, and how we build teams. Soldiers need to shoot, move, and communicate, and they need to bond together by tough training and overcoming adversity side by side. Technology should facilitate those fundamentals, not encumber them. Right now, we've got places where tech is not helping. It's complicated, requires too much train up and too much specialized maintenance. This is where we need industry's help to make things simpler and more user-friendly for our warfighters. The enemy and the environment make battle hard enough.

Third, we have to properly leverage simulations to reduce overhead costs of training our divisions, corps, and theater level staffs. What we do isn’t a game. But the gaming industry can help make us better. With sims, we can replicate realistic scenarios during our exercises for divisions and corps, so we don't waste the time of subordinate units who typically act as props.

The second focus area is Delivering Ready Combat Formations.

Just days after Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the US Army had paratroopers in the Baltics and an armored brigade in Poland. We must always be ready to answer the call – to get our formations to the fight and to sustain them there. I'll explain four ways we're going to get after this.

First, we will set priorities and empower leaders. Installations are our power projection platforms, and we have the best and brightest commanders and command sergeants major at our divisions and corps. We will empower those men and women with the appropriate authorities to build readiness. Fort Wainwright is different than Fort Bliss, which is different than Fort Liberty. Local leaders know best how to enact local solutions. When needed, we can scale up ideas to optimize resources, but we shouldn't be implementing one-size-fits-all solutions from the Pentagon.

At the heart of readiness is Soldiers and families – our Army fights with people. So leaders will have the technology to deliver timely accurate formation that is specific to the formation's needs. We are working on an app right now to help with that. It's going to be good. Something that Soldiers and families actually want to download from the app store.

Second, our leaders spend too much time laying out equipment and checking serial numbers. We are getting rid of excess equipment starting now. I talked to a company commander in Europe who had a 118-page property book. That makes no sense. We put a former division commander on this project and he's going to show us how to get this done in two divisions by the end of this year. We will take that off the commanders’ plates and off Soldiers’ plates. They shouldn't be spending time caring for equipment they don't need.

Third, I love the motor pool, but I don't like wasting time. So we are reducing complexity when it comes to maintenance. Maintenance is critical and something we must get right. But we will make it more efficient. We will stop doing unnecessary maintenance. By making even modest changes to maintenance intervals for our fleet, we will reallocate 632-man years of time annually across the Army. 632 – that translates to more training time and more time spent with your family.

Additionally, Contested Logistics Cross Functional Team will help us get after a more predictive maintenance model, incorporate more tele-maintenance, and find ways to leverage advanced manufacturing. We have learned so much from Ukraine's experience and our experience supporting them, and we are going to adapt and change.

Fourth, and finally, the war in Ukraine has illuminated that we need deeper reserve stocks. I've seen first-hand the monumental effort at Iowa Army Ammunition Plant, Radford, Watervliet – patriotic Americans working hard to produce rounds and equipment, and we will continue to invest in that effort.

Our third focus area is Continuous Transformation.

As I've said before, the world and warfare are changing rapidly, and we will stay ahead of our adversaries. And so continuous transformation means iteratively adapting and evolving: how we fight, how we organize, how we train and how we equip.

As you heard, the Secretary said yesterday, we've got to summon our ingenuity. We have made great progress in our six modernization portfolios. When we looked at gaps for large scale combat operations, we made a lot of good decisions over the last several years.

Now, we must look at what's next and accelerate our efforts to prepare for a future that continues to emerge. We will have to adapt in some key areas.

For instance, we must find ways to better access and process data. We have to incorporate emerging enabling technologies like machine learning and autonomy and we will advance the integration of human and machines in our tactics and our formations to leverage the might of the industrial base and field capabilities that keep pace with evolving tech. We will also adapt our institution and our practices. We will change what doesn't work and be frank about new directions where appropriate, improve our requirements development process, and experiment with new buying approaches.

And our number one priority when it comes to transformation is the network. Command and control is foundational to how we fight. Frankly, a lot of the systems that we have today just don't support effective C2. Antenna farms and endless server stacks are conspicuous and generate too much electromagnetic signal signature.

On today's battlefield, a commander should be able to C2 a fight with simple tech – a tablet, for instance. Equipment that is agile, mobile, and update-able. If we slog around the battlefield with massive operation centers, which are difficult to set up and often contractor-supported, we will get pounded. The Russians are learning this lesson several times a day and we will not learn the hard way.

Bottom line for the folks from industry here today, you all provide our Army strength, power, and flexibility. You are the weight behind our punch. So please help us transform continuously and build agility into our Army. The lines of communication are open.

But Continuous Transformation is not just about equipment. It's also about how we train and organize. We will ensure that our force structure gives us flexibility and agility. And that means leaner, more agile, and more scalable formations. We will consolidate and cut headquarters structures where we can, but also lean out downtrace units and maximize reach-back for capabilities that can be exercised from the rear.

And second, we will continue to put energy into experiments with the joint and multinational team, because we figure out seams and gaps when we all bring our ideas and systems into the open, test them together, fail fast, and adapt. Our next experimentation event for Project Convergence will focus on establishing kill webs across the joint and combined team. And I know that we will learn a great deal.

Finally, our fourth focus area is Strengthening the Profession. This focus area underpins all the rest. To maintain America's trust, we must serve the Nation with competence and character. Every time I get out to talk to our formations, I see mission- focused leaders and Soldiers, but we must stay self-aware and continually seek improvement.

First, we've got to enforce standards. Standards is what ensures discipline within our formations. When it comes down to a close fight, grit, character and discipline are what makes the difference.

In reflecting on discipline and standards, Medal of Honor recipient John Schofield said, “it is possible to impart instruction and give commands in such a manner and such a tone of voice to inspire in a Soldier no feeling but an intense desire to obey.” Hard earned respect comes from genuine concern for our Soldiers.

Second, we must turn lessons observed into lessons learned. We need to continually update our professional military education and doctrine based on the changing character of war. No single entity has a monopoly on good ideas. We all must have the courage to speak truth to power and share what we know. We've launched the Harding Project, and I'm happy to see all the great professional articles being written by our NCOs, officers, and warrant officers contributing to our profession.

And third, we will make sure our oath and army values are consistently reinforced in our initial entry training and our professional military education. Our character informs our reputation.

And I'd like to wrap this up by talking about reputation.

When you're down range and you hear someone's call sign come over the net, a mental picture comes to mind. Every Soldier plays a part in our Army's reputation.

When the Army comes over the net, our teammates should know without a doubt that we have their backs. That we are a warfighting organization. That we mean business, and we bring scale.

I am proud to be an American Soldier. I am proud of our Army. This We’ll Defend.

Thank you.