WASHINGTON (Army News Service, June 7, 2007) -- Among the seven Army initiatives that Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. has said are vital for balancing the Army's strategic requirements and resources is the need to improve leader development. And over the past several weeks he has taken the opportunity to express his views in person to newly commissioned Army officers.

During remarks at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y.; and at commissioning ceremonies for ROTC cadets at Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pa., and Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Gen. Casey told the new lieutenants that one of the ArmyAca,!a,,cs most pressing needs is to field trained, educated and capable young officers.

Aca,!A"This is a time of peril for our country,Aca,!A? he said at the West Point event. Aca,!A"We are engaged in a long-term struggle with a ruthless enemy. They won't quit until they are defeated.Aca,!A?

Speaking about the changing nature of warfare in a post-9/11 world, he pointed out that new officers Aca,!" whether commissioned through ROTC, West Point or Officer Candidate School Aca,!" must possess a range of skills that go far beyond the tactical proficiency and management abilities expected of all Army leaders.

Aca,!A"We already know that the Army produces well-trained and highly competent warfighters well grounded in the warrior ethos,Aca,!A? he said at the Lehigh ceremony, Aca,!A"but ongoing operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere in the world have shown us that we must do a better job of producing Aca,!Eoepentathlete leaders.Aca,!a,,cAca,!A?

Such leaders, he said, are those who possess sharply honed warfighting skills and are also versatile, mentally agile and culturally aware. Business acumen and governance skills are also important, given the nation-building activities in which the Army is increasingly involved.

Aca,!A"TodayAca,!a,,cs Army leaders operate in environments that are vastly different from those we encountered even 10 years ago,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"Our Army undertakes a range of missions that go beyond our traditional warfighting role, and we must develop and implement new skill sets that better prepare our leaders to succeed in these new environments.Aca,!A?

Acknowledging that new officers face a range of immediate challenges, the chief of staff went on to share with the graduating West Point cadets three points he believes are essential for them to bear in mind as they begin their careers.

The first, he said, to the laughter and appreciative applause of the cadets, is Aca,!A"that there's hope for all of you.Aca,!A?

In a more serious vein, Gen. Casey continued by saying: Aca,!A"The second point is that you're entering an organization that is at war and that is the best in the world. And the third is that leaders of character matter.Aca,!A?

Among the ways the Army is seeking to develop those leaders of character is through the introduction of broader skill sets implemented via new blocks of instruction for ROTC cadets, said Lt. Col. Charles M. McClung, head of Lehigh UniversityAca,!a,,cs Department of Military Science and Leadership.

Aca,!A"We want to produce young officers who are non-linear thinkers and who can adapt quickly to rapidly changing situations,Aca,!A? he said. Aca,!A"The U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees Army ROTC programs nationwide, has adapted existing courses of instruction to more accurately reflect real-world cultural and political conditions, and we put a much greater emphasis on awareness of other cultures.Aca,!A?

To better prepare all its young leaders for the challenges of irregular and asymmetric warfare, the Army has recently added training in such areas as counterinsurgency, cultural awareness, foreign languages and negotiation skills. Personnel officials said the goal is to produce young officers who are comfortable handling such diverse tasks as working with local community leaders, communicating in the host-nationAca,!a,,cs language and managing humanitarian-assistance programs, all while providing the competent tactical leadership necessary to ensure the security of their areas of operation.

Noting that within the past few weeks some 4,000 young men and women have pinned on the gold bars of an Army second lieutenant Aca,!" 23 of them at a May 18 White House ceremony hosted by President George W. Bush Aca,!" Gen. Casey said that the nation and the Army are proud of the newest generation of Army officers.

Aca,!A"You are entering into a brotherhood and sisterhood of respect earned by those who have come before you,Aca,!A? he told the West Point cadets. He then challenged them with a question: Aca,!A"How do you build a unit whose members are not only confident that they will prevail against the toughest possible enemy in adverse conditions, but are then able to go out and do it'

Aca,!A"I won't give you the answers,Aca,!A? he said, Aca,!A"but I will provide you with a couple of clues Aca,!" leadership, discipline and standards.

Aca,!A"You are answering your countryAca,!a,,cs call during a very challenging time in our history,Aca,!A? he added. Aca,!A"You will face adversity and danger, but we know that you will prevail. The Army and the nation thank you for what you have done, and for what you will do in the years to come.Aca,!A?