By Larry Stevens, FORSCOM Public AffairsMay 13, 2010
FORT McPHERSON, Ga. (May 12, 2010) - Nearly a decade of combat has taken its toll on the nation's Soldiers, but despite the strain, the Army remains more effective today than at any time in 40 years.
That was the core of the message the commanding general of U.S. Army Forces Command, Gen. Charles C. Campbell, delivered in his keynote speech to the Society of American Military Engineers' 2010 Joint Engineer Training Conference and Expo at the Georgia World Congress Center in Atlanta, May 5.
"I can tell you as the commander of all (Continental United States) CONUS-based conventional operating forces that our Army is clearly fatigued by nearly nine years of combat. But through it all, your Army remains resilient, determined and extraordinarily effective. Our Soldiers today are more expert, better educated, better trained, more lethal, and more combat-experienced than at any time, certainly in the 40 years I have served in the ranks."
"As a seasoned Soldier," Campbell, who leads the largest Command in the U.S. Army, thanked the public and private engineering communities for the great service they have rendered to the nation and for the faithfulness demonstrated in support of the nation's security. He said engineers have proven instrumental throughout America's 235-year history, and he applauded SAME's efforts to attract more young people into the engineering career field.
"Your support enables a new generation of Americans to answer our nation's call, and they answer that call at a seminal point in our nation's history when we are engaged in a protracted conflict with a determined, ruthless and adaptive foe, a foe who seeks to subjugate and enslave others, a foe who seeks to do us harm here at home and abroad. He wants no accommodation. He wants no compromise. He seeks no reconciliation. He asks for no quarter, and he gives no quarter," Campbell declared.
"That enemy was yesterday, is today and will be tomorrow confronted by the American Soldier, sailor, airman and Marine. Those who carry our nation's flag and wear its uniform are steadfast and loyal. They are selfless and determined to defeat all who would do our country and our countrymen harm."
He said when America was attacked Sept. 11, 2001, the country's enemies hoped Americans would retreat in fear and horror from those brutal attacks.
"Their intent was clear. They wanted to destroy American will and American confidence," Campbell said. "And they thought they knew us. They thought that we were morally weak, that we were soft, that we had no stomach for a protracted conflict. In the weeks, months and years that followed, they counted on us to tire and to lose our resolve.
"They were wrong. And many, many of them were dead wrong!"
Campbell explained, "They did not know the full extent of American will, courage and character. And, our enemies learned a hard lesson; the hard lesson that other adversaries have learned throughout our history. American Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines answer when our nation calls. They do not shrink from danger, from hardship or bitter toil. They endure separation from Family, the agonizing loss of comrades and unspeakable hardship in order to pursue and destroy our nation's enemies -- whoever they are and wherever they are."
The FORSCOM commander emphasized that the nation's enemies learned yet again that Americans are unrelenting and ferocious in war. They've also learned once again that Americans are compassionate, generous and outreaching.
"They have learned like so many before them that the American Army is like no other army in the world, because our Soldiers reflect a nation like no other nation in the world -- unlike any other nation in the annals of history," said Campbell.
Comparing the warriors of today with those who came before, the general explained that America's men and women in uniform have fought in Afghanistan and Iraq longer than their counterparts in past generations fought in World Wars I and II combined. And, he insisted, they are making a difference.
"I tell you the truth when I tell you their sacrifices are bringing security to America and stability to parts of the world that, in recent decades, have known only turbulence, oppression and brutality," he said.
Campbell then spoke of the responsible drawdown of U.S. armed forces in Iraq as a Herculean retrograde effort unparalleled since World War II.
He also reminded the audience of almost 1,200 people that the battle in Afghanistan is joined yet again.
"I remain optimistic and hopeful, but make no mistake, the fighting is fierce," said Campbell.
"It is a tough fight to be sure, but it is a fight that we must win. And it can be won, but clearly not by the efforts of our Soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen alone. Our strategy recognizes that military action is only the first step toward a successful outcome. It will require more than a military solution. The solution set will necessarily have a diplomatic, political, economic and cultural component."
Campbell added confidently, "We are making progress. It is clear that we are building momentum. Still, it will require patience and a coherent strategic approach. The enemy we confront is persistent, and the struggle we have joined will be protracted. There is no question that this fight will test our perseverance, stamina and resolve as a nation, as a people, as a military and as an Army," he said.
The Army's last general officer on active duty with experience that began during the Vietnam War, Campbell stated emphatically that the Army of today is a fundamentally different from the Army of 2001.
"We have adapted for the present and the future fight. We have moved from a division structure to a brigade-centric modular structure, from a linear force generation model to a rotational force generation model that is characterized by progressive readiness and cyclical deployment, and from a National Guard and Army Reserve that were a strategic force to one that is fully integrated into the operational force and are making proportional contributions every day," said Campbell.
FORSCOM is responsible for more than 832,000 Active and Reserve Component Soldiers, capable of rapidly responding whenever America's friends or allies are in danger, fighting the nation's wars, and supporting civil authorities, all while transforming the Army.
"I'm fond of saying that challenges make life interesting, and challenges overcome make life meaningful," Gen. Campbell concluded. "I can assure you that life for those who wear the American uniform in the months and years ahead will be interesting. And I have every confidence that their lives will be meaningful as well. The future is fraught with challenges, but our great Soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines will bring their energy, their creativity, their industry to bear; and they will overcome those challenges."
The Society of American Military Engineers and its 25,000 members work to promote and facilitate engineering support for national security by developing and enhancing relationships and competencies among uniformed services, public and private sector engineers and related professionals.