WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Aug. 15, 2007) - The Army is growing its ranks and transforming into an agile force ready to face a future that could be rife with conflicts around the world, the Army chief of staff said here yesterday.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spoke at the National Press Club, highlighting the Army's progress on transformation and modernization while sustaining the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and outlining the service's needs for the future.
Gen. Casey noted that the Army's almost-six-year commitment to the war on terror has stressed the all-volunteer force. "But we remain a resilient and committed professional force," he said. "Our immediate challenge is to balance the current demands on the all-volunteer force with the need to transform and to build readiness for the future."
Security experts around the country believe that the world will soon face an era of "persistent conflict," or drawn-out confrontations between state, non-state and individual actors, Gen. Casey said. These conflicts will be fueled by the impacts of globalization, competition for energy, demographic trends, climate change, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and failed or failing states that can provide safe havens for terrorists, he said.
To face this future, the Army needs to develop agile forces with adaptable leaders, Gen. Casey said. The Army has been moving toward that vision for several years, and will continue to do so, he said. "One thing we know is that we won't get the future exactly right, and so any forces that we build have to be optimized to deal with uncertainty and with a wide range of operations and engagements," he said.
Over the next several years, the Army has to do several things so it can effectively meet future challenges, Gen. Casey said.
First, Army leaders have to continue to prepare Soldiers for success in the current conflict, Gen. Casey said. He noted that the Army has made great strides in equipping Soldiers and has adapted training and equipment to counter a versatile enemy. Also, he said he has visited all the Army training centers in the past three months and is pleased with how trainers are replicating environments Soldiers face in combat.
"Our military success in this difficult war is tied to the capabilities of our leaders and of our Soldiers, and we won't fail to prepare them for success," Gen. Casey said.
The Army also needs to continue to reset forces as they come back from deployments to prepare them for future contingencies, Gen. Casey said. As units deploy and redeploy, the impact of a short reset time can be seen on Soldiers, leaders, Families and equipment. The resetting process is essential in bringing units back to combat readiness as quickly as possible, he said.
Another area the Army will continue to work on is transforming the force to meet the demands of the 21st century, Gen. Casey said. Transformation includes increasing the size of the Army, modernizing the Army, changing and adapting organizationally, changing institutions, adapting the reserve components, and changing education and training.
"Transformation requires a holistic effort to adapt how we fight, how we train, how we modernize, develop leaders, station our forces, and support our Soldiers, Families and Civilians," Gen. Casey said. "Transformation is a journey, not a destination."
The last area the Army will focus on is sustaining Soldiers, Families and Civilian employees, Gen. Casey said. Soldiers are the centerpiece of the Army and need to be physically tough and mentally adaptive and live by the Army values, he said. Caring for them and their Families with strong support programs is essential to the strength of the force, he said.
"These warriors are our ultimate asymmetric advantage, the one thing that cannot be matched by our adversaries now or in the future," he said. "These superb Soldiers and their Families deserve the best support, stability and compensation."
Decisions to increase the size and readiness of the Army reflect the importance of the current Army mission and the important role the force will play in future conflicts, Gen. Casey said. Implementing these decisions will take several years, he cautioned, but the resultant force will be essential in leading the nation through a future of persistent conflict.
"Your Army is a resilient organization, and while it is unquestionably stressed and stretched, it remains the best in the world, and we are that way because of our values, because of our ethos, and because of our people," he said.
(Sgt. Sara Wood writes for the American Forces Press Service.)