By Gen. George W. Casey, Jr., Chief of Staff of the ArmyApril 6, 2011
Also, before I start, I'd like to introduce three guests that represent in portion -- important segments of our Army family here. On the left, Ruth Stonesifer. Her son, Kristofor, was killed in a helicopter crash along the Afghan-Pakistan border in 2001, and she has committed herself to helping other survivors, most recently as the president of the Gold Star Mothers.
Thank you, Ruth. Sitting next to her is Sergeant Joel Dulashanti. Sgt. Dulashanti was wounded in 2007 in Afghanistan by a sniper and lost his leg. He has spent the last four years here in Washington -- the Washington area, rehabilitating himself. Two of those years he's worked in our Army legislative liaison. Now, the good news for Joel is he's getting a pardon this summer and he will go to Fort Benning, Georgia, to become an instructor in our airborne school. And then, lastly, to his right, Sgt. -- First Sgt. Damian Anderson. First Sgt. Anderson is a two-tour veteran of Iraq. And he is a master resilience trainer. He recently completed a 10-day course at University of Pennsylvania to give him the skills to help our soldiers be more resilient. So I'd ask -- just ask that you welcome them.
Well, we do, in fact, welcome them. We thank them very much for their service. And Ms. Stonesifer, thank you for what you're doing and for your son's service and sacrifice. We very much -- and I'm speaking for all of us on the committee -- are grateful to all of you and your families.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. Thank you.
For the last four years, you've heard me say that the Army was out of balance, that we were so weighed down by our current demands in Iraq and Afghanistan that we knew we couldn't do the things that we needed to do to sustain this all-volunteer force and to prepare ourselves to do other things.
Today, thanks, in large measure, to the support of this committee, I can tell you that we've made great progress toward the goals we set for ourselves in 2007. And, as an Army, we're starting to breathe again. We're emerging from a decade of war and transformation with a well-equipped, combat-seasoned total force that, while still stretched by the demands and lingering effects of a decade of war, is able to begin preparing for the challenges of the second decade of the 21st century. Let me just give you a quick update on some of the progress.
First, we've completed both a permanent end-strength increase that was directed by President Bush in 2007 and the temporary end- strength increase of 22,000 authorized by Secretary Gates in 2009. This allowed us to meet the plus-up in Afghanistan before we were out of Iraq without having to increase the deploy time for our soldiers.
Second, our growth plus the drawdown in Iraq have enabled us to significantly improve dwell, the time that the soldiers spend at home between deployment. And this is a critical component of sustaining an all-volunteer force in a protracted conflict. For the better part of five years, we were returning soldiers to combat with just one year at home. We knew that wasn't sustainable and we've been working to bring the dwell to two years at home as quickly as possible. I can tell you that, beginning the 1st of October this year, given what we know about projected demands, our active units will deploy with an expectation of two years at home and our reserve component soldiers will deploy with an expectation of four years at home. And that's a huge milestone for us. We'll continue to work to our long-term goal of three years at home before -- between combat deployments.
Third, this year we will also largely complete the largest organizational transformation of the Army since World War II. We'll finish the modular conversion of all but a handful of our 300 brigades and finish rebalancing soldiers away from Cold War skills to skills more relevant and necessary today, to the tune of about 160,000 soldiers. Taken together, today we have a fundamentally different Army that we had on September 11th, 2001, and we had a great Army then. Today we are a more versatile and experienced force. Fourth, to enhance this versatility, we have developed a fundamentally different way of building readiness to provide training- ready forces to combatant commanders, the Army force generation model. It's an output-based readiness model that, one, fully integrates the Guard and reserve, that brings the kind of predictability we need to sustain our all-volunteer force and that allows us to build the readiness we need to both meet current demands and hedge against unexpected contingencies.
Our fore-gen is also a more effective and more efficient way of building the readiness we need when we need it. So after a decade of very hard work, we have a force that's the right size, that's organized into versatile modular organizations, that's operating on a predictable rotational cycle and that is beginning to have sufficient time at home to train for the full range of -- range of missions and to recover from a decade at war. That would not have been possible without your support and the support of the American people. So thank you.
Now, this fiscal year '12 budget marks the transition place -- point for us in which we can begin shifting our focus away from restoring balance to sustaining the balance that we, together, have so painstakingly restored to this force. And sustaining that balance is particularly critical now, because this war is not over. The fiscal year '12 budget that we're presenting today enables us to do three things, to maintain our combat edge, to reset and reconstitute our force and to build resilience into this force for the second decade. And I'd like to say a few words about each of these, but, in short, the budget, as submitted, enables us to sustain the balance that we have together restored to this great army.
I do remain concerned about the outcome of the '11 budget and its corresponding impact on this year's budget. So just a few words about each of the three elements, first of all, maintaining our combat edge.
It's critically important that we maintain the edge that we've honed over a decade at war, because I believe we are in a period of persistent conflict and also one of continuous and fundamental change. That change is driven by rapid technological advances and adaptive enemies. Critical to our ability to maintain this combat edge will be an affordable modernization strategy that provides the equipment to our soldiers to give them a decisive advantage over any enemy that they face.
The budget -- this budget lays out such a plan. And I'd just like to highlight two key areas.
No matter where our soldiers are, and no matter what type of environment they're operating in, they need to know where they are. They need to know where their buddies are. They need to know where the enemy is and when they shoot at them, they need to strike the enemy with precision. They also need protected mobility. This budget contains funding that will begin fielding some of the key elements of the network that will enable our soldiers in any environment.
These include the Joint Tactical Radio System and the Warfighter Information Network.
The budget also includes funding for new ground combat vehicle that provides protection against (inaudible) explosive devices, that has the capacity to carry a nine-man squad, that is capable of operating across the spectrum of operations and that can be developed in seven years.
Maintaining our combat edge also requires training for the full spectrum of operations. This training is conducted both at home station and in our combat training centers.
It will be critical to ensuring we sustain our combat experience and restore the ability to deploy rapidly for the full range of missions. It will require moving operations and maintenance dollars from the OCO to the base over the next several years.
It's also important that we consolidate the gains that we've made in our reserve components. If you think about it, half of our guardsmen and reservists are combat veterans, and I've never seen the relationship between the active component and the reserve component better than it is now. And we are working together to establish an effective paradigm that allows us to leverage the substantial investments and experience of our reserve components.
Second major point, reconstituting the force. I see two elements to this. One is a continuous resetting of forces returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. We have over 110,000 soldiers deployed today, and they and their replacements and their equipment will need to be reset over time.
Reset isn't a one-time shot. It's a process that's necessary for every returning unit and will require sustained funding for two to three years after we're out of Iraq and Afghanistan to ensure that we reconstitute the force fully and restore readiness to our next to deploy forces. And we haven't had that ability for five or six years, so it's important that we restore that ability.
Third and finally is building resilience into this force for the long haul. We've been at war for almost a decade. The cumulative effects of that war are still with us and will be with us for a while.
This budget contains funding for programs like the comprehensive soldier fitness, health reduction, risk reduction, suicide prevention, the Army family covenant, survivor outreach services and sexual assault prevention that will allow us to continue to build resilience into this force. We remain, as I know you do, fully committed to the well-being of our soldiers, families and civilians.
So, Mr. Chairman, in conclusion I'd like to leave the committee with two thoughts as I complete 40 years of service to this great country.
First, we are at a key transition point as we move from a decade of war and transformation to a decade of sustaining a force at war in a period of declining resources. Together we have built a great army, but it's an Army still stretched and recovering from the last decade of war as it continues to prosecute a war in two theaters. It took us a decade to get where we are today.
We recognize that the country is in a difficult financial position, and we have and we will continue to work hard to use the resources that you provide us as effectively and as efficiently as possible. But we are at war, and this war is not over. So we need to proceed with caution, because the last thing any of us wants to do is to create a hollow Army while we're fighting a war.
And second, Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the members of this committee for your enduring support of our Army. You visit our troops and their families in their homes and in war. You've helped us bury our dead, and you've seen firsthand throughout the change, hardship and demands of war what has remained constant is the courage, the selfless service and the sacrifice of our soldiers, families and civilians.
And I couldn't be prouder to have worn this uniform for the past 40 years and to have served alongside the great men and women of this Army. And I am humbled and particularly proud to have led them in this last decade. It's been the greatest honor of my career. So thank you very much for everything you've done for your Army, and I look forward to taking your questions.