By Gen. George W. Casey Jr.April 7, 2011
Thank you and good morning. Thanks for allowing me to speak to your about our Army.] I am very proud of what we have accomplished.
We've liberated millions of people in Iraq and Afghanistan. We've built two Armies and two police forces from scratch. We've helped an administration, supervised them, and we've established two governments that are based on Constitutions and elections. Not an insignificant accomplishment. The other thing we've been doing during that whole period is we have been transforming ourselves from a very good Cold War Army-which is what we were on September 11th-to an Army that's far more relevant and capable in the environments that we expect to see here in the second decade of the 21st Century.
The last four years what I've been saying publicly is that the Army is out of balance. We are so weighed down by our current demands in Iraq and Afghanistan that we can't do the things that we know we need to do to sustain this all volunteer force for the long haul and prepare ourselves to do other things.
This is a volunteer force. And this is the longest that we have been at war with a volunteer force in our history. So we are in unchartered territory. When you think about what we have been doing-we have been sending Soldiers to combat for a year, bringing them home for a year, and then sending them right back. We've been doing that for five years.
All of our studies show and tell us that it takes 24-36 months to recover from a one year combat deployment. It just does. There's no "S" [referring to Superman] on these chests underneath these uniforms-its flesh and blood, and we're all human. There's an expression that, "we're all human." So we've been working very hard and we've set up a program based on four imperatives to get us back. We have to sustain our Soldiers as they are the heart and soul of this Force. And they make us the best Army in the world.
We have to continue to prepare Soldiers for success in Iraq and Afghanistan as there is no guarantee of success in Iraq and Afghanistan. We send 150,000 Soldiers every year to Iraq and Afghanistan, and then we bring 150,000 home [again] and reset them and get them ready to go again-it's a huge, huge effort. We have to continue to reset them when they come home. Then we have to continue to transform, because as I said in 2001, we were a very good Army at fighting large battles on the plains of Europe and Saudi Arabia.
So what we've been doing since-over the last four years-is we've been reinventing and transforming ourselves into the Force we need for the second decade of the 21st Century. We have changed every Brigade in the Army. We have over 300 Brigades in the Army, and every [single] one has changed to a new design. We've moved about 150,000 Soldiers away from skills that were very necessary in the Cold war but less necessary today. For example, we've stood down 200 tank Companies, artillery batteries, defense batteries and we stood a corresponding number of Special Forces, civil affairs, military police, engineers. So we're already a fundamentally different force.
If that wasn't enough, Congress passed the Base Realignment and Closure Act of 2005. As a result of that we're relocating about 380,000 Soldiers, Families and Civilians. The way it works is: they passed the bill in 2005, we get the money in 2006, you do the design in 2007, and you build them in 2008 and 2009. Then guess what' Everyone moves in the last 18 months.
So that's what's happening. By the 15th of September of this year, people stop moving. By the next few months, it's going to be really difficult to keep a trail here as people come and go. The upside for us' The quality of the Soldiers and the facilities has really improved, and that's a big factor in keeping this volunteer force bound together.
The other thing we're doing - I know there's probably some Navy vets around here. We're putting the whole Army, including the Guard and Reserve on a rotational model much like the Navy and Marine Corps have been on for years. Why' Because as we look to the future I believe we're going to be deploying forces to combat for another decade. Maybe not at the levels that we've been doing in the past, but I think 50,000 - 60,000 Soldiers a year for a while, to combat-so we have to be able to sustain that.
The second thing we have to be able to do is hedge against the unexpected. In the last five years, if something had happened in Korea where we needed a large number of forces, we would have had to say, "All you folks in Iraq and Afghanistan, stay right where you are." You folks that think you're going to Iraq or Afghanistan, stop, and start training for Korea." That's not a good decision to have to make. We are starting to come out of that, but that's not a good place for the country to be. So that's very important for us.
The most important thing is that it helps us sustain the volunteer forces. Because instead of going out to combat for a year and then coming home for a year, they are going to be going out to combat for a year and coming home for two years. That's beginning to get acceptable. The Guard and Reserve will be home for 4 years.
I'd just like to say a word about the Guard and Reserve. It's a fundamentally different force, and I know we have some business leaders out here. I'd just say that we could not have done what we have done as a country and as an Army, were not for your support of the Guard and Reserve. For your support for the Guardsmen and Reservists who are in your employ, half of our Guard and Reserve are combat veterans.
That's a fundamentally different force with experience that we can't afford to lose. So we're in a much better place than we were four years ago. I really feel like we're starting to breathe again. But the war is not over. I think there's a mindset that once we're out of Iraq at the end of this year, it's all done. But the war is not over.
We have some heavy lifting still to do in Afghanistan. We're at war with global extremist network that attacked us on our soil, and then last year, tried to attack us three times on our soil. These folks are not going to quit, and they are to going to give up. We can't say we're not playing anymore, because they are going to come after us. So we are preparing ourselves to carry that fight against these extremists groups for the foreseeable future.
If you look at the war as a fact-that we are at war and this war is a long term ideological struggle, that's what I believe. People ask me how long this is going to last, I say think of it in terms of the Cold War, not like Desert Shield or Desert Storm. This is an ideological struggle and it's going to be going on and going to be with us for at least decades.
Against that background look at the trends that we see in the global environment. It seems to us that those trends are more likely to exacerbate the situation that we have right now rather than ameliorate it. What am I talking about' What trends' Globalization - there's no question that globalization is bringing increased prosperity around the world, but unfortunately it is unevenly distributed. It creates "have" and "have not" countries. The population increases in some of these countries of "have nots" are increasingly susceptible to recruiting by the terrorist organizations.
Technology is another double edged sword. The same technology that is being used to bring knowledge in via computers is being used by the terrorists to export terror around the world. Demographics - another trend going in the wrong direction. We have studies that show us that the populations of some of these developing countries are going to double in the next decade.
Imagine if Pakistan population doubled in the next decade and the attendant problems that would present to an already strapped government. Populations of the world are increasingly moving to the cities. We expect by 2030, 60% of the population of the world will live in cities. [Some of you have maybe heard of the sprawling slums of Sadr City outside Baghdad, where you have about a 3x5 mile area with two million people in it.] That's a tough place for our Soldiers to fight. The increasing populations are going to increase the demands on resources. The middle classes in both China and India are already larger than the population of the United States. Just the middle classes-that's a lot of people.
There are two trends that worry me the most: (1) weapons of mass destruction in the hands of terrorists and (2) safe havens - countries or parts of countries whose governments can't or won't deny their country to terrorists. The combination of those two-a safe haven where terrorists can get weapons of mass destruction is part of the worst of all worlds. But we know that terrorist organizations that are out there - there are about 1,000 of them.
Most of them are working to acquire weapons of mass destruction. There's no doubt in my mind that when they get one, they will use it against a developed country. The results of that could be catastrophic.
So as we look at that backdrop, we're at war with a long term ideological struggle, and those trends, it seems to us we are at near persistent conflict - protracted confrontation among states, non-states and individuals who are increasingly willing to use violence to accomplish their political ideological objectives.
I think that's the reality that we're looking at. That's what we're preparing ourselves to deal with. For me it's not enough to say we're going to be doing this for a while. I also have to look at what war is going to be like in the latter part of the 21st Century.
I spent the first 30 years of my career training to fight a war I never fought, and the last ten learning to fight a different form of war while I was fighting it. That's kind of the bane of military existence. Seems like it always comes out that way. As we look at what war is going to be like, certainly Iraq and Afghanistan are going to produce future conflict, no doubt about that.
I also like to look at what happened in Lebanon in the summer of 2006. Here you had a terrorist organization, a non-state actor, operating inside the state of Lebanon. They are supported by two other states, Syria and Iran, and they are fighting another state (Israel). And this non-state actor, this terrorist organization, has the instruments of state power, weapons systems that were normally the exclusive purview of state.
They had missiles they used to target Israeli operations with. They had cruise missiles-they hit an Israeli ship in the Mediterranean Sea. They had state of the art surface to air missiles that they used to shoot down an Israeli helicopter. They had state of the art anti-tank guided missiles. They inflicted 40% of the Israeli casualties using these anti-tank type missiles. They had secure cell phones. They had secure computers for command control, and they got their message out on global television. By the way, Hezbollah has not signed any of the conventions on war that we have worked on for hundreds of years. That's a different ball game. So we're preparing ourselves for a world that is full of uncertainty and complexity. And we're emphasizing versatility as we're building our forces.
As I came back and I looked at what goes on that building the Pentagon, the more I found that the central organizing principle for the Department of Defense for 60 years has been conventional war. That building is very good at producing systems to fight conventional war. But that's not what we're going to be doing. That's what you heard the Secretary Gates saying-that we have to build organizational systems that can adapt easily to situations that we find ourselves in because we're not going to get in situations we hope for. That's the way it is, and that's the history.
So we're building an Army that's a versatile mix of tailorable networked organizations operating under a rotational cycle. We believe that Army will get us the capabilities that we need to facilitate the accomplishment of our national objectives. We also think that the Army needs to be able to prevail in these counterinsurgency operations. We need to be able to engage others build their own capacity to rework their security. We need to be able to support our civil authorities both at home and abroad.
Lastly we still need to be able to deter and defeat hybrid threats and hostile terrorists. The state on state combat has not gone away. I think that it's increasingly become less, but it hasn't gone away. But our history says what's most unlikely is what you usually get. So we can't turn our backs on the larger threats.
So it's a challenge for us as we look forward and try to recover from ten years of war and prepare ourselves for the next decade. But we're up to it, we have a pretty clear vision of where we want to go and with the continued support of Congress and the American people we'll be fine.
Now let me just close here by telling you about two of our great non-commissioned officers who received the Medal of Honor. There are two or three Soldiers who have received the Medal of Honor since October. I think the actions of these noncommissioned officers are representative of the quality of men and women that you have not only in the Army but in all of the Armed Forces today.
Staff Sgt. Rob Miller was a Sergeant in the Special Forces and they were operating in Afghanistan with about 14 Afghan soldiers. It was a very cold winter night just approaching dawn and they moved into their objective which was an Afghan village. They walked into a well prepared Taliban ambush with about 100-150 Taliban. With the initial burst of fire, there were several wounded. SSG Miller, under heavy fire, realized that if someone didn't do something they were all going to die right there on the hillside. So he personally and single-handedly attacked the enemy and using his rifle and grenades killed about 12 Taliban and wounded about 2 dozen more.
While he was doing that, the rest of his team evacuated their casualties which included the team commander. SSG Miller continued to fight. He was wounded. He continued to fight. Finally after about 20 minutes there was silence. The team knew that SSG Miller was either unconscious or killed. So the team organized themselves and attacked back into the kill zone to retrieve SSG Miller. The fire was so heavy that they were repulsed. They regrouped and attacked in that kill zone a second time and recovered his body. President Obama at the awards ceremony said, "This is not a story about what SSG Miller did for his team, it's about what his team did for SSG Miller." He said that as he presented the award to SSG Miller's family.
SSG Sal Giunta was the trail team leader in the lead squad of a Platoon Patrol that walked into another ambush. The initial burst of fire cut the lead team off from the trail team. SSG Giunta immediately organized the team to regain contact. He got hit in the chest, took a round right in the chest. Fortunately he was wearing his breast plate so it knocked him down and knocked the wind out of him. He got back up; continued to fight forward; saw two Taliban carrying off the team leader; killed one; chased the other one off; and recovered his teammate.
What you see in that is a commitment and a bond of mutual trust that exists at the Special Forces A-team, the Platoon and throughout all the forces. You can be very, very proud of what the men and women of your Armed Forces are accomplishing for this country everyday around the world. Well, it's been great to be here. I look forward to any questions you have. Thank you very much.