May 5, 2011 -- CSA remarks to AUSA Institute of Land Warfare breakfast

By Gen. Martin E. DempseyMay 6, 2011

As I listen to that (the introduction) I think to myself and I wonder if this is where the Peter Principal actually manifests itself. Thanks for being here and taking your time this morning to let us have a bit of conversation about our Army. It's Thursday morning and I walk in the back door and I see Gen. [Crosbie] Saint and I hearken back to being a battalion commander in Germany when he was the USAREUR commander and was an absolute terror on the issue of Sergeants' Time Training. So every Thursday morning as some of you can probably attest, we'd wakeup all across Germany living in constant fear the USAEUR commander would show up and realize our Sergeants' Time training was somehow inadequate. So it's Thursday morning and General Saint is once again a part of my life -- but that's a good thing.

I see that my staff has assembled here in some force, and I suspect that's because I spend so little time with them so they are here to find out what's on my mind. So, if this breakfast accomplishes nothing else, it's accomplished a bit of a staff meeting for me -- and that's not a bad thing. And the only other thing I'll say by way of introduction is if you have any questions at any time about uniforms, please refer them to the SGM of the Army. No, I don't want to throw him under the bus; I'll actually help you figure that one out. Do me a favor run that video for me.

I've spent a lot of time in my first -- I'm a little short of a month in the job -- and I've spent a lot of time in that month trying to feel what the Army's all about. You know we get consumed often in fact, probably too often with trying to "understand" the Army and yet what really makes us the Army we are is the way we feel about ourselves and what that image, I use it at pre-command courses and other kinds of venues like that to try to convince folks that there is a sense of history.

I'm the 37th Chief of Staff of the Army and in fact I asked that my staff introduce me simply as the 37th , because if I were to believe that the challenges we face today are somehow unique and new, and that I had to figure it all out myself I probably would not be able to stand up here under the weight of that burden. But if you think about an Army that has existed for 235+ years with leaders who are building on a legacy and the fact that we change constantly -- I think it's a little bit easier to kind of understand not only where we are, but probably where we're going to go and recognize that, you know, we have to think in time. That's a book that General Sullivan actually gave me some time ago.

Now, put that image back up there. (Picture shown)

So on this notion of feeling the Army, I'll tell you how I've spent most of my time in the three weeks that I've been the 37th Chief. The very first thing I did just by coincidence was I flew to VMI and took part in the Marshall Awards for the best and brightest of our ROTC cadets across the country -- about 300 very, very sharp inquisitive, fit young men and women -- we're going to be OK. So the first thing I did was encounter this group who are eager to join our profession, eager to belong, eager to contribute, eager to collaborate, eager to understand, but also eager to feel what this thing is all about. So really, it was very encouraging for me. One little short vignette about that, I'm sure none of you have -- does anyone have any idea who sang the song in the background (speaking of the video presentation. Someone raised their hand) You do' One person in the entire audience. That's the other thing that amuses me so I do it. I'll play videos and I'll throw in an Eminem song -- Eminem, who the hell is that -- anyway I'll throw an Eminem song in the background of them. This happens to be a group called Disturbed -- they're not by the way they're actually quite patriotic. And if I asked that question of that group of 300, every one of them would have known who sang that song.

But anyway, I got on a plane right from Lexington, helicoptered over to Andrews and over to Iraq and Afghanistan and saw firsthand what the changes that have occurred in the two years; it's been two years since I was overseas. And what those young men and women have done in Iraq and in Afghanistan is absolutely, absolutely nothing short of remarkable. Are there other challenges or even enduring challenges' Of course there are. But on the ground and at the point of influence, American Soldiers, men and women, active guard and reserve are getting it done. They're achieving the Nation's objectives in ways that frankly, should inspire -- not only the people in this room who tend to be inspired by our Army -- but all Americans.

And then I came back and I promoted Bob Cone from three stars to four. He's now the TRADOC commander. I held farewell ceremonies for Kip Ward and Bob Van Antwerp -- terrific Americans, terrific servants of the Nation. So I have that sense of you know that new fresh face, relatively fresh faced four-star eager to begin to contribute and these two other wonderful leaders who are moving off to their second careers. And I've been to two pre-command courses -- roughly 200 or so Lieutenant Colonels, Colonels, and Command Sergeant Majors of both battalion and brigade level, and their spouses -- and, again, they are they are an incredible lot. All they want us to do is tell them what we want and get done and they'll get out and get it done. And that doesn't surprise you. But it's all about trying to feel this Army of ours.

So take a look at that image. I periodically look for new images. I used Rick Rescorla for a long while but then we found this one and this one really gets at some things that are important to me -- trust and fitness and discipline -- but especially trust. So you take a look at that image and allow it to kind of speak to you, it's not only about what that young leader is going through, or trying to work through a very disturbed situation. But, he's got a wedding band that's prominent on his hand and that kind of reminds you of the kind of the Families that are part of this wonderful institution. He's got his Soldier there watching his flank and he trusts that Soldier to do his job so that he can do his. He's probably linked to some Joint fires and is trying to bring in the rest of the Joint team to help them get through this. And I just think it and it speaks to that big issue of the human dimension that underpins everything we do.

So let me -- go ahead and turn that off for a second -- and let me say one thing about trust because I want to reinforce what the 32nd Chief said about Pete Chiarelli. You know, the award he received is the "Hero of Military Medicine" award is really a reflection of the passion that he brings to that particular issue for our Army. And when you're out there talking to these young men and women who go out of those FOBs who know, especially in Afghanistan, there's a very high likelihood that first off they'll be engaged and second off that sometime during their tour, one of these squads, one of the patrols is probably going to hit a land mine or an IED. They leave that FOB because they trust that we're doing the best thing we can to protect them. But they also leave the FOB because they know if they get hurt, they've got a military medicine system that will give them a reasonable chance to survive. And that's the great work of our military medicine professionals -- some of whom are in the room [like] the Surgeon General -- but it's also the work of the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army who has named that such an important part of his day that we've all lined up behind him to put our shoulders to that task. And I'd like to personally thank you, Pete, and tell you that I couldn't be at that ceremony last night but I'll tell you that I can't think of anyone at anytime that deserves that recognition more than you do. Really it's about trust. You know those kids down range, they trust that we're working are hardest on their behalf, and Pete that's a great reflection.

Put up my focus areas -- and I'm not going to talk to you about all of them. You know this is kind of my organizing principle or my intellectual framework and by the way it's not much more than that at this point, but it will get there.

I think some of you know by about the Army Birthday I hope to publish a pamphlet it will probably be called something pithy, like "The Chief of Staff of the Army's Intent" or something like that. It will walk us -- it'll kind of establish the intellectual framework that will allow me to express my intent from a broad statement of the role of the Army.

One of the things that the transition team did for me is to help me understand that the Force, probably some of us as well, are wondering what happens after Iraq and Afghanistan. Well, we are going to try to answer that question in this particular document. So we'll walk through the role of the Army. We've got a few imperatives that we're working and by the way when I say we, this is a collaborative effort among the senior military and civilian leaders and I've had several what I think were terrific sessions with Secretary of the Army McHugh who is a wonderful teammate. I mean he's my boss, but he's also my teammate in this effort to try to articulate what we're about a little differently. So we'll walk that down and it might bridge down to focus areas so that I can bundle initiatives under the focus areas and make sense of them and help people understand how do we deliver something called the new dimension for example. So I'm not going to walk my way through all of them there, but those are the focus areas that I have selected. The staff is working on some suggestions I've given them about some initiatives that will nest underneath those focus areas so that we can actually deliver them. I will talk about a couple of them here this morning and then I'd be happy to take your questions in the time we have together.

So let me talk about the Nation at the top of that list because, as I think through this job -- this terrific job of being the Chief of Staff of the Army -- it occurs to me that whatever we do with this Army, through the next four years we will, this team that I have and that the Secretary has, will build the Army of 2020. I mean that's a very practical matter. I will turn in, we will turn in POM 13-17, 14-18, 15-19, and 16-20 -- so whether we do it advertently or inadvertently, the team that will work with Secretary McHugh and the 37th Chief of Staff of the Army, we're gonna build the Army of 2020. We have a choice of course: we can build it, you know, deliberately or sort of stumble into it. I think I'm going to go with course of action A and we'll build it deliberately so that we have a clear understanding of what the Nation needs and that's the point. The touchstone here is not to build an Army for the Army. The touchstone has to be, 'we're gonna build the Army for the Nation.' What does the Nation need of us in 2020 and how do we move ourselves from where we are today to where we need to be in 2020.

Now make no mistake about it. We've got terrific organizational designs -- you know modularity has been a resounding success in terms of helping to meet the needs of the combatant commanders. ARFORGEN has become almost a mythical process, but it delivers readiness and we've never missed -- we never missed -- meeting the needs of the combatant commanders if what they asked for exists on the face of the earth.

Now I got it that there is some capabilities that they'd like to have and certain capabilities they would like to have more of, but the point is we've never missed delivering and when you go downrange and ask those commanders, 'do you have what you need'' Or as I do, I'll periodically pick up the phone and call one of them and say, 'do you have what you need'' They do have what they need. Can we get other things' Sure. More of it' Absolutely. Do we have to be adaptable' Of course we do -- and we will be -- and modularity, we've learned something's about it and we'll make some adaptations with that.

Let me give you an example of that: FORCECAPs. As you know, we've got a FORCECAP in Iraq and we've got a FORCECAP in Afghanistan. And, as you suspect, the FORCECAP will change, the FORCECAP will likely go down. And so commanders on the ground will be faced with the prospect of living within a FORCECAP and gaining the capabilities they need within that FORCECAP. Is that anything new in our history' I mean we could get all righteous about it and indignant about it and suggest that that's not fair, that's not right, that's horrible, what a way to do business, and then look back at our history and every time we've eased our way out of conflicts we typically eased our way out of conflicts with FORCECAP .

And so the FORCECAP is something that is just a condition. And what we've got to figure out inside the Army is how do we provide the Combatant Commanders what they need and help them fit what they need inside that FORCECAP and what that's gonna mean is that we'll break apart some structures that grew or were built without the intention of breaking apart. [For example] -- Shadow platoons. Shadow platoons are an integral, organic part of a Brigade Combat Team. Combatant Commanders needs a Shadow platoon. He doesn't want full brigades to accompany him. He wants the Shadow platoon. Should we be in the business of saying, "Well I'm sorry -- you've asked me for a $1 dollar bill, but all I've got is a 20. Here it is, take it or leave it." So, we'll figure this out, but it's all about what the Nation needs and then the other aspect of this is giving the Nation the most options possible. It's about options, providing options for the Nation. And the Army as you know has always done that -- and always, truthfully, done that better than anyone. And we will continue to do that as we decide what this Army of 2020 should look like. And then the final part about the Nation is that we are connected to the Nation today in ways that are absolutely brilliant -- to use our British colleagues' phrase.

And we're that way at least in part because we are in conflict, the Nation knows we're in conflict and they support us in that conflict -- thank God. But we have to think through what changes when the conflict begins to diminish. How do we stay connected with America and we've got to think through that and not just take it for granted. That's the point.

Let me talk about the Profession a bit. I'm jumping over the Joint Fight -- but as we build this Army of 2020 clearly we're going to build it to meet the needs of the Combatant Commander -- and I've already had conversations, for example, with the CENTCOM Commander and two deployed commanders about some other things that I'll mention a little further down like BOG:Dwell ratios and getting to a 9 and 27 and how that will help them help us with the pressures that we currently face as an Army.

The Profession is resonating -- the study of the Profession is resonating out in the Force. And, it's resonating not just with officers, but with noncommissioned officers, warrant officers, active, guard and reserve and with our DA civilians. And it's resonating because the other thing that the Army brings to the Nation, is a sense of belonging. People really want to belong to something today and we should reinforce that and we should take advantage of that -- and we are.

And as we look at what it means to be a professional that will cause us, I believe, to change some of the attributes by which we describe the Profession. It will cause us to look at the policies that we have -- personnel policies for example -- to decide if we're delivering those attributes. We'll decide if there are policies that actually erode the profession -- promotion rates for example, OERs, reinstating the block check so that we actually can determine earlier within the Profession, who is meeting those professional credentials that we desire. So that is where I suggest to you that these initiatives that somehow have seemed to be out there floating like BOG:Dwell ratios or professional attributes, professional military education. What I want to do is understand them in context. And the context is what you see displayed there.

Let me talk about the Squad because when I first put the squad up as a Focus Area, candidly, some of my transition team said, 'Really' The CSA is going to have a Focus Area on the "Squad." Isn't that just a little bit tactical' Chief' Should you maybe put up their Corps or something bigger than a squad'" And I said, you know, here's my motivation: I've spent that last 10 years of my career at least kind of seeing the Army from the top down and by the way thinking about the Army and where it overmatches its potential adversaries. And if you look at the Army from the top down and you think about that word overmatch, because we don't want to send a Soldier into harm's way that doesn't overmatch his enemies.

It's pretty hard to conceive of any place where we don't overmatch at the ASCC level, the JTF level, the Corps level, the division level, brigade level, battalion level, or company level. It's at the platoon level we could probably start to have a bit of a conversation about whether or not we really overmatch -- but it's at the squad level where we see that it becomes too much of a fair fight. So the motivation was to sort of lie on my back and look up -- and look at the organization from the bottom up and see what that does. It's a Focus Area -- it's not something that I have to -- I mean being the Chief, the other thing I can do is change my mind, I've noticed. So there are things we can do looking at the squad that I think can be very helpful.

For example -- just a couple of examples -- you know we've really enabled and empowered the edge as you'll hear it described sometimes. Honestly it's not exaggeration for me to say that a captain in a combat outpost at the Afghan/ Pakistan border has as much capability -- or access I guess I should call it -- as I did as a division commander in Baghdad in 2003. That is not an exaggeration, so we have pushed a lot of things to the edge.

In so doing, we are learning as we push these things to the edge, and so you push all these "emitters" let's call them, all of which requires some kind of power or energy to drive them, and all of a sudden you find yourself in a situation where the squad is almost overwhelmed by the requirement for batteries. And so as the cliche' goes in Afghanistan you can follow an U.S. infantry patrol by the disposable batteries that it trails behind it. Almost like bread crumbs to find their way back to the FOB. Well we can figure that out if we look to it as a squad. If we keep looking at it exclusively as an individual Soldier and what he can carry -- we'll never get the right answer. The question is what does the squad need' And then when we figure out what the squad needs, we can figure out a way to deliver.

So TRADOC is producing a capabilities-based assessment and an integrated capabilities document that will actually establish the requirements: what it means to be a squad and how do we empower that squad to do is job. I have another image I carry in my head. The way a squad entrenches itself today is with the entrenching tool. You know this is the 21st century, and I'm just not convinced the best we can do is an entrenching tool. Albeit I just signed a Medal of Honor recommendation for some guy who ran out of hand grenades and started whacking away with an entrenching tool -- but, that's not the primary purpose of the entrenching tool.

And, you know, I feel like we stay wedded to certain thing mostly out of tradition. There a great Seinfeld skit -- I don't know if you're Jerry Seinfeld fans -- but he says, you know you really got to hand it to the Chinese, I mean they are sticking strong to the chopsticks -- and they've seen the fork. And I sometimes feel that way about some of us. We're to try and see ourselves a little differently. And I want to see it from the bottom up and then decide what it looks like.

Let me talk about -- in the context of all of those (points to focus slide) -- let me elaborate just a bit more on the Army of 2020 because that's the thing that is probably hardest. I mean that's the doctoral-level, some of this other stuff is kind of master's thesis, there's even a handful of baccalaureate to be had there -- but the doctoral thesis is when we start talking about the Army in 2020. So look, you know, is the Army of 2020 going to be different from the Army of 2011' I hope so. I mean, you know, there are changes in the environment -- different threats, technologies emerge that we certainly want to take advantage of and need to be adaptable enough to do so. And there's going to be this potentially important issue of resources. Potentially, I say that because [LTG] Ed Stanton just keeps telling me, 'don't worry. We'll figure it out.' No he doesn't actually -- [but] we will figure it out.

So, given the things I just mentioned -- the changes in the environment, emerging technologies and of course the changes in the operations that we currently have ongoing -- and add into the mix this discussion about resources, and it seems to me we have two choices as an Army, and I'll describe those -- and they're sort of stark actually -- I'll call one of them the Army Reformed, I'll call the other one the Army Transformed. And let me explain the distinction.

Army Reformed: we take the Army we have and we make it smaller and we decide that the capabilities we will produce for the Nation will be about the same, but we'll just have less of it because we've got to manage inside of the BOG:Dwell ratio because of the human dimension.

That's Course of Action 1. And we are giving due diligence inside the Army staff in collaboration, a fairly significant collaboration, to try to figure out what that Army looks like in 2020.

And then Course of Action 2 -- Army Transformed -- probably a different Army than you see today fielded. Will some of it be similar' Of course it will. I mean there are some enduring requirements that we owe the Nation and among those -- and probably principally among those -- enduring requirements is the need to win the Nations' wars. So we will always map ourselves -- for the most part, notice I'm choosing words carefully because I am not sure where it's going yet -- to the four Ps in the QDR: Prepare, Prevent, Prevail and Preserve. That's what the Nation has told us to do: Prepare, Prevent, Prevail, Preserve. Preserve is the All-Volunteer Force by the way -- which gets at BOG:Dwell ratios, which gets at the Human Dimension, and some other things. So, that's Army Transformed -- mapping ourselves differently against the four Ps, notably against the Prevent and the Prevail in a different way. And I don't have much to report to you in that regard today except to let you know that work is ongoing, to let you know that this won't be me and the seven dwarfs in a smoke-filled room and we pop out suddenly and elect the Pope with -- I think, it's white smoke, I don't remember -- it's either white or black smoke that signifies the election of the Pope. It's not gonna be that kind of exercise because that's not who we are. Remember this is about the Nation, not the Army.

And so we will present alternatives -- through the Secretary of the Army -- to the Secretary of Defense, and I'd really like to get ahead of this effort to change the resourcing basis because what we really should be thinking about now is: What is the Army of 2020 -- what does it have to provide the Nation into a Joint Fight -- what capabilities, what structures, how do we build in that elusive word called versatility' How do we live with FORCECAP s over the next 10 years and how do we achieve an aspect of the human dimension that allows us to do it at a pace that preserves the All-Volunteer Force. And, we think, that 9:27 (9 months BOG: 27 months Dwell) is achievable soon and will make a huge difference in that regard. 9:27 helps FORCECAP , 9:27 helps command tour lengths, 9:27 helps aviation resources in theater -- there's a lot of things that 9:27 does and we're looking at what dials do we have to turn to get...(pauses and starts) 9:27 aligns us with Reserve Component in a way that I think is very compelling.

So that's kind of where we are with Army 2020 and my goal -- our goal, the Secretary's and mine -- is to have something that is at least a first draft of this on or about the Army Birthday so we can begin the effort to collaboratively decide who we are going to be in that 2020 timeframe.

So that's kind of my report to you today after three weeks on the job. And as I said, I do reserve the right to change my mind. But at this point I wanted to let you know how I am thinking, a little bit about what I'm thinking, and then at this point I'd be happy to take your question so you can help shape my thinking.

So who wants to ask me any questions'