By Gary SheftickDecember 10, 2007
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, Dec. 8, 2007) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said more than 1,100 terrorists groups are operating around the world and listed a number of global trends that need to be reversed if America is to prevail in conflicts of the 21st Century.
Gen. Casey spoke Dec. 4 at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., in a seminar on national security. He said that military power alone cannot prevail over these trends, explaining that it will take all the instruments of national power.
"We're at war with a global extremist network," Gen. Casey said, adding that all arms of government need to help reverse world conditions that facilitate recruiting for that network.
First, he said globalization is bringing prosperity to the northern hemisphere, but leaving behind much of South America, Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.
He said technology is a "double-edged sword" that is being used by terrorist groups to export violence around the globe.
The world's population is moving from the rural countryside to cities and this "bodes poorly for future conflict," Gen. Casey said.
He said the middle classes of China and India are growing very rapidly, and are expected to increase the pressure for resource competition.
"The middle class in India is larger than the population in the United States," Gen. Casey pointed out. He predicted that competition for water, resources and food will increase international friction.
The energy supply will not equal demand in the future, he said, even if you count in what people are trying to do to increase it or look for alternative sources.
Climate change and natural disasters can create friction, tensions, population movements and pandemics, he said.
What he said worries him most, though, are the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their potential use by terrorist organizations.
"People ask what keeps me up late at night," Gen. Casey said. "That's what it is.
"I know there are 1,100 or 1,200 known terrorist organizations in the world. Most of them are out seeking weapons of mass destruction," Gen. Casey said. "There's no question in my mind that when they get it, they'll use it against a developed country."
He also expressed concern about terrorist safe havens -- States or nations not controlled by a strong government that become "breeding grounds" for terrorist organizations. He used the example of Afghanistan before 2001.
Gen. Casey predicted that Afghanistan and Iraq today are the "precursors" of the kind of complex conflicts that America will face in the future.
"We're going to be dealing, I think, more with non-state and individual actors than we are with state actors. That creates a degree of complexity all itself," he said.
"They're not deterrable. If you've figured out how to deter a nonstate actor that doesn't have anything to hold hostage, I'm happy to listen to you. They don't operate by the laws of war. They don't operate under international conventions. It makes our job combating that much, much more difficult."
He predicted that future conflicts will be fought in and around heavily populated cities and that aggressors will focus on asymmetric tactics.
The complexities of future combat will take leaders of character to sort it all out, Gen. Casey said.
"I would add that character and the character of our leaders has an awful lot to do with our success," he said, "and we've just opened up a Center for Professional Military Ethics up at the Military Academy. These environments are so hard that if you're not well morally and ethically grounded as a leader, your ability to make decisions in this complex environment is very, very difficult."