By Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno December 9, 2011
General Raymond T. Odierno
Senate Army Caucus Breakfast Remarks
Thanks/Welcome/Tribute to GEN Chiarelli
• Hosts: Senators Akaka and Inhofe
• Other members of the Caucus that are present
• Fellow General Officers
• This is my first Senate Army Caucus Breakfast as the CSA.
I appreciate the opportunity to join you, along with Secretary McHugh, to talk about our Army and our current and future challenges.
But first, I want to recognize and publically thank an Army Leader who many of you know very well.
He's someone I call a true friend -- GEN Pete Chiarelli, the Vice Chief of Staff of the Army -- who will be retiring this coming February. Today he is attending his last Senate Army Caucus Breakfast.
He is a man of incredible pedigree and record; a true testament of duty, honor, country and selfless service to the Nation…whose prowess amongst the marble and granite of the Congress is legendary. I'll give you some quick stats, potentially worthy of the Guinness Book of World
• The Vice has had the privilege of attending 21 hearings … an example I dare not to follow.
• He has done more office calls, pizza lunches, and briefings with Members and Staffers than there are days in the Fiscal Year …ok, a slight exaggeration, but he has done a lot.
• And in the process, Pete -- along with the help of many of you in this room -- has brought national attention to and gained Congressional support for some of the most critical and sensitive issues our Army has ever faced: the impact of a decade of war, Traumatic Brain Injury, Post -- Traumatic Stress, Wounded Warrior care, acquisition reform, Soldier equipping, Modernization, Soldier transition … the list goes on and on. He has an intense passion for Soldiers and Families that has been unmatched in my 35 years in uniform.
So, if you would, please join me in a round of applause for GEN Pete Chiarelli.
Also, I congratulate GEN Rodriguez, whose son Andrew, won the Caldwell Trophy recognizing him as the Nation's top Scholar-Athlete. This is a great indicator of the quality of our Army's future leaders. Well done.
As we all know too well, there are significant challenges facing our Army in the coming years. I think it is fair to say that all of us in this room understand the seriousness and the realities of our domestic and international challenges.
As we conclude operations in Iraq and continue our efforts both in Afghanistan and globally to deter and defeat terrorists, I have to emphasize that we must remain vigilant to the realities of the global security environment.
The world is more unstable than ever: continued terrorist threats, an unstable Middle East, Iran, Pakistan, North Korea, rising powers, failed and failing states … are all issues that will be present for the near term and well into the future.
As well, our domestic economic issues must be addressed and all of us must fully engage the appropriate and necessary mechanisms to gain control of the federal expenditures and federal debt; we must find a solution that ensures we can meet our Nation's security.
Our Soldiers have been the backbone of our Nation's successes. They have displayed mental and physical toughness and courage under fire in conditions that have been as demanding as any that our Army has experienced in its 236 year history.
Our Soldiers' actions speak for themselves. However, these accomplishments have come at enormous cost.
Since 9/11, more than 4,500 Soldiers have made the ultimate sacrifice; another 32,000 have been wounded, with thousands requiring long term care. There have been six awards of the Medal of Honor, 22 Distinguished Service Crosses, well over 600 Silver Stars, and more than 14,000 awards for Valor.
Even as Operation New Dawn winds down in Iraq, Soldiers and Families will continue to make sacrifices in Afghanistan and other places. It is imperative that we always honor their sacrifice in all that we do. They, along with our Army Families, have shouldered more than their fair share of the burden …multiple deployments, limited time at home, putting their lives on hold so that our Nation's citizens can continue to enjoy the freedoms of America.
And to all of you -- you have played such a critical role in the successes of our Army and our Nation. I am highly appreciative of your efforts to support our Veterans as they transition to civilian life. Our Veterans have sacrificed on behalf of the Nation and all-too-often they face difficulties during this period. Your continued support to our Veterans will be critical in the future.
You and the other members of Congress have also been instrumental in funding our modernization strategy and other efforts to ensure we remain the best trained, best equipped, best led force in the world. I am truly appreciative of the continuous support of the Network, GCV, and JLTV -- our top modernization priorities. We thank you.
As we look to the future, we must do several things.
First, we must win the current fights while continuing to provide trained and ready forces to meet our Nation's needs.
Second, we must develop the Army of 2020 -- a versatile mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment -- and ensure that our Army is agile, adaptable and flexible to meet an uncertain future and provide a wide range of options for the Nation.
Third, we must sustain our high-quality All--Volunteer Army and ensure that it remains the best land force in the World.
Fourth, we must adapt our leader development to meet future security challenges.
And fifth, we must foster a continued commitment to the Army Profession.
In short, our Army must be prepared for an uncertain future. Our strategic framework is guided by three principal and interconnected roles. First, we must be able to prevent conflict through credibility based on capacity, readiness, and modernization in order to avert miscalculations by others. Second, we must also shape the environment by establishing and sustaining strong mil-to-mil relationships, building partner capacity, and facilitating access abroad. And third, if prevention fails, we must be able to win … decisively and dominantly.
Being able to prevent, shape, and win is -- and always will be -- critical to the needs of the Nation. This is why it is essential that we all find common ground and make the hard decisions in the current debate over budget cuts. As I have stated many times, the Army must do its part to solve the Nation's debt crisis. However, I cannot emphasize enough the extreme risk incurred if Sequestration is implemented.
Though difficult, the cuts associated with the Budget Control Act of 2011 are manageable and we have worked hard to ensure the Army can sustain Readiness and meet our Nation's security requirements.
We are making tough choices to meet these requirements … tough programmatic choices … tough end strength and force mix choices … tough modernization and compensation choices … all with the non-negotiable requirement to maintain trust with our Soldiers and Veterans and to maintain our Nation's security -- now and into the future.
However, sequestration would be so significant that it fundamentally forces a complete re-design of our National Security Strategy due to greatly diminished capabilities and capacities. It will cause the Army to cut every major modernization program, and it will significantly reduce our readiness … calling into question our ability to meet the very real security challenges of the future and provide the credibility that is essential to deterring our potential adversaries.
It is imperative that we address budget cut requirements smartly, over time, with enough flexibility and predictability built in to ensure that our Army has the right capability and capacity to safeguard against our Nation's threats.
While we cannot predict the future in today's uncertain and complex strategic environment, we can be certain that our Nation will continue to call on America's Army.
As we apply the lessons of our recent combat experiences and adapt to a constantly changing strategic environment, I am committed to ensuring that we remain the best manned, best equipped, and best led Army in the world.
Your efforts are critical to our Army remaining the most decisive land force in the World in order to safeguard our national security at home and abroad.
I view this as a joint effort … mine, the Secretary's, Congress', and the Nation's. And in closing, I'd like to leave you with two personal observations: First, the Army's bedrock, its foundation, is Trust; a credential we must maintain with our Soldiers, our Army Families, and the American people. And second, the Strength of the Nation is our Army, the Strength of our Army is our Soldiers, he Strength of our Soldiers is our Families. This is what makes us Army Strong.
Thank you for your service, leadership and support and I know you all look forward to Army's win this Saturday over Navy … Go Army, Beat Navy!
Please welcome Secretary John McHugh.