By Melissa Bower, Fort Leavenworth LampDecember 22, 2011
FORT LEAVENWORTH, Kan. (Dec. 22, 2011) -- The Army's outgoing vice chief of staff told military officers it would be their responsibility to meet national security requirements in an era of persistent engagement during budget constraints.
"The Army is transforming, as it should," Gen. Peter Chiarelli told graduates of the Intermediate Level Education program at the Command and General Staff College, "and we will depend upon the current generation of leaders to ensure the necessary adjustments are made smoothly, effectively and in a timely manner."
Chiarelli posed a few specific challenges to the roughly 330 CGSC graduates Dec. 16 -- the need to reduce risk behavior among Soldiers, to help Soldiers through the disability process and to work together to balance a drawdown of U.S. military forces.
"Officers will face actual boards, not simply receive what have long been all-but-generated promotion in rank," he said. "Promotion boards are one of the Army's shaping tools that will be used to begin the drawdown."
Chiarelli said with the recent colonel promotion boards, selection rates for promotion decreased from 47 percent last year to 36 percent this year, which was the lowest selection rate in 10 years.
"These are tough decisions for the Army, but I believe they are the right decisions," he said. "We cannot, in a time of diminishing resources, protect personnel at the expense of modernization or training."
Chiarelli said there are three elements that dictate the Army's budget: personnel, training and maintenance, and modernization. All three will have to be realigned with the budget, he said.
He said leaders must also change their mindset about Soldiers serving on staffs or in training units.
"For 10 years, the prevailing mindset has been, 'if you're not deploying, you're not contributing.' Well, that's just not right," Chiarelli said. "We need to get our leaders to understand serving on staffs and training is just as important as deploying."
As executive officers, Chiarelli told CGSC students that many of them would be responsible for helping Soldiers through the disability evaluation system. There are currently 18,000 in that system, he said, and about half of them are coping with behavioral health issues. It will be up to today's officers to help those Soldiers through the process, help them reduce high-risk behavior like alcohol, drug abuse and even adrenaline-fueled activities like speeding on a motorcycle.
"One of the most important lessons we have learned over the course of this war is the fact that all of these conditions and behaviors are inter-related," Chiarelli said. "An individual may be acting out, fighting with a spouse or turning to drugs due to frustration resulting from an undiagnosed behavioral health issue."
And, leaders and commanders must utilize behavioral health personnel who are already strained, he said.
"We are navigating what is uncharted territory," Chiarelli said. "I tell everyone, we've always had volunteers in our force. We've never fought for 10 years, let alone in an all-volunteer force. We have never downsized when we still have forces committed. This is uncharted territory."
Chiarelli will retire in January after 40 years of service to the military.
Out of more than 300 graduates in the 2011-02 ILE program, 35 earned a Master of Military Art and Science degree. Fifteen of those were international students, including Maj. Uffule Kenyi, the first CGSC student from the Republic of South Sudan. Kenyi's home country officially became independent in July, halfway through his time at Fort Leavenworth.