Feb. 24, 2012 - Gen. Odierno AUSA Winter Symposium

By U.S. ArmyFebruary 29, 2012

Good morning everyone. From everything I have heard, it has been a great week. I am impressed with the turnout we've got. Everyone I have talked to feels like they have been able to get a lot done and have good conversation and good interaction between everyone that is here. So I think that is really the most important thing. I will walk you through what I am thinking, and then at the end, we should have about 30 minutes for questions. I will be very pleased to answer your questions because I want to know what is on your mind. Sometimes as the Chief you feel like you understand what is going on, but you don't always know what is going on. So feel free to ask me any questions that you might feel are appropriate.

It is good to be down here at Fort Lauderdale. For any of you that have spent any time in the Pentagon, you know that about this time, (February or early March) you start getting this yellow look to your face because of the walls of the Pentagon where you never get to leave your desk. So it is nice to come down here to Fort Lauderdale where you can actually spend a few minutes in the sun and enjoy it a little bit. So I am a little bit jealous that you all have had the chance to do that this week, but I am glad to be here for even a short time.

I want to recognize General Anne Dunwoody, Army Material Commander, a great leader in her own right. Thank you Anne for being here and presenting this week. Bob Cone, Commander at Training and Doctrine Command. Both are playing a large role as we move forward here, because as an Army moves forward, it is important that we use the power and the brain power of our institutions in order to help us to adjust. The time that I have been up here, for five months or so that I have been Chief (I am a pretty impatient person at times), but I am finding it harder to turn this 1.1 million man Army and another 250,000 civilians in a direction. But I am very pleased with the work we are getting from many people as we begin to turn this, and we have to turn it.

That is what I am going to talk about today -- we have to turn this. It is going to be imperative. I think we actually have an opportunity here to operate from a position of strength. The position of strength that the Army has is that everyone has seen over the last ten years what our Army has done, and is capable of. Lots of people want to put the Army in a box. They want to say this is what the Army can do -- they can do this little thing over here. I am here to tell them that the Army is probably the most flexible, adaptable organization across all the services, and that we can respond and be capable anywhere any time to support any Combatant Commander. That is what this is about today.

General Sullivan, I want to thank you for always hosting this. General Buck Kernan, I want to thank you, Sir, for being here. General Wallace, I haven't seen you yet, but someone told me you are here, Sir. It is good to see you as always. General Solomon, General Colburn, many other Flag Officers, distinguished civilians, I appreciate so much you all being here.

As you all know, it is a busy time back in DC, as we just issued the 2012 Army Posture Statement. It was just unveiled, and the Secretary and I are in the middle of our hearings. We've done one so far; we were in front of the HASC (House Armed Services Committee) last week. The Secretary and I have three more together in front of the SASC (Senate Armed Services Committee), the HAC-D (House Appropriations Committee on Defense), and the SAC-D (Senate Appropriations Committee on Defense). Then I get to do an additional one with the MILCON (Military Construction) Committee, where I will continue to discuss the budget that has just been unveiled. I believe the hearings are a good thing. It is an opportunity to reflect first and remind people what this Army has done. And I will say, as I do this, I hear constantly the gratitude and appreciation from the Members of Congress as well as the American people about the unwavering commitment and accomplishment that our Soldiers have made over the last ten years. That includes our Department of the Army Civilians, who have also sacrificed so much during these times. And frankly, as the Chief of Staff of the Army, I could not be more proud of them. It really is an honor to represent such a dignified and courageous core of heroes who continue to raise their right hand and always say, "I am selfless enough to put my country first." In my mind, and I continue to say this, they rightly embody what is best about our country.

For over 236 years, the Army has overcome many challenges, but it always continues to answer our Nation's call. Today we face another challenge -- a global financial crisis on top of an already uncertain and increasingly complex environment in which we operate. As all of you are aware, probably better than I, the United States confronts a very large deficit problem, and we also know that sustaining the strength of our economy is a national security issue. So accordingly, as most of you know, back in August the Budget Control Act was passed, which requires a $487 billion reduction in DoD spending over the next ten years. And that has been reflected in the latest plan that was submitted from Fiscal Year 13-17.

I want to make it clear to everyone that the development of this Budget was difficult. Sometimes as we go out and we talk about the fact that we are going to make this work, and yes we are okay, that is true, but it was difficult. I define it as we are on the razor's edge right now in terms of the Army budget as I look over the next five years. That razor's edge is about balancing end-strength, readiness and modernization. We have to continue to balance those. The choices that the Secretary and I have to make will always be in balancing those three so we can still maintain whatever the size of the Army that is left as the best trained, best equipped force in the world today. We will never walk away from that. I will say that before we did this budget, and you've probably heard us say it, Secretary McHugh and I participated in an intensive and inclusive strategy review with the senior DoD leadership. What is lost on a lot of people - in my mind - is that when I go around, everyone asks if I am worried about air-sea battle and if I am worried about this and that. Air-sea battle is a continued Sea Op. It is a way to do certain things. It is certainly not the new DoD strategy. The resulting strategic guidance that we articulate has several primary missions for the Joint Force that clearly require a strong, versatile, expeditionary Army to meet our Nation's security needs. Among them are deterring and defeating aggression, conducting irregular warfare, supporting counter terrorism, defending the Homeland, and providing support to civil authorities. Going forward, you all know that our immediate priority is to meet our current commitments in Afghanistan and elsewhere by ensuring a highly trained, well-equipped, well-manned force. Our Conventional and Special Operations Forces continue combat operations as part of Operation Enduring Freedom, while simultaneously developing the Afghan security forces.

And I will tell you I just spent yesterday up at Special Operations Command; we had the first Army-Special Operations Command Talks. Why do we do this? Admiral McCraven and I have worked for several years together in the Middle East, and we realize how important it is to sustain a long term relationship between Conventional and Special Operations Forces. They cannot operate without the support of the Army. And there are many missions that they know they must go forward with that will require support from the Army. It is important for us to understand that. Our formations continue to stand watch on the Korean Peninsula, the Balkans and the Middle East. We have led relief efforts for many natural disasters at home and abroad, domestically and internationally. Our Corps of Engineers is preserving and rebuilding infrastructure and critical services, and we continue to provide vital institutional and executive agent support across the globe that significantly enables the Joint Force. Let me say that one more time. We continue to provide vital institutional and executive agent support across the globe that significantly enables the Joint Force. That is an important statement. The other services, the interagencies are dependent on the Army to provide support to their actions.

So as we look to the Army of 2020, as a part of Joint Force 2020, how do we want to shape it? As I look at how we want to shape it, it is important to understand how proud I am and how well our young men and women today have performed. Their selflessness, resiliency, and dedication to mission are an inspiration to all of us. Today, we are an Army that is globally engaged in 150 countries on six of seven continents. We have over 95,000 Soldiers deployed in support of operations; another 96,000 Soldiers forward stationed. Our strategic posture is a testament to our flexibility and adaptability as well as our unmatched credibility as the best trained, best equipped, and best led land force in the world.

Moving forward, our Army's primary purpose is steadfast and resolute: to fight and win our Nation's wars. But we all know that the Army must be able to do much more than that. Today, we require an Army that is adaptive and innovative, flexible and agile, integrated and synchronized, lethal and discriminate. Even more critical in today's complex and uncertain environment, the Army is the decisive arm of the Joint Force in a broad range of missions. Historically the Army has been focused on a specific set of needs, but these needs and the means in which they are resourced have changed. So we must fundamentally change how we do business. As we keep adding rocks to our Soldiers' rucksacks, all of us leaders today in this room must remain cognizant over time. Everyone's load can get too heavy and cause permanent wear and tear. So it is a good idea to pause for introspection, which is exactly what our Army is doing now, although we remain in contact.

As we transition, we will change how we organize, man, equip, and train our Force to be more responsive for the Combatant Commanders so we can better enable the Joint Force of 2020. This requires us to review a number of areas and adapt them in order to remain the most capable, most lethal, most dominant land force in the world. I will discuss a few of these with you today, including force structure, alignment of forces and headquarters, force generation, and modernization. Many other initiatives are underway, such as force mix, accessions and retention, home station training, leader development, and force well being. I know that Bob Cone highlighted many of these yesterday.

By the end of FY17, the Army will decrease its end strength from 570,000 to 490,000 in the Active Army; from 358,000 to 353,500 in the National Guard; and from 206,000 to 205,000 in the Army Reserve. Actually, the Army Reserve has already reduced themselves to 205,000. But it is not just about the numbers themselves; it is about reducing our end-strength over a deliberate and gradual ramp through the end of FY17. Why do I want this? This allows me to ensure I can take care of our Soldiers and Families and Department of Army Civilians. We can continue to meet our contingency commitments, to include Afghanistan. And we can remain responsive for unforeseen contingencies and facilitate reversibility if necessary in this uncertain environment. As recently announced, this decreased end strength will result in at least eight fewer Active Component Brigade Combat Teams, going from 45 to 37. The first two BCT reductions occur in Europe, where the 170th BCT will inactivate in FY13, and the 172nd Brigade Combat Team will inactivate in FY14, both as they return from deployments in Afghanistan. Decisions on the remaining Brigade Combat Team reductions have not yet been made.

As we drawdown and apply the lessons from ten years of sustained combat, and as we look forward to what characteristics and capabilities the force must be, I have asked TRADOC to lead an aggressive and extensive analysis of the Brigade Combat Team design. Modularity has served our Army very well, and we will not walk away from it. However, we now have the time and the opportunity to study and recommend changes to our Brigade Combat Team organization, and the execution and oversight of the modular Brigades. It is critical that this vital war fighting formation remains dominant against the evolving hybrid threats in tomorrow's operational environments.

Using a combination of warfighter assessments, sufficiency analysis, and combat modeling, TRADOC is informing critical decisions about force design in the future. This rigorous work included Brigade Commander seminars, study of future demands and risk, and included over 6,500 hours of simulated operations. We will continue this analysis over the next couple of months before making any recommendations to the Secretary of the Army on Brigade restructuring. However, the early feedback clearly indicates that significant flexibility and capability would be gained by adding a third maneuver Battalion and more engineers to our Brigade Combat Teams. If a decision is made to add a third maneuver Battalion and some more engineers, it would cause us to reduce further our Brigade Combat Teams from a planned number of 37 down to perhaps 32 or 33 Brigade Combat Teams in the Active Component. However, such a reduction represents an investment in the overall number of Battalions and Combat formations while reducing overhead with Brigade level headquarters.

Again, there have not yet been any decisions made by the Secretary but these are foreseeable possibilities based on lessons after a decade of war, with deliberate consideration to the characteristics and capabilities needed for Joint Force 2020 so that we can support the Combatant Commanders. In terms of our force structure, we will continue to grow Army Special Operations Forces up to 35,000 of our end-strength. We have made incredible gains in the integration and synchronization between Conventional and Special Operations Forces over the past ten years, and had the opportunity to discuss them, as I said, yesterday in detail. We intend to build on this relationship and institutionalize Army support to counter-terrorism operations, counter WMD proliferation, and the wide array of tasks associated with building and improving partner capacity. This tremendous synergy affords the Joint Force and Combatant Commanders with significantly enhanced capabilities. Just as critically, we will also increase our aviation assets, not only to support the Army, but because they provide much needed support to the Special Operations Force community, the Joint Force, and importantly, our international partners.

Following the end of our mission in Iraq, with the continued transition in Afghanistan, we now have an opportunity to reinforce our support to all the Combatant Commanders. You keep hearing me say that. We are an Army that is reaching out to make sure that we are an integral part of all of our Combatant Commanders, specifically geographical, but also to support the other Combatant Commanders as well. Looking at how we are going to regionally align forces and headquarters from Corps level and below, we will work with them to develop a series of engagement tools that include a combination of assigned and rotational forces to conduct training and multi-lateral exercises, as well as develop partner capacity, provide planning capability for future contingency operations.

I see this as a model of how we will be doing things in the future, using a tailored approach that will help us create a more expeditionary Army, which will add flexibility and predictability for the COCOMs and with our sister services across the Joint Force. We will also leverage our pre-positioned equipment sets for both contingencies and multi-lateral training, which requires a comprehensive review of our Army pre-positioned stock strategy. Additionally we are re-looking at our Army service Component Commands to better fit the unique requirements of their areas of responsibility to support planning and provide joint support. This includes establishing closer working relationships between Army Service Component Commands, our Corps, and Division Headquarters for contingency planning and theater security cooperation execution. Finally there needs to be a greater Army representation in key positions at COCOM headquarters that can provide expertise on how Army capabilities can better support the Joint Force.

We will adapt how we conduct force generation through the Army Force Generation process. We implemented the current Army Force Generation process several years ago in order to meet our requirements in Iraq and Afghanistan, to reduce our OPTEMPO, to measure OPTEMPO, to understand the impact it had on the Force, and to ensure that those who are deploying were manned, equipped and trained appropriately. It should not come as a surprise that we are approaching another point of transition since we are no longer deploying forces to Iraq and continue to transition in Afghanistan. So we must adapt Army Force Generation to align with DoD strategic priorities and guidance. I envision a progressive readiness model for most units, but there are some high-demand, low-density units that may be better served by a constant readiness model. The majority of the units will progress though readiness levels. We will adjust the process where Active and Reserve Component units advance through a reset phase, a training phase, and an available phase, and prioritize their training and planning in support of a specific Combatant Command and mission sets.

In our Active Component, I want to align the future Force Generation Model along Command tours between 24 and 27 months long. Command would be rotated at the conclusion of the available period to coincide with the beginning of the reset period. Taking advantage of a more seasoned Reserve Component Force, we will also adapt ARFORGEN to sustain an Operational Reserve. The recent combat experience of the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve in Iraq and Afghanistan has significantly increased their capabilities and readiness. The challenge is how to sustain Reserve Component proficiency, given the biggest constraint, which is time to train. This requires us to carefully manage notification, mobilization, and deployment timelines and work closely with Reserve leaders to leverage their unique skill sets and advantages for certain missions.

To prevent conflict, we must maintain credibility, which is partly based on modernization. In this regard, we must develop and field both a versatile and affordable mix of equipment that enables us to succeed in the full range of missions, while maintaining a decisive advantage over potential adversaries. We are better integrating our acquisition strategy with requirements process through capability portfolio reviews to ensure our modernization efforts are affordable, timely, and achievable in line with technological development. Additionally, we are looking to develop more efficient testing and evaluation strategies by eliminating redundancies. We want to develop incremental modernization capabilities that allow us to deliver new and improved capabilities by leveraging mature technologies, shortening developmental times, planning growth potential, and acquiring the right quantities when needed. We seek to increase buying power by using this approaching combination with better business deals, better contracts, and increased competition. The equipment requested in the President's FY13 budget strikes a balance between current and future needs; provides the basis for affordable equipping strategy over time; and takes into account strategy over time. It takes into account Army requirements and priorities. In developing this request, the Army made difficult decisions to shift funds previously programmed for future capabilities to current needs. With this year's budget, we did not lose any major programs, but many were slowed down. However, our modernization priorities were preserved and remain the Network, the Ground Combat Vehicle, the Joint Light Tactical Vehicle, our Soldier Systems, and of course Aviation.

To all of the attendees of this week's symposium, thank you for your dedication and support to this Army. To General Sullivan and the great AUSA team, thank you for hosting this week's first class event. I have tried to cover a lot of ground today, but I think it is important for us to have these discussions, and I look forward to questions. Of course, all of this depends on superior leadership. I believe that great leaders can lead change and solve any problem, and we are blessed with an abundance of them. We ask much more of our junior leaders today than we ever have. And I am absolutely committed to their development for the challenges in today's strategic environment, but most importantly, in the growing complexity of the environment they will face in the future. General McArthur in 1962 said, "Through all this welter of change, your mission remains fixed, determined, inviolable. It is to win our wars." Exactly fifty years later, his words could not be more true. America's Army is indeed in transition, yet we remain the Nation's force of decisive action. The strength of our Nation is our Army; the strength of our Army is our Soldiers; the strength of our Soldiers is our families; and that is what makes us Army Strong. Thank you very much.