WASHINGTON (Army News Service, May 16, 2012) -- The Army will begin implementing a regionally-aligned force concept next year to better support combatant commanders, the service's chief of staff announced this morning.
Gen. Raymond T. Odierno made the announcement at a Pentagon press conference as he outlined the Army's vision for the future to meet the tenets of the DOD Strategic Guidance signed by the president in January. He said the Army will be transitioning to a leaner, more agile, adaptive, innovative, versatile and ready component of the joint force.
The regional alignments are part of that vision and the concept will begin with a pilot program involving a brigade combat team from the 10th Mountain Division aligned with U.S. Army Africa Command, Odierno said. This will be followed by more units aligned to other theaters, he said.
"The regionally aligned forces concept will be especially important in the Asia-Pacific region as we move forward, home to seven of the 10 largest Armies," Odierno said, adding that enduring commitments in some theaters may warrant rotational units in the future.
About 92,000 Soldiers are currently deployed in support of operations, he said, and 68,000 of those are in Afghanistan.
"First, our Army Force Generation, or ARFORGEN, process has served us well in meeting our demands over the last several years in Iraq and Afghanistan. But with operations in Iraq complete and ongoing transition in Afghanistan, we will have the opportunity to adapt this process to be more wide-ranging, especially as we re-balance toward the Asia-Pacific region," Odeirno said.
The intent of this new process, he said, will be to focus units during their training cycle on specific mission profiles and unique environmental characteristics that will make them available to specified combatant commanders for employment.
"In today's increasingly uncertain and complex strategic environment, we must ensure that we sustain a diverse mix of rapidly deployable capabilities, adapt processes to reflect a broader range of requirements, and (provide) options to our national security decision makers," Odierno said.
As the Army reduces two forward-stationed brigade combat teams in Europe over the next two years, he said it will leverage pre-positioned equipment and multi-lateral training exercises to promote regional security and sustain relationships with NATO and other European allies.
"Finally, as the Army's end strength reduces over the next five years, it is important to note that this leaner Army will be vastly more capable than our pre-9/11 Army," Odierno said.
Also, he said, with 10 years of hard-earned combat experience, the Army will continue to increase Special Operations force capacity.
"We have significantly increased our ability to conduct intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance. We've increased our aviation assets to support worldwide missions and responsiveness around the world. We continue to increase our cyber capability as we move forward, and we continue to look at other capabilities in order to move forward.
In his introduction to the new strategic guidance, President Barack Obama wrote the following:
"Our nation is at a moment of transition we have responsibly ended the war in Iraq, put al Qaeda on the path to defeat allowing us to begin the transition to Afghan responsibility.
However, the Budget Control Act of 2011 mandates reductions in federal spending, including defense spending, he continued.
"I therefore directed this review to identify our strategic interest and guide our defense priorities and spending over the coming decade," he said.
As today's wars end, Obama continued, America will focus on a broader range of challenges and opportunities, including the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and North Africa, join allies and partners to build their capacity.