PICATINNY ARSENAL, N.J. (May 30, 2012) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno visited Picatinny May 30, to tour selected research facilities, learn more about its products and address the Picatinny workforce.
Odierno assumed duty as the 38th chief of staff of the U.S. Army in September 2011. Only a year before that, he served as the commander of U.S. Forces-Iraq.
A native of Rockaway, N.J., he graduated from Morris Hills High School in 1972, where he played football.
"It's great to be back here. It's always great to come back home, especially here to Picatinny Arsenal," he said.
The general said he has long ties to Picatinny.
"My first real connection to the Army is through Picatinny. When I was a little boy, my mom and dad used to bring me up here for holidays, Memorial Day, Fourth of July, other events, and that was my first real exposure to the Army."
As Odierno addressed the Picatinny community, he said the Army would continue moving forward to make sure it can meet the nation's future needs.
In the current climate of budget constraints, the Army must carefully balance its resources to meet the challenges of a highly uncertain world and prepare for a broad spectrum of challenges in future years, he said.
"The Army must be prepared for the broad range of missions over the next 10 to 20 years. You all play an extremely important role in that," he told the audience. "As I think about here at Picatinny, I think about this as a place of innovation."
"And that's where Picatinny comes in. Here we have some of the brightest scientists, engineers, who I think can help to continue to achieve technological advantages over our enemy. But we have to be very careful and discriminate about how we apply these new technologies because warfare is changing."
Odierno said the world is filled with uncertainty on a number of fronts.
"The 'Arab Spring' is not over yet and may be entering its most contentious period as new governments are elected," he said.
Amid an era of budget constraints, Odierno said he seeks to balance end strength (number of Soldiers), readiness and modernization. If unbalanced, he said, there will be a hollow Army.
"We end up with an Army that doesn't have the equipment, the people and the dollars to spend on training and readiness."
Odierno also spoke about what he described as the critical role of the Picatinny Arsenal mission.
"I consider this to be a national treasure, what we have here at Picatinny Arsenal," he said. "I consider this to have a unique capability and capacity that we don't have anywhere else in the Army. And I'm very proud of that -- that we do that right here."
Responding to a question from the audience, Odierno said the civilian workforce brings consistency and expertise in critical areas.
"As the military [personnel] comes and goes, we need our civilian workforce who are the experts in certain areas to sustain that over time," he explained. "But I can't stand here and tell you that there is not going to be civilian reductions in the future. We're working our way through that now and what those are going to be."
Odierno said his role was, working with the Secretary of the Army, to maintain the right balance between military members, civilian employees and contractors.
During the visit, Odierno also toured the Davidson Advanced Warhead Development Facility and the Navy Packaging, Handling, Storage and Transportation Facility.
Among the group of visitors with Odierno were U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen and Dale Ormond, director of the Research, Development and Engineering Command, which is the parent command of Picatinny's Armament Research, Development and Engineering Center.