By U.S. ArmyJuly 18, 2012
Good morning everybody. It's great to be here in Australia to participate in the 36th Pacific Armies Management Seminar. LTGEN Morrison, thank you so much for hosting this gathering and inviting me to speak, especially in the company of this distinguished group of professionals throughout the Pacific region. It's an honor to be in front of you today. You may have heard that we've been having significant weather issues in Washington, DC -- up to 105 degrees, so it is refreshing to be here in winter with colder weather. It's a nice getaway. Let me begin by saying that our partnerships in the Pacific region have always been exceptionally important to the United States and to the U.S. Army in particular. For many decades, and especially since the end of the second World War, the United States has depended on strong partnerships in the Pacific built on mutual respect, trust and cooperation to ensure the stability, peace, and prosperity of a region that is critical not only to the individual Nations represented here today, but the entire international community. The importance of those partnerships has been reinforced in coalition operations in Afghanistan and Iraq by the support and participation of many countries represented here. Changes in the international strategic environment make the continuation of these close relationships increasingly important as we work together to deal with challenges of a very uncertain future.
We all have a tremendous stake in how our Nations navigate the range of challenges that lie ahead, whether they arise from slowdowns in the global economy, increasing competition over scarce natural resources, or the influence of extremist groups. I'd like to share my thoughts on some of these challenges, and describe how the United States Army is adapting to meet those challenges while simultaneously upholding commitments to our current military engagements. Today, we are in a time of great change. The strategic environment around us continues to evolve in many unpredictable ways. The widespread availability of advanced technologies, the proliferation of information fueled by a globally-connected society, and the emergence of numerous challenges to political and societal order are just a few of the many factors shaping the environment we operate in. Today and into the foreseeable future, the global environment will be characterized by both complexity and uncertainty. The complex nature of this environment calls for us to think and operate in new ways. Let me describe what I mean when I talk about changes in the strategic environment. In the past, relationships between states were dominated by central governments with a substantial ability to enforce their borders and speak for their populations. That framework, while still present, is much weaker now, and previously latent actors have emerged with greater power. Some of the forces that we deal with today, like criminal groups and social movements, have always existed, but they have become vastly more influential as the norms of the international system are changing and in some cases, have weakened. At the same time, new actors have emerged, such as the global audience that constantly observes and interprets our actions through the medium of social media. Empowered by technology, individual actors, whether soldiers, civilians, or adversaries, can broadcast an image or message to a global audience in an instant, and these tactical actions can and often will have strategic impacts.
Another consequence of these new ways to share information is the formation of entire communities in cyberspace. Technology allows like-minded individuals to come together virtually, united by passionate causes and shared ideas. These new human relationships are not constrained by geography or formal borders, and represent a new space we must embrace and integrate into our operations alongside the physical terrain as we plan and conduct operations. At the most basic levels, these rapid advances have real ramifications for the future conduct of military operations. In some cases, defeating an army or deterring a government may still produce decisive results. However, in many future operations, such straightforward outcomes are less and less likely. As Army leaders, we must adapt to these changes. That does not mean that we neglect the lessons of the past. We remain ready to fight and win our Nation's wars. However, knowing when, why, and how to change is key to maintaining our effectiveness. For the United States Army, that requires complementing our core warfighting skills with a better understanding of human behavior and different cultural lenses. I would suggest that for all land forces, the complexity and pace of change will require us to continuously evolve our training, our organizations, and our collective understanding to ensure we are prepared to handle all of the challenges of the coming years.
In my view, the effects of these dynamics in the strategic environment can be felt across the entire Pacific region. There are many sources of potential regional instability in our collective interest to consider:
- Increased competition over resources
- The presence of non-state actors working to advance their own agendas
- Nefarious activity emboldened by those leveraging virtual mediums
- And the impact of natural disasters in densely populated areas.
At the same time, we must also strive to address more traditional, long-standing issues, whether they arise from uncertain ambitions or disputes over territory and access to the global commons. Reinforcing the importance of international norms of behavior is key to these efforts. In each of these cases, it is important to emphasize that we must all work this together, and the U.S. is only one of many countries with interests in the region. As the United States adapts to changes in the strategic environment and refocuses our efforts in the Pacific region, we desire a positive, trust-based relationship with all Nations; a relationship based on transparency, open channels of communication, and a shared role in promoting stability in pursuit of all of our common interests. It is also important to acknowledge that we recognize the importance of the Asia-Pacific to the international community, and we remain invested in the long-standing partnerships we have across the region. As you all know, much of the United States' focus has been directed towards operations in the Middle East and I remain committed to seeing those missions through, especially in Afghanistan. For the past several years, our forces assigned to the Pacific have primarily been deploying to the Middle East. However, with decreased demand in the Middle East, and with the ending of the war in Iraq and the reduction of forces in Afghanistan, those forces will return to their bases across this region and will once again be available to support theater security cooperation activities. And I know these units look forward to reenergizing and expanding the partnerships, exercises, and exchanges that we share with so many of you.
The American military has a long-standing legacy in this dynamic and critical region. Our commitment today is as strong as it has ever been, especially for the United States Army. We maintain a strong presence in the region with 66,000 Soldiers assigned to our Pacific Command -- actually, the largest contingent of any U.S. service. Additionally, the U.S. Army is moving to a regional alignment construct to augment assigned forces in this region and other regions. We are implementing this concept over the next few years to provide predictable and dependable capabilities to all Combatant Commanders, but specifically to our Pacific Commander. It will include all capabilities such as operational headquarters that can serve as planning HQs, as well as Joint Task Force and Multinational HQs. We will also task organize combat brigades to meet a variety of needs for the regional commanders. Furthermore, enabler units will provide specialized expertise such as aviation, engineering, logistics, and medical support. The regional alignment will facilitate integrated planning and focused joint exercises, as well as the potential for scalable, rotational force packages in order to conduct multilateral training. Moreover, our Soldiers will be better able to focus on and understand the cultures, languages, and history of where they might operate, which the complexity of the strategic environment demands. In short, regional alignment builds expertise within the U.S. Army while augmenting the capabilities of our geographic Combatant Commands, thus reinforcing long-term partnerships with the hope of creating new partnerships with other Nations in the Pacific.
As has been the case with many of the Nations represented at this seminar, strong military partnerships will continue to be important to our shared interests.
Working together, we have tremendous opportunity to foster stability, mutual understanding, and transparency. We have many avenues in which to build bonds of trust, develop strong relationships, and further our capabilities. These include, but are not limited to:
- Senior level dialogue and security conferences such as this outstanding seminar here today
- Multilateral training exercises to improve interoperability but more importantly, develop an understanding and commitment to each other
- Development of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities to help our fellow men when in need
- Intelligence & technology sharing
- Cadet, NCO and Officer exchanges for professional military education
- And Liaison officer exchanges just to name a few.
Additionally, I would add that cyberspace presents an unexplored range of opportunities in this arena.
We could all benefit from collaboration on building, operating, and defending our networks, as well as expanding our interoperability. I would also like to mention our long-standing State Partnership Program that has been conducted by the U.S. Army National Guard for the past 20 years and now involves over 65 partner nations. The program features scalable cooperation activities via local, state and national conduits and spans military, economic and social realms. It has resulted in personal and enduring relationships, and opens many doors of mutual benefit. I note that 6 of our State Partnership Programs are represented here today and I express my gratitude to your Armies for your participation. In my mind, these types of flexible and innovative programs are important to all our common interests in the future security environment.
At the strategic level, the United States enjoys strong, enduring alliances across the globe. Of our 7 Mutual Defense Agreements, 5 are in the Pacific region. Our Asia-Pacific allies have long been the bedrock of peace and security in this theater. We remain fully committed to these alliances that promote regional security as well as peace and stability. Finally, I would like to share a few thoughts on the U.S. Army's way ahead as we adapt to a dynamic and complex strategic environment. First, my top priority for the U.S. Army remains the 66,000 Soldiers that are currently deployed in Afghanistan, as well as the 24,000 deployed in other countries around the world. I am totally committed to ensuring that those we send into harm's way are the best equipped, best trained, and best led. It is an imperative from which we will never waiver. However, it is incumbent for us to also look to the future and ensure we develop the proper forces and concepts to deal with tomorrow's security challenges. An operationally adaptive, versatile, and credible land force requires that we sustain a balanced investment between three key variables, or rheostats as I call them, which are end-strength/force structure, readiness and then modernization. The U.S. Army is in the process of getting leaner, reducing our active duty end-strength from 570,000 last year to 490,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017. We will continue this with a gradual and deliberate ramp over the next several years. Such a measured approach allows us to take care of our Soldiers and Families, continue to provide trained and ready forces for contingency missions around the world including Afghanistan, and to respond to unforeseen contingencies elsewhere that will allow us to sustain high levels of readiness and ensure that we have the best equipment for our Army.
The Army of 2017, although similar in size to 2001, will be much more capable and prepared for the future. It will be a Force that is more combat seasoned and experienced; is better organized with revised doctrine; executes adaptive leader development strategies; and sustains a readiness posture that will help us be prepared for any future operational contingencies. We will continue to emphasize the importance of joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations. You need strong civil-military partnerships to solve the complex problems that lie ahead. We must also build on the strong and successful integration of conventional and special operations forces that we have learned over the past ten years. It has produced an exceptional synergy for a broad continuum of operations that we will further seek to develop and that we will maximize into the future. We continue to make smart and selective investments in key areas such as strategic, operational, and tactical cyber operations; the expansion of Army Special Operations Forces and their support forces; air and missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) systems; as well as developing the network, which will provide information from senior leaders down to the Soldier level to increase our networking of the Force. We will continue to increase our rotary wing aviation capability, as we enhance our manned and unmanned teaming. This will support both conventional and Special Operations Forces, the Joint Force, and all our international partners. We will reorganize our Brigade Combat Teams to continue to add flexibility, capability, and adaptability to dominate across the continuum of operations. We will become leaner and more agile to quickly respond to a wide range of threats and challenges around the world.
We believe there are several key characteristics our Army requires to meet tomorrow's security challenges: First is the depth and versatility that Armies provide their Nations. Depth is gained by a trained and ready Active and Reserve Component, while versatility is achieved by a diverse mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment. Importantly, depth and versatility provide scalable options to our national security leaders. Next, our Army must be adaptive and innovative. Army leaders adapt their thinking, formations and employment techniques to the specific situation they will face. As the nature of warfare has changed, we must change with it. Third is flexibility and agility. To achieve strategic, operational, and tactical success, we must be flexible in the face of adversity and agile in our responsiveness, able to dominate in any operational environment. Fourth, forces must be integrated and synchronized within the larger joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational effort to ensure it produces the appropriate combat power at the decisive time and place. Finally, I believe it is imperative that Armies be lethal and discriminate. The capability for the lawful, discriminate, and expert application of lethal force builds the foundation for effective operations of the future.
In closing, let me say once again that I appreciate the opportunity to be here with you today. The U.S. Army has a long history in the Pacific region. We want to build on that history. We want to build our relationships -- we want open, transparent relationships with all Nations for continued peace and security. Many countries here today have fought with us, to include our gracious Australian hosts who have steadfastly been at our side for the past century. I look forward to an even brighter future built around strengthening ties with our long-time Allies and closer relationships with potential partners in the pursuit of our shared interests and lasting regional stability and peace. Transparency, dialogue, and mutual understanding are critical and incumbent on us to pursue. Let us lead, let our Armies of the Pacific lead us into the future. Thank you, and I look forward to your questions.