Reflections of Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

Tuesday April 12, 2011

An excerpt from the outgoing Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.'s retirement speech:

_There are so many more of you who have touched our family and help shape this Army that it is impossible for me to recognize you all individually, so let me just say, thank you for the support of the Casey's and the support of your Army.

... I've seen the Army go through a lot in the last 40 years. Though, it was hard for me to believe as I calculated this -- I did a little Casey-math -- that those 40 years represent only about 1/6th of the history of this great institution. As I look back on them, the last forty years have been ones of almost continuous adaptation and change, although I must confess that I didn't necessarily see that as I was going through it.

In those forty years, we have gone from a not very good draftee-Army wrestling with the aftermath of an unsuccessful war and a burgeoning Communist threat, to an all-volunteer force that has successfully accomplished every mission given it by our national leadership.

... On September 11th, 2001, all our worlds changed. The days since have seen huge change as we've gone from a very good Cold War Army, to the best counterinsurgency force in the world. In the almost three years I spent in Iraq before becoming chief, I saw brave American men and women liberate millions of Iraqis, stand as a shield between the innocents and the extremists, and rebuild a nation -- all the while adapting to a different form of warfare than we prepared for.

I like to say that I spent the first 30 years of my career preparing to fight a war I never fought and the last 10 learning to fight a different form of war while I was fighting it. If I've learned nothing else in forty years it's that, no matter how smart you think you are -- you can't read people's minds and you can't predict the future -- so change is the norm.

... Today, the Army I joined in 1970 appears no more than a distant, almost unrecognizable cousin to the Army that's leading the nation in this war. The army I entered was a fractious, weary, hollow force -- not respected or appreciated by the population we served.

As we stand here today, our Army is recognized as the best in the world at what it does. Today, the men and women of our armed forces are embraced by the nation and routinely hailed as among the most respected professionals in the country.

We're emerging from a decade of war and transformation with a well-equipped, combat-seasoned Total Force that -- while still stretched by the demands and lingering effects of a decade at war -- is able to begin preparing for the challenges of the second decade of the 21st century.

Over the past four years, I have watched our men and women in action in the most demanding combat environments and on training grounds around the world. I couldn't be prouder of their courage, their resilience, and their commitment to the values and ideals that make this country and this Army great. Their willingness to sacrifice to build a better future for others and to preserve our way of life is a great strength of this nation. They epitomize what is best about America. I am extremely proud to have led that Army.

... For 235 years, the Soldiers, families and civilians of this Army have served our nation with unsurpassed courage, selflessness and dedication. I could not be more proud to have led this Army through this period of challenge and uncertainty. It has been the greatest honor and privilege of my career. Sheila and I wish you only the best in the years ahead. We will miss you all. Good luck and God speed. Thank you._

Related: Gen. George W. Casey Jr. farewell letter

General George W. Casey Jr. retirement ceremony remarks as delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates

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