ARMY ON TRACK TO BRING ITSELF TO BALANCE
By Otto Kreisher
07 Oct 08. Gen. George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, told 3,000 attendees at the Eisenhower Luncheon Oct. 7 that a year after he had warned that the Army was out of balance because of the operational demands of the war on terror, the force was “well on the path” to bringing itself back into strategic balance. But, Casey warned, there were “a couple of tough years ahead,” and said one of his main challenges was to prepare for the future.
Meeting that challenge would require completing the expansion of the total Army to 1.1 million soldiers, continue the development of the Future Combat Systems and to produce leaders and doctrine able to deal with increasingly complex conflict against a determined enemy that threatens America’s way of life.
Noting that the theme of this year’s AUSA symposium was that the Army was “the strength of the nation,” Casey said, “At no time in our history has that strength been more important.” The seven years of the war on terror have been met by service and sacrifice “that come from our values and our warrior ethos. That gives me great confidence we will prevail in the global war on terror and handle whatever challenges we face in the future.”
The general recalled that he had set three imperatives to restore the Army’s balance: to sustain the force, prepare it for the current and future conflicts and reset the units on return from combat. “We’ve made very good progress,” he said.
To sustain the force, he noted the success in recruiting and retaining 300,000 active, National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers last year; a successful initiative to stop the exodus of captains; producing the Army Family covenants and doubling funding for family programs; creating 35 warrior transition units and other efforts to care for the wounded soldiers and “removing the stigma attached to PTSD and traumatic brain injury.”
To prepare the force, Casey said, they saw that extending the time between combat deployments was critical so they accelerated the effort to add active and Reserve soldiers, with the support of President Bush and Congress; ended the 15 month deployments and produced more than one million pieces of new equipment to provide the troops the best equipment and technology.
Resetting included changing the combat training centers from their conventional war format, reset 125,000 pieces of major equipment and moved to standardize the reset process. He said “the successful reset process will be the cornerstone of the expeditionary Army,”
Casey said the Army was “well on the path” to the 1.1 million force by 2010, was almost 85 percent done with modularizing the force and 63 percent completed in rebalancing the soldiers’ skills from Cold War to 21st century requirements. The Army also has restructured the FCS program, unveiled the non-light-of-sight cannon and produced the first major new doctrine in decades.
The general also emphasized the effort to convert the Guard and Reserve from the Cold War strategic reserve to an operational reserve. “There is more to do, but I believe we are closer to a total force than any time in my service,” he said.
For the nation to succeed in the persistent conflict of the future, Casey said, “Our land forces – the Army, Marine Corps and Special Operations forces – must be capable of full spectrum combat operations.” Those forces must be versatile, to cope with uncertainty; must be expeditionary, able to respond quickly to emerging threats anywhere; must be agile in forces and mindset to adjust to changing threats; must be lethal; must be sustainable at long distances, and must be interoperable with U.S. and foreign military forces and with American civilian agencies.
Because leadership is essential to everything they Army does, he said, they must develop leaders able to meet the future threats and “we have to be guided by our values and our warrior ethos.”