CASEY – 4 YEARS TO PUT ARMY BACK IN BALANCE
16 Jan 08. The chief of staff of the Army told 400 attendees at the Association of the United States Army’s Institute of Land Warfare breakfast that it would take about four years to put the Army back in balance.
Speaking Jan. 16 in suburban Washington, Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said, “I wrestle hard to describe the state of the Army [and settled on] out of balance.”
He said that was caused by the force “being so consumed by the current” pace and nature of operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and that has put it “at a point where we have difficulty sustaining the All Volunteer Force.”
In answer to a question, he said the Army would need units to be home for at least 18 months to train for full spectrum operations. They are now back for about a year before re-deploying and primarily training in counterinsurgency warfare.
He said he has changed his mind from his time as a division commander in the late 1990s saying: “If we could do conventional warfare, we could do anything. I don’t believe that now.”
Now he sees the place for new doctrine covering offensive, defensive and stability operations.
To put the force back in balance in an era of “persistent conflict,” Casey has launched four initiatives.
“You have to keep the mid-level officers and NCOs” to sustain the force and also support Army families. “We have put our money where our mouth is with $1.4bn” committed to the covenant with families.
To prepare the force for future operations across the spectrum of conflict, “we’re having a hard time” because soldiers do not have enough time at home to train for operations other than counterinsurgency.
This will be alleviated over time as the size of the Army grows and the number of brigades committed to Iraq decline. In speaking about resetting the force and its equipment, Casey said the Army is seeing that “the effects of seven years of war is cumulative.” Adding, “Reset is about money.”
Casey said the Army is still committed to transformation and “to building that flexible force for the full spectrum of operations.”
What concerns him most now and in the future is having terrorist organizations possessing weapons of mass destruction and having states or sections of states providing safe havens for terrorist training, staging and operations.
Terrorists “are not bound by the rules of warfare. I see a long-term struggle” that will be fought in irregular ways and often in urban areas.
Adding, “We will be fighting more among the people, not around the people,” as the Israelis found themselves in the summer of 2006 battling a militarily sophisticated Hezbollah in southern Lebanon.
To succeed, “we are going to depend on others” in and out of government, and by using indigenous forces in applying “all the elements of power.”
There will be an even greater need for precision weapons because combat will likely be taking place in cities and “done in the unblinking eye of the 24-hour news cycle.”
Casey said the Army will unveil a revised FM-3 in February on how it will be operating, structured and trained in the future. “The force has got to be agile,” as does the institution. “Our institutions were designed for a pre-9/11 Army.”