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NEWS IN BRIEF

NEWS IN BRIEF

09 Oct 07. Army leaders promised Oct. 8 that the force is not facing irrecoverable harm despite the stresses caused by the ongoing missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere. “There are some who care deeply about the Army who are concerned and ask if we are approaching the conditions that plague the Army in the ’70s,” Army Secretary Pete Geren told the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting Monday. “The answer is an unequivocal ‘No.’ Reenlistment rates are high, the quality of our soldiers – top notch. Discipline is strong. We are deploying the best-led, best-trained and best-equipped soldiers we have ever put in the field.” “We are out of balance,” Army Chief of Staff George Casey told reporters. “Out of balance is not broken, it’s not hollow, it is an Army that is forced by the current demands on the force to do more in the current time-frame and at the expense of sustaining the all-volunteer force and building bridges for the future. We know what we need to do. We need to sustain our soldiers and families. We need to continue to prepare soldiers for success in the current conflict. We need to reset our forces as they come back from future contingencies and we need to continue to transform.” Casey added that it would take two years after the end of the conflict for the force to be completely reset. “The question is when does the conflict end? As you suggested, as forces begin to drop down there’s still going to be a need to reset those forces,” he said. Geren and Army Chief of Staff George Casey, who addressed the media together after Geren’s speech to the conference, emphasized a stepped-up effort to help Army families deal with the protracted conflict. Along those lines the two leaders and Sergeant Major of the Army Kenneth Preston, signed on behalf of the Army a “covenant” with Army families. “With this covenant, we recognize the commitment and increasing sacrifices that our families are making every day,” Geren said. He said that they are committed to standardizing and funding existing family programs and services, “increasing accessibility in quality of healthcare, improving soldier and family housing, ensuring excellence in schools, youth services and child care, expanding education and employment opportunities for family members.” Geren told reporters that a final figure for funding the programs had not yet been

08 Oct 07. Addressing the Association of the United States Army’s Corporate Member luncheon Monday, Gen. David McKiernan identified five “stressors” that the Army faces as it moves towards a future, reset, transformed state. McKiernan, the commanding general of the U.S. Army, Europe and former commander of forces in Iraq, compared the current Army to a unit building a bridge across a river while also crossing it. “It’s the far side of the river that is very cloudy, uncertain,” he said. “We don’t know what’s on the other side, we don’t know what it looks like, but we have to build that bridge to get across the river to get to it.” The first issue McKiernan identified was the ongoing “persistent conflict” in which the Army is occupied. Noting that Army tours in Iraq are currently at 15 months boots-on-the ground with 12 months back home, he borrowed a phrase from Army Chief of Staff George Casey, saying that the Army is “out of balance.” “We cannot sustain that too long,” he said of the deployment schedule. He noted that half of the U.S. Army troops stationed in Europe are currently deployed in Iraq. The second stressor that McKiernan identified was ongoing threats from outside of Iraq and Afghanistan, specifically terrorist cells in Europe and other parts of the world. “Our fight is not just in Iraq and Afghanistan,” he said. “Our fight is in … most Western countries and it is truly a fight against radical fundamentalism and that fight can occur anywhere.” The third challenge that McKiernan discussed was the ongoing transformation of the force, changing the organization an

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