Casey Urges Imperatives So Army Remains ‘Strength of the Nation’
By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2007 Borrowing from the theme of this year’s Association of the U.S. Army convention, the Army chief of staff told attendees today the Army must focus on four critical imperatives it if is to remain “The Strength of the Nation.” (Video)
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., six months into the job as the Army’s senior officer, said six years of war has taxed the Army’s soldiers, their equipment and their families.
The Army is “out of balance,” he said, with current demands exceeding what the Army can sustain, he said. “We are consuming our readiness as quickly as we are building it.”
But with global terrorism and extremist ideology continuing to loom as a threat to America’s ideals, Casey said the Army must posture itself as a versatile, agile force able to confront an era of “persistent conflict.”
Casey identified four imperatives he said are critical for the Army to maintain its current operational levels as it prepares for future demands:
-- Sustain the force through recruiting and retention. Calling soldiers “our asymmetric advantage” in the war on terror, Casey said the Army must do a better job of providing them and their families a quality of life that’s commensurate with their sacrifices and makes them want to continue serving.
-- Prepare troops for success in the current conflict. The Army must continue adapting its training and equipment to give soldiers the edge over the enemy they face, Casey said. He assured soldiers he will work to provide them the best equipment that gives them the technological advantage on the battlefield and tough training that ensures they have the skills and confidence to win. “Military success is tied to the capabilities of our leaders and soldiers,” he said.
-- Reset the force to prepare for future deployments and contingencies. Resetting involves more than fixing and upgrading equipment, Casey said. “You have to revitalize soldiers,” giving them and their families time to regroup between deployments.
-- Advance modernization efforts that are transforming the Army. The Army must continue fielding the best new equipment as rapidly as possible, Casey said, incorporating new techniques and fielding the Army’s future combat systems to brigade combat teams to ensure the Army has a decisive advantage on the battlefield. He called this transformation a holistic effort that transcends the way the force trains and fights. “It’s a journey,” he said. “It’s not a destination.”
After touring an array of equipment on display at the Washington Convention Center for the AUSA meeting, Casey said he’s impressed by new equipment and systems in the acquisition pipeline, as well as those being developed. “The scope of what it takes to support this Army is absolutely mind-boggling,” he said.
But even more impressive, he said, is the quality of the men and women serving in the Army. Casey shared the story of Staff Sgt. Kenneth Thomas from the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Squadron, 7th Cavalry, who completely exposed himself to enemy fire in Iraq as he used wire cutters to cut through an electric fence so his squad could escape. Despite receiving multiple electric jolts, Thomas continued cutting until every member of his squad had passed through the fence and moved toward safety.
Casey praised soldiers who put their service and fellow soldiers above themselves, remaining physically tough and mentally adaptive while continuing to live up to the warrior ethos.
“Soldiers are the strength of this Army that makes it the strength of our nation,” he said. “Your Army, while stretched, is unquestionably the best in the world.”