Casey: Army is Not Broken
By Sgt. Sara Wood, USA
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2007 The Army faces significant challenges in the years ahead, but it is still the world’s preeminent land power and has not been overly strained by the war on terror, Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr., commander of Multinational Force Iraq, said here today.
Casey, who has commanded in Iraq since July 2004, is President Bush’s pick to be the next Army chief of staff. Speaking at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee, Casey expressed confidence in U.S. soldiers.
“I see in Iraq every day a splendid Army,” Casey said. “I know that (current Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker) has problems with the forces yet to deploy and with some of the strategic elements that will deploy later, but from what I see in Iraq, the Army is far from broken.”
Casey said he believes in the Army vision and transformation, and that his position in Iraq has given him an opportunity to see the Army at work in the war on terror. Today’s soldiers are the best he has seen in his entire career and make a difference in Iraq every day, he said. He pledged that U.S. soldiers and their families, who make tremendous sacrifices, will be his top priority if confirmed.
The Army’s transformation to a lighter, modular-based force has been successful in Iraq, Casey said. The smaller units are able to handle the complexities of the war in Iraq, he said, and transformation will continue to be important in the Army’s future.
Casey also noted the importance of the Army National Guard and Reserve to the service’s mission. The United States is approaching a point where half of Guard and reserve troops are combat veterans, and these troops will be essential to future operations, he said.
The proposed increase in Army end strength of 65,000 troops over five years is adequate, Casey said, and the new strategy to secure Iraq can work. He noted that Iraqi security forces have assumed control of security in several provinces. The main challenge remains in Baghdad, where sectarian violence has surged, he said.
“For the Iraqis to successfully assume and sustain security responsibility, their security forces must emerge as the dominant security forces in the country,” Casey said. “To do this, political and militia influence over the security forces must be eliminated and levels of sectarian violence, particularly in the capital, must be brought down substantially – brought down to the point where the people in Baghdad can be safe in their neighborhoods. This is what we are working toward in Baghdad. It will take time, and the Iraqis do need our help.”
Casey said he recognizes the tremendous responsibilities associated with the chief of staff position. He is willing to take it on because he views it as his duty, and he is committed to the future of the Army, he said.
“I’m a soldier. My roots are in the Army, and I know the pride of wearing this uniform,” Casey said. “Service as Army chief of staff is not a reward. It’s a duty. It’s about service, and it’s about personal commitment to the men and women of the United States Army.”