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Odierno Outlines Priorities as Army Chief

By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 9, 2011 – After being sworn in Sept. 7 as the new chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno established some priorities for his tenure.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Shortly after taking the oath as 38th chief of staff of the Army, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno warns of cutting the force too fast, too quickly. Army photo by J.D. Leipold

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

Among them are: ensuring the continued training and preparation of soldiers to provide a ready force to combatant commanders, the development of Army leaders, the strengthening of family programs, and a desire for all soldiers to be able to tell the "Army story."

"Soldiers are the strength of our Army," Odierno said at a media roundtable event yesterday. "I must continue to provide trained and ready forces to Iraq and Afghanistan and in other places around the world where our presence is required. I also have to ... look to the future, 40 years out, and develop what I believe it is the right versatile mix of capabilities, formations and equipment which have the key characteristics that I think will be important in the future."

Leadership development is critical, Odierno said. Future leaders must be adaptable, agile, and able to operate in a threat environment that includes a combination of regular warfare, irregular warfare, and terrorist activity.

"We have to adapt their leader development programs," he said. "We have incredibly good leaders today, but we have to continue to develop them to address the many complex problems that I think we're going to face in the future."

The best leaders create environments that allow individuals to grow and trust their subordinates, the general said.

The best units he served in, Odierno said, had people who were confident in their abilities operating in an environment where “they work together collectively to achieve a goal."

"We can't have leaders who are risk averse, we can't have leaders who are micro-managers and don't trust their subordinates -- [that's] the kind of toxic leadership that we can't afford," the general added.

Soldier and family programs must be strengthened, and redundancies across programs must be removed to ensure the Army has "just the best programs that are capable of helping our families," Odierno said.

Additionally, he wants soldiers to make themselves available to tell the Army story.

"I think the Army has a great story, and I think sometimes we don't tell that story," the general said, noting soldiers and leaders must "make ourselves available to discuss the issues, to discuss what's good about our Army."

Budget and personnel cuts, Odierno said, likely will leave the Army smaller -- perhaps even smaller than the 520,000 directed by former Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

"The initial reduction [to] 520,000 ... I think we all think is reasonable, based on the assumptions,” he said. “And the assumption of that was that we would be coming out of Afghanistan in 2014. So if that assumption bears out, that number is one we certainly can sustain."

But Odierno wasn't sure the initial plans for that many soldiers would pan out in the end. "Do I think we'll end up at 520,000? Probably not," he said.

What's important is that force reductions happen at a pace that allows the service to maintain its capabilities, the new chief said.

"The important piece here when we talk about force structure and troop strength reductions is that we do it in such a way that we allow ourselves the flexibility and ... capability to expand," he said. "My comments have been: be careful of going too small too fast. And the reason I say that is because if you go too small too fast, it takes away your flexibility."

The metric of whether the Army would still be able to fight two wars at the same time with troop reductions is something Odierno said is being looked at carefully.

"We're still doing some analysis," he said. "I think at 520 [thousand], we could probably do it fairly close. Below 520, I don't know."

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Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno


Article is closed to new comments.

The opinions expressed in the following comments do not necessarily reflect those of the U.S. Department of Defense.

9/14/2011 8:21:32 AM
Congratulations to General Casey. It is my hope that he can gain visibility at his level on the multitude of specific issues at the small-unit level that seem to go unnoticed by anyone at the BDE level or higher. These issues include: morale, readiness, living the Army Values, implementing changes and/or reinforcing existing policies because they meet the common sense test vs. "that's the way it's always been done", mitigating or eliminating the institutional mindset the the NCO Support Channel is a second chain of command (very confusing and frustrating to Soldiers), and retaining the strong talent the Army needs for the next decade or more. All are issues we face daily at the company-level, but small-unit leaders are often overridden by BDE or higher leadership with over-arching, catch-all policies that never meet the unique situations of every Soldier.
- Zachary Rand, Fort Hood, Texas

9/10/2011 1:06:00 AM
I agree there is too much fog of war, and I agree with the basic premisses of the story. The big question is who are we planning to fight or contain????say North Korea and Iran. lets look at North Korea as its equipment gets older with little money to buy new then how much more powerful does the South need to get to stop them without USA. Iran is bigger and advancing into region power, but in this case it takes time to advance usually about 10 years per generation of equipment plus fielding the equipment which takes another 10 years, so the question is what do we do?????from my perspective it takes time to think out what needs to be done Sincerely, verong
- Thomas Willis, USA

9/9/2011 11:55:42 PM
Nice pitch until he got to talking about numbbers, then it was only about the Regular Army. Congress and we expect him to lead and rely upon the whole Army, not just the Regulars.
- Tom McNamara, Plymouth, NH

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