WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 — Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. expressed great pride in his soldiers and their families as he ended more than four decades of military service yesterday.
“I couldn’t be prouder of your courage, your resilience and your commitment to the values and ideals that make this country and this Army great,” Casey, the 36th Army Chief of Staff, wrote in a farewell letter to the troops.
Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Casey “a valued leader” yesterday during the general’s Pentagon retirement ceremony.
“The Army George Casey leaves behind, a force that has borne the brunt of our nation’s wars, is more resilient, better trained, more balanced and vastly more lethal because of his leadership,” Gates said. “He served as a stalwart advocate and guide for thousands of brave young men and women, and their loved ones.” Before becoming chief of staff in 2007, Casey served as commander of Multinational Forces Iraq. The general led the force through a difficult time including Iraq’s transition to a sovereign government, three elections, and the growth — in size and capability — of the Iraqi army and police, Gates said.
Casey’s “personal demeanor, steady confidence and care for the well being of his troops served as an important example for our young men and women on the front lines,” the secretary said.
Upon becoming the Army’s chief of staff, Casey found that the service was out of balance.
The Army at that time was “so weighed down by current demands that we couldn’t do the things we needed to do to sustain the all-volunteer force and simultaneously prepare ourselves for the full range of missions,” Casey wrote.
Casey and his wife, Sheila, journeyed to installations and units around the world to speak to Army families and see firsthand how they were handling the strain of simultaneously fighting two wars, Gates said.
Under Casey’s tenure as chief of staff, the Army expanded programs to help America’s wounded sons and daughters receive needed treatment and recover from war’s physical and emotional trauma.
“George greatly increased the number of behavioral health providers and improved mental health screening for returning soldiers in order to identify those at risk,” Gates said. “He pushed the Army to reduce the stigma associated with combat stress and traumatic brain injuries and to treat them as the injuries they truly are.
“General Casey led the battle to provide long-term support to survivors of the fallen, creating the Army Survivor Outreach Services,” he added.
Casey also implemented alcohol treatment and suicide prevention programs at Army installations around the country to help returning soldiers struggling to adjust to life at home. When the president authorized an increase in the size of the Army, Casey pushed to exceed the service’s recruiting goals.
Because of Casey’s efforts “the Army was able to end the practice of stop-loss and increase soldiers’ home station dwell time -– developments that have greatly increased force readiness,” Gates said.
“Nearly 70 percent of the Army is now on a path to meet the goal of two years at home for every year deployed,” the secretary added. “As the drawdown in Iraq continues, and the transition in Afghanistan begins, I hope the Army will be able to achieve its longer-term goal of three years home for every year deployed.”
During the ceremony, Gates presented Casey with the Distinguished Service Medal.
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)