Odierno: Army Must Remain Force of Decisive Action

WASHINGTON, July 21, 2011 — The Unit­ed States must ensure the Army remains “our nation­al force of deci­sive action” for the secu­ri­ty of the nation, Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s choice to be the next Army chief of staff said dur­ing a con­fir­ma­tion hear­ing before the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee today.

If the Sen­ate con­firms the nom­i­na­tion, Gen. Ray­mond T. Odier­no would suc­ceed Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, whom Oba­ma has nom­i­nat­ed to suc­ceed Navy Adm. Mike Mullen as chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 

Odier­no, a 1976 grad­u­ate of the U.S. Mil­i­tary Acad­e­my in West Point, N.Y., is com­man­der of U.S. Joint Forces Command. 

Over the past decade, the Army has rein­vent­ed itself while fac­ing one of the most dif­fi­cult com­bat envi­ron­ments imag­in­able, Odier­no said. 

Our lead­ers at every lev­el have dis­played unpar­al­leled inge­nu­ity, flex­i­bil­i­ty and adapt­abil­i­ty,” he said. “Our sol­diers have dis­played men­tal and phys­i­cal tough­ness and courage under fire. They have trans­formed the Army into the most ver­sa­tile, agile, rapid­ly deploy­able and sus­tain­able strate­gic land force in the world today.” 

Amer­i­ca faces numer­ous threats in a world going through his­toric change, the gen­er­al told the com­mit­tee. “We face a mul­ti­tude of secu­ri­ty chal­lenges, such as transna­tion­al and region­al ter­ror­ism in places like Yemen, Soma­lia, North Africa and Pakistan’s fed­er­al­ly admin­is­tered trib­al areas,” he said. “We have uncer­tain­ty sur­round­ing the Arab Spring and the pro­lif­er­a­tion of nuclear weapons, and we face the chal­lenges of ris­ing powers.” 

U.S. finan­cial prob­lems under­gird any response, Odier­no told the senators. 

I know that, if con­firmed, we will face some very dif­fi­cult resource deci­sions with­in the Depart­ment of Defense, and as we deter­mine those essen­tial char­ac­ter­is­tics and capa­bil­i­ties which we need in our joint force to meet our future secu­ri­ty chal­lenges,” Odier­no said. “I pledge that I will work with every­one to make sure we come up with the right answer and mit­i­gate the risk asso­ci­at­ed with such.” 

Odier­no warned the sen­a­tors not to draw down the Army too fast. His­tor­i­cal­ly, he said, U.S. offi­cials have cut the force too fast and too much. Amer­i­ca has not been par­tic­u­lar­ly good at pre­dict­ing threats or attacks, he added. 

As we make dif­fi­cult resource deci­sions,” Odier­no said, “we must be thought­ful in under­stand­ing the risk we incur to our nation’s future security.” 

The Army’s pri­or­i­ty is pro­vid­ing trained and ready forces to pre­vail in Iraq and Afghanistan, the gen­er­al told the pan­el, but the force needs to do more, such as pro­vid­ing troops in South Korea and Spe­cial Forces per­son­nel to work with local peo­ple in Africa or South America. 

To do this, we must sus­tain our all-vol­un­teer Army today and in the future, pro­vid­ing depth and ver­sa­til­i­ty to the joint force,” Odier­no said. “An Army that is more effi­cient in its employ­ment pro­vides greater flex­i­bil­i­ty for nation­al secu­ri­ty deci­sion-mak­ers in defense of our inter­ests at home and abroad.” 

But the Army absolute­ly comes down to sol­diers and their fam­i­lies, the gen­er­al said. 

It’s their ded­i­ca­tion and sac­ri­fice that has earned the respect and con­fi­dence of the Amer­i­can peo­ple as they con­tin­ue to put their lives in harm’s way for our nation’s secu­ri­ty,” he said. 

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs) 

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