USA — Army Continues Transformation, Casey Says

WASHINGTON, May 6, 2010 — The Army is con­tin­u­ing the most fun­da­men­tal and pro­found series of changes it has seen since World War II, the service’s chief of staff said here today.

Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spoke to the Defense Writ­ers Group about the way ahead for the nation’s senior ser­vice and his obser­va­tions from a recent trip to Iraq and Afghanistan. The Army will con­tin­ue rebal­anc­ing the force to han­dle the range of con­flicts the nation faces today, Casey said. The fis­cal 2011 bud­get now on Capi­tol Hill con­tains the resources to fin­ish Army trans­for­ma­tion from a Cold War-era for­ma­tion to one that is rel­e­vant in the 21st century. 

“We are mov­ing to put the whole Army on a rota­tion­al mod­el, much like the Navy and Marine Corps have been on for years,” Casey said. “We have to do that, because I have to con­tin­ue to gen­er­ate trained and ready forces for employ­ment around the world for the next decade or so.” 

The ser­vice will com­plete the “mod­u­lar­iza­tion” of the forces with the funds from the 2011 bud­get. Army offi­cials also will con­tin­ue to tin­ker with the shape of the force and the train­ing that sol­diers receive, the gen­er­al said. 

“We know a lot more about war today than we did in 2002–2003, when this idea was pro­posed,” he explained. “We are going to con­tin­ue to adapt.” 

The world is in a peri­od of fun­da­men­tal and con­tin­u­ous change, Casey said, and every­thing the Army does has to be flex­i­ble and adaptable. 

Casey said he is opti­mistic about the secu­ri­ty sit­u­a­tion in Iraq. He said U.S. forces there are doing well in set­ting up the “advise and assist” brigades that will take over from Amer­i­can com­bat units in Sep­tem­ber. All U.S. forces will be out of Iraq by the end of 2011. 

Casey also observed that Iraq’s polit­i­cal sit­u­a­tion “is still very dif­fi­cult, as the gov­ern­ment form­ing process goes forward.” 

Casey also vis­it­ed region­al com­mands South and East in Afghanistan. “In Mar­ja, I walked down a street that you would­n’t have flown over a cou­ple of months ago,” Casey said. “I was very impressed with what the Marines are doing there as they move into the ‘hold and build’ phase. It’s just going to take time.” 

He not­ed “pos­i­tive atmos­pher­ics” from the sol­diers and Afghans. “There is a sense of pos­i­tive momen­tum,” Casey said. Casey also dis­cussed the need for bet­ter dia­logue with­in the Army about risk. 

“The supe­ri­or com­man­ders have to cre­ate an envi­ron­ment where their sub­or­di­nates are com­fort­able com­ing back to them to say, ‘I can’t do what you’ve asked me to do on the time­lines you want with the resources you’ve giv­en me,’ ” the gen­er­al said. The Army’s “can-do” atti­tude some­times gets the bet­ter of com­man­ders, he said, and they will try to do mis­sions with­out the resources they need. 

Casey said he is proud of the way sol­diers and their fam­i­lies have respond­ed to almost a decade of war, not­ing that he’d have giv­en a dif­fer­ent answer five years ago if asked whether the Army could go to a cycle of one year deployed fol­lowed by a year at home. 

“I would have said, ‘You’re nuts,’ ” Casey said. “What I’ve seen is you can­not dis­count the courage and com­mit­ment of this gen­er­a­tion of young Amer­i­cans. It is remark­able to me what they have done and what they have endured.” 

The vocal sup­port of the Amer­i­can peo­ple and Con­gress for the armed forces has played a large role in hold­ing the force togeth­er, he said. “We’ve done some things that have helped this, too,” he added. “We’re a very com­pe­tent, sea­soned, con­fi­dent pro­fes­sion­al force. “But, we are stretched,” Casey acknowl­edged, point­ing out that Army fam­i­lies feel a great deal of that strain. 

“We were ask­ing them to endure [a] sig­nif­i­cant­ly greater bur­den than they signed up for,” Casey said. “So, we dou­bled the amount of mon­ey ded­i­cat­ed to fam­i­ly pro­grams. We also accel­er­at­ed the growth of the Army.” 

The orig­i­nal plus-up for the Army was sup­posed to be fin­ished in 2012. But fam­i­lies thought that was too far into the future, Casey said. Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates, he said, allowed the ser­vice to speed up recruit­ing for the larg­er force. The Army fin­ished its plus-up last year. 

“That addi­tion­al growth has real­ly helped us,” the gen­er­al added. 

Some 94,000 Amer­i­can ser­vice­mem­bers are in Iraq, and 87,000 are in Afghanistan. Casey said rough­ly 90 per­cent of the sol­diers in the Army have deployed, are in units with orders to deploy, or are in basic train­ing and advanced indi­vid­ual train­ing. “Every­body is mov­ing toward the fight,” Casey said. 

Asked if the Army is ready to imple­ment changes if Con­gress repeals the law that bars open­ly gay sol­diers from serv­ing, Casey said he needs to wait for the results of a study that Gates com­mis­sioned to inves­ti­gate that ques­tion. Jeh C. John­son, the Defense Department’s gen­er­al coun­sel, and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, com­man­der of U.S. Army Europe, are lead­ing the study panel. 

“We don’t know what we need to do yet,” Casey said. “This will take shape between now and the first of December.” 

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

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