USA — Casey Says Army Needs Counterinsurgency Capabilities

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2010 — Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said it is unfair that the press has por­trayed Defense Sec­re­tary Robert M. Gates as hav­ing to pres­sure the Army and its lead­ers to adopt coun­terin­sur­gency as a nec­es­sary capa­bil­i­ty.

“I spent 32 months in Iraq,” Casey said here yes­ter­day dur­ing a Defense Writ­ers’ Group break­fast. “I get it.”
The chief said that when he served as com­man­der of the 1st Armored Divi­sion in 1999 to 2001, he thought that if a divi­sion could han­dle con­ven­tion­al war it could han­dle any­thing below it on the scale of con­flict.

“After 32 months in Iraq, I don’t believe that any­more,” the Army Chief of Staff said. Casey said he now believes the Army has to pos­ture itself and train to oper­ate across the spec­trum.

In 2008, he said, the Army came out with a new full-spec­trum doc­trine that said Army for­ma­tions will simul­ta­ne­ous­ly “apply offense, defense and sta­bil­i­ty oper­a­tions to seize the ini­tia­tive and achieve the desired results.”

“It is not an easy intel­lec­tu­al shift to move away from the idea that the Army is sup­posed to fight oth­er armies,” Casey said. “It takes a decade to ful­ly ingrain a doc­trine in an orga­ni­za­tion the size of the Army.”

But, no one in the Army appears to be argu­ing with the need. “I don’t find there are a lot of dinosaurs out there that say, ‘We got­ta go defeat the 8th Guards Tank Army [a major unit of the Red Army dur­ing the Sovi­et years],’ ” Casey said. “Most of the four-star gen­er­als in the Army have served in Iraq or Afghanistan. We under­stand it.” Still, some crit­ics say the Army is con­cen­trat­ing too much on coun­terin­sur­gency doc­trine and is not pay­ing atten­tion to con­ven­tion­al war­fare. Casey said that this is because the time between deploy­ments for sol­diers is still too short.

If sol­diers get two years between deploy­ments, they will get the chance to train for all aspects of con­flict. Right now, it is impor­tant that they train for the mis­sions that con­front them now.

In the future, the sce­nar­ios will be even more dif­fer­ent.

“They still won’t be your reg­u­lar force-on-force sce­nar­ios like we had back when I was a brigade com­man­der going to the Nation­al Train­ing Cen­ter,” Casey said. “They will be hybrid threats. They will look more like south­ern Lebanon in 2006 than large armored for­ma­tions. They will be a mix of con­ven­tion­al, irreg­u­lar, [anti-]terrorist and [anti-]criminal capa­bil­i­ties. That’s the change.”

The next big push for the Army will not be orga­ni­za­tion­al, but insti­tu­tion­al, Casey said.

“We will be adapt­ing all of our Army units to sup­port an Army on a rota­tion­al cycle like the Navy and Marine Corps,” he said. “Before 2001, we were large­ly a gar­ri­son-based Army that lived to train, and the Guard and Reserve were a strate­gic reserve to be called on only for the Big One.”

But this decade has seen a huge change, he said. This is exem­pli­fied by the fact that half the sol­diers in the Army Nation­al Guard and Army Reserve are com­bat vet­er­ans and those units are ful­ly incor­po­rat­ed into the rota­tion­al mod­el.

“We’re going back and we’re look­ing at each of the warfight­ing func­tions,” he said. “We’re look­ing at the mix of our force that’s avail­able, the design of the forces and whether we have the right active component/reserve com­po­nent mix in those func­tion­al areas. This is con­tin­u­ous.”

The Army will con­tin­ue to work with the effects of the reor­ga­ni­za­tion. “We con­vert­ed all 300-plus brigades in the Army to a mod­u­lar con­fig­u­ra­tion,” he said. “That’s a lot of change. You don’t under­take some­thing that sweep­ing with­out hav­ing these effects.”

Mod­u­lar­i­ty is designed to allow the Army to put togeth­er divi­sion­al force pack­ages to meet the needs of the com­man­der on the ground, he said. A divi­sion may have four infantry brigades, but the mis­sion it goes on may require a mix of two infantry brigades, a Stryk­er brigade and a heavy brigade.

Casey said that on the com­bat ser­vice sup­port side of mod­u­lar­iza­tion, the ser­vice did go too far.

“We have de-aggre­gat­ed our com­bat ser­vice sup­port units to the point that it makes it very dif­fi­cult for the bat­tal­ion com­man­ders to con­trol those small units,” he said. “We’ve got to go back and reac­ti­vate that.”

A reporter asked the chief if the Army – even with plus-ups – is big enough. “We’re not big enough today to meet the demands at a sus­tain­able deploy­ment regime,” Casey replied.

The Army today has moved from a deploy­ment cycle of one year deployed to one year at home sta­tion, to one year deployed to about 18 months home. “That’s not good enough to get the force where it needs to be,” he said.

As the draw­down con­tin­ues in Iraq, the force will be large enough to meet a sus­tained demand of one corps, five divi­sions, 20 brigade com­bat teams and about 90,000 enabling forces – a total of about 160,000, the chief said. “We can do that on a sus­tained lev­el of one year out, two years back,” he said.

The dwell time is impor­tant. “We just recent­ly fin­ished a study that told us what we intu­itive­ly knew: that it takes two to three years to ful­ly recov­er from a one year com­bat deploy­ment – it just does,” Casey said.

“I believe two years at home is an inter­im step,” he said. “We ulti­mate­ly have to get to one and three, not one and two. As demand con­tin­ues to come down I think we can get there.”

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