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Casey rolls out plan for 21st century Army

Apr 1, 2010

By L.A. Shively

SAN ANTONIO (April 1, 2010) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. asked the crowd of about 2,000 how they were doing and after a hearty "Hooha" response, he proceeded to tell them how they were doing.

Casey iterated statistics and time lines for the present while laying out a future for Soldiers of the 21st century, unveiling the Installation Management Command's campaign plan during the Association of the United States Army's 2010 Army Installations Symposium & Exposition, March 29.

"What you do is so important to the long-term health of this force," Casey said, adding he wanted to personally deliver the operational context of the plan and stressed leadership focus on change as the Army moves forward.

He said objectives set in 2007 to rebalance a force stretched from current demands by 2011 were already, or nearly met this year and included supporting strategic objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan; sustaining Soldiers, families and the civilian workforce; establishing an integrated management system for Army business operations; implementing leadership development; and continuing to transform the Army for an uncertain future.

A first priority for Army rebalancing was growth, said Casey. Originally slated for an increase of 74,000 Soldiers by 2012, with 65,000 on active duty and the rest in the Reserve and Guard, the objective was met in 2009.

"We're three years ahead of time and it wasn't a moment too soon with the plus up in Afghanistan," Casey said.

Readjusting dwell time - the amount of time Solders spend at home between deployments - was significant for Casey.

"It's clear to me the most important thing we can do in the Army to restore balance is increase the time Soldiers are at home; not just so they can spend time with their families - that's important - but so they can recover themselves."

Casey cited a scientific study completed last year concluded Soldier recovery between deployments takes 2-3 years for a one-year deployment. He said 70 percent of the active force will have a two-year dwell time and 80 percent of Reserve and Guard a four-year dwell by 2011. The remaining force will be included in the schedule by 2012.

"When you see a unit that's had 18 months at home, it's light years different than 12 months at home. You can already see the impact," Casey said.

Planned since 2004, all 300 Army brigades were set to convert to modular organizations as part of rebalancing. Casey said 90 percent are completed; the rest will convert by the end of the year.

"Taken together, modular reorganization and rebalancing is the largest organizational change of the Army since World War II," he said, "and we've done it while we've deployed 150,000 Soldiers over and back to Iraq and Afghanistan every year. That's a lot of moving parts."

Casey discussed the process of moving 160,000 Soldiers with skills necessary in Cold War, to skills which are more relevant today.

He said the Army has already stood down 200 tank companies, artillery batteries and stood up corresponding numbers of civil affairs, psychological operations, special forces and military police units.

"We're about two-thirds of the way through that and will be done by the end of the year."

Casey was positive on Base Realignment and Closure, saying that although 380,000 Soldiers, civilians and families will be on the move in the next two years, the effort will result in better-quality facilities and an exponential jump in opportunity.

He announced a new rotational model that brought several gasps from members of the audience. Casey said rotational schedules originally drawn up in 2005 were not implemented as a result of demand. But with drawdown in Iraq, he said he is seeing a way ahead and will publish deployment schedules for the next three years in the next 60 days.

Casey also asserted that the Army has fiscal challenges to confront as a result of eight and one-half years of war, but said he can see meeting objectives as set out for this year.

"The money is in the [20]11 budget and it's a matter of executing now, we'll be in a much better place at the end this fiscal year than four years ago."

Consolidate, assess and refine - those are the three things that I see going on over the course of the rest of this year as we build the 2017 program, Casey said.

"We need to refine this great Army and I say refine rather than adapt. We're in pretty good shape but there are still things we could do differently."

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