Although no decision has been made on sending additional forces to Afghanistan, the Army is "better positioned to accept some additional demands than we were two years ago," Gen. George Casey, the Army chief of staff, told attendees at the Dwight David Eisenhower luncheon Oct. 6.
That improved posture is the result of the efforts to put the Army back into balance that he launched when he took over and the 65,000 soldiers they have added, Casey said at the event in the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting.
Casey reported on the progress the Army has made in regaining its balance and on the plans to adjust the service for the persistent conflict and uncertainty the future will bring.
|The general recalled the four initiatives he started to rebalance the force, which were to sustain the soldiers and their families, prepare to win the on-going conflict, to reset the units effectively when they come home, and to transform the Army for an uncertain future.
While not completely "out of the woods" yet, Casey said the force was better able to respond to additional force requirements if they emerge.
He also noted the new initiative, that began Oct. 1 called the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program to help offset the psychological stress of repeated tours in Iraq or Afghanistan.
The goal was to "raise mental fitness to the level we now give to physical fitness," Casey said.
The program offers an on-line assessment, which will allow a soldier or family member to determine their own psychological state, and self-help models. The Army also will incorporate resiliency training into every leader training program and is creating a "master resiliency trainer" position with the goal of putting one such trainer into every battalion by next year.
That is one of the Army’s responses to the rising suicide rate and increased cases of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Two Indian soldiers watch
|Sgt. Peter Bitter (right) and
Sgt. Michael Resendez, both
with the 2nd Stryker Brigade
Combat Team, 25th Infantry
Division, as the Army soldiers
check downrange before the
first Javelin missile launch in India. Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, said the
Army is better able to respond to additional force requirements if they emerge.
While continuing to fight the current conflicts, the Army also must adapt for future wars that will be "fundamentally different than what I was trained to fight," Casey said.
Because they cannot predict the future, "versatility has to be the central organizational framework of our Army," he said.
The Army also has to be deployable, expeditionary and precise enough to be lethal.
Building on the successful shift to modular force structure, the Army will be a tailorable mix force of networked and versatile unit, Casey said.
He stressed the importance of an integrated network that will allow soldiers to know where they are, where the enemy is, and when they shoot at them, they know when they hit.
Another key element, Casey said, was putting the Army on a rotational schedule, that puts units through a predictable cycle of train and equip, deploy and reset.
That would provide a pool of forces trained and ready to deploy.
"It will cause significant internal conflict inside the Army," he said.
As part of the Army’s modernization effort, after the cancellation of the manned ground combat vehicle of the Future Combat System program, Casey said the Army was focusing on "building in five to seven years an infantry fighting vehicle, that is built from the ground up to fight in an IED environment."
Although many people say that will be hard to do, Casey said be believed it could be done.