While the Army continues to ensure its nearly 60,000 soldiers in Afghanistan are trained and equipped for their combat mission, it also must prepare for a changing and uncertain future during a time of fiscal austerity, Gen. Raymond Odierno, the Army chief of staff, said Oct. 23.
The focus on building that future force must be on developing adaptive and flexible leaders at all levels while equipping them with advanced technology that brings greater mobility, lethality and survivability, the he told the Association of the United States Army’s Annual Meeting and Exposition at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in his "State of the Army" address.
Speaking at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Luncheon, Odierno praised the Army’s successful performance in Iraq and said its top priority was carrying out the continuing mission in Afghanistan.
"We will not allow suicide bombers and insider attacks to deter us from our mission," he said.
But he focused much of his speech on explaining the Army’s contribution to the nation by reflecting the emerging competition for resources in the smaller future defense budgets, and providing his vision for the Army’s future.
The Army’s ability to rapidly deploy large, mobile and versatile forces can "prevent miscalculations from erupting into war and can defeat any adversary if it does," he said.
No other nation can provide the mix of forces and capabilities of the U.S. Army, with its range of forces from heavy to medium to light, supported by logistical, intelligence and communications assets.
Those forces can shape the strategic environment and ensure dominance, he continued.
In looking ahead to the future Army he is charged with building, Odierno focused heavily on the quality and nature of the soldiers who will be needed to meet a highly complex and changing world.
He stressed adaptive, innovative leaders and soldiers who are "the stewards" of Army professionalism and standards.
"If we don’t match our ‘headware’ to our hardware, we will have technologically advanced formations without the benefit of adaptive and innovative leadership," he said.
Despite the more austere financial future, Odierno said it was "essential" that the Army prepare to operate across a broader range of missions and regions in an environment that will require it to handle cultural and social challenges as much as its ability to physically dominate the battlefield.
On modernization, he called for "combat tactical and wheeled vehicles designed to maneuver our formations with increased lethality, mobility and survivability," and networks that ensure soldiers and leaders at all levels have the right information at the right time to make decisive decisions.
In building that future force, Odierno said, the Army starts with the most combat-experienced leaders in its history and high quality soldiers who want to stay in the Army.
In conclusion, he expressed his confidence in the future of his Army.