Chief Wants Soldiers to Be Proud
Chief Wants Soldiers to Be Proud
America’s Army is doing a lot of things “really well,” but “we’ve got some work to do,” Army Chief of Staff Gen. Randy George said.
Speaking Oct. 10 at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Luncheon at the Association of the U.S. Army’s 2023 Annual Meeting and Exposition in Washington, D.C., George said he is proud of the Army and its soldiers. “Wherever I go, I consistently see soldiers of every generation willing to innovate, train and endure hardship for the team and the mission,” he said.
George wants Americans to see the same Army. “I want them to feel the pride that I feel because their Army is the best ground fighting force in the world,” George said. “When our Army hits the dirt, our nation means business. Our allies and partners don’t want to fight without us, and our adversaries are wise to fear us.”
Today’s Army knows how to innovate, adapt and thrive in new conditions, said George, who was sworn in Sept. 21 as the 41st Army chief of staff. “This is critically important because the character of war is changing,” he said. “It is changing rapidly because disruptive technology is fundamentally altering how humans interact.”
Ukraine is an example, George said. “On the battlefield today, everything is a sensor,” he said. “I recall when satellite technology brought news from the battlefield to Americans’ living rooms. That in and of itself gave a new dynamic to warfighting.”
Now, everyone has better cameras in their pockets, and they’re connected to the cloud, George said. “No one can hide, and no formation is safe,” he said. “Where we can see, we can hit, and we can see everywhere.”
Additionally, logistics are more complex, particularly long logistics tails that can easily be hit or sabotaged, and autonomous systems are a growing challenge, George said.
“But challenges are nothing new to the United States Army,” George said. “In fact, they offer us opportunities to assess and get better. We just have to stay grounded.”
George said he has been reflecting on the Army’s motto: “This We’ll Defend.” First used as a battle cry by the Continental Army, “it reminds us that our Army’s purpose is timeless and clear: to fight and win the nation’s wars,” George said. “That is our mandate from the American people.”
Meeting that mandate requires action in four focus areas: warfighting, delivering ready combat formations, continuous transformation and strengthening the Army profession, George said.
“Warfighting is the reason our Army exists,” George said. “We are not a Europe Army or a Pacific Army. We are not brigade-centric or division-centric. We’re a global force that fights when called upon at the scale required.”
To maintain its focus on the “core purpose” of warfighting, the Army must “ruthlessly prioritize” how it uses time and resources, George said. It also must reduce complexity in how it fights, equips and builds teams. “Soldiers need to shoot, move and communicate, and they need to bond together by tough training and overcoming adversity side by side,” he said. “Technology should facilitate those fundamentals, not encumber them.”
The Army’s ability to deliver ready combat formations is another focus area for George. “We must always be ready to answer the call to get our formations to the fight and sustain them there,” he said.
This includes empowering the Army’s installations—its power projection platforms—to build readiness and provide the resources needed to ensure soldiers’ families are informed and taken care of.
It also means trimming excess equipment from units. George cited as an example a company commander in Europe whose property book was 118 pages. “That makes no sense,” George said. “We will take that off commanders’ plates and off soldiers’ plates. They shouldn’t be spending time caring for equipment they don’t need.”
The Army also is looking to refine how it conducts maintenance. “Maintenance is critical and something we must get right, but we will make it more efficient,” George said.
Continuous transformation is another focus area. This includes more than modernizing equipment. “Continuous transformation means iteratively adapting and evolving how we fight, how we organize, how we train and how we equip,” George said. He then asked industry for help. “Please help us transform continuously and build agility into the Army,” he said. “The lines of communication are open.”
Finally, the Army must focus on strengthening the profession, George said. “This focus area underpins all the rest,” he said. “To maintain America’s trust, we must serve the nation with competence and character. Every time I get out to talk to our formations, I see mission-focused leaders and soldiers, but we must stay self-aware and continually seek improvement.”
Leaders must enforce standards and ensure discipline within formations, George said. “When it comes down to a close fight, grit, character and discipline are what make the difference,” he said.
— Michelle Tan