McConville: ‘Terrorism is Not Going Away’

McConville: ‘Terrorism is Not Going Away’

Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville visits troops in training.
Photo by: U.S. Army

Strategic competition is driving the Army’s effort to modernize, but the counterterrorism fight that dominated the past 20 years of U.S. military operations is not over, Army Chief of Staff Gen. James McConville said.

“Terrorism is not going away, at least in my eyes,” he said Sept. 9 during a webinar hosted by Defense One. “There are groups of people out there who have committed to wanting to kill Americans and, if they have the opportunity, to attack the homeland.”

“The Army exists to protect the nation,” and it “needs to be cognizant” that violent extremist organizations are still a real threat, McConville said. “We need to have the appropriate forces committed to make sure they don’t attack the homeland,” he said.

At the same time, the Army is pushing forward with its modernization effort, preparing for a complex future battlefield and putting more emphasis on competition with countries such as China and Russia, as well as Iran and North Korea.

McConville said the Army needs to continue to work closely with allies and partners because “we all share the same goal” of keeping the threat of terrorism at bay. This includes sharing intelligence on violent groups that may be developing, ensuring the right counterterrorism capabilities are in place, and training and exercising together.

“These terrorists are almost like a cancer. Sometimes they go into remission and it kind of slows down, but they can come back, and when they come back, they are committed to harming our country,” he said. “We don’t want them to get to a point where they’re operationally capable of attacking the homeland.”

McConville acknowledged that competition will be “infinite,” and while he hopes the Army does not need to go into a conflict, combatting the violent groups “becomes a strategy,” something to guard against.

“It’s not only a military solution,” he said. “There are other solutions out there … and we want to make sure we use a whole of government approach to getting after these threats.”