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Army must maintain conventional warfare skills, Panetta says

WASHINGTON — The Army should maintain the counterinsurgency and special operations chops it has honed in Iraq and Afghanistan, but it should rededicate itself to conventional operations as well, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Wednesday.

Speaking at the Association of the U.S. Army convention in Washington, Panetta said that despite impending budget cuts, the nation needs the Army to come out of the current wars as a versatile force ready to take on any adversary around the world.

“I am proud that we have the very best special operations forces and counterinsurgency force in history, but we also need to maintain our conventional warfighting edge as well,” he said. “We need our soldiers, our tanks, our artillery, our helicopter crews, to get out there and train together, to regain those core competencies of moving, shooting, communicating.

“To again become masters of combined arms maneuver will require revitalizing home-station training, modernizing the Army’s training centers and preparing our soldiers to confront enemies equipped with the most advanced weaponry.”

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