Casey emphasizes boost in Army force, training
Stars and Stripes June 2, 2007
European edition, Saturday, June 2, 2007
GRAFENWÖHR, Germany — The Army is accelerating its plans to grow its force by 40,000 soldiers, according to Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey.
In late 2005, the Army embarked on a six-year program projected to add 40,000 soldiers to its ranks by 2012. Casey, who took over as chief of staff last month, said his goal is to make that happen faster, but added that the Army is still working out how it will do that.
Accelerating growth is one of seven initiatives for the Army that Casey, who is touring Army facilities all over the world, outlined at a news conference at Grafenwöhr Training Area. The other initiatives include:
n Increasing what the Army does for soldiers and families to mitigate the impact of extended deployments.n Maintaining momentum of Army transformation.n Making Reserve components more of an operational force to enhance and support active units.n Improving leader development.n Reforming institutional policies and programs to better support the modern Army.n Improving strategic communications.
Casey, who flew over training areas at Grafenwöhr and Hohenfels and toured new Army housing at Netzaberg, said there will be no sharp changes in the direction of Army transformation under his leadership. “People in the Army are very comfortable with the direction that the Army is headed with transformation, but they are concerned about the pace and tempo of current operations,” he said.
In regard to soldiers’ families, Casey said the Army must: “put our money where our mouth is.”
Families are so important in soldiers’ decisions to stay with the volunteer force that families should be treated as a readiness issue, he said.
“The families tell us they don’t want a bunch of new programs. They want us to fund what we have got and standardize the programs across the Army,” he added. U.S. Army Europe officials could not immediately say what that means for soldiers and dependents in Europe, whose quality-of-life programs were cut back last year due to budget shortfalls.
Casey, whose last job was commander of the Multi-National Force — Iraq, had some advice for Vilseck-based 2nd Cavalry (Stryker) Regiment soldiers headed to Iraq in August.
“Pay attention to your training … We are getting better and better at replicating the environments these soldiers are going into and if they take advantage of that, I think they will be successful,” he said.
Casey said he intends to have his initiatives operational by mid-July.