Posts Tagged ‘Deployments’

12 things soldiers can expect in the new year

January 8, 2009
Naval Calendar 2009
Naval Calendar 2009

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From a new commander in chief to a revamped method of PT, soldiers will see a slew of changes in 2009. Some might make Army life tougher. Some might make it easier. But there’s no doubt it’s a packed agenda as the Army’s active and reserve forces shift gears in Iraq and face likely increased action in Afghanistan, along with keeping up with the day-to-day demands of running the service and meeting the needs of families on the home front. Army Times highlights the 12 most important developments, from pay to deployments.

Air Force Drawdown “Didn’t Save a Nickel” Says Chief of Staff

October 24, 2008
Aviation Calendar 2009

Aviation Calendar 2009

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The Air Force’s top officer addressed manning, service priorities and success in the Global War on Terror Oct. 20 during his first visit to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility since becoming chief of staff. 

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz said the service’s prior strategy of reducing 40,000 active-duty positions to free up money for aircraft recapitalization had “failed.” 

“We came down quite a bit and didn’t save a nickel,” he said. “The reason that happened is because our personnel costs are going up. … The most expensive component of our capability now is people. It used to be platforms. It’s now you and me.” 

The chief of staff said the service is projected to reach 332,700 in fiscal year 2010, but would have to be very judicious about going any higher. Instead of squeezing manning, reducing force structure would be considered, he said. 

“The alternative is squeezing force structure,” said General Schwartz. “We are probably going to do some of that and there will be push back.” The challenge will be from those worrying they will lose capability or assets, but the service will work with stakeholders to articulate and advocate how that can be done without loss of capability. 

“We will see our way through all of that,” he said. “It is very important for all of us to look for value; to look for ways to minimize costs and be more efficient and to do the best job we can with that precious taxpayer dollar,” he said. 

Although manning and recapitalization are priorities, the chief of staff said the top priority is getting the nuclear mission right. He suggested that the Air Force’s missile mission is influential in all operations because nations consider the full range of our military capabilities when they act. 

“The missiles in Wyoming, Montana and North Dakota (are part of the) calculation…it’s the backdrop. It’s part of our capability … so, getting it right in the nuclear area is very important for that reason, and because these weapons are America’s most lethal weapons.” 

Priority two, he said, is keeping our promises to our partners. 

“Making sure there is not an American Soldier, Sailor, Airman or Marine on the ground who turns a corner and doesn’t know what they are about to face is a solemn obligation,” said the chief of staff. “It is also a solemn obligation to make sure when our (partners) do get wounded that we do everything we can to make sure we recover them to the best medical care on the planet to mitigate their injuries. We do that every day. We deliver precision munitions in a way that minimizes collateral damage and makes others successful every day. We fuel aircraft. We feed our people, we house our people. We support our folks. We deliver mail. These are not just trivial things. We are all in. 

“What we ask you to do is to make those who depend on you the champions of our success,” he said. “You will not hear (Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force Rodney McKinley) and I pound our chest too much about what the Air Force is doing because what we want is for the chief of staff of the Army to do that … For that to happen, you all have to do your thing every day with precision and reliability.” 

The chief of staff said the military will probably be a feature in Southwest Asia for some time to come as allies in the region value our presence. He said negotiations between U.S. and Iraqi governments will determine the length and strength of America’s presence in Iraq depending on conditions on the ground. 

“However, it is clear there will be an increase in presence in Afghanistan,” said General Schwartz. “So, I do not see an overall reduction in the level of effort for the time being. Some of this is simply going to shift theaters from Iraq to Afghanistan until we contain the Taliban insurgency.” 

The chief of staff said it is vitally important America succeed in the Global War on Terror.
“What that implies in everything, from those missile fields in Montana to (Southwest Asia), is that we commit ourselves every day to giving America our best,” he said. “That we commit ourselves to make sure those other members of the joint team never go short, so they never feel that we are not all in.”

Jeff Loftin

Army Troops: More Time at Home, More Time to Train

August 29, 2008

Dwell time for Soldiers between deployments is expected to increase to 17 months next year, and almost to 24 months by 2011, said Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. He said this will allow the National Training Center to once again focus on “conventional operations” and not just counter-insurgency training.

Gen. Casey made his remarks during an interview outside the town of Medina Jabal in the National Training Center’s range area, “the box,” during a visit to NTC (Fort Irwin, CA) Aug. 14.

Changing training scenarios

Gen. Casey said that one of the main things he did during his visit was to speak with Brig. Gen. Dana J.H. Pittard, commanding general, National Training Center and Fort Irwin, about adjusting NTC training scenarios.

This adjustment, Casey said, would involve including “major conventional operations training” as well as “irregular warfare training” at NTC over the next couple of years, as Soldiers spend more time at home and not deployed.

“And we’re already starting the planning to reset the scenarios and the OPFOR [opposing force], so that we can do that,” Casey said.

“What I’ve seen now across the Army. We are a combat-seasoned force. Some of the battalions out here-60, 70, 80 percent-combat veterans, Gen. Casey said. “And so they know how to fight. And right now, we’re focused on irregular warfare. And a lot of the skills that they have are directly transferable to…major conventional operations.”

“We won’t flinch on making sure that our Soldiers have the best possible training and equipment to succeed in whatever war we send them into, and that’s what’s happening here every day,” Casey said.

Force stretched

In his first 16 months as chief of staff, Casey said he and his wife have traveled extensively around the Army.

“It is very clear to us that the Families are stretched,” Casey said. “That the whole force is stretched. There’s no denying that. What we’re asking of our Families is far different than anything that I have seen in my career up to now.”

“And I think while the next two years will continue to be hard,” he said “over time we’ll gradually build ourselves out of this.”

Realism at NTC

Gen. Casey – who was in Iraq as recently as July and served as the commander of Multi-National Forces-Iraq between July 2004 and February 2007 – said he was struck by the NTC’s realism.

“And I must admit when I walked down the street the first time, the hair stood up on the back of my neck, because it was so real,” Gen. Casey said. “We’ve made a quantum advance just in the year plus since I’ve been here.”

Force of future
The general said that the Army is building a versatile force that can operate “from peacetime engagements to major conventional operations and every place in between.”

The Army, Gen. Casey said, is “well on our way” to meeting the goal set by President George W. Bush in 2007 to increase the size of the Army by 74,000.

“That will allow us to build more brigades, which means, with more brigades, the ones that we have, go [are deployed] less,” Gen. Casey said.

The conversion of the Army over the last several years to a modular, brigade-based force is now 70 percent complete, Gen. Casey said. By the end of fiscal year 2011, the conversion to these modular units will be 98 percent complete, he said.

“The transformation is a holistic effort,” the general said, “and we’re changing, basically, what was a Cold War Army before September 11th to a versatile, disciplined force that can operate across the spectrum of conflict in countries.”

Training and versatility

Gen. Casey said that the time he spent in Iraq changed his views on the relationship between training and the versatility of the force.

“When I was a divisional commander in Germany in ’99 to 2001, if you had asked me where I should optimize my training on the spectrum of conflict so I could be the most versatile, I would have said, If I can do conventional war, I can do anything.

“After 32 months in Iraq, I don’t believe that…mostly the Soldiers that have been to Iraq and Afghanistan don’t believe that, either. There’s enough difference, some fundamental differences between irregular warfare and major conventional warfare that we need to…be more versatile,” Gen. Casey said.

Funding Family programs

Gen. Casey said that the Army is “put[ting] our money where our mouth is” in terms of providing programs for Soldiers and their Families to improve their quality of life.

The general said that Families were seeking funding and standardization. “First thing they said, ‘Look general, we don’t need a bunch of fancy new programs. You need to standardize the ones you have. Fund the ones you have and standardize them across the installations.'”

The Army recognized the needs of Soldiers and their Families, the general said, by establishing the Army Family Covenant in October 2007. The Army Family Covenant addresses needs relating to healthcare, housing, education and employment.

“We committed ourselves to ratcheting up the level of support that we’re giving to Soldiers and Families,” Casey said. “We doubled the amount of money that we’re putting towards Soldier and Family programs.” The Army spent $1.4 billion on these programs in 2007 and is spending $1.7 billion in 2008, he said.

Message to Soldiers

To Soldiers deployed in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world, Casey said the following:

“I thank them for their sacrifice and for what they’re doing for this country. They are making a difference at a very critical time in our country’s history. And they are being successful at it.

“And I believe firmly that the efforts we’re making in Iraq and Afghanistan are allowing us to deal with the terrorist threat there and not here. And it’s the men and women of the armed forces that are making that possible, supported by their Families.”

(Robert Abrams is editor of the “High Desert Warrior” newspaper at Fort Irwin, Calif.)