Odierno Calls For Expeditionary Army After Afghanistan

By Dan Parsons

The Army’s top officer firmly believes that the service has a significant role to play in a U.S. national security strategy that focuses on the Asia-Pacific region, where a large portion of the world’s largest land-based militaries reside.

Gen. Raymond Odierno, a former artilleryman who is halfway through his four-year tenure as Army Chief of Staff, sounded like a Marine when making his case to a roomful of soldiers at the Association of the United States Army’s annual exposition in Washington, D.C.

Odierno outlined the strategic priorities he envisions will lead the Army to prominence when the land wars of the past 12 years end. In his explanation of his desired future role for the Army, Odierno used the word “expeditionary” several times in succession. The term is typically associated with the Marine Corps’ specialty of performing “forced entry” at a moment’s notice wherever necessary worldwide. Odierno used that phrase as well.

“The future environment demands that we be globally responsive and posture to rapidly deploy, fight and win whenever and wherever our national interests are threatened,” Odierno said Oct. 22 at the Association of the United States Army’s annual exposition in Washington, D.C.

“We will reestablish an expeditionary mindset by improving our capabilities to project power and if necessary conduct forced entry in denied areas under extremely austere conditions anywhere in the world.”

The Army can contribute many capabilities to operations worldwide, Odierno said. He wants to “remain the force of choice to provide critical expeditionary enablers” like aviation, intelligence, engineering and  medical service and special operations forces.

Expanding his view of the Army’s future role in national security, Odierno said soldiers should be trained for missions in space, cyberspace, missile defense, counter-weapons of mass destruction and WMD elimination — missions that are also conducted by the Navy and Air Force.

As the Army draws down in Afghanistan, it will expand its regionally aligned forces, he said. The concept of regional cooperation with U.S. and international forces is already implemented in some areas of the globe.

The First Infantry Division has conducted over 40 security assistance and humanitarian relief missions for U.S. Africa Command in South Africa, Chad, and Niger. In Jordan, the 1st Armored Division has established a headquarters that provides regional support to U.S. Central Command.

The Army plans to maintain as many of its globally dispersed bases and installations as well, Odierno said. That forward-deployed posture will facilitate partnerships in various regions and eliminate some institutional roadblocks that prevent the rapid support of combatant commanders in times of crisis, he said.

Readiness and modernization — both of which have been undercut by an ongoing downturn in defense spending — are essential to the Army’s successful future, he said.

“We must invest both time and resources organization, training and equipping the force to rapidly deploy, fight and sustain itself and win against complex state and non-state adversaries,” Odierno said.

The Army’s budget outlook is bleak to the point that uniformed and civilian leadership has said no program will be spared. Still, Odierno called for investment in science and technology. Proven technologies will move the front of the line, especially those that enhance combat effectiveness, mobility and the ability to communicate on the go in hostile territory and rugged terrain, he said.

He called for investment in the Army’s stateside combat training centers, which will have to replicate the experience many soldiers have gained in combat.

“We will reinvigorate home-station training using live, virtual and constructive capabilities that provide tough, realistic scenarios to build soldier, leader and unit competency over time,” he said.

The Army must capitalize on joint-service and multinational military exercises that provide real-world training at a reduced cost to all participants, he added.

Topics: Expeditionary Warfare

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