Our Army’s 237-year history is punctuated by episodic shifts in the global security environment that have called for organizational change. I firmly believe we are experiencing one of these shifts now, given the end of the Iraq war, transition plans in Afghanistan, and opportunities to enhance stability worldwide by engaging our allies and partners. To guide our Army through these emerging challenges and opportunities, the Secretary of the Army and I recently articulated the Army vision in the Army Strategic Planning Guidance:
The Army is globally engaged and regionally responsive; it is an indispensible partner and provider of a full range of capabilities to Combatant Commanders in a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multi-national (JIIM) environment. As part of the Joint Force and as America’s Army, in all that we offer, we guarantee the agility, versatility and depth to Prevent, Shape and Win.
There’s a lot packed into those few sentences. Allow me to emphasize some of the key elements:
First, we are and will continue to be, globally engaged. Today, 92,000 deployed and 94,000 forward-stationed soldiers are in nearly 150 countries around the world, on 6 of 7 continents. Our Soldiers serve a crucial role in enhancing global stability and security, by reinforcing long-established and nurturing newer partnerships, by demonstrating resolve toward meeting US commitments, and by facilitating strategic access. The end of the Iraq war and transition in Afghanistan, and the DoD strategic guidance, provides a timely opportunity to rebalance our worldwide engagement.
Second, the Army will become more regionally responsive to the unique, enduring needs of all combatant commanders. I envision using a combination of forward-stationed and regionally-aligned forces to provide a predictable and sustained flow of forces and capabilities. Strategically located pre-positioned equipment stocks will enable this concept.
Third, we recognize that we are just one critical component in the larger Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multi-national environment. Our unique contributions to the Joint Force include our versatility and depth. In addition to bringing our traditional combat capabilities to the fight, the Army enables the other Services and our allies and partners with our ability to set and sustain combat theaters.
Fourth, the Army aspires to guarantee the essential characteristics that assure our superiority – agility, versatility, and depth. We will ensure agility through our adaptive leaders who are flexible in thought and capable of decentralized execution. We will ensure versatility through a diverse mix of rapidly deployable capabilities, formations, and equipment. We will ensure depth through our operational reserve forces, which will provide our national leaders with scalable options. Additionally, as articulated in my Marching Orders, we will be adaptive and innovative, flexible, integrated and synchronized, lethal and discriminate.
And lastly, as I’ve written in this forum before, the Army’s role is to prevent, shape, and win. We will prevent conflict by maintaining credibility based on capacity, readiness and modernization; we will shape the environment by sustaining strong relationships with other Armies; and, if prevention fails, we will rapidly apply the Army’s combined arms capabilities to dominate the environment and win decisively.
This vision statement is a succinct expression of our future. It reflects both our values and our purpose, and should guide us all as we shape the Army of tomorrow.