Fayetteville (NC) Observer
April 20, 2007
By Henry Cuningham, Military Editor
It’s much harder to run a family support group on the third deployment than the first, a Fort Bragg wife told the Army chief of staff.
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. said Thursday that the wife’s comment was one of the things that made an impression on his first visit to Fort Bragg as the Army’s top general.
“One of the things that I am seeing is the impact of the cumulative effects of five years at war,” Casey said in an interview Thursday afternoon before boarding a flight at Pope Air Force Base. “I think that’s overwhelming some of the peacetime support systems that we have.”
Casey replaced Gen. Peter J. Schoomaker as Army chief of staff on April 10. His term will be through 2011. Casey spent three years as commander of the Multi-National Force-Iraq and previously was Army vice chief of staff.
“We need to take a hard look at how we are supporting people, how we are taking care of wounded soldiers, how we are educating our noncommissioned officers and officers, how we are doing our training in light of the environment we are in. We are fighting every day,” he said.
The Army is deploying more frequently than it wants to, he said.
“We are going to field the forces the country needs to win and be successful in the operations we are in right now,” he said.
The Army said Monday that it will slow spending due to a standoff between the White House and Congress on supplemental funding for 2007. The Army will tell commanders to slow spending in certain areas to save money for the war and military families. The Pentagon will ask Congress to temporarily move $1.6 billion from Navy and Air Force pay accounts to the Army.
“We are putting in place measures that will ensure that we can continue to operate and support families and support the war effort through the end of June,” Casey said.
This month, the Army will slow the purchase of repair parts and other supplies, relying instead on existing inventory to keep equipment working.
Priority will be given to fixing war equipment. Training and repairs will be delayed on equipment that is not crucial to the war.
“In addition, the purchase of day-to-day supplies with government charge cards will be restricted, nonessential travel will be postponed or canceled, and shipment of equipment and supplies will be restricted or deferred altogether, unless needed immediately for war efforts,” the statement said. “The Army added it also will delay the repair of facilities and environmental programs unless the work is for safety or health reasons, or impacts on family support.”
The Army also said it will take more restrictive actions in May, beginning with a freeze on new civilian hiring from outside the Army and releasing temporary employees.
“We are banking on having money in our hands here by the end of June,” Casey said. “I think that’s a reasonable assumption.”