Thoughts on crossing line of departure

April 13, 2011 

I’m honored to be your 37th chief of staff. I want to assure you that I’m well aware of the challenges we face but equally aware of the opportunities we will have in the next four years to do a lot of good both for the Army and for the nation.

My transition team did a great job helping me “see” our Army, and I want to share two of their observations

1. We are really good. We’ve accomplished everything that’s been asked of us. Our Soldiers and their families are proud, courageous, and resolute. Our leaders are effective, engaged and innovative.

2. We are uncertain about the future. The missions in Iraq and Afghanistan appear to be stabilizing. The nation’s economic condition appears to be declining. Senior leaders are questioning our role. We have been here before, and as I like to tell those who are interested in our Army, “I like the problem we have.” We’ve never been better organized, better trained, or better equipped. Of course, that’s at least in part because we’ve never been better resourced. As our resourcing changes, we’ll change — but we’ll be changing from a position of great strength. That’s why I like the problem we have.

Over the next few months and in collaboration with our secretary of the Army, I’ll share some thoughts with you about the role of our Army, how we will remain adaptable, how our Active and Reserve Components will contribute to maintaining our position as the nation’s decisive land force, and how we will remain the nation’s pre-eminent leadership experience.

The “talk on the street” is all about how resource constraints are coming and about how we must act to ensure a “soft landing.” You won’t hear that from me. I didn’t take the job as your 37th chief of staff to orchestrate a soft landing. I took the job as the 37th to team with an incredible group of senior military and civilian leaders to make our Army smarter, better and more capable — with the resources we are given — so that we provide the nation with the greatest number of options for an uncertain future.

We remain an Army at war. We will provide whatever it takes to achieve our objectives in the current fights. We will keep faith with our families and with our wounded.

One other thing you need to know about me. In my 37 years, I’ve been deployed several times to several different kinds of conflict. In each case, upon notification to deploy I was able to requisition nearly everything my unit needed. What I couldn’t requisition was trust, discipline and fitness. These qualities have to exist in every unit and in every Soldier of our Army all the time. When I come to visit your organization — whether a tactical formation or part of our institutional Army — I’ll want to know what you’re doing to develop a climate of trust, to ensure the discipline of your Soldiers, and to increase the fitness of the force.

I’m proud to serve with you.

-- Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, 37th Chief of Staff

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