The military will have to deal with increasing global problems in an upcoming period of “persisted conflict,” said Gen. George W. Casey Jr. (SFS ’70), chief of staff of the U.S. Army, on Wednesday in the Intercultural Center Auditorium.

“We know we are not where we need to be,” he said in a speech sponsored by the Center for Peace and Security Studies.

Casey stressed that students not lose sight of the current military conflicts in which America is engaged. “It may not seem like it to you in your day-to-day life on campus, but the country is at war and has been for almost seven years,” he said. “We are involved in a long term, ideological struggle.”

“As we look to the future, we see the next decade or so as a period of persisted conflict,” he said. “That is what we are preparing ourselves for.”

Casey first addressed the problems associated with globalization, saying that while progress has brought prosperity to people around the world, that prosperity has been unevenly distributed. This, he said, creates the “potential for a `have’ and `have-not’ culture.” He added that increasing disparities in wealth make individuals more susceptible to recruitment by extremist groups.

Population growth also presents challenges for the military. “By 2030, 60 percent of the population of the world is expected to live in cities,” he said. “That impacts where the army will have to operate.”

Another demographical trend, Casey noted, is the continued expansion of the middle class. “The middle class in India and China is larger than the population of the U.S.,” he said. “That’s a lot of two-car families looking for fuel.”

He said that what scares him most is the proliferation of “safe havens” for extremists around the world and the fear that weapons of mass destruction might fall into the hands of terrorists.

“There’s not a question in my mind that they are out there, actively seeking a weapon of mass destruction,” Casey said. “And when they get one, they will use it against a developed country.”

Given these challenges and concerns, Casey then addressed how the military might tackle them in the years and decades to come.

Specifically, he stressed the need for collaboration with the local populations in combat zones and for increased cultural understanding. “In our schools, we have added cultural classes and language classes to help folks get a grip on the cultural challenges we’re going to deal with,” he said. “But we can do more with that.”

He also called for greater resources for our armed forces, drawing on the lessons learned from Iraq and Afghanistan.

“We entered this period of persisted conflict unprepared for the conflicts of the 21st century,” he said. “We need to make sure we have suitable resources for our armed forces. Our track record on this as a country is not good.”

Casey approved the decision made by President George W. Bush last week to cut down the length of deployment tours, stressing the danger of placing too much pressure on soldiers. He says this includes expanding the size of the army. “As we increase the size, soldiers have to deploy less frequently and get to spend more time at home,” he said.

Casey also pledged his continued efforts for institutional change. “We’re not standing still. . We’re continually moving forward.”

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