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SAN ANTONIO — The Army is moving closer to its goal of giving troops two years at home between deployments, but the effects of almost nine years of war will continue to linger, Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey said March 29.
Increased dwell time is "not just for soldiers to have more time with their families, which is important, but so they can recover themselves," Casey said to the audience at the Association of the United States Army's Installations Symposium and Exposition here.
Research has shown it takes two to three years for a soldier to recover from a one-year deployment, Casey said.
"Even if we meet our goals, we still will be dealing with the effects of the last 8˝ years for a while," he said.
But the Army is coming close to reaching the goals it set in 2007 to get the war-weary force back into balance, Casey said.
The force grew by almost 75,000 three years ahead of schedule, is 90 percent done with its effort to transform its 301 brigades, and by 2011, will have moved about 160,000 soldiers from fields such as armor, air defense and field artillery to high-demand specialties such as civil affairs, special operations and military police.
Casey projected that about 70 percent of active-duty Army units will get two years of dwell time by 2011. That should be achieved even with the plus-up of 30,000 troops in Afghanistan, of which at least 20,000 will be soldiers, he said.
In speaking to the soldiers and civilians at the symposium, Casey charged them with taking care of soldiers and their families when they are home and providing them the services they need while looking for ways to save money.
"I'm committed to ensuring our soldiers and families have the quality of life they deserve," Casey said.
However, the Army's budget has grown from $75 billion in 2001 to $245 billion this year, Casey said, and he urged garrison commanders, public works directors, finance managers, plans specialists, chaplains, and morale, welfare and recreation chiefs to find ways to cut costs.
"This is critical to the long-term health of the Army," he said. "I'm going to make sure you have the money to do what you need to do, but I need you to use that money as efficiently as possible."