Army Chief of Staff Gen. George Casey told the Association of the United States that the Army has to be careful to ensure that the budget cuts don't recreate the hollow force of the 1980s and 1990s. (D. Myles Cullen / Army)
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"The war is not over," warned Gen. George Casey, outgoing Army chief of staff, in an address to the Association of the United States. Army Winter symposium March 25.
Casey said the Army has to "be careful" to ensure that the budget cuts don't recreate the "hollow force" of the 1980s and 1990s.
"We know the budget has to come down," he said. But we have to be very, very careful that we don't inadvertently hollow out the force as we try to reduce the resources.''
This was Casey's last address to the assembled soldiers - and contractors — at AUSA. His term as chief of staff will end on April 11 and Casey will retire after 40 years in the Army.
Gen. Martin Dempsey has been nominated to replace Casey as chief of staff; Dempsey's confirmation hearing is scheduled for March 3.
Casey has focused a great deal of attention to the beefing up the force to prosecute the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Sensing that there were still too few soldiers to give returning combat veterans enough time to rest between deployments, Casey sought — and received — a temporary increase in end strength by 22,000 soldiers.
Now Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has ordered the Army to reduce forces by 49,000 soldiers by 2016.
The first cut will be the 22,000 "temporary" soldiers. Then an additional 27,000 will be cut by 2016.
Casey said he is concerned that budget constraints will affect the Army's ability to come out of Iraq and Afghanistan and properly reset the force — soldiers and equipment.
There will be pressure to scrimp on funds to rebuild the Army after those wars.
"Once the money for that goes away," Casey said, "it's the beginning of hollowing and I look at that as the canary in the mine shaft."