FORT RILEY, Kan. -- The Chief of Staff of the Army discussed with Kansas reporters the 1st Infantry Division's preparations for deployment as well as the impact of looming force reductions for the Army during a press conference Friday.
Gen. Ray Odierno was at Fort Riley to assess the week-long command post exercise that is preparing the 1st Infantry Division's headquarters for its first deployment to Afghanistan.
Almost 3,000 military and civilian personnel from five nations and every branch of the Armed Forces were involved in the exercise, known as Unified Endeavor 12-01. They took part from Fort Riley to Germany to Fort Knox, Ky., to Suffolk, Va.
The cooperation between all signified the "joint, multinational nature of
our mission in Afghanistan," Gen. Ray T. Odierno said to members of the Kansas media during a Friday press conference.
The "incredibly realistic" exercise walked the division's leaders and
soldiers through the mission they are set to conduct in Afghanistan, Odierno went on to say. "It's clear to me from what I've seen this week they will continue to do an incredible job as they prepare to deploy to Afghanistan."
While at Fort Riley, Odierno also addressed the Army's upcoming reduction of forces and possible rounds of Base Realignment and Closures, or BRAC.
The Army will begin a process this year and going to 2017 to reduce its forces by about 80,000. While the number of soldiers must go down, the Army must do it right and take care of soldiers and their families, Odierno said.
Many will be cut through natural attrition, and the leaders will try to
limit forcing soldiers out, he added.
The Army has to balance that process with ensuring it has the "right size force to continue the mission in Afghanistan over the next few years," Odierno said. Spreading the reduction out through 2017 will also mitigate the risk of unknown contingencies that could occur in the next few years, he added.
Odierno couldn't make Fort Riley-specific predictions relating to the cuts, but said every installation would be affected in some way.
"But I follow that up by saying you can see the investment we have made at Fort Riley," Odierno said. "Fort Riley is considered to be one of our enduring installations and it's one of our installations where we feel we have an incredible capacity to train, a capability to take care of our soldiers and that will certainly be a large consideration as we go through this process. So, this is a place, obviously, that we will continue to have a large contingent of Army forces for a very long time to come."
The first two units to be cut from the Army's rolls are two Europe-based brigades (in 2013 and 2014), and leaders are analyzing where other units will face reductions.
Defense Department officials have also requested from Congress BRAC rounds in 2013 and 2015, Odierno said. Congress must approve the process before an installation is reduced.
"Whether they approve that or not, we don't know," Odierno said. "I will
say, though, that the Army did well in the last BRAC round."
If it was approved, he went on to say, it would probably be some small
adjustments around the edges.
Odierno also mentioned the Army will see reductions in its civilian and
contractor work forces.
"Now again, none of those decisions have been made, but that will have to occur for us to meet the budget requirements that we have," Odierno said.