By Heather Graham-Ashley
Fort Hood Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas — The Army must grow and modernize to deter and defeat any potential threats, the 39th Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley told the general membership of the Fort Hood — Central Texas Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army Wednesday evening here at Club Hood.

“Our intent is to set the Army on a course to re-establish land power dominance over any possible enemy the United States could ever confront on Earth at all, from anybody,” Milley said noting Defense Secretary James Mattis’ National Defense Strategy, which defined current potential threats to the U.S. and priorities for national defense.

“Most important, we are in the era of great power competition,” he said.

“It signals to the chiefs to get their services reorganized and refit, modernized, trained, manned, equipped to deal with the higher end of warfare against a near-peer great power,” Milley said. “We, the Army, we’ve got a lot to learn, so they’re giving us the money and the resources.”

Following the guidance in Mattis’ National Defense Strategy, Milley and Army Secretary Mark Esper rewrote the Army vision.

“That vision emphasizes high levels of readiness in order to deter any potential threats,” Milley said.

To achieve the goals of the Army vision, Milley is looking to grow the Army to over 500,000 by 2028. He also is calling to grow the National Guard and Army Reserve over the next 10 years, as well.

“That’s significant growth over where we were three years ago,” he said. “Now we are growing the Army, steadily, surely.”

That growth will not include additional formations.

The Army will continue with the establishment of six Security Force Assistance Brigades, five in the active Army, one of which has been announced at Fort Hood, and one in the National Guard, Milley said, adding that those units will not change the end-strength goal.

“What we are going to do is fill the holes in the existing organization and make us healthy as a unit,” he said.

Training will also ramp up at the Army’s training centers and at home station, “so that units are getting back into the ability to shoot, move, communicate and maneuver against significant enemies,” Milley said.

This will mark a significant change in training and tactics from the past 17 years as Soldiers get back to basics.

In addition to manning and training, there is an emphasis to refit current equipment to enhance readiness. Readiness is steadily improving, the Army chief said.

“I expect that our Army will be at high levels of readiness within about another 24-30 months,” Milley said, noting that the objective he set is that 66 percent of the Army will be at the highest levels of readiness.

That 10-year goal in the Army vision will pass quickly, and there is a need to modernize the Army.

“Money is coming in and we are retooling and modernizing the entire United States military in order to re-establish dominance in all domains,” Milley said. “We intend to be second to nobody in anything.”

Modernization priorities for the chief include reinvigorating artillery, the next generation combat vehicle and future vertical lift, upgrading the communications networks across the Department of Defense and cyber capabilities, as well as upgrades to Soldiers’ kit equipment and virtual/synthetic training capabilities.

Milley spent Thursday visiting with Soldiers on the installation. He viewed training conducted by 1st Cavalry Division Soldiers at House Creek Range, met with troops and joined Soldiers from 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cav. Div. at the Operation Iraqi Freedom Dining Facility.

He also conducted a mass re-enlistment ceremony for 20 Phantom Warriors at III Corps Headquarters.

At the re-enlistment ceremony, the Army chief spoke about inclusion in the Army’s ranks and the shared goal of fighting to defend the Constitution.

Cpl. Ivette O’Berry, who re-enlisted at the ceremony, said it was exciting to have the Army chief of staff conduct the ceremony.

“I really liked his speech,” she said. “It resonated with me. He went back to basics and that’s what we are here for.”

Milley previously served as commanding general, III Corps and Fort Hood, from December 2012 until August 2014. During his time at Fort Hood, Milley led III Corps to Afghanistan, where he headed the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command in Kabul.

He said during his time at the Great Place, he and his wife, Hollyanne, fell in love with Texas, especially Central Texas, largely because of the people.

“There is no place like Fort Hood,” he said. “This isn’t the Great Place. It’s the Greatest Place.”