Thank you very much. It's a real honor to be here.
Our world has become increasingly interconnected, and by extension, increasingly reliant on strong partnerships built on mutual respect, trust and cooperation. Through this comprehensive approach, we've gained a much greater appreciation for the vital contribution of all our respective allies and partners. And it will take all of us, working together through a unity of effort, to deal with the challenges that we all face together as we look to the future.
As I'm here in London, I would like to especially thank her Majesty's Soldiers who have fought side by side and sacrificed with American Soldiers, and all our partners here, over this past decade of conflict in both Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as recognize your tremendous contributions to NATO as we push forward.
Welcome to all the other Chiefs of the Armies. Professor Michael Clarke and LTG (Ret) Ted Stroup, thank you both for co-hosting this great event, which is both necessary and important as we look to the future. Other distinguished ladies and gentlemen, thanks everyone for coming here today.
America's Army is moving forward into a time of marked transition. We will capitalize on the lessons learned over ten years of combat, building upon this as we move forward. We currently have over 67,000 Soldiers deployed in Afghanistan, with another 27,000 deployed around the world. It is our primary focus to support those Soldiers in the future. I believe that all of us have a tremendous stake in how our Nations navigate the considerable challenges that lie ahead, from the economy to energy, from war to diplomacy, from deficits to defense. So I'd like to share with you this morning my thoughts on how America's Army is adapting to meet some of these challenges.
As I said earlier, we can never take our eyes off of the present. We remain committed to responsibly ending the current fight in Afghanistan while sustaining our preparedness to respond to contingencies in the Middle East and other regions around the world. But we must look to the future, and must understand the right characteristics and capabilities of the Army of 2020 and continually redefine and understand the environment in which we will have to operate.
Our strategic environment has changed and will continue to change in very unpredictable ways. The proliferation of technology is impacting the flow of goods, people and ideas. News now spreads at the speed of Twitter. The complex, dynamic and interconnected nature of the global environment calls for us to think and lead in new ways. This includes seeking to understand the impact that new technology and the resulting environment will have on military art.
One of the things we talk about as we look to the future is the importance of the interconnected global commons. Every country in the world wants to have access to it. For many years, the global commons was defined as air, land, and sea. But over the last several years, and it has expanded dramatically, we have seen dramatic technological advancements that have expanded the global commons to space and cyberspace, and how we manage information in cyberspace.
Having access and the ability to protect ourselves in these domains will influence the nature of conflict in the future. We cannot ignore these new domains. We must incorporate them into our planning, thinking, and how we execute future military operations. Some argue that cyberspace and information operations might be a new form of maneuver. What we do know is that today and into the foreseeable future, uncertainty will characterize the global environment.
The international fiscal crisis persists. As we move toward elections -- in places like Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, and many others -- we are beginning to see the impact of factionalism and the predicted differences associated with nascent democracies. Egypt's elections may polarize rather than unite their people. Syrian unrest threatens to escalate and spill over. And Iran remains a destabilizing factor with their pursuit of nuclear weapons and other attempts to influence the region around them. We actually see Iraq now exporting as much oil as Iran does for the first time, and we see Iraq's exports growing. What economic and fiscal impacts will that have on the rest of the Middle East? And South Asia remains a complex environment with various extremist groups impacting security. In the Asia-Pacific, the regional competition for resources, and North Korea's lack of transparency, its change in leadership, and continued threats and intimidation of South Korea are all cause for concern. This all in a time of austerity.
The range of threats that we face is wide and diverse -- it includes traditional nation-states, near states, and proxies as well as transnational terror networks, criminal organizations, and popular movements.
We must be prepared to deal with multiple actors, asymmetric and technology-enabled techniques, chaotic conditions, and the exploitation of information. Weapons of mass destruction, cyber threats, and humanitarian disasters further complicate our environment. We must understand the continual competition for wealth, resources, political authority, influence, sovereignty, identity, and legitimacy. There will be unexpected opportunists and suppressed threats that will emerge from this competition. It is difficult to see the current strategic environment inherently trending toward peace unless we - along with others - act to positively influence it. We all together must positively influence it, and must remain engaged.
With this new environment in mind, the Secretary of the Army and I have articulated our vision for our Army: The U.S. Army will be globally engaged and regionally responsive. It is an indispensible partner and provider of a full range of capabilities to Combatant Commanders, but most importantly, in a Joint, Interagency, Intergovernmental, and Multi-national (JIIM) environment. As part of the Joint Force, America's Army guarantees agility, versatility and depth to prevent warfare, shape the conditions, and if necessary, to win.
I describe the Army's role in our new strategic framework as: Prevent, Shape, and Win -- with an increased emphasis on shaping, while maintaining a force that will win decisively if necessary. The Army must prevent conflict by maintaining credibility based on its capacity, its readiness and its modernization. The intent is to avert miscalculations by potential adversaries. If prevention fails, the Army rapidly applies its combined arms capabilities to dominate the environment and win decisively. The most important piece is that the Army shapes the environment by sustaining strong relationships with other Armies, building their capacity, and facilitating strategic access. Shaping is crucial to preventing conflict and setting the conditions to win only when absolutely necessary.
The past decade of conflict informs our thinking as we look forward. Because we've adapted to the wars we've been fighting, the U.S. Army has been focused on a specific set of needs but those needs, and the means in which they are resourced, have changed and so we must fundamentally change how we do business. I believe the Army is and will have to respond to three major transitions: declining budgets, our strategy and shift in priority to the Asia-Pacific, and a broader mission set.
Very similar to what we just heard, as the United States confronts a record deficit and a record debt, we in the Department of Defense, and specifically in the Army must ensure disciplined stewardship of resources in order to get the most out of the investment of our public dollars. It is imperative that we sustain a balanced investment between three key variables, or rheostats as I call them, which are end-strength, readiness and modernization. Our challenge is to sustain these rheostats over a period of time, and we must maintain this balance.
The U.S. Army is going to get leaner over the next five years, reducing our active duty end-strength by approximately 80,000 people. We will do this with a sustained and deliberate ramp over the next five years. This deliberate ramp is imperative in order to allow us to take care of our Soldiers and Families, continue to provide required forces for contingencies including Afghanistan, and regenerate forces, if uncertainty of the world so dictates. The Army of 2017 -- although similar in size -- will be much different than the Army of 2001. It is, of course, more combat seasoned, experienced and capable -- a Force that has learned many hard lessons. We will use these to inform our way ahead. So what have we learned?
First, as I've said, the importance of joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations. There are limitations on military power and you need strong civil-military partnerships to solve complex problems that lie ahead. We must build on the strong and successful integration of conventional and special operations forces that we have learned over the past ten years. We must maintain and improve our ability to deploy diverse force packages quickly, whether regionally or internationally. We must ensure the robustness and agility of our Brigade Combat Team. Finally, we must employ our forces to shape the regional environments in support of our geographic combatant commanders.
Today, we are still making select investments even as our overall budget and end-strength decreases, such as our investment in strategic, operational, and tactical cyber operations. We will complete the expansion of Army Special Operations Forces, and their support forces. We will also continue to increase our rotary wing aviation capability, as we've begun to move towards a manned and unmanned teaming. This will support both conventional and Special Operations Forces, the Joint Force, and our international partners. We are in the process of reorganizing our Brigade Combat Team by adding a third maneuver Battalion and more engineers. Although this will reduce the overall number of brigades in our Army, it will increase the capability, flexibility, agility and a robustness that will allow us to task organize in response to a wide range of threats and challenges around the world.
To be more responsive to our geographic Combatant Commanders and better enable our joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational partners, we will use a combination of assigned and rotational forces to conduct training and exercises. We will also adapt our leader development program to ensure our leaders are prepared to succeed in tomorrow's complex and dynamic environment.
We believe there are several key characteristics in the Army of 2020. First is the depth and versatility that Armies provide their Nations. Depth is gained by a trained and ready Active and Reserve Component, while versatility is achieved by the diverse mix of capabilities, formations, and equipment. Importantly, depth and versatility provide scalable options to national security decision makers. Next, our Army must be adaptive and innovative. Army leaders adapt their thinking, formations and employment techniques to the specific situation they face on the ground. As the nature of warfare has changed, we must change with it. We must have tactical and operational flexibility and agility to dominate in the future complex environment. Forces must be integrated and synchronized within the larger joint, interagency, intergovernmental, and multinational effort to ensure it produces the appropriate combat power at the decisive time and place. Finally, I believe it is imperative that Armies be lethal and discriminate. The capability for the lawful, discriminate, and expert application of lethal force builds the foundation for effective operations of the future.
The second major transition I want to talk is on the shift towards the Asia-Pacific region in recognition of the many challenges and opportunities there. The Army has a critical role in the Asia-Pacific, as 7 out of the 10 largest land forces in the world are in this region. 22 out of 27 of the Chiefs of Defense are the Army. We've ignored that region for years because of our other commitments. The dominant service in every country is Army. We will build on the strong foundation of strategic partnerships with our allies and partners, while also seeking opportunities to engage in new relationships. We will do this while maintaining our focus in the Middle East, and sustaining and reinforcing our partnerships in NATO, Africa and South America.
And the final transition the Army must manage is shifting from a Force that has been primarily focused on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism to one that actively prepares to conduct a broader range of potential missions. It is imperative that we be responsive to the environment, and to our geographic Combatant Commanders so they have the capability to provide decisive results across a full range of missions and capabilities they might need, whether it might be regular and irregular warfare, humanitarian assistance, engagement with allies to build partner capacity, and support to civil authorities. We must be able to do all of this. We are also studying our force mix: having the right balance between our armored/ medium and light units; having the right balance between the Active Component and Reserve Component; having the right balance between our Combat/ Combat Support and Combat Service Support; balancing and developing our institutional and operational forces; and having the right balance between our military/ civilian and contractors. Over the next several months, we will make some key decisions in these areas.
In this era of reduced budgets and increased uncertainty, we must all work together to maximize our capabilities and strengths, and sustain a balanced portfolio of air, ground, and naval capabilities in order to provide scalable options to our national security leaders. Although America's Army will be transitioning over the next few years, I assure you that we stand ready and able to meet whatever challenges lie ahead. Thank you for allowing me to be here today. With that, I look forward to any questions you may have. Thank you.