New Job in Iraq Will Be as Top U.S. Military Leader
"We have a strong feeling that this needs to be one team, one mission," Casey said.
As for his lack of combat experience, he said that did not concern him.
"I've learned how to think competitively and how to operate against a thinking enemy, and that has great carry-over into combat operations," Casey said.
Among the lessons he said he has learned commanding troops in the past is the need to clearly communicate goals and policies to subordinates. He also believes that "the guy in charge must do a lot of heavy lifting himself" and that soldiers should take a break now and then.
"You have to find time to read, sleep, exercise and think, because if you don't, you end up stale and with a short-term focus," he said.
Casey had not intended to make a career of the military. His father, Maj. Gen. George W. Casey Sr., died in a helicopter crash in Vietnam in 1970 -- the year Casey graduated from Georgetown.
Although Casey was commissioned a second lieutenant after graduation, he planned to stay in the Army two years before entering law school. A subsequent decision to extend his military duty for a year to attend airborne school took Casey to Germany, an experience he enjoyed. He has remained in the Army ever since.
As a four-star general, Casey will bring greater authority to the Baghdad assignment than the three-star officer he is replacing, Lt. Gen. Ricardo S. Sanchez. The move is intended partly to consolidate U.S. troops -- including Special Operations forces and the Iraq Survey Group, which has been hunting for weapons of mass destruction -- under one command. It also is meant to enable Gen. John P. Abizaid, head of U.S. Central Command, who has responsibility for all U.S. troops in the Middle East, to spend more time on other matters.
In testimony yesterday, Casey rejected the notion that U.S. troops in Iraq, after the handover of limited authority next week, would be shifting from an offensive to a defensive posture. "We have to maintain an offensive mind-set," he told the senators.
Casey said U.S. forces might try to adopt a lower profile, but he said he intends to keep them focused on obtaining intelligence about insurgents and engaged in carefully planned attacks.
He predicted that intensified efforts to train and equip Iraq's fledgling security forces should begin yielding visible results in a few months, adding that the new emphasis will be more on the quality of the forces, not the quantity.
Asked about a possible role for NATO forces, Casey said he would welcome their assistance in training Iraqi troops. What he needs most from the international community, he said, is a brigade-size force -- about 5,000 soldiers -- to ensure security for the U.N. mission charged with helping set up national elections next year.
© 2004 The Washington Post Company
Gen. George W. Casey Jr. testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee during yesterday's confirmation hearing on his nomination to head U.S. forces in Iraq.
(Lucian Perkins -- The Washington Post)
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.
Title: Vice chief of staff, Army
Nominated: Commander, Multiational Force-Iraq.
Education: Bachelor's degree, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service; master's in international relations, University of Denver.
Family: Married, two sons, five grandchildren
Career highlights: Director, Joint Staff, Pentagon; head of plans and policy directorate, Joint Staff; commander, Joint Warfighting Center; commander, 1st Armored Division.
Pastimes: Grandchildren, reading, exercising. Rates himself "poor" at golf but "pretty good" at skiing and tennis.
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