Army General Says He Will Never Fail to Speak Up for 'Moral and Ethical Behavior and Values'

By Susan Jones | May 18, 2012 | 6:04 AM EDT

Army Gen. Raymond Odierno at a Pentagon briefing on Monday, Feb. 22, 2010. (AP Photo/Gerald Herbert)

( - Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno says after ten years of continuous combat, the U.S. is transitioning to a "leaner," "more agile" Army -- one that retains its "unwavering commitment to the honor of our profession and our values."

As the Army undergoes major organizational changes, including openly homosexual troops in the ranks and women moving closer to the front lines, Odierno reaffirmed the Army's commitment to discipline, ethical behavior and values, saying he will "never pass up an opportunity" to talk about those values:

"The military is held to the highest standard since it is entrusted with special responsibilities by the American people," Odierno told a Defense Department briefing on Wednesday. "Trust and respect are paramount. Standards and discipline are fundamental. And I will never pass up an opportunity to talk to our soldiers and our leaders about the sacred trust and our commitment to moral and ethical behavior and values."

At Wednesday's briefing, Odierno did not mention the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell, which has raised a dilemma for some in the military whose religion teaches that homosexuality is immoral.

But Odierno did talk about "new opportunities" for female soldiers, who are now allowed to hold jobs in combat battalions. And he also discussed sexual harassment in the Army:

"Last week, we concluded our annual sexual harassment and assault response prevention summit with our Army senior leaders. We discussed efforts to get after curbing sexual assault and sexual harassment in our ranks, something that is absolutely intolerable and inconsistent with our Army values. It is something that I've charged commanders at all levels -- levels to stay focused on, to take care of and protect each other. That's what we do and that's who we are, and we cannot expect anything less."

A military website dedicated to preventing sexual assault in the Army instructs soldiers to "intervene" and "act" when they witness misbehavior:

"When I recognize a threat to my fellow soldiers, I will have the personal courage to intervene and prevent sexual assault. I will condemn act of sexual harassment. I will not abide obscene gestures, language or behavior," says a pledge on the website.

"You are my brother, my sister, my fellow solider. It is my duty to stand up for you no matter the time or place. I will take action. I will do what's right. I will prevent sexual harassment and assault....

"We are American soldiers, motivated to keep our fellow soldiers safe. It is our mission to prevent sexual harassment and assault..."

Odierno told the briefing that 92,000 U.S. soldiers are currently deployed in support of operations, 68,000 of them in Afghanistan.

He says the Army will move to a "regionally aligned force concept," starting next year -- "as we rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region." He said the leaner, more agile Army "will be vastly more capable than our pre-9/11 Army."

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