The former coalition commander in Iraq, General George Casey, took over as U.S. Army Chief of Staff at a ceremony rich in tradition Tuesday, during which he predicted that the fight against terrorism will continue for at least a decade. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

The army band and an honor guard performed at the outdoor ceremony Tuesday morning, as the military leadership of the U.S. Army changed hands. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said after a long career, including 30 months in Iraq, General Casey is uniquely qualified for his new job as chief of staff.

"He has seen the face of war in the 21st Century first hand, the complex nature of asymmetric warfare, urban combat, counterinsurgency operations and sustained commitments of a rotational expeditionary army abroad," said Gates. "If George Casey were well qualified to take this position before his tour in Iraq, he is superbly qualified now."

General Casey said it will be his responsibility to ensure that the U.S. Army is prepared for the continuing fight against terrorism.

"We are locked today in a war against a global extremist network that is fixed on defeating the United States and destroying our way of life," he said. "This foe will not go away, nor will he give up easily. And the next decade is likely to be one of persistent conflict. We are engaged in a long war."

General Casey said the U.S. Army is prepared to make the "hard sacrifices" needed to win that 'long war.'

The outgoing Army Chief of Staff, General Peter Schoomaker, struck a similar theme, but also said the United States must address terrorism with all its agencies, not just the military.

"I believe that this is the most dangerous period of my lifetime. We're still closer to the beginning than the end of this fight," said General Schoomaker.

The chief of staff of the U.S. Army is a member of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the highest military body in the country, responsible for military policy-making, advising civilian leaders and broad operational issues. The Chiefs, who also head the Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps, are responsible for recruiting, training and equipping the U.S. military, and providing that force to field commanders around the world.