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Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno spoke with members of the press after the 4th ID monument dedication July 18 at the National Infantry Museum.

FORT BENNING, Ga. (July 24, 2013) -- With the 4th Infantry Division holding its official monument dedication last week, Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Raymond Odierno made a visit to Fort Benning.

While here, he took the time to address some of the questions facing both the Maneuver Center of Excellence and the Army as a whole.

Although the Army is facing financial constraints, Odierno said the MCoE will be a high priority when it comes to dividing Army resources.

"As we transition as an Army over the next three or four years, I tell everyone that the institutional Army is one of the most important aspects, so we have to continue to resource the Maneuver Center of Excellence and all the other ancillary training that goes on here," he said.

Odierno said he does not expect the Soldier population on Fort Benning to grow in coming years, but said that does not lessen the installation's importance.

"In these times of reducing the Army, it's difficult to say that we're going to make any installation bigger, but Fort Benning will be a steadfast part of our Army future because of the Maneuver Center of Excellence."

One of the Army's ongoing efforts is the move to open more jobs to female Soldiers.
With the Rangers having a heavy presence at Fort Benning, Odierno visited with the 75th Ranger Regiment while here, but was noncommittal on the future of females in the Ranger ranks.

"There's been no decision on if we're going to have females in the Ranger regiments by 2015," he said. "What we talked about is what we're going through now in order to make sure we set everyone up for success, and what we have to do in the future, and that's developing common standards and then making sure that we set up people for success as they move forward."

He also addressed the future of American forces overseas, as troop reductions continue in Afghanistan.

"The plan right now is that we're going to 34,000 at the end of February," he said. "The president will make a decision sometime in the future about what the residual force will be. The joint chiefs have provided recommendations to the president, and he'll make that decision."

Odierno previously commanded the 4th Infantry Division during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003-04, and said he was disappointed to see the issues that have arisen in the country as of late.

"What I always think about is the ability of our Soldiers and leaders to adapt to a very complex changing environment," he said. "Although it took us several years, they adapted. They brought security back to Iraq. We got it to a place where I thought Iraq could take advantage of that. The last few months have been a little disconcerting as we look at the violence increase in Iraq, but I still believe they are set up to be successful, and I continue to hope that politically, they'll be able to move forward. Their issues now are political issues, not ones that are about security forces."

Page last updated Wed July 24th, 2013 at 00:00