FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. (Jan. 14, 2014) -- Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond Odierno stepped foot on Fort Leonard Wood for the first time Monday -- and said he was impressed with what he saw.

"I have not been here personally before, but it plays such an important role in the Army's mission. Whether training our combat engineers, whether training our chemical and biological capabilities, whether training our military police and criminal investigators -- it is so important to our Army and its future missions that I just felt compelled to come here and take a look at it," Odierno said. "To see it all executed in such a professional manner like it is here always makes me feel good about the Army."

To start the morning, Odierno visited with Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanders, commandants and staff, as well as community leaders.

"It was great to see the community support you get here at Fort Leonard Wood," Odierno said. "It's also important to enforce to the community here that this is an important installation for the Army into the future. The capabilities that are here are unique and ones that we will sustain over time. I wanted to reinforce that point on my visit today."

While on post Odierno visited all three regiments that call Fort Leonard Wood home -- Engineer; Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear, or CBRN; and Military Police.

At the Lt. Joseph Terry Facility CBRN Responder Facility, he checked out the Incident Response Training Department.

"It is a very unique and one-of-a-kind training area we have here. It's used by the military and many civilian agencies that come here as well. I knew they were doing that, but I didn't understand the extent of the capability and how important it is in developing this expertise as we look in to homeland defense and protecting this country against potential terrorist activities of chemical and biological weapons. This is really a key place," Odierno said.

While on post, Odierno presented the Command Logistics Excellence Award to Fort Leonard Wood's Tank-automotive and Armament Command Fleet Management Expansion team.

The general ate lunch at one of the installation's dining facilities. Odierno's lunch guests included a small group of female service members.

"We had the opportunity to talk about a variety of issues from military policies that we have, to sexual assault and sexual harassment, to the future role of women in combat MOSs (military occupational specialties) in the Army," said Odierno. "For me it was a unique opportunity to sit down with true professionals and talk about these issues.

"I relayed to them the path the Army is on to opening combat MOSs to women. They gave me some great feedback on how we should move forward," Odierno said. "Whenever I go to a forum like that I come away so impressed that I feel so fortunate about the young people who we have serving in our Army, and that was proven again today."

Following lunch, he visited the 4th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade, then a tour of engineer training at Brown Hall.

"Although there are engineers in the Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps, we have some very unique capabilities that no one else has. Those are all centered here, and that's important that we continue to invest here," Odierno said.

Next on the agenda, Odierno sat down in the Military Police conference room to get an update on the Special Victims Unit Investigators Course and training.

"There is no other issue that is on my mind more on a daily basis than this issue, for several reasons. First, I want to make sure that I am involved in a profession of arms that treats everyone equally with respect. Secondly, I want to be involved with an organization that provides the environment that maximizes the talent of every individual that we have. In order to have those two things, you need to have an environment that will not put up with sexual assault and sexual harassment," Odierno said.

"I got to sit in and talk to a special victims advocates class where our investigators and our special victims prosecutors are going through. It's incredible what they are able to learn to make them more effective investigators and prosecutors. It's been recognized as one of the finest courses in the country," Odierno said.

"We have to change our culture. The work that you do in investigating these cases is very important. This course is so important to us -- in giving you the expertise necessary to do your job properly." He rounded out his visit with an open discussion during a town-hall style meeting, where he answered Soldiers' questions.

He recapped his day on Fort Leonard Wood for the packed auditorium.

"As we move forward, it's about key capabilities. What makes Fort Leonard Wood different are the capabilities here are very unique, not only to the Army but to the Department of Defense."

Page last updated Tue January 14th, 2014 at 00:00