Secretary of Army visits Iraq, Afghanistan
September 29, 2008
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Army News Service, Sept. 26, 2008) - Secretary of the Army Pete Geren visited troops in Afghanistan, Kuwait and Iraq Sept. 14-19.
In Kabul, he met with servicemembers of Combined Security Transition Command - Afghanistan. At Camp Eggers, he talked with Maj. Gen. Robert W. Cone, CSTC-A commanding general.
At Forward Operating Base Ghazni, Geren met with an Agricultural Development Team. The team -- made up of elements of the Texas National Guard attached to 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Currahee -- briefed the secretary on their mission.
Geren, a former U.S. Congressman representing Texas' 12th Congressional district, pressed the service members for their perceptions of progress being made in Afghanistan "He did take an interest in the Texas ADT," said Lt. Col. Stan Poe, the unit's commander. "I was encouraged by the questions he asked. It was positive."
When Poe meets with Afghan leaders he stresses the importance of agriculture for the local population and Afghan society as a whole.
Anywhere from 70 to 90 percent of the population's livelihoods are tied to agriculture, said Poe.
"If we can help them improve their agricultural techniques, we can improve their livelihood," Poe said.
Geren also toured medical facilities and talked to the Ghazni Provincial Reconstruction Team, mechanics, and infantrymen.
During his visit Geren also assessed the troop's quality of life and was briefed on operations and recently-fielded equipment.
On Sept. 16, he flew to Kuwait and received an update on operations there, then continued forward to Baghdad.
In Iraq, he visited Camp Victory, Contingency Operating Base Speicher and Joint Base Balad. In Baghdad, he met with the staff of Multi-National Security Transition Command-Iraq. At Joint Base Balad, he met with National Guard Soldiers of the 1st Battalion, 293rd Infantry "Nightfighters, " from Fort Wayne, Ind.
Escorted by 3d Sustainment Command's Brig. Gen. Michael Lally, Geren traveled to the "Nightfighters'" motor pool and headquarters where he was met by their commander, Lt. Col. Gerald Hadley and Soldiers from the battalion's Delta Company.
"The purpose of the Secretary's visit with us was for him to hear firsthand how our mission of conducting combat logistic patrols was going and to talk to Soldiers and thank them for their service," said Hadley.
"By sitting through one of our mission After Action Reviews, he heard directly from the Soldiers how things are going and what challenges they encounter on their daily missions," added Hadley. After the briefing, Secretary Geren toured unit areas, awarded coins of excellence and posed for pictures with Soldiers from the Huntington, Indiana-based Delta Company.
"I want to thank you for your service and commitment in accomplishing such an important critical mission, " Geren told the Soldiers after inspecting the combat vehicles used on their convoy security missions.
"You can be proud of what you have you accomplished and the difference you have made," he added.
On the return leg of his trip to the U.S. Geren stopped at Landstuhl Regional Army Medical Center in Germany Sept. 19, and met with wounded warriors. He presented a Purple Heart to a specialist from the 10th Mountain Division.
(Sgt. Paul David Ondik serves with CJTF-101 PAO. Members of the 3rd Sustainment Command and Petty Officer 1st Class Douglas Mappin also contributed to this report.)