SECDEF visits Fort Rucker: 1-on-1 Q&A with Chuck Hagel
July 17, 2014
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (July 17, 2014) -- Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel visited the home of Army Aviation July 10 and took time to speak with senior leaders, visit and hold a question-and-answer session with hundreds of Soldiers and discuss the Army Aviation Restructure Initiative.
The Army faces the challenge of meeting drawdown targets while retaining the fleet's most capable platforms, and Hagel spoke on the importance of the initiative to Army Aviation programs.
He also made time to speak one-on-one with the Army Flier staff for a Q&A session.
Q: What do you see as the major advantage that Army Aviation brings to the nation's fighting force?
A: It brings mobility that really can only be achieved through this Aviation effort -- the helicopter. It brings agility, it brings immediacy, it brings options -- many different variations of responsibilities and options come off of this platform, so it's a critical, critical part of our national defense apparatus and our efforts everywhere in the world.
Q: As budgets continue to decline and manning is reduced, what effect does this have on how we train our Soldiers?
A: I think we're always looking at that value added. How do you get more value added in training, capacity? How do you prepare them better? I think you take lessons learned from every experience, every war. You listen to people. It's a combination of all the different experiences that you have. Our platforms are becoming more sophisticated with more capacity, more capability, and it's those things, as well. The things that we used to rely on for certain areas of manpower we can now do through improved technology, so it's increasing the efficiency, the effectiveness and the value of your Soldier.
Q: Is there any advice you would offer to a new Army Aviation Soldier who is just starting their career?
A: First, I'd thank them and tell them I think they are in one of the most exciting careers in the defense enterprise. What we do now with these platforms is really quite astounding and I think we're just going to get better. It's the same advice I'd give anybody -- work hard, believe in what you do, play it straight and do the things that interest you, but always have a purpose for everything you do.
Q: Conversely, for seasoned Aviators, there is a lot of concern regarding the restructuring of the Army. What would you tell them to help them stay relevant during this transition?
A: Restructuring, resetting, re-posturing is not new in an enterprise. Certainly it isn't new with the Defense Department. Threats emerge, threats change. The world is dynamic, and we have to stay ahead of that as much as we can. So, you're constantly adjusting in your strategies and your platforms and your priorities. I think, quite frankly, that's one of the more exciting parts of this enterprise -- to be part of that because you're constantly defining and redefining as you go along. That's why we are the most capable force the world has ever seen.
Q: Is there anything else you'd like to say to the Army Aviation community and Fort Rucker?
A: First, thank you. We are grateful for what you do, appreciate what you do, we know what you do. We know that without their leadership, without their capacity, without their commitment, we would not have near as agile and ready a force, so their piece of our enterprise is tremendously important. I just remind them of that and tell them how proud we are, and I know that they are all proud of what they do.