FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (TRADOC News Service, Jan. 12, 2007) -- The Secretary of the Army, the Honorable Francis Harvey visited Fort Huachuca Jan. 11 to meet with officials from the U.S. Army Intelligence Center, Network Enterprise Technology Command/9th Army Signal Command and the U.S. Army Garrison here.

Dr. Harvey's visit had five purposes.

The Secretary of the Army wanted to determine the level of the Soldiers' quality of life and ensure living conditions and Soldier morale were good.

He met with key installation leaders to determine if training and equipment were sufficient.

Harvey wanted to identify areas that needed improvement, and see areas unique to Fort Huachuca including military intelligence training and network operations at NETCOM, 9th (Army) ASC.

Finally, the Secretary of the Army wanted to determine the status of force transformation and business transitions, such as Lean Six Sigma, under which the Army transforms itself to complete missions in the most efficient and cost effective manner.

This was Harvey's first visit to Fort Huachuca.

Harvey was impressed with the installation's solid leadership and adaptability, such as the three-fold increase in student throughput at the Military Intelligence schools over the last several years.

"I am proud to be part of an organization (Army) that is so adaptive," Harvey said. "In the 21st century, actionable intelligence is more important than it's ever been.

During a breakfast with 20 enlisted members assigned to the 11th Signal Brigade, Harvey asked each of the Soldiers about themselves and their assignments.

He told them there would be an increase of 65,000 Soldiers in the Army beginning next year and continuing for the next five years. This increase is "... to make the Army better, make the Army better prepared," he said.

"I thought it was pretty good that he took time out of his schedule to come and talk to us, and answer our questions in detail," said Sgt. Jeremy Carmona, Company C, 40th Signal Battalion.

"We would certainly like to shorten time of deployments," said Harvey when he was asked about the possibility of changing deployments from a year to six or nine months. "But for some of the support units, we don't have enough Soldiers with certain skills."

Shortened deployments would mean that those units would have more rotations over a certain number of years.

The Secretary of the Army said another reason for not shortening deployment lengths is that casualty rates are higher for a unit in the first six to eight weeks of a deployment compared to the rest of their tour. He explained that would mean that instead of being deployed once every three years, a Soldier could face two deployments in the same timeframe with two initiation periods of deployments.

"Until the level of violence goes down, it is not in the Soldier's best interest for six-month deployments," said Harvey.

When asked about the lack of body armor for Soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, the secretary said that under a newly issued directive, no Soldier will leave a compound for a convoy or patrol without having Level 1 armor (the highest level).

Harvey also told the Soldiers about advances being made to help protect the Soldiers traveling in Humvees. Modifications ranged from a new door design to a V-shaped plate on the bottom of the vehicle to divert incendiary explosive device blasts outward and away from the occupants.

Harvey said when the Humvees first entered the Army inventory in 1985, putting armor on it wasn't thought of. With the armor and turret on some of the vehicles today, "It is like a mini tank," he said.

Harvey told the Soldiers the lessons learned from Operations Enduring Freedom and Iraqi Freedom were being incorporated into the next generation of the Humvees, and armor is part of the initial design.

Page last updated Tue January 23rd, 2007 at 12:17