General visits US Army Europe Soldiers at Balad
October 31, 2009
JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq - Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commanding general of U.S. Army Europe, visited Soldiers Oct. 25 here at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.
Ham has visited Iraq before, and during this visit he said the progress Iraq has made toward its defense is clear.
"I've had the chance to come back to Iraq several times over the past couple years," said Ham, a 33-year Army Veteran. "Every time I come back I see dramatic change. What's fundamentally different this time than ... several months ago is it's very, very evident that the Iraqi's are increasingly in charge and responsible for their own security. That's only been possible because of the hard work and the sacrifice of hundred's of thousands of American Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines."
During this visit, Ham said he intended to meet his Soldiers, to try and hone in on their needs and gauge their morale.
He visited the 2nd Battalion, 159th Attack Reconnaissance, 23rd Ordnance Company, 72nd Expeditionary Signal Battalion and the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary).
"My visit this time, particularly here at Joint Base Balad, is to see U.S. Army Europe-based units, some of which are newly arrived, some like the 23rd Ordnance Company here are at the end of their deployment," said Ham.
The general said he wanted to talk to the troops to gain first-hand lessons, to better serve U.S. Army Europe Soldiers and Families in the future.
"First of all, what do we need to do better to prepare future units for deployment'" said Ham, during a town hall-style meeting with the Soldiers from the 23rd Ordnance Company. "Secondly, what are the things that we ought to be doing better to sustain the Soldiers and their Families while units are deployed' And, thirdly, in preparing to receive units back into U.S. Army Europe, into Germany and Italy, when they come home, what are the things we need to do to make sure we've got the conditions set for their reintegration'"
Thanks to the town-hall dialogue, the general said he will take away lessons learned to further assist units during upcoming deployments and redeployments in support of Operation Iraq Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom.
"This is a great discussion today with the 23rd Ordnance Company, who has accomplished a lot over the past 12 months that they've been in Iraq," said Ham. "Understandably, as they get ready to leave Iraq and come back to Germany, lots of their questions were about the future of their unit and their community."
Ham thanked the Soldiers with the 23rd for their hard work and dedication, and delivered a message to them and their Families.
He said, "I know their Family and friends are anxious to receive them in Germany. The Soldiers are ready to come home. They're coming home with their heads held high, after accomplishing a great mission to very high standards, and I could not be more proud of all that this company has done."