FORT CARSON, Colo. (Nov. 20, 2009) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh visited "The Mountain Post" here Nov. 18 as the second of three stops on his first official tour of Army installations.

"The intent of this trip is to provide me with the opportunity to look at the Army's process of resetting, training, equipping and preparing to deploy the fighting force of our United States Army through processes called ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation)," said McHugh.

The Secretary is particularly focused on ensuring Soldiers have adequate opportunity to refresh and reintegrate between deployments.

In order to hear the ground truth, McHugh first sat down to breakfast with 11 Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The Secretary and war veterans spoke behind closed doors about an array of topics ranging from deployments to training.

The meal was followed by a discussion with key 4th Infantry Division and Fort Carson leaders regarding the post's current ARFORGEN cycle.

Fort Carson is an ideal location to gauge the effectiveness of ARFORGEN because the post has some units deployed, some beginning the reset stage, and others in the ready stage, said McHugh.

A walk-through of a "Raider" Brigade's company operating facility
provided McHugh with a firsthand look at how 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, is currently in the ready stage of the ARFORGEN process.

The Secretary climbed inside and atop tactical vehicles in order to better understand their use, communications capabilities, and weapons systems from the Soldiers who operate them.

Construction of the brigade combat team's new facilities was recently completed with the opening of the $18 million Raider Brigade Dining Facility. The brigade's new complex consists of a headquarters building, DFAC and several tactical maintenance facilities and COFs.

McHugh also met privately with a group of 4th Infantry Division company commanders to learn what he can do in Washington to help them perform their jobs better here.

"I have a pretty good feel for some things we need to do differently at the Pentagon level," McHugh said following the meeting.

Another issue of significant importance to McHugh is the care of wounded and injured Soldiers. Accordingly, he met privately with Soldiers at the Warrior Transition Unit to discuss their challenges and ongoing needs.

During his visit, Secretary McHugh attended two memorial services for 15 Fort Carson Soldiers killed in action while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom over the last month. The first ceremony honored eight 4th Brigade Combat Team, 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers who were killed in a single attack on a combat outpost. The second ceremony honored seven 4th Engineer Battalion Soldiers who were killed in three separate attacks while deployed.

Prior to each ceremony, McHugh met privately with the families of the fallen to express his condolences and thank them personally, expressing that their loved ones were heroes.

After the memorial services, McHugh met with members of the media and thanked the Front Range community for the tremendous support that they provide Fort Carson Soldiers, Family members and civilians. He said that the Army wants to be "good neighbors" with those in the surrounding community.

McHugh then answered a range of questions from journalists, stating that the Army is attempting to reach a steady state in a very unsteady time.

"No matter what enemy may arise we will be able to configure our fighting forces in a way to meet that challenge," said McHugh.

Aca,!A"Hopefully (ARFORGEN) will make SoldiersAca,!a,,c time at home more manageable, more predictable, and we can do a better job of providing ready, trained, and equipped forces,Aca,!A? he added.

McHugh also addressed the Army's suicide numbers and acts of violence by Soldiers at Fort Carson and across the Army.

"The Army is continuing to improve its mental health services for Soldiers," he said. "We have to do a better job of helping our Soldiers."

Before his three-post tour, the Army's Secretary twice visited Fort Hood, Texas, following the Nov. 5 tragedy there.

McHugh visitedFort Bliss, Texas, on Nov. 17, and will continue his three-post tour at Fort Irwin, Calif.

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16