CONTINGENCY OPERATING BASE SPEICHER, Iraq -- Gen. George W. Casey Jr., the chief of staff of the United States Army, visited Task Force Marne Soldiers on Contingency Operating Base Speicher. The visit was to thank them for what they are doing here in Iraq and to wish them a happy holiday season.

"I am amazed by what the American Soldier can do," he said. "You are so resilient."

Many topics were discussed while having lunch with troops to include the rotation cycle for the upcoming buildup in Afghanistan and how it will affect Soldiers.

"We have grown as an Army by 40,000 Soldiers in the last two and a half years," he said. "We're in a much better position to accept this increased demand. We will be able to do this troop increase in Afghanistan without going to 15-month deployments, going less than 12 months at home and we're still going to continue to come off of stop-loss."

Staff Sgt. Kevin Jefferson, a medical operations noncommissioned officer for TF Marne Division Surgery, appreciated the visit.

"I think the general's visit was very informative," he said. He had a lot to offer. It felt good to see him in person instead of seeing him on TV. I felt he was very approachable."

But it wasn't just being able to talk to Casey that impressed Jefferson

"It says a lot about his character," he added. "It says a lot that he's willing to get down there with the troops, actually sacrifice his time with his family to spend some time with us. It says a lot about him and his work ethic."

Afterwards, Casey went to the Task Force Headquarters building, where he met with Soldiers who have deployed four times.

He awarded them with coins and thanked them personally for their tireless service to their country.

Casey said that U.S. Soldiers in Iraq had made great progress and that would be a beacon of democracy in the Middle-East

"We have helped the Iraqi people move to a position where they can take charge of their future. Every Soldier who has served in Iraq has contributed to that effect."

But he had a special message for the Soldiers who were stationed over here for the holiday season.

"We would not be where we are today without the men and women of the American armed forces, particularly the Army and frankly the 3rd Infantry Division," he said. "Thank you for what you're doing. You continue to make a difference for your country in a very, very difficult situation and also, happy holidays."

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