Army chief of staff visits Fort Bragg
April 21, 2010
FORT BRAGG, N.C. (April 21, 2010) - The Fort Bragg community played host to a special visitor Wednesday as Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. stopped by the post to visit with Soldiers, Family members and leaders from the XVIII Airborne Corps and U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
Casey arrived Tuesday night, where he met with leaders at the U.S. Army Special Operations Command.
He then had breakfast with XVIII Airborne Corps Commanding General Lt. Gen. Frank Helmick early Wednesday morning, before viewing the construction site of the new FORSCOM Building.
Casey then recognized Fort Bragg's Soldier and NCO of the Year candidates, before receiving a commander's update regarding numerous issues concerning the XVIII Abn. Corps.
Helmick accompanied Casey during his visit to the corps, including a stop at the Watters Center for a brief Family forum with about 100 Family members from the 82nd Airborne Division headquarters, the division's 1st and 4th Brigade Combat Teams, the 82nd Combat Aviation Brigade, 16th Military Police Brigade and 82nd Sustainment Brigade.
Family members from the 18th Fires Brigade, 20th Engineer Brigade and 525th Battlefield Surveillance Brigade rounded out the list of attendees.
Casey spoke to the group, which was made up mostly of Army wives, about the Army's budget and how it affects them, dwell time after their spouses return from deployments and the Army's future.
He said the Army is continuing to focus on taking care of its Soldiers and their Families.
"Our budget for the session is $245 billion; just by way of perspective, our budget in 2001 was $75 billion," Casey explained to the spouses. "So Congress and the American people are making sure that we have the resources to do what we need to do."
He said it's important for Army leadership to become more proficient on how to distribute the funds.
"I know one of the things folks worry about is if we're going to forget about the Families soon as the demand goes down," he said. "I can tell you, as long as I'm around, that's not going to happen."
He also addressed any concerns about Soldier deployments and their time spent with Families between deployments, saying that every Soldier is entitled to a minimum of 12 months, regardless of whether they transfer to a different unit.
He said construction efforts, such as the construction of the U.S. Army Forces Command and U.S. Army Reserve Command Headquarters here, are not limited to Fort Bragg.
"You can't go on an Army installation without seeing that," he said. "It affects 380,000 Soldiers ... As with everything else in the Army, it's all going to happen within the next 18 months."
Many of the spouses who attended the forum said they were thankful that he came and addressed their concerns.
"It was informative -- a lot of good and a lot of hard questions were asked," Angela Hontz, wife of Sgt. 1st Class Donald Hontz, 82nd Abn. Div., said following the forum.
"I thought it was great," explained Kimberly Power, one of the spouses in attendance. "I thought he answered all the questions and any question that I had was already asked by everyone else and answered by him."
To some first-timers, the event was a learning experience.
"It was the first opportunity I've had to come out to something like this, being fairly new to the military" explained Family member Sara Tamski. "They were programs mentioned that I hadn't heard of before, so I found it very informative."