Army Chief of Staff visits Fort Rucker, Soldiers
September 19, 2007
FORT RUCKER, Ala. (TRADOC News Service, Sept. 20, 2007) -- The Army's senior leader, Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., visited Fort Rucker training facilities and met with Soldiers during a visit Tuesday.
During his tour, led by Maj. Gen. Virgil L. Packett II, U.S. Army Aviation Warfighting Center and Fort Rucker commanding general, Casey visited the dunker training and simulation facilities, the U.S. Army Combat Readiness Center and visited Soldiers attending the warrant officer staff course, which is comprised of senior warrant officers.
"You all contribute so much to our Army," Casey told the senior warrant officer. "It's nice for me to be able to spend a few minutes with you (and) give you a sense of what I'm seeing in the first five months of being the chief of staff of the Army and where I think we need to go in the next four years."
The general updated the warrant officers about plans for the Army's future and said in order to put the Army back in balance, four things need to happen in the next four years.
"We have to sustain our Soldiers and Families, we have to continue to prepare our forces for success in the current conflict, we need to reset our forces coming back and we have to transform," Casey said.
The general said Family programs will get more funding, the Army will continue taking care of wounded warriors, as well as spouses and children who lost their Soldiers in the fight.
The Chief of Staff said he will ensure Soldiers downrange receive the equipment and training they need.
"We're going to continue to put the right equipment in hands of these Soldiers," he said.
The Army must reset its equipment and forces because without it, the Army will face problems, Casey said.
Casey said he plans to increase the size of the Army, continue to modernize systems, focus on leadership development and focus more on Reserve components.
"We have to continue to adapt our organizations with modular changes and we're doing great on that," he said. "I've seen the power of these modular organizations in Iraq (and) they are exactly the kind of organizations we need in this environment."
Visiting on the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, Casey reflected on the event that affected Americans all across the country.
"Six years ago, terrorists killed (more than) 3,000 people in the United States," he said. "It's easy in the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life to forget (that) what is at stake here are the values and ideals on which this country is based. This global extremist terrorist network is after our way of life."
Casey said people in the United States appreciate the men and women in the Armed Forces.
"Don't you forget that," he said. "The Army is a better Army now, across the board, than its been in any time in my 37 years of service, and that makes me feel good."
Visiting in the midst of Multi-National Force-Iraq Commanding General David Petraeus' congressional testimony about the status of the war effort in Iraq, Casey said he is now "wrestling" with how and when to bring units off of 15 month rotations. "I don't want any unit to have two 15-month rotations," he said.
Casey said the goal is deploy Soldiers for less than 12 months and guarantee at least 18 months at home. The main reason for this goal is Families, he added.
"(We have) the best Army in the world...because of our values, our ethos and because of our people," the general said to the students. "You all represent the best in our Army."
Many of the warrant officer staff course students were impressed with Casey's honesty and were honored he set aside time to talk to their class.
"I think his comments were very candid and sincere and likewise, I think we asked him valid questions and he answered them," said CW3 Fabian Claxton, Virgin Islands National Guard. "I hope to see that from more top generals."
CW3 Robert Shivers from Heidelberg, Germany, said Casey's presentation was motivating and educational.
"It gave us a lot of insight on what's going on in the big Army. That's very important to us because right now, with the transformation in the Army, that's what we're really dealing with in our classes," he said. "Getting it from him instead of on TV gave us more confidence."
Another student who appreciated the updates from the general was CW4 John Craig, also from Heidelberg.
"I was very impressed by the fact that he took the time out of his schedule to see us," he said. "To come in and address us and then give us the opportunity to (speak) to him...and answer our questions was pretty amazing. I think it's good to hear updates from him. You can hear it from CNN and you can hear it from other sources, but to hear it directly from the chief of staff kind of makes you feel a little better."