Army chief of staff visits Fort Drum, reenlists Soldiers
October 25, 2011
FORT DRUM, N.Y., Oct. 25, 2011 -- The U.S. Army's top military officer visited Fort Drum on Tuesday to be briefed by the installation's senior leadership while also taking time to assess Army operations at the northern New York post -- home of the 10th Mountain Division (LI).
"I think they have a really integrated team here," said Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno. "I think what I sense here more than I do at other places is how closely everyone works together. They feel like a part of the community."
"They are not just working for the community; they feel like they are the community," he added. "Whether it be the people off post or the people on post -- that really comes through very strongly, and I think it makes a real difference in the support that is here for the Soldiers and their families," he explained.
Odierno assumed his new role as the Army's top general from Gen. Martin E. Dempsey during a change of responsibility ceremony Sept. 7. Dempsey went on to become chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff while Odierno became the 38th chief of staff of the Army.
The general noted division headquarters' recent redeployment from Afghanistan, saying he wanted to see what Army programs have been in place for families at Fort Drum and how the post-deployment reintegration process was going.
He also took a moment to express his gratitude for the Soldiers of one of the Army's most deployed divisions.
"I want to thank them for their sacrifices," Odierno said. "I know that whenever the 10th Mountain Division goes anywhere, it's an extremely professional organization ready to do their mission.
"I also want to thank the families for their sacrifices," he added. "I know that they mean a lot to the success of the units themselves. I appreciate the support that they have given to their Soldiers."
Odierno was escorted throughout the day by Maj. Gen. James L. Terry, 10th Mountain Division (LI) and Fort Drum commander, and other installation officials. In addition to meeting with leaders and commanders, Odierno took time in the afternoon before boarding a jet to re-enlist 15 Soldiers of the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team.
"We have two families," Odierno told Soldiers and family members gathered at the Rapid Deployment Facility at Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield. "We have our biological family and our Army family.
"(These Soldiers) are making a decision to stay with their Army family -- and that's saying something today."
Odierno told the small crowd that as a senior Army officer, re-enlisting Soldiers is one of his favorite jobs.
"We're proud to have you stay a part of the Army family," he said. "You are going to help lead our Army into the future. I appreciate your service. I appreciate your families who support you."
"I want to thank you for your support," Odierno told the family members, "and that you are willing to also sacrifice. I want to personally thank you for your sacrifices and the choices that you are making as well."
Col. Stephen L. Michael, 1st Brigade Combat Team commander, said he was pleased to see the general reenlisting his men.
"I think it's pretty special that he wants to take the time to do this," Michael said. "He's touching those who really run the Army, do the hard jobs and get things done. Soldiers are our Army's strength. Regardless of all the money and equipment that flows through the Army, its biggest strength is its people."
One of the Soldiers who had the honor of raising his right hand with the Army's senior officer said it's a story he expects to one day share with his four children.
"This was an awesome experience and probably a once-in-a-lifetime event," said Spc. Chris Blanton, a medic with 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team. "It's something I'll be able to share with my kids down the road, and maybe even my grandkids."