SCHOFIELD BARRACKS, Hawaii -- Army Secretary Mark Esper visited Soldiers at the 25th Infantry Division Jan. 11 to gain an understanding of the division's capability to train and support Soldiers and conduct successful operations in the Pacific area of responsibility.

Esper, the 23rd Secretary of the Army who took the Army reins Nov. 20, began the day with combat-focused physical training with the scouts of 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division.

"It's a great honor to represent the division and conduct PT with the Secretary of the Army," said Sgt. 1st Class Benjamin Garcia, platoon sergeant, 2-35 Inf. Reg.

The Rogue platoon scouts led Esper through a series of stations, including a litter drag, tractor tire relay, five-gallon water container relay, and other functional fitness workouts.

After physical training, Esper took time to talk with the Soldiers and discussed the importance of readiness training.

"You are all doing the right thing, fitness is the key -- the cornerstone to training," said Esper. "War is always on the horizon. There could be bigger fights ahead."

Rogue Platoon scouts, along with the rest of 3rd BCT, are preparing for a training rotation at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, Louisiana.

After a series of briefings with 25th Infantry Division leaders, Esper toured the Lightning Academy and met with Soldiers undergoing the Jungle Operations Training Course and also Soldiers going through Pre-Ranger training.

"The visit validates the importance of the training we are conducting here at the Lightning Academy," said 1st Lt. Christopher Corbett, Lightning Academy cadre. "As it says in our mission statement, we are training adaptive and agile leaders across the Pacific theater of operations."

The Lightning Academy offers courses in Air Assault, Jungle Operations, Pre-Ranger, Basic Combatives, Tactical Combatives, Rappel Master, and others.