FORT SILL, Okla., Feb. 9, 2018 -- Under Secretary of the Army, Ryan D. McCarthy, visited Fort Sill, Feb. 6.

During his visit McCarthy visited with the commandants of field artillery and air defense artillery school houses as well as with Maj. Gen. Wilson A. Shoffner, Fires Center of Excellence and Fort Sill commanding general.

"We talked about the purpose of the visit, what he hoped to gain from the visit," said Shoffner. "The primary purpose was to meet with the cross functional teams (CFT) spend some time learning their needs and understand where they are going. He sees all the CFTs so he shared some of his insights with the other CFTS in terms of how they are approaching things. He gave us feedback in terms of what seems to work, what didn't work, what he thinks we need to adjust. He also has a different perspective and is able to share insights from the Army point of view as well as a joint and (Office of the Secretary of Defense) point of view. That's something we don't see directly here at the Fires Center of Excellence."

The CFT concept is a pilot program designed as a means to modernize the Army. Brig. Gen. Stephen Maranian, Field Artillery School commandant and chief of FA; and Brig. Gen. Randall McIntire, Air Defense Artillery School commandant and chief of ADA; both at Fort Sill, lead two of those CFTs.

"I was here to visit the two cross-functional teams, long-range precision fires and air and missile defense," said McCarthy. We went over the portfolio capabilities and looked at the near-, mid- and long-term goals of those teams. We have some major budget decisions to make this spring so I took this as an opportunity to spend some time with the team to clarify objectives, asking them to tee-up some very hard decisions."

Following that meeting, the under secretary took a moment to learn about the history of Fort Sill, taking a moment to visit the grave of Geronimo accompanied by Frank Siltman, director of museums at Fort Sill. He then stopped at Staff Sgt. Juan Garcia Dining Facility to have lunch with mid to senior non-commissioned officers attending the Noncommissioned Officer Academy.

"Many have combat experience recently in Mosul (Iraq)," said McCarthy."I got to hear about their recent deployments, talk about the weapons systems, got some impressions from them and some really good ideas as well."

The trip ended with a visit with Soldiers of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 78th Field Artillery as they trained on the M777A2 and M119 howitzers, and the M109A6 Paladin.

"Getting out to see Soldiers training is the best part of my job," said McCarthy. "It was a very interesting afternoon. Got a lot of on-the-ground perspective from the cadre about the challenges they face, some of the resource constraints that they have, and how I can help them mitigate those."