FORWARD OPERATING BASE SHARANA, Afghanistan (April 7, 2013) -- Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry), Security Forces Assistance Brigade at Forward Operating Base Sharana, April 7.

Senior officers and noncommissioned officers visit units and intallations around the world to talk with junior command teams and Soldiers, to learn about mission progress and challenges, firsthand. While talking with service members, senior leaders are also able to provide guidance to leaders at all levels, and to provide Soldiers with insight on the future of the Army.

Dempsey's visit to Forward Operating Base Sharana was just that.

Met as he exited a U.S. Air Force C-130 by Col. Dennis S. Sullivan, commander of 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (LI), Security Forces Assistance Brigade, the chairman, members of his staff, and Maj. Gen. James McConville, Combined Joint Task Force-101 commander, were escorted to the "Commando Brigade" headquarters for an intelligence and operations brief on the situation in Paktika Province as well as a status review of the provincial government by the senior state department representative, Dean Mattaline.

Dempsey opened the floor to questions and answers from the command teams of the brigade and staff after a short update and gave his perspective on the future of Afghanistan.

Will there be Taliban and insurgent contested areas in Paktika?

"Yes, and it will be the Afghans' choice whether to allow those contested areas to persist," said Dempsey.

Talking about the future of the force, Dempsey explained that the Army is an elastic service and will shrink in numbers as the wars come to a conclusion, however by keeping a "bulge" in its mid-level ranks, the service will be able to expand again if necessary by promoting from within.

The challenge for future leaders, he said, will be in the transition from an Army at war to an Army that trains; as many of the mid-level officers and noncommissioned officers of the service have never experienced an Army that trains.

After sharing his perspectives, Dempsey awarded 22 Soldiers of the Commando Brigade with Combat Infantryman, Combat Action and Combat Medic Badges for their actions while in contact with the enemy.

After a short trip to the dining facility, he shared a meal and conversation with more Soldiers from the Brigade and posed for pictures with many of them and then it was back to the airstrip for a flight to Bagram, Airfield.