FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (Aug. 29, 2013) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal, Ph.D., made a visit to Fort Huachuca, today, to meet with garrison and United States Army Intelligence Center of Excellence leaders, Soldiers and Department of the Army civilians regarding the future of Fort Huachuca and the surrounding communities. Congressman Ron Barber accompanied him.

Westphal's visit was part of a three-day trip to Arizona to address Army leaders about the impact of fiscal constraints, highlight the U.S. Army's appreciation for the value and contributions of the Department of the Army civilian workforce and to reinforce the Army's commitment to preserving communications with the industrial base.

During his visit, Westphal had the opportunity to experience first hand why Fort Huachuca is such an important asset to the Army, in light of current budget concerns. Having been a few years since his last visit, Westphal noted the many changes that have since occurred.

"It was good to visit with the new commander, see some of the training and talk with some of the Soldiers and civilians," said Westphal.

Following a brief meeting with Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commander, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, Westphal visited with Advanced Individual Training, or AIT, students at Davis Hall and received a hands-on view of the Army Learning Model. Stationed at his own terminal, Westphal watched the Intelligence Analyst students participate in a practical exercise related to the Intelligence Preparation of the Battlefield process.

Westphal and Barber then met with Col. Dan McFarland, Fort Huachuca garrison commander, to get an update regarding Fort Huachuca's use of alternative energy technologies and the possibility of opening up the air corridor between Fort Huachuca and Barry Goldwater Range.

The Fort Huachuca 50, a group of members dedicated to the continued existence of the fort, met with Westphal, Barber and Ashley at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre to discuss the situational awareness on the economic welfare of Sierra Vista and Cochise County.

According to Westphal, The Fort Huachuca 50 expressed concern about the impact of the day-to-day budget reductions. Because civilians were furloughed, they have watched their budgets much closer, which affects the local community as a whole.

The Fort Huachuca 50 were not the only ones to share their concerns with Westphal. During his lunch break, Westphal met with 10 Department of the Army civilians to hear their personal opinions. Department of the Army civilians have faced some very significant challenges over the last few months, to include furloughs and budget cuts.

"I am always trying to gauge the extent of which these furloughs have had an impact on our civilians," Westphal explained. "What I can learn from them is ways in which we should address these situations in the future. They are a very resilient group but there is no question that there is great pain with all of this. But they are also very patriotic and dedicated to their work and community."

Recognizing the impact on the military and civilians collectively, Westphal reassured the civilians that he intends to return to Washington, D.C., and work hard to facilitate actions that ease their concerns.

As Westphal and Barber reviewed their visit at the end of the day, it was clear that an understanding of Fort Huachuca's role was evident.

"I have been able to link a lot of things from today, not just to the sequestration issues, not just to the budget issues, but also the mission and the responsibility of this command to provide our forces with the right levels of military intelligence and protect the nation against cyber attacks. This has been a great visit," said Westphal.

"There isn't another facility in this country that replicates what we have here; a strong case can be made about the need to continue to not only maintain, but expand the missions here, as we look at how we do the job smarter, better and more economically in the future," Barber said.