FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. (Feb. 11, 2014) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal visited Fort Campbell Friday, to welcome back the command group of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), as they returned from Afghanistan, where the division headquarters has spent the last year commanding Regional Command-East.
Prior to the command group's arrival, Westphal met with senior commander Brig. Gen. Mark R. Stammer and division leadership during a roundtable discussion, held at division's headquarters.
Topics covered included resiliency programs, impacts of financial constraints on training and command concerns.
As he addressed the roundtable panel, Westphal relayed Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh's message to leaders, that even while the Army is currently challenged with issues such as ethics, sexual assault and suicide and the pressures that go along with each, leaders should not lose sight of the tremendous force that is fighting for this Nation on a daily basis.
"Our entire Army family is doing a great job for America," said Westphal. "They are strong and they are resilient."
Westphal also spoke to Fort Campbell leaders about the impacts of the Army's current fiscal situation and highlighted the importance of preparing for leaner times.
"I think you understand the challenges," said Westphal. "We are going to have to manage ourselves and our resources better as our Army remains postured to answer our nation's call."
Westphal also solicited feedback from brigade commanders on how the future of a smaller Army with less combat missions would affect their units and how they plan to mitigate the effects of these changes.
Following the roundtable, Westphal traveled to Campbell Army Airfield to await the arrival of the 101st leadership and redeploying Soldiers, including Maj. Gen. James C. McConville, the commander of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) and Command Sgt. Maj. Alonzo J. Smith, the senior enlisted adviser for the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).
The division recently completed its mission as the headquarters for Regional Command-East at Bagram Airfield.
"What a great day to welcome back this incredible division," said Westphal as he spoke to local media.
Westphal praised the division's accomplishments and recognized the important role they played in overseeing the transition of authority and responsibility for Afghanistan's security throughout Regional Command-East to the Afghan National Army.
"The 101st Airborne Division accomplished their mission in Afghanistan in tremendous fashion," said Westphal. "They expanded the capacity and capability of the Afghan National Security Forces and expertly set the stage for the future."
Westphal also talked about the future capabilities of the U.S. Army, noting budgetary hurdles could be overcome once Army combat roles begin to recede.
"We have an incredible opportunity to improve on training and readiness for our force. I think our budget situation is going to allow us to continue to build capability as we transition from combat operations. I am optimistic about the future."
He also thanked the local communities for supporting Fort Campbell Soldiers and their Families, during deployments, noting that installations rely greatly on the continued support of the community.
"Fort Campbell is vital to the Army's ability to meet the needs of the nation and posture for future requirements," said Westphal.
Recalling a visit to RC-East this past summer where he met with McConville and the division staff, Westphal said, "I am incredibly impressed with Maj. Gen. McConville's leadership and the positive impact the division made in their area of operations [in Afghanistan]. I am delighted to welcome them back to Fort Campbell."
"Fort Campbell is a gem for our Army. Families, and the community, here have always shown tremendous resilience each time the nation calls. The readiness of the 101st Airborne Division, and Fort Campbell, are essential to our Army's ability to remain the nation's decisive force of action."