FORT STEWART, Ga. (Feb. 13, 2014) -- Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh had a candid discussion about the future of the Army during a meeting this week with senior leaders and Soldiers at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield, Ga.
"The Army is at a time of great transition and we are faced with a variety of challenges," McHugh said. "But there are some things we are certain of, and that is the men and women who put on this uniform -- great Soldiers doing what great Soldiers do."
Maj. Gen. Mike Murray, 3rd Infantry Division commanding general, brought McHugh to meet with Soldiers of the newly activated Company E, 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.
Those Soldiers operate the MQ-1C Gray Eagle unmanned aircraft system, which is capable of remaining continuously airborne for more than twenty hours.
"The attack role of Gray Eagle provides an unprecedented advantage on the battlefield, providing video feed directly to an Apache Attack Helicopter, allowing pilots of the Apache to positively identify targets and request clearance to engage," explained Capt. Jonathan Coe, commander, Company E, 3rd 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade.
"The Gray Eagle is also equipped with a laser designator that provides the crew visual confirmation of the target and provide laser guidance for a missile launched."
McHugh also spoke about the Army's scheduled drawdown and downsizing of forces. He noted that an accelerated timetable for drawing down forces will not only have an impact on those stationed at Fort Stewart, but also on family members and the civilian workforce.
"The Army, compared to the other services, is somewhat unique in that it is very personnel intense. The Army's largest asset and greatest expense is, and has always been, its people," he said. "When budgets are cut so swiftly and significantly, the only place where we can really find that money is through our end strength."
McHugh said that Army leaders are working to ease the effects of budget cuts through strategic planning.
"We found that given the decrease in operation and personnel tempo we can effectively, without too much risk, bring down that end strength and meet our budget challenges while making the best decision for the people we keep," McHugh explained.
While at Fort Stewart, McHugh was also briefed on the Savannah Harbor Expansion project, and paid his respects to Fallen 3rd ID Soldiers at Fort Stewart's Warrior's Walk. The walkway is dedicated to the Soldiers and attached units of 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield, Ga., who served in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.