By Jason B. CutshawOctober 2, 2008
Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Army chief of staff, visited Fort Drum on Monday to speak to Soldiers and their family members as 3rd Brigade Combat Team prepares for its upcoming deployment to Afghanistan.
During his second visit to post this year, the Army's senior officer met with Spartan Brigade leaders to discuss their change of mission from Iraq to Afghanistan and their adjustments to training and preparation.
"I came up particularly to see how the brigade was reacting to, and adapting to, the mission change from Iraq to Afghanistan," Casey said. "And I have to tell you that with the leaders and Families and the lieutenants and captains and sergeants that I have talked to, I couldn't be prouder of what I am seeing.
"As I asked these young men and women what they were concerned about, they basically said to me, 'General, you give us the people and the equipment, we'll take care of the rest. We got this, and we know what we are doing.' I couldn't be prouder."
Casey, along with his wife, Sheila, then participated in a 3rd BCT campaign streamer award ceremony at Memorial Park.
The Afghanistan campaign streamer was authorized for the brigade for its support during Operation Enduring Freedom from March 10, 2006, to June 15, 2007.
"General Casey, it is an honor to have you here, and for you to hang the battle streamer for us," said Col. David B. Haight, 3rd BCT commander. "Soldiers and Families of the Spartan Brigade deeply appreciate that you made time to spend a day of your busy schedule with us. You have proven that the Soldier continues to be our most precious commodity and that our leadership at all levels stands behind them 100 percent.
"The enemy is persistent and prepared to fight for a long time, so we must return to reinforce the Afghan National Security Forces in this long struggle," he added. "The Spartans remain trained, ready and equipped to redeploy to the theater, establish contact with the enemy again and assist the Afghan security forces to establish security and stability for the Afghan government and its people."
After leaving the ceremony, the general spent some one-on-one time with Family Members at the Commons to listen to any issues they may have.
"We are seeing the results of seven years of war, and also we are seeing the impact on the Families," Casey said. "The Families, God bless them, are increasingly resilient, and I believe a lot of that has to do with the emphasis that we have been putting on Families.
"I am very, very pleased with what I saw here and very, very proud of the Soldiers and Families," he added. "And thanks to all the community here at Fort Drum that takes such good care of our Families, particularly. We couldn't do what we do without the support of this great community."
Before leaving Fort Drum, Casey met with senior noncommissioned officers and junior officers as they prepare for the upcoming deployment.
"I was just talking with these young lieutenants and sergeants, and I asked how many folks have been to Afghanistan, and probably 80 percent have already been to Afghanistan, and so they are going back to areas some of them have been to," Casey said. "I saw the quiet confidence of real professionals. They have looked at it, they understand the challenges and they have the confidence in their units and their equipment, but that's the kind of Army we have."
After the general left, those who met him talked about what it meant to them.
"He essentially was doing a litmus test of the brigade's confidence in itself and also to see where we are in terms of preparedness for the Afghanistan fight as opposed to the Iraqi fight," said 2nd Lt. Frederick R. Waage, 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment. "It went well, and I think the audience and the general came back seeing more eye to eye than maybe we were before. We are very confident and very prepared."