By Angela Camara, Fort Huachuca Public Affairs OfficerDecember 11, 2014
FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. (Dec. 11, 2014) -- Fort Huachuca leadership hosted Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Ray Odierno for his first-ever visit to the southwest desert post, Monday and Tuesday, highlighting the unique capabilities found here which support the new Army Operating Concept, leader development and the future of the Army.
"This is [an installation] I've been wanting to come to for quite some time, because of the important role it plays in everything that we do in the Army," Odierno said. "One of the major things it does obviously, is trains all of our intelligence Soldiers and officers and plays an important role in our intelligence aviation assets. So [Fort Huachuca is] a key piece."
Odierno also visited Network Enterprise Technology Command, known as NETCOM, which has the worldwide responsibility to set up, operate and maintain the entire Army network at every location the Army has network responsibility, and protect the Army's network from cyber attack.
The synergy of the various commands on the installation, most notably, the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence, NETCOM, Joint Interoperability Test Command (JITC) and Electronic Proving Ground (EPG), make the fort the center for excellence for Command, Control, Communications, Combat Systems, Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (C4ISR).
"So clearly [Huachuca is] a very strategic post that's here," Odierno said.
"I'm very impressed with two things. One is how [the Army's Intelligence Center of Excellence] is tackling the leader development problems and what it's going to take to develop leaders who are adaptive, innovative, and have the ability to think critically under pressure."
The Army's Intelligence Center of Excellence is migrating from instructor-centric training, to a learner-centric focus in all courses, including training on Socratic questioning and critical thinking.
"Number two, is how they are organizing themselves and thinking about the future and how the intel structure can fit into the future," he continued. "They outlined for me things that are being done now that are going to be done in five years, 10 years and to keep the intel structure relevant. That's incredibly important as we move forward. We need that type of thinking."
Intelligence training is also migrating from counterinsurgency to decisive-action scenarios including cyber and open source intelligence.
"Then with NETCOM and the increasing mission they have to help protect our networks and their ability to provide communications in support of many combatant commanders," the CSA said. "They're in the process now of supporting operations in Africa and Europe. So all of that is very critical to what we're doing today.
"Cyber, manned-unmanned [aircraft] teaming, the continued adjustment and development of intel capabilities as our technology grows are all keys to the future. Those things continue to evolve in such a way that they will continue to be a centerpiece of everything we do. So what gets done here, looking toward the future, is critical to [the Army]."
The CSA said, "There are three things I think about every day, when I get up in the morning. One, is I think about the fact that we have 60,000 Soldiers deployed in 150 countries, and I've got to make sure they're trained, ready and prepared to do their mission.
"Second, is while I'm doing that I have to downsize the Army," he continued. "We've already taken 70,000 people out of the active component, and we're scheduled to take more out depending on how sequestration goes. I have to do that simultaneously while I maintain the mission sets we have around the world.
"Finally, the third thing I think about, I have to be looking to the future, and because times are changing, the world is evolving, war is changing, and we've got to be able to be prepared for that," he said. "We've got to manage all three of those things.
"That's my job, Odierno said. "I've got to be able to organize and synchronize to ensure we can do all of those at one time, and that's what we're doing now. It's difficult, but we're doing it because we have a great Army, and a lot of great people."
On the heels of the fort's Supplemental Programmatic Environmental Assessment community listening session, held Dec. 2, at the Cochise Theatre here, the fort's leadership presented the CSA with the local considerations presented to support the Army in developing a plan to implement additional cuts to the force if it is required to make cuts beyond the end strength announced in last year's Programmatic Environmental Assessment.
Maj. Gen. Robert Ashley, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence and Fort Huachuca, and Col. Thomas A. Boone, Fort Huachuca's garrison commander, spoke in-depth with Odierno regarding the missions that make the post invaluable to the Army, Arizona and the nation.
With more than a $2 billion impact to the state of Arizona, the fort is home to the Army's fifth busiest airfield, Libby Army Airfield, and expertly manages joint-use airspace with both manned and unmanned aircraft flying more than 130,000 missions each year, in 964-square-miles of restricted airspace, ground to 30,000 feet. The post is home to the only C-130 high altitude certification location in the country and the only high elevation dirt assault air strip and four high altitude drop zones ideal for Special Operations Forces training.
Fort Huachuca is the only place in the United States that can conduct full-frequency spectrum, full-power jamming as part of the critical cyber warfare testing mission. This is made capable by the 2,500-square-mile Buffalo Soldier Electronic Range, which has a frequency coordination zone protected by federal mandate. The installation is protected by unique natural topography and geology and the long-term spectrum access is irreplaceable.
"Fort Huachuca has very unique capabilities; one of a kind capabilities that we have in the Army," Odierno said. "With the continued budget constraints and possible sequestration, that's causing us to make really tough decisions. In my opinion it could impact our national security and our ability to respond."
Timely end-strength reductions and structure adjustments in all Army components are necessary to shape a force that can best meet defense strategic requirements within constrained funding. The Army must ensure it can field and sustain a force of sufficient size, capability and configuration to meet the nation's current and projected future security and defense requirements.
"So it's something that's always right there in the front of my mind. It's a very important issue and Fort Huachuca provides so much for the Army," the CSA remarked.
Last year's Programmatic Environmental Assessment addressed an Active Component reduction of 80,000 Soldiers -- from 570,000 Soldiers to 490,000 by the end of fiscal year 2017. The Supplemental Programmatic Assessment addresses potential impacts if the Army is force to reduce the Active Component to 420,000 personnel. Reductions of the magnitude described in the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review exceed those assessed in the 2013 Programmatic Environmental Assessment.
"But, if we continue to get cuts, nothing is off the table. And that's the bottom line," Odierno explained. "I would be very disappointed to lose such an incredible place such as this, and the unique capabilities it brings."
(Editor's note: Sgt. 1st Class Kristine Smedley contributed to this article.)