By Kevin WalstonFebruary 9, 2016
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan (Feb. 9, 2016) -- Ascertaining the needs of deployed Soldiers was a paramount concern for the acting Army secretary when he visited Bagram Airfield, Feb. 4-6.
Patrick J. Murphy, who was sworn in as the 32nd undersecretary of the Army and chief management officer by President Barack Obama Jan. 4, visited Afghanistan to familiarize himself with missions and capabilities across the area of operations and spend time with Soldiers. Murphy is serving as the acting Army secretary while Eric Fanning undergoes Senate confirmation hearings to become the next Army secretary.
During his visit, Murphy, a third generation veteran, received operational briefings on the entirety of the current U.S. Forces Afghanistan mission. He held a town hall meeting and several troop engagements to hear and address the concerns and needs of Soldiers while also participating in an early morning physical training session with Soldiers of the Theater Response Force, or TRF, assigned to 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, which is deployed to Bagram from Fort Drum, New York.
"We're in the longest war in American history and thanks so much for your service," he told the Soldiers. "We're so grateful for you doing all that you're doing to keep Families safe at home."
Lt. Col. Michael Kovacevic, who commands Task Force Dragon, 2nd Battalion, 14th Infantry Regiment, said it was a special honor having the acting Army secretary visit the unit, especially during the early morning hours to participate in physical training.
"Every unit in the Army has its own unique story and mission and the acting secretary was able to see what a diverse role that the Soldiers of the Golden Dragons provide Resolute Support mission each day as the TRF," he said. "His visit was a special moment for the Soldiers that they'll remember long after this deployment. It lets them know how much their service to our nation means and is appreciated."
Command Sgt. Maj. Rob McConnell, Task Force Iron Eagle command sergeant major, echoed Kovacevic's comments, adding that the acting Army secretary has established effective communication with the field since assuming his position and his visit lends credibility to his degree of involvement.
"[It] reinforces his commitment to working to make the Army better by making first-hand observations and allowing Soldiers and leaders the opportunity to interact with senior leadership," he said. "We were able to brief him not only on our mission, but provide him some insight into the complexities of the current environment."
During his town hall session with about 200 Soldiers representing various base units, Murphy spoke about his Army service in uniform and his time spent as a U.S. Military Academy at West Point, New York, instructor. He credited his time in uniform as preparing him for the time he spent on Capitol Hill as the youngest member of Congress. During the question and answer period, Soldiers asked questions about spouse benefits, pay, promotions, possible drawdowns and force realignment.
Murphy closed the town hall by saying how humble and honored he was to represent the Army and reassured everyone that his job is to assure that members of Congress and the public are aware of the sacrifice, professionalism and service of the men and women who are serving.