CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning completed a week-long visit to Central Command by engaging with the aviators, engineers, logisticians and infantry that are deployed with U.S. Army Central on Sept. 19, 2016 here and at Camp Buehring.
"I can't make informed decisions if I'm not out here seeing Soldiers, seeing what they are doing and seeing the impact of the decisions we make," Fanning said. "It gives me a lot more credibility when I go back to the office and back to the Pentagon to talk about what we need."
During his first official tour of Army operations in Kuwait Fanning hoped to explain to Soldiers his role as Secretary and responsibilities for all facets of the Army.
"A lot of people don't really understand my job," Fanning said. "Essentially it is to recruit, train and equip the Army so that we meet the requirements that the combatant commanders set around the world for current and contingency operations. It's my job to set the force for what we need today and what we will need for tomorrow."
The Secretary is known for reaching out to a younger generation of Soldiers through social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat. This engagement has included his own lighthearted rating of the MREs he eats while in the field. "Menu 7: Brisket Entrée -- A worthy 8/10" he wrote in a tweet.
More recently he was joined by NASA astronaut and retired Army Col. Timothy L. Kopra at the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum where they compared astronaut food and MRE's during a Facebook live event.
"I wouldn't even expect the Army Secretary to visit us in a deployed environment," said Sgt. Nancy Herrera, a signal support systems specialist with the 863rd Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, after taking a selfie. "It is great, especially here in Kuwait because you sometimes feel separated from the fight. But to have someone like this come here is a real morale booster. It's overwhelming."
"To me, the highlight is anytime I get to interact directly with troops -- no PowerPoint slides, no conference rooms, no window-less offices," Fanning said.
USARCENT uses Kuwait as a key hub for operations throughout its 20-nation area of operations in the Middle East. Units at Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring serve in critical support roles to U.S. Central Command's missions throughout the region.
"The Army's pre-positioned stocks in Kuwait, Japan, as well as those we are building up in Europe -- no other service and no other country in the world can do anything like that. It truly sets the United States Army apart and is a remarkable thing to see," Fanning said.
In addition to the large warehouses of pre-positioned stocks of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade the Secretary visited with the 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, 176th Engineer Brigade and 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The Secretary said he was impressed with the rapid-support capabilities USARCENT has established in Kuwait to supply the Army anywhere in the region. But, he said, the best aspect of traveling abroad is meeting Soldiers individually.
"I want to be out in the field seeing the Soldiers do what they do, where they do it," he said.
Dozens of Soldiers lined up to take photos with Fanning at each location.