VICENZA, Italy -- Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel Allyn visited with Soldiers and civilians to discuss the Army's top priorities and upcoming changes Thursday, during a town hall at the post theater on Caserma Ederle.

In his presentation, Allyn discussed garrison support, Africa's significance for the U.S., leader development and readiness, and Army modernization.

According to Allyn, Soldier readiness is closely tied to the support of those who work in garrison.

"Installations where our Soldiers and families serve enable everything else that comes from a strong Army -- a ready Army," Allyn said.

Allyn attributed garrison support success to the "great volunteer spirit that so many of our family members have … Anywhere there is a void, (family members) are ready to step in and fill it."

Allyn said having a symbiotic relationship between garrisons, family members, volunteers and the local communities is vital in supporting Soldier readiness.

"Soldiers are our greatest resource in the U.S. Army," he said.

The magnitude and historical value of what Soldiers do today is vital to security, he continued. Since the 9-11 terrorist attacks, security of the nation and that of its allied and partner nations has been among the top priorities for Army leaders.

Currently, the Army is focused on security and stability efforts in Africa, which Allyn said has been a "lily pad" from which violent extremist organizations have planned and launched their operations.

Allyn elaborated on why Africa matters to the U.S. Army.

"It's a critical region of the world. On one hand, it is fraught with instability, ungoverned spaces and under employed youth. On the other, it has a lot of opportunities." Allyn said.

One opportunity the general discussed was "strengthening African partners' ability to sustain both national and regional stability." This would prevent violent extremist organizations from finding ungoverned spaces to hide, he said.

Another opportunity comes from engaging with partner nations.

"Our asymmetric advantage over any adversary on the planet is the leaders of the U.S. Army," Allyn said. "The distributed missions and small teams that perform on the African continent help train and develop security forces in each of these nations, (offering) a great opportunity to have a strategic impact in often small and distributed locations," Allyn added.

Allyn said he often talks to leaders across the Army about small teams and how those teams sometimes perform strategic missions more than a thousand miles from their higher headquarters on behalf of the Army and U.S. national objectives.

"That's pretty exciting," he said.

Allyn also discussed U.S. adversaries' technological gains. Leaders are aware of adversarial advances in cyber electromagnetic activities, long-range precision fires for artilleries and missiles.

"These are capabilities we've got to close the gap on very rapidly and our near term modernization efforts will be focused on exactly that," he added.

According to Allyn, the Army is actively seeking opportunities to field ground mobility vehicles and to develop mobile protected firepower solutions.

The general said this is an exciting time to be a junior Soldier.

As the nation prepares for a new commander in chief, so does the Army. With that preparation comes many changes, most notably to manpower and modernization.

"We are growing, and this is just the beginning," Allyn said, adding that the Army is seeking to increase its total manpower to 476,000 by the end of the year. "I can assure you … your job is secure."