By Spc. Liane SchmersahlJuly 18, 2017
FORT DRUM, N.Y. -- "You're the most respected profession in America," said Acting Secretary of the Army Robert M. Speer, in a lunch briefing with Soldiers during a tour of Fort Drum on Wednesday, July 12.
"But that's not a given; it's perishable. It's contingent on how well we continue to train, man and equip you, how well we treat you and your families, and how well you live the Army values," Speer continued. "You should be extremely proud of what you do."
Speer's visit to fort included a tour of the Wheeler-Sack Army Airfield, led by Maj. Gen. Walter E. Piatt, commanding general of the 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) and of Fort Drum.
"We want to create a scenario on base in order to meet the needs of a new generation of warfare," said Piatt during the group's tour of the airfield. "Our purpose is to be ready today and relevant tomorrow as we anticipate what the Army will ask of us."
Speer's tour of the installation also included the Light Fighter School, the Future NCO Academy, Atkins Functional Fitness Facility, Division Headquarters, and the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Dining Facility, where he and Piatt joined Soldiers from various units across the division for lunch.
"It was really nice of them to take time out to be able to really talk to Soldiers," said Spc. Kiyaini Shaw, an automated logistical specialist with the 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade support operations. "It made me feel important and heard as a Soldier -- like what I had to say mattered to them."
Following lunch, Speer and Piatt, along with their respective teams, traveled to a Fort Drum training area where they observed a live fire exercise with 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment and 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry, with air support from National Guard units.
The visit also included a roundtable meeting with Fort Drum representatives, members of the Fort Drum Regional Health Planning Organization, and local health care executives regarding Fort Drum's unique integrated military healthcare model.
Speer concluded his time on Fort Drum with a town hall meeting at the Commons, where he was able to engage with Soldiers, civilians, and Family members of the Fort Drum community, answering their questions and addressing their concerns. Approximately 200 people attended the event, presenting questions regarding deployment tempo, childcare services, hiring timelines, budget concerns and schooling, among other topics.
"We're going to continue to be a busy Army," Speer said in the town hall. "But I can't predict what's going to happen in the world. We need to be ready, and we need that readiness no matter where we go. We can no longer just train for what we're doing in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan; we need full decisive-action capability regardless of what the threat is in the future."
Speer wrapped up the town hall meeting by relaying a story he had heard that day from 1st Lt. Austin Welch of 6th Squadron, 6th Cavalry.
"This young officer said that when he toured the Air Force Academy, he saw statues of planes; when he toured the Naval Academy, he saw replicas of ships -- but when he toured West Point, he saw statues of men -- of Soldiers. That's the difference in our Army," Speer said. "You can buy new ships, you can buy equipment, but it's the Soldiers -- the individual Soldiers that we bring to the fight, and that's what we're here for today."