WIESBADEN, Germany -- "Alliances are as strong as the contributions its partners make to readiness," said Secretary of the Army Dr. Mark Esper, during his visits with U.S. and NATO troops in Germany, Poland, and Ukraine last week.

"One of my main objectives was to speak with American forces, especially commanders, to familiarize myself with military operations in Europe; get a feel from commanders as to what their views are from the standpoint of readiness and training; and see what their needs are," Esper said of his visit. "We have to ensure we are prepared for a high-end fight anywhere in the world."

Esper's familiarization with U.S. Army Europe's vast mission began with a stop at the headquarters, where he reinforced the importance of the U.S. troop presence in Europe and the training in which they participate.

"Our presence (in Europe) is vitally important," Esper said. "It fits two strategic areas. One is reassuring our allies and the second is deterring our potential adversaries."

While in Wiesbaden, Esper also stopped by the Lt. Gen. Robert E. Gray Regional Cyber Center Europe and met with 2nd Theater Signal Brigade Soldiers.

"What you do is really important, especially in the day and age where an adversary can use technology such as the internet against us," Esper said.

The 23rd Secretary of the Army went on to visit Allied Spirit VIII, a 7th Army Training Command multinational exercise which includes over 4,100 participants form 10 nations.

"Overall the Soldiers are doing a great job," Espers said. "I'm really impressed by their tactical proficiency and I'm also impressed by the equipment I see them using."

During his stop in Poland, Esper stopped by the 4th Infantry Division Mission Command Element headquarters and voiced his support for the Atlantic Resolve rotations in Europe.

"The Army sees great value in having a rotational armored brigade combat team and aviation brigade," Espers said. "It enables us to send highly trained forces straight from the National Training Center to Europe. These Soldiers come combat ready and mission focused."

Esper had the opportunity to learn more about the scope of the logistics mission in Europe when he met with 21st Theater Sustainment Command Soldiers in Powidz, Poland, and walked the grounds of the future Atlantic Resolve logistical operations hub.

"I think the Secretary of the Army's visit here boosts morale for all of us. It reminds us that what we do here matters," said Pfc. Cameron Bowman, a Virginia native and heavy-wheeled vehicle operator.

Esper wrapped up his trip with a stop at the Joint Multinational Training Group - Ukraine's
Yavoriv Combat Training Center where he met with the U.S., Canadian, Lithuanian, British, and Ukrainian troops. Currently, more than 220 New York National Guard Soldiers are assigned to JMTG-U and are helping mentor the Ukrainian Army.

Esper said he will take the information gathered from troops across U.S. Army Europe back to Washington, D.C. and work with his staff in terms of how they can best support the commanders in the field.