By Pvt. 1st Class Beverly Roxane MejiaJuly 12, 2018
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. -- The Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper, shared his recently published Army Vision with Soldiers, leaders, Families and Civilians of the 101st Airborne Division and Fort Campbell during a visit July 10.
"The Army Vision speaks about where we want to be in the year 2028 and within that it outlines: manning, training, equipping and leading," said Esper.
As Secretary of the Army, Esper has constitutional responsibility of all aspects in relation to the U.S. Army, including: organization, recruiting, equipping, training and supervision of over 1.4 million active duty, Reserve and National Guard Soldiers as well as Army Civilians and their Families. His visit allowed Fort Campbell leaders to provide an overview of Fort Campbell's readiness and training of its Soldiers and Civilians, to include the care and welfare of their Families.
The visit began with an intense physical fitness circuit training alongside the Soldiers of 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. Esper served with the "Iron Rakkasans" during his early days on active duty, including a deployment with Operations Desert Storm and Desert Shield.
"This morning we got the opportunity to work out with the Secretary of the Army," said Pfc. Holland Wiler, 3rd Battalion, 187th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division. "We always stay physically ready to deploy, our bags are always packed and we're ready to move out at any time of day, month or year."
After the first of several roundtable discussions with spouses, Soldiers and leaders, Esper proceeded to The Sabalauski Air Assault School where he toured the air assault obstacle course. During the obstacle course, Esper was able to observe current students in action as they were going through the course to achieve their air assault wings.
"The Secretary of the Army is here at The Sabalauski Air Assault School to assess 'Today's Army' capabilities and lethality," said Staff Sgt. Brian Laitila, instructor with TSAAS. "He is here today to view the 101st's air assault training. Air assault is important because its now become a highly Army operated skill, which allows forcible entry by inserting troops in an accurate manner and providing mass combat power when needed, this is what the Army does."
Later in the day the Secretary visited subterranean combat training conducted by the 2nd Brigade Combat Team Soldiers. The Soldiers demonstrated their adaptability to the newest type of underground warfare by effectively communicating, navigating though dark and narrow mazes, breaching large obstacles and providing all-around security while below surface levels.
Approximately 150 Soldiers, Civilians and Family members gathered for a town hall and question and answer session with the Secretary. He discussed the Army's Vision and expectation of manning, training, equipping and leading in the upcoming years.
"The entire Army is deployed at a very high rate now," said Esper. "I'm told that the 101st is the most deployed division. What I'm aiming to do is increase the size of the Army. We need to be ready for the high-intensity conflict that we are preparing for in the future."
Esper elaborated where the Army want to be in the next 10 years.
"On manning, I want to make sure that our units are at full strength, I want to ensure that our Soldiers are well trained, physically fit, mentally strong and tough. On training, I want us to stay focused on high-intensity conflict as told by the National Defense Strategy, focused on dense urban terrain and prepared to operate in an environment free of electronics. On leading, I want to make sure we are growing a great officer corps and NCO (non-commissioned officer) corps, which is the backbone of our Army."
Esper said he frequently reflects on his time spent here at Ft. Campbell, and how he is using leadership skills learned as a young lieutenant to now guide him as the Secretary of Army.
"You can't go wrong with the 101st Airborne Division," said Esper. "In terms of leadership, I was blessed with a lot of good leaders here, both those who mentored me and those who I served with. In all my different experiences, whether in the Army, National Guard or Reserve or working on Capitol Hill, a day doesn't go by where I don't draw from an experience here as I think about my current duties and responsibilities. I reflect back on those experiences to better understand how I can help shape the Army."