ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, Ill. -- Secretary of the Army Mark Esper toured various facilities here Wednesday and left with a vision of the future.

"Rock Island Arsenal's strength is not just where it is today, but where it's going, based on what I've seen today at the Joint Manufacturing Technology Center, particularly with regard to additive manufacturing," Esper said. He added that a planned additive manufacturing center "has the great promise of providing quality products on time at much less cost than we had in the past. Additive manufacturing is really going to be critical to our Army mission going forward."

Besides his tour of JMTC, Esper met with leaders of Army Materiel Command, Joint Munitions Command, Army Sustainment Command, and First Army.

"I had a really great visit today to Rock Island Arsenal. It was a great opportunity to visit this fabulous place and get a good understanding of where we are and where we're going," he said. "We've gotten good support at Rock Island Arsenal from several members of Congress and we had representatives from a couple of their offices today and I was really pleased that they joined us," Esper said.

The secretary stressed the importance of keeping local talent close to home by maintaining close ties with area schools and businesses: "How are we communicating to the local community, particularly the schools, to make sure they are thinking about the talent they can develop to help us have a vibrant, sustained young work force?"

He also touched on the importance of readiness, modernization, and reform, and said the Arsenal is helping with all of those. It is home to the Army's only foundry, which helps ensure Soldiers are given the best battlefield equipment. Esper said he sees the results of that when he visits war zones.

The additive manufacturing center will help sustain that momentum. "We're going to be doing a whole lot more in the future with regard to next generation technologies. The additive manufacturing center will help us get there," Esper said.

Additionally, "ASC has to sustain the Army in the fight. JMC, the Army has invested a great deal of money with regard to munitions to ensure we're ready for the fight. First Army has responsibility for mobilizing the Guard and Reserve, which is absolutely critical to the war fight because we are a total Army. If the Army goes to war, it will be with the regular Army, Guard, and Reserve."