FORT JACKSON, S.C. (July 30, 2009) -- The Army is looking to improve the resiliency of its Soldiers through a new program, which will be launched in October, said Gen. George Casey, Army chief of staff, during a visit to Fort Jackson today.
"The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program is designed to strengthen Soldiers, family members and Army civilians emotionally, spiritually and socially, giving them the ability to cope with stress."
Casey's tour of Fort Jackson included a visit to the 1st Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, where he observed a Battlemind training session for Soldiers in Basic Combat Training.
"Here, at (Fort) Jackson, we have been experimenting with parts of (the program)," Casey explained. "So I'm here to get some sense of whether or not the things we're going to put in place are actually going to have value."
Casey emphasized that Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program will be part of a Soldier's training from BCT through War College.
"This will be instituted so that at every level of Army school - Soldier, officer and noncommissioned officer - there will be a different level of resilience training taught," he said.
Casey said that the demands during war time make it a necessity for the Army to teach its Soldiers adequate coping skills.
"The treadmill that we have been on as an Army for the last eight years ... is such that if we don't give Soldiers these skills, we're going to have increasing challenges," he said.
He added that Fort Jackson, the largest Initial Entry Training installation in the Army, is a prime location for the program.
"I've been running around, seeing some of the training and talking to some of the Soldiers, and I must say, there's great potential here for the program," Casey said.
In addition to his focus on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, Casey took the opportunity to address graduating BCT Soldiers and their families during the family day activities of the 3rd Battalion, 13th Infantry Regiment, on Hilton Field.
"You're joining an Army that is the best in the world at what it does," he told the Soldiers. "You will become part of a great team and a great family."
Casey extended special thanks to the drill sergeants who transform civilians into Soldiers. He said that the Army celebrates this year as the 'Year of the NCO' because noncommissioned officers are the glue that holds the Army together.
"Nowhere is the competency of our noncommissioned officers more visible than here at Fort Jackson with our drill sergeants," Casey said.
At the start of the ceremony, the graduating Soldiers entered the field from the wood line through a cloud of multi-colored smoke - a sight that touched the 39-year Army veteran.
"I was standing there, watching the Soldiers come out of the woods and the smoke, running out in their formation," Casey described the scene after the event. "If you don't get a lump in the throat when that happens, you're not wearing the uniform for the right reason."