By Robin BrownMay 18, 2007
FORT MCPHERSON, Ga. (Army News Service, May 18, 2007) - In a visit to Fort McPherson and Fort Gillem Tuesday, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. emphasized his goal to support Army Families.
Gen. Casey is spending his first 60 days on the job framing initiatives. He will take the next 100 days to receive feedback from leaders, Soldiers and Families to calibrate whether the initiatives - which include maintaining the continuity of Army modernization and increasing the quality of support to Soldiers and Families affected by deployments - are the right areas of emphasis.
The responses from his tour will be presented to the assistant secretaries of the Army in charge of each initiative. They will prepare action plans and create necessary programs and budget systems, the general said.
Eight-five to 90 percent of Soldiers are comfortable with the Army transformation, Gen. Casey said.
"There is great support for what the Army is trying to accomplish in terms of modernization and support to deploying forces, preparing the deploying forces and resettling those that deploy," he said. "We are in a consistent cycle of consuming and building readiness, and that will continue well past the time Army operations have ended in Iraq and Afghanistan."
But Families are stressed by the increase and pace of deployments, he added. "And we are starting to see the impact of five years of war on our Soldiers, Families, equipment and institution... We will raise what we do for Families another notch. Doing so will preserve the strength of the force."
The general said Family members have expressed to him that it's not new programs they want, but funding and standardization for programs that already exist. Information must also be given to teachers to help them understand what children may be going through when one parent or both are deployed for extended periods.
"Combat is inherently brutal and difficult, and it impacts humans in different ways," he said. "We have recognition and counseling programs we are working on to enhance and increase the level of support for Families and their Soldiers who are dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury."
Gen. Casey served in Iraq as a commander for 30 months and insists the Army isn't stretched too thin. "We will give the nation the Army it needs in 2020, while we meet our commitment today," he said.
Before arriving here, Gen. Casey visited two other Georgia installations - Fort Fort Benning and Fort Gordon. He will visit San Antonio, Texas, next week.
(Robin Brown writes for the Fort McPherson Sentinel.)