By Pvt. Emily V. Knitter, 1st BCT-A, 3rd ID, USD-C Public AffairsApril 29, 2010
BAGHDAD (April 29, 2010) -- Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. visited 1st Advise and Assist Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, on Contingency Operating Station Falcon, April 28.
The visit was part of his brief tour of Iraq to discuss the progress and future of the country with the units key to its future in the upcoming months.
"General Casey is travelling around Iraq, and one of the things he wanted to do was visit an advise and assist brigade," said Col. Roger Cloutier, the 1/3 AAB, commander. "We will be the only brigade in Baghdad province, and will be partnered with six [Iraqi] divisions and three operational commands. He wanted to come and discuss how we task organized and how we are accomplishing the mission."
His visit not only provided the commanders within the brigade an opportunity to discuss the successes and the future of their mission in Iraq with the CSA, it also provided the Soldiers of COS Falcon a chance to see and interact with the highest-ranking Soldier in the Army.
"I think it's a great opportunity for the Soldiers in our brigade to see the senior leader of the Army," said Cloutier. "They don't get to see him very often. The fact that he would travel all this way and we would get an hour of his time is flattering; it makes the Soldiers feel good."
During the brief meeting with Casey, key leaders and commanders also had the chance to hear his opinion on the mission progress to this point.
"The benefit [of Gen. Casey's visit] is perspective," said Cloutier. "He has seen the changes, and we had a great discussion about how things have evolved over time, the way ahead, and where we think Iraq is going. It gives you a good feeling when the chief of staff of the Army says, 'Hey, I think you guys are right on track; you understand this complex problem.' And his perspective is that we are doing it right."
Casey, who is in charge of the overall training, shaping, and equipping of the Army, spent time discussing the direction the Army as a whole will be taking in the future.
"We have increased the size of the Army almost 90,000 Soldiers since 2007," said Casey. "That enabled us to meet the plus-up in Afghanistan without having to go to 15-month deployments, and still come off of Stop Loss. I used to see the divisions that were 12 to 13 months at home, but when I go around the Army now I'm seeing 17 to 18 months as the normal. And that is going to continue. It's going to continue to the point by the end of 2011, we are going to have 70 percent of the active force at one year out, two years back, and 80 percent of the Guard and Reserve at one year out, four years back."
As Casey flew off after his whirlwind visit, the Soldiers of COS Falcon were left with the right to feel good about his trip, and themselves.
"[Gen. Casey] came down to see how we're doing," said Cloutier. "He understands how we're accomplishing our mission. He said 'You guys have got it, and I think you are on track.' Folks back home should be proud of their sons and daughters. The men and women of this brigade are doing a phenomenal job here. They are far from home, but they understand what we are trying to achieve and they are putting it on the line every day."