By Rick WoodJune 14, 2010
JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. Aca,!" The ongoing progress of Joint Base Lewis-McChord was show-cased to one of the most senior visitors yet, June 11.
Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. met with leaders of JBLM, who detailed the roll out and inception of the combined base.
Aca,!A"One of the reasons I came here was to get a sense of where we were,Aca,!A? Casey said of the progress made in transitioning to a joint base.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm convinced that only good things are going to come out of this cooperation,Aca,!A? he said.
Casey lauded local leadership for their problem solving.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm very pleased at whatAca,!a,,cs going on here,Aca,!A? Casey said.
The chief of staff also met with leaders from I Corps, which recently returned from a yearlong tour of duty in Iraq. The corpsAca,!a,,c deployment, redeployment and reintegration have been commendable, he said.
Aca,!A"IAca,!a,,cm very pleased with what theyAca,!a,,cre doing, and their plans to bring in additional resources for Soldiers and families,Aca,!A? Casey said.
Casey said the reintegration and dwell period after deployments are key factors in Army readiness.
Aca,!A"The intent of that period is to slow training down and let Soldiers have some time not only with their families, but to recover themselves,Aca,!A? he said.
Casey described a new Armywide program, Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, which aims to determine the level of readiness for each Soldier.
Aca,!A"It revolves around a global assessment tool,Aca,!A? Casey said. Aca,!A"Seven hundred thousand Soldiers have already taken that out of one million Aca,!" thatAca,!a,,cs huge.Aca,!A?
From that assessment, Soldiers and commanders get a real sense of an individualAca,!a,,cs strengths in core areas such as physical, emotional, spiritual and family fitness, he said.
Aca,!A"They know kind of where they stand,Aca,!A? Casey said. Aca,!A"ThatAca,!a,,cs a good baseline for these Soldiers to come back and figure out what they need to do.Aca,!A?
Casey also talked about the challenges still being faced by deployed Soldiers from JBLM. The experiences of 5th Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division, he said are examples of the difficult missions facing Army units in Afghanistan.
Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cve been in a tough fight,Aca,!A? Casey said. Aca,!A"TheyAca,!a,,cve been in a tough area, and I think theyAca,!a,,cve done very well.Aca,!A?
Casey expects ongoing operations to remain difficult Aca,!" but vital Aca,!" in execution of Operation Enduring Freedom, he said.
Aca,!A"I think theyAca,!a,,cre contributing to the successes weAca,!a,,cre seeing in vicinity of Kandahar,Aca,!A? Casey said.
Casey made a visit to MAMC and personally pinned on Purple Heart and Army Commendation medals to the chest of Spc. Brian Roberts.
Roberts was wounded in the legs during an improvised explosive device attack while on patrol in Afghanistan March 22, while serving as a combat medic with 4th Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 5th Bde., 2nd Inf. Div.
Aca,!A"You look great,Aca,!A? Casey said to Roberts after asking the 36-year-old Soldier how he was doing.
Aca,!A"I feel great, sir,Aca,!A? Roberts said as family members and comrades filled the room.
Aca,!A"One of the things I see as I go around the Army is that we are so lucky as a country to have men and women like Brian who are willing to sacrifice for the ideals and values of this country,Aca,!A? Casey said. Aca,!A"Freedom isnAca,!a,,ct free.Aca,!A?
Rick Wood is a reporter with Joint Base Lewis-McChordAca,!a,,cs weekly newspaper, the Northwest Guardian.