FORT GORDON, Ga. -- The Army Chief of Staff visited the home of the Signal Corps June 25 to commemorate its past and celebrate its future.
"The Signal Corps will be an essential element of the force for a long time," said Gen. George W. Casey, who stopped at Fort Gordon in honor of the Signal Corps' sesquicentennial anniversary.
Casey was in town for the Signal Corps Ball and held an afternoon news conference at the Signal Corps Museum in Conrad Hall, where he fielded a variety of questions from local media including his reaction to the top news story of the week - the resignation of Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the commander of U.S. troops in Afghanistan after his remarks in Rolling Stone.
Casey said while there was an overall sense of sadness at the resignation by many in the Army because they had a great respect for McChrystal's leadership efforts in Afghanistan, he supported President Barack Obama's handling of the situation. "The decision to appoint Gen. (David) Petraeus was the right one," he said.
In other war-related news, Casey said the drawdown in Iraq and the efforts to step up missions in Afghanistan were going according to schedule. The momentum is shifting away from the Taliban in Afghanistan. "We are making slow steady progress in Afghanistan," he said.
Also making steady progress is the fulfillment of promises made under the Army Family Covenant, which Casey has championed. "It was clear the force was stretched, and the most brittle was the family," he said. The son of an Army Major General who died in Vietnam, Casey knows all about Army family life from a family member's perspective. "My mom's motto was 'make the best of it,'" he said.
"We couldn't keep asking them to make the best of it." The covenant was more than just a piece of paper; however, as officials put their money where their mouth was and increased funding to benefit families. In its three-year history, the Army Family Covenant has enhanced the quality of life for Soldiers and their families with better medical care, improved child care, more educational opportunities and better housing. "We've made great progress, and it will continue to get better," he said.
Casey also thanked the Augusta community for its support of Soldiers and their families. "We've been at war for nine years, and the reason the force is so resilient is the support Soldiers and families get from their communities, and Augusta is no exception," he said.
After the news conference, Casey toured the museum to learn about the Signal Corps' 150-year history. Some of the tour highlights include the exhibit on the homing pigeons used during World War I and World War II. Casey laughed when museum director Robert Anzuoni pointed out the pigeon training manual and wanted a photograph of it.
Another highlight was the Oscar exhibit, which is being revamped. The Signal Corps won three Academy Awards for documentaries during and after World War II. The Oscars for the film Prelude to War is in Casey's office. Casey said he had wondered where the other two were. The Prelude to War Oscar had briefly visited the Signal Corps Museum, and Anzuoni asked if he could have it back when Casey was finished with it.