By Kimberly GearhartAugust 26, 2007
SCHWEINFURT, Germany - The Supreme Allied Commander Europe spent an hour Wednesday answering questions, sharing information, and praising Soldiers, Family members, and civilians in the Schweinfurt military community.
With many Schweinfurt troops deployed downrange, "I can't tell you much that you don't know about the global war on terrorism. You live it everyday," said Gen. Bantz J. Craddock, who also oversees U.S. European Command.
Command Sgt. Maj. Mark Farley, EUCOM's senior enlisted leader, echoed the general's sentiment, noting that his own son is enlisted and has been through two deployments. Farley said it is different, seeing deployments from the side of a Family member, rather than a Soldier.
"I understand that on a personal level," he said.
But the reason for their visit, Farley explained, was to be the community's "voice back into the big system."
"If there's really a burr under your saddle, we need to hear about it," Craddock agreed.
The ensuing questions covered issues ranging from the lack of available doctors to the problems that Stop Loss/Stop Movements cause with Date Eligible for Return From Overseas.
"DEROS is a 20th Century anachronism," for a 21st century Army, Craddock said, calling it a "security blanket" that everyone is comfortable with, but that needs to change to suit the ever-changing needs of America's fighting forces and their families.
Farley addressed concerns about dwell time, and how Army schools such as the Basic Noncommissioned Officer Course and the Advanced Noncommissioned Officer Course may be changed, allowing Soldiers to spend more time at home, rather than using their dwell time training.
That training, however, is what separates and elevates U.S. fighting forces above and beyond other forces, Craddock said.
Strong communities, and strong, innovative rear-detachment forces, such as Task Force Guardian, are the other keys to maintaining a strong force. Craddock praised TFG as "probably the model for the Army in the future" and a "pioneering" effort in rear-detachment organization.
On the subject of communities, Craddock was hit with questions regarding the status of Schweinfurt, and its absence from the list of enduring European military installations.
"We may not have enough forces here" to accomplish the tasks that Craddock needs the Army to achieve. "Some of the assumptions made in 2003 (when the current plan was approved) are no longer valid."
The Schweinfurt community will continue to support its deployed Soldiers from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the 1st Squadron, 91st Cavalry Regiment and other individually deployed elements, as well as Families back home.
"You are serving just as much as your Soldier spouses," Farley said, and for that service, for those sacrifices, both Farley and Craddock tendered a heartfelt "Thank you."
(Kimberly Gearhart is a member of the USAG Schweinfurt Public Affairs Office)