FORT SHAFTER, Hawaii (Oct. 1, 2010) -- U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. spent Sept. 30 with U.S. Army, Pacific troops in Hawaii where he presented two prestigious awards and reassured Soldiers and Families that the promises made in the 2007 Army Family Covenant will not suffer when Department of Defense budget cuts are made.

Early in the day, Casey joined 25th ID Soldiers at Schofield Barracks for an after-action review of recently completed pre-deployment training. Casey later commended a Soldier and a Department of Army Civilian employee at an awards ceremony attended by Fort Shafter Soldiers and Civilians.

Casey presented U.S. Army, Pacific Career Counselor Master Sgt. Brian Byington with the Soldier's Medal, which was established in 1926, and is awarded for performance of acts requiring personal hazard or danger and the voluntary risk of life under conditions not involving conflict with an armed enemy. While vacationing at Disney World last year, Byington saved the life of a drowning civilian.

For orchestrating a seamless transition from the National Security Personnel System to the General Schedule System for USARPAC civilian employees with 100 percent accuracy, Casey presented the Superior Civilian Service Award to Civilian Human Resources Director Sandra Chun.

Casey said, "These individuals are great representatives of our noncommissioned officer corps and our civilian workforce ... both groups absolutely essential to the long-term health of the Army."

Following the ceremony, Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon introduced Casey to the standing- room-only crowd by acknowledging the chief's contributions to the success of the USARPAC mission.

Casey emphasized the increasingly strategic importance of USARPAC's presence in the Asia-Pacific area of operations and proclaimed this, "the century of the Pacific."

Noting the large number of family members present, Casey discussed the intent of Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to cut the defense budget by $100 billion and quashed concerns that Soldier and Family programs would be cut.

When he signed the Family Covenant at Fort Knox, Ky., on Oct. 17, 2007 along with then Secretary of the Army Pete Geren and Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston, Casey commented on the stressors associated with seven years of sustained conflict in Afghanistan.

"It was immediately clear to us that the Families were the most stretched, and as a result, the most stressed, part of the force, and that what we were asking those Families was a quantum different than anything I expected we would ask." He then promised to provide Soldiers and their families with a level of support commensurate with their level of service.

Here he reiterated that promise when he said, "I know folks are very nervous that when resources come down -- which they will -- that the first thing to go will be Family and Soldier programs. I'm here to tell you that we have sufficient funds to ensure that does not happen. And we will maintain the commitment we made to Families in 2007 in the Family Covenant. If you take nothing else away from the chief's visit here, please help me spread that word."