FORT CAMPBELL, KY, (Army News Service, Oct. 12, 2007) - Senior military officials from the U.S. and Afghanistan visited the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Unified Endeavor exercise at Fort Campbell Friday.

The two-week exercise was designed to replicate, through both computer simulation and role playing, the complex operating environment that the 101st will face as it's headquarters assumes the lead U.S. military role in Afghanistan in early 2008.

Gen. Abdul Rahim Wardak, Afghan national defense minister; Gen. George Casey, U.S. Army chief of staff; Gen. Charles Campbell, Forces Command commander; and others spent the last day of the exercise touring the joint operations center and attending the final review.

Gen. Wardak came to Fort Campbell to further the close relationship between the Afghan and U.S. forces by observing the exercise and strengthening personal ties with the division commander, Maj. Gen. Jeffrey Schloesser.

Maj. Gen. Schloesser said he intends to continue a balanced approach toward the operations in Afghanistan by supporting the government in their security, economic development, and governance efforts to create a secure and stable environment for its people.

To do so, Schloesser has directed his unit to rigorously train for the upcoming mission in a realistic way incorporating the lessons learned by the current headquarters and training support from the Joint Forces Command, foreign officers and a variety of government agencies all with expertise in the counter insurgency operation in Afghanistan.

Gen. Casey took the opportunity, in his first visit to Fort Campbell since becoming chief of staff, to observe the activities and programs that he emphasizes Army-wide by meeting with family readiness group assistants and wounded warriors.

The 101st headquarters is designed to and routinely functions as an Army division command and control structure, when it takes the helm in Afghanistan, it must operate as a Combined Joint Task Force which includes integration with the Afghanistan government organizations, coalition partners and sister U.S. services operating there. The Unified Endeavor exercise is the capstone event, officials said, and serves as a gauge of preparedness as well as a training opportunity.

While speaking to the family readiness group assistants, Gen. Casey said, "We should treat families as a readiness issue. To us as Soldiers, that means we need to deal with it because it affects our mission."

In is farewell speech to 2nd Brigade Combat Team troops deploying Friday, Gen. Casey said of their mission in Operation Iraqi Freedom, "What is at stake is nothing less than the ideals on which this nation is based."

(Information submitted by Fort Campbell Public Affairs.)