WASHINGTON -- More than 30 10th Mountain Division (LI) Soldiers, to include Fort Drum's senior leaders, and community members went to Washington to take part in the 27th annual meeting and exposition of the Association of the United States Army.

The AUSA exposition was held Oct. 10-12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center and was hosted by retired Gen. Gordon R. Sullivan, president and chief operating officer of the Association of the United States Army, headquartered in Arlington, Va.

A detail of Soldiers accompanied the Northern New York chapter of the AUSA to assist in putting together the hospitality suite displays, the "Hooah" tent at the Army Ten-Miler and much more, making the chapter's presence at the convention a success.

The Association of the United States Army is a nonprofit organization that serves as an advocate for the Army. Its mission is to be the voice of the Army, provide informational and educational programs, and cultivate support from the public.

There are more than 125 AUSA chapters that represent their local Army installations, Reserve units and the Army National Guard. The Northern New York-Fort Drum chapter serves the 10th Mountain Division.

"It is our goal to make sure Soldiers have homes to live in, great benefits and the latest in technology to better equip them on the battlefield," said Joseph, E. Mc-Laughlin, Northern New York-Fort Drum chapter president.

"The Soldiers and Army Ten-Miler runners were given the chance to see a glimpse of what the AUSA does for the Army. The convention floor displayed nothing but the latest in technology from the top competing vendors. AUSA helps Soldiers to get that technology," McLaughlin added.

Soldiers had an opportunity to tour the White House and attend a number of the AUSA events, as a reward for their hard work and dedication to this task.

"The detail of Soldiers (was) outstanding; it was a great representation of what it means to be a 10th Mountain Division Soldier," said Capt. Jennifer Gonzalez, officer in charge of the trip.

"We have endless support from the Northern New York AUSA chapter," Gonzalez added. "Fort Drum personnel can't do enough to support the local chapter for what they do for us."

The Army's top leaders in attendance had a task of their own in mind: to inform Soldiers about the state of the Army and to shed light on many topics that have been creating a buzz throughout the organization.

Command Sgt. Maj. John Cal-pena, Army Training and Doctrine Command, squashed the rumors behind the anticipated and soon-to-be ordained new Army Physical Fitness Test.
"There is no new PT test," Cal-pena said.

He clarified that there is a possibility of a new PT test, but no decision on the matter will be made until the April timeframe.

Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh addressed the concern behind the proposed future defense budget cuts. He wanted to assure people that the possible cuts would not affect the Army's readiness and ability to react to future missions and would not compromise our ability to sustain our current one.

Regardless of the tapered future budget, "We still have an obligation to preserve the strategic options for the president of the United States and to maintain modernized forces capable of decisive combat action," McHugh said.

At the Dwight D. Eisenhower luncheon the next day, Gen. Raymond T. Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, referenced that their concerns behind the nation's fiscal crisis, "is to set priorities, channel resources and prevent conflicts before they become too costly."

"There is no getting around the fact that the Army has carried the major burden of the past decade, providing between 50 and 70 percent of our deployable forces," he said.

"It's important to recognize that while the Army represents half of our nation's defense force, it gets a quarter to 30 percent of the bud-get," McHugh added.

"Accordingly, our national interests demand that as we go about the task of reshaping this Army in the years ahead, we remain steadfast in continuing to support this, the greatest land force the world has ever known," he said.

"We can, we must, and I promise you, we will do better," McHugh said.