FORWARD OPERATING BASE SALERNO, Afghanistan (Feb. 13, 2008) -- Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Richard Cody visited with Soldiers at this forward operating base near Afghanistan\'s border with Pakistan this week and discussed the Army's plan to alleviate some of the burden of long deployments.

"We are standing up six new infantry brigades and eight other brigades," Cody said, explaining how the
Army will grow over the next five years. "We would like to get to the point where we have 12-month deployments with 24 months back at home with your family and taking care of schools and training."

Cody also promoted, re-enlisted, and presented awards to Soldiers during his call on troops from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team, headquartered in Vicenza, Italy; the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky.; and the 4th Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

In addition, the general discussed operations with leaders and talked with troops about their efforts in Afghanistan.

"I don't know about this war like you do, but I understand what it is like," said Cody. "I'm not just some bureaucrat from Washington. I have two sons in the Army with six deployments between them."

"You joined because 300 million people back home depend on you," Cody said. "You're writing history.
You'll be able to look back in 30 or 40 years and know you made a difference in this world."

Cody spoke of the support America is giving to the Soldiers' efforts. He said America holds its Soldiers in high regard during this war and understands the struggles and hardships troops in Afghanistan and Iraq face daily.

"I am very optimistic, regardless of the stress of six years at war," Cody continued. "People are behind you and support what you're doing. Where the American Soldier marches, freedom marches in his footsteps."

The 173rd ABCT is an element of U.S. Army Europe.