FORT STEWART, Ga. (Feb. 28, 2012) -- Third Infantry Division Soldiers had the distinct opportunity to meet the 21st Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, during his first visit to Fort Stewart since being sworn in Sep. 21, 2009.

Charlie Company, 3rd Battalion, 69th Armor Regiment, 1st Heavy Brigade Combat Team, Third Infantry Division, conducted a tank range in which the secretary of the Army observed Raider Brigade Soldiers engage targets in the new version of the M1A2 SEP V3 main battle tank. After watching the Soldiers engage targets from the safety of the range tower, McHugh donned the personal protective equipment and climbed into one of the M1A2 SEP V3 tanks to fire the 120mm main gun.

At the conclusion of the range, McHugh had lunch with Soldiers from 2nd Heavy Brigade Combat Team, who are scheduled to deploy to Afghanistan in the spring. The Spartan Soldiers are among several 3rd Infantry Division units to recently be selected to deploy to Afghanistan.

During the press conference with local news media representatives, McHugh addressed several issues concerning the Army and its Soldiers. The main concerns were in reference to the Army's new retention policy and projected budget cuts.

When asked how the Army would move forward in shaping its force for the future, McHugh stated "We're trying to retain the best of the best."

Programs such as Family, Morale, Welfare and Recreation that have been initiated to help Soldiers and family members in recent years will not be affected by the proposed cuts, according McHugh.

"We will do everything we can not to balance the budget on their backs," he said.