FORT RUCKER, Ala. (June 28, 2012) -- Under Secretary of the Army Joseph W. Westphal got an in-depth look at the daily operations of the U.S. Army Combat Readiness/Safety Center during a visit June 26.

"We are very fortunate to have this dedicated team of professionals working on behalf of our Soldiers, families and civilians," Westphal said. "The sustained decline in accidental fatalities shows safety is a priority in our Army and that leaders recognize it as critical to our readiness."

The Army has logged consecutive reductions in accidental deaths nearly every year since fiscal year 2008, with numbers from the past three fiscal years approaching pre-Sept. 11, 2001, peacetime levels.

Westphal began the visit with a briefing on the status of the Army Safety Program, led by Brig. Gen. Timothy J. Edens, director of Army Safety and commanding general, USACR/Safety Center. After touring the center and talking with key employees from each directorate, Westphal explored the Crash Dynamics Laboratory, a state-of-the-art educational facility used in civilian safety training and accident investigation courses.

The stop at the USACR/Safety Center was just one part of Westphal's two-day visit to the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker. He and other senior leaders are touring centers of excellence throughout the Army Training and Doctrine Command to get an up-close look at each installation's warfighting mission.

Edens said he was pleased to have the under secretary see firsthand how Army safety takes shape, and also expressed his gratitude to Westphal for his support of the USACR/Safety Center and the Army Safety Program.

"It was an honor to have Doctor Westphal with us today," Edens said. "The success we've had in reducing accidental deaths has been due in large measure to senior Army leaders championing our safety programs.

"This was a fantastic opportunity for us to showcase the hard work this team puts forth every day."