FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. (July 20, 2012) -- Gen. David M. Rodriguez noted the importance of service to the nation Friday during remarks to members of the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville.

"I personally think we should probably look at some kind of universal service. It doesn't have to be the military, but some sort of universal service that would be beneficial to the nation," he said.

The Kiwanis Club, he said, is one such example. "Like all organizations that serve our community, the Kiwanis Club of Fayetteville positively impacts our community in many ways. Similar to my role as a leader of Soldiers, your civic projects reach out to develop young people -- teaching them to be leaders and contributing members of the community."

The Army, he said, has many challenges ahead. Among them: balancing personnel, readiness and modernization in budget-constrained times. He said that about half of the defense budget goes toward "taking care of people," so tough decisions will have to be made about military priorities.

"At the end of the day, we don't want a lot of personnel that we can't train and a force we can't modernize," he said. "The Army leadership has a tremendous challenge ahead as we transition to better enable the joint force of 2020. We are changing how we organize, equip and train our force to be more responsive to the combatant commanders in the field."

He said Fort Bragg and its 57,000 Soldiers will be vital to the Army mission for the long term. "All Fort Bragg Soldiers are going to lead the way in the 21st century and beyond. Plus they have the best leaders and they are adaptable."

During a brief question and answer session, Rodriguez fielded questions about the uprising in Syria, future base closures, the transition of U.S. Forces out of Afghanistan, women's roles in combat, use of unmanned aircraft and the drawdown of forces.

Rodriguez said the Army is undergoing a test opening some combat jobs to women at eight brigades. If successful, more jobs may open up to women. "Quite frankly over the past few years, the role of women in combat has changed in the Army anyhow," he said. "Whatever we do in the future will be based on standards."

Following his question and answer session, Rodriguez was awarded an honorary membership to the Kiwanis, a global organization for community service.