FORT RUCKER, Ala. (March 19, 2013) -- Secretary of the Army John McHugh was at Fort Rucker, Monday, where he assured Soldiers and family members that, despite budget concerns, those going into harm's way will be properly trained, fully equipped, and ready for their missions.

McHugh was at the U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence near Enterprise, Ala., where he made multiple stops to meet and spend time with Soldiers at the world class training facilities.

McHugh spoke with students of the Aviation Captain's Career Course who he described as a group of energetic leaders who "have taken on incredible responsibility with great professionalism."

He also had an exchange with some of the Army's most senior warrant officers at the Warrant Officer Career College who had important questions about the future of the Army.

"We can always learn a great deal about what they are thinking and what they are concerned about and what we need to know with respect to building the Army of the future," McHugh said.

At the Helicopter Overwater Survival Training facility, he observed pilots undergoing simulated escape scenarios in the facility's pool.

"I was impressed, again, with their professionalism, and the calm way in which those young Soldiers, who were being totally submerged and inverted, conducted themselves," McHugh said.

Concerning the budget, sequestration and their potential effects on Fort Rucker, McHugh talked about the tough decisions to be made at the Army and Department of Defense levels. There are a number of factors at play in terms of dollars and time available affecting how many pilots may be waiting for training between now and end of the year.

"For all of the challenges that we are facing, we are committed to these Soldiers and to ensuring that they are provided the absolute best training possible," McHugh pledged.

"Aviation is an absolutely irreplaceable part of our Army formations," he said. "[Aviation] is going to be a critically important part of the Army's future."

"In short," McHugh said, "the Center of Excellence here for Aviation is well named."