News: Camp Arifjan soldiers attend virtual town hall meeting
Story by Sgt. Jennifer Spradlin
CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Soldiers deployed to Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, utilized video teleconferencing technology to attend a town hall meeting led by Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, U.S. Army Central Commander, at Shaw Air Force Base, S.C., Oct. 17.
It was the first town hall meeting for Gen. Terry, who took command of the unit in June, and an opportunity to address the current state of USARCENT and ongoing changes throughout the Army.
The general reiterated the importance of the mission of USARCENT as an Army Service Component Command (ASCC), which equates to laying the groundwork for combatant commanders and the warfighters to succeed. He also talked more specifically of the unit’s vital role within the 20 country area of responsibility, as the force which deters adversaries and enables regional partners. Despite the Department of Defense Pacific realignment plans, he said the mission would remain relevant in the future.
According to Area Support Group- Kuwait Commander, Col. Christopher L. Eubank, who watched the town hall with a group of soldiers of different ranks and military occupational specialties (MOSs), ensuring that all soldiers understand how they add to the team is one useful aspect of the event.
“I think it’s absolutely essential that people, especially [those in junior enlisted and officer ranks], who work in USARCENT understand the bigger picture. [These events] help them understand, ‘hey, the job I am doing at the Main Command Post or Operational Command Post –now I know why it makes sense, now I know why I am doing what I am doing: it’s about presence and access to a region that is vital to national interests,’” said Eubank.
Another reason the town hall was useful, said Eubank, is because it provided access to the highest levels of leadership within the organization.
“People may not get to interface with the commanding general, have an opportunity to the hear him talk about the vision of U.S. Army Central and where we’re heading, and they also get to ask questions. It’s their turn or time to ask the guy who is in charge, ‘hey, what about this?’” said Eubank.
For many soldiers, their questions relate to the downsizing of the Army and the impact of the Budget Control Act and Sequestration. Gen. Terry, with Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier, addressed the realities of fiscal constraints.
“What the Chief [of Staff of the Army] has to do, and the Army staff have to do, is make decisions based on a number of factors and it all relates to how much readiness we can buy. Force structure or people, modernization and training relate to readiness. We can only afford so much structure before we start eroding readiness. All that has to be completely in balance,” explained Gen. Terry.
It has already been determined that the active duty Army will decrease in size from 570,000 to 490,000. Frennier said that hard decisions will be made about which soldiers to reenlist or retain and promotions will slow down. He said the keys to success lie in professional development and in counseling. He also advised soldiers to make themselves relevant by seeking out their peers and learning more about the mission and about their Army experiences.
Gen. Terry advocated for “present leaders” and pushed them to look at their command climate. Those commands with leaders who do not counsel are often the ones that have Equal Opportunity (EO) complaints and instances of sexual assault or sexual harassment.
Before taking the time to answer questions from each of the participating locations, Gen. Terry reiterated that the Army values will never change and put up a slide with the Soldier Creed.
“This should remind you who we are and what we do. Never discount or forget it,” he said.
Gen. Terry plans to hold a town hall at least once per quarter.