News: Secretary of the Army makes first visit to the 'Best' Hometown of the Army
Story by Spc. Shameka Edwards
As Secretary of the Army John McHugh settles into his new position, he made his first visit to Fort Carson Nov. 18 during a three-post installation tour.
"The intent of this trip is to provide me with the opportunity to look at the Army's process of resetting, training, equipping and preparing to deploy the fighting force of our United States Army through processes called ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation)," said McHugh.
To start the day, McHugh sat down to breakfast with 11 Soldiers from 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division. The Army's secretary and the war veterans spoke behind closed doors about an array of topics ranging from deployments to training.
Following the meal, key 4th Inf. Div. and Fort Carson leaders met with McHugh to discuss the post's current ARFORGEN cycle.
Fort Carson is a good post to view the ARFORGEN schedule. The post has some units deployed, some beginning the reset stage, others in the ready stage and units that are currently available, said McHugh.
A walk-through of "Raider" Brigade's company operating facility provided McHugh with a firsthand look at a unit presently in the ready stage of the ARFORGEN process.
Construction of the 1st BCT complex was recently completed with the opening of the $18 million Raider Brigade Dining Facility. The complex consists of a headquarters building, DFAC and several tactical maintenance facilities and COFs.
After his visit with 1st BCT, McHugh attended the first of two memorial ceremonies for 15 Fort Carson Soldiers killed in action while deployed in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.
The first ceremony honored eight 4th BCT, 4th Inf. Div. Soldiers who were killed in a single attack on a combat outpost.
The second ceremony honored seven 4th Engineer Soldiers who were killed in three separate attacks while deployed.
McHugh met privately with the families of those being honored to express his condolences and thank them personally.
Before his three-post tour, the Army's Secretary visited Fort Hood, Texas, following the Nov. 5 tragedy there.
While at Fort Hood, McHugh said he visited the Soldier Readiness Center and talked to Warrior Transition Unit Soldiers.
He and the WTU Soldiers discussed the challenges they face and their ongoing needs.
McHugh also addressed the Army's suicide numbers and the multiple acts of violence across the Army.
"The Army is continuing to improve its mental health services for Soldiers," he said. "We have to do a better job of helping our Soldiers."
At Fort Carson, McHugh met with several Soldiers assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion and listened to their concerns behind closed doors.
McHugh also talked with a select group of 4th Inf. Div. company commanders allowing them to explain to him what he can do in Washington to help them do their jobs better here at Fort Carson.
"I have a pretty good feel for some things we need to do differently at the Pentagon level," he said.
"No matter what enemy may arise we will be able to configure our fighting forces in a way to meet that challenge," said McHugh.
The Army will always find a way to supply, train, recruit and equip the Army, he added.
During his visit, McHugh stressed to leaders the importance of being "good neighbors" to those in the surrounding community.
He spoke of the tremendous support that the Front Range community has shown toward Fort Carson Soldiers, Family members and civilians.
After the memorial services, McHugh met with members of the media and answered questions about several topics, from the violent acts committed by Soldiers returning from deployments, to training, the Pinon Canyon Maneuver Site and the Army's ARFORGEN process.
McHugh will continue his three-post tour by visiting Fort Irwin, Calif.