News: Chief of USAR Visits Afghanistan
Story by Staff Sgt. Mark Burrell
NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan – The Chief of the Army Reserve visited with deployed Army Reserve troops at Forward Operating Base Fenty in eastern Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, Jan. 21.
“What I always stress whenever I get to talk to a group, whether it’s in public or in front of Congress, is how much our nation needs to appreciate what you do. You are a national treasure,” said U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz to a group of about 50 Army Reserve soldiers.
During his two-day whirlwind tour of Afghanistan, Stultz is slated to visit more than 400 U.S. Army Reserve soldiers stationed throughout six different bases.
Stultz spoke about his early experiences in the military and how much things have changed for the Army, but particularly the Army Reserve.
“This is a totally different Army and a totally different Army Reserve than when I entered back in the 70s. Our Nation, I don’t think really understands or appreciates what you do,” explained Stultz. “These are soldiers who have jobs, have families, have homes that are willing to leave that to go serve their country and risk their lives.”
With the upcoming drawdown of forces in Iraq, he answered questions on what the future of Afghanistan holds for men and women in the USAR.
“We’ve been told that we’re going to start to draw down this summer,” Stultz said. “Nobody knows what that means. One person leaves or a lot of people leave, we don’t know. So we are uncertain what that looks like, but we have to plan for it.”
He added that it wasn’t a choice anymore whether or not to use Army Reserve soldiers in Afghanistan or Iraq, but rather it is where the majority of the Army’s support capabilities lie.
Yet, there is a transformation that needs to take place still. Stultz talked about making the Army Reserve leaner and more functional.
“I was really excited about when he talked about the transformation into an operational element,” said U.S. Army Reserve 1st Lt. Sara B. Nash, a postal officer assigned to the 387th Human Resources Company attached to Task Force Bastogne. “He’s talking about getting rid of excess positions and the people that don’t deploy. It’s frustrating time and time again units deploy and the full-time staff doesn’t.”
Nash said she was also impressed about the connections that Stultz is making with businesses on the behalf of Army Reserve soldiers that frequently deploy.
“A lot of my soldiers have lost their civilian jobs because of the high [operational tempo],” Nash explained. “So if they can go home and have an option to go to a website and look for truck driving positions for companies that are looking for personnel that are in the Army Reserve and know that they can be deployed, I think it’s excellent.”
Nash, a native of Topeka, Kan., who has more than 12 years in the military, added that she was impressed with him visiting her soldiers at such a small forward operating base.
“It’s a huge moral booster for my troops that I’ve noticed,” said Nash. “You don’t see a three-star general every day.”
U.S. Army Reserve Pfc. Matthew V. Walden agreed.
“We actually have a picture of him up in our office that that makes this unique,” said Walden, a hospital logistics specialist from Saint George, Utah, assigned to the 971st Medical Logistics Company attached to Task Force Bastogne. “He flowed from topic to topic and wasn’t rehearsed, so that kept our attention.”
It isn’t hard to keep these deployed soldiers’ attention when talking about deployments, benefits and the future of Army Reserve soldiers.
Yet, Stultz took more time out of his schedule to recognize and coin certain individuals for their recent efforts before boarding a UH-60 Blawk Hawk for his next destination.