Today we have a guest blog entry from Army Secretary, John McHugh. Read below to learn about Sec. McHugh’s recent trip to Afghanistan.
Army Secretary John McHugh speaks with California native Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Cummings of Charlie Company, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, about taking care of Soldiers at Foward Operating Base Warhorse, Diyala, Iraq. December 18, 2009.
Just returned from a great trip seeing our Army’s efforts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Kuwait – followed up by a visit with Soldiers and their medical team at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. Spending time with our Soldiers overseas was a real improvement from my usual work week. As much as I value the input of the Army’s great senior military and civilian leaders at the Pentagon and throughout Washington, D.C., you just can’t beat what is learned from a personal view of conditions on the ground.
Not surprisingly, the primary intent behind the trip was to get feedback from Soldiers. My job as Secretary of the Army is to organize, train and equip the Army to carry out its mission to fight and win the nation’s wars. Among other issues, I asked Soldiers how well their unit formations function given their set of wartime missions, how we can improve training stateside before they deploy, their experiences with the various MRAP vehicles now in theater, and the medical evacuation process. In Kuwait, I focused on the tremendous effort to drawdown personnel and materiel in Iraq and concurrently to surge into Afghanistan. As a professional Army, we are committed to continuous improvement in order to do our mission more effectively and efficiently while minimizing loss of life. My impression is that we’re doing a good job, but I’ve brought back a few ideas to share with leaders here to provide even better support to warfighters in the field.
I also wanted to share some holiday cheer. At each place I visited, I expressed to Soldiers the thanks of the Army and the nation for their sacrifices and those of their families. It’s humbling to wish “happy holidays” to a Soldier at a remote forward operating base, and even more so when that Soldier is serving a second or third tour. Our nation is truly blessed by the commitment and courage of the few who choose to put country before self and serve us honorably.
For those of you reading this who are part of the military community – Soldiers, DA civilians, spouses, kids, parents, veterans, and volunteers – let me thank you for your part to keep our nation strong during this period of protracted conflict. Each of you makes a contribution to preserve our way of life, and to enable others to have a better future. My wish for us all, this year as always, is a warm, healthy, safe, and secure New Year.