NEWS | March 30, 2018

Congressman makes first visit to U.S. Army Central Headquarters

By Sgt. Matt Kuzara U.S. Army Central

The U.S. representative for South Carolina’s 5th District, which encompasses Shaw Air Force Base, visited the U.S. Army Central headquarters here Friday for the first time since taking office in June.

Congressman Ralph Norman, along with his district director, retired U.S. Army Lt. Col. David O’Neal; and 5th District liaison, Freddie Gault, met with USARCENT Commander Lt. Gen. Michael X. Garrett and USARCENT staff to discuss issues affecting Soldiers who reside in the district, which also includes the nearby towns of Camden and Sumter.

After learning about issues as far ranging as ensuring freedom of navigation through the Strait of Hormuz, the value of forward positioned stock and force packages, and local topics like schools and jobs for USARCENT families, Norman and his associates inquired about the challenges facing the command.

"When I was last [at Shaw] with the Air Force, they told me that maintenance was a big concern. Is that how it is for you?" the congressman asked.

Like many units across the Department of Defense, resourcing continues to be the biggest challenge that plagues the command.

“Continuing resolutions help ensure funding, but the impact of not having a predictable budget with which to plan is that we have to prioritize which units’ equipment requirements are going to be fulfilled and maintained to deployment standards before they are moved into theater,” Garrett explained.

Norman expressed surprise at the size and dynamic nature of the theater where USARCENT has distributed forces. The command has forces arrayed across more than 15 of the 20 countries in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. USARCENT’s forward posture and enduring presence help ensure homeland defense and protect U.S. interests.

"Everybody in Congress ought to come here to see this to understand," Norman said.