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Feature Stories

NEWS | June 22, 2018

Secretary of the Army Visits Camp Arifjan

By Sgt. James Larimer U.S. Army Central

Secretary of the Army, Dr. Mark T. Esper visited U.S. Army Central Soldiers June 21 as part of his tour of the U.S. Army Central area of responsibility.

“It is always good to get out of the Pentagon, come out and find out what is really happening on the ground,” said Esper. “I just get a lot of good feedback that I take back to Washington, D.C.”

During his visit, Esper spoke about efforts underway to modernize Army training and equipment to build a more capable, lethal, and combat-ready force.

“We have to modernize what we have now,” said Esper. “Much of it, while it has been upgraded over the years, it is still the force that entered the Army when I entered the Army in the 1980s.”

“We are in the process of doing that now with regard to our research and development, our prototyping and, in some cases, the early procurements we are starting to make based on the six Army modernization priorities,” said Esper.
The six modernization priorities include long-range precision fires, next generation of combat-vehicles, future vertical lift platforms, Army network, air and missile defense capabilities, and Soldier lethality.

“All those things will happen,” said Esper. “My vision and the Army vision of 2028 is to begin fielding those within the next 10 years.”

During his visit, Esper joined Soldiers from the 49th Theater Gateway Company for physical readiness training, engaged with senior leaders, and toured a U.S. Army Prepositioned Stock warehouse.

During the PRT session, Spc. Toni Johnson, a Human Resource Specialist assigned to 101st Human Resource Company, said, “It motivates the Soldiers more to work hard, and one day one of us could be the Secretary of the Army.”

Esper emphasized the importance of the USARCENT mission as well as each Soldier’s responsibility to maintain individual readiness.

“The Army is a total army, the ability to leverage regular Army, National Guard, and the Reserve is critical to our war-fighting mission but also to the missions we have across the theaters particularly here at USARCENT,” said Esper. “The fact that you are enabling all three components is critical.”
In addition to meeting with Soldiers, Esper also met with and recognized Department of the Army Civilians for their contributions to the USARCENT mission.

Gloria Blake, a theater provided equipment program manager, with the 401st Army Field Support Brigade said, “To have somebody at that level come in and talk to us about our mission and talk to us about how he can help make it better, that is just a humbling experience.”
The secretary uses feedback received during visits like this to inform policy and process changes.

“Visits like today are one way we support the secretary’s efforts to modernize our Army by allowing him to have direct contact with Soldiers that are operating some of our most advanced and current combat systems,” said Maj. Gen. David Hill, the deputy commanding general for USARCENT.

Esper emphasized each Soldier’s responsibility in embracing change and maintaining individual readiness.

“We are going through a period of transition now, coming off of 17 years of hard warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan,” said Esper. “That is going to require us to build to a level of readiness that we are ready to fight and maintain it ... to do that we are going to really have to reform how we do business,” said Esper.