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Feature Stories

NEWS | Sept. 19, 2016

Army Secretary meets Soldiers in Kuwait

By Sgt. Brandon Hubbard U.S. Army Central

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait – Secretary of the Army Eric Fanning spent time September 19 meeting with deployed U.S. Army Central Soldiers serving at Camp Buehring and Camp Arifjan during his first official tour of Army operations in Kuwait.
The top U.S. Army civilian greeted aviators, engineers, trainers, logisticians and infantry Soldiers during his day-long tour.
“I can’t make informed decisions if I’m not out here seeing Soldiers, seeing what they are doing and seeing the impact of the decisions we make,” Fanning said. “It gives me a lot more credibility when I go back to the office and back to the Pentagon to talk to (the Secretary of Defense) about what we need.” 
Fanning was sworn in as the 22nd Army secretary in May. In his expansive role as the senior Department of the Army civilian, he is responsible for all facets of the U.S. Army, from manpower to budget.
“A lot of people don’t really understand my job,” Fanning said. “Essentially it is to recruit, train and equip the Army so that we meet the requirements that the combatant commanders set around the world for current and contingency operations. It’s my job to set the force for what we need today and what we will need for tomorrow.”
During the past week, the secretary traveled to Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait and other locations to see Soldiers on the ground.
USARCENT uses Kuwait as a key hub for operations throughout its 20-nation area of operations. Units at Camp Arifjan and Camp Buehring serve in critical support roles to U.S. Central Command’s missions throughout the region.
The official party toured the large warehouses of pre-positioned stocks of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade, 77th Combat Aviation Brigade, 176th Engineer Brigade and 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team.
The secretary said he was impressed with the rapid-support capabilities USARCENT has established in Kuwait to supply the Army anywhere in the region.
“Those pre-positioned stocks – that are (in Kuwait), in Japan for that theater and we are building up in Europe – no other service and no other country in the world can do anything like that. It truly sets the United States Army apart and is a remarkable thing to see,” Fanning said.
But, he said, the best aspect of traveling abroad is meeting Soldiers individually. 
“To me, the highlight is anytime I get to interact directly with troops – no PowerPoint slides, no conference rooms, no window-less offices,” Fanning said.
The secretary is known for reaching out to younger Soldiers through social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook, and even lightheartedly rating the MREs he eats while in the field. (Recent tweet at the Joint Readiness Training Center: “Menu 7: Brisket Entrée – A worthy 8/10. One thing I’m learning, it’s all about the sides.”)
 “I want to be out in the field seeing the Soldiers do what they do, where they do it,” he said.
Dozens of Soldiers lined up to take photos with Fanning at each location.
“I wouldn’t even expect the Army secretary to visit us in a deployed environment,” said Sgt. Nancy Herrera, a signal support systems specialist with the 863rd Engineer Battalion, 176th Engineer Brigade, after taking a selfie. “It is great, especially here in Kuwait because you sometimes feel separated from the fight. But, to have someone like this come here is a real morale booster. It’s overwhelming.”