Secretary of the Army visits Anaconda

by Spc. Alexandra Hemmerly-Brown

LSA Anaconda, Iraq — The 19th Secretary of the Army visited Anaconda to discuss the current conditions in Iraq and meet with Soldiers Nov. 22.

During a breakfast meeting, Dr. Francis J. Harvey answered questions and joked with more than 20 Soldiers representing several of the units stationed here.

“We can’t go to war without you guys and gals in this room,” Harvey said, stressing the importance of logistical jobs.

Many Soldiers asked questions of the Secretary pertaining to deployment lengths, the length of the war, and future plans for Iraq.

“If we pulled out of Iraq now, it would implode,” Harvey said. “The end objective is to have a stable Iraq. We’ve got to rid the world of terrorism, or your children and my children will be living with it.”

He said the current deployment rotation plan for active duty Soldiers, is for them to have two years at their home station to every one year deployed. That criteria is not currently being met, he said as the average “dwell time” is about 1 and 1/2 years.

“We refuse to go below one year in dwell-time,” Harvey said.

When asked if there would be an increase or decrease of Reserve and National Guard deployments in the future, Harvey said that is yet to be determined. He said deployment of Reserve and Guard Soldiers has always been part of the Army’s plan in a time of war, so constant deployments should come as no surprise. As to whether Soldiers should expect deployments more often, he said planning is still being revised.

“Whether or not we have to break the deployment timeline has not been decided,” Harvey said.

Harvey spoke about servicemembers’ contribution to the United States, noting that he thinks every citizen should serve their country at least one point in their lives. He thanked the Soldiers present for their service and said the American people truly appreciate the sacrifices servicemembers make here.

He spoke of the new Army Strong campaign slogan, and said it really catches the essence of being a Soldier today.

Harvey also stressed the importance of furthering personal education, and reminded the Soldiers present of the education benefits available through the Army.

Spc. Nazara L. Boone, an ammunitions specialist from Dayton, Ohio, with the 4th Command Materiel Management Center said it was interesting to meet someone who has some control over the entire Army. She was chosen for the meeting because of her leadership skills and her recent receipt of several awards.

“My little brother is in the National Guard, so he answered some of my questions about him being deployed again,” she said.

Spc. Curtis M. Moe, a transportation management coordinator from Minneapolis, Minn., with the 657th Movement Control Team said it was interesting to hear what Harvey said about the Army’s future.

“I got a lot of good information, and he answered a lot of questions I had,” Moe said.

Harvey was visiting several bases in Iraq before returning to the States. Brig. Gen. Michael J. Terry, 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) commanding general, and Command Sgt. Maj. Terry Fountain, 13th SC(E) sergeant major, attended the breakfast with Harvey.

Appointed Secretary of the Army in 2004, some of Harvey’s responsibilities include overseeing the U.S Army’s annual budget. He leads a force of active duty, Guard, and Reserve Soldiers, as well as Department of the Army civilian employees and contracted personnel.

“I’m committed to being the Secretary of the Army and darn proud of it,” he said. 

In closing, Harvey maintained that above all, the long-term goal is an end to terrorism.

“The objective is to break the cycle of terrorism or be saddled with terrorism forever,” Harvey said.