By Colleen Flaherty
Fort Hood Herald
There's a special place in retired Gen. Gordon Sullivan's heart for Fort Hood, he told members of the Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of the Association of the U.S. Army on Feb. 16.
Sullivan spoke at a quarterly general membership meeting at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center.
Sullivan, the national AUSA president and chief operating officer, has been to Fort Hood numerous times since he assumed that role in 1998, he said, and his career as an armor officer began here more than half a century ago.
The former chief of staff of the Army, who retired in 1995 after 36 years of service, reported to Fort Hood for the first time in 1960 with his butter bar.
"This place has always been at the forefront of change and has always done a great job," he said. "Good leadership is what makes our Army here in Central Texas, and this chapter demonstrates what leadership is all about."
Some 600 members of the chapter were present to hear Sullivan's kudos.
The local AUSA chapter is the largest in the country, with 14,000 members, from Lampasas to Waco. AUSA seeks to be a "voice for the Army" and "support for the soldier" through ongoing advocacy and outreach services, at the local, state and national levels.
Sullivan, who is based in Washington, D.C., also talked about the Army's and AUSA's shared future.
As operations in Iraq draw down, he said, Congress' plans for U.S. troops in Afghanistan and emerging hot spot Egypt are "unclear." Whatever the future holds, he said, the strategic force of the 21st Century will be "land power," a kind of face-to-face engagement of civilians in "these dangerous places" where "ideological conflicts will continue, in my view."
As legislative expectations for the Army materialize, Sullivan said, the AUSA will advocate for 700,000 active duty and reserve component soldiers, adequate Army funding and dwell time between deployments.
"(We) can't keep asking people to go to war every other year," he said. "Too much, too few."
AUSA members include retired military personnel, with combat experience dating back to World War II, and local businesspeople.
Active duty soldiers also attend meetings. Sgt. Maj. Lucinda Ramos, III Corps, said the Fort Hood chapter is the most active she's seen in nearly 20 years in the Army. She reads and hears about the AUSA here year-round, she said, not just during annual membership drives.
"Soldiers are definitely limited in what they can say and where they can attend," she said. "It's nice that somebody's looking out for soldier benefits and pay, looking out for our soldiers."
Fort Hood commander Maj. Gen. William Grimsley attributed the strength of the local AUSA to the area's overall support of the military.
There's no better place to serve than Central Texas,
Contact Colleen Flaherty at email@example.com or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.