Lt. Gen. Mark Milley knows a lot about Afghanistan. During his 34 years in the Army, he served several tours in the Middle East and recently returned from the war-torn country in February.
In his opening remarks during the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce’s Military Affairs Committee Luncheon on April 24, he thanked the 80 people in attendance for their outpouring of support during the April 2 shooting.
“That incident has significant and severe consequences. The ripple affects are wide. It’s not just the three killed and the 16 wounded, but it’s the families and the soldiers associated with them,” he said. “You are talking about a significant ripple effect and the first burst of energy during that first week, with the president showing up and national-level congressmen and etc., and all that’s good and very, very important, but now the hard work is the sustained level of effort to take care of those soldiers and their families over time and to continue to take care of the Fort Hood community over time.”
Milley, III Corps’ top general and commander of Fort Hood, also spoke about the milestones made in the 13 years of persistent conflict, the future of the country as U.S. troops begin to turn operations over to the Afghan National Security Forces and issues impacting the installation and community at-large.
“Commitment from the international community right now is important to the success of Afghanistan,” he said about what will happen when U.S. forces leave. “The big question now is the biggest: commitment. It’s not their commitment, it’s our commitment. We’ll see which way the decision-makers decide to go.”
In ‘good shape’
Milley told attendees the work “Great Place” soldiers are doing exceeds the state’s borders as more than 6,000 Fort Hood soldiers are currently deployed around the globe. He also told attendees that if a base realignment and closure does come to fruition, Fort Hood would be in “good shape.”
“Sequestration is still out there, and we, the military, cost a lot of money,” he said. “The downsizing initiatives are ongoing throughout the Army and overall, the force will be reduced in size.”
Once the cuts come trickling down, Fort Hood will lose between 2,000 and 3,000 in total end strength.
“We are blood brothers to Fort Hood and we literally could not operate without them,” said Jeanne Isdale, co-chair of the chamber’s military affairs committee. “It’s important to show support for them as they support us, but we can never do enough for Fort Hood.”
New to Killeen, Cassandra Johnson said she attended to hear the update from “the man behind the Fort Hood scenes.”
“This was very informative,” she said.
For information on the military affairs committee, go to www.hhchamber.com.