AUSA meeting

Stephanie O'Banion, center, Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of the Association of the United States Army president, chats with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley, left, and retired Maj. Gen. Ken Cox, former III Corps deputy commander, at Milley's residence Sunday, Oct. 8, 2017. O'Banion and Cox are representing the local chapter during the annual AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C.

Courtesy photo

The Central Texas-Fort Hood Chapter of the Association of the United States Army took two top awards Monday during the annual AUSA meeting in Washington, D.C.

Deputy III Corps and Fort Hood commander Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson and III Corps home station senior enlisted leader Command Sgt. Maj. Maurice Jackson accepted the largest chapter award on behalf of the local chapter.

The largest division award was awarded to the 1st Cavalry Division and was accepted by commander Maj. Gen. Paul T. Calvert and Command Sgt. Maj. Shane E. Pospisil.

The largest division award is given to the unit with the greatest number of active-duty soldiers enrolled within a local AUSA chapter, said Central Texas-Fort

Hood chapter president Stephanie O’Banion.

O’Banion accompanied Thomson and Jackson to receive the largest chapter award and said the experience was an honor.

“It was humbling to be a part of such a great opening ceremony this morning, where we were honored with the largest chapter and largest division awards,” she said Monday. “I’ve probably been to about 15 of these (annual meetings) and I always learn stuff, because I’m a civilian. We even heard from the secretary of defense (retired Marine Corps Gen. James Mattis) this morning on some sobering things that are going on the world right now and, in particular, with our Army.”

The annual meeting presents forums on topics ranging from the role of women in the Army to modernizing the Army’s capabilities. Other forums cover updates on veteran and retiree benefits or soldier and family wellness programs.

“I like the family forums,” O’Banion said. “I go to see if I can bring anything back to help our families here at home.”

John Crutchfield, the executive director of the Killeen Economic Development Corporation and a past president of the local AUSA chapter, said this year’s meeting is only the second time in the 15 years he has attended where the secretary of defense spoke.

“It’s been going very well,” Crutchfield said. “We also heard from (Training and Doctrine Command) about the new Field Manual 3-0 (Operations.)”

The field manual updates highlight a shift in readiness from counter-insurgency and stability operations to large-scale combat against a peer or near-peer military force.

So far, Crutchfield said the highlight of the annual meeting was a chapter luncheon with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Milley at his residence.

Milley, a former III Corps and Fort Hood commander, retains close ties with the Central Texas-Fort Hood AUSA chapter, he added.

“The Japanese army chief of staff and his delegation were there as well,” Crutchfield said. “That was quite interesting.”

The annual meeting in the nation’s capital is scheduled to run through Wednesday. According to ausa.org, the association has 121 chapters around the world with a combined total of more than 60,000 members.

dbryant@kdhnews.com | 254-501-7554

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