FORT HOOD — III Armored Corps and Fort Hood commander Lt. Gen. Paul Funk II and the leadership of the Corps’ major commands from five Army installations gave a State of the Corps address to state and local leadership Friday.
U.S. Rep. John Carter, R-Round Rock, and Copperas Cove Mayor Frank Seffrood joined Fort Hood Good Neighbors and Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army Jean Shine in learning about the status of “America’s Hammer.”
“I want to talk about the incredible pace your Army is under and where it is, what’s going on and how the armored force is the force of decision and decisiveness across the spectrum of conflict,” Funk said. “Whether it be in Korea, Europe and Kuwait, whether it be on the battlefields of Iraq and Syria, even in Afghanistan, it is your armored corps who is making a difference.”
Forty percent of the Army’s combat power resides with III Corps, Funk added. III Corps units are spread through Fort Hood and Fort Bliss in Texas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Carson, Colorado.
In the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq, operations went more quickly than originally expected, he said. Some 300 troops from III Corps headquarters deployed for a year in August 2017 and returned in September.
“We were supposed to finish the fight for a little town called Al Khan in August of this year,” Funk said. “We liberated that in November of last year. So when that happened, everybody started looking around and saying, ‘now what do we do.’”
Currently, ISIS holds no lands in Iraq — while there is still a presence there, it is the ideology only, which still poses a danger, he said.
“The way to peace there (Iraq) now is not through bullets, it’s through hope,” he added. “Speaking of hope, on the Syrian side you have the Syrian Democratic Forces and our great SOF partners, special operations (forces) partners, working to finish the last part of our mission to annihilate ISIS.”
But III Corps soldiers are not just in the Middle East fighting against ISIS — they are in 40 countries and on almost every continent, Funk said.
“At any snapshot in time, we have anywhere from 15,000 to 18,000 deployed across the globe,” he said. “Another 18,000, 15,000, getting ready to go behind them and others coming home. It’s a constant cycle.”
In Europe and Korea, brigades are doing fewer yearlong deployments and serving in unaccompanied tours of duty that have been shortened to nine months, Funk said.
“We’re going to be doing that for the foreseeable future. Our strategy is to project power from our nation. We have to be ready at all times.”
The commanders of the corps’ divisions also briefed those in attendance on current training and upcoming deployments.
Funk also spoke about the resiliency of the soldiers within the corps and in the Army. He also said it was important for all who are affiliated with the Army to act as recruiters to bring the best and brightest of the nation’s youth in to become the future leaders of the Army.
“We need help in recruiting — we didn’t make our recruiting mission,” Funk said. “Why? We have less recruiters. We don’t have a recruiting headquarters anymore in Atlanta, Georgia. We don’t have any headquarters in New York City. The world is urbanizing, yet we pulled out of those big power places to find soldiers.
“So we need some help. We are all recruiters — we have got to show why being in America’s Army matters,” he said. “Only 27 percent of the youth in America today can even qualify to serve in uniform, mostly due to obesity. That’s a huge national problem.”