By James David
Killeen Daily Herald
FORT HOOD – Gen. Richard A. Cody, vice chief of staff of the U.S. Army, announced Tuesday evening that plans are on schedule to increase the active Army's end strength by six combat brigades, from 518,000 troops to 547,000 troops.
The locations of the new brigades depend on the findings of the Base Realignment and Closure Commission, he said.
Cody spent the day at Fort Hood visiting soldiers and family members. He praised the hard work of personnel at the Carl R. Darnall Medical Center and the Warriors in Transition Unit here at the Army's largest post.
Cody conducted a town hall meeting that was open to members of deployed family members and soldiers getting ready for deployment.
He addressed the care of soldiers who return home.
"The findings that the Army is working on regarding traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder particularly hit home here at Fort Hood," Cody said. "I've spent the day talking to families of deployed 1st Cavalry Division soldiers and family members from 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment and 4th Infantry Division."
The most common question asked of Cody during his visit was the 15-month "boots on the ground" policy for deployed soldiers in Iraq.
"We have 23 brigade combat teams in the regular Army alone in Iraq and Afghanistan," he said. "It took us five months just to accomplish the latest surge strategy."
Cody said that while he is aware of the tremendous toll the deployments are making on the soldiers and their families, progress is being made downrange.
"We are aiming for at least 12 months for each unit to be able to refit and reset back here," he said. "I am expecting positive things from Gen. David Petraeus' report next month."
Cody said that it never ceases to amaze him how strong the families are on the home front.
"The families are strong," Cody said, "Army Strong," quoting the new Army recruiting slogan.
"It never ceases to amaze me how resilient the spouses are in the Army family," he said.
Cody said enlistment and retention goals are being met, even in the midst of the war.
"We have added 80,000 new troops just this year," Cody said. "We are back on track to meet and exceed our recruiting and retention goals."
Nothing is more important than taking care of soldiers and their families, a point that Cody reiterated before his departure.
"We have a new system in place where every commander and soldier is having classes on traumatic brain injury and post traumatic stress disorder, so they can recognize the symptoms and be treated properly," he said.
"We want to alert everyone in what to look for so we can assist the soldiers and their families."
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