Army Under Secretary sings praises of Ft. Wainwright

FT. WAINWRIGHT, AK -- On Thursday, the Under Secretary to the United States Army visited Fort Wainwright. It was his last stop on a week-long tour across the United States Army Pacific Command.

Under Secretary of the United State Army Dr. Joseph Westphal addressed questions and concerns regarding the future of the Army and its soldiers. Federal cuts have been an issue in the Army, and Westphal says the President has the U.S. soldiers' best interest in mind.

"For example, the President has already protected the salaries and benefits for our soldier this year," says Westphal. He has also indicated that we will protect all our programs that address Wounded Warrior issues."

Retention is another question the Under Secretary addressed. Reenlistment opportunities are becoming harder as the Army is setting high standards for current and future soldiers.

"It is going to be harder all the way around because we have to ramp down to about a force of 490 thousand on the active side through 2017 so we know that we are going to get tougher on reenlistments. Similarly we are going to have accession and we still need to move new people into the force."

USARAK is a vital part of the US Army, and Dr. Westphal addressed not only its strategic opportunities but its community support as well.

"I think one of the most strategic elements are the training opportunities that exist here. Combine with the Air Force and its capabilities we bring this joint fight you know to the very best, highest levels here, said Westphal. "We think that the elements here are important to our force, the training opportunities are great, the community support is incredible; it really is incredible. I took two of our civilian aids to the secretary with me because they reflect that tremendous support we get from the community here."