The Army’s top officer, Gen. James McConville, praised Fort Carson Wednesday after meeting with the post's leaders on the Mountain Post.
Before addressing the media, McConville -- Army Chief of Staff -- talked with soldiers of all ranks to hear about recent initiatives, while telling top leaders to stamp out sexual assault, sexual harassment, suicide, racism and extremism in the ranks.
Lt. Col. Michael Schulte, commander of the post's 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, was one of about 100 senior leaders sitting in on that meeting.
“He (McConville) reemphasized that people are the No. 1 priority,” Schulte said. “When the people of the United States look to the Army to fight and win wars, winning matters and we can’t do that without the people.”
McConville, who took over as the 40th Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army on August 9, 2019, said he enjoyed his time with Fort Carson soldiers.
“I’m very proud of the soldiers, families, civilians here at Fort Carson,” he said at a news conference.
He said he's impressed with how soldiers have continued training during the coronavirus pandemic. Over a 60-day period from February to April, Fort Carson soldiers with the 299th Brigade Engineer Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, helped administer 300,000 COVID-18 vaccinations in Los Angeles. That’s 15% of all vaccinations administered throughout the United States, which hit the 2 million vaccination mark Wednesday.
“The No. 1 threat to our citizens is this invisible enemy we call COVID,” McConville said. “The Army is very, very committed to defeating this domestic threat.”
The general said he's also committed to fixing housing at the post, which has been the source of complaints from families and subject of a congressional hearing last year.
“We are very concerned about the quality of life for soldiers and families,” he said. “We are investing in housing, in barracks and quality of life initiatives.”
McConville, a soldier since 1981, said the military is in the early stages of a major transition similar to build-ups during the late Cold War years and the run-up to World War II.
Over the next 15 to 20 years, McConville said the military will change the way it fights.
A new Pentagon wide communications network will allow immediate connections between all armed services. Training in the future will take advantage of technology, allowing soldiers to learn their skills with virtual reality.
The Army came up with six modernization priorities while of preparing for its future.
They include new long-range artillery and missiles, a new generation of armored rigs, new helicopters and new communications gear.
“Last and perhaps most importantly, we are moving to a 21st century talent management system,” he said. “We are going to need highly qualified young men and young women … to operate these systems and to continue to serve their country.”
About 485,000 active-duty soldiers are serving in the Army across the globe. That total grows to a little over 1 million when part-time solders are added. McConville said the Army is currently about the size it was on 9/11.
President Joe Biden announced last month that the last U.S. troops in Afghanistan would be pulled out by the 20th anniversary of America’s longest war, on September 11.
“The president has made a decision on the role of the military in Afghanistan and we are executing that decision,” he said.
When asked how the Army best deters threats from Russia, China and any country looking to cause harm to America or its allies, McConville said, “I think the way the Army continues to deter is peace through strength. It’s making sure that we have an over-match capability.
“The way we are getting after this is really with the doctrine we are developing, the organization we are developing, and the new equipment we are bringing on that’s going to give us speed, range, convergence and decision dominance, which gives us the over-match we need.
“The other thing that is very, very important, which our security forces sister brigades and organization like this, is working with allies and partners. Working very, very closely with our allies and partners in Europe, in the Pacific and really around the world so we stand together. That’s where our additional strength comes from.”