Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno visited Fort Leonard Wood on Jan. 13 for the first time and said he was impressed with the facility after a full tour.
"I have not been here personally before, but it plays such an important role in the Army's mission," Odierno said. "Whether training our combat engineers, whether training our chemical and biological capabilities, whether training our military police and criminal investigators -- it is so important to our Army and its future missions that I just felt compelled to come here and take a look at it. To see it all executed in such a professional manner like it is here always makes me feel good about the Army."
Odierno visited with Maneuver Support Center of Excellence and Fort Leonard Wood commanders, commandants and staff and community leaders. He said the community is an important installation for the Army, and he is pleased with the community support the base receives.
Odierno visited the Incident Response Training Department and the three regiments based at Fort Leonard, which are chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear, engineer and military police.
"It is a very unique and one-of-a-kind training area we have here. It's used by the military and many civilian agencies that come here as well," Odierno said. "I knew they were doing that, but I didn't understand the extent of the capability and how important it is in developing this expertise as we look in to homeland defense and protecting this country against potential terrorist activities of chemical and biological weapons. This is really a key place."
While on the base, Odierno presented the Tank-automotive and Armament Command Fleet Management Expansion team with the Command Logistics Excellence Award.
Odierno met with a group of female service members during lunch and said the group talked about a variety of issues, including military policies, sexual assault and harassment and the future role of women in combat.
"I relayed to them the path the Army is on to opening combat (military occupational specialties) to women," Odierno said. "They gave me some great feedback on how we should move forward. Whenever I go to a forum like that I come away so impressed that I feel so fortunate about the young people who we have serving in our Army, and that was proven again today."
During a visit to the Military Police, Odierno received an update on the Special Victims Unit Investigators course and training.
"First, I want to make sure that I am involved in a profession of arms that treats everyone equally with respect," Odierno said. "Secondly, I want to be involved with an organization that provides the environment that maximizes the talent of every individual that we have. In order to have those two things, you need to have an environment that will not put up with sexual assault and sexual harassment."
He ended the visit with a town-hall meeting with the soldiers.
"As we move forward, it's about key capabilities," Odierno said. "What makes Fort Leonard Wood different are the capabilities here are very unique, not only to the Army but to the Department of Defense."