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Mission: Casey visits hospital, wounded warriors and Maneuver Captains Career Course students

The Army chief of staff stopped off at Fort Benning Aug. 2 ahead of his appearance before representatives attending the 2010 Land Forces Symposium in Columbus.

In his first visit to post this year, GEN George Casey met with Maneuver Center of Excellence leaders, wounded warriors and Maneuver Captains Career Course students. He got a progress report on the Base Realignment and Closure piece falling into place here and toured Martin Army Community Hospital.

“It is always wonderful to come home to Fort Benning,” he said. “I came here first as an Army brat ... My roots at Fort Benning go back a long, long time.”

Casey said his sister and son both were born at MACH.

At the hospital Monday, the general checked out the emergency room, pharmacy and family practice areas. He said he wanted to make sure the facilities were adequate in advance of the Armor School’s move here in 2011 from Fort Knox, Ky.

“They showed me the plans for the new hospital,” he said. “Obviously, that’s great.”

The Army chief of staff also spent some time Monday with wounded Soldiers at the Warrior Transition Battalion. Warrior transition units were stood up around the Army three years ago, and Casey said he’s always reviewing the program to make it better.

“I was looking to see how things were being done here at Fort Benning,” he said. “And I must say, they’re piloting some good ideas that I think we’re going to use across the rest of the Army.”

At the MCCC schoolhouse, Casey spoke with captains attending the course and said the skill sets and expertise they possess are far superior to what he was exposed to as a young officer.

“When I look at what they’ve experienced from the time they’ve been in the Army (compared to) what I had experienced before I came here, they’re light-years ahead of me,” he said.

Later, Casey sat down briefly with MG Michael Ferriter, the MCoE and Fort Benning commanding general. He received an update on steps being taken to complete the Maneuver Center and construction projects at Harmony Church for the Armor and Cavalry Soldiers and hardware set to arrive next year.

“I’m very impressed with what they’ve done,” Casey said. “What I was told is things are generally on track. I saw Building 4 from a distance, and I’m sure that’s going to be a magnificent facility when they’re done. … But everything is in place to meet our goal to have the (MCoE) fully operational here by September of 2011.”

He praised the historically tight bond between Fort Benning and the tricommunity.

“Thanks to the community here in the Columbus area for all the great support you give to our Soldiers and families,” he said. “We couldn’t do what we have done over the last nine years of war without the support of the American people. The folks here in Columbus really understand how to take it to another level.”