The Army’s top acting civilian leader visited Fort Bragg on Tuesday and Wednesday to meet with leaders, tour facilities and determine if policies at a higher Army level support local families and soldiers.
Former Secretary of the Army Mark Esper visited Fort Bragg three times this year before being appointed secretary of defense July 23 and naming Ryan McCarthy as acting secretary of the Army.
McCarthy, who was in the Army from 1997 to 2002 and was involved in combat operations in Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom with the 75th Ranger Regiment, U.S. Special Operations Command, previously served as undersecretary of the Army after being confirmed by the Senate on Aug. 1, 2017, his biography states.
McCarthy described the visit to Fort Bragg as having multi-purposes.
Tuesday was spent with the U.S. Special Operations Command, including a valor awards ceremony that posthumously recognized one of four 3rd Special Forces Group soldiers killed in an Oct. 4, 2017, attack in Niger.
McCarthy also met with Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette, U.S. Army Special Operations Command commander, Maj. Gen. John Deedrick, commanding general of the 1st Special Forces Command, and the special operations command team to talk about recruiting, training and ways the Army can support Special Forces soldiers making the transition from conventional forces to special operations.
“Special Forces has been deployed every single day since October 2001,” McCarthy said. “So the stress on that community has been extraordinary, and they’ve performed; but it’s really incumbent upon leaders in the Army to ensure that they have all of their resources that they need — that changes and policies give them the appropriate flexibility to do what they need to continue to organize, train and equip these soldiers so that they can meet these national demands.”
Military housing, was a focus for Esper, who attended a March 1 Fort Bragg town hall meeting with residents following national concerns about mold and lead paint in military housing.
The focus on housing continues for McCarthy, who toured a house at Fort Bragg recently vacated by a family and a house that Directorate of Public of Works has made ready for a family to move in to review the conditions.
McCarthy said Gen. Gustave Perna, Army Material Command commander, is working on “appropriate metrics” associated with incentive awards, or what percent of each dollar is being paid toward housing, and local commanders recently have been given the authority to “make calls” when it comes to the performance of the housing vendor.
“With the housing issue, this is important as health care and education for soldiers and their families, so to get here on the ground to meet with the leadership as well as the contractor to see how we’re performing and what we need to do to do better … (we) definitely want to take some time on that,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy’s Fort Bragg visit also included touring a child care development center to determine whether any policies or resources at the top Army level related to those centers should be evaluated. He ended the day meeting with Gen. Michael Garrett, U.S. Army Force Command’s commander.
During his visit, McCarthy was accompanied by Rep. Richard Hudson, whose district includes Fort Bragg, on Tuesday, and Sen. Richard Burr on Wednesday.
“I was proud to welcome (acting Secretary of the Army) McCarthy back to Fort Bragg,” Hudson said Wednesday. “He really has a heart for our soldiers and their families, and I will continue to work with him to ensure our men and women in uniform have the tools needed to carry out their missions.”
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