Army secretary: Camp Shelby visit 'impressive'

By BUSTER WOLFE,

 

Army Secretary Dr. Mark T. Esper praised the work of the soldiers and staff at Camp Shelby as he stopped by the facility during his worldwide tour of the nation’s readiness units.

Esper, who was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles – the Mississippi Adjutant General – said Camp Shelby has been “a great stop.”

“As some of you may know, I’ve been in the job of Secretary of the Army for about nine months,” he said last Thursday. “What I’ve done is taken upon myself to travel all around the world literally to meet with the soldiers in our units.

“The Army is in great shape, it is ready to go and we have remained the pre-eminent fighting force in the world as we’ve always been. I’m quite excited by what I have found on my travels.”

Esper said he was impressed with Camp Shelby.

“It’s been a great visit; I’ve been very impressed by what I have seen, very impressed by the officers, NCOs and soldiers I have met with today,” he said.

Boyles said Mississippi’s soldiers are actively involved in Army operations.

“As the secretary alluded, the National Guard has become an operational force,” he said. “Camp Shelby is part of that operational effort. The opportunities for our Guardsmen are incredible. They are all over the world. I have 3,200 National Guardsmen employed overseas out of 9,600. That shows that we are a part of what is going on right now, and we appreciate the confidence in Mississippi.”

Esper said his purpose in the tour was to gauge unit readiness.

“Readiness remains the Army’s No. 1 priority, followed by modernization and reform,” he said. “I see elements of each of these in my visit here.

“I think the comprehensive of what Camp Shelby provides, everything from a mobilization site to these great training areas. It’s almost a one-stop shop in many ways, and it’s providing much of these for many states in the region.”

U.S. 4th District Rep. Steven Palazzo, who accompanied Esper and Boyles that afternoon, said the Army Secretary’s visit was important for Camp Shelby and the region.

“Anytime you have a secretary-level official here to see what you have to offer and when you look at it as from a regional aspect and see that South Mississippi is a defense corridor all the way from here to the Port of Gulfport, it’s just a win for us,” the Republican Congressman said. “I just hope that he takes it back to Washington, D.C., and we are going to continue to remind him of all the great things we do here and across the spectrum.”

As secretary, Esper has responsibility for all matters relating to the U.S. Army, to include the recruitment, organization, training, equipping and care of 1.4 million active duty, National Guard, Reserve Soldiers, Department of the Army civilians and their families.