Sixty-two Civilian Aides to the Secretary of the Army toured the installation on Monday and Tuesday to learn more about the missions and capabilities of Fort Huachuca.
CASAs are Army ambassadors who work with Army commanders and the Secretary of the Army on issues affecting their region without salary, wages or related benefits. Each state and territory has at least one representative.
The CASAs began their visit to Fort Huachuca on Monday, with a briefing on Reservoir Hill from Maj. Gen. Gregg Potter, commanding general, U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence. From this vantage point, Potter identified the key attributes of the Fort and the unique missions here supporting national defense and the joint warfighter.
The group was then able to view a launch and recovery of a Shadow unmanned aircraft system and tour the flight-line operations learning more about the importance of the Shadow and Hunter UASs in todayâ€™s tactical environments.
For Jean Shine, CASA Central Texas, this was her first trip to the area.
â€œI have wanted to see it for years and now when I am conversing with a Soldier I can say, I have been there, I know what it looks like, and I can tell you more,â€ Shine said. â€œI was really anxious to see the set up here [for UASs] because we have a little of that at Fort Hood, and it was amazing, and to learn all about the airspace was really special. It is a special thing you have here,â€ she added.
Texas has six CASAs because of its size with Shine representing the Fort Hood area. For years the Soldiers at Fort Hood have been sent here or come from here, so I have heard a lot about it and how beautiful it is, she said.
â€œI think UASs are the future. I first started hearing about it in the 90s. The newer ones have the capability that will save so many lives and give us so much more intelligence going into dangerous areas; it is something that has to keep growing,â€ Shine said.
Next the group stopped at Libby Army Airfield for a look at the Gray Eagle, a Predator-sized UAS, and an opportunity to try their hand at flying a UAS on the simulators.
CASAs had the opportunity to have lunch with local Soldiers from their respective states at the Thunder Mountain Activity Centre.
The tour continued with briefings on the restricted air space and the pristine electromagnetic spectrum environment from the Electronic Proving Ground and the Joint Interoperability Test Command. Fort Huachucaâ€™s 946-square-mile special use airspace and 2,500-square-mile electronic range provide a national strategic asset where open air testing is protected by federal mandate.
Briefings from the Network Enterprise Technology Command and Communications Security Logistics Activity highlighted their role as the single information technology service provider for all Army network communications and their mission to operate, maintain and defend the global network enterprise. NETCOM plans, engineers, installs, integrates, protects, operates and defends Army cyberspace, enabling mission command through all phases of joint, interagency, intergovernmental and multinational operations.
CASAs returned to Fort Huachuca on Tuesday afternoon to learn how Libby Army Airfield, the fifth busiest airfield in the Army, supports the Advance Airlift Tactics Center mission; and how the U.S. Army Intelligence Center of Excellence trains more than 2,500 Soldiers each day with more than 18,000 trained in fiscal year 2010 in Arizona and another 109,000 trained worldwide.
â€œThe combination of the military intelligence, the UAS and the quality of the Soldiers here is just amazing,â€ said Bill Moore, CASA Hawaii. Moore has been serving as a CASA for three years.
For Moore, the highlight of his visit to Fort Huachuca was â€œthe overall experience [of] learning, and a lot of it is just reinforcement of the quality of the people. Quality people, quality Army,â€ he said.
The Secretary of the Army appoints at least one individual in each State, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, American Samoa, the Virgin Islands, Guam and the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands to serve as CASAs.
The term of office for Civilian Aides is two years with the possibility of serving a maximum of five terms at the discretion of the Secretary of the Army for a total of 10 years. Currently more than 90 Civilian Aides serve throughout the nation.
Criteria for selection of Civilian Aides is very specific and includes that the aide be a U.S. citizen of outstanding character, integrity and patriotism, have a deep interest in military affairs and is in a position to disseminate information about the Army to a broad cross section of the public and to other prominent citizens in their area.
(Editorâ€™s note: To see more photos of the CASAsâ€™ visit, go to www.army.mil.huachuca.)