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Secretary of the Army Visits Fort Sill

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FORT SILL Okla_ US Army Secretary John McHugh took a small break from what he calls "a cloud of uncertainty" in Washington to come to Oklahoma. He visited Fort Sill for the first time.

He addressed many issues facing the military, like the impending sequester. The secretary said that he can't see anytime in the near future where fires for effects won't be necessary to be successful on the battlefield. He said that's good news for Fort Sill. No matter what, Sill should continue to be a vital part of the army's operation. However, he warned training here could change a lot if the budget is cut.

Secretary McHugh said the army is always evolving. What he doesn't know is how much it might have to change with massive impending budget cuts.

The former member of congress is not willing to let the cloud of uncertainty darken the sky just yet.

"I at least remain hopeful that the way forward can be worked out," McHugh said, "That some sort of agreement can be reached that will at least lessen that layer of cloud."

Even though he sees the silver lining, he is certain the army must have a plan of action no matter what. Sequestration is only one of three major cuts that could affect our men and women in uniform. If all cuts in question happen, the military could lose nearly $20 billion in its budget in 2013. The secretary said those effects will carry over.

"It would likely extend into 2014," McHugh said "And ultimately touch just about every part of the United States Army and just about everything we do."

The part that could be affected most, even at Fort sill, is live training.

"It cost money to go out there and fire those rounds," McHugh said.

He said that only units deploying to Afghanistan and Korea would receive this full training. Everyone else would have to use more virtual artillery exercises. That's something Fort Sill has already been doing in Monte Hall for years.

"The development and utilization of simulators here at Fort Sill are instructive to people like myself," McHugh said.

Fort Sill is on the right track for training in the future. However, if budget cuts hit, soldiers will be going to war with fewer opportunities to experience training.

If the sequester happens, the secretary said some accounts are "off limits", like those that take care of soldiers as they are deployed and those used for training soldiers about to be deployed . He said that they also hope to protect family programs.

Fort Sill was one of the few major posts in the US that Secretary McHugh had not visited. He said that he is impressed and expects more good things in the future.


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