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Fort Sill Holds "Fires 20-20" Seminar

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FORT SILL Okla_ It's all about looking to the future at the 2013 Fires Seminar, which started Tuesday on Fort Sill.

In fact, the name of the two-day conference is "Fires 20-20." More than 400 guests representing several countries are here.

Post Commander Major General Mark McDonald kicked off the conference Tuesday, explaining where the Fires Center is now and where it plans to go next.

The McDonald said the conference is all about making the Fires Force better. He said the army is about readiness. And he is determined to make sure the Fires center is ready to move forward when duty calls in the future.

He said lack of money isn't a reason to be unprepared.

"Concepts, thinking and education don't cost that much money," McDonald said.

That's why the CG said the Fires Center will continue to "think forward."

"In the early 80's, we were ready to execute," McDonald said. "We developed this great army we've got, so we need to be ready to advance this army."

The army can only advance when its soldiers are physically and mentally healthy. McDonald touched on both of those areas, saying the Fires Center is making physical fitness a priority. He's also calling on leadership to help fix the problems of suicide and sexual assault within the army.

He said there have already been 118 suicides this calendar year, when in reality, one is too many.

"Everybody needs to watch out for it, everybody needs to see what it is, and then take action when they see even indicators of it, to prevent it," McDonald said.

The same goes for sexual assault. Numbers released Tuesday show there were 26,000 cases in the army just last year alone. McDonald said it's uncalled for. That's why he's choosing to attack the problem instead of ignoring it.

"We can affect how our soldiers behave," McDonald said. "We are dedicated to, if it's possible, to just eradicate it."

To help, they are on board with the sponsorship program. So, first time soldiers aren't left alone or vulnerable. In his eyes, whatever he has to do to help the Fires Center continue to live out the motto, "Fires Strong", as they head into the future is worth it.

McDonald said they are also figuring out better ways to teach incoming cadets. They want to get away from stacks of PowerPoint presentations and advance into more automated, hands on training. These are techniques that young people learn from in today's society.

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