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Army officially welcomes new secretary

By C. Todd Lopez

WASHINGTON (Nov. 03, 2009) -- Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh was formally welcomed into the Army family during an arrival ceremony here Nov. 2.

McHugh, formerly the ranking member on the House Armed Services Committee, was sworn in as the 21st secretary of the Army, Sept. 21, after having been nominated for the position by President Obama and confirmed by the senate.

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The ceremony, held in Fort Myer's Conmy Hall, featured the Army's 3rd Infantry Regiment, the Old Guard, and was attended by McHugh's family, his mother, former Secretary of the Army Pete Geren, Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, and Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr.

"While in Congress, John devoted himself to supporting the men and women of the U.S. military," Casey said of the new secretary. The former congressman served those in New York's 23rd district -- home of Fort Drum. Now, Casey said, the former congressman is focusing on the entire Army.

"I feel lucky to have Secretary McHugh on board because he has seen first-hand the stress and strain our Soldiers are facing after eight years of war," Casey said.

Casey said McHugh has traveled to Iraq 10 times, and to Afghanistan four times, to visit with Soldiers. The general said the secretary has made a commitment to make taking care of Soldiers a priority.

"In his July confirmation hearing, he said his first priority would be to engage in a constant search for better ways to provide Soldiers and their families the support they so richly deserve -- and he's already moved out to make that happen," Casey said.

The general said thus far, the new secretary has announced implementation of the $125 million Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, meant to build resiliency in and enhance the performance of Soldiers. McHugh has also re-signed the Army Family Covenant.

"It's our pledge to provide support and services to our Army family, commensurate with the quality of their service that they provide to this country every day," Casey said.

McHugh pledged as secretary to continue efforts to balance the Army and to continue to focus on quality of life issues and to help strengthen families.

"Our future readiness will require that we continue to modernize and adapt our institutions and transform Soldier and leader development," McHugh said. "Our mission, No. 1, must be to ensure that our Soldiers are provided a quality of life that is equal to their extraordinary sacrifices -- I am committed to securing and maintaining the fundamentals that keep our Army strong: strong Soldiers and strong families, and the enduring foundations that sustain them both."

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