Leaders Promise Fort Hood All Resources Necessary
By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Nov. 6, 2009 The attack that killed 13 people and wounded 30 more at Fort Hood, Texas, yesterday “was a kick in the gut,” not only for Fort Hood, but also for the entire Army, the Army chief of staff said today.
Army Gen. George W. Casey Jr. and Army Secretary John M. McHugh visited Fort Hood and observed a moment of silence for the victims. Soon after, both men spoke at a news conference on the incident.
Casey said he’s asked all soldiers to come together in support of the victims, their families and the Fort Hood community. He also told leaders to examine their force-protection measures and take appropriate action if they feel it is warranted.
“I’ve asked them to keep their soldiers informed and not rush to judgment,” Casey said. “And I’ve asked them to stay focused on their missions.”
McHugh said all members of the Army family have the victims and their families in their thoughts. “These were soldiers who were preparing to do what they love for the country they love,” the secretary said. “We want them to know, and we want America to know, the United States Army and the United States government … stand ready to provide them every possible assistance, not just today, not just through the weekend, but for what will undoubtedly be very troubling times ahead.”
McHugh and Casey visited the Soldier-Family Readiness Center, the scene of the tragedy. The two leaders spoke with Army and law enforcement people investigating the incident. They visited with medical staff and spoke to those wounded in the attack who were undergoing treatment at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center at the post. They also met with soldiers of the 36th Engineer Brigade. Four of the unit’s soldiers were killed in the attack, and 11 were wounded.
McHugh and Casey expressed admiration and thanks to the first responders – both military and civilian – whose prompt actions they said definitely saved lives. The two men also delivered a message from Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates “that every possible resource, every possible form of support will be made available to the soldiers, families and command here at Fort Hood,” McHugh said.
The Army family is strong, McHugh said, and soldiers and their families are resilient. “But a great source of that strength is what we derive from each other in times of crisis and challenge -- how we hold each other straight, and how we make a difference,” the secretary said. “Most of all, we want the soldiers and families here at Fort Hood and across every Army facility everywhere in the world to know this is a time for the Army family to stand together. This is a time when ‘Army Strong’ must mean what it says.”
Servicemembers around the world observed a moment of silence for the victims of the attack. In the Pentagon, thousands of military and civilian employees went to the center courtyard for the observance. Phones went unanswered in offices as members of the Defense Department paid tribute to those who died. The members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff observed the moment of silence in “The Tank,” their secure meeting room in the Pentagon.