CAMP SHELBY, Miss. – Dr. Mark T. Esper, 23rd secretary of the U.S. Army, praised Camp Shelby Joint Forces Training Center’s facilities and Soldiers during a visit to the post Aug. 2.
“Camp Shelby has been a great stop on my tour,” Esper said. “I’ve been very impressed by what I’ve seen. I’ve been very impressed by the Soldiers, officers and (noncommissioned officers).”
The visit was one stop on a tour Esper is making of active duty and reserve component facilities to “reacquaint myself to the Army and create my own assessment” of each component and how well they work together as one army.
Esper served with the 101st Airborne Division, where he was deployed to Saudi Arabia and Iraq during the 1991 Gulf War and was awarded a Bronze Star and the Combat Infantryman Badge. He later led an Airborne rifle company in Europe to close out a decade of active duty, rising to the rank of lieutenant colonel. After transitioning to the National Guard and Army Reserve in 1994, he served as an Army Fellow at the Pentagon while working on his Master of Public Administration degree at Harvard’s John F. Kennedy School of Government. He later earned a PhD in Political Science from George Washington University.
The Secretary held senior-level engagements with U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly of Mississippi’s 1st Congressional District, U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo of the state’s 4th Congressional District, Maj. Gen. Janson D. Boyles, the adjutant general of Mississippi, and Col. Bobby Ginn, CSJFTC commander. He also answered questions from Soldiers completing courses at the 154th Regional Training Institute at a town hall meeting, participated in UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter gunnery training with the Alabama Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 131st Aviation Regiment, which was conducting annual training at Camp Shelby; and received a tour of the post’s training facilities.
His focus moving forward, Esper said, is readiness, modernization and reform.
“I see elements of all of these here,” he said. “I’m very impressed with what happens here, much of which I was not aware of,” he said. “It’s almost a one-stop shop and it’s providing this for many states in the region.”
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