By J. Parker Roberts. 1st Inf. Div. Public Affairs
FORT RILEY, Kan. – In her first visit to a domestic military instillation as acting deputy secretary of defense, the Hon. Christine H. Fox spent time on Fort Riley Feb. 10, visiting with 1st Infantry Division Soldiers and observing cutting-edge virtual and constructive training at the Mission Training Complex.
Fox was appointed to the acting deputy position, which she described to a group of more than 100 “Big Red One” Soldiers as the defense secretary’s executive officer, Dec. 5. She last served as the Defense Department’s director of Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation.
Fox’s December appointment makes her the second most senior official at the Pentagon and the most senior-ranking woman in the history of the Defense Department. “Today’s another first for our great division,” Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley commanding general, told a group of Soldiers who gathered at the MTC to hear from Fox. “We get the opportunity to welcome the Hon. Fox … What a great opportunity to learn from one of our great leaders.”
The deputy secretary gave the Soldiers a behind-the-scenes look into her role in the Pentagon and took questions from the audience. “What a pleasure it is to be here with all of you,” Fox told the Soldiers. She said her role as assistant secretary of defense keeps her at her desk most days, but Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel “let me out of the Pentagon today to come see you, and what a privilege it is.”
Fox thanked the 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers and asked them to carry her thanks home to their Families. “It’s a great nation, and it’s great because of people like you,” she said. “Your contributions are phenomenal.”
The deputy secretary of defense said while much attention has been directed at the military’s mission in Afghanistan, the 1st Inf. Div.’s work as a regionally aligned force, as well as other complex tasks, represent the future of the Army.
“It’s really our privilege to be here today to learn about how you’re doing that, how you’re focusing on these regionally aligned forces, the excitement of those missions and how you’re doing that and keeping current on global operations and your ability to respond globally,” Fox said.
“We face a lot of new challenges and we face a lot of new opportunities, both at home and abroad.” Fox said she has complete confidence that the 1st Inf. Div. will continue to demonstrate that it places “Duty First.”
“I thought it went very well,” said Timothy D. Livsey, director of Plans, Training, Mobilization, Security and Airfield for the 1st Inf. Div. and Fort Riley, who showed Fox around the MTC facility. “I think the deputy secretary understands how critical all elements of training are for the Army, not just live training out in the field.”
Livsey said he feels Fox walked away from Fort Riley with a better understanding of how the systems of virtual and constructive training offered at the MTC build toward Soldiers being able to train in a live environment. “It’s efficient, it saves money to train in these types of systems,” he said.
“Moreover, it allows them to iterate their training many times – make mistakes in here before they go out there and waste more money – because it costs more when they actually go out there.” From Fox’s feedback, Livsey said it was clear the deputy secretary understands where the Army is going with the integrated training environment that he says will save Soldiers time and money while getting them better trained.