WASHINGTON, Aug. 30 (UPI) -- U.S. Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. swore in new Army Secretary Preston Geren at the Pentagon Thursday.
Geren is a former Texas congressman who represented Dallas and served as special assistant to secretaries of defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates since 2001. He said in a speech that his priorities as secretary of the army would be to support army families and rebalance the thinly stretched army, the American Forces Press Service said.
“Pete Geren is the right person, at the right time, to serve as secretary of the Army,” Casey said in his remarks at the ceremony.
Geren has been serving as the 20th Army secretary since July 16. He comes to the position while the country is at war and in a transformation period. The U.S. Army is expected to grow by 74,000 soldiers, while the Army Reserve and Army National Guard are changing from strategic forces to operational forces.
“Our force is stretched and out of balance,” Casey said. “The tempo of our deployments are not sustainable, our equipment usage is five times the normal rate and continuously operating in harsh environments.”
Officials say the Army is halfway through one of the biggest organizational changes since World War II while at the same time facing some of its biggest challenges.
“In order to sustain our force, we will do more for our Army families in these challenging times,” Geren said. “Family support systems, healthcare, child care, housing and education designed for the pre-9/11 Army must be adapted to sustain an Army at war.”