Fresh eyes and ears at Fort Knox

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Editorial: Nov. 28, 2012

ISSUE: Civilian aides visit Fort Knox
OUR VIEW: Tour strengthens post connections

Fort Knox hosted nine officials earlier this month who report directly to the secretary of the Army. During a day-long tour, post officials and soldiers engaged civilian aides to the secretary of the Army, sometimes referred to as “eyes and ears” for the secretary, in conversations about the missions and capabilities of the diverse units at Fort Knox.

The civilian aides, who are appointed, are charged with providing the secretary and other U.S. Army officials with advice about public attitudes regarding the Army. They’re an important link in connecting the Army with the American public.

That said, it’s good for these aides to know about Fort Knox and the work being done there. It’s quite significant that they traveled and dedicated time to spend getting to know the faces and places of the post.

Cadet Command and Fort Knox commander Maj. Gen. Jeff Smith initiated the visit, the first of its kind since 2008, inviting aides from Kentucky, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia and West Virginia. Smith’s invitation indicates his commitment to championing Fort Knox and strengthening its connections throughout the large Army organization. His move, as well as the work of those who executed the plans and took a spot on the day’s agenda, is noteworthy.

While at Fort Knox, civilian aides were acquainted with the overall post, from the changes triggered by BRAC to initiatives such as geothermal energy to the special capabilities of training ranges. They also heard about the work of Cadet Command, Recruiting Command and Human Resources Command and gained insight on the future of manning the Army.

The visit wasn’t all informational briefings. They met with soldiers from the 3rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 1st Infantry Division, who are training for an anticipated deployment. They also dined with soldiers. Some aides noted spending time with soldiers was the highlight of the visit. It surely brought meaning to other activities of the day.

Another benefit of the visit was the size of the tour group — just nine visitors — which provided ample opportunity for real exchanges to happen and real understanding to be gained.

One civilian aide noted how important it was to hear about recruiting and human resources perspectives as they pertain to the downsizing of the Army.

For the civilian aides, the visit was valuable.

For Fort Knox, arming these nine visitors with compelling, up-to-date information has immeasurable value.

As a visitor from Kentucky noted, such visits help civilian aides because they hear about concerns and needs on post and take that information back to the secretary of the Army, acting as liaisons on large issues.

Those voices need to have experienced Fort Knox, need to have relationships at Fort Knox. The November visit was a successful step in providing civilian aides just that.

This editorial represents a consensus of The News-Enterprise editorial board.