Military matters: Petraeus says farewell to Fort Leavenworth, heads to Iraq
The following is a column from Lt. Gen. David Petraeus, the outgoing commander of the Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth. He is leaving to take command of U.S. forces in Iraq. This column appeared in the Feb. 1 edition of the Lansing Current.
During the past 15 months it has been my honor to command the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth. As I prepare to leave Kansas for my third tour in Iraq, I do so confident that the service members and civilians here at the fort are providing invaluable support to our soldiers who are currently serving in harm's way. What is accomplished here is truly making a difference to our soldiers and our Army.
What makes Fort Leavenworth extraordinary is its ability to provide vital support to the operational Army, taking lessons learned from forward-deployed units, determining "best practices" from those lessons, and rapidly incorporating them into doctrine, leader development and collective training. At the same time, the fort is working closely with our sister services to develop command and control systems that will better enable commanders to make timely decisions on the battlefield. Truly the Combined Arms Center is an engine of change, supporting an Army that is both transforming and fighting a war on behalf of our nation.
During my time here, the members of the Leavenworth team have continually shown their tremendous worth to our military at this crucial period in time. The creation of the first counterinsurgency manual to be written for use by our combat forces in more than two decades is just one example. Within a few weeks of its release, the manual had been downloaded more than a million and a half times.
It is, in fact, extraordinary to reflect on what the Combined Arms Center and Fort Leavenworth have accomplished during the past 15 months. While continuing to provide the premier education system to our nation's military leaders, we have undergone our own transformation in order to keep up with a changing military. The formation of the University of Foreign Military and Cultural Studies, designed to train soldiers to predict how our enemies will react to military actions, as well as the creation of the Counterinsurgency Center and the establishment of the Ike Skelton Distinguished Chair for Counterinsurgency are all signs that our organization continues to respond to meet the needs of an ever-adapting force. Add to this the establishment of the new Joint Center for International Security Force Assistance (which assists combatant commanders in developing plans and programs for operations worldwide) and the renewed emphasis on information operations and electronic warfare, and the influence of the Combined Arms Center on the Army of the present and future is obvious.
As I prepare to leave this command and this area, I would like to express my appreciation not just to the military and civilian workforce of Fort Leavenworth, but also to the citizens of Leavenworth, Lansing, Platte City, Basehor and the greater metropolitan area of Kansas City. It is heartwarming to see the friendship and encouragement our neighbors give to members of the armed services on a daily basis. In addition to supporting our American men and women in uniform, you open your homes and your hearts to the foreign military students here at the fort, providing them with a personal example of the openness and generosity of the American spirit that is so wonderful and so valuable.
My next assignment, as the commander of Multi-National Force-Iraq, will once again give me the honor and the responsibility of leading our nation's sons and daughters in combat. I want you to know that I take this responsibility very seriously and that I will bend all my efforts and use all my abilities to lead them well. As I embark on this new assignment, I will look back with fondness and appreciation on my time among those here at Fort Leavenworth. Holly and I have wonderful memories of our time here on the west bank of the Missouri, and we thank you for your gracious welcome, your continuing support for the American military, your love of our great nation and your part in making Fort Leavenworth our Army's best small town.