GREGG KAKESAKO / GKAKESAKO@STARBULLETIN.COM
Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, left, U.S. Army Pacific commander, Brig. Gen. Mick Bednarek, past 25th Infantry Division commander, and Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, incoming head of the 25th Division, stood at attention yesterday at Schofield Barracks Sills Field. Caslen assumed command of the 12,000-member 25th Division.
The Army general who will take 4,500 Schofield Barracks soldiers to Iraq in October said the United States is making "a lot of progress in the right direction."
After taking command of 12,000 soldiers assigned to the 25th Infantry Division yesterday, Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen told the Star-Bulletin that "the political situation in Iraq is standing up. The security system is standing up. The economy is beginning to generate the employment capabilities that it has to have."
When Caslen takes the 25th Division battle flag to Iraq this fall, it will be his first combat tour there.
"It is our intent to support the best we can. We have to provide the security, and then we have to work with the Iraqi government and the Iraqi people to develop their own government so they can learn how to govern in accordance with their own purposes, goals and objectives," he said.
During his 33 years in uniform, Caslen served in the 1991 Desert Storm conflict. He graduated from West Point in 1975.
He took the 25th Infantry Division's 1st Battalion, 14th Regiment Golden Dragons Regiment to Haiti during a 1994 peacekeeping mission.
Caslen also served two combat tours in Afghanistan before becoming the 70th commandant of cadets at the U.S. Military Academy.
Most recently, Caslen was one of four generals and three other officers whom the Department of Defense's inspector general said violated rules by giving the appearance of governmental sanction to a Christian group, and did so while in uniform.
Caslen said the officers thought they were supporting an Army chaplain's program, which had been given the approval for the filming by the Pentagon's public affairs department, by participating in a promotional video for an evangelical group called Christian Embassy.
"I made a mistake. I took full responsibility. I accept the responsibility," he said. "I regret that I made that mistake."
Caslen said he was given a "written memoranda of concern" from the Army based on last August's inspector general report.
Caslen added he has not violated any ethics regulation.
"I fully believe in pluralism, tolerance and inclusion of all faiths, all ethnicity. I am an inclusive sort of person, and I would never use my position, my uniform or my rank to force my political or religious beliefs on anyone else.
"I never have and I never will."