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Hawaii brass offer thoughts and sympathy


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POSTED: Friday, November 06, 2009

Two Army leaders in Hawaii expressed concern for the soldiers and families affected by the shooting at the Army's largest base at Fort Hood in Texas.

Maj. Gen. Robert Caslen, commanding general of the 25th Infantry Division, described the attack as “;very unfortunate.”;

Lt. Gen. Benjamin Mixon, who commands all Army forces in the Pacific, said, “;It's an evolving situation. “;I'm sure the leadership at Fort Hood will address the situation out there and take care of the families.”;

Caslen, who returned home yesterday after a year in Iraq, noted that many of the soldiers who accompanied him were on their second or third deployment, so he can understand the stresses they faced.

“;About 30 to 35 percent are on their first deployment,”; he said.

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He noted that the Army in Hawaii and elsewhere is “;going through the extremes to provide the counseling and mental health assessments and mental health counseling that are necessary to help our soldiers get through it and help with the reunion with our families,”; adding, “;There are a lot of programs, and they are all very good.”;

Caslen said the key is the leadership and the “;chain of command”;—from squad leaders to battalion commanders—who have to work with the soldiers.

There are “;close cohesive bonds”; that are forged in combat “;where if somebody was down, everybody would help to pick that person up.”;

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He said that that “;bond”; has to continue when soldiers return to their home post.

“;We won the war,”; said the two-star Schofield Barracks general. “;Now we got to win the peace back here at home.”;

Col. Matthew Margotta, commander, U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, added, “;Our thoughts and prayers are with our fellow military families and friends who have been affected by the tragic shootings.”;

Although several Army posts on the mainland were “;locked down”; immediately after the shootings were reported, Army officials here said nothing similar was done at Fort Shafter or Schofield Barracks.

Margotta added, “;Appropriate security measures are currently in place, and threat assessments are being conducted as necessary.”;