US Army vice chief of staff visits Fort Campbell - WAFB 9 News Baton Rouge, Louisiana News, Weather, Sports

US Army vice chief of staff visits Fort Campbell

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The Army has just celebrated the 40th anniversary of the all-volunteer force. Those volunteers are facing major concerns with huge cuts being made to the military and the growing problems of soldier suicides. U.S. Army Vice Chief of Staff John Campbell stopped at Fort Campbell Thursday where he discussed these issues and more.

"As we get smaller, we have to have the best soldiers in the Army," said Campbell. "I'm really worried about the quality, not the quantity."

Campbell voiced concern over long-term plans to lose 80,000 active duty soldiers to sequestration. As the Army narrows down to 409,000 soldiers, Campbell said it'll be up to leaders including brigade commanders to determine which soldiers stay.

"We're going to come to a point where we're going to have to make some really tough decisions," said Campbell.

As for Army-wide furloughs, Campbell said the civilian workforce impacted seems less concerned about the loss of money than getting their work done. 

"What I'm very thankful for is we've got great civilians that continue to have the patience with us that'll hopefully stick with us as we work through these tough times," said Campbell. "I can't tell them what's going to happen in 2014. I don't have a budget."

Campbell also addressed Army-wide suicide numbers where 77 deaths have been either confirmed or investigated as suicides in 2013 alone. Campbell said MIT is conducting a study to determine the best tools for soldiers to prevent Army suicides. He added he's putting responsibility on non-commissioned officers to watch their soldiers for red flags.

"We're not going to give up on this," said Campbell. "We're going to continue to put the resources toward it, and I think we all have a part to play. All of our soldiers have a part to play."

Campbell is the former commander of the 101st Airborne Division.

Also as part of his appearance Thursday, Campbell said sexual assaults continue to be a major concern in the Army, and officials are working on ways to make the reporting process easier for victims.

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