Navy admiral visits N.C. soldiers

March 31, 2008 5:13:38 PM PDT
Monday Admiral Mike Mullen made his first visit to Fort Bragg and Pope Air Force Base. The admiral says he wanted to find out what's on the minds of the men and women fighting the war on terrorism.

The biggest questions from the soldiers had to do with the length of deployments verses time spent back home with families.

The admiral spent about 45-minutes to an hour with the troops. He spent the first 10-minutes thanking them and their families for their sacrifices since 9/11. The rest of the time Mullen was there was spent answering some pretty tough questions.

Technical Sergeant Angela Harris described Admiral Mullen as a soldier's soldier. "I think it was great to actually have him come here to Pope. And I got some good hard questions answered. I was really happy he could make it here," Harris said.

Admiral Mullen answered questions about deployments and time away from families. He answered th questions not only as an admiral, but as a father with children who have fought in combat. "Well... it resonates with me. I understand that. I've been doing this a long time... deployed many times myself and as you indicate I've got son who also serve and who deploy," Mullen told the group.

The admiral says he wants to eventually see troops spend a year deployed then get two years at home with their families. "Our families have sacrificed and extraordinary amount as well. So... that's why I've said that 15 month deployments have to be reduced as rapidly as we can," Mullen proposed. "We also have to start building more dwell time into rotations."

No one knows better than Sergeant Michael Layao. He's been deployed twice in four years. He says his time away has been tough on his wife and two children, ages 7 and 10. "Just hearing them on the phone when you're over there and then the look in their eyes when you have to tell them you're going again. It uh... it's... it's hard," Layao cried as he explained.

Admiral Mullen was not surprised that the deployments spark a lot of emotion. "Well a lot of times I get questions like that? the repeated deployments," Mullen adds, "I just did a quick survey in the all hands this morning and the vast majority that were in there had done one or two deployments."

Mullen spent time with Specials Forces and spent time with wounded soldiers. He said he would like to see wounded soldiers and their families taken care of for the rest of their lives.


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