Jan 8 2016

FORT BRAGG – Today, Senators Thom Tillis (R-NC) and Joni Ernst (R-IA) concluded a Congressional Delegation visit to Fort Bragg in North Carolina, the largest military installation in the United States that is home to 52,000 active duty men and women and 100,000 of their family members.

Senators Tillis and Ernst, both members of the Senate Armed Services Committee, met with many key military commanders at Ft. Bragg, including General Robert B. Abrams, the Commander of the United States Army Forces Command (FORSCOM), and General Stephen J. Townsend, the Commander of the XVIII Airborne Corps.

On Tuesday, the Senators started their day by sharing breakfast with Army soldiers from their home states, with Senator Tillis dining with soldiers from North Carolina, and Senator Ernst dining with soldiers from Iowa. The Senators then toured the United States Army Special Operations Command (USASOC), which is often among the first commands to deploy soldiers to combat zones, particularly since the beginning of the Global War on Terror. The Senators also went on an extensive tour of the Joint Special Operations Medical Training Center (JSOMTC), which plays a vital role in ensuring that Special Operations Forces are self-reliant with well-trained combat medics, often making the difference between life and death in combat. 

On Wednesday, the Senators toured the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), where they received classified battle update briefings, and enjoyed lunch with JSOC soldiers. Senator Tillis also toured the Engagement Skills Trainer (EST) Facility, which provides state of the art computer-generated arms training for soldiers. Senator Ernst also met with infantrymen and cavalry scouts from the 82nd Airborne Division, recently returned from Iraq, to discuss their thoughts on the way forward with gender integration of combat arms positions.

In addition to the busy itinerary of the CODEL at Fort Bragg, Senator Tillis joined Senators Richard Burr and Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Johnny Isakson (R-GA) for the official opening of the new Fayetteville VA Health Care Center on Monday.

On Tuesday night, Senators Tillis and Ernst were special guests at a dinner hosted by the Veterans Leadership Council-Cares of North Carolina (VLCNC) at the Airborne and Special Operations Museum, during which Senator Ernst delivered the keynote address. The VLCNC is a non-profit organization that seeks to provide temporary housing for at-risk veterans, and help assist veterans with access to health and wellness services.

“Fort Bragg is the home to the Global Response Force, and is paramount to maintaining America’s position as the strongest and most capable military the world has ever seen,” said Senator Tillis. “I was honored to welcome Senator Ernst to Fort Bragg to visit with the commanders and brave active duty members serving at our nation’s largest military base, they truly represent the very best of the best.” 

“It was an honor to visit with our men and women in uniform at Fort Bragg, to learn more about their mission, capabilities, and how we can help improve their ability to protect our nation and defeat our adversaries,” said Senator Ernst. “The Fayetteville community is vital to our national defense, and I remain committed to ensuring our servicemembers and their families are well taken care of as they face the unique challenges of military life.”