COLUMBIA, S.C. – Gen. Carter F. Ham, the retired U.S. Army four-star who today serves as president of the Association of the United States Army (AUSA), addressed members of AUSA’s Fort Jackson-Palmetto State Chapter during a reception, Wed. Jan. 29, at the Capital City Club in downtown Columbia.
Among the guests were S.C. Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette; Kris McBride, AUSA’s 3rd Region president; Maj. Gen. Van McCarty, the adjutant general of S.C.; several other general-officers; and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott, who serves as president of the Fort Jackson-Palmetto State Chapter.
“This is not the first time Gen. Ham has visited us,” said Lott, who also holds the command-rank of brig. general in the S.C. State Guard. “To have someone here as widely known and respected as he is in both national and international military circles, speaks to the strong and enduring relationships our South Carolina communities enjoy with all of our military bases and communities, particularly here in Columbia with our vitally important base at Fort Jackson.”
Among its many schools and functions, Fort Jackson is the largest entry level (basic) training facility in the U.S. Army.
“We’re proud to be known as a military state with a long history of supporting our men and women in uniform,” said Lt. Gov. Evette. “It was my pleasure to welcome General Ham to our state capitol earlier this week. I enjoyed hearing his vision for strengthening the already strong bond that South Carolina has with the U.S. Army now and into the future.”
In his remarks, Ham spoke of “the divisiveness” in Washington.
“What we see playing out on television is unfortunate, because nothing else is getting done,” said Ham, who prior to retiring held numerous commands including the United States Africa Command, United States Army Europe, and the 1st Infantry Division. “This is a critical time for our Army and for the state of South Carolina [because of S.C.’s close relationship with the Army]. There is real business that needs to get done. We need to get back to the work of the nation.”
Ham added, “For the Army it’s a particularly important year for the budget cycle. There are a number of very important modernization programs that the Army has been working on for a couple of years. We’re just at that point where they’re ready to go from concept to prototype to production. That takes authority and money from Congress. And if they’re not able to come to those kinds of agreements, it’s going to continue to slow things down. We need a budget on time, an authorization act on time, and there’s a brief window in which to get it all done.”
Ham discussed the criticality of the need for Congressional approval as regards military family housing and healthcare programs for soldiers and their families, retirees, and veterans. He also discussed the possibility of special recognition – a Congressional Gold Medal – for members of the famed World War II irregulars, “Merrill’s Marauders,” who operated deep behind enemy lines in the China-Burma-India theater.
“There are 14 living members of that unit still with us,” said Ham. “Three of them will be in Washington with us next week.”
Ham also praised the Columbia and Midlands-area communities for their support of Fort Jackson and the S.C. National Guard which is headquartered in Columbia. “This city is wonderful,” said Ham. “It’s a great American Defense community!”
Founded in 1950, AUSA currently maintains over 120 chapters, worldwide.
– For more information about the Association of the United States Army, please visit https://www.ausa.org/.