WASHINGTON – Former Downey mayor Mario Guerra was appointed the Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army during an induction ceremony Monday.
The ceremony took place inside the Hall of Heroes at the Pentagon.
Guerra, who served on the Downey City Council from 2006 to 2014, was selected for the position by Secretary of the Army Eric K. Fanning to represent California and Greater Los Angeles.
“It is my great honor to accept this appointment as Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army for California. To be able to serve the Army in this capacity is humbling and exciting,” said Guerra. “I am deeply committed to my community, especially the men and women who serve in uniform, and their families. My goal is to serve the American solider, our beloved Army, and our Veterans.
“I came to the United States as a Cuban refugee and immigrant at the age of 6 on one of the first ‘Freedom Flights,’ and I truly appreciate the many opportunities that this country has provided for me. I look forward to taking on this position and executing my duties with pride, passion and integrity.”
The Civilian Aide to the Secretary of the Army (CASA) is appointed by the Secretary of the Army and is equivalent to a three-star general position.
A CASA reports directly to the Secretary of the Army about the Army and community activities. CASAs are a vital part of the Army, promoting good relations between the Army and the public and advising the Secretary about regional issues.
The CASA program is “as important now as it has ever been,” said Fanning. “Forty-plus years into an all-volunteer force, the most professional, capable force I’m sure we have ever had, has also led in many ways to a growing divide between those who are serving and those who are being protected.
“CASAs are one critical element to help us with that link, to keep that connective tissue strong, so that the public understands why we have a military, and what it is doing.”
“The Army is of course its people,” added Fanning. “We are the sum of our Soldiers, Civilians and their Families, and their collective contributions. But the Army also depends on another source of strength and support: the Army is only as strong as our connection to the American people. Our CASAs are our front line of maintaining and strengthening that fundamental bond.”
CASAs, formally recognized in 1922, advise the secretary of the army. Since then only about 500 people have ever been asked to serve as CASA’s.
Typically, each state has one CASA appointed and their role is to provide individual advice to the Secretary of the Army, the Chief of Staff, and commanders at all levels on public sentiments toward the Army.
In his eight years on the Downey City Council, Guerra served as mayor twice. He is also an ordained deacon and chaplain for the Downey Police Department.
He is co-founder of one of the largest insurance brokers in the country and is currently an executive with Arthur J. Gallagher Insurance.