News: CENTCOM Commander visits ADA Troops
Story by Spc. Maria Kappell
SOUTHWEST ASIA - The Commander of the United States Central Command visited with the troops of the 69th Air Defense Artillery Brigade and the 3rd Battalion, 43rd Air Defense Artillery Regiment Aug. 22 in Southwest Asia.
Gen. James N. Mattis, spent time discussing mission readiness and morale wellness with Air Defense Soldiers during a tour of Delta Battery, 3-43 ADA’s PATRIOT site, which was followed by a lunch with several Soldiers from the 69th ADA Brigade along with other units on the installation.
Mattis was briefed by several Soldiers at the site; one of them included Sgt. Justin Yepez, a noncommissioned officer in Delta Btry., 3-43 ADA, who is on his second deployment in an Air Defense unit.
Yepez demonstrated his and his unit’s strong foundation and knowledge of the Air Defense Mission in his brief to the General.
“The confidence we have in your ability is absolute,” said Mattis.
In addition to acquiring information from the Soldiers about their mission readiness, at lunch with the Soldiers, Mattis also asked questions pertaining to the morale and welfare of the Soldiers throughout the Air Defense unit.
“We are concerned about taking care of you because we know you will take care of the mission,” Mattis said.
One of the main discussions during the lunch was in regards to the long deployments Soldiers face year after year.
Each military service has its own culture that dictates when and for how long its troops will deploy, Mattis said.
The Army’s Soldiers are normally deployed for 12 to 15 months at a time, whereas the Air Force may deploy its Airmen for only four to six months at a time.
The Soldiers and the General discussed how and if the current deployment strategies are wearing on them and their families or if the current situation is something that can be sustained.
There were a variety of answers, but the broad consensus was that the Soldiers would like to see either more dwell time or shorter deployments.
Although the strain of deployments on the Soldiers and their families is tough, Soldiers understand that this is what they signed up to do; defend their country and the ideals on which it was based upon.
The fact that the United States is an all volunteer military force sends a strong and inspiring message, Mattis said.