News: Captain crosses coalition cultures
Story by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey - A man of average height, average build, brown hair and eyes, U.S. Army Capt. Adam Proctor walks into the Dutch Patriot headquarters on Incirlik Air Base and greets his co-workers in their native language, with a friendly smile.
Though Proctor may come across as your average guy, his job is anything but ordinary. Proctor is the Dutch Patriot missile system tactical director and, as a U.S. soldier, has been working with the Dutch for about two years.
"I'm in charge of tracking aircraft," he explained.
There is good history of having U.S. Army embedded with the Dutch army and vice-versa, said Dutch Sgt. Maj. Peter Meuissen, 1st Netherlands Ballistic Missile Defense Task Force.
Sometimes Dutch pilots will go to the U.S. and U.S. pilots will come to the Netherlands to fly for air force squadrons via exchange programs, Meuissen explained.
"When the opportunity to go work in the Netherlands came up, I jumped at it," Proctor exclaimed. "How many people get to do this?"
Learning the language has been the biggest challenge, the Army captain said.
"But, I've always wanted to learn Dutch," Proctor added.
Having the Netherlands and U.S. come together in this unique way has had many benefits, Meuissen said. Both countries bring new ideas and a fresh perspective. The lessons learned thanks to this partnership have made them a stronger team.
"It's great to learn from each other and see our differences," the Dutch soldier added. "We learn how to improve."
Although the way each side approaches the mission may vary, everyone does their part and pitches in. While one side may be a stickler for time constraints, the other may feel a more relaxed approach is most effective. However, in the end there is mutual respect and cooperation, Proctor said. The Dutch are a tight-knit community, and part of that respect the U.S. soldier feels comes from an appreciation of that.
"The closeness of the people is the best part," he added. "We get the work done and have a lot of fun. Seeing these differences has really opened my mind to think about what's really important in accomplishing the mission."
Being in Turkey undertaking the NATO Patriot mission and having a U.S. Army soldier working with the Dutch provides a great enhancement to the operation, Meuissen said. Proctor has helped arrange contacts with Americans to further their charge.
"This mission is important," Proctor said. "It's an honor to be doing this right on the border with our NATO allies."
The partnership between the two nations is vital, Meuissen said. So much more is achieved through teamwork.
"When you exercise and deploy together, it's extremely helpful to understand how we both work," Meuissen explained. "When we are better prepared, we work better together."
Just as the not-so-average Army solider in this story has done, U.S. and Dutch service members will continue their foreign exchanges and continue to learn and strengthen bonds and accomplish the mission as coalition partners.