GUANTANAMO BAY, CUBA
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba - Joint Task Force Guantanamo and U.S. Naval Station Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, are no strangers to distinguished visitors such as congressional delegations, foreign dignitaries and important military leaders.
Recently, JTF GTMO was honored by a visit from the new Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Marine Gen. Joseph F. Dunford, Jr., who assumed his position in October 2015. This trip was part of a larger tour of the U.S. Southern Command.
Dunford said it was important for him to visit and to have the opportunity to see, first hand, the mission here.
The mission here is a difficult and often a thankless one, said Dunford, who described situations in life as being one of two things; a rubber ball or a crystal ball.
“If you drop a rubber ball, you can pick it back up and try again,” said Dunford. “But you drop that crystal ball one time and that is it, it’s broken and you can’t fix it. It is a testament to the professionalism and the leadership here that the ball has never been dropped.”
The first few months of a new job, you focus on 25 meter targets, said Dunford, referring to immediate concerns that needed to be taken care of upon assuming his new duties. His goal was to visit GTMO and the Troopers as soon as he was able.
While on the ground at GTMO for only one day, Dunford’s schedule was packed with information and experiences.
One major agenda item was receiving a briefing on current and future operations with Navy Rear Adm. Peter J. Clarke, JTF commander and his staff. Topics discussed ranged from detention operations to housing and construction.
Navy Capt. Alan R. Redmon, the JTF engineer, discussed ongoing renovations at the Camp America Galley.
During his visit, Dunford noted, Trooper health and welfare is a priority of his. Following his briefing by the command team, Dunford was given a tour of the detention facilities. He described the tours as informative and eye opening. At each stop within the camps, Dunford made a point of speaking to Troopers of all ranks.
While Dunford visited Troopers across NAVSTA and JTF, his wife, Ellyn Dunford, who accompanied him on this trip, was on a mission of her own. Mrs. Dunford chaired a roundtable discussion with the Helping Agencies Looking Outward, including JTF Troopers, NAVSTA service members and spouses to examine health and welfare of families and service members on base.
Mrs. Dunford said her purpose was to start a dialogue and gain a better understanding of what is needed to continue to assist families and service members here.
Dunford said his visit was a good way to get a boots-on-ground feel for the operations, hear concerns of GTMO and discuss planning for the future.
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This work, Prestigious visit: Chairman meets GTMO Troopers, by SGT Ian Withrow, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.