INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey — The U.S. European Command chief of staff visited here Jan. 24 and 25 to meet the troops conducting Operation Northern Watch missions.
Army Lt. Gen. Daniel Petrosky first visited when he arrived at EUCOM in November 2000 but wanted to return to listen to what's on the minds of the operation's current leaders and find out how higher headquarters can help.
"We have very good aviators working in our J-3 (operations) plugged in with Northern Watch guys all the time, and I've gotten great compliments about their work," Petrosky said. "But as good as they are, it's still no substitute for me getting the opportunity to take a couple of days, come down here, see the folks who are doing the mission, listen to the commander and take back anything that I think we might have opportunity to do to be helpful.
"Being down here with the folks who are actually the experts in the field is very valuable," he added.
Petrosky said that even during just two days he learned a lot that he hopes to take back to better support the operation and inform America's elected leaders on how well the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines are performing the mission.
"Like every previous group, they do it so well, a very tough mission, a dangerous mission, that it looks easy to those who are unaware of how difficult it is," Petrosky said. "So, it may look easy to the American public, but it's not an easy mission. It's a group of folks who come from [all over the world], trained professionals, competent, courageous, men and women that come here prepared to do the job and do the job in a very, very professional manner. For me, it is a great honor to come down here and meet as many of them as I can.
"I wish it would be possible for all of America to ... [see] these folks who are going out in harm's way, to see that confidence, to see the degree of preparedness that they've done [and] the importance of the mission," the general continued. "Of any mission that our military does anywhere in the world, clearly this one has more risks to it than many of them. It's important because our nation's said it is important, and it meets the interests of our nation."
During his visit, the chief of staff was most impressed with the people.
"It's the same impression I had last time I was here," he said. "You can sit there and think about different times in our nation's history, and the question is often asked, ‘Where does America get these folks?' We seem to have an endless supply of men and women that are up to the challenge of serving their nation, selfless service, and they are very, very good at what they do.
"And it's a team," he added. "In this particular case, we are teamed with our friends Great Britain and Turkey, so it's a team effort."
The chief of staff thanked all men and women deployed but offered special thanks to the U.S. troops.
"Thanks, first of all, for coming over here and doing a very tough mission. Second of all, thanks for serving our nation. I wish all the world could see the service they are doing, right now, this very instant," Petrosky said.