I recently returned from spending a week with our Sailors that are underway in the Arabian Gulf and serving as IAs in the CENTCOM AOR.
You may recall, I took a similar trip last year that provided me with an ‘up close and personal’ look at how our Sailors were executing their missions, as well as direct accounts of some of the issues they were experiencing in theater.
I found the trip this year to be equally useful and I was very pleased to see that our Sailors there are upbeat and serving proudly.
One of the notable stops that I made was at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait where I experienced firsthand the services and support we’re providing to our IAs and deployed Sailors through the Warrior Transition Program (WTP).
Commander Charles "Keith" Springle Decompression Tent
The WTP is a series of briefings and interviews that aims to reintegrate our Sailors back into a Navy life in a non-combat environment. Over the course of three days, our Sailors will turn in their gear, complete their post deployment health assessment (PDHA), attend the Warrior Transition Workshop and related admin briefings, make travel reservations, and spend time unwinding before making the trip home. Sailor downtime is facilitated by the new Commander Charles "Keith" Springle Decompression Tent. The Decompression Tent, named in honor of CDR Springle, who was killed while serving an Individual Augmentee assignment in Iraq in 2009, is the newest addition to the program and contains a 35-seat theater, 10 computers, 5 internet phones, a big-screen TV, and an 8-seat interlinked X-Box gaming area. It can’t get much better than that!
Overall, I was very impressed with the program, and more importantly, with the care and support our Navy is providing to our Sailors as they come off their IA assignment and make the critical transition back to Navy life.
While I found the entire week to be useful, the real highlight of my trip was spending Thanksgiving dinner with our Sailors at Camp Lemonnier in Djibouti.
Spending time with our Sailors is truly one of the high points of my job – it really is incredible how much I learn when I am with them. But that’s really no surprise, is it? After all, we do have the finest group of men and women in our Navy that our nation has to offer.