BAGRAM AIR BASE, Afghanistan (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SW/FMF) Joe Campa Jr. visited with Sailors serving in Afghanistan Oct. 19 and discussed their vital roles defending the nation and supporting the Navy.
"I wanted to come here and see Sailors who are serving with the Army and other forces and see the job that we're doing," Campa said. "I've been extremely impressed with what I've seen, not because I didn't think our Sailors would do a great job, but because I am seeing so many of our Sailors who are teaching and leading."
With more than 11,000 Sailors serving on the ground in the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) area of responsibility (AOR), the Navy is taking on a larger and more demanding role in these vital locations. Many Sailors are serving in individual augmentee (IA) capacities in Afghanistan, Iraq, Kuwait, Bahrain and the Horn of Africa.
"This is a mission that is not going to go away," Campa said. "The demand for our Sailors is high, and we've proven that we can do it. The talent and the capability that we bring to the fight continue to grow."
During his tour of Afghanistan, Campa visited Sailors in Kandahar, Asadabad, Kabul and Bagram.
In Kandahar, Campa met with a small group of Sailors, including Chief Boatswain's Mate (SW/SCW) Karen Miller, who is serving as an IA and is now mentoring the Sgt. Major of the Afghan Army by teaching him how to lead, inspect and mentor his soldiers.
"Chief Miller is a prime example of the type of Sailor that we have here serving as an IA, and doing a tremendous job with a mission she did not expect," Campa said. "Today she's mentoring hundreds of Afghan soldiers and making a difference in the future of their army and this nation."
The Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT) in Asadabad, Afghanistan, has 28 assigned Sailors at a remote outpost near the Pakistani border.
The PRT team is comprised of both Reserve and active-duty assets and ranges from an undesignated seaman to the commanding officer, a U.S. Navy commander whose specialty is aviation. The team's mission is to work with the local Afghanis building good governance, promoting security and economic growth. The joint forces team includes Army personnel as well, and provides an opportunity for Sailors to take part in rebuilding Afghanistan.
"Who would have thought that you would have Sailors in a landlocked country doing a vital mission for a war effort?" Campa asked Sailors serving at the PRT. "Our Navy is changing, and it will continue to change."
In Kabul, Campa visited with Sailors serving at the Kabul Military Training Center, where Sailors are teaching combat arms training to Afghan army recruits, while other Sailors run the uniform issue department and motor pool. He also visited Sailors at Camp Eggers.
"We have Sailors serving in all capacities, doing things that are making a difference. At no time in the history of our Navy has the change in our mission been so great," Campa said.
MCPON said the new mission of supporting "boots on the ground" means the Navy will have to do business differently and that each individual Sailor needs to be in a constant state of readiness.
"It is the strength of our people that helps us evolve," Campa told the Sailors. "As long as we have people like you stepping up to the mission, it might be long, but we will win in the end."
This is Campa's first visit to the CENTCOM AOR since taking the helm as the Navy's senior enlisted leader in July.
For related news, visit the Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/Commander, U.S. 5th Fleet Navy NewsStand page at www.news.navy.mil/local/cusnc/.