BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SW/FMF) Joe Campa Jr. talked to Sailors during his two-day tour of Iraq, Oct. 21-22.
The MCPON visited with Sailors performing "boots-on-ground" roles in Iraq as individual augmentees (IA) or as deployed units in Al Asad, Balad and Camp Speicher.
"I don't think we can keep the capability that we bring to the fight back at our shore installations in the states or on our ships at sea," Campa said. "I think because we have that talent, the need for that will continue to be there."
During his tour of Iraq, Campa visited with Sailors in the explosive ordnance disposal community, corpsmen, aviators and seabees who are deployed to the region. At each stop, the MCPON also encountered Sailors from all ratings and backgrounds, both active duty and reserve, who are providing critical skills to the mission in Iraq as IAs.
"We are saving lives by doing what we are doing and it has generated a request for more capability. That is a need that is not going to go away anytime soon," Campa said. "The gaps we are filling for other services are too critical."
Sailors serving as IAs are often embedded with Army units, and all Sailors serving in the region are learning to fight in a joint environment.
"I don't believe that we will ever not fight in a joint environment again," Campa said, as he told Sailors that the services are learning from each other.
"Everywhere I have been, the other services have nothing but praise for the work that Sailors are doing," Campa said. "Our Sailors bring unique and capable skills to the fight. Sailors are doing a great job and that is being recognized by all the services. I am hearing Soldiers call Sailors shipmates and Sailors calling Soldiers battle buddies. This is the future of warfare and we are learning for each other."
Campa told Sailors they are setting history with the work they are doing on the ground today.
Currently there are more than 11,000 Sailors serving on the ground in the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility (CENTCOM AOR) as the Navy is taking on a larger and more demanding role in these vital locations. The MCPON said the new mission of supporting the war on terrorism 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.
"Our ability to defeat this enemy that is highly adaptable and that is determined is critical. The Navy is there helping to combat that and is doing a great job," Campa said. "I want to thank you for your service. I want you to stay safe and to take care of each other."
This is MCPON Campa's first visit to the CENTCOM AOR since taking the helm as the Navy's senior enlisted leader in July.
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