By Navy Chief Petty Officer Craig P. Strawser
Jan. 8, 2010 - The Navy's top officer and top enlisted sailor visited sailors assigned to the international joint command here yesterday. Adm. Gary Roughead, chief of naval operations, and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick D. West are traveling throughout the country, meeting with sailors and senior leadership.
Roughead met with Army Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command. The two talked about the Navy's contribution to the mission in Afghanistan and about the sailors who will be part of the U.S. troop increase. Following the meeting, Roughead toured the combined joint operations center before having lunch with more than 50 sailors.
One of the points he stressed to the sailors was the visible impact their work is having.
"I've been out here four times," he said, "and as I was landing today, I noticed the amount of commercial airliners at the airport. I think that's the most I've ever seen."
This, Roughead said, is indicative of the efforts the young men and women of the military are putting in on a daily basis to improve security for the people of Afghanistan.
West was quick to agree, saying it doesn't surprise him in the least.
"I know the sailors out here are doing good work," he said, "but what I like to hear is when the Sergeant Major of the Army tells me that sailors are doing a tremendous job and earning respect across the entire theater."
West also made a point of reminding the land-locked sailors not to forget their Navy roots. "Put up ship photos, anchors and other Navy images," he said. He encouraged them to use their Navy terminology, and to make sure the other services know proud sailors are doing their part in Afghanistan.
He also reminded chiefs at the event to "continue to take care of the sailors."
When Roughead asked the sailors about how families are being taken care of at home, Petty Officer 1st Class Nicholas Ferguson pointed out the drastic improvements since the first time he was in Afghanistan.
"I was deployed immediately after 9/11," he said. "During my first activation, there wasn't much in place to support families, but that is 180 degrees out from what's happening on this deployment."
This time there has been a tremendous amount of support for not only him, but his family as well, he said.
The visit here came a day after the pair visited USS Nimitz in the North Arabian Sea. Aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 11 fly daily missions over Afghanistan, providing electronic warfare and close air support to troops on the ground.
(Navy Chief Petty Officer Craig P. Strawser serves in the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command public affairs office.)