Why We Serve: Army NCO Urges Public to Support Troops
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, Sep. 7, 2007 The U.S. military is battling terrorists in Afghanistan and Iraq so Americans don’t have to fight them in the homeland, a senior air-defense noncommissioned officer said.
“If we’re not over there solving that problem now, it’s definitely going to be on our front door,” Army Sgt. 1st Class Steven M. Adams told American Forces Press Service.
Adams, 34, has served in Afghanistan, Iraq and Qatar, and is currently assigned to U.S. Space Command, at Peterson Air Force Base, Colo. He is among an elite group of soldiers trained to operate the Joint Tactical Ground Station, a deployable air-defense system that warns servicemembers of incoming enemy-fired ballistic missiles, while forwarding information to friendly counter-strike units.
“We’d alert servicemembers: ‘Hey, this is coming your way, you need to take the proper precautions,’” Adams said.
The missile-warning system employs infrared sensors, in tandem with orbiting satellites and mobile ground-based units to detect missile launches, Adams explained. Development of the system was put on the front burner when an Iraqi-launched Scud missile destroyed a barracks in Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, killing 28 U.S. servicemembers on Feb. 25, 1991. The U.S. Air Force manages a counterpart missile-alert system, he noted.
“I believe in the current duty that I have very much,” Adams, who hails from East Point, Ga., said. “It’s a much-needed asset, and I really enjoy doing what I do.”
Being a soldier or a member of any branch of the military is a good place to be, said Adams, noting that he also relishes the mentoring part of his job.
“I enjoy watching my NCOs and myself coach, teach and mentor” younger soldiers to make them more proficient and successful, Adams explained.
And, the U.S. military is an organization that attends to the well-being of each of its members, he added.
“Never will you find the camaraderie that we have in the United States military,” Adams said. “It’s the things you can’t find on a recruiting poster that really sell the Army.”
Adams is one of eight servicemembers who have served overseas in the war on terror who were selected to speak to American community groups and businesses across the nation as part of the Defense Department’s “Why We Serve” public-outreach program.
The Why We Serve program “is a great opportunity” that enables U.S. servicemembers to go out and talk to the American people, Adams said.
After completing training at the Pentagon in early July, Adams embarked on a series of public-speaking engagements at civic organizations and veterans gatherings across the country.
“I usually speak for 10 minutes and then I open it up for question-and-answer sessions,” he explained.
Some citizens convey their misgivings about wartime reporting by the news media, Adams said. Others ask him for “the ground truth” about what really is happening in Iraq and Afghanistan, he added.
Adams’ main message to the public is: “Stay the course and support the troops.”
The veteran NCO said he is very pleased with the quality of the soldiers he works with, noting his career field places great responsibility upon its members.
“My senior guy is a staff sergeant. He makes the same decisions that a lieutenant colonel or a full-bird colonel make in the United States Air Force,” Adams said.