Admiral Surprises Soldiers With Candid, Detailed Answers
By Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump, USAF
American Forces Press Service
BAGHDAD, June 21, 2007 When the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff showed up to speak to 1st Cavalry soldiers here yesterday, soldiers were a bit surprised by how in tune he was with the current situation in Iraq.
Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks with U.S. Army Staff Sgt. Michael Gonzales, a squad leader with the 82nd Airborne Division, during a visit to Forward Operating Base Liberty in Baghdad, Iraq, June 20, 2007. Defense Dept. photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
During the meeting, Navy Adm. Edmund P. Giambastiani fielded questions from the two dozen soldiers in the room, ranging from the latest technology in armored vehicles to getting fresh fruit at the dining facilities.
“I thought it was very generous of him to show his time and faith in what we’re doing here by doing a quick breakfast,” said 1st Lt. Cory Clayton, a 1st Cavalry member who was at the meeting.
During the question-and-answer session, Clayton asked about Mine Resistant Ambush Protected vehicles, known as MRAPs, which he was very interested in, having served on a route clearance team during his first four months in Iraq.
Giambastiani responded to the lieutenant’s question by telling him in detail about the ongoing vehicle testing at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md., and discussed the intent of getting MRAP vehicles shipped to Iraq quickly. He directly answered Clayton’s pointed question.
“I though his answers were outstanding,” Clayton said. “When I was down at the company level on a route clearance team, these were some of the direct issues we faced and some of our biggest concerns. I was very impressed to see he was already aware of them.”
When the admiral described the competition among vehicle manufacturers at Aberdeen and talked about how testing was taking place six days a week, the information eased concerns of some in the audience.
“They were already addressing that issue and well into the process of finding a solution,” Clayton said. “Outstanding.”
The lieutenant said the morale of the troops was lifted by hearing how concerned and in tune the admiral was with their operational needs.
“All it does is boost our confidence in our higher chain of command,” Clayton said. “Looking at the faces of everyone in the room, it seemed like it boosted their confidence. Everybody in the room had every question answered directly and in-depth. It wasn’t cut short, and he didn’t beat around the bush. He was direct and poignant.”
Clayton didn’t find out until after the breakfast that the admiral is retiring in less than two months, but he said that didn’t affect what he thought.
“Whether he’s retiring or not, I thought by him coming out here, the way he presented himself and the way he treated everybody here, I was highly impressed,” he said. “I don’t think he could impress me any more by saying he was going to retire. He was doing his job, and he did a great job coming out here today.”
(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Adam M. Stump is assigned to the Joint Staff public affairs office.)