Editor’s Note: Individual augmentee sailors who serve in the Middle East operate in a stressful, constantly deployed environment. They receive gear and training before they get to the field and put that training into practice. At the end of their tour, sailors are eager to return home to their friends and family, but a small training and decompression period is beneficial before returning home and putting that into practice. This program is called the Warrior Transition Program.
Rear Adm. Kevin Scott, commander, Task Force Individual Augmentee, and deputy commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command, explains how the Warrior Transition Program keeps our individual augmentee sailors ready as they return home.
Greetings from Commander, Task Force-Individual Augmentee, part of the proud team of U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. We have more than 1,800 individual augmentee sailors who are currently serving downrange in Afghanistan and throughout the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility. I want to share with you an update regarding our focus of reintegrating these warriors back to the fleet.
As a vital precursor to their return to Navy duties, each individual augmentee Sailor spends about five days at the Navy Warrior Transition Program as they complete their deployment. The program was previously located at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, but has since moved operations to Sembach, Germany, near Ramstein Air Force Base, back in December 2012.
I recently made the trip to Germany to observe the progress made since their move and to welcome a group of redeploying individual augmentee sailors back to the Navy.
Travel out of theater for these redeployers can be challenging, especially during the winter months. Returning individual augmentee sailors drop their gear at the Navy Warrior Transition Program in Sembach, Germany. The weariness of travel, with stops in Kandahar or Bagram, Afghanistan, and then Manas, Kyrgyzstan, and finally Germany, was evident as I greeted the sailors coming off the plane in Ramstein. However, their moods clearly lifted after arriving at the Warrior Transition Program and seeing the new facilities.
The Warrior Transition Program offers the right kind of decompression our redeploying sailors need. Having spent $11 million to refurbish old Army barracks and offices, the Navy has ensured the facilities are first-rate. At this point, the dusty tents of Kuwait are but a distant memory. Berthing is normally two per room with two rooms sharing a head. The facilities provide lots of space to relax, and the natural beauty of the surrounding countryside is both breathtaking and rejuvenating.