Air Force Featured Stories

Deputy Defense Secretary Work spends Thanksgiving with deployed troops

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. Terrica Y. Jones
  • 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work visited service members on Thanksgiving at Al Udeid Air Base to thank them and discuss ongoing operations.

Work showed off his carving skills Thanksgiving Day as he served turkey to military members. After serving the dinner he dined and talked to more than a dozen troops about their deployment.

“My entire life has been around military men and women and extraordinary civilians supporting our military, and there is no one else I rather be around. As far as I am concerned, they represent the best of America,” Work said. “Every Thanksgiving I like to travel to tell them, look them in the eyes and thank them myself.

“I know it’s hard to be away for Thanksgiving, but what we are doing here is very important,” he continued. “I want to thank those at Al Udeid for the sacrifices they have made in the last 14 years and the sacrifices that their families are making. I need them to drive on, they’re doing a great job.”

During his visit, Work coined military members for their service. Later, he also took a moment to answer questions about our partnership with the Qataris, operations in Syria and having a strong and balanced strategy on Russia.

“The United States is extremely grateful to the government of Qatar and the Qatar Emiri Air Force for hosting us here and I expect this partnership to remain strong and get stronger in the future,” he said. “This platform really enables U.S. and coalition operations throughout the central command theatre, in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.”

Work also shared his thoughts on operations in Syria and how our current operations impact missions in Afghanistan and Iraq.

“Previously we had a direct strategy where we used our own forces to try and solve problems in the region, which was enormously expensive and we spent $ 1.5 trillion,” Work said. “Our strategy now is an indirect strategy where we are working with partners and whenever you have an indirect strategy it goes slower. First you have to find and vet your partners then you have to train and arm them.

“We have a very strong coalition, and we are doing more and more,” he said. “There is still no intention for us to have large-scale operations. We think this indirect strategy will work and what we are doing in Iraq and Syria is really not detracting at all from what we are doing in Afghanistan.”

Work added that President Barack Obama has decided to keep 9,800 troops through the next fighting season and 5,500 troops beyond 2016 to allow the government of Afghanistan to get its feet under itself and to remain strong.

“So a lot of stuff is going on in the region and what we are doing here is important,” he said.

Work also discussed the United States’ strong and balanced strategy toward Russia.

“We have a strategy, our president and (Defense Secretary Ash Carter) has called a strong and balanced strategy; strong in that we will continue to confront Russia when their aggression steps beyond international norms, but we want to maintain the opening to allow Russia to become a viable partner in the future,” he said. “That is why we call it strong and balanced.”

Work said that the U.S. is not currently coordinating with Russia.

“The only thing we are doing right now is notifying each other when our aircraft and our missiles are flying through a particular airspace,” he said. “We hope that over time the Russians will recognize that they are supporting the wrong side and perhaps in the end try to convince (Syrian President Bashar al-Assad) to leave. Until that happens we will not coordinate with Russia.”

The deputy defense secretary then concluded by showing his gratitude toward the U.S. military.

“Thank you so much for what you are doing,” he told the troops. “On behalf of Secretary Carter and I, we could not be more proud of leading the finest fighting forces of the U.S.”