VICENZA, Italy - The Army Surgeon General met with the leadership of Southern European Task Force (SETAF) and visited Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit during a Dec. 17 visit to Caserma Ederle.

Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker, Surgeon General and commander of U.S. Army Medical Command, met with Maj. Gen. "Burke" Garrett, the SETAF commander, to discuss the unit's ongoing transformation to U.S. Army Africa, the Army component to U.S. Africa Command.

"It's a very exciting time for SETAF. I was very enthused about what I heard," Schoomaker said. "We, as medics, have the skills to help. We are looking forward to assisting SETAF and the whole of U.S. Africa Command."

Garrett and Gen. William E. Ward, commander of U.S. Africa Command, unfurled SETAF's new colors at a Dec. 9 ceremony, signifying a new mission for the task force. Support from the military's medical community will be key to success for SETAF as it faces new challenges, Garrett said.

"As U.S. Army Africa, we will rely on medical corps officers and NCOs to not only deliver healthcare to our Soldiers and Families, but also to bring Army medical capabilities to bear on the African continent," Garrett said. "Medical professionals will be key to our future success in Africa."

Schoomaker has professional experience with Zimbabwe, Nigeria, Ghana and Kenya, he said. African nations face challenges that range from strengthening public health to fighting epidemic disease.

According to Schoomaker, Army medical personnel will play a key role in U.S. Army Africa efforts.

"We are here to protect Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen as they deploy," Schoomaker said. "But we are also committed to providing medical assistance and supporting public health infrastructure to help stabilize nations emerging into modern democracies."

At SETAF headquarters, Schoomaker presented the Meritorious Service Medal to Col. Alfonso Alarcon, the senior SETAF medical officer, for previous service as commander of the health clinic in Vilseck, Germany. Brig. Gen. Keith Gallagher, commander of the European Region Medical Command accompanied Schoomaker on the visit.

The senior leaders met with Soldiers from the Warrior Transition Unit, sharing lunch with them at the South of the Alps dining facility and visiting the WTU barracks. They also received a medical update on the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team and visited the base health center.

Page last updated Tue January 13th, 2009 at 14:12