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Emily Russell, Joint Task Force Guantanamo
GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba –
Joint Task Force Guantanamo Bay Deputy Commander Army Brig. Gen. Gregory Zanetti will soon say farewell after his year-long tour.
Between working in a joint environment with all military services and the realization of what Guantanamo is really like, Zanetti considers this tour “mind expanding.”
“I didn’t know much about the place,” Zanetti said. “Everything I read about Guantanamo Bay was so negative. I think the expectation was that we were coming to close the place, because that’s what was in the news.”
Upon stepping into his role as JTF deputy commander Zanetti realized the opposite was true.
“There were expectations that bad things were happening here,” he said. “All that turned out to be false. I realized this is the most American place on the planet. It’s where Americans are performing their best. Every expectation I had was wrong.”
Working closely with the Navy gave Zanetti a different perspective to military operations and the opportunity to understand how different military forces work together.
“I had no idea there were so many moving parts to this assignment and that there was such attention to detail paid by so many people on so many different levels,” Zanetti said. “That was the surprising part of this mission – watching all of it play out and performed professionally and knowledgeably every day.”
For Zanetti, things like guards exercising judgment and keeping a situation under control or military commissions attorneys persevering through complicated proceedings is what gave him “a feeling of trust that embodied the whole command here, and makes the [JTF] work.”
“You have to trust those who are working with you,” said Zanetti. “You have to trust their judgment, you have to give them freedom, ownership and responsibility and let them take charge of what they know best. Occasionally things will go wrong, and that’s okay – you learn from your mistakes and drive on. No one person can do this – it’s got to be a team effort.”
Looking toward the future, Zanetti plans to continue his service. “There are lots of ways to serve [one’s] country,” he said. “It doesn’t always have to be in uniform.”
Zanetti’s command philosophy, which embodies the Army values, challenges Troopers to “go beyond the standards, do your best and share your success with others.” These guides echo within his message to the JTF Troopers.
“Thank you. Thank you for what you do, day in and day out,” he said. “The nation really needs you right now and your willingness to step up and do this, is a testament to your honor, integrity, your loyalty and commitment. I truly believe the nation is in good hands because I see it. This generation coming up is going to serve better than we did.”