Incirlik welcomes DECA team

Col.l Murrell "Tip" Stinnette, left, 39th Air Base Wing commander, and Brig. Gen. M. Yilmaz Erdogan, right, 10th Tanker Command commander, greet Maj. Gen. Sefer Ozturks on arrival Dec. 5. General Ozturks arrived with members of the U.S. and Turkish Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement teams. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kelly L. LeGuillon)

Col. Murrell "Tip" Stinnette, right, 39th Air Base Wing commander, and Brig. Gen. M. Yilmaz Erdogan, center, 10th Tanker Command commander, greet Maj. Gen. Sefer Ozturks on arrival to Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, Dec. 5. General Ozturks arrived with members of the U.S. and Turkish Defense Economic Cooperation Agreement teams. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman Kelly L. LeGuillon)

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey -- The Defense and Economic Cooperation Agreement team arrived Dec. 5 and is conducting their 26th annual visit through Dec. 8.

This annual visit doesn't assess a pass or fail grade, but rather serves to strengthen the bilateral relationship between Turkey and the United States. This agreement, established in 1980, sets some operating rules for this bilateral relationship.

"The team's focus is to observe the agreement in action," said Mehmet Birbiri, 39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs host nation adviser and translator during the DECA visit. "They ensure that as allies we are operating smoothly within the framework of the DECA agreement."

In the past year, with the collective efforts of the 39th Air Base Wing and 10th Tanker Base Command, the base has seen some improvements.

"During this past year, we have continued to improve on our already good relationship with our 10th Tanker Air Force hosts," said Maj. Jefferson Brown, 39th Air Base Wing staff judge advocate and 39th ABW DECA project officer. "We are excited to have our strong working relationship showcased during the DECA visit and to build on the successful relationship the two sides have enjoyed for more than 50 years. It is truly a team effort between the United States and Turkey."

During the visit, the DECA team will view Incirlik, as well as, three of the geographically separated units first-hand.

The team is comprised of representatives from the Turkish General Staff, Turkish Ministries of Foreign Affairs; Interior, Labor, Environment and Customs directorate, as well as from the U.S. Office of Defense Cooperation and the U.S. Embassy.

The DECA team focuses on six major areas: leadership, customs, labor, security and law enforcement, construction and environment, and communications.

"The ultimate goal of the DECA visit is to build on more than 50 years of bilateral partnership at Incirlik to achieve mission success," said Col. Murrell "Tip" Stinnette, 39th Air Base Wing commander. "It also helps keep lines of communication open while offering an opportunity to build new relationships and enhance existing friendships."

Once the visit is complete, a written report is produced. Although some opportunities for improvement highlighted in the report can be addressed at base-level, others may require policy-level changes.

"Brigadier General M.Yilmaz Erdogan [10th Tanker Base Command commander] and I are committed to working together to resolve any challenges," Colonel Stinnette said.
"DECA is a tool for us to use to build stronger alliances for the future."

As the U.S. Air Force and Turkish Air Force continue to work jointly to ensure freedom's future, the days ahead look bright for the interoperability of both air forces.

"As we head into the New Year, DECA's written report will help us better identify challenges," said Colonel Stinnette. "Turkey has been an ally for many years and the DECA process is an excellent way to manage our association as we continually strive to enhance our relationship with our Turkish hosts."