ANTONY J. BLINKEN, SECRETARY OF STATE
INCIRLIK AIR BASE TÜRKİYE
February 19, 2023
Secretary Antony J. Blinken Remarks to USAID Urban Search and Rescue Team
SECRETARY BLINKEN: Well, listen, I really wanted to just come by to say thank you, thank you, thank you for your extraordinary efforts and everything you do to answer the call, almost on a moment’s notice. I think I recognize some of you, because there’s an amazing photograph of, I think, many of you on a C-17 on your way here. And the fact is you deployed almost immediately – we had almost 200 folks on the ground within a couple of days; the canines were here. And I know that you contributed directly to saving lives, and that’s the most powerful thing any of us can do. I so greatly admire the work that you do, the fact that, on a moment’s notice, you will answer the call. And I’m especially grateful to our colleagues at USAID for what they do every day, but also what they do in an emergency situation.
I know there are folks from Los Angeles here. Where’s the Los Angeles contingent? All right. And Fairfax County, Virginia? Yes. All right. Well, that’s my home base too, so it’s great to see you all here. And I know some of you are heading back out tonight or tomorrow – probably a couple of weeks of MREs maybe getting a little bit stale at this point. (Laughter.) So I know you’ll look forward to getting back home. But I just can’t thank you enough, because this is really our country at its best. This is our country standing with our friends here in Türkiye in their moment of need, and doing it so well, doing it so effectively. So really on behalf of everyone back home, thank you for what you’ve done. Thank you for your commitment that you have day-in, day-out. And I’m not sure how to translate this for the canines but thank you guys (inaudible). (Laughter.) I know you do incredible work. So thank you all, and I wish you a good trip back home.
The last thing I’ll say is I think you all know better than anyone this is going to be a massive, long-term effort. The immediate search and rescue effort was extraordinary. We’re now in the recovery phase. We’ll eventually get to the rebuilding phase. It’s going to take time; it’s going to take a huge amount of resources. We’re determined to do everything we can to help, to help the people of Türkiye, to help people in Syria as best we can who were so affected by this. And what I most want the people of Türkiye to know is that the United States stands with them and will be with them to get through this for as long as it takes.
Thanks, everyone. Appreciate (inaudible).