By Dave Burge, El Paso Times
Army Maj. Gen. Kurt S. Crytzer was promoted to a two-star general on March 2. He will continue to lead Joint Task Force North through at least the summer.
Crytzer, a 53-year-old from Natrona Heights, Pa., has asked to stay on another year as commanding general for the organization. He took over in October 2015 and normally, a command position lasts about two years.
“We have a saying in the military that once you get to the point where you understand your job, it is time to move on,” Crytzer said.
Crytzer leads about 150 service members and civilian employees who provide Defense Department support to federal law-enforcement agencies in their efforts to combat drug trafficking and trans-national criminal organizations. Joint Task Force North does not conduct law-enforcement activities such as immigration enforcement.
After a year and a half on the job, Crytzer said he understands much more deeply what organizations like Customs and Border Protection are up against in their battle against drug trafficking.
“I’ve crawled through tunnels; I’ve flown every part of the Southwest border,” Crytzer said. “I’ve talked to subject-matter experts. We’ve been on horseback, walked, been on ATVs. I’ve talked to experts who have been looking at this problem, in some cases for decades, so I’ve learned a lot.”
“It’s a complex problem; it takes a lot of time to really get your head wrapped around it,” he added.
The key is for Joint Task Force North to continue to evolve and continue to establish relationships with law-enforcement partners so they can make progress against drug traffickers, who are an increasingly adaptable foe, Crytzer said.
Crytzer and his wife, Simone, have also grown to enjoy living in El Paso and Fort Bliss. This is their first time being stationed at the post and they have been busy exploring the culture and all the “hidden gems” in the local area, Crytzer said.
That’s another reason he would like to stay on, Crytzer added.
Getting promoted to a two-star general was “very humbling” experience, he said.
He credited all the officers and noncommissioned officers who took the time to mentor and guide him over the years. He also thanked his family for supporting him and all his troops and civilian employees at his current command.
Crytzer said Joint Task Force North is a small unit that "punches above its weight every day."
“All that, plus a little bit of luck and good timing, are factors that I benefited from,” said Crytzer about getting his second star.
Before coming to Fort Bliss, Crytzer, a Special Forces officer, served from September 2013 to October 2015 as the deputy commanding general for Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base, Fla.
In that position, he also deployed and served as the commander of Special Operations Joint Task Force-Iraq from November 2014 to April 2015.
Marine Col. Ladaniel Dayzie, deputy commander for Joint Task Force North, said Crytzer “lives the core values of loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”
"He is a great leader," Dayzie said.