Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thunderbirds rip through Wyoming skies

by Airman Malcolm Mayfield
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

7/22/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds are an aerial demonstration squadron that performs precision aerial maneuvers that demonstrate the capabilities of the Air Force's high performance aircrafts to people throughout the world.. The three main objectives of the Thunderbirds mission are recruitment of new Airmen, providing a positive representation of the Air Force and increasing retention of current Airmen.

The Thunderbirds gave two sports figures the opportunity for a ride of a lifetime.

Wes Welker, Denver Broncos wide receiver flew July 20 with Maj. Tyler Ellison, operations officer, and Cory Sullivan, Root Sports analyst and former Colorado Rockies outfielder flew July 21 with Maj. Michael Fisher, advanced pilot and narrator, witnessed the capabilities of the Thunderbirds from the best seat in the house-the cockpit.

The pilots performed a number of maneuvers including: loop, barrel roll, four-point roll, eight-point roll, knife edge and low-altitude maneuvering, which will also be performed during their air show July 23 at Laramie County Community College.

Before they were launched down the runway of the Wyoming National Guard base, the Thunderbirds celebrities were briefed on the equipment they would be using, safety devices and how not to pass out.

"It's like a roller coaster on steroids. We have slow, fast and faster and there's no brake," said Maj. Michael Carletti, Thunderbirds flight surgeon. "The most important piece is breathing."

During Welker and Sullivan's initial briefings before their flights, they were taught different techniques to handle the pull of the jet. With breathing being one of the main focus points, muscle tightening and flight equipment were also explained.

The importance of pushing forward, or "puke and rally," after being sick was also discussed.

With the knowledge from the mentorship of the Thunderbirds crew, Welker managed to make it through the flight.

"It was a lot of fun and I really enjoyed that experience," Welker said. "I don't know if I'll be doing it again anytime soon, but I'm glad I did it and I definitely enjoyed it."

Though Welker said he enjoyed the honor of flying, he still had to push the envelope to keep up.

"I felt fine through all of it," Welker said. "Trust me, there were times that I wanted to pull the bag out but I kept strong and I was able to get through."

The day after Welker took flight, it was time for Sullivan to do the same.

"I can't even begin to describe the feelings up there," Sullivan said. "It was intense. When we did the inverted pass, it was like you're hanging off the Earth."

Sullivan said he was impressed the Thunderbirds pilots can control the jets while under such physical strain.

"It was enough just trying to keep my eyes open," he added.

Training is absolutely integral to making sure people have a successful flight, Fisher said.

"They had everything together," Welker said. "The whole breathing tip was huge, using oxygen and getting air definitely helped me."

Without the guidance of the Thunderbirds crew, handling the amount of force created during their flights would be challenging.

"This is such a foreign experience to people. Without training there's no way they'd be able to know how to handle it," Fisher said.

Along with training, a good crew is always essential to a good flight, Fisher said.

"None of that would have been possible if it wasn't for every single one of the men and women in the blue suits who worked behind the scenes to make sure we had a safe sortie," said Fisher.

With the combined effort of the whole Thunderbirds crew, they preform aerial demonstrations all across the nation and were able to give two gentlemen front row seats.

"I definitely enjoyed it and enjoyed my time here and I want to thank the thunderbirds and the whole Thunderbirds crew for giving me this opportunity and I definitely cherish it," Welker said.

Senior Defense Officials Attend Aspen Security Forum

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ASPEN, Colo., July 23, 2014 – Over the next four days, U.S. defense, security and diplomatic leaders are gathering in Aspen, Colorado, for the annual Aspen Institute Security Forum.

Attendees include Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

"Events like the Aspen Security Forum provide the chairman an opportunity to listen to key thinkers grappling with some of the most-pressing issues facing our military and our nation, as well as to share his own thoughts," said Army Col. Ed Thomas, the chairman’s spokesman.

The forum is held every summer on the campus of the Aspen Institute, an educational and policy studies organization. It consists of panel discussions as well as in-depth conversations with leaders involved in security issues across government.

"General Dempsey's hour-long moderated session with CBS's Lesley Stahl will center on how we use our military as a national instrument of power in a world marked by terrorism and failing states in some regions and rising nationalism in others," Thomas said.

Dempsey is scheduled to speak tomorrow at 7:30 p.m. EDT.

The forum starts tonight at 8 p.m. EDT, with Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno discussing the Army’s role in defending the nation against today’s security and fiscal challenges.

Other slated speakers at this year’s forum include: Michael Vickers, undersecretary of defense for intelligence; Jeh Johnson, secretary of homeland security; Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of naval operations; representatives from the National Security Agency, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Transportation Security Agency; and numerous senior defense officials.

Command hosts chaplain candidacy program

by Capt. Kristin Mack
Air Force Reserve Command Public Affairs

7/24/2014 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- Eighteen chaplain candidates took part in phase 2 of the Total Force Air Force Chaplain Candidate Program here July 12-18.

The Office of the Command Chaplain at Headquarters Air Force Reserve Command sponsored the tour.

The two-part program helps educate and provide an environment to evaluate their compatibility and potential for commissioning as an Air Force chaplain.

"Our job is to militarily qualify the candidates," said Chaplain (Maj.) Jonathan Wade, Total Force Chaplain Candidate manager. "Our program gives them a high-altitude view of what chaplains do, and the tactical training they will need when they re-appoint as fully qualified chaplains."

The participants are second lieutenants. They have ecclesiastical approval to serve as a chaplain candidate; a document from their denomination showing they are in good standing and confirmation for a specific type of ministry in the Air Force Reserve.

In phase 1, they complete a 33-day officer commissioning course at Maxwell AFB, Alabama, followed by a 12-day chaplain candidate course at Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

"The course at Fort Jackson was in a great setting," said chaplain candidate 2nd Lt. Mara Title. "We got to work with seasoned chaplains and chaplain assistants in an environment where we could make mistakes."

Phase 2 of the program gives seminary and other professional religious school students a 35-day, on-the-job training experience under the direct supervision of an active-duty chaplain and chaplain assistant, and the opportunity to put phase 1 training and faith dedication into action.

During phase 2, the candidates experience a broad view of the chaplain corps operations, where they visit five bases representing multiple major commands in the Air Force.

Robins was the first stop on the training tour and gave the candidates an opportunity to work with Guard, Reserve, active duty and joint force components. The other bases were Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas; JB Charleston, South Carolina; and Hurlburt Field and Patrick AFB in Flordia.

"This is where they get to witness the mission of the chaplain corps as it adjusts itself to various missions," Wade said.

Title entered the program after more than six years of active-duty Air Force service. She began investigating the program after realizing something spiritually was missing in her life.

"I felt God was changing my heart and felt like ministering to the military," she said.

In following her calling, she attended Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena, California, where she earned a masters of arts degree in teaching.

The chaplain candidate program is an ideal fit for Title because she enjoys ministering to people in the military.

"I started a veteran's group - the Officers' Christian Fellowship - at Los Angeles Air Force Base, California, in an effort to defy a certain temperament of passivism," she said.

Wade said about 65 percent of the candidates re-appoint to the military after completing the program.

Candidates first re-appoint to the Air Force Reserve due to a two-year post-master's degree and full-time ministerial experience requirement to appoint to active duty.

"On average, Reserve chaplains will spend approximately two-and-a-half to three years in the Reserve prior to applying for and being selected to active duty. Typically, 10 percent re-appoint to the National Guard. Thus, 90 percent of reappointing candidates enter the Air Force Reserve," Wade said.

"It's a come-and-see program," said Wade. "The chaplain candidate program exists to draw seminarians from over 80 religions who feel called to this program, and come and see if it is a good fit for them."

5CES lends a helping hand

by Airman 1st Class Lauren Pitts
Minot Air Force Base Public Affairs

7/23/2014 - VELVA, N.D. -  -- When the Souris River flooded in 2011, thousands of people from the Minot community were washed out of their homes and Airmen from Minot Air Force Base, N.D., worked with the people of Minot to repair damages. Through their hard work they put Team Minot and the local community back on its feet.

Now three years after the flood, Minot continues to thrive, but some still struggle in the aftermath of the disaster and again turn to Minot's Airmen for help.

"I built my home in Minot from the ground up," said Gary Ellingson, Vietnam War veteran and Minot native. "A little bit at a time over the years, and then the flood came."

Ellingson lost his home and most of his possessions in the flood, forcing him to begin his life over again. With injuries sustained from his time in the military, Ellingson couldn't manage the labor of renovating a whole house alone. However, through his volunteer work with the Red Cross, Ellingson got in touch with the right kind of man power to help with his project.

Senior Master Sgt. Jeffery Sipos, Superintendent of the 5th Civil Engineer Squadron on Minot AFB, was contacted through the Red Cross to assist Ellingson. He said it didn't take much to get other Airmen on board as well.

"We jumped on this opportunity to help," said Sipos. "Especially being civil engineers, we felt like we had the right skills to make sure it got done right."

With a team of volunteers consisting of Airmen throughout the ranks, Sipos and his wingmen dedicated their Saturday to working on Ellingson's Velva, N.D., home.

Ellingson has spent most of his time there removing what the previous owners had left behind, leaving little time for him to focus on actual renovations. That is where the 5th CES Airmen jumped in.

"We're looking to install a whole kitchen full of cabinets and taking out five trees that have their roots breaking into the foundation," Sipos said. "It's a lot of work, but we'll get it done."

Although Ellingson said he never planned on having to start another home, he is glad to have help from the Airmen.

"I am grateful and then some," Ellingson said. "It was amazing and a blessing to receive this kind of help."

Sipos views the project as doing something good for good people, which he feels is what Minot Airmen are all about.

"As Airmen, it's kind of in our culture to volunteer," said Sipos. "But when it's an opportunity to help our prior military, it's more like helping family."

Thunderbirds serve community breakfast

by Airman 1st Class Brandon Valle
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

7/21/2014 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo.  -- The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds joined local community members to help serve breakfast during the annual pancake breakfast July 21 at the Cheyenne Depot Plaza. The lines began forming around 6 a.m. and by kick-off at 7, approximately 10,000 people had shown up for a free breakfast of pancakes, eggs, bacon, sausage and potatoes.

The Thunderbirds concluded their visit to the depot with an autograph session. Enlisted personnel with the Thunderbirds handed out prints of the group in their famous diamond formation.

The Thunderbirds use community events, such as the breakfast, to present communities with a professional image of the Air Force and the Airmen who are a part of it. The three main missions of the Thunderbirds is recruitment of new Airmen, providing a positive representation of the Air Force and increasing retention of current Airmen.

93d AGOW CV steps up to command

by Airman 1st Class Ryan Callaghan
23d Wing Public Affairs

7/24/2014 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- U.S. Air Force Col. Joseph Locke assumed command of the 93d Air Ground Operations Wing from Col. Samuel Milam during a change of command ceremony July 23 at Moody Air Force Base, Ga.

Locke stepped into his new assignment after a one-year period as the wing's vice commander, making him no stranger to the wing's mission and battlefield Airmen.

Maj. Gen. H.D. Polumbo Jr., Ninth Air Force commander, served as the presiding officer for the traditional change of command and welcomed Locke to command.

"[Col.] Locke is not new to the AGOW, having been the vice commander here for a year and a flight commander at the 18th Air Support Operations Group," he said. "He truly knows and understands the mission and brings the leadership style that I think will continue to help you all be successful. He has an impressive track record of success, and these qualities will be essential to leading the wing to new heights.

"He's an exceptional pilot and an exceptional battlefield Airman," Polumbo added. "We look forward to the success of this unit under [his] stewardship."

Milam agreed with Polumbo. "I couldn't craft a better successor with clay and magical powers," he said.

During his first speech as the commander, Locke said he is excited to continue to work with the 93d AGOW and the 23d Wing.

"The AGOW mission is my passion, and I really look forward to serving with these battlefield Airmen for as long as I can," he said. "The AGOW and the Flying Tigers fit together really well and I look forward to carrying on that tradition."

Locke also took the opportunity to speak to some of the 2,800 Airmen who fall into one of the 93d AGOW's three groups.

"Your service on the front lines speaks volumes for your patriotism," he said. "Together I look forward to building on that legacy of patriotism, professionalism and valor. It is said that the American way of war is airpower, and you are the embodiment of that fact. Whether seizing and securing a forward airfield, providing accurate battlefield weather to army pilots before a combat mission, or guiding a precision ordnance onto enemy targets. Your dusty boots and heavy rucksacks bring American airpower to the battlefield."

Before officially relinquishing command, Milam reminded the audience to remember his two rules: "Don't ever be afraid to be awesome, and when in doubt, attack."

Milam will move to Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas, to serve as the Air Education and Training Command inspector general

AOC integral to Red Flag 14-3 operations

by Staff Sgt. Siuta B. Ika
99th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/24/2014 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- For many Airmen, participating in Red Flag means working long hours in the sun loading munitions and launching aircraft for combat training operations. But away from the flightline and the war that rages over the skies of the Nevada Test and Training Range, a select group of command and control warriors fight a battle of information and communication.

Members of the Air and Space Operations Center, or AOC, are charged with melding tactical and operational-level C2 during large force exercises such as Red Flag. The AOC and its capability as a weapons system is one of the primary reasons the Air Force fills the critical joint forces air component commander and area air defense commander roles.

"When assets go to war, think of the pointy end of the spear as the tactical assets - all the supplies, airlift that goes to support them, logistics, maintenance, etc. - and somewhere behind them is the AOC going through the other processes," said Lt. Col. George Truman, Red Flag 14-3 AOC combat operations chief assigned to the 612th AOC, Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz.

While Red Flag remains the premier joint air combat exercise, most missions don't actually take place in the air, explained Col. John Schaefer, 612th AOC commander.

"It's a large-scale exercise, [between] 500 to 1,000 sorties [are flown] every day. Part of those are real aircraft flying - about 60 sorties - the other 400-900 sorties are virtual... So the war we're fighting is much bigger than the one live aircraft are," Schaefer said. "The AOC blends virtual and live assets to maximize the overall training environment."

Armed with personnel from a wide variety of backgrounds to include flying, C2, intelligence, space and communications, AOC members at Nellis each have a specific task to fulfill in separate functional divisions ranging from combat operations to intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance.

"What makes us unique is we are a focused training environment, so what that means is we have dedicated subject matter experts that provide operational-level expertise to AOCs that come in to receive training at Red Flag," said Donald Russell, 505th Test Squadron Combined Air and Space Operations Center-Nellis exercise planner. "Right now we have personnel here from the 612th AOC, 608th from Barksdale, La., 601st from Tyndall, Fla., and [National] Guard and Reserve units from across the U.S. supporting as well. We merge all those capabilities together from different AOCs and we provide this exercise as a training opportunity."

The training that AOC personnel receive at Red Flag is invaluable, Schaefer said.

"It's about integrating all spectrums across air power. If a flying participant sees a tactical problem, that problem is usually a little bit bigger than they can handle, and that's intentional because we want to train to the limits of our abilities," Schaefer said. "It has been really impressive to watch the tactical players, the young pilots, kind of figure out that this problem's bigger and they need help, than watch my guys use their training to bring in Army assets, or Navy assets, or whatever is needed to fill in the gaps. Together, when all that airpower is integrated, we can solve the problems Red Flag presents."

As the air and missile threat grows and more operating environments become challenged by adversaries, the AOC will only grow in importance.

"For decades Red Flag has been very flying centric, but the more we integrate space and cyber operations, the more effective we're going to be," Truman said. "The tactical players want to fly their jets, we want them to do that too, but if someone takes out their ability to maintain or operate their jets then we need to practice what to do to help them."

AFSOUTH facilitates Global ALSO Instructor Course

by Tech. Sgt. Heather Redman
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs

7/24/2014 - Belize City, Belize  -- Three International Health Specialists and three non-governmental organization personnel supporting 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) provided a Global Advanced Life Support in Obstetrics Instructor Course to eight Belizean healthcare providers.

Global ALSO is a training program designed to improve the skills and knowledge of maternal healthcare providers in regards to managing obstetric emergencies.

"The Global ALSO program is one more step, one more piece of the puzzle to decrease the maternal and neonatal mortality/morbidity rates throughout Belize," said Dr. Lesley Atwood, former ALSO Board Chair and Family Medicine Provider at Allina Health. "The team based, hands-on sessions are designed to complement the existing evidence based protocols from the Ministry of Health."

The need for an obstetric emergency course came about during New Horizons Belize 2013 when a group of International Health Specialists along with NGO Project H.O.P.E. conducted a week long maternal health assessment across the regional hospital, clinics, and health posts. The observations from the assessment enhanced the course discussions the following week when 30 Belizean healthcare providers from around the country went to Dangriga, Belize to attend the two day Global ALSO Provider Course.

Global ALSO has since been lauded by the Ministry of Health for significantly enhancing the capabilities of maternal healthcare providers throughout the country.

Activities, such as Global ALSO, are used to help improve the quality of life for the civilian populace within the AFSOUTH area of responsibility. AFSOUTH, with the support of NGOs, are helping to build the capacities of its partner nations by providing the essential tools and tips for the Ministry of Health to implement and sustain a successful Global ALSO training program.

"This week's events are the epitome of see one, do one, teach one. Last year, these eight healthcare providers completed the Global ALSO Provider Course, and today they have become ALSO Instructors. Now, they are able to showcase their expertise by conducting the Global ALSO Provider Course for their colleagues, in turn, enhancing maternal healthcare competencies throughout all regions of Belize," said SSgt Amy Easton, International Health Specialist at 12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern).

USS Halsey Makes Guam Port Call, Sailors Volunteer in Community

By JoAnna Delfin, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

INARAJAN, Guam (NNS) -- Sailors from Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Halsey (DDG 97) volunteered at Inarajan Elementary School in Inarajan, Guam July 18.

Halsey made a port call to the island after departing their homeport in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, for a deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet's area of responsibility.

"Whenever the Sailors come, they're somewhat of a treat to the students," said summer school coordinator Jackysha Green. "They provide [students] insight as to their occupation and what they do to serve as military members and they're always gracious to help the kids in any manner."

Sailors discussed their careers with students, helped them with math problems and sat down to learn more about their hobbies and what they want to be when they get older.

"I think they'll take out of it that they can be whatever they want to be," said Seaman Operations Specialist Ashlyn Millsparker. "Seeing us come out and helping people they might want to help people too when they get older."

Millsparker added that volunteering for events allow Sailors to interact with the community and foster their relationships.

"Being hands-on with students, showing them what we do, seeing what they do, you can't explain it, it's unexplainable," she said. "That's why I try as much as I can to do COMRELs all the time."

Green shared Millsparker's sentiments and thanked the Navy for their support of the students.

"The community is aware that they're here for us, they're here to protect us and provide for us opportunities as far as helping us in various needs that we may have," she said. "I'd like to share my sincere appreciation for the Sailors coming down and sharing their experiences with our students.

Sailors also volunteered at a community cleanup with the non-profit organization Island Girl Power and helped care for misplaced pets at the local animal shelter Guam Animals in Need.

Southern Partnership Station 2014 Continues in Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Rafael Martie, Southern Partnership Station Public Affairs

PUERTO BARRIOS, Guatemala (NNS) -- Military Sealift Command Joint High-Speed Vessel USNS Spearhead (JHSV 1) moored to the pier in Puerto Barrios, Guatemala July 22 to commence the offload of gear and personnel in support of Southern Partnership Station 2014 (SPS-JHSV 14).

The Sailors, Marines, soldiers and airmen that make up the adaptive force packages (AFPs) supporting SPS-JHSV 14, disembarked here to start their subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) with Guatemalan military, government, and health officials.

The AFPs are comprised of Coastal Riverine Squadron (CO RIVRON) 2, Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit 202, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 3, Mobile Diving Salvage Unit 2, Naval Criminal Investigation Service agents, Engineering engagement teams, medical and dental teams and various Marine components.

"After great engagements in Belize, I hope we continue to do the same in Guatemala," said Utilitiesman 1st Class Corey Mueller a native of Suffolk, Va. "We look forward to working on their library out in town and have great things planned here with our host nation partners."

For five weeks the AFPs will spend time working with host-nation partners to strengthen relationships and fortify joint interoperability in areas such as maritime security tactics, medical procedures, health prevention, dive operations, construction projects, weapons handling, safely handling explosive devices, and land navigation.

For some servicemembers supporting the Southern Partnership mission, this will be their first time visiting the country of Guatemala.

"I am really excited to experience their culture, customs, and meeting new people," said U.S. Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Charles Alford, a native of Bellevue, Washington.

After the offload, Spearhead is scheduled to depart Guatemala to conduct counter illicit trafficking operations.

SPS-JHSV 14 is a U.S. Navy deployment focused on subject matter expert exchanges with partner nation militaries and security forces. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element provides care to over 650 Honduran villagers

by Capt. Steven Stubbs
Joint Task Force Bravo Public Affairs

7/24/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Joint Task Force -Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL), with support from 1-228th Aviation Regiment, JTF-Bravo Joint Security Forces and Army Forces Battalion, partnered with the Honduras Ministry of Health and the Honduran military to provide medical care to more than 650 people in the remote village of Barra Patuca in the Department of Gracias a Dios, Honduras, during a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), July 17, 2014.

Joint Task Force-Bravo conducts MEDRETEs to enhance partner nation relations through medical training with regional military forces and local civilian organizations while supporting the Honduras Ministry of Health's efforts to provide medical care to the underserviced population.

Barra Patuca is located on the northeastern Caribbean shore of Honduras where the only mode of transportation is by small boat or helicopter. The 1-228th Aviation Regiment provided the transportation of supplies, equipment and personnel to and from the area that can be compared to the Florida Everglades. When the helicopters landed, a wave of people greeted the group and proceeded to help unload the supplies.

"It was an overwhelming sense of joy to see all the help that came to greet us as soon as the Black Hawks landed," said U.S. Army Capt. Erin Velazquez, the officer in charge of the MEDRETE. "Everyone came out to greet us and help take our equipment to the school where the MEDRETE was located. It was truly a team effort."

The JTF-Bravo team, the Honduran Ministry of Health, and the Honduran military worked together to provide preventative medicine to the villagers, including classes on hygiene, preventative dental care, and nutrition. They also provided immunizations to infants, dental care, wellness checkups, medications, and minor medical procedures.

"I think having the Honduran nationals and military working with us showed the community of Barra Patuca that the government still cares and wants to help them," stated U. S. Navy Ensign Alex Iteen, a second year medical student at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences. "It was fantastic working side-by-side with the Hondurans. The lieutenant I worked with was really eager to translate for me and help out any way he could."

"It is a good feeling knowing that we are helping patients with their dental problems and alleviating their pain and discomfort," added U. S. Army Spc. Brandon Tigges, a MEDEL dental clinic technician.

Prior to deploying to Honduras, Velazquez worked at an elementary school and was able to obtain some books that she could give to the kids on the MEDRETEs. The children anxiously waited in line to receive their book and immediately began looking at them.

"Before leaving, one of the school's staff was cleaning out some items they were going to discard and asked if I had any use for them and I said "Of course!" So I brought them with me to Honduras. They were all brand new books in Spanish for Pre-K age to about 1st grade level. I couldn't turn them down."

At the end of the day, Velazquez described how it feels to be able to impact hundreds of people's lives through these MEDRETE missions.

"It is a great feeling to know your team has made an impact that could last a lifetime. Whether it is through a memory a child holds or the partnership that is created with the people, the village, and the government entities every time we go on a mission. It is really amazing."

Joint Task Force-Bravo's MEDEL is composed of 64 Army personnel who have come together from across the United States and have provided medical care to more than 9,000 people in Honduras over the last 12 months. MEDEL provides preventative medical care, wellness check-ups, dental care, preventative dental care, surgical care, and physical therapy through local partnerships in Comayagua, Tegucigalpa, and through local MEDRETEs which are carried out on a weekly basis.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

DoD Spokesman: Russia Continues to Arm, Train Separatists

By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 23, 2014 – Despite questions about its possible role in last week’s downing of a commercial airliner over Ukraine, Russia continues to arm and train pro-Russian separatists in the region and has dispatched more than 100 additional pieces of military equipment across the border in recent days, a Pentagon spokesman said today.

“We know that they sent, for example, last week a column of over 100 vehicles which included tanks, artillery, multiple launch rocket systems,” Army Col. Steve Warren said, adding that these actions are consistent with Moscow’s behavior in eastern Ukraine for several months.

Warren spoke as an international investigation was just beginning into the downing of a Malaysian airliner over rebel-controlled eastern Ukraine on July 17. U.S. and European officials have said a Russian-made, anti-aircraft missile fired from the region brought the plane down, killing all 298 people on board, an attack that President Barack Obama has described as “an outrage of unspeakable proportions.”

In an exchange with reporters today, Warren said the United States does not know who, in particular, fired the missile that blew Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 out of the sky, but he made clear Russia must share in the blame.

“There is no question that the Russians are backing these separatists and they bear responsibility … for what happens in eastern Ukraine,” he said. Moscow, he added, continues to maintain as many as 12,000 troops along the Ukrainian border.

Russia has denied involvement in the downing of the airliner.

Warren said he was aware of fresh reports from Ukraine that two Ukrainian fighter jets were shot down today over an area held by separatists.

“We are continuing to work with the Ukrainians and through our own channels to determine the exact circumstances surrounding that incident,” he said.