Military News

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Air Force Military Working Dogs Deter Trouble

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin 18th Wing

KADENA AIR BASE, Okinawa, Dec. 14, 2017 — It’s pitch black outside and the sun won’t shine for a few more hours. Suddenly, a light comes on, illuminating the room. The dogs are awake and ready for attention from their handlers -- the sound of rattling cages and barking fills the room. They know what comes next -- it’s feeding time and the start of their day.

An overlooked part of the Air Force’s enlisted force walks on four feet, rather than two.

The 18th Security Forces Squadron’s military working dog handlers, Air Force Staff Sgt. David Maestas and Senior Airman Jessica Reyes, give a glimpse into the day in the life of a military working dog.

Skilled Canines

Military working dogs train in a variety of skills, including counter narcotics and explosives training, as well as combat techniques to bring human targets to the ground.

“The importance of this job cannot be overstated,” Maestas said. “We lead the way and make sure the path is clear. I trust my dog to ensure the people behind me are safe.”

Each dog is assigned to the base, meaning when handlers get orders for a permanent change of station, the dogs remain at the base.  The dogs work with multiple handlers throughout their careers. On average, the dogs are in service between 10 and 12 years depending on their breed. Ranging from German Shepherds to the Belgian Malinois, military working dogs come in all shapes and sizes. Each dog is assigned a rank that is one higher than their handler. As the handler gets promoted, so does his or her dog.

Maestas and his working dog KitKat, a German Shepherd, start their day at 4 a.m. with breakfast. After a half hour, they head to the main security forces building to arm up and attend guard mount -- a morning meeting to gain information on the day’s operations.

Once guard mount is over, KitKat and Maestas return to the kennels for administrative work, and then to the obedience yard. In the yard, KitKat is tested on his off-leash obedience skills. This time is a great chance for KitKat to just be a dog, loosen up, and show his personality. Once the session is over, it’s back to the grind.

The duo put on their game faces and head back to work.

Busy Schedule

KitKat and Maestas spend part of their day conducting foot patrols, building checks and vehicle searches at the base’s gates.
Working Dog Training.

Once the gate check portion of the day is complete, the team visits the post office to check the inbound mail for anything suspicious, just as they do on vehicle checks. Both measures are ways they help keep Team Kadena safe from harm.

The next stop is controlled aggression training -- where the dogs work on commands for dealing with hostile people they may encounter as part of the job. Air Force Staff Sgt. Bryan Savella, a military working dog handler with the 18th Security Forces Squadron, assists with training by acting as a hostile threat. On command, Reyes sends Aly forward to attack. With one solid bite and pull, Aly has done his job, and brought the attacker down -- and maybe more impressively releases on command keeping Reyes safe.

After a few runs of aggression training, the final stop for the day leads to a training exercise. The training scenarios generally occur on Tuesdays and Thursdays and vary between scenarios the teams could encounter in the field. In one scenario, they test a roadway, trying to find suspicious items via scent. Once the course is complete, it was time for the end of the duty day.

The dogs returned to the kennel for the evening feeding, the handlers finish up any last-minute items and then return to the armory to disarm and check their weapons back in.

Close Relationships

Many handlers develop a close relationship with their dogs due to the number of hours spent together on and off the job. Whether it’s spending time with a sick dog in the veterinarian’s office, to deploying with their dog, handlers spend more hours than anyone sees with their four-legged partner.

“My dog is my best friend,” Maestas said. “He will protect me and put his life on the line without a second thought and all he wants in return is to play tug of war.”

These trained fur balls with a ferocious bite are a constant reminder and deterrent to keep the bad guys out, the good guys in, and keep Team Kadena safe and secure.

Southcom Chief Marks 20th Year of Human Rights Initiative

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2017 — Countries where human rights are promoted are stable and secure, and militaries that respect and uphold human rights and the rule of law are welcomed, not feared, the commander of U.S. Southern Command said here Dec. 12.

Navy Adm. Kurt Tidd opened the Human Rights Initiative Conference here charting the progress of the initiative on its 20th anniversary.

“We’re really here to recognize the remarkable work done by all of us, together, to help make human rights the centerpiece of our hemisphere’s security forces,” Tidd said. “We have much to be proud of, and much still to do.”

Human Rights Don’t Come From the Barrel of a Weapon

The initiative codified a well-known truth: That human rights don’t come from the barrel of a weapon or are conferred by political leaders. “They are inalienable, uncontestable, fundamental rights that are inherent to every one of us, regardless of who we are, the color of our skin, the language we speak or the faith we follow,” the admiral said. “Protecting these rights is a core duty of any professional, modern military.”

Upholding human rights is an absolute, nonnegotiable, must-do mission for militaries. “It is the source of our great strength,” he said. “It is the moral and ethical fabric of our professions – the bedrock of our legitimacy.”

The initiative grew out of dark days in the 1980s and into the 1990s when rebel groups and narcoterrorists fought government forces in Central and South America and all trampled on human rights. Citizens of the region saw no difference between the rival forces.

“Our citizens and civilian leaders must be able to trust that those of us in uniform legitimately exercise our authority,” he said. “They must be able to trust that we protect civilians. They must be able to trust that we safeguard our core democratic values and meet the obligations of international laws.”

Human rights cannot be an afterthought, Tidd said, they must be central to the military mission of protecting citizens.

Military officers throughout the Western Hemisphere recognized, and began work on the Human Rights Initiative. Some 34 democracies in the region participated in drafting and finalizing the consensus document. Nongovernmental and international organizations advised throughout the process.

They produced the Consensus Document. “This document was more than just a piece of paper,” Tidd said. “It symbolized an enduring commitment, not just to institute respect for human rights within our hemisphere’s military and security forces, but to constantly improve our individual and collective performance. It was a promise to our hemisphere’s citizens, and to one another, that we will live up to our democratic ideals, and constantly strive to do better.”

Now there is a network in the region devoted to this concept, the admiral said, and every security decision considers the implications of that decision on human rights. “Across the hemisphere, human rights is now embedded in military doctrine, training, education, and above all, in our collective moral code,” he said.

The results speak for themselves, Tidd said, but they haven’t been easy.

Human Rights Initiative’s Success

The key is for regional militaries to engage in open, frank dialogue with their closest partners and fiercest critics. “In my opinion, this dialogue has been a critical factor for Human Rights Initiative’s success and our shared progress, and will be the critical factor for our continued progress over the next 20 years,” the admiral said.

The initiative recognizes the past even as the nations of the region push forward. “As anyone in uniform knows, one of the problems we must deal with as commanders is the legacy of our previous actions,” he said. “There is a history to each of our military forces. There is a history to this region, and our role in it. Some of it is extremely painful; none of it will go away. A people, a state, an armed force that can't face up to its own past, can't learn from it. Inevitably, the past will block progress to the future until it's dealt with.”

Nations, militaries and people are still working to terms with a past. “For those of us in uniform, especially those who have been on the front lines, who’ve seen first hand how war and conflict breed misery and suffering, we have a responsibility to learn from our mistakes, and always keep those lessons front and center in every mission,” Tidd said. “Mistakes will happen. And when they do, how we respond as an institution will ultimately define our honor and legitimacy in the eyes of the people we serve. Our willingness to engage in dialogue about these mistakes is how we maintain — or regain — the trust of our citizens. Without that trust, no conflict is winnable, and history will ensure no one ever forgets.”

Parts of the hemisphere are experiencing high level so f violence. “Citizen security is under attack by ruthless criminal networks,” he said. “These groups commit horrific crimes against innocent civilians and sow fear and corruption everywhere they operate.”

This is – in some countries – exacerbated by “incomplete democratic consolidation and unmet development goals, institutional corruption and under-resourced police and criminal justice systems,” Tidd said.

Continuing – or redoubling – the emphasis on human rights is an answer. “There are still barriers to break down, trust to build, dialogue to continue,” he said. “In order for real progress to continue, real change to consolidate, we’re all going to have to get out of our comfort zone more often and continue these tough discussions. Protecting human rights requires constant work and vigilance. If don’t keep moving forward, we risk moving backwards.”

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Transcom Completes Test for New Transportation Management System

By Michael P. Kleiman U.S. Transportation Command

SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill., Dec. 13, 2017 — U.S. Transportation Command has completed a proof-of-principle effort that fused an off-the-shelf commercial transportation management system capability with government-integrated platforms.

A TMS allows users to plan and execute the shipment of cargo of any kind more efficiently, reliably and cost effectively. The new system has the potential to substantially increase Transcom’s ability to manage its logistics enterprise by delivering enhanced air, sea, and land movement solutions, as well as real-time visibility of cargo from point of origin to destination.

Testing New System

The proof-of-principle process started on Aug. 7, and during the next four months the TMS team, along with the command’s components, worked with industry and subject experts from across the joint deployment and distribution enterprise.

Together, they identified capabilities within numerous scenarios to “stress” a TMS and also validated that the system would support the command’s transportation requirements.

Ultimately, the command’s employment of TMS smartly leverages enterprise technologies to maintain America’s competitive advantage in logistics operations.

Transcom’s TMS journey demonstrated that the new system:

-- Brings people, processes, technology, and data together across the organizational enterprise;

-- Provides management and visibility of all transportation requirements and shipments in one system for optimized planning, including real-time deviation alerts and the ability to replan; and

-- Delivers the capacity for cost-informed options and end-to-end shipment financial visibility for fiscal improvement and audit-readiness compliance in a single system.

“The world we live in today demands we do things differently than what was done yesterday. The pace of technology and information, as well as the changing character of war, will not wait for us to catch up,” said Air Force Gen. Darren W. McDew, Transcom’s commander. “TMS supports the command’s effort to evolve for tomorrow, by enhancing our operational processes and supporting information technology to conduct efficient and effective multimodal operations while providing proven, end-to-end best-practice transportation solutions.”

After the 2016 alternatives decision to the Joint Staff-approved program, integrated multimodal operations, which evaluated readiness, life-cycle costs, and risks, the command subsequently identified TMS as the preferred solution from five options.

Six months later, McDew directed the formation of a TMS joint planning team to rapidly conduct a 120-day proof of principle of the TMS and government off-the-shelf systems, assessing its ability to perform global transportation-management functions. He charged the team to strain the system, stating, “If it’s going to break, let’s break it fast.”

Successful Demonstration

Following a successful system demonstration on Dec. 1, 2017, Transcom Deputy Commander Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Broadmeadow subsequently directed the command to move forward in establishing a joint integrated product team to develop a TMS prototype.

“The TMS is not just an internal solution for the command, but it will redefine how we do business on a global scale,” said Air Force Brig. Gen. John C. Millard, the command’s TMS joint planning team lead. “In implementing the TMS prototype, Transcom capabilities and information resident in today’s existing systems will be leveraged to ensure success.”

During the upcoming months, Transcom’s joint integrated product team will partner with key strategic stakeholders, customers, and transportation partners to create and execute a detailed implementation plan