Military News

Friday, March 23, 2018

Face of Defense: Soldier From India Says Military Service is His Calling

By Mary Therese Griffin, Warrior Care and Transition

FORT BLISS, Texas, March 23, 2018 — Indiana Army National Guard Sgt. Manthan Patel says he has heard all the jokes and does not want to be a cliché.

"When I was younger I was in biomedical engineering pre-med and realized that I did not want to continue in that field. Every single Patel is a doctor -- it's too mainstream for me," he laughed while taking a break at the 2018 Army Trials here, where he earned a silver in the men's 800-meter race and a bronze for power lifting in his classification.

Patel grew up in India and moved to the United States when he was 17. He always wanted to serve in the military, but knowing his family was going to immigrate to the U.S., Patel could not make that commitment in India.

Patel and his family moved from India to Indiana, and that's where he heard about the Army National Guard and thought it would work for him since he could have a civilian life and serve in the military at the same time. Because of the balance, he decided to join the Indiana National Guard.

Bittersweet Milestone

Patel became a U.S. citizen before he deployed to Iraq in 2009. "I still remember preparing for the citizenship test, it felt different learning American history so quickly," Patel said of the 100-question test. However, the process of becoming a citizen and deploying was bittersweet because he had to give up his Indian citizenship for security clearance reasons -- a price he was willing to pay to serve the new country he loves.

In 2016, on a deployment to Cuba, an injury would change everything for the administration specialist. A bad fall resulted in herniated discs and massive nerve damage to his neck. However, Patel soldiered on until he demobilized at Fort Bliss. He then realized that he desperately needed surgery to replace two discs, followed by extensive physical therapy.

"I could not do basic things; no brisk walking, running, and no riding motorcycles -- which is my passion. My mobility is limited," he said. "I was very active and not being able to do those active things messes with your mind. You never realize how much your neck affects your overall body movement."

While recuperating at the Fort Bliss Warrior Transition Battalion, Patel learned about the Warrior Games and Army Trials.

"I've never been athletically inclined until I got to the WTB," he said. "Competing with these other athletes who are missing limbs, or have various other conditions and are so positive and strong gives me hope."

A New Normal

Patel credits the Warrior Care and Transition Program for opening his eyes to how the Army cares for soldiers and helps them find their new normal.

"I did not know the care and the amount of effort the WTB puts forth to make sure soldiers are taken care of. If you are injured and the opportunity to go to a WTB is presented to you, go and make sure you are taken care of," he said. "A lot of people will ignore their injuries and they try to tough it out, then down the road it worsens and they don't have the option of the WTB or even good health care."

As Patel continues to recover and work toward returning to duty, he is also thinking about starting a career in the field he considered to be "mainstream" years ago, the medical field.

"If I am able to return to duty I would like to finish my degree and I would love to try the Army Physician Assistant Program to become a physician assistant," he said. "That is the huge thing the WTB made me realize; when someone is injured and needs to heal, this intrigued me to really want to help. Now it feels like my calling."
The medal stand at the Army Trials has also been calling. Patel competed in five events, earning a silver in the men's 800-meter race and a bronze for powerlifting in his classification.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Pacific Partnership 2018 Begins in Micronesia

YAP, Micronesia, March 21, 2018 — Pacific Partnership 2018, the largest annual multilateral humanitarian assistance and disaster relief preparedness mission, began today aboard the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Brunswick in Yap, Micronesia.

Military personnel from the U.S., the United Kingdom, Japan and Australia will conduct medical, dental and veterinary services and engineering projects throughout the community while working side-by-side with local professionals on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief readiness.

"We are excited to be working with our friends in Yap and throughout the greater southern region during Brunswick’s first visit," said Navy Capt. Peter Olive, the deputy mission commander for Pacific Partnership 2018. “Our time in Yap is about building relationships and the capability and capacity to work together for the future.”

Humanitarian Aid

Pacific Partnership, in its 13th iteration, began as a humanitarian response to the 2004 tsunami that devastated parts of Southeast Asia. By building on the region’s shared goal to strengthen national capacities and preparedness for disaster response, 22 partner nations around the globe in 18 host nations in the region have participated since 2006.

The USS Brunswick is one of three expeditionary fast transport ships in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility to continue its mission of providing rapid intra-theater transport of troops and military equipment. Specially configured for humanitarian and disaster relief operations, the Brunswick is currently capable of accommodating a robust multi-specialized team of medical, engineering and civic assistance personnel to support the Pacific Partnership mission.

More than 800 military personnel aboard the USS Brunswick and the hospital ship USNS Mercy, along with host nation civilians and nongovernment organization participants will support this year’s Pacific Partnership mission in Indonesia, Malaysia, Palau, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Vietnam and Micronesia.

“We are committed to the U.S. and to the friends of the U.S.,” said Micronesian President Peter M. Christian. “I want to thank the U.S. government for the treaty of 1989, which confirms that small we may be, we are important.”

History of Friendship

The U.S. and Micronesia continue a long history of friendship, having participated in the Pacific Partnership mission as host nation for five years with many Micronesian men and women having served or currently serving in the U.S. armed forces.

“The U.S. is committed to [Micronesia],” said Robert A. Reilly, U.S. ambassador to Micronesia. “There is no sunset to the dedication of the protection of [Micronesia] for a free and open Pacific.”

Pacific Partnership continues to focus on developing sustainable projects on a range of topics including clean water practices, preventative health, maintenance of fisheries, methods of recycling, combined animal/public health campaigns and alternative energy initiatives enabling critical infrastructure development across the region.

Since 2006, the Pacific Partnership mission has provided medical care to more than 300,000 patients and veterinary services to nearly 40,000 animals and competed nearly 200 engineering projects while building meaningful and close partnerships throughout the region.

Continuing Resolutions, Budget Uncertainty Harm Readiness, Service Secretaries Say

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jose Ibarra DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2018 — Service secretaries addressed the challenges of providing taxpayers more defense value for their money, and getting innovation into warfighters’ hands faster during a House Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on the Defense Department’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget.

According to defense officials, China and Russia are taking a more aggressive role on the world’s stage and the U.S. must maintain its military edge.

Budget Uncertainty Harms Readiness

The Army, Navy and Air Force service secretaries testified in support of DoD’s proposed fiscal year 2019 budget of $686 billion, highlighting that, if approved, it would provide the services the monetary means to field a more lethal force as outlined in the National Defense Strategy.

“We must have predictable, adequate, sustained and timely funding. Fiscal uncertainty has done a great deal to erode our readiness and hamper our ability to modernize,” Army Secretary Mark T. Esper said.

Esper also pointed out the restrictions under the continuing resolution, which limits the services’ ability to initiate new projects and increase the quantities of munitions, directly impacting the training and readiness of the force.

Continuing resolutions and budget uncertainty have hurt military readiness and wasted tax dollars, the officials said.

“About $4 billion burned in a trash can,” said Navy Secretary Richard V. Spencer when describing what continuing resolutions have cost the Navy. “It is critical, absolutely critical, that we get a continuous form of funding in order to manage the industrial base to put us back on a footing to be out there [protecting the seas].”

And the defense budget sequester “did more damage to the United States Air Force and our ability to defend the nation than anything our advisories have done in the last 10 years -- we did it to ourselves,” Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson said.

“We cut 30,000 people out of the Air Force, reduced [the force] by 10 fighter squadrons, and [reduced] weapons systems sustainment,” she added.

Problems with pilot retention can be tied directly back to sequester, Wilson said.

Savings Through Reform

The Army is looking into a number of initiatives to save taxpayers’ money, Esper said. One initiative being discussed, he said, could the Army more than $1 billion annually by consolidating and rationalizing its contracting services.

The Navy secretary said he agreed with Esper’s philosophy on revising contracting rules. Changing the thought process and attitudes on how DoD performs contracting services, Spencer said, can help with cost savings.

One cost-saving area the Air Force has identified is using artificial intelligence tools for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance analysis, Wilson said. [

“Right now, we have a lot intelligence analysis, a lot of people watching full-motion video. That’s not a good use of money, or time. And in that case, time is money,” she said.