Military News

Friday, August 15, 2008

Gates Says Russian Actions Have Long-Term Implications

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 14, 2008 - Countries around the world are looking at Russia "through new lenses" following its aggression against the former Soviet republic of Georgia, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today. Meanwhile, the United States continues humanitarian efforts to help Georgians affected by the conflict. Two U.S.
Air Force C-17 cargo jets have delivered supplies to Georgia, and another aircraft delivered a U.S. military survey team to the country.

"During these humanitarian relief operations, the United States expects Russia to ensure that all lines of communication and transport -- including seaports, airports, roads and airspace -- remain open," Gates said during a Pentagon news conference.

Gates echoed President Bush's call for Russia to abide by its commitment to cease all
military activities in Georgia. "We expect all Russian forces that entered Georgia in recent days to withdraw from that country," Gates said.

Russian aggression against Georgia will have long-term implications for U.S.-Russian relations, the secretary said. The
military incursion into Georgia will affect ongoing and long-term strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation that he and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had engaged in since 2007, Gates said.

"The expectation was that our two nations, despite our differences, shared areas of common interest where we could work together as real partners," he said.

But Russia's military action in Georgia and in the breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia "has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue, and has profound implications for our security relationship going forward, both bilaterally and with NATO," Gates said. "If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the U.S.-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come."

The United States cancelled participation in a multinational naval exercise with Russia due to begin tomorrow. "We've also canceled a U.S.-Canadian-Russian exercise -- Vigilant Eagle -- that was to have begun on Aug. 20," Gates said.

"In the days and weeks ahead, the Department of Defense will reexamine the entire gamut of our
military-to-military activities with Russia and will make changes as necessary and appropriate, depending on Russian actions in the days ahead," the secretary said.

Soldiers, Airmen in Europe Work to Provide Georgia Aid

By Army Capt. Bryan Woods
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 14, 2008 - The U.S.
Army's 21st Theater Sustainment Command and U.S. Air Forces in Europe began working Aug. 12 to begin emergency humanitarian assistance for the people of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. Soldiers from 66th Transportation Company and 39th Transportation Battalion and airmen from 723rd Air Mobility Squadron worked 36 straight hours to load onto pallets more than 75,000 pounds of tents, blankets, bedding, hygiene items, clothing, beds, cots and medical supplies to support the mission.

The humanitarian aid supplies were provided from State Department stock at the U.S.
Army Medical Materiel Center Europe's humanitarian assistance program warehouse in Pirmasens, Germany.

An air load planning officer was in charge of the load as it was received and placed onto aviation pallets. After the loads were inventoried, certified, weighed and strapped down, they were handed over to the
Air Force for loading and transport to the destination.

"It's a good feeling to be able to do something good for someone during a situation like this,"
Army Sgt. Henry Pinckney, of 5th Quartermaster Company, said. "I think it is important because you never know when you are going to be the one requiring help one day."

Army Capt. Gabriel Legendry, of 39th Transportation Battalion, in charge of the loading site at the deployment processing center, said the effort is worthwhile.

"When we are working against the clock with a 24-hour turnaround, everyone is working hard," he said, "but it brings a lot of joy to do something good for someone."

(
Army Capt. Bryan Woods serves in the 21st Theater Sustainment Command Public Affairs Office.)

Air Force Completes First Georgia Humanitarian Aid Mission

By Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance
Special to American Forces Press Service

Aug. 14, 2008 - A U.S.
Air Force C-17 Globemaster III transport jet departed Ramstein Air Base, Germany, and landed at Tbilisi International Airport here yesterday, delivering $1 million in humanitarian aid to reduce the suffering of the people of the former Soviet republic of Georgia. The joint military effort supported coordination by the U.S. State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development with Georgian officials. The Defense Department was directed to support the effort with a joint U.S. military operation that launched with the delivery of 16 pallets of medicine, clothing, sleeping bags, cots and other essential items.

"Our sole goal is to safely and rapidly deliver humanitarian aid to Georgia to alleviate human suffering and save lives," said Col. Benjamin Everson, chief of U.S.
Army Europe's International Operations Division. "We will continue to support this humanitarian mission until the host nation and the U.S. State Department determine that it is no longer needed."

The C-17, based out of McGuire
Air Force Base, N.J., was operated by a 3rd Airlift Squadron crew from Dover Air Force Base, Del., and landed amid cheers and smiles from local nationals on the airfield.

One pallet after another was quickly offloaded from the aircraft. The Georgians on the ground continually thanked the U.S.
military team for its efforts.

"We are in dire need of these supplies," said Sergey Khomchenko, Counterpart Community and Humanitarian Assistance Program director. "Thank you so much for helping us in this great time of need. These supplies will surely save lives."

U.S. officials, including a U.S. European Command survey team, continue to coordinate closely with the Georgian government to determine what aid is most needed within the country and how best to distribute it.

Navy Lt. Cmdr. Corey Barker, a U.S. European Command spokesman, praised the joint humanitarian relief effort.

"We are very pleased that the joint
military community -- EuCom, U.S. Army Europe and U.S. Air Forces in Europe -- have the opportunity to provide logistical support to bring these humanitarian supplies here," he said. "EuCom forces will remain ready to support as further needs are assessed."

(
Air Force Capt. Erin Dorrance serves in the 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs Office.)