Military News

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Gates, South Korean Counterpart to Discuss Exercises, Plans

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and his South Korean counterpart will assess during meetings later this week the recent joint military exercises designed to send a deterrent message to North Korea, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell told reporters yesterday.

Gates will host National Defense Minister Kim Tae-young tomorrow and Oct. 8 at the 42nd annual Security Consultative Meeting, Morrell announced.

The session, which coincides with the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, reflects the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance and its commitment to South Korea’s security, Morrell told reporters.

Among other security-related topics, Gates and Kim will discuss the two recent Invincible Spirit exercises initiated in response to North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean navy ship Cheonan in March, Morrell said. Forty-six crewmembers were killed in the attack.

Morrell said the two leaders will “reaffirm, in the wake of the Cheonan sinking, that we will not tolerate North Korean provocation and aggression.”

The U.S. and South Korean navies wrapped up five days of anti-submarine warfare exercises in the waters off the Korean peninsula earlier this month. The exercises, the second in a series, focused on anti-submarine tactics, techniques and procedures, U.S. Forces Korea officials reported. The first Invincible Spirit exercise, conducted in the seas east of the Korean peninsula in July, focused on naval and air readiness.

During this week’s session, Gates and Lee also are expected to review details leading to the planned transfer of wartime operational control of forces on the Korean peninsula to South Korea’s military in 2015. The transfer, originally scheduled for 2012, was delayed until 2015 at South Korea’s request.

This plan is embodied in the new Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement that will shape their alliance for the future, Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, told American Forces Press Service.

The new plan covers a broad range of initiatives: transferring wartime operational control to South Korea, developing new war plans, introducing broader and more realistic exercises, reviewing both countries’ military organizational structures and timing the movement of U.S. forces south of Seoul, and ensuring South Korean forces are ready, he explained.

Sharp said the plan also will help to identify military capabilities South Korean forces will need in 2015, and to ensure that South Korean acquisition, training and organizational efforts are geared toward achieving them.

In addition, he said, the plan will establish “bridging capabilities” the U.S. military will continue to provide after initial operational control transfer, and what both countries will contribute for the long term.

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has no public or media events on his schedule.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn will receive the World Affairs Council - Washington, D.C. International Outstanding Public Service Award at at its 2nd annual “Speaks to America” luncheon at The McLean Hilton - Tysons Corner, Va.  Lynn will deliver the keynote address on “Achieving Effective Defense: Lean Budgets, Superior Forces.”

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen participates in a panel discussion with Gen. Ann Dunwoody and Vice Adm. Ann Rondeau at the 2010 Fortune Most Powerful Women Summit at at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, Washington D.C.  Media contact is Emily Edmonds, 212-522-3651,  Media can also register for the virtual conference at

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz participates in a “Government Executive” discussion at at the National Press Club about how the Air Force plans to meet the budgetary, technological and workforce challenges confronting all federal agencies.

Senior Executive Service Announcements

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced the following Department of Defense Senior Executive Service reassignments.

David M. Wennergren has been assigned as assistant deputy chief management officer, Office of the Deputy Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C.  Wennergren previously served as deputy assistant secretary of defense, information management, integration and technology, and deputy chief information officer, Office of the Secretary of Defense, Washington, D.C.

David Bennett has been assigned as program executive officer for Global Information Grid (GIG) Enterprise Services Engineering, Defense Information Systems Agency, Falls Church, Va.  Bennett previously served as deputy program executive officer for GIG Enterprise Services Engineering, Defense Information Systems Agency, Falls Church, Va.

Rebecca Harris has been assigned as deputy component acquisition executive, Defense Information Systems Agency, Falls Church, Va.  Harris previously served as program executive officer for GIG Enterprise Services Engineering, Defense Information Systems Agency, Falls Church, Va.

Wilderness Challenge: Grueling, Dirty and Fun

By Lt. Gail M. Mulleavy, Supply Corps, U.S. Navy, Regional Supply Office-Oceana

I was first introduced to the Wilderness Challenge back in 2004. I read an All Hands magazine article and shortly after a fellow Supply Corps officer asked if I would be interested in being part of his team. Each team consists of four active duty military members with at least one female. The challenge sounded interesting and challenging! That year started me down the path of participating in the Wilderness Challenge every year since, except one year due to operational commitments.

That first year our team “Pork Chops III” finished 3rd for the Navy.

The Wilderness Challenge is organized by Naval Weapons Station Yorktown, Morale, Welfare and Recreation department. Mike Bond and his team do an EXCELLENT job every year, which is one of the main reasons I continue to return.

The events are planned so the most athletic or the athletically challenged can participate. Teams range from the extremely competitive, those who tether their slower runner to the faster runners, to those out for fun, the guys who did most events in speedos and capes. Or as the Wilderness Challenge website claims “This event has been designed so that every active duty member already possesses the skills needed.” I have found that some have more skills than others!

The challenge is spread out over two days. Day one consists of an 8K run along the New River Gorge in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains finishing out with a 14 mile two-hour white water raft trip of continuous paddling down class III-V rapids. Day two starts very early, we meet when it’s still dark, so we can get lined up for the 12-14 mile mountain bike portion, followed by a 7-mile run down Class I-III rapids in a rubber ducky (inflatable kayak). The final event is a 15-mile hike/run through some of the highest and most beautiful parts of the Appalachian Mountains. It’s a shame we can’t “stop to smell the roses.”

The teams I’ve been on are middle-of-the-road in competitiveness. We push ourselves and always remain together as a team “encouraging” each other along the way. Along with the physical challenges there are always mechanical challenges, from a bike chain that broke only four miles into the 12 mile mountain bike portion, to major rain the night before and during the mountain bike portion which caked mud on your brakes leaving you with no braking power while going downhill at breakneck speed!

Most of our team training consisted of ensuring everyone felt comfortable enough on a mountain bike and getting in some decent runs in preparation for the final event. There isn’t much training we can do to prepare for the white water rafting or the rubber ducky and although the rapids do most of the work in getting us down the river we are continuously paddling in sync as a team to get there faster. The challenge is to keep our raft in the fast water, maintain a straight line in the rubber ducky and pray we don’t dump the raft!

The Wilderness Challenge is all about teamwork, camaraderie and having fun – and getting the all important coin!

Sitka aircrew outflies competition at Canadian exercise

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young

A shared border and increasing importance on arctic waterways makes a partnership between U.S. and Canadian forces critical to our joint security. That partnership has resulted in successful search and rescue missions, pollution response and security zone enforcements. It has also resulted in a friendly rivalry between the two nations that was highlighted during the 2010 Royal Canadian Search and Rescue Exercise (SAREX).

Last week’s SAREX provided an opportunity to showcase aviation rescue skills, and amongst the complex events of parachuting accuracy, medical triage and mountainous terrain searches, an aircrew from Air Station Sitka brought home the top prize in the marine rescue event.

Competing against Royal Canadian Forces and the U.S. Air Force was the Air Station Sitka crew of LT Geoff Barela, LT Brooks Crawford, AET1 Bryson Rectenwald, AMT2 Kristopher Foglia, AET2 Jamie Flood, AST2 Jonathan Kline and AST3 David Paquin.

As a testament to the international collaboration that was fostered through the duration of the SAREX, the Coast Guard was short one rescue swimmer to compete in the marine rescue event and was joined by an honorary crewmember, William Ternes. Ternes is a Canadian search and rescue technician, commonly known as a “SAR tech” who is stationed at the 442 squadron in Comox, Canada.

“In preparation for the exercise we learned the similarities and differences between our operating procedures,” said Crawford. “The help of the Canadian SAR tech was instrumental in our crew being able to participate and win the event.”

The marine rescue event was a complex competition that had the aircrews showing their airmanship skills the second they received the “go” order. After briefing, the aircrews flew to a nearby lake in their MH-60 Jayhawk, where they located three separate buoys with a life-sized dummy attached to each.

Barela and Brooks as aircraft commander and co-pilot flew a tight circle and came to a hover over the first buoy where they free-fall deployed a rescue swimmer. The height and distance was key in deploying the first swimmer, as they had to do so within ten feet of the buoy. Left alone in the water, the swimmer detached the dummy from the buoy and swam his 175-pound “survivor” to shore, 75 yards away.

The aircrew then moved onto the second buoy where Ternes was free-fall deployed into the lake’s water and began to prepare his “survivor” to be hoisted by a rescue basket.

Over the third buoy, the Jayhawk was placed in a hover as they deployed the rescue swimmer with a harness. The exemplary precision of both pilots and swimmer were shown as the swimmer touched the buoy with his fins prior to entering the water. The accuracy of the deployment allowed the crew to subtract four minutes from their total time – something no other team accomplished.

After the successful deployment of the third swimmer, the pilots maneuvered back to the second buoy where they retrieved the SAR tech and “survivor” by hoisting them in a rescue basket.

Now in the home stretch, the aircrew retrieved the third rescue swimmer and dummy in a sling recovery, and as the third and final swimmer was brought into the helicopter’s cabin, the clock was stopped.

“The exercise was fantastic training that really challenged our crew,” said Barela. “It is also great to collaborate with international partners. We learned from them and they learned from us.”

While the marine rescue event brought home a win for the Coast Guard, the trophy serves as a symbol of the staggering skill and training, coupled with partnerships that go into aviation missions.

Royal Canadian Forces hosted the annual search and rescue exercise, held in Whitehorse, Yukon, Canada, to discuss techniques and standardized practices, as well as enable the key partnerships that are so crucial during search and rescue operations.