Military News

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Mullen: U.S.-China Military Efforts Target Mutual Threats

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2011 – Progress in joint U.S.-China military initiatives targets challenges and security threats faced by both nations and the region, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said yesterday during a visit with military officials in Beijing.

Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the general staff of the People’s Liberation Army, held a briefing there for reporters.

“We discussed many important issues of mutual concern this morning,” Mullen said, “and I believe we went a long way toward advancing some of the initiatives to which we both committed during your visit to the United States in May.”

Chen visited the United States in May following a Jan. 11 visit to China by then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and a meeting in Washington Jan. 19 between President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao.

That day, in a joint statement, the leaders affirmed that a healthy, stable and reliable military-to-military relationship is essential for a positive U.S.-China relationship.

The military-to-military relationship also was on the agenda in meetings between the chairman and Chen, who said that the Chinese place “great value” on Mullen’s visit.

“In a period of a little bit more than one month’s time, the senior military leaders of China and the United States have realized exchanges of visit,” Chen said.

“This has been unprecedented in the past history of engagement between Chinese and American militaries,” he added, sending a positive message to the international community on the commitment to implement Obama’s and Hu’s vision for friendly and cooperative military relations.

Mullen’s trip has included visits to Chinese army units, facilities and bases. He observed a command post exercise and visited the Chinese army’s 2nd Artillery Corps headquarters, where he viewed a CSS-7 short-range ballistic missile on a mobile launcher.

“I greatly appreciated the opportunity yesterday to visit the 2nd Artillery,” Mullen said. “I know there have been other visitors there historically, “but there were some specific details which I know I was the first to be able to see. I know General Chen made that a priority, and it was a significant effort to recognize the importance of my visit here.”

Meeting topics between the military leaders included American attitudes toward China, cybersecurity, Chinese army force development and the South China Sea.

The South China Sea is a vital shipping lane with vast oil and gas deposits. China, Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and the Philippines lay claim to overlapping parts of it, causing regional friction and several recent confrontations.

Mullen said he and Chen had very frank discussions on the issue, focusing on freedom of navigation.

“We have no differences with respect to freedom of navigation,” the chairman said. “It’s a very important underlying principle that doesn’t just apply in the South China Sea, but applies around the world.”

The United States will stay engaged in the issue, Mullen said, “[but] we choose not to take a position with respect to how the disputes should be resolved.”

He added, “We are very anxious to see that, one, the sea lanes stay open and, two, that these issues get resolved.”

The United States has “enduring interests in the region and we will continue to support those enduring interests,” Mullen said. “We want to do it in a way that is supportive of this relationship as well.”

Other progress during Mullen’s visit included confirming that Military Maritime Consultative Agreement working groups will meet in China and at U.S. Pacific Command in Hawaii to discuss operational safety issues, and that U.S. and Chinese navies will conduct joint counterpiracy exercises in the Gulf of Aden by the end of this year.

“I was also gratified to begin discussing more details about our efforts to conduct joint humanitarian assistance and disaster-relief exercises in 2012,” Mullen said.

Continuing his visit today, Mullen will tour military facilities outside Beijing, the chairman's spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said.

Mullen will fly in a Chinese military aircraft to Jiing City to visit the 19th Aviation Division, where he will receive an operational briefing, view a Sukhoi SU-27 single-seat, twin-engine Mach-2 class jet, and have lunch with Chinese military pilots.

Afterward, Mullen will travel to Hangzhou to see the 1st Division, 1st Group Army, and observe a command post exercise before dining with Gen. Zhao Keshi, the Nanjing Military Region commanding general.

Tomorrow, Mullen’s last day in China, Kirby said, the chairman will visit naval facilities and units at the Zhoushan Naval Base.

Navy Establishes Program Executive Office for Littoral Combat Ships

From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communications

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy established the Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships (PEO LCS), during a ceremony at Washington Navy Yard, July 11.

"The littoral combat ship is a critical shipbuilding program and demands the very best skill and effort from government and industry teams," said Asst. Secretary of the Navy (Research, Development and Acquisition) Sean J. Stackley in a memo establishing the new PEO. "To ensure that we deliver this program to the fleet successfully, I am establishing a new Program Executive Office, Littoral Combat Ships that will align several program offices into one consolidated PEO, focused entirely on achieving that result. This action takes efforts that are currently managed across multiple organizations, and integrates design and development and tests, trials and evaluations under one roof. PEO LCS will have authority across all aspects of the program."

Led by Rear Adm. James Murdoch, the new PEO provides a single program executive responsible for acquiring and maintaining the littoral mission capabilities of the LCS class from start to finish, beginning with procurement, and ending with fleet employment and sustainment.

"I am excited by the challenge of leading this historic effort to provide the Navy with new and highly capable warships equipped with extraordinary aviation features, large payload capacities and flexible environments for future missions - all contained within a fast, stable and efficient seaframe to support the Navy's needs today and tomorrow," said Murdoch.

E. Anne Sandel has been named as the executive director.

Acquisition and maintenance of the sea-frame and mission modules were previously overseen by two different PEOs - PEO Ships and PEO Littoral and Mine Warfare (PEO LMW), respectively. With the creation of PEO LCS, PEO LMW has been disestablished and resident LCS program functions have been transitioned to the new PEO. Non-LCS program functions from PEO LMW have been realigned within Naval Sea Systems Command and existing PEOs.

LCS and its mission modules have been developed under a different strategy for shipbuilding using modular capability, minimal manning and new sustainment concepts. That strategy and the unique aspects of LCS lend themselves to a PEO structure that takes into account the complexity of a system-of-systems approach. Realignment to co-locate the shipbuilding and mission modules programs, together with fleet introduction, is designed to optimize program communication and increased programmatic synergy.

The new PEO LCS will include the following Program Offices: LCS (PMS 501), Remote Minehunting System (PMS 403), Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), LCS Mission Modules (PMS 420), Mine Warfare (PMS 495), and essential fleet introduction program and functional offices, such as test and evaluation and aviation integration.

The LCS is an entirely new breed of U.S. Navy warship. A fast, agile, and networked surface combatant, LCS's modular, focused-mission design will provide combatant commanders the required warfighting capabilities and operational flexibility to ensure maritime dominance and access for the joint force. LCS will operate with focused-mission packages that deploy manned and unmanned vehicles to execute missions as assigned by combatant commanders.

LCS will also perform special operations forces support, high-speed transit, maritime interdiction operations, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, and anti-terrorism/force protection. While complementing capabilities of the Navy's larger multi-mission surface combatants, LCS will also be networked to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines, and joint units.

Obama Awards Medal of Honor to Army Ranger

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2011 – President Barack Obama today awarded the country’s highest military honor to Sgt. 1st Class Leroy A. Petry, an Army Ranger who was shot in both legs and had his hand blown off while saving his fellow soldiers during a firefight in Afghanistan.

Petry became only the second living veteran of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars to receive the award, which Obama presented during a White House ceremony attended by Petry, his wife and four children, and more than a hundred of his family members, mostly from his native New Mexico.

Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, Army Secretary John M. McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Martin E. Dempsey also attended the ceremony, as did the members of the legendary Delta Company, 2nd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment, with which Petry served.

Calling Petry, 31, “a true hero,” Obama recounted how the soldier was on his seventh combat deployment in Afghanistan on May 26, 2008, when he took part in a high-risk daytime operation to capture an insurgent leader in a compound in Paktia province, near the Pakistan border.

As helicopters delivered Petry and the other Rangers into the area, they were met with heavy automatic weapons fire. Petry and Sgt. Lucas Robinson were wounded as they moved to secure a back courtyard. The two found cover behind a chicken coop and were joined by Sgt. Daniel Higgins, a team leader, who was assessing their wounds when an enemy grenade injured Robinson and Higgins.

Two more Rangers, Staff Sgt. James Roberts and Spc. Christopher Gathercole, came to help just as another grenade was lobbed at the unit.

“Every human impulse would tell a person to turn away,” Obama said. “Every soldier is trained to seek cover. That’s what Sergeant Petry could have done.” Instead, he said, Petry did something extraordinary: he picked up the grenade to throw it back.

“What compels a person to risk everything so that others might live?” the president asked. He said the “roots of Leroy’s valor are all around us” in the presence of his parents, four brothers, and other family members. Obama said Petry answered the question while meeting with him before the ceremony, saying that his fellow soldiers are his brothers, and he protected them just as he would his family.

“With that selfless act, Leroy saved two of his Ranger brothers, and they are with us today,” he said.

Petry, shot in both legs by assault-rifle fire, picked up the grenade to throw it back at the enemy, and it detonated, amputating his right hand. Still, Obama said, Petry “remained calm, put on his own tourniquet, and continued to lead, even telling medics how to treat his wounds.”

Today, Petry has a small plaque attached to his prosthetic arm with names of the 75th Regiment’s fallen, including Gathercole, who was killed in the operation for which Petry was honored. Obama paid tribute to Gathercole’s family at today’s ceremony.

“Leroy Petry shows us that true heroes still exist, and they are closer than you think,” the president said. “There are heroes all around us. They are the millions in uniform who have served for the past 10 years.” They are the force behind the force, the president added, citing Ashley Petry, who kept their family “Army strong” while her husband was deployed.

Petry, who enlisted in 1999 and also served two deployments in Iraq, could have retired with honors. Instead, Obama said, he chose to re-enlist indefinitely, and recently completed his eighth deployment in Afghanistan, despite continuing to struggle with his wounds.

“His service speaks to the very essence of America: no matter how hard the journey, no matter how steep the climb, we don’t give up,” the president said.

Sensor Network Detects Nuclear Blasts Worldwide

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2011 – At any time of the day or night, on any day of the year, if a nuclear device explodes anywhere on Earth, a Defense Department network established in 1947 will know about it.

That was the year Army Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower directed the Army Air Corps to develop such a capability, and the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System has evolved over 64 years into a one-of-a-kind global web of sensors that see, feel, hear and sniff out nuclear explosions that occur under land or sea, in the atmosphere or in space.

The Air Force detection system and the job of monitoring three nuclear treaties -- the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, the 1974 Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the 1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty -- in 1980 became a responsibility of the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center, called AFTAC, at Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

When the system detects a nuclear event, AFTAC scientists analyze it and report findings to national command authorities through U.S. Air Force headquarters.

David O’Brien is AFTAC’s chief scientist.

“Our responsibility is to ensure that foreign nations are adhering to the provisions of those treaties,” O’Brien told American Forces Press Service.

To monitor the atmosphere and space, he said, the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, called USAEDS, has sensors aboard more than 20 satellites that make up the Global Positioning System and the infrared-sensing satellites that make up the Defense Support Program.

“The latter,” O’Brien said, “are what the United States uses to detect launches of intercontinental ballistic missiles.”

Multiple sensors on all those satellites “look for phenomenology from a nuclear explosion that occurs in space or in the atmosphere,” he added, “whether it’s nuclear radiation or the flash from the fireball.”

The network’s five hydroacoustic stations detect undersea nuclear explosions.

“Those are just underwater microphones, and they listen for the explosion that goes off underwater,” the scientist said. “By detecting the explosions on more than one underwater microphone, we can triangulate where it occurred.”

But the workhorse since the treaties came into effect to ban atmospheric nuclear testing, O’Brien said, has been the underground nuclear monitoring capability.

“Those sensors are seismic, and the reason they’re seismic is that when a large explosion occurs underground, it creates a signature that looks just like an earthquake,” he said.

Infrasound sensors measure changes in the atmosphere generated by very-low-frequency acoustic waves that can come from above-ground nuclear explosions.

USAEDS still supplements some of its 40 seismic stations with infrasound, the scientist said, and in the 1960s used infrasound as the main way to detect nuclear explosions in the atmosphere.

“But once we were able to get sensors on satellites,” he said, “that gave us a much better capability.”

When the program first began, its only sensor, an air sampler, flew on a B-29 aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. In 1949, flying between Alaska and Japan, the sampler detected debris from the first Russian atomic test.

Today the system uses another aircraft, a WC-135 in a program called Constant Phoenix to collect air samples from areas where nuclear explosions have occurred.

If there is a nuclear explosion, O’Brien said, “we will [use meteorology] to project where radioactive debris would go. Then when it gets into international airspace, the aircraft can go to that spot.”

The plane collects particles so analysts on the ground can test them to see if they contain radionuclides, or radioactive elements.

The plane also collects radioactive gases, especially radioactive xenon, which is a good indicator that a nuclear explosion has occurred.

With all these sensors, the U.S. Atomic Energy Nuclear Detection System is the only network that operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week, but it isn’t the only global detection system.

In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the provisions of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. One major provision prohibited nuclear explosions anywhere, by anyone.

Another provision described a 337-facility International Monitoring System that would scan the earth for nuclear treaty violations. The IMS facilities include seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide stations, but no satellite sensors.

Most of the world’s countries have signed and ratified the treaty. Three countries that have not signed the treaty have since tested nuclear devices -- India and Pakistan in 1998 and North Korea in 2006.

The treaty has not yet entered into force -- several more countries must ratify the treaty before that happens. Until it does enter into force, some of the IMS monitoring stations operate 24 hours a day, but many do not.

The United States has signed, but not yet ratified, the treaty, and it has helped develop the International Monitoring System, O’Brien said.

The IMS architects “were starting from scratch in the mid-1990s, and we had many years of experience in these kinds of systems,” he said.

“So they came to us asking for any advice that would help them avoid the pitfalls of putting a new system in,” the scientist added.

The experts at USAEDS advised the monitoring system builders on worldwide logistics involved in establishing such a system and onsite installations.

USAEDS contributes the data from many of its seismic and hydroacoustic stations to the International Monitoring System.

“Outside of the USAEDS,” O’Brien said, “the United States through the Office of the Secretary of Defense contributes seismic, infrasound and radionuclide stations to the IMS.”

As a signatory to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the United States is entitled to and receives all the data that the International Monitoring System produces.

“We participate in all their international meetings, and we have since [the system’s] inception. They occasionally come here and visit,” O’Brien said. “I think both the IMS and ourselves are right at the state of the art of any technology that is practical for use in detecting nuclear explosions.”

Pacific Partnership 2011 Shares Culture, Stories with Micronesian Children

By Airman 1st Class Haleigh Greer, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

POHNPEI, Federated States of Micronesia (NNS) -- Members of the Pacific Partnership 2011 (PP11) team from USS Cleveland (LPD 7) participated in Pohnpei Public Library's Library Camp, in Pohnpei, Federated States of Micronesia (FSM), July 12.

"School is out for the summer, but some parents want their kids to stay active and continue learning. So they send them to library camp," said Lt. Phillip Ridley, Pacific Partnership 2011 chaplain. "Here they are learning library skills, playing sports with each other, and learning about different parts of the world. Each child gets a 'passport,' and when they finish learning about a new country, they get a sticker to show they have completed that country."

Over the course of three days, Sailors, Marines, Soldiers and Airmen, along with civilian volunteers from non-governmental organizations Project HOPE and the University of California, San Diego's Pre-Dental Society, engaged in multiple activities with the children while also taking the time to teach them about North America, this week's topic at the camp.

"I feel that it was great experience for us and the kids as well," said Lt. Melinda Garcia, PP11's supply officer. "We played soccer, did arts and crafts, read to the children individually, and at the end we all came together to read stories to the entire group. It was a fun experience."

"I think community relations projects are a great bonus on these missions," said Hanna Taylor, a registered nurse with Project HOPE. "The medical, engineering, and veterinary sites are important, but it's also nice for us to be able to interact with the local people on a personal level and show them what people in America are really like."

PP11 members also had the opportunity to work alongside Peace Corps volunteers from the U.S. as they ran the library's inaugural reading camp.

"It's nice to see a different type of government organization like the Navy," said Peace Corps volunteer Cori Jo Jahnsen. "We didn't know a lot about Pacific Partnership, and they didn't know a lot about us. But it was nice to come together to learn from one another and achieve a common goal."

The libary was constructed by U.S. Navy Seabees in the late 1970s and team of Seabees will work to refurbish it beginning in August.

FSM is the fifth and final mission port for Pacific Partnership 2011, which has completed operations in Tonga, Vanuatu, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste. In four mission ports, the Pacific Partnership team has treated more than 36,000 patients, cared for more than 1,500 animals, conducted more than 40 community service projects and completed more than 20 engineering projects.

Pacific Partnership is an annual humanitarian assistance initiative sponsored by the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Born out of the aftermath of the 2004 Indonesian tsunami, Pacific Partnership began in 2006 and has gone to many countries in Southeast Asia and the South Pacific, treated more than 240,000 patients, and continued to enhance interoperability with partner nations.

Interagency Task Force Confronts Drug Trafficking

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 12, 2011 – The poppy fields of Afghanistan -- a major revenue source for the insurgency there -- may seem a million miles away from U.S. Pacific Command’s headquarters in Hawaii.

Yet the production and trafficking of acetic anhydride -- a chemical produced in the Pacific and shipped to Afghanistan, where it’s used to transform opium into heroin -- is one of the big concerns of Joint Interagency Task Force West, explained Tom Wood, its deputy director of operations.

The task force, focused on supporting counternarcotics operations in Asia and the Pacific, recognizes the link between drug trafficking, U.S. national security and regional stability, Wood told American Forces Press Service.

Illicit drugs have long been recognized as a threat to the United States, where drug abuse takes a heavy personal toll on users and their loved ones. But society at large suffers, too, not only from petty crimes committed by addicts to fund their habits, but also from even-more-insidious activities conducted by transnational crime rings bankrolled by the drug trade.

JIATF West is one of three interagency task forces that work in partnership with regional nations to confront this scourge. JIATF South, based in Key West, Fla., supports the counternarcotics fight within U.S. Southern Command’s area of responsibility. JTF North, part of U.S. Northern Command, focuses predominantly on the southwestern U.S. border.

Acetic anhydride production and trafficking is just one of JIATF West’s pressing challenges, Wood said. Others are the industrial-scale production of chemicals illicitly trafficked to the Western Hemisphere to produce methamphetamines, and the flow of drugs from the Western Hemisphere to China, Australia and other parts of Asia.

To address these challenges in an area of responsibility that spans half the globe, JIATF West promotes collaboration between U.S. and foreign law enforcement agencies and other federal agencies to support their efforts.

By law, the Defense Department is barred from actively conducting law enforcement. But it contributes to those efforts largely through intelligence about drug flows through the region, Wood said. Whenever possible, JIATF West passes it to partner nations to act on within their sovereign waters.

“We use as much of U.S. and [Defense Department] intelligence assets as we can to contribute to this fight,” Wood said. “Part of the success of what we do is the fact that we work with foreign partners and exchange information. While we don’t physically do the operations, we team with them and combine our efforts for the goal of cutting back on counternarcotics flows trans-regionally.”

But an equally important part of JIATF West’s mission is to help 36 partner nations in the region improve their own counternarcotics capabilities, Wood explained.

“We spend a good fraction of our effort on the partner nation capacity-building piece of the counternarcotics fight,” Wood said. “That is where we can be most effective in combating the transnational crime problem out here in the Pacific.”

Pacific Command has 36 partner nations in Asia and Pacific, many of them struggling with drug challenges of their own. But Wood said the impact extends beyond the partners’ own borders, contributing to regional instability.

JIATF West’s partner support focuses heavily on the maritime domain and helping partner nations build capacity within their maritime police or coast guards. This runs the gamut, Wood explained, from helping nations develop the physical infrastructure and bases needed to project power within their sovereign waters to deploying trainers to help them close capability gaps.

“What we are trying to do is essentially teach a man to fish,” he said. “We are not creating dependency. We are creating a sustainable capability that these forces can use over the long haul.”

Over the past three years, for example, JIATF West has deployed teams of Navy reservists throughout Asia and the Pacific to help law enforcement and counternarcotics forces throughout the region set up operating and maintenance programs for their vessels.

In Indonesia, for example, the national police charged with patrolling the nation’s waters had long been plagued by too few patrol boats and lack of a program to keep what boats it did have running.

JIATF West worked with the State Department’s International Narcotics and Law Enforcement and Department of Justice’s International Criminal Investigation and Training Assistance Program to help the Indonesian police procure more small craft. Meanwhile, a JIATF West small craft maintenance training team helped them set up a program of scheduled maintenance.

“This group of maritime police now has almost no down time, with no more than one boat down at any given time,” Wood said. “This has been a success, both in the deployment of boats and the ability to create this sustained maintenance culture that has allowed them to keep the boats on the water, doing what they are supposed to be doing.

“Boats tied up to the pier or in dry dock are not a measure of success,” he said. “Just the presence out on the water has a deterrent effect. And if they are not out steaming, then they are not a deterrent.”

As regional partners work together to interdict narcotics shipments through Asia and the Pacific, Wood emphasized that they’re providing a strong deterrent to other transnational crime as well.

“If you can board a vessel to look for narcotics or illegal fish, you can board a vessel to look for guns or for bombs,” he said. “No matter what, the same skill sets apply. And as you teach [partners] how to do things better, you are helping them develop skills they can apply to any of those threats.”

This approach has generated many success stories in the region, both in terms of drugs interdicted and criminals convicted.

But Wood acknowledged that many of JIATF West’s biggest victories are the ones that never make the headlines.

“A lot of what we do will never see the light of day,” he said. “But that’s OK, because this is a team effort. The key thing for us is that we have a multitude of partners, all working together and focused on the counternarcotics problem.”