Sunday, July 17, 2011

Volk Field hosting large-scale training exercise

By Maj. Nancie Margetis
183rd Fighter Wing Public Affairs

The largest annual National Guard training exercise is underway at Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center and Fort McCoy.

Close to a thousand people are converging on Volk Field this week for emergency response training July 11 through 23. Patriot 2011 is an international large-scale training exercise bringing community and federal agencies together with military organizations from several states and three countries. Units are working to develop best practices and refine emergency responses for a variety of contingencies, from terrorist threats to train accidents and exposure from hazardous material spills.

National Guard Soldiers and Airmen will work alongside federal agencies, including the FBI and U.S. Postal Inspectors, FEMA and the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Wisconsin Disaster Medical Assistance Team. Their aim is coordination of incident response, medical triage and patient care, search and extraction, control of hazardous materials and logistics that includes movement of equipment.

Col. Matthew Moorman of the Ohio Air National Guard briefs Wisconsin's Disaster Medical Assistance Team during the domestic operations portion of the 2011 Patriot Exercise July 13 at the Volk Field Combat Readiness Training Center, Wis. This is the first year that the DMAT - a volunteer-based force that responds to disasters in Wisconsin - is participating in Patriot. Ohio Air National Guard photo by Senior Airman Amy N. Adducchio 

A primary goal of Patriot 2011 will be successful movement and validation of an equipment package used in response to disasters involving chemical biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosives. These materials, emergency response force packages, or CERF-P are in place in multiple regional locations throughout the nation, ready for ground transport. But this exercise will test whether the entire component package, designed to handle large scale emergencies, will travel well on military aircraft.

The National Guard Bureau's Crisis Action Team will also lead participants in simulated scenarios enabling them to hone skills that track and treat casualties, dispel terrorist threats, coordinate air transport, control crowds and decontaminate affected areas and persons.

This is significant because it teaches independent organizations with similar or dependent missions to communicate in ways that foster mutual understanding, making it easier to get things done when it is most critical. The training they do here will translate easily to situations they could face in their home states or regions. Emergency responders from Holland and Canada are also participating in the training event.

Volk Field is a National Guard Combat Readiness Training Center in Wisconsin. The center is large enough to house and maintain all of the participants and host several training scenarios in appropriate environments simultaneously. But some of the scenarios require more specific environmental arrangements. To enhance the realistic effect for participants in those cases, elements of the training, like invasion of a terrorist safehouse by FBI and National Guard security force personnel will take place at nearby Ft. McCoy, which already has a suitable house built for that purpose.

Local residents may notice an increase in air traffic as a result of the exercise. Some training may occur at low altitudes and in the evening, especially near Volk Field and Fort McCoy. Area residents with questions or concerns should contact Volk Field at 1-800-972-8673.

Mullen: U.S.-Japan Alliance Serves as Model for Others

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, July 15, 2011 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, on his first visit to Japan since it suffered a devastating earthquake and tsunami in March, today praised the U.S.-Japanese alliance and said the two nations must expand such relations throughout the Pacific region.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, speaking at a news conference from the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, offered condolences to the Japanese people in the aftermath of the natural disaster and said the United States still is committed to helping its ally however it can. His visit is part of an East Asia tour this week that included trips to China and South Korea.

“Watching from afar, I must also say that I was inspired by the dignity, the strength, the grace and resilience with which Japanese citizens responded to the shock,” he said. “If ever there was by any people a finer display of character and courage under such circumstances, I simply haven’t seen it. And so, thank you, as well, for the power of your example to the world.”

Mullen praised the response of the Japanese Self-Defense Force for its skill and professionalism in helping Japanese citizens following the disaster. “For our part, the United States military was proud to support your troops and to labor side by side [and] day and night with them -- on the ground, in the air, and at sea -- as we jointly battled the elements and the unspeakable destruction.”

The collaboration of the Japanese and U.S. forces following the earthquake is a testament to the countries’ strong relationship, the admiral said, adding that his trip to Japan was meant to underscore the U.S. commitment to a partnership with Japan.

“We know you, and you know us,” he said. “And, together, we have served not only the defense of Japan, but the cause of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. And it is the strength of that friendship I am here to reaffirm. In every meeting I will attend, in every discussion I will have, I will convey my government’s commitment -- and that of my military -- to expanding and improving our bilateral relations.”

Noting that the United States is a Pacific power, Mullen said it will seize every opportunity to promote peace in the region. “Of course, should your women’s soccer team defeat ours in the World Cup this weekend, we may have to seriously rethink our position,” he joked about the much-anticipated July 17 match-up.

As part of strengthening their alliance, Mullen said, Japan and the United States also must reach out to expand multilateral relations in the region. “No single nation can address all of today’s challenges alone,” he said. “There is greater strength to be found in the diversity of talent presented through plural initiatives and cooperation.”

Japan’s recent efforts to improve bilateral relations with South Korea and Australia are a good example, Mullen said, in addressing common challenges ranging from piracy in the Straits of Malacca to weapons proliferation and disaster response.

Mullen said he would like to see those bilateral relationships extend to more conventional and defensive capabilities with South Korea and others. “The United States has enduring interests in the Pacific, and we have enduring security commitments we plan to broaden and deepen,” he said. “But so, too, would we like to see others broaden and deepen their cooperation with their neighbors.

“Relationships matter,” he continued. “Where they are strong, there is trust and transparency and a better chance for stability. Where they are weak or nonexistent, there is, at best, suspicion and, at worst, the very real risk of miscalculation.”

Mullen began the Asia trip at the invitation of his Chinese counterpart, Gen. Chen Bingde, who visited the Pentagon in May. The admiral said the meetings he took part in over several days in China were “productive and generally positive with respect to moving us closer to some sort of relationship.” He noted that the U.S. and Chinese militaries have not had “a sustained, reliable relationship.”

The chairman said he made clear in Beijing that “there’s just too much at stake for us not to have an understanding of one another.” But, he acknowledged, U.S. military leaders and those with the People’s Liberation Army have a long way to go.

“I am under no illusion that we have cemented anything like a partnership with the PLA,” he said. “Maybe we never will. Differences between us are still stark. But the work of establishing a relationship has to start somewhere. The exchanges and exercises we agreed to are good first steps, as are discussions we will soon have about the Military Maritime Consultative Agreement.”

U.S. allies should not be concerned about the country’s efforts at a military relationship with China, Mullen said.

“Relationships are not zero-sum affairs, replete with winners and losers,” he explained. “One relationship does not come at the expense of another. Nor does a relationship in the nascent stages of development unseat or make unsteady those that have been tempered over time and trial. Quite the contrary. A constructive [U.S.-China military] relationship is eventually good for everyone with whom we are close.”

Eisenhower, Enterprise Sail Together in Atlantic Ocean

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zach Martin, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- The nuclear-powered aircraft carriers USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) crossed paths in the Atlantic Ocean off the East Coast July 14.

Enterprise, on its way home from a regularly-scheduled seven-month deployment to the 6th and 5th Fleet areas of responsibility, had just picked up its crew's family members from Mayport, Fl., for a Tiger Cruise. Eisenhower was off the Southeastern Coast conducting a carrier qualification (CQ) for squadrons around the country.

The common link between the two ships was Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, Enterprise's commanding officer (CO), who was returning home from his third deployment as CO of a carrier in three years. Mewbourne had previously commanded Eisenhower during two deployments in 2009 and 2010.

The ships spent some time alongside each other, and photos were snapped from helicopters in the air and from Sailors and their families on both ships.

"To our embarked Tigers, it provided the extremely rare opportunity to witness flight operations from a uniquely powerful perch while also seeing a truly magnificent ship and crew in action. For me, it provided a moment of utter humility and supreme thankfulness for the blessings I was given in command of both ships [and] to work with incredibly dedicated and talented people in making America proud," said Mewbourne.

Capt. Marcus A. Hitchcock, Eisenhower's commanding officer, said the opportunity for the two ships to meet, exchange greetings and say 'welcome home' to returning heroes was an important event for both ship's crews.

"We flew some of our Sailors off the ship to Norfolk to visit their spouses and family members who are returning from deployment on Enterprise," Hitchcock said. "To be able to do that for both crews was a great demonstration of our commitment to the morale of our Sailors."

The two meeting occurred safely even with Eisenhower conducting flight operations for CQ during the entire evolution.

Enterprise's family members were able to not only see their ship's air power demonstration earlier in the day, but Eisenhower pilots conducting flight operations.

"Being able to come alongside the Enterprise was amazing," Hitchcock said. "Capt. Mewbourne took most of this crew through two deployments. Giving him the opportunity to see Eisenhower in action one more time was a poignant moment for everyone and we are very proud of him and the entire Enterprise team."