Military News

Friday, September 16, 2011

U.S., Australia Tackle 21st-century Challenges

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 16, 2011 – Australia and the United States are determined to broaden their security cooperation efforts to counter threats and challenges of the future, Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta said yesterday.

“The depth and breadth of discussions we’ve had here today really do confirm for me that the United States has no closer ally than Australia,” Panetta said in San Francisco following meetings there with senior Australian officials.

Panetta and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton met with Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd and Defense Minister Stephen Smith at the Presidio for the annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Consultations, called AUSMIN.

The meeting was held on the 60th anniversary of the signing of the treaty at the Presidio by Australia, New Zealand and the United States in 1951.

After the meeting, the leaders released a 2011 Joint Communiqué and a separate joint statement on cyberspace, and then held a press conference in a room whose windows looked out through pine trees and Monterey cypress on the Golden Gate Bridge.

Australia and the United States are strengthening and broadening their 60-year-old alliance, the leaders said, to address together emerging 21st-century challenges such as global terrorism and cyber defense.

“With that goal in mind,” Panetta said, “we discussed today the efforts of the bilateral force posture working group … which has been making steady progress in developing options for our two militaries to train and operate together more closely, including more combined defense activities and shared use of facilities.”

The work to strengthen the alliance’s presence and posture in the Pacific “reflects a reality we all recognize,” he added, “that the security and prosperity of our two great nations depends on the security and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region.”

The joint statement on cyber security sends a strong signal about the two nations’ commitment to work together to counter and respond to cyber attacks, Panetta said.

“This is the battlefield of the future,” the secretary said, “and our ability to work together is extremely important to the challenge of being able to counter this very significant emerging threat.”

Australia’s military contribution to the International Security Assistance Force is about 1,550 defense force members deployed within Afghanistan, according to the Australian government’s Defense Department. About 800 Australian military personnel deployed in the broader Middle East region provide support functions, including maritime, for Afghanistan operations. About 50 Australian civilians are working in Afghanistan, as well as 10 Australian defense civilians.

Panetta expressed the deep appreciation of the U.S. government and the American people for Australia’s very strong partnership in Afghanistan and for the considerable sacrifices Australian troops and their families have made during this time of war.”

For 60 years, the secretary said, the United States and Australia “have gone into battle together and we have bled together because of the shared values and the deep bonds between our people. We are both immigrant nations and that creates a very strong bond between the United States and Australia, particularly for this son of immigrants.”

Clinton said each new global challenge has brought a new cause for cooperation with Australia.

“That is exactly what happened 10 years ago when America was attacked on Sept. 11, just days after the 60th anniversary of our alliance,” she said. “Australia invoked the treaty to come to our defense.”

As Pacific powers, Australia, the United States and their alliance have provided a context for the region’s dynamic economic growth, Clinton added, underwriting peace and security and promoting trade and prosperity.

“The detailed joint communiqué we’re releasing today reflects the full range of our interests, values and vision,” the secretary said, “from maritime cooperation to joint development projects to building stronger ties with India to promoting democracy and prosperity in the Pacific islands.”

And, Clinton joked, “although Australians have taken over the Oscars, the Tour de France and now the U.S. Open, our affection for your country remains undiminished.”

The attacks on 9/11, Rudd said, are “a salient reminder of our common challenge based on our common values to deal robustly, comprehensively and globally with the challenge of terrorism.”

Looking westward from the California coast, Rudd said the Asia-Pacific region is destined to flourish and thrive as a powerful economic engine with global reach.

“The waters of the Pacific we see out there off the coast of San Francisco will be the center of gravity for global economic growth, for global security for the half-century to come,” Rudd said. “And it is in our combined interest to ensure that this Pacific century is indeed a pacific century.”

And, the AUSMIN cyber statement represents a new, critical area of operational engagement between Australia and the United States, he said, “which affects governments, business and citizens the world over, the region over and our countries individually.”

Like confronting terrorism, Rudd added, the cyber security realm “is a battleground that is fought unconventionally often without a known enemy. That is why it is critical that this becomes a formal part of our alliance deliberations and committed cooperation in the event of such attack in the future.”

The leaders also reviewed common engagement with China and the countries of Northeast Asia, including South Korea and Japan, and with countries in Southeast Asia, including Australia’s neighbor, the Republic of Indonesia, Rudd said.

Additionally, the leaders discussed engagement across the Indian Ocean and South Asia and the important relationship with India, as well as regional challenges including North Korea’s nuclear program, “which profoundly concerns our two countries,” Rudd said.

“More broadly we also reviewed our common interests in the Middle East,” he added, including the Mideast peace process, recent changes under way in Egypt and Libya and, with great concern, the abuse of human rights and the killing of innocent people in Syria.

Smith reported progress on the bilateral working group that for a year has been developing options to align Australian and U.S. forces for improved national security.

“We are looking at increased joint exercises, increased joint training [and] increased joint operations,” Smith said, adding, “As I’ve put it colloquially in Australia, more ships in, ships out; more planes in, planes out; more troops in, troops out.”

The group has more to do, Smith said, noting the work is very important.

“Whilst we regard this very much potentially as an extension of the good work we already do,” he said, “it will in an operational sense be the single largest potential change to the day-to-day working arrangement of the alliance since the establishment of … joint facilities.”

According to the communiqué, “Our discussions have acknowledged that our respective military forces must be postured to respond in a timely and effective way to the range of contingencies that may arise in our region, including humanitarian assistance and disaster relief, and to enhance our ability to work with the armed forces of regional partners.”

Such discussions continue, Panetta said.

“Our goal here” he said, “is to try to strengthen that relationship as best we can so we can send a clear signal to the Asia-Pacific region that the United States and Australia are going to continue to work together, to make very clear to those that would threaten us that we are going to stick together.”

DCoE Webinar Focuses On Case Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) will host its latest webinar, “Case Management of Mild Traumatic Brain Injury,” Sept. 22, 2011 from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. (EDT).

This webinar will focus on the need for a collaborative approach to treat mild traumatic brain injury and the role of the case manager. Additionally, resources and tips will be provided to assist military case managers with service members who experience persistent symptoms related to concussion and mild TBI.

Scheduled speakers are:

■Lisa Perla, Department of Veterans Affairs, national polytrauma coordinator
■Susan Kennedy, DCoE, TBI Clinical Standards of Care directorate, case management consultant
■Jennifer Audette, Albany Veterans Affairs Medical Center, N.Y., Operation Enduring Freedom/Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation New Dawn program manager

All professionals who care for service members are encouraged to attend, including service members and their families. To register or for more information, please email: DCoE.MonthlyWebinar@tma.osd.mil.

Follow us on Twitter@DCoEPage during the webinar for live Tweeting and use #DCoEWebinar to join the conversation.

For previous DCoE monthly webinar topics, presentations, audio recordings and resources, visit the webinar section of the DCoE website, dcoe.health.mil. For more information on future topics, please download the complete webinar schedule.

SECNAV Visits NSWC Crane

From Naval Surface Warfare Center Crane Public Affairs

CRANE, Ind. (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus made his first visit to Naval Surface Warfare Center, Crane, a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, Sept. 13.

Mabus met with NSWC Crane Commanding Officer Capt. Charles S. LaSota and Technical Director Duane Embree as well as civilian and military personnel to learn how the warfare center supports the Navy.

"It is an honor to have the secretary of the Navy visit NSWC Crane," said LaSota. "He is passionate about our vital role in the nation's defense and we appreciate his acknowledgement of our technology and support to the warfighter."

During his visit, Mabus toured the command's Ground Expeditionary Electronic Warfare Division to learn about its advancements in countering improvised explosive devices - one of the largest threats to troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. The secretary also visited the Crane-developed Ground Based Operational Surveillance System. A tower-based system that provides continuous, real-time surveillance, radars and wireless data transmission to communicate with troops on the ground as well as unmanned aerial systems - GBOSS has been a vital system against IEDs in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Other technology briefings showcased NSWC Crane's power and energy initiatives including the Solar Stik and the Power Management Kit. NSWC Crane's Solar Stik system consists of a single wind turbine generator and two solar panels that are used to charge a 12-volt lead acid battery system, allowing special forces to power equipment using energy harvested from the sun and wind, alleviating the burden and vulnerabilities associated with refueling generators. The Power Management Kit is a lightweight device that can charge equipment in the field used by the Navy's explosive ordnance disposal team. The device eliminates nearly 50 pounds of batteries usually hauled by the teams.

This initiative is one of many throughout the Navy and Marine Corps which will enable the Department of the Navy to achieve Secretary Ray Mabus' energy goals to improve our energy security and efficiency afloat and ashore, increase our energy independence, and help lead the nation toward a clean energy economy.

Mabus also learned about NSWC Crane science, technology, engineering and math outreach efforts to increase elementary, middle and high school students' interest in technology-related fields as well as the warfare center's nationally recognized wounded warrior program that helps veterans transition to civilian employment.

Located on the third largest naval installation in the world, the warfare center is a naval laboratory with research and development efforts that support the Navy by providing capabilities and resources in sensors, electronics, electronic warfare and special warfare weapons.

Wisconsin Guard unit demonstrates its ability to serve, protect

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

A Wisconsin National Guard unit continues to hone its skills for responding to threats of weapons of mass destruction in the state.

The 54th Civil Support Team, a full-time joint Army and Air National Guard unit based in Madison, is participating in a five-day exercise named "Operation Bay Watch" in Sturgeon Bay, Wis. The exercise scenario depicts a domestic terrorist attack involving a nerve agent at the Door County Fairgrounds race track, and also a dirty bomb laboratory in the municipal area.

According to Karl Nagel, a member of the Army controller-observer team heading the exercise, the 54th CST will be judged on how well it responds to various training events. Some events from the race track venue could recur in the dirty bomb laboratory venue if observer-controllers determine that the 54th CST requires additional training.

Lt. Col. David May, deputy director of domestic operations, plans and training with the Wisconsin National Guard's Joint Staff, explained that the 54th CST is required to complete a training proficiency exercise approximately every 18 months. Their last certification exercise was in March 2010.

"With one of two exercise days complete, the team is doing very well," May said Sept. 14. "But [the unit] will face some rigorous challenges on the final day. The scenarios are built to ensure the team is tested in all the required areas, but also are intended to be realistic."

The 54th CST assists local first responders in determining the nature of an attack, provides medical and technical advice, and - as the first military responder to the scene - serves as an advance party if additional state or federal military resources are required. They do not take over the scene, but coordinate with the local incident commander and determine how to best assist local response efforts.

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, said that while the Civil Support Team is not a brand-new concept - it was conceived during the second term of the Clinton administration - it nonetheless reflects the changing role the National Guard plays in protecting the homeland.

"The 54th CST represents the high end of our core mission," Dunbar said. "Floods, fires and storm responses may not require the same specialized skill sets that the Civil Support Team possesses, but deep down it's the same mission - provide capabilities to local authorities to safeguard our communities. But whether natural or man-made, if the threat changes, the National Guard adapts."

May noted that local support in Door County for this exercise has been outstanding.

"The county parks department and staff, the county emergency manager, Sturgeon Bay Police Department, local businesses and local citizens have accommodated everything that we have needed," he said.

This exercise follows on the heels of real-world protective missions the 54th CST conducted at Lambeau Field in Green Bay for the season-opening National Football League game, at the State Capitol building for the 9/11 10th anniversary ceremony, and at Miller Park in Milwaukee for a celebration of 9/11 veterans. The same proactive mission to detect and counter threats was also recently conducted at the National Guard Association of the United States general conference in Milwaukee at the end of August.