Sunday, February 03, 2013

Joint Chiefs Chairman Calls Iran 'Disruptive' to Region

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2013 – Beyond threatening countries in the Middle East through its potential acquisition of nuclear weapons, Iran presents another danger, said the U.S. military's top-ranking officer on today's segment of NBC’s “Meet the Press."

"Iran is ... very disruptive and a malicious influence in Syria," Dempsey said on the Sunday news show where he appeared with soon-to-retire Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

"[Iran] smuggles weapons. They are active in any number of ways," Dempsey said.

Panetta said intelligence indicates Iran has not made "the decision" to proceed with the development of a nuclear weapon.

"I can't tell you [Iran is] in fact pursuing a weapon because that's not what intelligence says they are doing right now," he said. "But every indication is they want to continue to increase their nuclear capability. And that's a concern, and that's what we're asking them to stop doing.

"They are developing and enriching uranium. They continue to do that. They continue to work at developing their capability," the secretary said.

"They say they're doing it to develop their own energy source. I think it is suspect that they continue to enrich uranium, because that is dangerous, and that violates international [law]," Panetta added.
But if intelligence does indicate Iran's potential production of nuclear warheads, Dempsey said, the U.S. military is ready for that possibility.

"We have the capability to provide options to the president in any number of scenarios to include their acquisition of nuclear weapon," Dempsey said. Iran's capability could be destroyed by the U.S. military, he noted, but added that Iran’s intentions would "have to be influenced through other means."

February Programming Aboard the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA

WILMINGTON, NC – The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA announces the programming schedule for February, 2013.

February 16, 2013
Time: 9:00 am – 5:30 pm
$95 per person.  $85 for Friends members or active military.

Learn about and explore the Battleship's 16-inch and 5-inch guns from the gun houses to the ammunition loading compartments; the 40mm and 20mm guns, and the weapons that they replaced (1.10 and 50 caliber guns). The finest guns are of little use without the means to direct their fire accurately at the target. Presenters will discuss the various types of fire control equipment (directors/optical range finders, radar, computers) and how main and secondary battery plotting rooms and the combat information center operated. Participants will enjoy a lively, engaging, in-depth program with presentations, hands-on experience, and serious exploration for adult learners.

The program is for adults only (ages 16 and up) and limited to 40 participants. It is not appropriate for those who may have difficulty climbing narrow ladders. Wear warm, comfortable, washable clothing, sturdy, rubber-soled shoes and bring a camera! Registration and payment are due by Thursday, February 14, 2012. Event is $95; $85 for Friends of the Battleship or active military. Program includes a box lunch. Call 910-251-5797 for reservations.

Statewide NC QSO Party
An Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club Event
Sunday, February 24, 2013 from noon to 10 pm

The Azalea Coast Amateur Radio Club will operate from the Battleship NORTH CAROLINA during the North Carolina QSO Party on Sunday, February 24, 2013. The event runs from Noon until 10:00PM local time. The purpose of this annual “HAM Radio” event is to allow amateur radio operators worldwide to contact as many of North Carolina’s 100 counties as possible.  This year the Battleship is one of four stations worth “extra points” if contacted. The Battleship is NI4BK and the club looks forward to hearing from many HAMS.      Licensed radio amateurs are invited throughout the year to be guest operators on the air from Radio Central using call sign NI4BK.

The Club will communicate by voice through the Ship’s original cabling and antennas. Morse code communications will originate from the TBM-4 transmitter, placed in service aboard the Battleship in 1941, and restored to operating condition by Club members in 2002, after a 50+ year slumber.
The club hosts and participates in several events at the Battleship during the year, including Museum Ships Day, Battleship Alive, and Pearl Harbor Remembered.  They also spend time restoring the Battleship’s original communications equipment. Details of the guest operator program may be found at the club's website

The Battleship NORTH CAROLINA is self-supporting, not tax supported and relies primarily upon admissions to tour the Ship, sales in the Ship's Store, donations and investments. No funds for its administration and operation come from appropriations from governmental entities at the local, state or federal levels. Located at the junction of Highways 17/74/76/421 on the Cape Fear River.   Visit or follow us on and for more information

Panetta, Dempsey Speak on War, Women in Combat

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2013 – Three-quarters of the Afghan population is under the security responsibility of its country’s own forces because of the progress those forces, the U.S. military and its coalition partners have achieved in the war there, the nation’s defense chief said today.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey spoke during interviews on CNN’s "State of the Nation" and on NBC’s "Meet the Press" about the war’s drawdown, the U.S. military’s responsibility in Afghanistan after its combat mission ends in late 2014, and the recent decision to lift the combat exclusion for servicewomen.

“We’ve made good progress in the war,” Panetta said. “We’ve been able to diminish the Taliban’s capabilities. Violence has gone down. We’re also developing an Afghan army that’s increased its operations skills to provide security. We’re on the right path to give [Afghanistan] the opportunity to govern itself.”
With significant gains in building their army’s numbers and skills, he said, “[The Afghans] have developed their ability to provide security.”

The secretary added, “We couldn't make a transition in the areas that need transition … if there weren't an Afghan army that was becoming much more capable of doing their jobs.”

Panetta said the rate at which Afghan forces gain competency will, in part, determine “the level of enduring presence that we will have once we reach the end of 2014.”

He reiterated that the core U.S. and coalition mission in Afghanistan is to make sure al-Qaida never again establishes a safe haven there.

Dempsey said the military will live up to its commitments to maintain a long-term partnership and relationship with the Afghan government.

The U.S. military’s top-ranking officer also said that post-war U.S. and NATO missions with the Afghan government will “largely relate to the counter-terror mission, continuing to keep pressure on transnational global terrorism, [and] the continued development of the Afghan security forces. My instinct … [is] that our numbers after 2014 can be modest.”

About 68,000 U.S. troops continue to serve in Afghanistan, Dempsey noted. And while the number of U.S. troops that will maintain a presence there beyond 2014 hassn’t yet been determined, he added, that decision will be based on several factors.

“The ultimate number will be based on the mission and how deeply we want to be involved with their continued development, and what they want … literally, what the sovereign nation of Afghanistan wants,” he said.

“You can also count on us to match the mission to the number of troops and to keep three things in equilibrium as we get there,” Dempsey said. “… The mission, retrograding equipment and people out, and the protection of the force.”

“Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd told Dempsey that as women begin to fill combat roles following the end to the ban against their serving on front lines, there is a movement on Capitol Hill to pass a law to make sure standards aren’t lowered for them.

Dempsey said there’s no need for such legislation.

“We are going to make sure that we have the right standards for the right jobs that maintain the readiness of the force,” he said.

“My primary responsibility is the readiness of the force, and I would do nothing to allow that to be undermined,” the chairman said, adding that a requirement exists for Congress to review the department’s actions in opening occupational specialties to women.

At that point, he noted, Congress will "have the opportunity to ask us what we’ve done to standards.”
Lifting the ban, Dempsey said, “really is about changing the paradigm from one of exclusiveness to inclusiveness; to do the best job to make the best force for Joint Force 2020. We’ve got to … make sure we’ve got the right talent force, and this is part of that.”

Pentagon Chiefs Say Senators Should Focus on Current Issues

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2013 – The Pentagon’s senior leaders offered some pointed advice -– basically, “pay attention to the issues” -- to the Senate Armed Services Committee during two television interviews that aired today.

Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, sat side-by-side and responded essentially with one voice to questions about defense secretary nominee Chuck Hagel’s Jan. 31 confirmation hearing before that committee. They offered their assessment of the turbulent 8-hour proceedings during joint interviews with both CNN’s Candy Crowley on “State of the Union” and NBC’s Chuck Todd on “Meet the Press.”

President Barack Obama announced in January his nomination of Hagel to succeed Panetta, who will retire. Hagel is a Vietnam combat veteran who earned two Purple Hearts during his 1967-68 enlistment. After a business career during which he founded a cellular phone company, Hagel won election to two Senate terms representing Nebraska, ending in 2009.

The secretary, a who served nine terms in Congress as representative for California’s 16th congressional district, observed during his responses on the “Sunday shows” that “the political knives were out” during the hearing.

Panetta noted to Todd that much of the committee’s questioning focused on statements Hagel had made, sometimes in the Senate, during previous administrations. The committee’s members, he said, largely neglected the issues the now confront the nominated leader of the Defense Department.
“What about the war in Afghanistan?” the secretary asked. “What about the war on terrorism? What about the budget sequester and the impact it’s going to have on readiness? What about Middle East turmoil? What about cyber attacks? All of the issues that confront a secretary of defense – frankly, … we just did not see enough time discussing those issues, and in the end, that’s what counts.”

While the Senate has yet to vote on the nomination, Hagel is “absolutely” prepared to step into his own current role leading the department, Panetta said.

“I know Chuck Hagel,” the secretary told Crowley. “And I think he's got good experience with regards to public service. He understands the issues of the Defense Department. I think he'll be a great secretary of defense.”

The chairman agreed with the secretary’s view of the hearing and zeroed in on the current conflict, telling Todd he, too, was “somewhat surprised at the things that weren’t discussed in depth” during the proceedings.

“I’m always concerned when Afghanistan isn’t prominent in any conversation we’re having as Americans, because we’ve got 68,000 young men and women serving there,” Dempsey said.
The general said he’s had a chance to get to know Hagel and get to know his opinions on strategic issues.

“We had several opportunities to talk about strategy, and I found him well-prepared and very thoughtful,” the chairman said.

Dempsey noted he wouldn’t by principle criticize a “potential boss,” but added, “I think he’s got great credentials. My personal contacts with him have been very positive. And if he’s confirmed, I look forward to working with him.”

Southcom Speeds Medications to Brazil for Nightclub Victims

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2013 – Medication to treat victims suffering from the tragic Jan. 27 nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, funded by and transported through coordination by U.S. Southern Command, are scheduled to arrive in Brasilia today, Southcom officials reported.

Southcom partnered with the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia, the Brazilian Ministry of Health, American Airlines, Miami Dade Aviation and the Transportation Security Administration to secure the rapid transport of the medication, officials said.

The Brazilian Ministry of Health submitted a request to the U.S. Embassy in Brasilia for 140 doses of the drug Cyanokit to treat victims exposed to cyanide poison when the fire ignited acoustic foam insulation inside the club, they said.

Southcom, in turn, worked with the Defense Logistics Agency to secure the medication under an existing contract with Meridian Medical Technologies. The command used funds from its humanitarian assistance program to pay for the drugs, valued at more than $97,000, officials said.
Southcom also coordinated transport of the medication from St. Louis to Brazil via Miami by working closely with Miami Dade Aviation, TSA and American Airlines. The drugs are scheduled to arrive today aboard an American Airlines flight. In Brasilia, they will be turned over to local health ministry officials to immediately distribute to health care facilities treating victims exposed to the poison, officials said.

The command is one of six geographically focused, unified commands within the Defense Department. It is responsible for U.S. military operations in the Caribbean, Central America and South America.

Rasmussen: NATO Must be Ready for Any Future Threat

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

MUNICH, Feb. 2, 2013 – On the second day of the Munich Security Conference, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told the international audience here that the end of the war in Afghanistan gives the alliance a chance to plan for the future.

The end in 2014 of NATO’s biggest operation gives NATO a chance to generate key capabilities, engage robustly with new geopolitical realities and rebalance its priorities and commitments, he said.
“In other words, an opportunity to plan for the future,” Rasmussen said, adding that such a plan must determine what NATO will do next, how NATO will do it, and what kind of alliance it will be.
“We will continue to respond to crises whenever and wherever the allies judge their security interests are at stake because this is our core business,” the secretary-general said.

“When I look at our world, I see an arc of crises stretching from the Sahel to Central Asia,” he added, “[but] … this does not mean we will have to intervene everywhere nor that we are set for confrontation. But it does mean we must stand ready to deter and defend against any threat.”

Rasmussen said NATO must keep its operational edge and retain a complete range of capabilities, with increased importance for missile and cyber defense and special operations forces.

“Missile defense is a core element of our collective defense,” he added, “and the deployment of Patriot missiles to Turkey is a real response to a real threat.”

Many European allies contribute to NATO’s missile defense system, but Rasmussen said he can envision European navies upgrading their ships with missile defense radars and interceptors so they can deploy alongside United States vessels.

“We must also improve our cyber resilience,” he said, describing a potentially critical role for NATO in defining a common training approach among allies and in providing expert help to allies who come under cyber attack.

“We will also need forces with the skills and speed to act decisively,” Rasmussen said, envisioning a vital role for NATO’s new Special Operations Forces Headquarters in planning and coordinating missions and improving the ability of allied special operations forces to work together.

To make sure that NATO remains the gold standard of Euro-Atlantic security into the 21st century, he said, the alliance must build on its gains from operations like its International Security Assistance Force mission in Afghanistan “rather than cash in what some may perceive as a post-ISAF dividend.”

A better choice is to reinvest the ISAF dividend in defense for a maximum return, Rasmussen said, including through NATO’s Connected Forces -- which seeks to create forces that act and think as one -- and its Smart Defense initiatives.

NATO’s multinational response force can deploy quickly when needed, but Rasmussen wants the alliance to revitalize that force, he said, “to keep our ability to train and operate together as allies and with partners, take advantage of the United States’ decision to rotate dedicated units to Europe and conduct more demanding, realistic and frequent exercises.”

The NATO Response Force should become the engine of the alliance’s future readiness, he added, and multinational cooperation is key to keeping costs down and capabilities strong.

Rasmussen sees NATO connecting more closely with the alliance’s most able operational partners, reinforcing its cooperation with the United Nations and the European Union, deepening its strategic relationship with Russia and shifting from operational engagement to operational readiness.
Such readiness and flexibility come at a cost, he added.

“In the decade since 2001, the U.S. share of NATO defense expenditure has increased from 63 percent to 72 percent,” the secretary-general said, and in the last few years all but three European allies have cut their defense budgets.

“I am concerned about this gap in defense spending but I am even more concerned by the gap in some key capabilities,” he added.

To correct this, Rasmussen said, he would like to see the alliance moving toward a day when no single ally provides more than 50 percent of certain critical capabilities.

“This will require European allies to do more,” Rasmussen said, adding that a strong European contribution to NATO’s capabilities will sustain a strong U.S. commitment to NATO.

All allies must also show the political will to support each other, living up to NATO’s role as the political forum for transatlantic consultations on common security concerns, he said, “ … because now and after 2014, we can only stay successful together.”

Europe Remains Cornerstone of U.S. Engagement, Biden Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2013 – Europe remains the cornerstone and catalyst for America’s engagement with the world, Vice President Joe Biden said in Munich today.

The vice president spoke at the annual Munich Security Conference, where he also addressed the situation with Iran and what the nations of the world can do together to confront the terrorist threat.
The Munich Conference is one of the preeminent gatherings of security leaders in the world, and Biden is not stranger to the group. As a senator on the Foreign Relations Committee he often journeyed to Munich and he last addressed the body in 2009, as the newly elected vice president.

The sanctions the world has placed on Iran are working, the vice president said. He stated that the U.S. position on Iran is not containing the rogue nation from gaining nuclear arms, but preventing it. “We’ve also made clear that Iran’s leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation and international isolation,” he said. “There is still time, there is still space for diplomacy, backed by pressure, to succeed. The ball is in the government of Iran’s court, and it’s well past time for Tehran to adopt a serious, good-faith approach.”

Biden contrasted what the world was like when he last addressed the conference in 2009. “Four years ago, the world was mired in the deepest economic downturn since the Great Depression,” he said. “Today, times remain tough for too many American and European families -- but conditions are improving.”

The United States and European nations must work to put their economies on a sound footing, he said. That, after all, is the key to national power and influence, Biden added.

In 2009, al-Qaida was on the ascendancy, the vice president said. “Osama bin Laden was alive and well and plotting against our countries, inspiring followers,” he said. “Now, as a result of the joint efforts of all of our countries and renewed and relentless focus on counterterrorism, the cooperation of our law enforcement agencies, and President [Barack] Obama’s unflinching determination to bring Osama bin Laden to justice, … we’ve made progress. We’ve dealt that organization, al-Qaida, a crippling blow, [and] made all our homelands more secure.”

Now it is the affiliates of al-Qaida that pose the danger, he said. Affiliates in Yemen, Somalia, North Africa, Iraq and Syria, while not posing the same threat as the original group, still are dangerous. “Increasingly they are targeting Western interests overseas,” he said. “That’s why we have been just as relentless in taking them on.”

These extremists are exploiting porous borders, broad swaths of ungoverned territory, readily available weapons and “a swelling generation of disaffected young people whose futures are stifled by stagnant economies,” he said.

The solution is not to spend billions on defense, but to reach out and engage these nations and peoples, Biden said. “It will take a comprehensive approach -- employing the full range of the tools at our disposal -- including our militaries,” he said. “That’s why the United States applauds and stands with France and other partners in Mali, and why we are providing intelligence support, transportation for the French and African troops and refueling capability for French aircraft. The fight against (al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb) may be far from America’s borders, but it is fundamentally in America’s interest.”

Biden noted there has been progress over the past four years in many areas, but much remains to be done. The issues confronting the United States and Europe are solvable, he said, but the nations must work together closely to address those issues.

Over the next four years, he said, the United States wants to advance a comprehensive nuclear agenda to strengthen nonproliferation; combat climate change; enhance initiatives to promote global health and food security and end extreme poverty; and strengthen alliances.

“As I hope we’ll all agree, although our mutual agenda has shifted over the past four years, one important thing remains unchanged: We need to work together; we need to stick together,” Biden said. “We need you as much as you need us. Neither the United States nor any other country can alone address the challenges we face.”