Monday, February 04, 2013

Cope North 2013 kicks off on Guam

by Master Sergeant Joshua Gray
Cope North 2013 Combined Information Bureau

2/4/2013 - Cope North 2013 Public Affairs, Andersen AFB -- ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam - If there's anything members of today's military can count on, it is that they never know what is going to happen, and when it does, the people they'll be working with probably won't be wearing the same uniform as them. With that in mind, more than 1,700 Airmen from the U.S. Air Force, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force, and the Royal Australian Air Force kicked off Exercise Cope North 13 here February 4th.

Cope North is a multilateral field training exercise, hosted by Pacific Air Forces, aiming to improve the ability of all three nations to work together in any environment possible.

"President Obama has asked us to rebalance our forces to the Pacific region of operations, so we can ensure we are geographically distributed as well as politically sustainable and operationally resilient," said Col. Peter Milohnic, U.S. Exercise Director and Commander of the 18th Operations Group at Kadena Air Base, Japan. "Cope North gives us an excellent chance to practice our strategy of collaboration at a very personal level with our Pacific allies, so that when something happens and we all need to work together, it isn't the first time we're working together."

Large force employment operations involving fighter, refueling, bomber and tanker operations will run throughout the two weeks the exercise is scheduled for, but the focus of the first week of the exercise will be humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations on Guam and the nearby island of Tinian.

"We've been involved in a lot of disaster relief operations in the Pacific in the last decade. From the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004 to Operation Tomodachi in Japan in 2010, we've had a lot of experience in humanitarian operations," said Colonel Milhonic. "The RAAF also does a lot of disaster relief both in Australia and the surrounding islands, so there is a lot of value added to getting together and sharing all we've learned."

The second week will consistent primarily of air combat operations consisting of the three nations flying 15 different airframes together against F-16Cs from the 18th Aggressor Squadron based at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

While training for these scenarios is certainly nothing new for the nations taking part, there are some elements of the exercise that will make their Cope North debut.

"There are several firsts during Cope North 2013 to include this being the first time JASDF and RAAF will bring air refueling capable aircraft to Cope North. The JASDF will participate in humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) representatives will observe the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations." Milohnic added.

The exercise, now in its 84th iteration, has been held exclusively on Guam since 1999.

PACAF C-17 demo team departs for Aero India

by Staff Sgt. Terri Barriere

2/4/2013 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The Pacific Air Forces C-17 demo team departed base Jan. 31 en route to Bangalore, India, to showcase the diverse capabilities of the C-17 Globemaster III at the bi-annual international tradeshow Aero India 2013.

The team is scheduled to perform for the more than 250, 000 expected attendees Feb. 6-10.

Maj. Kenneth Kirkpatrick, 535th Airlift Squadron and PACAF demo team lead, said the airshow will provide a platform for the C-17 to demonstrate its precise maneuvering capabilities to the international community while also giving the host country's government an opportunity to see its latest aircraft purchase in action.

The largest tradeshow of its kind in India, Aero India is expected to draw more than 29 different countries and 675 companies to the multi-day event.

"Ultimately, we attend Aero India to show support for India ... that's our main purpose," Kirkpatrick said. "However, it doesn't hurt to show our enemies what we can do and that the Air Force is present. I think seeing our aircraft capability in action is definitely good for deterrence."

During the show, the PACAF demo team will execute high angle take-offs, high speed passes, low speed configured passes, 360 degree maneuvers and an assault landing. A media flight and ground static display will round out the team's participation providing maximum exposure for the multi-purpose aircraft.

In addition to capitalizing on the opportunity to strengthen relations with India, participating in the airshow also provides an excellent training opportunity for the demo team.

"When we fly demos it teaches us how to fly in tight spaces and helps us in our everyday flying," Kirkpatrick said. "It really helps strengthen our skills in flying more precisely."

Promoting interoperability also remains a key component in the demo team's participation in the international event.

"This is a big deal ... huge," said Lt. Col. William Berck, 535th AS director of operations. "This is more than just an airshow, it's a theater engagement for PACOM and allows us a chance to engage nation to nation. It's a fantastic opportunity for us to demo our capability to our allies and for us to engage with our nation's partners, build relationships and discuss the benefits of our interoperability."

The U.S. has been participating in Aero India since 2005.

Carter Visits Turkish Defense Leaders, U.S. Patriot Battery Troops

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

ANKARA, Turkey, Feb. 4, 2013 – On his first official visit to this prosperous capital as deputy defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter spent the day with Turkish defense leaders, then traveled southeast to Gaziantep near the Syrian border to examine the first of two U.S. Patriot missile batteries to be located there.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton B. Carter speaks to troops on arrival on a Turkish army base at Gaziantep, Turkey, Feb. 4, 2013. Carter was there to see Patriot missile batteries installed with the help of U.S. forces to help deter potential incursions by Syrian forces. DOD photo By Glenn Fawcett.

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
But Carter’s first stop was the U.S. Embassy here on Atatürk Boulevard, where on Friday a suicide bomber attacked a checkpoint on the embassy’s perimeter, killing Mustafa Akarsu, a guard in his forties and the father of two teenagers.
At the embassy today, Ambassador Frank Ricciardone ordered the American flag flown at half-staff until sunset on Wednesday, and the embassy operated on a reduced-manning schedule.

Those who did come to work to support the deputy secretary’s planned visit observed a moment of silence at 1:13 p.m., exactly 72 hours after the bomb went off. The explosion blew out checkpoint windows, creating scattered debris, wounding several people and ending Akarsu’s own life as he attempted to save the lives of his colleagues and friends.

Carter met with the ambassador this morning and walked the blast site. He then met with Akarsu’s coworkers in the local guard force and with the embassy’s seven Marine Corps guards. He also met  -- in person and by telephone and digital video conference -- with about 45 embassy staff members from Ankara, Istanbul and the consulate in Adana, as well as with U.S. staff members from Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base.
After the bombing, Carter told the embassy staff, “the ambassador called me and said, ‘Do you still want to come?’ And I said, ‘One blankety-blank isn’t going to stop us.’”

Carter said that later in the day he would visit the 80 or so Army troops manning and supporting the NATO-led U.S. deployment of two Patriot missile batteries at Gaziantep “because that … stands for the strength of our alliance and the willingness of America to stand with Turkey at this moment of danger, when so many unsettled things are happening in Syria [that] pose a threat to the people of Turkey.”

The deputy secretary added, “We stand with the people and the government of Turkey, and missile defense is just one way we are doing that.”

This afternoon Carter began meeting with Turkish defense leaders.

At the Ministry of National Defense, he and Undersecretary of Defense for Industries Murad Bayar met and discussed three major U.S.-Turkey defense acquisition efforts.

Later, at the Ministry of National Defense, Carter met with Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz, and both made statements ahead of their discussion.

“This unfortunate incident [involving the death of Mustafa Akarsu] has again shown us that the new [era] is one in which cooperation between countries has become more important than ever,” Yilmaz said, adding, “The fight against terrorism has great importance and calls for sustained cooperation.”

In his remarks, Carter said he planned his trip to Turkey to discuss with Yilmaz and other leaders the military-to-military cooperation long shared by the United States and Turkey in … counterterrorism, missile defense and every other area of cooperation.”

For decades, he added, the United States “has been pleased and honored to be your partners … [and] we thank the government of Turkey for everything it does to combat terrorism with us.”

Later in the day, Carter traveled to a military facility in Gaziantep, just over 60 miles from Aleppo, Syria, where one U.S. Patriot battery is operational and another will be moved from nearby Incirlik as soon as the grounds at the base are prepared for its massive components and the troops required to operate the systems.
The Patriot missile system uses ground-based radar to find, identify and track incoming missile targets. The system can lock onto an incoming missile that’s up to 50 miles away. The system can even be made to operate automatically.

Patriot missiles, each weighing nearly a ton, launch from ground-based batteries. A battery is made up of MIM-104 surface--to-air missiles; a launcher that holds, transports, aims and launches the missiles; an MPQ-53 or MPQ-65 radar antenna for detecting incoming missiles; an equipment van called an engagement control station that holds computers and consoles to control the battery; and power-plant truck with two 150-kilowatt generators that power the radar antenna and van. Each Patriot missile battery can have up to 16 launchers.

At the missile launch site, Carter spoke with about 18 soldiers -- men and women -- who operate the site, and then spoke with 80 more in a small theater near the battery site. They’re assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 2nd Air Defense Artillery Regiment, based on Fort Sill, Okla.

“I’m so pleased that two days ago you rolled all the way in from Incirlik with all this fantastic equipment,” Carter told the troops.

“Your country is watching and the world is watching and what they see is this magnificent performance,” he added. “The good people of Gaziantep see it and the good people of Turkey see it and the good people of the Middle East see it and your country sees it. And you know what? The bad guys see it too.”

Carter told the young men and women that they’re doing a significant thing.

“When you place your next call,” the deputy secetary said, “whether it’s to a spouse or your mom and dad, kids, if you have them, or good friends … tell them that you were thanked today by the leadership of your department, the leadership of your country, for what you’re doing here.”

Tonight, after leaving Turkey, Carter will travel to Amman, Jordan, to meet on Tuesday with U.S. Embassy personnel and government and defense leaders. He’ll also have lunch with troops to thank them for their service to the nation.