Military News

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Alaska Reserve unit stands up Security Forces Squadron

by Capt. Ashley Conner
477th Fighter Group Public Affairs

3/6/2013 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 477th Security Forces Flight reached a new milestone when it transitioned to a squadron under the 477th Fighter Group here March 1.

Once the squadron reaches fully operational capability in 2015 the squadron will deploy as a unit. Until then they will be supporting their active duty counterparts on JBER.

"We are currently working on implementing a plan for the 477th Security Forces to augment the 673rd Security Forces," said Master Sgt. Hiram Gunter, 477th SFS. "It is important for the Total Force Integration relationship that the Reserve unit is able to send highly qualified security forces members to step in and share the burden of securing this installation. "

During this phase when the squadron is transitioning from initial operating capability to full operational their main objectives are recruiting, training and preparing.

"We are running our Airmen through a simulated use of force scenarios in the Engagement Skill trainer, conducting field operations such as land navigation. All of these training opportunities will hone our skills and keep them sharp when we are called upon for real world missions," said Gunter.

Currently the squadron has 19 of its 54 positions manned and all are Traditional Reservists, meaning their military obligation would be one weekend a month and two weeks a year.

"The establishment of any military unit is an important event, but perhaps more so for a Reserve unit as we provide opportunities for Alaskans to serve our Nation and remain in Alaska," said Col. Tyler Otten, 477th Fighter Group commander. "Anyone who is separating from Active Duty, graduating high school or simply looking for a way to serve part-time as a Security Forces Specialist, we now have a security forces squadron added to our organization allowing you to serve where you live."

Special Operations Promote Global Partnership Capacity

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 – U.S. Special Operations Command’s commander today described to Capitol Hill legislators the importance of expanding global partnerships and training authorities over multiple years to continue meeting mission goals as the 2014 drawdown in Afghanistan nears.

“Our direction here as we push toward a vision for [special operations forces] 2020 is about building partner capacity,” Navy Adm. William H. McRaven said at the House Armed Services Committee defense authority review.

While there are a number of authorities that enable the command to engage in numerous joint capability, exercise and training programs, most are only one-year funding authorities, McRaven said.

“As you begin to build a partner’s capacity, you want … a five-year plan or a 10-year plan because it takes time to build capacity if you want to do it right,” he said.

McRaven noted successful partnerships with nations such as Colombia, where in 2002, special operations forces helped foil the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia—People’s Army.
Socom also seeks military construction funding to build training facilities and barracks that will aid longer-term capacity-building, he added.

The admiral noted that although about 85 percent of deployed special operations forces are currently in the U.S. Central Command area of operations, additional partnership-building capacity will be needed to fulfill new missions around the world.

“This is about strengthening our alliances, building our network … and my expectation is that I’ll be able to take that capacity coming out of Afghanistan and be able to push [it] to other combatant commanders,” McRaven said.

92nd SFS earns AMC level award

by Senior Airman Taylor Curry
92nd Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs

3/5/2013 - FAIRCHILD AIR FORCE BASE, Wash. -- The 92nd Security Forces Squadron was honored for the third time since 2007 as the best medium-sized SFS unit in Air Mobility Command for the year.

"This is validation of hard work that the 92nd SFS has shown during the past year," said Maj. Garon Shelton, 92nd SFS commander. "The squadron was one of three security forces units in AMC rated "outstanding" in the last Operational Readiness Inspection."

Amongst its many accomplishments, the squadron was responsible for training more than 700 Airmen on more than 35 Ability to Survive and Operate core tasks. ATSO prepares Airmen to survive in a chemically or biologically contaminated environment.

"The squadron spent over 240 hours of training and preparation for this exercise," said Master Sgt. Daniel Merrill, 92nd SFS NCO in-charge of intel fusion cell.

The 92nd SFS was the first security forces unit in AMC to go from 12-hour shifts, to 10-hour shifts.

"A big challenge faced during the last year was getting Airmen out of 12-hour shifts and integrating civilian officers into the flight rotations allowing defenders more time to spend on physical training, with their families and working on their education," said Shelton.

The squadron's defenders responded to more than 800 incidents including DUIs, domestic disturbances, vehicle accidents and traffic citations.

"Our defenders work extremely hard by keeping people safe," said Tech. Sgt. Levi Wilson, 92nd SFS military working dog handler. "It makes me feel proud that we go above and beyond every year. It's time to repeat that effort this year."

The unit also thwarted a hostile gate runner, defused a five-hour bomb threat, and ensured the safety of more than 9,000 members of the base populace.

"You don't earn this award with only a handful of high-speed individuals, it's a team," said Merrill. "Our strategy is you always plan for the worst case scenario and strive for the very best."

U.S. Must Demonstrate Commitment to Mideast, Mattis Says

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 – Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis testified today about the potential for a perceived lack of U.S. commitment to the Middle East as forces draw down in Afghanistan.

Appearing before the House Armed Services Committee here, the commander of U.S. Central Command explained his concern and suggested ways how the U.S. can demonstrate its commitment to the region.

“The drawdown of our forces can be misinterpreted as a lack of attention, a lack of commitment to the region,” he said. “Obviously that's a misinterpretation of what we're doing. Those forces were sent there for missions that are going away.”

The U.S. should conduct military exercises through its military-to-military contacts with Middle East countries, Mattis said, and have their officers attend U.S. military schools to help demonstrate an unwavering U.S. interest in this critical part of the world.

Mattis also said Middle Eastern leaders cite U.S. “budget ambiguity” as “probably the single greatest factor” at the moment.

“I'm asked about it everywhere I go in the region by the regional leaders [and] the national leaders there,” Mattis said. “And I think we're at a point … [where] budget ambiguity is now starting to drive our strategy.

“What we could use most is some degree of budget predictability,” he added, “like any household or business in America needs to run an operation.”

The U.S. military also requires “some time to make those [budget] cuts right,” Mattis said, as well as “a certain amount of flexibility for the service chiefs so that they can make the cuts in a way that has the least risk.

“Combined with that, and a continuing straight message that we are committed, I think we can weather this current situation and reassure our friends and make certain none of our adversaries think this is an opportunity,” he added.

Mattis noted he believes “the most important point” is that open lines of communication are maintained with regional partners.

“They want to carry their share of the burden, in many cases,” he added. “They are eager to do so.
“And by good intelligence sharing, by good cross-component training with our various components and their components,” he continued, ”we can put ourselves in a position where we're not carrying this entire burden ourselves.”

Mattis also addressed the pace of the drawdown, praising President Barack Obama’s plan to reduce the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan leading up to December 2014.

“The way we are drawing down right now with the president's plan allows us to keep our troop strength in the field for the next year,” Mattis said. “[This] sends a message in itself, and we will then draw down after this fighting season.

“Further, we're going to maintain about half the troops we have there now through the [Afghan] election,” he continued. “[This] shows a commitment to an election that will get the country on the right path, I think, in terms of showing a sustained commitment to democracy and solving our problems through the democratic process rather than picking up AK-47s.”

Mattis noted there hasn’t been a specific date set for the Afghanistan election, but it will likely be in April or May 2014.

Meanwhile, he said, there’ll be “approximately a 34,000-person drawdown [in U.S. military personnel in Afghanistan] between now and February of 2014. So that will keep the bulk of our troops there through the fighting season this year.”

Another drawdown, Mattis said, “will probably commence after the Afghan election in April or May to help them get through their election in April-May of 2014.”

A third point, he said, is although Afghan President Hamid Karzai hasn’t yet decided when the Afghan election will be held, there will be an enduring force there.

Obama and NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen have both said there will be a continued coalition presence in Afghanistan, Mattis said.

“Enough to buttress the Afghan security forces and keep them strong and on the right track as they continue to mature,” he added.

Yesterday, the Senate confirmed that Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, currently the vice chief of staff of the Army, will succeed Mattis as the next commander of U.S. Central Command. Mattis is slated to retire this year.

Special Ops Commander, Congress Evaluate Human Rights Law

By Amaani Lyle
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 6, 2013 – The commander of U.S. Special Operations Command responded to lawmakers’ questions about the Leahy Amendment, which prohibits U.S. military assistance to foreign military units that violate human rights and restricts U.S. aid to abusive security forces overseas.

Navy Adm. William H. McRaven told the House Armed Services Committee that the “poison person, poison unit” policy mandates human rights vetting and applies to all U.S. military and law enforcement assistance worldwide.

Committee members referred to recent incidents in Mali, where some of that nation’s soldiers allegedly engaged in torture, summary executions, and kidnapping since fighting in northern Mali resumed in January 2013.

“We try to teach [foreign nation forces] what we think right looks like [from] good order and discipline, to civilian rules of the military to human rights,” McRaven said.

Socom units face the ongoing challenge of working with international partners to strengthen accountability efforts and civilian protection to help prevent further abuses.

But the law, the admiral acknowledged, inherently restricts special operations from offering assistance to units that may require U.S. assistance to practice ethical behavior.

“If the individual has committed a human rights violation, then by default we have to go back, relook the entire unit [and] potentially step away from that unit … at a time when we probably need to engage them more than ever before,” McRaven said.

McRaven assured legislators that U.S. forces conduct appropriate human rights vetting in accordance to the law and policy.