Military News

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

62nd AW honors local widows of Vietnam veterans

by Staff Sgt. Frances Kriss
62nd Airlift Wing Public Affairs


3/25/2013 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. -- The 62nd Airlift Wing hosted a ceremony March 23 to thank and honor Vietnam veterans and their family members living in the local area.

During the ceremony, 16 widows of Vietnam veterans were presented with a certificate of honor from the Department of Defense. The ceremony is part of the DOD's commemoration of the Vietnam War's 50th anniversary, which began May 28, 2012 and is a 13-year program dedicated to paying tribute to Vietnam veterans.

"A grateful nation thanks and honors you and your family for your service and sacrifice," said Col. Wyn Elder, 62nd AW commander and presiding officer for the ceremony. "Your husband answered our nation's call and proudly served in the footsteps of previous generations of American servicemen and women. It is a privilege to present you with this certificate of honor in recognition of the patriotism, service and sacrifice of your husband and family."

Elder emphasized the importance of the ceremony, which among other things, provides an opportunity for current service members to remember and thank those who served before them.

"Your husbands served during a very difficult time and I wish I could thank them personally for their service," he said. "I can't do that, but I can extend my thanks through you and for everything you have done to serve your country."

Many expressed gratitude and some were even surprised when they first took a glance at the certificates.

"I wish my husband was here to see this," said Janis Elliott, one of the honorees. "The certificates looked very nice and the ceremony was great."

The 2008 National Defense Authorization Act authorized the Secretary of Defense to conduct a program to commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Vietnam War and "in conducting the commemorative program, the Secretary shall coordinate, support, and facilitate other programs and activities of the federal government, state and local governments, and other persons and organizations in commemoration of the Vietnam War."

Medal of Honor Recipients Honor Civilian Heroes

By J.D. Leipold

Army News Service
WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – Twenty-one Medal of Honor recipients who put their lives on the line in extraordinary ways and circumstances paid tribute yesterday to four citizen-heroes who also went above and beyond for their fellow man.


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Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at an event at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial marking the 150th anniversary of the award of the first Medal of Honor and honoring citizen heroes in Washington, D.C., March 25, 2013. U.S. Army photo by J.D. Leipold
  

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The first Medal of Honor was presented March 25, 1863, to Union Army Pvt. Jacob Parrott. On the 150th anniversary of that event, more recent Medal of Honor recipients gathered at Arlington National Cemetery to honor fallen war heroes with a somber wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknowns.

Following the wreath-laying, the Medal of Honor recipients and civilian honorees they had selected from among 23 finalists moved to the nearby Women in Military Service for America Memorial for another ceremony.

There, those four civilians were honored with the "Citizen Service Before Self Honor." The Medal of Honor recipients presented the awards, placing the medals around the necks of the four civilian recipients. The event was sponsored by the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and Foundation.

Keynote speaker Marine Corps Sgt. Maj. Bryan B. Battaglia, the senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, opened the event by conveying what he felt in honoring the fallen at the Tomb of the Unknowns and praising the country's service members who have yet to return from the fight.

"The search light will never wear dim," he said. "For these men and women we mark more than just a mantra, but rather are duty-bound in lifelong obligation that we, in fact, will never forget. … It's an extreme honor and privilege to join each and every one of you here on these hallowed grounds where our warriors rest."

Battaglia directly addressed the 21 Medal of Honor recipients at the event. The soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines there had served in World War II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. He told them they are the embodiment of what the country's citizens, through Congress and the commander in chief, hold most sacred: the traits of courage, integrity, commitment, sacrifice, patriotism and citizenship.

"Of the medal awarded you, your most often quoted response is, 'I wear it for others,'" he said. "You wear it for those who came before us, those who bequeathed to us a nation. You wear it for those who stood with you in times of peril and strife. … You wear it for those who will come after."

Speaking then to the civilians who had earned the Citizen Service Before Self Honors award, Battaglia said the program preserves the ideals of the nation and of the Medal of Honor by seeking out those who either demonstrated lifesaving acts of bravery or those who have demonstrated extraordinary service to others for an extended time.

"This program recognizes that the cloth of our nation is woven in its communities," he said to the four citizen-heroes. "Like those who sit with you and before you, you've made a commitment to our nation, to our way of life, and like them, you will pass along a personal example of courage, integrity, commitment, sacrifice patriotism and citizenship."

This year's civilian honorees are:
-- Rev. Joe Carroll from San Diego, who became known as "The Hustler Priest" for the millions of dollars he's raised over 30 years for shelters and programs for the poor and homeless;
-- Marcos Ugart, 15, of Troutdale, Ore., who rescued a 7-year-old boy from his burning home by climbing a ladder, breaking through the window and pulling the youngster to safety; and
-- Father and son Jesse Shaffer III and Jesse Shaffer IV from Braithwaite, La., for rescuing 120 people by boat who had been left stranded in flooded streets during Hurricane Isaac in August 2012.

Multinational Peacekeeping Exercise Kicks Off in Nepal

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – U.S. Pacific Command’s deputy commander opened a multinational peacekeeping exercise in Nepal yesterday, praising planners and participants for the role they will play in promoting peace operations regionally and around the world.


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Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant, deputy commander of U.S. Pacific Command, lays a wreath with Nepalese officers at Exercise Shanti Prayas 2 at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Center in Panchkhal, Nepal, March 25, 2013. The multinational peacekeeping exercise is designed to build capacity and interoperability among partner nations. Photo courtesy of the Nepalese army
  

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Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Thomas L. Conant joined officials from the Nepalese army and the United Nations to kick off the Shanti Prayas 2 peacekeeping exercise at the Birendra Peace Operations Training Center in Panchkal.

The exercise, the second to be hosted by Nepal, is sponsored by the United States to train the Nepal army and Global Peace Operations Initiative partner nation militaries for U.N. peacekeeping missions. Representatives of 23 nations are participating in this year’s exercise.

Conant, expressing pride for his service as a U.N. peacekeeper in Somalia in 1994, challenged the group to take advantage of the opportunity to “learn and practice and latest in peacekeeping skills in a realistic environment, as well as to learn from each nation’s participants.”

As they increase their peacekeeping skills and ability to operate together, participants will strengthen multinational cooperation while contributing to regional peacekeeping capability, he said.

“This exercise will be no different, as participants prepare for important international missions that require the highest peacekeeping skill levels and use the latest U.N. doctrine,” he said.

Noting Nepal’s contributions to international peacekeeping, Nepalese Army Chief Gen. Gaurav SJB Rana emphasized the importance of sharing experiences, best practices and lessons learned to prepare participants for the challenges of peacekeeping missions.

Shanti Prayas 2 includes a senior training seminar, staff exercise and field training exercise.

Eleven platoons from 11 nations participating in the FTX are working to enhance their tactical training, organizational tactics, techniques and procedures. Senior leaders from Bangladesh, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Nepal, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and the United States are attending the four-day senior training seminar, which concludes today.

In addition, 84 officers from 24 nations participating in the staff exercise are focused on improving their operations, logistics and planning capabilities and U.N. civil-military coordination.

Conant and his Nepalese hosts laid a wreath on a Peacekeepers Memorial to honor those killed in the line of duty promoting international peace.

The U.S. State Department’s Global Peace Operations Initiative was established in 2004 to build partner-nation capabilities in peace support operations. The goal, Conant explained, is to increase the pool of military troops and police units trained and available for deployment and to provide the required preparation, logistical and deployment support they may require.

Within six years of its inception, the program trained and equipped 75,000 peacekeepers worldwide, primarily in Africa. The focus now has shifted to the Asia-Pacific region, with an emphasis on humanitarian assistance and disaster response operations, Conant said.

AFGSC chaplain programs give Airmen tools to succeed

by Airman 1st Class Joseph A. Pagán Jr. and Ms. Carla Pampe
Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs


3/26/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- In Air Force Global Strike Command, respect for the worth and dignity of every Airmen is one of the command's eight values. With that in mind, programs are in place throughout the command to promote resiliency, family readiness, financial health and more.

To help strengthen Airmen's spiritual health, Air Force Global Strike Command's chaplain office recently received funds from Headquarters Air Force to support resiliency programs at the five bases assigned to AFGSC. These will be distributed equally to each base chaplain office for resiliency programs like retreats, workshops and seminars.

While the retreats were restricted to marriage care in previous years, the chapel offices are now broadening the types of retreats to include single Airmen, single parents and divorced parents, said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Gregory Jans, AFGSC staff chaplain.

"Airmen are asked to give so much, and their families sacrifice so much," he said. "Through these programs, we are equipping Airmen and their families with the tools needed to deal with stress."

Each wing may choose any program they believe works for the Airmen at their base, Jans added.

"The Malmstrom Chapel is planning on using the funds for a MarriageCare retreat in July and a Single Airmen retreat in August," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Clyde Dyson, 341st Missile Wing Malmstrom AFB, Mont., wing chaplain. "The MarriageCare retreat will focus on strengthening the marriages of 20 couples assigned here and the Singles retreat will enhance social networking and build new relationships as well as strengthen existing relationships for 40 single Airmen."

In addition to a MarriageCare event at their base, the Whiteman AFB, Mo., Chapel will also host "Storytellers."

The storyteller events will provide a venue for Airmen to relate stories of their past victories over personal stressors and/or trauma.

The goal of the funds is not to purposely create new programs, but to support effective initiatives already in place at Global Strike wings.

"Any time we can help the wing chapels do great resiliency events and put more of them on, that's going to bless Airmen and their families, which ultimately supports the AFGSC mission," Jans said.

While Warrior Care is the Chaplain Corp's number one priority, the AFGSC Chaplain's Office is also focusing time and effort on the priority of caring for the caregivers.

"Listening to the problems others are going through, and helping them through those issues can be stressful in and of itself," Jans said, "so even in these austere times we are doing a developmental day with each of our chaplain teams to ensure that we refill the water in their wells."

The first developmental day was held at Whiteman March 11, and two others have been scheduled for April and May. All five base chaplain teams will have a developmental day by the end of the year.

"We're focusing on the nine elements of leadership," Jans said. "It's about growing and understanding ourselves in caregiving - what drains a person, what energizes a person and how to work together as a team."

The goal with all of these programs is to ensure AFGSC Airmen have the spiritual tools they need to succeed.

"We know that stressors right now are huge, and helping replenish people's spirits is always a good thing," Jans said.

North Korean Threats Help No One, Pentagon Official Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – The newest threats by North Korea follow a well-worn pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.
According to news reports out of North Korea this week, long-range artillery and strategic rocket units have been ordered to prepare to deploy.

The United States is concerned by any activities on the Korean Peninsula that could raise tensions, Little said in a meeting with reporters. “It's not just artillery,” he noted. “North Korea has nuclear capabilities, so the full range of their arsenal is of concern to the United States and to our South Korean allies.”

North Korea's threats help no one, Little said, and serve only to further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in the region.

The decision earlier this month to place 14 additional ground-based interceptors at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif., was based in large part on growing threats from North Korea, Little said.

In addition to the recent mobilization order, in recent months North Korea has conducted nuclear testing, placed a satellite into orbit and continued development of its intercontinental missile program. "The facts are that the North Koreans are developing their missile capabilities in violation of international law and norms of international behavior,” Little said, “and they need to stop.”

The chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the U.S. general who commands the U.S.-Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command announced March 24 that they had signed a combined plan to counter threats from North Korea. The classified agreement is led by the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff and supported by U.S. Forces Korea, Little said. The agreement is part of a robust architecture supporting a larger joint planning effort that has been under way for some time, he added.

“We are moving forward to take new steps on a combined command and control structure for the [U.S.-South Korea] alliance,” Little said. The counter-provocation plan serves as a representation of the continued development of strategic, operational and tactical cooperation, he said.

"It improves our combined readiness posture and allows immediate and decisive response to any North Korean provocation,” Little added.

“It's very important that we do everything we can to stabilize the peninsula and not take rhetoric to where it shouldn't go,” he said, “and that's what the North Koreans are doing right now, and that should cease."
The United States takes everything the North Korean government says and does seriously, Little said.

“We continue to urge North Korean leadership to heed the president's call to choose a path of peace and to come into compliance with North Korea's international obligations,” he added.

Marine Corps Prepares for Quadrennial Review Process

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 26, 2013 – The Marine Corps enters the Quadrennial Defense Review process confident that examination will show the Marines’ trajectory is on the right track, the Marine Corps’ representative to the process said here today.

At a Defense Writers Group roundtable, Maj. Gen. Kenneth F. “Frank” McKenzie Jr. noted that the Marine Corps is a naval force and said that capability will become even more important in the years and decades ahead.

The review -- due to Congress in February -- already is shaping up. Because much remains unknown -- such as budget factors -- the services are focusing on a range of possibilities in looking at the review, Pentagon officials said. Another unknown is whether the strategic defense guidance announced in January 2012 remains viable, with sequestration cuts almost doubling the spending cuts Pentagon officials had planned for over the next decade.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a strategic choices management review co-chaired by Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. Their conclusions will go to the secretary May 31. The conclusions will be used to set the terms of reference for the Quadrennial Defense Review, Pentagon officials said.

Whatever the terms might be, McKenzie said today, he believes the capabilities the Marine Corps brings to the joint battlefield will be valued.

“We think the shift to the Pacific, the national strategy that we’re following, [includes] all natural things for the Marine Corps,” he said, “and as we go into the process, we want to accentuate the capabilities we bring for the nation.”

The Marine Corps touts itself as the nation’s expeditionary force, but since 2001, that term has, perhaps, been overused, the general said. “‘Expeditionary’ has been eating bagels and steak on a [forward operating base] in Afghanistan, and that’s not quite the way the Marine Corps sees expeditionary,” he said.

The Marines’ definition of the term means moving fast and light, McKenzie said. It “is sleeping on the ground, living in a tent, living in a very austere environment,” he added. “We’re going to emphasize that.”
Expeditionary also means being a forward-deployed or rotationally deployed force. The best area in the spectrum of operations for the Marine Corps, the general said, is “on the left end, … shaping activities -- assurance activities, deterrence activities. Our capability is going to be on the early end. We can buy time, we can serve as a hedge force, we can provide a variety of services to deter potential foes, and we can also act this afternoon, not next week.”

The Marine Corps is not a second land Army, “and the country doesn’t need a second Marine Corps,” McKenzie said.

“Marine Corps capabilities are already bought and paid for,” he added. “They are not a dream of the future. They are a fact today.”

The Marine Corps continues to work closely with the U.S. Army, the general said. With the Army and Special Operations Command, the Marines have established a strategic land power office. This is still new, McKenzie said, but it could be an important factor ahead for both services.

Reiterating that the Marine Corps is a naval force, not a land force, the general said the service will emphasize that distinction during the Quadrennial Defense Review process.

Past QDRs have been incremental, but this one could be significant, McKenzie said.

“You’ve got the fiscal pressures. … You have a new strategy in effect, and, most importantly, you’ve got a new secretary of defense,” he added. “The timeliness is there for a consequential QDR.”