Military News

Tuesday, May 07, 2013

Army Adjusts to Changing, Uncertain World, Odierno Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2013 – The world is becoming more uncertain and the Army is adjusting, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray T. Odierno told the Defense Writers Group here today.

Odierno said his service is rebalancing toward the Pacific, even as it faces fiscal constraints.

He noted that seven of the largest armies in the world are in the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. Army has 60,000 soldiers in the region and soon will have a four-star commander at Fort Shafter, Hawaii, when Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks is promoted and takes command of U.S. Army Pacific on July 2.

The Army will engage with China and other nations in the Asia-Pacific region, Odierno said. Building partnerships in the region, he said, will foster understanding.

Meanwhile, new North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s bellicose rhetoric this year has rattled the region. The North Korean leader has threatened nuclear war, an invasion of South Korea, and artillery fire on Seoul.
“When the rhetoric gets that strong, you have to take it seriously,” Odierno said. “None of us … know exactly what this young leader wants to do or trying to gain.”

Odierno said the United States needs to ensure that plans are in place to deter conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

“Deterrence -- that we can react and support South Korea -- is very important in ensuring we don’t have conflict in the future,” he said.

The chief of staff said he’s comfortable with how the U.S. Army is positioned in South Korea. He said t Army may add some troops on the periphery, and also is looking at rotating units in and out of the country.
“This will enable us to stay modernized and at a high level of training,” he said.

Odierno recently returned from a trip to visit U.S. Africa Command.

“The United States has concerns about North Africa and Central Africa about terror groups spreading into ungoverned areas,” he said. “Africom is trying to be proactive in preventing safe havens from being established.”

Africom’s missions range from conducting joint exercises and joint training to rotating forces to build partner capacity, Odierno said.

“I see that as the future -- to an extent -- for all the combatant commands,” he said. “They have been aggressive in using the forces that they have.”

Odierno also visited U.S. Army Europe. A second brigade is coming out of Europe and that is going well, he said. The 5th Corps headquarters has returned from Afghanistan and will stand down by the summer.
“I think we are getting to the right footprint in Europe for the future,” he said.

Some NATO allies worry that the U.S. military will not stay connected with them, Odierno said. All U.S. leaders are working hard “to reinforce the fact that we are not walking away from NATO,” he said.

Odierno said the U.S. Army will provide a rotational brigade as part of the NATO Response Force.
“We will rotate forces over there to train with them and hold joint exercises,” he said.

Overall, the Army needs to be prepared to operate in many different scenarios, Odierno said.

“The Army needs to be prepared to serve, if called on, in Syria, Iraq, Iran, or in a failed Pakistan,” he said. “There’s a variety of threats out there that could cause us to respond based on the President’s decision. We have to be capable of doing that.”

Hagel Calls for Culture of Dignity, Respect in Military



By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 7, 2013 – Allegations of misconduct against an Air Force officer in charge of the service’s sexual assault prevention and response effort underscored the importance of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s effort to prevent sexual assault across the military.


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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel briefs reporters on the Defense Department's initiatives to prevent sexual assault and the results of the fiscal 2012 annual report on sexual assault in the military during a press conference at the Pentagon, May 7, 2013. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett
  

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Hagel began his Pentagon news conference Tuesday by discussing the incident in which the officer was arrested by Arlington County police and charged with sexual battery. “He's been removed from his position pending the outcome of this investigation,” the secretary said. “We’re all outraged and disgusted over these very troubling allegations.”

Hagel called sexual assault “a despicable crime” and said it is a serious challenge to the department. “It’s a threat to the safety and the welfare of our people and the health, reputation and trust of this institution,” he said.

He shifted to the annual report on sexual assault within the military the department delivered to Congress today. “This department may be nearing a stage where the frequency of this crime and the perception that there is tolerance of it could very well undermine our ability to effectively carry out the mission and to recruit and retain the good people we need,” he said. “That is unacceptable to me and the leaders of this institution. And it should be unacceptable to everyone associated with the United States military.”

Hagel called for a cultural change in the military with respect to sexual assault. He announced initiatives so “every service member is treated with dignity and respect, where all allegations of inappropriate behavior are treated with seriousness, where victims’ privacy is protected, where bystanders are motivated to intervene and where offenders know that they will be held accountable by strong and effective systems of justice.”
Hagel wants leaders to take this seriously and stressed the department will hold them responsible for putting in place programs to prevent sexual assault and to treat victims of the crime with compassion and justice.

Wing wins AFA Outstanding Unit award

by Tech. Sgt. Danielle Johnston
442nd Public Affairs office


5/3/2013 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo.  -- The 442nd Fighter Wing was annouced as the Air Force Association 2012 Oustanding Reserve Flying Unit April 23.

The award recognizes an AF Reserve wing that demonstrates superior performance and oustanding achievement throughout the year.

The wing was noted for seamlessly orchestrating a combined mission at four geographically separated units made up of more than 2,000 Airmen and 48 A-10 Thunderbolt IIs. Throughout 2012, the 442nd Fighter Wing trained and deployed 421 combat-ready Airmen to five nations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Not only did the wing contribute immensely to the flying mission, but it successfully completed a consolidated unit inspection and full established the Reserve's first fighter active association.

"I commend the wing on this tremendous achievement," said Col. Hubie Hegtvedt, who took command of the wing in April. "Based on my knowledge of this wing's history and my one month as part of it, it's not surprising that the wing is being recognized for superior performance and outstanding achievement."

Face of Defense: Soldier Aspires to Medical Degree

By Army Sgt. Tanya Van Buskirk
78th Training Division

FORT MCCOY, Wis., May 6, 2013 – Taking care of the force is something Army Staff Sgt. Megan Appleby feels is her lifelong calling.


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Army Staff Sgt. Megan Appleby, left, draws blood from a soldier during Warrior Exercise at Fort McCoy, Wis., May 4, 2013. The 4215th U.S. Army Hospital, based out of Richmond, Va., is providing medical support for the exercise. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Tanya Van Buskirk
  

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The 30-year-old Army veteran of 11 years, who has served both on active duty and in the Army Reserve as a laboratory technician, aspires to be an obstetric gynecologist.

A Lisbon, Iowa, native, Appleby is assigned to the 4215th U.S. Army Hospital command based in Richmond, Va. She said her passion for helping people started when she was very young.

“When I was little, the doctor that delivered my sisters and me was actually our doctor until we were 18 years old,” she explained. “Having that doctor who knew you from inside your mom’s stomach, and [having] that connection, is really amazing.”

Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., was Appleby’s first duty station from 2002 to 2006, and where she earned a bachelor’s degree in microbiology. In mid-2006, she transferred to the Army Reserve and began attending battle assemblies with the 7229th Medical Support Unit. She then transferred to her current unit.

Appleby was deployed to Kuwait in 2003. Being in an environment where there is a feeling of constant danger was scary, she said, but knowing she was surrounded by medical experts allowed her to focus on her job of caring for patients arriving for lifesaving care. That, she added, is the driving force behind her pursuit of a medical career in the military.

Appleby is taking her medical school entrance exam and applying to the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences to continue her service and military career. The program is a 14-year commitment, she said: four years of classroom studies, three years of residency and seven years of service and commissioning as a captain.

“I look forward to the challenge,” she added, “because I enjoy both medicine and serving my country.”

In midst of Syrian crisis, Mobility Airmen deliver aid

by Maj. Michael Meridith
18th Air Force Public Affairs


5/6/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill. -- Mobility Airmen delivered the first shipment of nonlethal U.S. aid to the armed Syrian opposition April 30.

The shipment, transported by a regionally-based C-17 Globemaster III crew from the 385th Air Expeditionary Group, delivered approximately 43 tons of halal meals and medical supplies, and served as the initial response to the President's direction to provide up to $10 million in aid.

According to defense officials, the U.S., which is the largest humanitarian donor to the Syrian crisis, has provided more than $385 million in humanitarian assistance to date. Those efforts have aided more than 2.4 million people inside Syria and hundreds of thousands of refugees in neighboring countries.

The complex delivery effort, orchestrated by planners at U.S. European Command, U.S. Central Command, U.S. Transportation Command, the 18th Air Force and the 618th Air and Space Operations Center (Tanker Airlift Control Center) began weeks ago combining the efforts of Department of Defense and State Department officials across the globe.

"It was great to see so many people come together and overcome challenges to execute this complex mission with near flawless precision," said Chris Rosenthal, 18th Air Force's lead planner for the effort. "The most rewarding part is knowing that our efforts can make an important, positive difference for people who really need our help."

The operation is nothing new for the Mobility Air Forces. 18th Air Force Airmen have a history of providing life-saving aid in the wake of major humanitarian crises through their unique capabilities of airlift, air refueling and aeromedical evacuation. Those capabilities have delivered hope to those in need across the globe, including transporting French military forces to Mali to battle extremists, delivering Patriot missile batteries to bolster Turkey's defenses, and aiding in relief efforts during last year's Superstorm Sandy.

"As Airmen we live by the ideal that we are always ready to rapidly respond, whether in defense of an ally or in response to natural or manmade disasters," said Lt. Gen. Darren McDew, 18th Air Force commander. "Our Nation is reaching out to those brutalized by the Assad regime, and Mobility Airmen are proud to carry out that mission."

Travis reservists team up with Sacramento firefighters for toy drive

by Senior Airman Cindy G. Alejandrez
349th Public Affairs


5/1/2013 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif.  -- Members with the 349th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron gathered approximately 1,500 toys to support the Firefighters Burn Institute, a non-profit organization which supports treatment facilities such as the burn centers at U.C. Davis Medical Center and Shiners Hospital for Children in Sacramento.

The institute, comprised of Sacramento area firefighters, also holds camps, conventions and provides counseling for victims.

Jim Doucette, executive director for the institute met with members of the 349th AMXS Rising Six to thank them for the donated toys and to highlight the work done by the institute. He also thanked Staff Sgt. Marcus Carrion, 349th AMXS Rising Six executive director for coordinating the toy drive. Carrion, who is an electrical and environmental systems technician with 349th AMXS, is a volunteer firefighter with the Georgetown Fire Protection District and a volunteer for Firefighters Burn Institute.

Doucette also brought along burn victim Chris Cvitanov to share his story. Cvitanov, was badly burned in a fiery vehicle accident in 2005. Just after the accident he only had a three to five percent chance of survival. Thankfully, Cvitanov recovered but had suffered life altering damage to his body, including the loss of most of his left leg. He explained that his emotional recovery was also difficult but has been eased by his participation with the institute.

"It is an absolute gift for me to be a part of this organization," said Cvitanov. "This organization has changed the lives for people who do not have resources."

Tech. Sgt. Michael S. Sligh, 349th AMXS Rising Six president said that stories such as Cvitanov's motive himself and the rest of the Rising Six to volunteer for the institute and they voted to adopt the Firefighters Burn Institute as their charity of the year and hope others in the 349th AMW join them.

"Giving back gives people things to look forward to," said Sligh. "Travis (AFB) is so busy and it's hard to commit to other things but the 349th (AMW) is just awesome. They want to participate in things like this."

Sligh, an auto-flight instrument navigation specialist, explained that the Rising Six would like to look for new innovative ways to help the institute raise funds because volunteering helps the individual Airman become a better Wingman.

"Volunteering with the institute is beneficial to both groups because they are helping a charity that is local, and because they're local we can see the end results. It's nice that you can close that loop when you are working with the local community," said Carrion.

Cadets teach biosand water filtration efforts in Mozambique

by Don Branum
U.S. Air Force Academy Public Affairs


5/6/2013 - U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFNS) -- Americans take drinking water for granted. We use it not only to drink and to cook but to water our plants, to bathe and even to flush our toilets.

In other parts of the world, however, potable water is hard to come by. Without the infrastructure to treat and distribute water through plumbing, people are more likely to drink water straight from unfiltered sources. Contaminated water kills an estimated 2.2 million people annually, according to the United Nations Environment Program, in addition to 1.8 million children under age 5.

A group of cadets here sought to help. In March, Cadets 1st Class Matthew Scheie, Victoria Cachro, Evan Shawler and Ian Gibson traveled to Dunbo, Mozambique, and held a workshop, teaching residents how to build biosand water filters from readily available materials.

RESEARCH & DEVELOPMENT

The idea for an overseas trip began in the summer of 2011, when a cadet suggested a class that could combine civil engineering and cultural competencies, said Maj. Timothy Frank, the assistant professor of civil and environmental engineering for the Academy's Civil Engineering Department.

"There was no class that explicitly did that, so we created a course," Frank said. "We chose Mozambique because it was a Portuguese-speaking country from back in colonial times, and we had a Portuguese faculty member who was part of the planning process."

The course objective was for cadets to apply what they learned about Mozambique's culture and their knowledge of engineering to develop a technological answer to a social problem, Frank said. They decided to develop a biosand water filter: a 3-foot-tall concrete container filled with fine-grain sand that filters out diseases and other contaminants. University of Calgary researcher Dr. David Manz first developed the biosand filter in the 1990s.

"It's pretty simple, pretty low-tech," Frank said. "It was a great project."

The Centre for Affordable Water and Sanitation Technology recommends using a sieve to separate sand grains larger than 0.7 millimeter, calling larger grains too coarse for filtration. However, sieves are a limiting factor in many parts of the world, including Mozambique, Frank said.

Instead, the cadets used coarser sand, filtered through more common sieves such as window screens and mosquito nets, to build filters at the Academy. They ran untreated water from the Academy's water treatment plants through their biosand filters and tested the results, Scheie said.

"Hopefully I was in none of your classes, because we were the stinky students," Scheie said jokingly. "We were here playing with contaminated water every morning from January all the way through to spring break, running these tests to see how the largest-size BSF ran against the (CAWST) manual-referenced filter. What we found was comparable within tenths of a percent ... which is very promising."

THE TRIP

Frank put together a proposal to get funding from the international programs department for the trip to Mozambique. The travel was applicable to both a special topics course and an independent study course, and the students had not previously traveled on international programs-sponsored trips, two factors that the major said helped the proposal's chances. Another stand-out feature of the proposal was that cadets would become teachers, replicating a classroom environment in the field.

Meanwhile, Shawler and Gibson hit the phones to see if they could contact people who had previously worked in that part of Africa.

"We had some questions about Mozambique, about water filtration, about how accessible clean water is," Gibson said. "What we found is that there's not a lot of great data out there."

But the phone calls served a purpose. The cadets contacted Amy Gillespie, who volunteered in Mozambique for several years before coming to live in Colorado Springs. She provided them with contacts in Mozambique who have worked on water filtration.

Meyer, a Portuguese instructor in the foreign languages department here, connected the cadets with Youth With a Mission, which gave them a place to stay and hold their presentation during their trip.

The team did some more research once they were on the ground in Mozambique. Shawler and Gibson talked to business owners in country to find out more about the business environment.

"Our intent was to see how easy or difficult it was to own and operate a business in Mozambique: What are the government regulations and hoops that you have to jump through," Gibson said. "We certainly didn't know much about Mozambique, about the economy, but we (incorporated) some of the things we learned ... into the workshop."

Twenty-one people showed up to the first day of the multi-day workshop, Cachro said, including doctors from Argentina, missionaries from Brazil and local pastors and community leaders. They built a filter from scratch with help from two women, Berta and Zita, who have built a large number of water filters.

"That filter is still at Youth With a Mission, which was where we stayed," Cachro said. "It's at the preschool there. One of the gentlemen who was at the workshop, Sergio, is actually working and pouring water into the filter every day, taking care of it."

Shawler and Gibson took over the latter half of the workshop to talk about microlending, the practice of offering small loans to individuals who can use the money to start or expand small businesses.

"The connection we saw with biosand water filters -- a way to make this stick, to make it sustainable, to have the project not die after we left -- was to incorporate it into some sort of business idea," said Gibson, who along with Shawler runs a non-profit that offers microloans to individiauls in developing nations. "We understood we wouldn't have the ultimate solution for them. We understood that what we were bringing to them wouldn't necessarily be their 'fix' out of poverty. What we wanted was to leave the floor open to them."

The participants came up with three main ideas. The first was to provide the filters to communities, who would share the cost of using it. The second was to provide a clean water service, similar to a utility, where people could buy clean water. The third idea -- and Shawler's favorite -- was for the attendees to build more water filters, which they could sell to non-government organizations working in Africa.

RESULTS

The cadets talked about what they learned from the trip. Their major takeaway, Gibson said, was that they had to be attentive and open to cultural differences.

"On Day 1, we had what I would call a faux pas of sorts," he explained. "We started the workshop and briefly introduced ourselves. At the end of the day, we solicited feedback from the attendees."

The attendees commented that they wanted to know more about the cadets.

"They were very specific," Gibson said. "They wanted to know what our parents did; they wanted to know how old we were; they wanted to know whether we were married; a lot of very personal things that we weren't used to giving out.

"The next day, we took at least 30 or 45 minutes explaining in detail answers to each of those questions and explained to them why we were there and what passion we had for biosand water filters," he added.

Shawler said the cadets didn't try to foist their solutions as the only ones that would work.

"That allows them to introduce what they know about their communities, what they know about the people around them, to help best fit what we have into their programs or their communities," he said.

Frank said providing knowledge, rather than a tangible product, will carry benefits in the future. They also helped attendees develop contacts with others in the region who could help.

"We hope we were successful," he said. "Time will tell. We'll keep in contact with some of the people over there, and we'll see. But our hope is that (because) it was knowledge-based ... that it can be a sustainable project and live on."

The cadets had attendees write commitment statements on the workshop's last day.

"I received knowledge I didn't have before, and I will transmit what I've learned like I promised my co-workers at the orphanage," one feedback read. "In 15 days, I will go meet with the government leadership team. I can share on the radio about the biosand water filter, and the message will spread.

"But what I'm asking of you is that this message won't just die," the statement continues. "It depends on the workshop participants to spread that information further. We have to start with ourselves to figure out ways to help the communities. I will tell others what the Americans taught me about disease, sanitation and the filters. This knowledge is so valuable to us."

JSTARS Guardsmen team with Rebuilding Together

by Master Sgt. Roger Parsons
116th Air Control Wing Public Affairs


5/4/2013 - WARNER ROBINS, Ga. -- Five Air National Guardsmen from the 116th Air Control Wing, gave up their Saturday to volunteer with Rebuilding Together Warner Robins performing repair and renovation work for a local low-income household.

Rebuilding Together is a national non-profit organization that has been providing critical repairs and renovations for low-income homeowners across the United States for almost 25 years. Saturday was National Volunteer Day for the organization and the Airmen from the JSTARS wing jumped on board to do their part.

"I first got involved with Rebuilding Together when I was stationed at Offutt Air Force Base," said Tech. Sgt. Kerstin Haase, 116th ACW Comptroller Flight. "I wanted to do the same thing in Warner Robins because the community has given so much to the base and the Air National Guard."

As the homeowner expressed her gratitude, the team of Guardsmen worked hard throughout the day painting, pressure washing, repairing plumbing fixtures and completing general repairs to enhance the safety of the home.

"It's nice to be out here today helping a family in our community," said Senior Master Sgt. Daniel Carthy, superintendent of the 116th Comptroller Flight. "I grew up in a house that was in disrepair, and I know what it's like to have someone come in and help you out. It's nice to be out here helping someone else and give that back.