Military News

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Nimble Titan Increases Multinational Missile Defense Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 – U.S. Strategic Command has been leading an international effort for the past eight years to promote cooperation and interoperability in missile defense around the globe.

Known as Nimble Titan, it’s a series of two-year experimentation campaigns that bring together 22 nations to address missile defense challenges in the coming decade, said Army Col. Michael Derrick, director of allied integration for Stratcom’s Joint Functional Component Command for Integrated Missile Defense.

Nimble Titan is now in its fourth two-year iteration, with a mix of seminars, tabletop exercises, war games and instrumented experiments, Derrick explained during a telephone interview from his office at Schriever Air Force Base, Colo.

All are aimed at promoting partnership Derrick called essential to standing up to ballistic missile threats.
Each participating nation realizes that none can go it alone in missile defense, he said. That includes nations such as the United States, Japan and the Netherlands, among others that have their own missile defense systems, he added. The U.S. system, for example, depends in part on basing sensors and interceptors in other countries and using their airspace and ground facilities to operate.

“As the United States developed its own ballistic missile defense system, we realized that the system is inextricably engaged with our allies around the world,” Derrick said. “Integration with our allies around
 the world in the field of missile defense is absolutely necessary. We simply cannot do this without them.”

But international cooperation brings more to the effort, he said, increasing transparency about missile defense and setting the conditions for nations to share information and leverage one another’s assets. This may save money at a time when many militaries are experiencing severe budget cutbacks, while providing more comprehensive missile defenses, he noted.

Collaboration is particularly vital at a time when several nations as well as non-state actors are ratcheting up the threat. “We have those nations that consistently threaten us, either with real capability or with rhetoric,” Derrick said.

“Nimble Titan creates an environment where these likeminded nations can discuss and try to solve the challenges that we have now or anticipate that we will have in the next 10 years,” he said. “Instead of doing things independently against a common foe, we are able to work together.”

Through Nimble Titan events, participants explore ways to improve information-sharing and distribution and develop plans, including command-and-control procedures, to provide coordinated, synchronized missile defenses.

“We discuss concepts of operation such as how to put the capabilities from different nations together to build a coherent and effective unit,” Derrick said. “The goal is to put mechanisms in place to optimize those international efforts.”

Nimble Titan 14, the latest in the series of campaigns, kicked off in February with an orientation seminar for new participants. It will be followed by other activities over the next several months.

The most significant takeaways from these individual events will be incorporated into the Nimble Titan 14 capstone event planned for next spring in Suffolk, Va. “This will be a program that allows nations from around the world to see the global implications of what is going on in each region,” Derrick said.

Although Nimble Titan isn’t designed to address any particular threat, and activities all involve notional perpetrators, sometimes the events correspond with those in the real world.

Last year, for example, the capstone event for the Nimble Titan 12 series kicked off just four days after North Korea’s failed three-stage missile launch. Over the course of four days, participants and observers planned military, as well as political and civil defense responses, to mock launches a decade into the future from two fictitious countries.

But Derrick said the cooperation developed during Nimble Titan has a huge payoff when real-world challenges develop.

“You can’t work with a nation until you have some basis upon which to build that cooperation. And through Nimble Titan, we have a group of people, now in 22 nations, who know the topic, who know one another, and who know the challenges we all face,” he said. “We have been very successful in building a cadre of people around the world who can work together.”

This assures U.S. allies of the United States’ commitment to standing with them in missile defense. “We want them to know that we are not only willing, but able to work with them,” Derrick said.

But even more importantly, he said, is its deterrent effect -- one Derrick said every participating nation can agree to.

“Missile defense is an important deterrent because it doesn’t threaten and can’t hurt anyone,” he said. “If someone launches a missile at you, being able to destroy that missile in space and cause no damage or harm whatsoever gives you the moral high ground. You have defended yourself, but you haven’t caused your attacker any harm.”

This makes missile defense an important complement to U.S. Strategic Command’s other assets, most of which have offensive capabilities, he said.

One of its greatest advantages, Derrick said, is that it provides the opportunity for informed, coordinated responses.

“It gives our leadership at the national level a whole lot of options that otherwise would not be available: to pursue diplomatic outcomes, to arrange responses with other nations, or to go to the United Nations if they need to,” he said. “That’s one of the real advantages of missile defense. It provides options and time for the leadership that otherwise would not be available.”

27th IS ranked best in AF

by Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

5/16/2013 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. -- The 27th Intelligence Squadron recently earned the Lt. Gen. Harold W. Grant Information Dominance award, demonstrating itself as the best small communications and information unit in the U.S. Air Force.

This award, named in honor of a communications pioneer who worked throughout his career to ensure the operating forces had the best communications support available, recognizes large and small cyberspace and information dominance squadrons for sustained superior performance and professional excellence while managing core cyberspace and information dominance functions, and for contributions that most improved Air Force Department of Defense operations and missions.

The 27th IS mission is to provide "behind the scenes" communication and network services which tie into the analytical nodes of the Air Force Distributed Common Ground System, enabling the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing to deliver critical information to U.S. and Coalition combat forces operating in hot spots around the world.

"Each day, 24 hours a day, 7 days per week, 365 days per year, the 27th IS is in the fight from Joint Base Langley-Eustis," said Lt. Col. Michael Pfingsten, 27th IS commander. "We leverage and hence exemplify the power of Air Force reachback operations, where crucial data is moved in real time to analysts around the globe to support forces down range via a distributed network."

To earn the award, the 27th IS needed to demonstrate how their major achievements, planning, management of resources and other accomplishments contributed to the overall Air Force mission.

"In my opinion, the global scope, diverse mission responsibilities, and mission impact of the 27th IS set us apart from most other eligible organizations," Pfingsten said. "We are a lifeline to combat forces, enabling airborne intelligence in support of numerous commands and places such as Afghanistan, Libya, Korea, and the Eastern Mediterranean region."

Pfingsten said none of this success would have been possible without the contributions of the Airmen within the 27th IS.

"This recognition is a testament to the hard work, mission dedication, and phenomenal impact you get by teaming together intelligence and communications professionals toward a common mission that they will not let fail," Pfingsten said. "I continue to be amazed at the collective talent and skill of the unit. They are truly heroes, and serve with the utmost professionalism and commitment to delivering world class intelligence services to our Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen fighting down range."

Looking ahead of this success, the 27th IS plans to redouble their efforts and improve the systems and processes they have in place - which are specifically designed to save lives on the battlefield by ensuring the lines of information and communication remain unbroken.

DOD Plays Supporting Role in U.S. Global Health Efforts

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 16, 2013 – The Defense Department supports U.S. global health activities because such efforts as preventing and containing lethal outbreaks align with DOD’s mission to help ensure geopolitical stability and security, a senior defense official said here today.

Kathleen H. Hicks, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, discussed DOD’s role in global health here before an audience at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, a private health-policy analysis and research organization.

“DOD performs an important role in supporting the U.S. interagency response to human-made and natural disasters. … In such situations, our military draws upon its incredible logistical capabilities -- providing air and sea transport for medicines, equipment and personnel,” Hicks said.

DOD also serves the public health mission by maintaining an international network of laboratories and technologies, therapies and medical expertise, she added, all of which can be used in support of public-health efforts in the United States and abroad.

In its support of global public health activities, Hicks said, DOD must recognize the roles of federal agencies such as the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, and recognize the importance of helping partner countries take the lead in protecting the health of their own people.

“We at DOD need templates to understand how to best engage with our fellow government agencies and our foreign partners in the complex and vital work of protecting public health in actual and potential crisis situations,” Hicks noted.

Four years ago, Hicks and two colleagues published an analysis of DOD’s global health engagement activities. It addressed DOD’s role in global health, including the effect of the department’s health activities on national and regional security, the principal deputy undersecretary said.

“That paper’s recommendations included creating a strategy for global health engagement [and] a health-security cooperation plan to guide our efforts to build the public health and medical capacity of partner militaries,” she said.

Above all, Hicks added, “our analysis underscored the importance of ensuring that we do a better job of synchronizing our efforts, not only with our fellow government agencies but also among our own commands and components worldwide.”

Since the study was published, she said, there have been improvements in DOD coordination with the State Department and USAID, coordination within DOD, and incorporating humanitarian and global health scenarios in military exercises.

Over the past year, Hicks added, the department has made significant strides in establishing measures of effectiveness for its global-health-related activities.

“Already in 2013,” she added, “there have been at least two noteworthy examples of how we used global-health engagement to help partner nations address an urgent health need.”

The first occurred after a January nightclub fire in Santa Maria, Brazil, that killed 241 people, the principal deputy undersecretary said.

Brazil’s Ministry of Health put out an urgent request to the U.S. government for medicine kits that could treat victims suffering from cyanide toxicity due to inhaling fumes from burning acoustic foam.

After determining that no other agency could respond in time to help, she said, U.S. Southern Command coordinated transport of the medication from St. Louis to Brazil via Miami by working with Miami-Dade aviation officials, the Transportation Security Administration and American Airlines, which flew the medicine to Brazil free of charge.

“This was a great example of public and private collaboration,” Hicks said, “exactly the kind of collaboration we are likely to need as we continue to respond to urgent crises of all kinds.”

In April, another health emergency occurred after a measles outbreak in Georgia. Responding to a request from that nation’s Health Ministry to the U.S. Embassy in Tbilisi, the Defense Department funded 75,000 emergency vaccinations. UNICEF handled the procurement and the Georgian National Center for Disease Control distributed the vaccine, she said.

“While we need to continue to work with our partners to hone our responses to such crises, we also need to plan for future challenges,” Hicks said, adding that an excellent example is an upcoming event sponsored by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN.

The Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief/Military Medicine Field Training Exercise will take place in June in Brunei and include 18 countries from Southeast Asia and elsewhere, including the United States.
It also will include an exchange of U.S. and Chinese medical officers, she noted. Hicks said three U.S. officers will spend the exercise aboard a Chinese ship, and three Chinese medical officers will be assigned to a U.S. medical treatment facility, “[working] together in advancing a global good: the health of the world’s citizens.”

To counter diseases and other threats to public health, Hicks said, the United States teams with countries worldwide.

The Defense HIV/AIDS Prevention Program, for example, is a military-to-military health-engagement program with a direct effect on security, she said.

Over the past four years, Hicks added, in collaboration with the Naval Medical Center San Diego and partner universities, the program has trained providers in 50 militaries around the world and helped strengthen HIV-prevention programs in the trainees’ home countries.

Last summer the program hosted a major international military HIV/AIDS conference, bringing together military representatives from 75 countries, along with many government agencies and international organizations, she said.

The focus on infectious diseases has been a hallmark of DOD international public-health efforts over the past decade, Hicks said, but the department should consider expanding its efforts to include health concerns like malnutrition and disrupted access to clean water.

“The expertise and responsibility for dealing with these conditions obviously falls well outside the Department of Defense,” she said. “However, we at the Pentagon do have a legitimate interest in the degree to which these conditions impair the security and stability of key countries.”

Hicks said a 2008 National Intelligence Council study found that while noninfectious conditions may not present direct threats to U.S. interests, they can have wide-ranging effects on global health.

According to the study, she said, the United States should expand the focus of its global health program to include noncommunicable diseases, neglected tropical diseases, malnutrition and maternal and child health and mortality.

“Shifting DOD’s global health engagement activities more in favor of building the public health capacity of partner nations’ militaries, and toward synchronizing our efforts with the State Department and its health diplomacy and USAID’s health development efforts,” Hicks added, “would create a synergy beneficial to global health and potentially beneficial to global and national security.”

Marine Archery Coaches Cross Service Lines

By Marine Corps Sgt. Justin Boling
Defense Media Activity – Marine Corps

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 16, 2013 – Archers in six different colored uniforms, representing six different teams, prepare to fire a volley of arrows during the 2013 Warrior Games here.

Coaching is one thing shared between these wounded, ill and injured athletic warriors representing every branch of the armed forces from both the United States and the United Kingdom.

"I work with Marines all the time," said John Fuller, the head coach of archery for the Warrior Games. “This year was the first year we started something new.”

Fuller is a retired Marine first sergeant, who shared his more than 60 years of archery experience with the other services besides the Leathernecks.

“I coached the Army and Special Operations teams, it is not about who wins, it is about rehabilitation for everybody,” said Fuller, a resident of Jacksonville, N.C.

“If everybody gets the same quality of coaching then they will all be able to do about the same, and then it is a competition.”

This year, a group of hard-charging coaches brought every team up to par.

“This year every coach that is coaching one of the services is a Marine," Fuller said. "They have all been Marines and they have all coached on the Marine team under me.”

The competition was extremely close at the top in both composite and re-curve bow disciplines with only a few bad arrows between winning or walking away empty handed.

“The Marines and other services are performing up to their abilities. You always shoot for your average," Fuller said.

“If they start shooting better, they tend to get sloppy and throw away shots,” he added. “The trick is if your average is low, then train to raise your average.”

This year the individual gold medal in the composite bow discipline came down to a one-arrow shoot off. The Army contender, Frank Baroquerio scored a perfect 10, while the Marine archer, Matthew Benack scored a 9. The re-curve archery gold medal was decided by one point in a shoot-out between two U.S. soldiers, Edward Patton and Curtis Winston.

Special Operations took the gold in the team re-curve bow discipline scoring 137, and the Marine team took gold in the team composite bow discipline with a score of 158.

Marine Corps re-curve archery team, team re-curve bow silver medal winner, stood in front of their target just after the last of their arrows thudded home. The passing Air Force coach walked towards them and said the Marines will always be in his heart as he raised his shirt revealing the Eagle, Globe and Anchor tattoo on his chest.

“I think generally the Marines have more self-pride than the other services. No matter if they are the new smarter Marines or the old war horses like me they will never tarnish that,” Fuller said.

"They maintain the Esprit de Corps and maintain the epitome that we have held for years," he added.

Face of Defense: Guard Officer Relishes Service in Nicaragua

By Army 1st Lt. Joe Trovato
Wisconsin National Guard

MANAGUA, Nicaragua, May 16, 2013 – Growing up as the daughter of missionaries, Army Capt. Kathrine Berberich got a perspective on the world that is foreign to most Americans. It also made her a perfect fit to head Wisconsin’s State Partnership Program with Nicaragua.

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Army Capt. Kathrine Berberich of the Wisconsin National Guard serves as the bilateral affairs officer at the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua. Berberich is in the middle of a two-and-a-half-year tour to the Central American nation. Courtesy photo

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Though she was born in Minneapolis, Berberich moved with her parents to Venezuela at a young age. Her family moved frequently to new missionary fields.

“As a missionary kid, I grew up close to people,” the captain said. “I went to the open markets and lived in very humble homes. I am not surprised by the cultural differences that are shocking to most.”
She is now in the middle of a two-and-a-half-year tour in Nicaragua, where she works at the U.S. Embassy here.

Berberich has no problem fitting in with the local people. Her father was a native Venezuelan, and she speaks fluent Spanish.

“The best compliments I get are when someone asks me what part of Nicaragua I am from,” she said. “I always say Esteli, because that is the region where most of the Miss Nicaraguas are from.”

Her role in Nicaragua is diverse. Officially, she is the bilateral affairs officer, which means she coordinates partner nation participation in events hosted by U.S. Southern Command. In addition, she manages the budget for the embassy’s security office.

As a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard, she also coordinates Wisconsin’s partnership program with Nicaragua. She and Capt. Orrin Viner, also a Wisconsin Army National Guard officer, plan events that benefit the mutual interests of the United States and Nicaragua.

The duo coordinates the Wisconsin military engagement team’s missions to Nicaragua. That team has worked with Nicaraguan civil defense officials on natural disaster mitigation and relief.

When the military engagement team or a state partnership program envoy visits Nicaragua, Berberich is responsible for the planning, logistics, and facilitation of the group’s day-to-day operations in the country.
Prior to her current assignment, Berberich was the facility manager at the Wisconsin Military Academy at Fort McCoy, Wis. She also served in the rear detachment of the 157th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade when that unit deployed to Kosovo last year. When the Nicaragua opportunity opened, the Guard’s leadership immediately pegged her as a good fit.

In addition to all of her military duties, Berberich also has a family in tow. The opportunity to expose them to a different culture was a key factor in her accepting the position.

“The main reason I took this assignment was to give my children a similar childhood experience to mine,” she said. “I wanted them to know there is more life in the world than suburbia Wisconsin. I wanted them to know that life is wonderfully complicated in a country that is very poor. I also wanted them to set themselves apart from their cohort by speaking Spanish and experiencing a different culture.”

Her two children, Monte, 17, and Peyton, 8, accompanied Berberich and her husband, Kurt, to the Central American nation for the duration of her tour there.

“It depends on the day,” she said when asked how her family has enjoyed the experience. “It is so much easier for me here because of my upbringing, my appearance, and my language skills. They miss the snow and just being free to go to other kids’ houses or ride their bikes.”

Berberich and her family will remain in Nicaragua through 2014.

Face of Defense: Captain Crosses Coalition Cultures

By Air Force Senior Airman Daniel Phelps
39th Air Base Wing

INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey, May 15, 2013 – When he walks into the Dutch Patriot missile headquarters here, Army Capt. Adam Proctor greets his co-workers in their native language, with a friendly smile.

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U.S. Army Capt. Adam Proctor and Sgt. 1st Class Rob Morsinkhof of the Dutch army look over regulations at Incirlik Air Base, Turkey, April 26, 2013. Proctor is deployed to Turkey with the Dutch military as a foreign exchange officer. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Daniel Phelps

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As the Dutch Patriot missile system tactical director, the U.S. soldier has been working with the Dutch for about two years.

"I'm in charge of tracking aircraft," he explained.

Sgt. Maj. Peter Meuissen of the 1st Netherlands Ballistic Missile Defense Task Force said there is good history of having U.S. service members embedded with their Dutch counterparts, and vice-versa. Sometimes, Dutch pilots will go to the United States and U.S. pilots will go to the Netherlands to fly for air force squadrons via exchange programs, he explained.

"When the opportunity to go work in the Netherlands came up, I jumped at it," Proctor said. "How many people get to do this?"
Learning the language has been the biggest challenge, the Army captain said. "But I've always wanted to learn Dutch," he added.

Having the Netherlands and U.S. come together in this unique way has had many benefits, Meuissen said. Both countries bring new ideas and a fresh perspective, he noted, and lessons learned from the partnership have made them a stronger team.

"It's great to learn from each other and see our differences," the Dutch soldier added. "We learn how to improve."

Although the way each side approaches the mission may vary, everyone does their part and pitches in, the U.S. and Dutch service members agreed. One side may be a stickler for time constraints, and the other may feel a more relaxed approach is most effective, but in the end, there is mutual respect and cooperation, Proctor said.

The Dutch are a tight-knit community, he added, and part of the respect he has for the Dutch soldiers comes from an appreciation of that.

"The closeness of the people is the best part," he said. "We get the work done and have a lot of fun. Seeing these differences has really opened my mind to think about what's really important in accomplishing the mission."

Being in Turkey undertaking the NATO Patriot mission and having a U.S. soldier working with the Dutch provides a great enhancement to the operation, Meuissen said.

"This mission is important," Proctor said. "It's an honor to be doing this right on the border with our NATO allies."

The partnership between the two nations is vital, Meuissen said, because much more is achieved through teamwork.

"When you exercise and deploy together, it's extremely helpful to understand how we both work," he explained. "When we are better prepared, we work better together."

Iraq Vet Recovers From Injury to Compete in Warrior Games

By Army Sgt. Victor J. Ayala
Army News Service

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., May 15, 2013 – Warrior Games athlete Randall "Blake" McMinn remembers that during his Army career, he was taught to leave behind the possibility of failure and the temptation of quitting.

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Army veteran Randall “Blake” McMinn from Linden, Texas, is competing in the cycling, swimming, sitting volleyball, and wheelchair basketball events at the 2013 Warrior Games in Colorado Springs, Colo. More than 200 wounded, ill or injured service members and veterans from across the Defense Department and United Kingdom are competing in track and field, sitting volleyball, shooting, swimming, archery, cycling and wheelchair basketball events. U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Victor J. Ayala

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That crucial lesson sticks with McMinn now, nearly seven years after his medical retirement. Today, he continues to live with the limitations imposed upon him by the wounds of war, but he is competing again this year in the 2013 Warrior Games here.

Despite amputation of his right leg below the knee, a series of painful reconstructive surgeries on his left foot, and constant neck and back pain, McMinn is representing the Army in the games for the third straight year. From his traumatic injury in Iraq to his recovery and participation in the games, the Linden, Texas, native never gave up and has no plans to slow down now.

McMinn's Army career was cut short when an improvised explosive device blast in Iraq crippled the vehicle he was driving and nearly killed him. Immediately after the blast, McMinn put out a fire on the right side of his body and lifted himself out of the vehicle and onto the ground. It was when he tried to move his right leg that he saw just how bad his condition was. After that, he said, the memories run together.

"I remember them giving me morphine and one of the guys giving me a can of Copenhagen saying I'd need it more than he did," McMinn said. "Next thing, I woke up in a hospital bed with the amputation."

McMinn returned to the United States, where he underwent therapy and reconstructive surgery at the Center for the Intrepid in Fort Sam Houston, Texas. He recalled that he found himself in a dark place at first. When he left Iraq in December of 2007, he weighed 185 pounds. He weighed roughly 120 pounds a mere two months later.

"It was bad," McMinn said. "But I saw guys with double amputations, and guys missing arms and eyes. They were getting out and staying active. It really inspired me."

McMinn was medically retired in November 2008, and by 2009 had moved to Las Vegas, where he first encountered the adaptive sport of wheelchair basketball.

With the inspiration of fellow wounded warriors fresh in his mind, he started playing for a team called the Silver Bandits and became hooked, he said. He later played for the University of Texas at Arlington and practiced with the National Basketball Association’s Dallas Mavericks. Military veterans on the Mavericks brought the Warrior Games to his attention, and he's been representing the Army ever since.

McMinn credits a large amount of his recovery to the Warrior Games and adaptive sports in particular.
"Attending the Warrior Games in past years has given me an appreciation for being active despite my injuries and has been therapeutic by helping me to connect with those who share similar experiences," he said.
At this year's games, McMinn is competing in the cycling, swimming, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball events.