Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Southcom’s Engagement Critical to Stability, Carter Says

By Claudette Roulo
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 4, 2013 – U.S. Southern Command and its predecessors have played a critical, stabilizing role since the the Caribbean Defense Command was established in 1941 by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter said today in Miami.

Southcom’s area of responsibility is immense, Carter told the audience at a ceremony marking the 50th anniversary of the command’s founding. The more than 40 countries it contains represent a sixth of the world’s landmass, he noted.

It’s a region from which millions of American immigrants trace their roots, Carter said, and a region of growing importance to both U.S. national security and the world’s economy.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden’s recent trips to Central America underscore U.S. commitment to being a strong and reliable partner to our regional allies, Carter said.

“And that’s not going to change,” he added.

Southcom’s motto, ‘Partnership for the Americas,’ is fitting, the deputy defense secretary said, given the command’s range of responsibilities and activities.

“Your commitment to working with partners, both in the region and throughout the U.S. government -- the military to the rest of our government -- is helping build an integrated network of defense in the Western Hemisphere, based on shared responsibility and shared values,” Carter told the audience.

“We recognize that, and our commitment is to you, to help you carry out that commitment,” he added.
Through initiatives such as Operation Martillo, Southcom and its partners are dismantling transnational criminal networks and disrupting illicit drug trafficking, Carter said.

Operation Martillo is a multinational, interagency and joint military operation combatting aerial and maritime drug trafficking off Central America’s coasts. According to Southcom’s website, more than 67 percent of interdictions were supported by partner nations. In 2012, the operation stopped 152 metric tons of cocaine and 21 metric tons of marijuana from reaching the U.S. and $7 million in bulk cash from reaching drug traffickers in Central and South America.

“Through engagements with nations like Brazil, Colombia, Chile and El Salvador, you’re energizing collaboration on peacekeeping and multinational security operations throughout the world,” Carter said.
Southcom’s humanitarian and disaster relief assistance efforts enhance regional security and improve the ability of U.S. allies to respond in times of crisis, the deputy secretary said.

Few would have predicted the remarkable progress made by the region in the 50 years since President John F. Kennedy established Southcom, Carter said.

“Today, though challenges remain, the Americas are more stable, more democratic and more prosperous,” he said. “And Southcom’s engagement and investment in the region has been an important part of that kind of success.”

Through Airmen's Eyes: Capturing history one brush stroke at a time

by Elizabeth Stoeckmann
Air Force Network Integration Center

5/28/2013 - SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill.  -- (This feature is part of the "Through Airmen's Eyes" series on AF.mil. These stories focus on a single Airman, highlighting their Air Force story.)

Armed with his Nikon D90 camera, Warren Neary, Air Force Reservist, civilian and artist stands in 22-degree weather to capture and witness the history of President Barack Obama's inauguration. In a first for the Air Force Art Program in covering an inauguration, Neary was one of only three artists invited to capture the proceedings and create paintings for the Air Force Art Collection. That's just one example of the many opportunities Neary witnessed throughout his civilian, military and artist careers.

He's an Individual Mobilization Augmentee (IMA Reservist) for the Air Force Space Command history office, as well as a career civilian for the Air Force Network Integration Center history office and one of approximately 200 civilian artists in the AF Artist Program.

Unbeknownst to most, Neary's experience and reputation speaks volumes. He's a sought after officer, dedicated civilian and a very accomplished artist, with works spanning from the Pentagon and AFNIC hallways, to local and national art galleries.

"It's the Total Force experience," said Neary. "I have had the opportunity to see the big-picture perspective of various missions and operations in multiple roles, as an active duty and Reserve public affairs officer, Reserve and civil servant historian, and artist in the Air Force Art Program. It's fascinating capturing our legacy in text and paint. Although there are vast differences in each of these professions, they are also similar in identifying and capturing the essential elements to effectively tell a part of the Air Force story."

It all started for Neary in high school, where he graduated as the Art Sterling Scholar, followed by a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree on a two-year art scholarship from Utah State University. Upon graduation, Neary accepted a commission as an officer in the Air Force, serving for eight years on active duty. He later finished a Master of Fine Arts degree to pursue a career as an artist and continue as an officer in the Air Force Reserve. His most recent civilian career started in 2011 when he became the AFNIC historian.

Neary has 12 years of experience with the Air Force Art Program and has created 20 paintings in the Air Force Art collection representing subjects such as Air Force Space Command's response to Hurricane Katrina, satellite operations in support of the war fighter, the 50th Anniversary of ICBMs, Pacific Air Forces' Red Flag-Alaska Aggressor Mission, Air Force Special Operations Command's Air Commandos of the Pacific rescue mission of Occum's Razor crew members , and most recently the Air National Guard's airlift mission in support of the first lady of the United States.

Neary said the Air Force Art Program and Air Force History Program go hand-in hand.

"As historians, we are an organization's corporate memory, and we keep the official record with hundreds of supporting documents ... the Air Force legacy for those who follow," Neary said. "Air Force artists capture our operations with a visual language that can be immediately recognized and appreciated by those who have the opportunity to view these artworks on exhibition. My experience in each of these roles has facilitated me in the others, in covering and telling the Air force story."

After seeing missions first hand as an artist, Neary makes mental notes of the subjects, draws compositions and looks through supporting reference material in order to create a painting.

"It takes time to create a successful painting; representational subjects such as Airmen in action or fighter jet operations are easier to capture. Satellite operations are a bit tougher, and I personally find cyber even more challenging in telling the story visually. You can't reach out and touch it; you can't see cyber like you can see a satellite launch vehicle taking off. It is also very technical, complex and it touches almost everything we do," said Neary.

Once AF artist paintings are completed they are donated to the Air Force. The average time a painting takes ranges from a few hours to weeks or months, depending on the size and the complexity of the painting. The final outcome will be an oil painting that will showcase a mission for years to come.

In some cases, paintings are exhibited at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio. Air Force leadership will often host a ceremony to recognize and unveil the Air Force artists' collection.

No doubt, Neary is as scholarly today as he was when he graduated high school years ago. His continued talent, passion and experience for history and art are what drive his success one brush stroke at a time.

"It's truly a unique opportunity for the public to see these paintings depicting the contributions of our Airmen and Air Force operations around the world in serving our country," concluded Neary.

The Air Force Art Program was founded after World War II with 500 paintings from the Army, and continues a long tradition by documenting Air Force operations from the artist's perspective. The collection now contains over 10,000 artworks that hang in government buildings around the world showcasing the Air Force's proud legacy.

Veterans find therapy through rock and roll

by Airman 1st Class Riley Johnson
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

5/31/2013 - BUCKLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Colo.  -- For the last three years a group of musical veterans have lifted spirits in veteran affairs clinics, nursing homes and base exchanges through the playing of rhythm and blues.

Vets in Tune is a band of disabled veterans from the Denver area that served in a variety of eras between the Vietnam War and the most recent wars in the Middle East. The band is made up of U.S. Air Force veteran Gary Satchell, vocalist and guitarist; U.S. Air Force veteran Ivan Taylor, guitarist; U.S. Army veteran Michael Paplow, bass guitarist; and U.S. Marine Corps veteran Dennis Hurlburt, drummer.

One of the most their most recent performances was at the Exchange food court May, 17.

"I thought they were fantastic, I really enjoyed them. They played a real variety of songs and I knew most of them," said Joyce White who was in the audience at the performance.

After a talent show at the Denver VA Medical Center, an idea sparked and individual acts were combined; Vets in Tune was formed.

"We all really enjoy playing, but the thing that really gets us is when we go into a VA and the patients get up with their walkers or get out of their wheel chairs to dance. Its kind like therapy for them but it also inspires us," Taylor said.

The quartet travels the Front Range fueled on inspiration; they perform an average of 40 times a year.

"It feels great when the people come up to you and tell you that you made their day," he said.

After dedicating years of service to their country, Vets in Tune continues give their time and music to the military.

"It makes it still feel like you are a part of the military team, its one way to stay involved," he said. "It's our way of giving back to the military community."

The band has had several members come and go during the years, but their determination to perform the best show every time is what keeps them going.

"It's hopefully a lasting legacy where people see what we are doing and want pass it on," he said.