Thursday, November 14, 2013

Hagel Notes Americans’ Cautious View of Military Engagements

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said today that as the world becomes ever more complex and war-weary and Americans turn their eyes to domestic issues, U.S. military actions must be considered carefully and used judiciously.

The will of the people as reflected in recent polls, Hagel noted, is for “No more wars, no more Middle East. I mean, I'm putting it very simply, but you know what the numbers are.”

Hagel addressed the U.S. military’s role in national security and international relations during a question-and-answer session with Defense One’s executive editor Kevin Baron at a conference the group hosted here today.

The discussion built on a speech Hagel gave earlier this month when he said the department is undertaking a needed realignment of missions and resources that will result in a significant change across every aspect of the enterprise. Today, the secretary expanded on why that realignment is necessary.

“We're going to put two billion more people on the face of the Earth here in the next 25 years,” Hagel said. “Water, resources, clean air, everything else that is basic to the survivability of man, is going to be part of what happens next.”

The world is growing more complex and interdependent, he said, and even with nations such as Iran and Syria, geopolitical developments mean military power can contribute to a whole-of-government approach that can offer a path toward engagement instead of war.

Iran and the United States have been involved in an “unofficial war” since 1979, Hagel said, and U.S. leaders are realistic about recent developments toward possible increased engagement between the two countries.

Iran has clearly been a very dangerous and lethal state sponsor of terrorism, the secretary said. “They cause tremendous trouble all over the Middle East,” he added. “ … Now, if we can move toward … some higher ground, to some possible, potential resolution to a problem, aren't we smarter to do that? Engagement is not surrender. It's not appeasement. And engagement is not negotiation.”

Syria’s offer to relinquish its chemical weapons stockpiles in the face of the U.S. threat of armed force demonstrates that a ready and capable military can help peacefully shape a more secure world, Hagel said. He noted that war is always an option, but often neither a popular nor a wise one.

“I know a little bit about war. I've been to one,” Hagel, a Vietnam combat veteran, said. “Not a happy time for anybody. There's no glory in war. There's only suffering. If you have to go to war, if that's the only recourse, you've got to do that.”

But it’s far preferable to engage with non-allied countries like Iran, Russia and China to avert conflict before it occurs, he said. And building capacity in allies and partners strengthens global security while easing the burden on the United States, the secretary said.

Hagel noted that Operation Damayan, the U.S. military humanitarian and disaster relief operation in response to Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, is a prime example of the range, power and speed with which American forces can respond to contingencies and the global part the nation’s military plays.

“We have many roles, but the primary role is the security and defense of this country,” the secretary said.

He noted that as war in Afghanistan winds down and churning continues in the Middle East, a whole new set of issues even apart from budget concerns waits in the wings. Later this month, Hagel noted, he’ll participate in the Halifax International Security Forum where he and two dozen other defense ministers will discuss future foreign policy, energy and commercial implications arising from a warming Arctic.

“I think that's going to be a very critical part of the next set of big … challenges for all of us,” he said. “And we need to really pay attention to that.”

Trauma Surgeon Urges Continued Investment in Combat Care

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 2013 – As combat operations wind down in Afghanistan and the Defense Department struggles with ever-tighter budgetary constraints, a seasoned military trauma surgeon warned against arbitrary cuts that could unravel successes made in preventing combat injuries and, when they occur, providing the best medical care from the point of injury through rehabilitation.

“One of the most important capabilities we have developed is a floor-to-ceiling trauma system that spans the continuum from the point of injury to discharge from acute care and even into rehab,” Air Force Col. (Dr.) Jeffrey Bailey, director of the Joint Trauma System, told American Forces Press Service.

“Over the last decade, we have really worked to knit that together and to look for opportunities to improve outcomes in our combat casualties,” he said.

The result is a system unlike any other in the world, he said, with huge success in saving lives on the battlefield. Ninety-eight percent of all combat casualties who reach a theater advanced treatment facility survive.

“This did not happen by accident,” Bailey said. “It happened because the services, the Defense Department, America and our coalition partners invested in this.”

Recognizing the current fiscal environment, Bailey emphasized the importance of continuing to build on these capabilities even after the current conflicts end. “It is absolutely critical to be able to perpetuate all of the lessons and continue to improve and adapt them as more information becomes available in combat casualty care and trauma care,” he said.

“And at the end of the day, all these things will go away if they are not resourced,” Bailey said. “This capability, and what it brings to the combat injured in terms of their ability to survive and get back to what they want to do will be quickly lost if we move beyond the conflict and lose that perspective.”

Alaska Air National Guard members rescue four at lake

Click photo for screen-resolution imageBy Sgt. Edward Eagerton
Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska (11/14/13) — Airmen with the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons rescued three adults and one child who had broken through ice and become hypothermic while four-wheeling Monday at Caswell Lake, north of Willow, Alaska.

"The group had gone four-wheeling at Caswell Lake when they broke through ice," said Maj. Keenan Zerkel, a senior controller with the 11th Air Force Rescue Coordination Center, Alaska Air National Guard. "I don't know if they went into the creek or the lake, but they were cold and wet."

The 11th Air Force RCC was notified by the Alaska State Troopers at 1:10 a.m. when the AST determined that they were unable to transport the distressed group out of their location.

"The Alaska State Troopers sent two troopers on snowmachines to locate the group," said Zerkel. "When they arrived, they found the group to be near hypothermic. At that point, they couldn't get them out, and so they contacted us to support the mission."

The Alaska Air National Guard launched a HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter from the 210th Rescue Squadron with a team of Guardian Angels from the 212th Rescue Squadron from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson to support the rescue mission.

Using night vision, the rescue crew members navigated through the snowy night to Caswell Lake. Once on the scene, the Guardian Angels were lowered to the ground and hoisted the group one by one into the Pave Hawk.

"They were recovered using a hoist because they were in rough terrain," explained Zerkel. "Inside the helicopter, they provided the group with warm fluids, blankets and heat."

The group of four was then flown to Providence Alaska Medical Center and released to medical professionals at approximately 5:30 a.m.

"The crew members did a superb job," said Zerkel. "From being woken up in the middle of the night, to getting airborne so quickly, locating the distressed group in the dark and snowy conditions, and then bringing them back safely to the hospital, they are the definition of excellence."

The Alaska Air National Guard's 210th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were awarded four saves for this mission.

D-M member receives rescue award

by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

11/14/2013 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- A D-M helicopter pilot recently earned the 2013 Air Rescue Association's Richard T. Kight Award.

Capt. Brian R. Dicks, 55th Rescue Squadron, accepted the award via live webcam during the annual Air Rescue Association reunion. He was unable to attend the event in person as he had just returned to the country.

The award is named in honor of Brig. Gen. Richard T. Kight, a former commander of the Air Rescue Service, and is presented annually to recognize an active duty or reserve component member who has contributed to the overall effectiveness of the rescue mission area through management, innovation or other outstanding achievement.

His citation reads:

"...Captain Dicks deployed to Afghanistan, where he flew seven high-risk casualty evacuation missions. On one such mission, Captain Dicks and his crew evacuated three wounded soldiers from a hot landing zone while under intense small arms and rocket-propelled grenade fire. Additionally, when a United States infantry unit became pinned down by enemy fire, Captain Dicks and his formation suppressed the enemy position and coordinated close air support from two Army attack helicopters that destroyed the threat, saving an entire platoon. During another mission, Captain Dicks responded to a Stryker convoy which had struck an improvised explosive device. He executed a difficult restricted visibility approach to a roadside landing zone and successfully evacuated four soldiers. Finally, Captain Dicks demonstrated his rescue expertise as Personal Recovery Coordination Cell Director for Exercise VIRTUAL FLAG, validated distributed mission operations as a low-cost alternative for larger force training..."

"You see all the work and training you put in at home at then you see it come to fruition when the training paid off during the mission," said Dicks.

Dicks credited his success during missions to having good wingmen. He described that a good wingman is one that understands, as certain situations develop, when to take the lead and when to let others take the lead.

Even with receiving this high honor, Dicks remained humble.

"My personal philosophy is that you do what you set out to do," said Dicks. "If someone thinks you should be awarded or recognized for something, you let them take care of that. You don't go out looking for that recognition. You just have to do it and it's that internal locus that goes 'alright, I did a good job today. If something else comes of this, then that's nice, but at least I protected and helped the guys on the ground, or I came back with myself and the other guys better than when I left.'"

Since Dicks was unable to accept his award in person, a ceremony will be held on base, Nov. 26, to present him with the Kight Award as well as the Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor.