Monday, December 09, 2013

Operation Christmas Drop continues as Pacific tradition

by Senior Airman Marianique Santos
36th Wing Public Affairs

12/9/2013 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- Base volunteers will team up with Yokota Air Base, Japan, Airmen to conduct humanitarian airdrops over the remote islands of Micronesia in the Western Pacific this week.

Volunteers here have been spreading the holiday cheer to surrounding islands since December 1952. OCD is the longest running humanitarian airlift mission supported by the Department of Defense.

Teaming up with the Christmas Drop Organization, a private organization of volunteers that directs the fundraising, gathering of donated items, and community involvement activities, U.S. military service members, their family members, and the people of Guam work closely together to ensure a successful mission.

"The yearly success of this drop is a testament to the generosity of the civilian and military population of Guam," said Master Sgt. Bobby Lynch, Operation Christmas Drop committee president. "We continue to do this to help improve the quality of life of the islanders. We may take it for granted that we can go to a mall to purchase our daily needs, but these folks do not have the same privilege from where they live."

OCD packages aid the men and women of more than 50 islands, including Chuuk, Palau, Yap, Marshall Islands and Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. Boxes contain toys, clothing, fishing equipment, sporting goods, food items, tools and other equipment that help people in the islands with their livelihood.
"In the spirit of the holiday season, what we can do is help and share what we have," Lynch said.

In addition to collaborating with the community of Guam, OCD demonstrates the inter-wing partnership between Andersen AFB and Yokota.

Each December, C-130 Hercules crews from the 374th Airlift Wing fly to Andersen, which is used as a "base camp" to airlift the donated goods to islanders throughout Micronesia. Yokota aircrews find valuable training opportunities through the unique airdrop environment that OCD offers.

Andersen Christmas Drop volunteers stress the importance the packages have on the daily lives of the Micronesians receiving them.

"This drop cannot happen successfully without the participation of everyone, regardless of which branch you belong to or whether or not you're in the military," Lynch said.

Drug use costs Airmen cash, career

by Judge Advocate Staff
8th Fighter Wing

12/5/2013 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- On Nov. 12, 2013, a board of Kunsan officers and enlisted members sentenced Airman First Class Kody Gonzalez, 8th Maintenance Squadron, to a bad conduct discharge, four months confinement, forfeiture of $1010 pay each month for four months and reduction to airman basic for using cocaine.

Gonzalez pled guilty to using cocaine while stationed at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C. He admitted snorting a total of 10 lines of cocaine over three occasions, including at a house party in October 2012, in a hotel room before a concert in December 2012 and at a house party in February 2013.

According to the Drug Enforcement Administration, cocaine use can cause euphoria, alertness and excitation, but also irritability, anxiety, increased heart rate and insomnia. Long-term adverse health consequences may include cardiac arrest, stroke and death.

"A1C Gonzalez will live with the lifelong stigma of a punitive discharge," said Capt. Erin Kenny, 8th Fighter Wing trial counsel. "The panel sent a powerful message to Kunsan Airmen on the consequences of illegal drug use."

Thunderbirds announce 2014 performance at Youngstown

by Eric M. White
910th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

12/6/2013 - YOUNGSTOWN AIR RESERVE STATION, Ohio -- The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team, America's Ambassadors in Blue, have announced their 2014 show schedule to include performances here, May 17-18, as the headline act at the 2014 Thunder Over the Valley Air Show.

Originally planned for Summer 2014, Youngstown ARS leadership decided to adopt the May 17-18 date in order to accommodate the possibility of a Thunderbirds appearance. After the cancellation of the 2013 show season by both the U.S Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds due to sequestration, both jet teams are back to flying in 2014 with limited show seasons.

The 910th Airlift Wing at Youngstown has been planning a 2014 air show and open house since late 2012, and is still in the approval process, but is excited at the prospect of hosting the world's premier aerial jet demonstration team in 2014.

"We are proud to have the opportunity to welcome the Thunderbirds to Youngstown and are excited for the opportunity to show off our world-class facilities and personnel," said U.S. Air Force Reserve Colonel James D. Dignan, 910th Airlift Wing commander.

The 2009 Thunder Over the Valley air show, which also featured the Thunderbirds, provided a chance for the 910th Airlift Wing to demonstrate its mission and display Air Force capabilities for tens of thousands of spectators.

The Thunderbirds announced their schedule Dec. 5 at the International Council of Air Shows in Las Vegas.

"Value the mission," U.S. Strategic Commander speaks to Airmen Conducting Strategic Deterrence

by 2nd Lt. Christen Ornella
90th Missile Wing Public Affairs

12/6/2013 - F.E. WARREN AIR FORCE BASE, Wyo. -- Admiral Cecil D. Haney, commander, U.S. Strategic Command, and a career Navy submariner, visited F.E. Warren AFB, Wyo. following his trip to Minot Air Force Base, N.D., to see the deterrence mission close up, and share his thoughts and insight with base personnel at a commander's call, Dec. 3, at the base theater.

Haney began by thanking the Airmen who carry out the strategic deterrence mission every day.

"Being able to get some dose of the reality of the hard work that goes on here was validated today by my opportunity to see these stellar, stellar folks," Haney said, applauding the wing for what he witnessed during his visit. "It is good to see in the audience today civilian as well as uniformed members, because we are one in the same -- one sport -- that allows us to have such a significant and respected strategic nuclear capability."

Haney reminded Airmen to be proud of being a part of the nuclear deterrent business and commended them for their professionalism.

"I'm here to tell you that your work, at all levels, is very well-appreciated and admired," Haney said.

Haney told the gathered crowd that he had been impressed by all he had seen during his visits with the missile wing personnel and units.

"Whether it is getting to see some of the maintenance facilities, some training facilities, or our security forces, it is all good."

Haney thanked the Airmen for sharing their facilities and knowledge with him.

"From all of the scorecards I've looked at very recently, you all are doing a fantastic job," Haney said.

During a recent conversation between Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and Haney, Carter, who frequently discusses and has a lot of respect for the nuclear enterprise, asked Haney to pass along a message to the wing:

"[Carter] said, 'Make sure you tell them not to get mesmerized about what's in the news, stay focused on the job, and know that they've done a job we can all be proud of.'"

Haney then described how much our mission means to the American people.

"You should want to be -- expect to be -- held to a higher standard," Haney explained. "[The nuclear enterprise is] an essential piece about what America is about."

Haney asked the audience to remember why they do what they do every day.

"If you start thinking it is going to be a mundane kind of day, pinch yourself, and understand just how important what your part is and just how important it is to our nation," Haney said. "Value the mission you do here."

The deterrence mission is a high priority, and Haney plans to return here for future visits.

He concluded with some career advice for the audience.

"Don't take it for granted. Continue to learn and grow in your technical area and improve your educational dimension and stature," Haney said, "and don't let anything sacrifice your integrity."

Haney left F.E. Warren Airmen with a charge to take care of themselves and each other, and as leaders, to be hopeful, creative and innovative.

From Desert Storm to OEF, Air Force couple has seen it all

by Staff Sgt. Abigail Klein
931st Air Refueling Group

12/7/2013 - ORLANDO, Fla. -- During his first deployment in 1991, Air Force reservist Shawn Swarz and his college sweetheart in Connecticut coped with the unfamiliar experience by joking that his overseas duty was like a "semester abroad" that some students do.

Operation Desert Storm was the U.S. military's largest foreign engagement since the Vietnam War ended more than 15 years earlier. His unit included senior non-commissioned officers and leaders who had deployed before during their military service, but it was a new experience for Swarz and Michaela, his girlfriend of three years.

"Back then, I had a family support packet that I handed her before I deployed. This was really the only access she had to the resources that are available here," he said. "Today, she can visit websites and attend programs about this; it's much easier to get the information."

Now a major and long since married to Michaela, Swarz is a traditional reservist and commander of the Air Force Reserve's 315th Security Forces Squadron at Joint Base Charleston, S.C. He recently returned from his seventh deployment. The couple was much better prepared for this separation than the earliest ones, they said last weekend during an Air Force Reserve Command Yellow Ribbon Program training event for post- and pre-deployers.

Back in 1991, Michaela was a two-hour drive from the nearest military installation, Westover Air Reserve Base, Mass. While she was grateful that her future husband's command staff called to check on her well-being, no true support network existed.

"It was all new to me and I didn't know what to expect," said Michaela. "I had to muddle my way through each of his early deployments, which was difficult because there weren't a lot of (military family members) around where we were living."

Swarz returned from his deployment in May 1991 and didn't deploy again until 2002. By then, he had married Michaela and they were parents of a 3-year-old son. Being a mother while her spouse was deployed was difficult for Michaela, she acknowledged.

"You have to be both mom and dad," she said. "When you do have children, you have to be both self-sufficient and strong to keep things as normal as possible for them. You can't break down and have fits [about your spouse being deployed]."

In addition to learning a new parenting style, Michaela, like many other military spouses, had to learn how to perform tasks she hadn't normally done when Shawn was home.

"She learned how to plow our driveway and started to take things to the dump; all things I normally did," said the major. "When I got back I joked that she didn't even need me anymore."

The Swarzes have been married for 18 years. Michaela is a stay-at-home mother to two sons, now 14 and 9.

At the Yellow Ribbon event in Orlando, the couple was among more than 750 Air Force reservists and their loved ones who had the chance to speak about their post- and pre-deployment experiences. The program promotes the well-being of reservists and their families by connecting them with resources. It began in 2008 following a congressional mandate for the Department of Defense to assist reservists and National Guard members in maintaining resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles.

"Because we're reservists, we're sometimes detached from active duty bases, so we don't have access to the benefits and resources that are available to us," Michaela said. "Yellow Ribbon provides a captive audience to present all the options to the families of reservists; benefits that they may not have otherwise been aware of."

Another feature of the program is the presence of the children of reservists. While Shawn and Michaela attended briefings about Heroes to Hire, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act, Military OneSource, and Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, their sons were grouped by age and played a variety of team-building games with their peers to help them interact with others who have experienced pangs and frustration before and after a deployment.

"I think even if they don't say it out loud, they [their sons] see other kids going through [deployments] and it helps them realize that they aren't the only ones," said Shawn.

The importance of this exposure was not lost on Michaela.

"Our kids were often the only ones in their school who had parents in the military, so their schools and classmates weren't really sure how to deal with that," she said.

The deployment experience has changed greatly since 1991 for reservists and their families, the Swarzes agreed, listing the benefits of today's Air Force support programs, including Yellow Ribbon. Though future deployments remain a possibility, the Swarzes said they are prepared, and that each deployment has only made them stronger.

Air Force on ice: Reserve enlists six during hockey game

by Master Sgt. Brannen Parrish
931st Air Refueling Group Public Affairs

12/7/2013 - MCCONNELL AIR FORCE BASE, Kan. -- Six men and women took the first steps toward future careers in the Air Force Reserve during the first period intermission of the Wichita Thunder hockey game against the Tulsa Oilers, at Intrust Bank Arena, Dec. 7.

Colonel Mark S. Larson, commander, 931st Air Refueling Group presided over the ceremony, delivering the oath of enlistment to the organization's future members.

"This moment represents a significant step in the lives of these future Airmen," said Larson. "We are honored to have the opportunity to share this experience with the Wichita community, and Thunder fans."

The oath of enlistment is the final step in the recruitment process for Air Force Reserve applicants and signifies their word of commitment to follow through with their promise, attend basic military training and become Airmen.

Ryan Colston, a 2013 graduate of Chanute High School in Chanute, Kan. made the two-hour trek to Wichita in order to attend the ceremony. Colston is slated to become an aircraft maintainer at the 931st ARG. His sister, Jennifer, is currently in basic military training.

"My sister told me the Air Force would give me an opportunity to go to school," said Colston. "I want to open an automotive repair shop one day and working on airplanes will help me with that. An airplane is definitely more complicated than a car."

Curniqwa Williams, of Wichita, is a recent Wichita Heights High School graduate. Her family attended the hockey game to see their daughter enlist in front of about 2,000 spectators. Her father, John Bell, served at McConnell from 1987-1990.

"I talked to her about it and told her that it might be an option for her," said Bell. "It will help her pay for college."

Hagel Meets With Senior Pakistani Leaders

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, Minister of Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, and other senior Pakistani officials today in Islamabad and Rawalpindi, Pakistan, Assistant Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement issued today.

Woog’s statement reads as follows:

United States Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel met with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Minister of Defense Khawaja Asif, Minister of Finance Mohammad Ishaq Dar, Chief of Army Staff Raheel Sharif, National Security and Foreign Affairs Advisor Sartaj Aziz, and other Pakistani officials on Dec. 9 in meetings in Islamabad and Rawalpindi.

Secretary Hagel’s visit, the first by a U.S. secretary of defense in nearly four years, provided an opportunity to advance a broad, robust, and continuous United States–Pakistan dialogue on topics of shared concern, including security and stability in the region.

Secretary Hagel reviewed the mutually beneficial bilateral security relationship and reaffirmed the strong U.S. commitment to fostering peace and security in the region. The secretary also emphasized the U.S. desire for a strong, long-term partnership with Pakistan. He updated the prime minister, minister of defense, and the chief of the army staff on U.S. and NATO efforts to promote stability in Afghanistan.

Secretary Hagel raised the importance of keeping the ground supply routes out of Afghanistan open and thanked the prime minister for his government's continued support. They discussed that while the GLOCs (Ground Lines of Communication) are open, noting goods are flowing through the Chaman gate, protests and security issues on the Pakistan side have impacted the ability of goods to move through the Torkham Gate. The prime minister indicated that Pakistan would address the issue.

During his meeting with the prime minister, Secretary Hagel reviewed shared concerns regarding the activities of terrorist groups, including the Haqqani network, on Pakistani territory. He also discussed the robust U.S. security assistance program designed to support the Pakistani government’s struggle against militants responsible for killing tens of thousands of Pakistanis. The secretary stressed that as ISAF (International Security Assistance Force) forces draw down over the course of 2014, U.S. and coalition partners remain resolved to not let militants destabilize the region.

U.S. assistance to Pakistan continues to help build the counter-insurgency and counterterrorism capabilities of Pakistan’s security forces, which are critical to countering violence in the western border regions. Since 2002, Pakistan has received more than $16 billion of security assistance and reimbursements. Pakistan’s determined effort to root out terrorism and militancy on its own territory is essential for creating a stable environment for promoting economic growth and prosperity.

The secretary’s visit follows the 22nd Defense Consultative Group, held in Washington, D.C. on Nov. 21-22. The defense consultative group is responsible for establishing the scope and character of bilateral security cooperation and is a part of the strategic dialogue, which was re-energized during Secretary of State John Kerry’s visit to Pakistan in August and reaffirmed by President Obama and Prime Minister Sharif on his visit to Washington in October.

U.S. Responds to French Request for Airlift Support

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 – In response to a request from France, the U.S. military will provide airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement released today.

Woog’s statement reads as follows:

Last evening in Kabul, Secretary Hagel spoke with French Minister of Defense Yves Le Drian about the security situation in the Central African Republic (CAR), where, under the authority of a UN Security Council Resolution, French forces are assisting the African Union-led international support mission to provide humanitarian assistance and establish an environment that supports a political transition to a democratically elected government.

Minister Le Drian requested limited assistance from the United States military to support this international effort. In the near term, France has requested airlift support to enable African forces to deploy promptly to prevent the further spread of sectarian violence in the Central African Republic.

In response to this request, Secretary Hagel has directed U.S. AFRICOM to begin transporting forces from Burundi to the Central African Republic, in coordination with France.

The United States is joining the international community in this effort because of our belief that immediate action is required to avert a humanitarian and human rights catastrophe in the Central African Republic, and because of our interest in peace and security in the region. We continue to work to identify additional resources that might be available to help address further requests for assistance to support the international community’s efforts in CAR.

Afghanistan Air Vet Earns Prestigious Award

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Lealan C. Buehrer
182nd Airlift Wing

PEORIA, Ill., Dec. 9, 2013 – A C-130 Hercules aircraft loadmaster with the 169th Airlift Squadron received the Staff Sgt. Henry E. "Red" Erwin Outstanding Enlisted Aircrew Member Airman of the Year Award during a Dec. 8 ceremony here.

"It's pretty much a major surprise. I didn't believe it," Air Force Senior Airman Ryan J. Lane, an Afghanistan veteran, said upon receiving the award.

Lane was presented the award by Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Steven J. Pyszka, the National Guard Bureau’s career enlisted aviator career field manager.

"For us, it is the most prestigious award that we can give out," Pyszka said. "And for Airman Lane, who is going to win that today, he had to compete against 3,000 other career enlisted aviators in the Air National Guard."

The award nominees were evaluated by their outstanding accomplishments, leadership traits that impacted the mission, and self-improvement in areas such as education and training.

Lane was selected for the award, in part, for his role in successfully completing 97 combat sorties that airdropped 48,384 pounds of supplies, delivered 153 tons of cargo and transported 1,690 passengers in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

He was also recognized as an airman who is a team player and a self-motivated, detail-oriented learner capable of handling mission-vital tasks.

Pyszka said that accomplishment of the nominees' missions relates to adhering to the Air Force’s core values.

"You have to have that integrity because five other crewmembers on that airplane are counting on that person to do their job," he said. "If you're not performing your job at an excellent level, every time you go out there you're putting five other people in danger, and if you're carrying passengers you're putting that whole entire aircraft in danger, too."

Protecting lives is what inspired the creation of the award, named after Army Air Corps Staff Sgt. Henry E. Erwin. Erwin was a B-29 Superfortress radio operator during World War II whose heroism saved his aircraft and fellow crewmembers during a mission on April 12, 1945.

A smoke bomb prematurely ignited inside the aircraft during an attack on a Japanese chemical plant, filling the aircraft with smoke and burning phosphorous. Erwin, although blinded by the phosphorous, picked up the burning ordnance and threw it off the plane. Doing so allowed the pilot to pull up the aircraft merely 300 feet from the ground.

Erwin suffered burns to his face and body so severe that he wasn't expected to live. However, he did survive and was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions.

"What that exemplifies -- for what he did to actually get that award started -- to pass that on to our other enlisted aviators is a really huge benefit," Pyszka said. "It's something that we shouldn't take lightly and nobody does."

Airman's past inspires excellence

by Airman 1st Class Benjamin Raughton
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs

12/9/2013 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- While many Airmen end up joining the U.S. Air Force for educational benefits, few start their journey "into the blue" from as far away as a war torn West African nation.

Airman 1st Class Tamba Benjamin-Pabie, 2nd Comptroller Squadron, was born in Liberia during a period of civil war between the Liberian government and rebel factions.

Eventually, he would join the Air Force in an effort to complete his education.

As an infant, however, war would tear his family apart.

"We fled from the war into a neighboring country, Sierra Leone, when I was about five months old," said Benjamin-Pabie. "During that time, my mom had become separated from my dad because of the war."

Continuing to flee the death and destruction, his family then fled into Guinea before coming to America.

"During that time, my siblings had migrated to America," he said. "When I was nine years-old, they sent for us and, through them, we were able to come to America."

Upon settling in America, Benjamin-Pabie was enrolled in a public school in Rhode Island.

"I graduated high school in 2008 and started college during the [summer] semester," Benjamin-Pabie said. "I began classes in mechanical engineering for a year. Then after a semester, because I had little money, I dropped out and went to a community college for a semester."

After attending a semester of community college, Benjamin-Pabie again dropped out because of dwindling resources.

"That's when I decided to join the Air Force," he said. "The Air Force, so far, has given me a new environment, and it's definitely a disciplined environment."

Now, Benjamin-Pabie processes vouchers for temporary duty assignments and permanent changes of station for Barksdale Airmen.

"Airman Benjamin-Pabie is detail oriented, which is important to have in the financial services flight," said Staff Sgt. Felicia Logsdon, 2nd CPTS financial services supervisor. "He also motivates others and their physical fitness to get the job done."

While Benjamin-Pabie continues his military career, his siblings have given him nieces and nephews.

"They're growing up and seeing the type of lifestyle I'm in right now," he said. "The military and discipline, the work and how it matures a person. They see me involved in that type of lifestyle and hopefully they'll take a full step [in joining the military] like I did."

Another achievement Benjamin-Pabie has accomplished is to become an Iron Airman, Barksdale's most difficult fitness accomplishment.

"I've always been fitness-minded," he said. "I love to challenge myself and go beyond things other people don't do or are not capable of doing."

Having trained in football, track, wrestling and boxing, Benjamin-Pabie is glad his physical prowess has benefited him in the military.

"I was able to help other Airmen get a higher score on their PT test," he said. "I always tell people anything is possible."

Since joining the military, Benjamin-Pabie feels the people he's met have become like a second family.

"I don't feel completely alone because I've met some good friends and co-workers here who help me through the tough times," he said.

Outside of the military, Benjamin-Pabie has a personal goal.

"There are children who have lost parents and lost families," he said. "I definitely want to help them out as well."

Hill maintenance officer breaks Utah weight lifting record

by Senior Airman Crystal Charriere
419th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

12/9/2013 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Maj. Eileen Frock, an aircraft maintenance officer in the 419th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron, took home first place for her age and weight division at the World Association of Benchers and Deadlifters Competition in November.

"I didn't think I'd get to achieve this goal because it's the World Competition, but my teammates and trainers motivated me," Frock said. "I couldn't have done this on my own."

She benched 127 pounds and deadlifted 276.68 pounds, breaking a five-year state record.

"To break the state record that's been there since 2008 was incredible," Frock said. "I was pretty excited."

Frock also started a training regimen to compete in her first bodybuilding competition in April.

Hagel Meets With Senior Saudi Officials

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 9, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with senior Saudi officials during a visit to Saudi Arabia today, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said in a statement.

Woog’s statement reads as follows:

“This evening, Secretary Hagel visited Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, to meet with the Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

“Secretary Hagel and the Crown Prince, who serves as the Minister of Defense, agreed that the United States and Saudi Arabia are firmly committed to their strong defense relationship and discussed the mutual goal of achieving security and stability in the region.

“Secretary Hagel conveyed that the United States is fully committed to its security partnership with Saudi Arabia and seeks to deepen its cooperation even further. They discussed Iran, in the context of the recently concluded Joint Action Plan with the P5+1. Secretary Hagel underscored the United States commitment to preventing Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon and maintaining a strong American defense presence in the region.

“Secretary Hagel also discussed the proposals he announced at the Manama Dialogue in Bahrain, in particular to hold a U.S.-GCC Defense Ministerial meeting in the region within the next six months.

“Prior to his meeting with the Crown Prince, Secretary Hagel met with Deputy Minister of Defense Prince Salman bin Sultan. They discussed a number of regional issues including Afghanistan and Pakistan. Secretary Hagel invited him to visit the United States early next year to meet with senior U.S. military leaders.”

Also, according to a senior U.S. defense official traveling with Hagel, the Crown Prince conveyed to Hagel that his second Gulf tour and second visit to Saudi Arabia comes at just the right time, noting that he is leaving tomorrow for Kuwait to attend a Gulf Cooperation Council Ministers meeting and will convey their discussions.

Hagel was told his assurances are well received and that the partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia is as strong as ever, the senior official said.

Hagel’s visit to Saudi Arabia, the senior official said, came at the personal direction of President Barack Obama to convey that the United States will continue planning for all options to prevent Iran from attaining a nuclear weapon, in the event Iran fails to live up to its commitments.

For Hagel, this trip is second step in a series of engagements with Gulf partners to increase regional cooperation, the first being Hagel's meeting with GCC Defense Ministers at the U.N. General Assembly in New York, the senior defense official said.

The United States is planning that the U.S.-Defense Ministers meeting in the region within the next six months will be the third step, the senior defense official said.