Saturday, March 29, 2014

Dempsey to Discuss Range of Issues During Israel Visit

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, March 29, 2014 – Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is traveling to Israel for meetings with senior Israeli military officials.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, will host the chairman.

“The focus of the chairman’s discussions with his counterparts will be on issues of mutual strategic interest, while continuing to build on this important defense relationship,” said Air Force Col. Ed Thomas, spokesman for the chairman.

This will be Dempsey’s fifth trip to Israel as chairman. These military-to-military meetings demonstrate America’s unwavering commitment to Israel’s security and the meetings come amid much change and turmoil in the region.

Millions of refugees from Syria’s civil war are straining resources in Jordan and Turkey and there is the threat that the conflict could spill over Syria’s borders. Insurgents continue attacks in Iraq. Egypt – the largest Arab nation – is going through its own political transition. Iran is negotiating over its nuclear program while continuing to support terror groups including Hezbollah that threaten Israel.

The chairman will also touch on global issues with this close American ally including the situation in Ukraine and efforts to get Russia to de-escalate the situation there.

Dempsey last visited Israel in August 2013.

Alaska Shield 14: When disaster disables phone and Internet, military and local groups help make the link

by SPC True Thao
364th Press Camp Headquarters

3/29/2014 - VALDEZ, Alaska -- The city of Valdez participated in Alaska Shield 14, a disaster exercise hosted by State of Alaska Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management with federal, state, local community, and Non-Government Organization participation. The exercise started with an aftershock that put the city into a communication blackout - no phones or internet connections.

Local officials worked with amateur radio operators to help re-gain communication with the outside world.

"We are providing amateur radio support for Alaska Shield 2014," said Robert Rountree, president of the amateur radio club. "We have an amateur radio group here in town that provides emergency communications." Rountree said that the group's purpose is to respond to emergencies just like those in the exercise scenario.

Amateur radio communication allows local citizens to ask for emergency aid if needed. Once a message is received by the Emergency Operation Center, the group works closely with Joint Task Force Alaska to re-establish communication across the affected regions.

To aid the city, Joint Task Force Alaska, mobilized the Alaska Land Mobile Radio (ALMR) transportable system that was able to reestablish phone communications.

"We are here to provide the critical communications capabilities required for the citizens to do their jobs," said Tim Woddall, ALMR military liaison with Joint Task Force Alaska.

The ALMR systems provide Alaskan public safety first responders with interoperable communications that are cost effective and reliable. Having this type of equipment allows citizens to have access to the Internet and use of their cell phones. The ALRM transportable also minimizes the wait time when trying to contact loved ones.

"During an emergency operation, we can bring this in and increase the loading capacity, which means we can allow more users to operate without having busy signals," said Woddall.

The state of Alaska also assisted the city of Valdez by deploying the National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron from Volk Field Air National Guard Base, located near Camp Douglas in Wisc., which reestablished secure communications using the Joint Incident Site Communication Capability system. JISCC provides on-site and reach-back communications capabilities for enhanced command and control and shared situational awareness among first responders, along with state and federal command authorities and centers.

"Our mission here is to help this emergency operation center do its communications," said Senior Master Sgt. Charles Rydmark, the Noncommissioned Officer in Charge of the 128th ACS team.

Using the JISCC systems allows the 128th ACS to cross-patch radios, according to Rydmark, enabling communication between the local law enforcement and the military. This type of equipment carries and enhances communication networks where it may be limited or where there is none.

"We've got to that day and age where everything is digital. And we can bring that communication to anywhere in the world no matter what," said Rydmark. "That's our mission."

Working together, these military and civilian capabilities will help local authorities establish vital communications links to enable successful response, recovery, and ongoing incident management operations.

Alaska Shield is a State of Alaska, U.S. Government, joint military, and local government disaster exercise designed to enhance cooperation and response to a large earthquake in the region. The exercise is designed on the 1964 Good Friday Earthquake that devastated south central Alaska including Valdez.

Joint Logistics Over the Shore: Soldier, Sailors integrate into Alaska Shield 2014

by SPC Ryan Swanson
364th Press Camp Headquarters

3/29/2014 - ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- A military tugboat was one of many items lifted off a U.S. Navy cargo ship at the Port of Anchorage Thursday, March 27. The tug will be used to help establish a Joint Logistics Over The Shore operation to move military and disaster relief supplies into the area.

The ship's arrival is one of many activities at the Port of Anchorage and throughout the region underway as part of Alaska Shield, a large disaster response exercise run by the State of Alaska in partnership with Federal, Local and military partners.

"What you saw was the offload on one United States Army small tug off the USNS Mendonca, " said 1st Lt. Eric Heinemann, executive officer for the 331st Transportation Company, (Modular Causeway) 7th Transportation Brigade (Expeditionary), at Fort Eustis, Va. The 7th Brigade is responsible for reestablishing the port and managing the flow of supplies and equipment to the relief efforts in the exercise.

The scenario for Alaska Shield is modeled after the 1964 earthquake and resulting tsunamis that devastated Anchorage and surrounding areas. This portion of the exercise simulates that the Port of Anchorage is severely damaged requiring the assistance of military equipment and personnel to reestablish critical capabilities including fuel transport and storage, establishing temporary piers, and unloading cargo from large ships anchored in the harbor onto smaller vessels that can come closer to shore.

"If this pier is not accessible to a deep tract vessel, due to the earthquake shifting the ocean floor up, we can discharge cargo offshore and have a smaller draft vessel such as the Landing Support Vessel come to the pier instead and offload supplies," said Heinemann.

The exercise is scheduled to continue through early April and involves more than 7,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airman, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.

Travis trains with multiple bases, services in ACOT

by Senior Airman Madelyn Brown
60th Air Mobility Command Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- Travis Airmen, in coordination with Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Fairchild Air Force Base, the 621st Contingency Response Group and Navy Carrier Wing 2, completed advanced combat operations training Monday and Tuesday from Travis AFB down the California coast to San Diego.

"Essentially ACOT is the 60th Air Mobility Wing's implementation of the 2013 Campaign Plan for Mobility Air Forces Aircrew Training," said Maj. Jason Roberts 60th Operations Support Squadron airborne mission commander. "This scenario-based training supports the full spectrum of operations in both permissive and contested battle space while delivering the most realistic and efficient learning experience possible. The ultimate goal is to give crews enhanced applied knowledge to meet the combatant commander's requirements."

The training included large formation aerial refuel missions, low-level ingress and egress maneuvers, intermediate and forward operating bases, air intercept scenarios from the Naval F/A-18 Super Hornets and applied aircraft defensive maneuvering. Travis employed all three of its air frames, the C-5 Galaxy, C-17 Globemaster III and KC-10 Extender to support the joint training.

Fighter aircraft from the USS Reagan were designated to act as friendly force escorts, while also receiving AR from Travis KC-10s. At the height of the training scenario, the strike fighters were approached by two enemy F/A-18s with the intent to harm the escorted cargo aircraft.

The simulated threat environment provides great training for defensive posturing and aerial refueling, said Staff Sgt. Jeff Suddy, 9th Air Refueling Squadron KC-10 boom operator.

"The threats laid out in these training scenarios were strategic, involving surface-to-air missiles and the F/A-18s acting as adversary planes," Roberts said.

While the F/A-18s protected the cargo plane, the heavy aircraft used their own defensive measures, such as flare deployment and low-level maneuvers.

"It's exciting to get out here and play some tactical games with the C-5," said Staff Sgt. Jack Hullman, 22nd Airlift Squadron loadmaster. "It really brings to light the true war fighting capabilities of the aircraft."

On the ground, the 621st Contingency Response Group set up a forward operating base at Fort Irwin, Calif., and completed landing zone safety officer duties at Bicycle Lake Army Air Field.

By the end of the exercise, 26 aircraft had participated from six different bases and involved forces from the Army, Navy and Air Force, creating an in-depth exercise applicable to real-world situations.

"If we were to enter a real-world wartime scenario multiple bases would respond, meet up and take care of business," Roberts said. "Aircraft from different bases need to know how to communicate, execute and complete the mission in the joint-service environment in a wide spectrum of circumstances."

The dedication and the methodical approach Travis Airmen displayed when solving the training problems thrown at them resulted in an in-depth and successful mission completion, Roberts said.

Carolina Hurricanes honor 4 FW Airman at Military Appreciation Day

by Airman 1st Class Brittain Crolley
4th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - SEYMOUR JOHNSON AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. -- The National Hockey League's Carolina Hurricanes recognized Senior Airman William Harris, 4th Communications Squadron cyber operations technician and the 4th Fighter Wing's Airman of the Year, during a Military Appreciation Day, March 16, in Raleigh, N.C.

Harris was nominated by his squadron for his outstanding performance and the leadership capabilities he displayed during 2013. He also beat out four other highly skilled Airmen to win the wing-level award.

"Harris' dedication to the mission, community, and his drive to further enhance his technical education made him the prime candidate for Airman of the Year," said Tech. Sgt. Angelina Martell, 4th CS NCO in charge of cyber system operations. "Being honored at the game was an unbelievable opportunity for him to represent the Air Force and the 4th Communications Squadron as the professional he is."

Harris and more than 5,000 military members were invited to the game against the Edmonton Oilers to recognize their contributions and sacrifices for their country.

"You could tell the Hurricanes staff was genuinely appreciative of the military members and excited for this event," Harris said. "It was great to see all the other branches there and thank them for the work they do and the sacrifices they make. A big thank you to the Hurricanes and their staff for putting on this event and having me as their guest of honor. I had a great time."

Uniformed representatives from each of the five services were also outside the arena prior to the game to show off their equipment and talk with fans about life in the military. The demonstration included a variety of armored vehicles, weaponry and a rescue boat that patrons could interact with.

"The biggest part of these events is closing the gap between service members and civilians," said Lance DeSpain, North Carolina Military Foundation executive director. "It helps put a face to the veterans who are risking their lives for the freedoms we enjoy."

Throughout the game, the Hurricanes also took time to honor other service members in the crowd. The hockey club also launched a new program this season called the Military Rush Program. It allows military personnel to purchase day-of-game tickets at a discounted price.

This event marks the 11th season the Carolina Hurricanes have held a military appreciation game to celebrate and raise awareness about the different missions of each military service.

725th BSB adds two companies

by Army Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Smith
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs

3/28/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 725th Brigade Support Battalion, 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, increased its combat power by formally adding two additional companies to its ranks during a patch ceremony March 17 at the Alaska National Guard Headquarters Building at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

The two newest units in the Spartan Brigade are the 4th Quartermaster Detachment and the 716th Explosive Ordnance Disposal Company. The Centurion Battalion's numbers increased by a couple hundred paratroopers recently, both with these two new units, and the recently acquired 8th Forward Surgical Team, which is currently deployed to Afghanistan on a nine-month rotation.

The new Centurions moved over from the 2d Engineer Brigade, U.S. Army Alaska, as part of ongoing, Army-wide force restructuring. Under the changes, USARAK is scheduled to decrease the number of Soldiers stationed at JBER, while increasing the amount at Fort Wainwright.

The patch ceremony, featuring new paratroopers donning the 4-25th IBCT shoulder sleeve insignia and maroon berets, formally welcomes the units into the brigade while significant logistic operations occur behind the scenes. Service members, Department of the Army civilians and contractors are responsible for transferring, turning in, and accounting for large amounts of unit property as the realignment efforts take place.

The Spartan Brigade and Centurion Battalion's family readiness groups will grow as well, welcoming new families to the units.

The new Centurion paratroopers are happy to be united with the large airborne community of the 4-25th IBCT.

"I originally was with the 4-25th, and I came over to the 2d Engineer Brigade specifically to command this company, so I'm excited to go back home, and be in an airborne brigade again," said 4th QM commander, Army Capt. Sloane Mauldin, from Fredericksburg, Va. "My troopers are absolutely excited to be part of a unit with such great airborne lineage and history as the 4-25th."

"The 4-25th has been very welcoming, and we are excited to work with them and be a part of the team," said 716th EOD executive officer, Army 1st Lt. Josiah Hennieg, from Stratford, Conn.

"This ceremony is a great way to punctuate that the 716th EOD and the 4th Quartermaster are now part of the Spartan family," said Army Col. Matthew McFarlane, 4-25th IBCT commander.

"There are many aspects that go into this," McFarlane said, "from mission command responsibilities of equipping and sustainment to family care. We are ensuring we guide our leaders and all of our Soldiers in leader development, and interacting with post agencies to make sure we can take care of the entire formation and their families."

Units across Alaska are meeting the challenges presented by the Army's force restructuring, said Army Maj. Gen. Michael Shields, USARAK commanding general. He said the patch ceremony is the right way to welcome new units as they transition throughout his command.

"This is a progression of several moves within USARAK, and this is a great way to recognize these units and Soldiers for their service and of course, the great history and tradition of the 4th of the 25th," he said.

Shields said USARAK has plans to restructure many units in the future, to include some aviation units, as the command continues to realign its force structure both at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson and at Fort Wainwright.

Dempsey Addresses TAPS Honor Guard Gala

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2014 – The military has a moral obligation to take care of veterans and the relatives of service members, Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey told attendees at the 2014 Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors Honor Guard Gala last night.

Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the keynote speaker for the event. Cameron Santos-Silva, a surviving child, presented Air Force Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, chief of staff of the Air Force, with the TAPS Honor Guard Gala Military Award.

Recipients of TAPS awards, the chairman said, are “honored for something that I consider to be absolutely extraordinary.”

“What holds us together as a force is that we trust each other,” the chairman said. “You don’t walk out of a forward-operating base in Iraq or Afghanistan or anyplace and put yourself in the cockpit of an aircraft or deploy on a ship unless you trust that if something happens, the man or woman to your right or left knows what they have to do.

And just as important,” he added, “is that your family you’ve left behind will be cared for.”

TAPS’ mission, Dempsey said, is “absolutely essential to who we are as a profession. Establishing, maintaining and living up to that bond of trust absolutely has to exist among our ranks in peace and in war.”

The chairman commended Bonnie Carroll, TAPS’ president, for founding the organization.

“It’s the brilliance of Bonnie Carroll that brings us here tonight,” Dempsey said.

“Can you imagine,” he added, “if, in 1994, she hadn’t begun to put this organizations together, so that when we really needed it in 2002 and beyond, we [might not have had a] public-private partnership that we could fall back on to take care of the survivors of those who served and gave their lives in the protection of their country?”