Military News

Friday, April 11, 2014

Dacian Viper 2014: US, Romanian air forces partner for 2-week exercise

by Staff Sgt. R.J. Biermann
31st Fighter Wing Public Affairs


4/11/2014 - CAMPIA TURZII, Romania  -- U.S. and Romanian Airmen met during the Dacian Viper 2014 opening ceremony at the 71st Air Base in Campia Turzii, Romania, April 10, 2014.

Romanian air force Cmdr. Petrus Marian, 71st AB commander; Cmdr. Adrian Motorga, 711th Squadron commander; and U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Christopher Austin, 510th Fighter Squadron commander, greeted the crowd as a dozen Romanian reporters captured the ceremony's events.

From April 10-17, 71st AB and 31st Fighter Wing Airmen will conduct bilateral training to enhance interoperability and readiness through combined air operations, including air-to-air, air-to-ground and joint tactical air controller training.

"This exercise has been planned for over a year now," said Austin. "We're here to conduct range operations and joint exercise sorties with our NATO partners to enhance interoperability."

Six 31st FW F-16 Fighting Falcons and several MiG-21 Lancers will be flown by their respective country's pilots throughout the training. Team Aviano maintainers, crew chiefs, firefighters, aerospace ground equipment technicians, air traffic controllers, and supply, logistics and support personnel will also participate.

Dacian Viper 2014 will also aid the Romanian air force in gaining knowledge about the F-16 flying program. In 2013, Romania signed a contract to acquire 12 F-16s from Portugal to replace their MiG-21s.

The exercise is the latest example of the high level of military cooperation between the NATO partners and reflects the strength of the partnership, according to officials.

Navy Logistics Ship Joins Search for Airliner




By Edward Baxter
Navy News Service

INDIAN OCEAN, April 11, 2014 – The 7th Fleet supply ship USNS Cesar Chavez yesterday joined an international task force led by the Australian Defense Force searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off the Western Coast of Australia.

The U.S. 7th Fleet deployed Chavez in response to a formal Joint Operations Command request to the U.S. Pacific Command for tanker support. Deployment of the dry cargo/ammunition ship speaks to the U.S. Navy's enduring commitment to allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and the ability to respond rapidly where it matters, when it matters.

"Although a crisis has brought us to these waters, the team aboard Chavez is standing by and proud to support such a vital mission," said Chavez's civil service master Navy Capt. Rollin Bellfi.

In the coming days Chavez is scheduled to conduct underway replenishment operations with Australian naval ships actively searching for MH370, including HMAS Success, HMAS Perth and HMAS Toowoomba.

Chavez is the U.S. Navy's newest combat logistics force ship which is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. These ships also have a complement of 11 U.S. Navy sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination.

"This is an unexpected assignment, but our logistics ships are used to responding quickly to emergent requirements," said COMLOG WESTPAC replenishment officer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord.

Prior to setting sail for the remote waters of the southern Indian Ocean, Chavez loaded provisions and fuel in Singapore. There, a U.S. Navy logistics team assigned to Logistics Group Western Pacific and Military Sealift Command Far East worked with the Royal Australian Navy Liaison Office to load supplies and fuel destined for Australian ships.

Chavez, operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, provides underway replenishment of dry cargo, fuel, and ammunition to U.S. and coalition naval ships operating at sea.

The 689-foot Chavez is expected to take on additional provisions and freight in Fleet Base West at Stirling, Western Australia, to further support task forces ships.

COMLOG WESTPAC is Seventh Fleet's combat-ready logistics command in Southeast Asia, providing government-owned and contracted ships to keep units armed, fueled and fed throughout the U.S. Pacific Fleet area of responsibility. In addition to USNS Cesar Chavez, U.S. Pacific Fleet is also supporting the search operation with two P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft, a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and an autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 side-scan sonar.



By Edward Baxter
Navy News Service

INDIAN OCEAN, April 11, 2014 – The 7th Fleet supply ship USNS Cesar Chavez yesterday joined an international task force led by the Australian Defense Force searching for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 off the Western Coast of Australia.

The U.S. 7th Fleet deployed Chavez in response to a formal Joint Operations Command request to the U.S. Pacific Command for tanker support. Deployment of the dry cargo/ammunition ship speaks to the U.S. Navy's enduring commitment to allies and partners in the Asia-Pacific region, and the ability to respond rapidly where it matters, when it matters.

"Although a crisis has brought us to these waters, the team aboard Chavez is standing by and proud to support such a vital mission," said Chavez's civil service master Navy Capt. Rollin Bellfi.

In the coming days Chavez is scheduled to conduct underway replenishment operations with Australian naval ships actively searching for MH370, including HMAS Success, HMAS Perth and HMAS Toowoomba.

Chavez is the U.S. Navy's newest combat logistics force ship which is operated by a crew of 125 civil service mariners. These ships also have a complement of 11 U.S. Navy sailors who provide operational support and supply coordination.

"This is an unexpected assignment, but our logistics ships are used to responding quickly to emergent requirements," said COMLOG WESTPAC replenishment officer, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Gentry Debord.

Prior to setting sail for the remote waters of the southern Indian Ocean, Chavez loaded provisions and fuel in Singapore. There, a U.S. Navy logistics team assigned to Logistics Group Western Pacific and Military Sealift Command Far East worked with the Royal Australian Navy Liaison Office to load supplies and fuel destined for Australian ships.

Chavez, operated by the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command, provides underway replenishment of dry cargo, fuel, and ammunition to U.S. and coalition naval ships operating at sea.

The 689-foot Chavez is expected to take on additional provisions and freight in Fleet Base West at Stirling, Western Australia, to further support task forces ships.

COMLOG WESTPAC is Seventh Fleet's combat-ready logistics command in Southeast Asia, providing government-owned and contracted ships to keep units armed, fueled and fed throughout the U.S. Pacific Fleet area of responsibility. In addition to USNS Cesar Chavez, U.S. Pacific Fleet is also supporting the search operation with two P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft, a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and an autonomous underwater vehicle Bluefin-21 side-scan sonar.

109th AW participates in Canadian Forces Arctic exercise

by Tech. Sgt. Catharine Schmidt
109th Airlift Wing Public Affairs


4/10/2014 - STRATTON AIR NATIONAL GUARD BASE, N.Y. -- Nearly 40 Airmen and two Air Force LC-130 Hercules ski-equipped aircraft from the 109th Airlift Wing will be demonstrating their vast capabilities on the Arctic ice as they join the Canadian Forces April 11 to participate in Canada's annual Operation Nunalivut Exercise.

Canada's Joint Task Force-North has been conducting this exercise in and around the area of Resolute Bay, Nunavut, Canada, since 2007.

This will be the first year the 109th will participate. This year more than 250 people will be involved in the exercise, including the Canadian Army, the Royal Canadian Navy Fleet Diving Unit, and the Royal Canadian Air Forces 440 (Transport) Squadron.

The New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing team, which will consist of maintainers and aircrew, will be operating out of Resolute Bay and Thule Air Base, Greenland during the weeklong exercise. Shortly after arriving, maintainers and operations Airmen will establish a "skiway" camp in the vicinity of Resolute Bay to support LC-130 flight operations.

"We see on the horizon the need for aircraft capabilities to meet Arctic taskings," said Lt. Col. Clifford Souza, 109th Operations Group who will be the lead 109th officer on the exercise. "We're trying to get out ahead of it and demonstrate LC-130 capabilities. So we're taking advantage of this exercise - we want to develop joint capabilities and interoperability with the Canadian Arctic Forces because they have a need to maintain an airlift reach throughout the high Arctic."

The Canadians have ski-equipped CC-138 Twin-Otter aircraft which don't have the lift capacity or range the 109th LC-130s have. The 109th will help bring fuel and supplies to the forward-deployed locations during the exercise. Normally Canadian aircraft would do this, but the LC-130 is able to do in one trip what they would need to do in 10, Souza said.

"That shows interoperability and integration between the U.S. and Canada to jointly develop capabilities for the future to operate in the Arctic," Souza said.

"The Canadians are very interested in what we can provide," he said. "We're also taking advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate those capabilities to set up an expeditionary skiway on the sea ice. That has significance for search and rescue, because now we have the ability to go somewhere where there's no runway, set up a ski landing site on sea ice which can provide a forward staging area for personnel, supplies and fuel to increase the operating radius of other aircraft."

While the 109th AW's primary mission is to support the National Science Foundation in Antarctica and Greenland, in the past "the unit existed to support military customers from the high arctic," Souza said. This is the opportunity for the 109th AW to show that they can still support those missions if needed.

In 1975, the 109th received their first ski-equipped LC-130s and assumed the responsibility of resupply missions for the Greenland ice cap's radar stations.

Since then, the 109th Airlift Wing has provided the U.S. military's only ski-equipped aircraft, which has been supporting polar research in the Arctic and Antarctic since 1988. Since 1999, the unit has been the sole provider of this type of airlift to the National Science Foundation and U.S. Antarctic research efforts.

More Amphibious Forces Needed in Pacific, General Says



By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2014 – More amphibious forces are needed in the Pacific, the commanding general of III Marine Expeditionary Force said today.

“If the Marine Corps is challenged, anywhere in the world, to execute combined forcible entry operations we have the capability to do it,” Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John E. Wissler, also commander of Marine Forces Japan told reporters.

Will we be able to do it multiple places simultaneously, Wissler asked, or on a scale that would allow the rapid kind of build up that we would want?  “No. I agree with Admiral Locklear — we need more amphibious ships,” he said in a reference to recent testimony to Congress by Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear III, the commander of U.S Pacific Command.

Wissler said he sat in on the opening of the Sea Air Space Expo this week where the Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, chief of Naval Operations, and other sea service leaders spoke.

“In that setting, Admiral Greenert said we need 50 amphibious ships, and that’s what Admiral Locklear was getting [at]. Now, we don’t have a sufficient budget — everybody understands that.”

Wissler said there are currently 28 amphibious ships in the entire inventory today, with another addition soon to follow. He noted that Greenert also said the Navy and Marine Corps have agreed that they can meet a majority of the requirements if they had 38 amphibious ships.

“But in the current fiscal environment, we’re fiscally constrained to 33,” Wissler said. “So you can see that large requirement, but everybody understands the fiscal constraints that we’re operating under.”

During his session with reporters, Wissler also noted the exercises currently underway in South Korea.

“They’ve been planned for over a year,” he said. “So it’s not a reactive [thing] to anything. The one that we recently completed was Exercise Ssang Yong 2014 which translates to twin dragons or double dragons.”

This is an opportunity, the general said, to “take our newest overarching concept, Expeditionary Force 21,” a capability that incorporates a number of new amphibious ships.

“By taking Marine expeditionary units, one coming from [U.S. Central Command][which] literally sailed in and joined my MEU, the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit, and then Republic of Korea Expeditionary Unit.”

“So for us it was a chance to take the Expeditionary Force 21 concept, place it into action, find out the challenges, how we would really do it for real,” Wissler said.

“We’ve talked through how we would create this combined expeditionary brigade, so this was a chance to do it.” Other nations including Australia, New Zealand and Thailand also took part in the exercise.

“We’re just trying to continue to build that combined amphibious capability for exercises across a range of military operations,” he said.

“Are we as good as we want to be?” he asked. “No. We need to continue to do [these] sort of larger scale amphibious operations. And we’ll continue to do that over the course of this next year.”

Fox, Sveinsson Discuss Ukraine, Arctic Security at Pentagon Meeting



By Nick Simeone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 11, 2014 – Acting Deputy Secretary of Defense Christine Fox and Iceland's Minister of Foreign Affairs Gunnar Sveinsson discussed a range of issues during a meeting at the Pentagon today, while reaffirming both nations' support for Ukraine and stressing the need for security in the Arctic region. 

"Fox conveyed gratitude for the strong U.S.-Icelandic bilateral relationship and noted that Iceland is a valued NATO ally and an important leader in addressing Nordic regional challenges," Defense Department Spokesman James Swartout said in a statement issued after the meeting.

The discussions included the current situation in Ukraine with Fox and Sveinsson reaffirming "their countries' support for Ukraine and the need for steps at NATO to provide reassurance to our European allies."   The spokesman said the two also discussed "our shared goal of ensuring the Arctic remains stable and secure, and the importance that capabilities like search and rescue will have in the future."

Before their talks, Sveinsson was greeted at the Pentagon by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who, Swartout said, "highlighted the similarities between U.S. and Icelandic priorities for keeping the Arctic region stable and secure." 

Ways of enhancing mutual security interests were also discussed, the Pentagon spokesman said, as well as Iceland's support for the NATO mission in Afghanistan.

Reserve Sailor of the Year Announced



By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Hannah Brim, Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Chief of the Navy Reserve (CNR) announced her selection for Navy Reserve Sailor of the Year (RSOY) during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., April 10.

Vice Adm. Robin R. Braun announced Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 1st Class Paul Marticorena of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 3, Naval Air Station North Island, Calif., as this year's selectee.

During the ceremony, Braun emphasized the sacrifices made by these Sailors.

"You are not just Sailors, you are Reserve Sailors with responsibilities beyond the Navy. Yet, somehow, you make it all work family, civilian career, and Navy," said Braun. "When I speak of the 'Citizen Sailor', it is the thousands of hard-working men and women of the Navy Reserve, who you represent, who do so much across the globe to support the Navy mission. You and your families give up one of your most important assets and that is your time. A mere thank you doesn't seem enough, but please know the impact you and your shipmates have on the Navy's mission."

Marticorena received a Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal during the ceremony and will be meritoriously advanced to chief petty officer later this year.

Joining Marticorena as RSOY finalists were Special Warfare Operator 1st Class Lawrence W. Beckhaus, assigned to SEAL UNIT 17; Yeoman 1st Class Cecilia E. Mitchell, assigned to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command 119; Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Beatriz R. Schulmeister, assigned to Operational Health Support Unit Bremerton DET N; and Information Systems Technician 1st Class Francisco Zuniga, assigned to Navy Mobilization and Processing Site Norfolk.

Force Master Chief of the Navy Reserve Clarence "CJ" Mitchell spoke at the event, praising the finalists and sharing his pride in their contributions to the force.

"All of the finalists were articulate, passionate and dedicated professionals that represented their units and communities very well. Their commitment to service on behalf of others is noteworthy," said Mitchell. "Petty Officer Marticorena's confident deckplate training and mentorship of Reserve and active component Sailors is an example to be followed by others."

Marticorena is from Van Nuys, Calif., enlisted in the Navy in 1997, and joined the Navy Reserve in 2006.

Former Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Elmo Zumwalt and Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Jack Whittet initiated the SOY program in 1972 to recognize outstanding Atlantic and Pacific Fleet Sailors; the program was later expanded to honor the top shore and Reserve Force Sailors of the year.