Saturday, July 26, 2014

Intel Community Assists Flight MH17 Investigation

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ASPEN, Colo., July 26, 2014 – Agencies throughout the U.S. intelligence community are collaborating to develop as complete a picture as possible of the events surrounding the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, Richard H. Ledgett Jr., the deputy director of the National Security Agency, said here today.

“The community is working really hard to provide as much fidelity to the White House and the rest of the policy community as they can … and will continue to do that,” Ledgett told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum.

When events like this occur, he said, the NSA -- which is focused on signals intelligence -- begins looking for communications or emanations from weapons systems.

Other defense agencies contributing to the investigation include the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which searches for phenomena in the imagery realm, Ledgett explained.

The Defense Intelligence Agency adds human intelligence to the mix, he added. “And we work also with all relevant partners who have a capability or interest in the area,” the deputy director said.

Once the information is accumulated, the deputy director said, the Central Intelligence Agency and the Director of National Intelligence produce an assessment that is provided to policy makers.

The assessment will inform their decisions and their activities in terms of how the United States will respond, he said. And sometimes information from the assessment is made public in order to support the policy goals of the administration, Ledgett added.

One example of a decision to make signals intelligence public was in 1983, when then-President Ronald Reagan gave a speech in which he played and then explained a recording of a conversation between Russian fighter pilots as they shot down Korean Air Lines Flight 007, the deputy director said.

269 people from 13 countries died in the incident, which Reagan described in his speech as a “massacre.”

As a rule, signals intelligence isn’t released because that can potentially impact sources and methods, Ledgett said.

But, he added, there “are times when that’s really important and where you need to do that.”

Greenert: China Moving Quickly to Modernize Navy

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ASPEN, Colo., July 26, 2014 – China’s naval modernization program is moving at a rapid pace, the chief of U.S. naval operations said here yesterday.

Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert spoke at the Aspen Security Forum on his way home from meetings with his Chinese counterpart, Adm. Wu Shengli.

China is participating in this year’s Rim of the Pacific Exercises. “They're doing about average compared to all the other fleets, which is interesting,” Greenert said. “… Average is good -- it's good enough; it's not what they thought. It's a little difficult, multinational exercises.”

China expressed interest in continuing to develop the military-to-military relationship through exercises and personnel exchanges, he said.

The two leaders discussed the need for developing maritime protocols for their navies and civilian mariners, the admiral said.

“It was a good visit, it was frank, it was respectful,” he said.

Greenert said he was the first U.S. service member to be allowed aboard China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, something he wasn’t sure would happen on this trip. He also met with some of the carrier’s crew.

The Liaoning is a refitted Russian aircraft carrier.

“We went, not stem-to-stern, but throughout a lot of it,” Greenert said. “Then we went to a submarine. Then we went to a destroyer -- about a 2,000-ton ... almost the length of a football field -- and then on one of their patrol craft.”

The Chinese aircraft carrier is “very Russian,” Greenert said.

“That means it's big, it's heavy and it's onerous,” he explained.

But, the admiral said, the Chinese have completely upgraded their carrier. They stripped out all the old Russian-style equipment “and everything they put in is very modern and Chinese.”

The carrier is still being worked on at a shipyard in Dalian, in northeast China, he said.

China will build another carrier like the Liaoning relatively soon, Greenert said.

“It'll look just like this one, they said -- ski ramp, about the same tonnage, 65,000-70,000 tons. … They're moving on a pace that is extraordinary,” the admiral said.

Greenert said Wu told him the ship is the basis for research and development of what will be a blue-water, aircraft-carrier-focused navy.

"I think that he may be wanting to do this on his watch,” he said. “He's got about four-and-a-half more years to ... have this carrier out to sea like we do, with a series of destroyers around it and the ability to launch and recover aircraft in the tens and maybe twenties. But I'm not overly concerned right now, they have a lot of work to do."

U.S. Moves Tripoli Embassy Personnel to Tunisia

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2014 – The U.S. military today assisted in the movement of personnel at the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli in Libya to Tunisia, Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby said in a statement issued today.

Kirby’s statement reads as follows:

At the request of the Department of State, the U.S. military assisted in the relocation of personnel from the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli, Libya, on Saturday, July 26.

All embassy personnel were relocated, including the Marine security guards who were providing security at the embassy and during the movement.

The embassy staff was driven in vehicles to Tunisia.

During movement, F-16's, ISR assets and an Airborne Response Force with MV-22 Ospreys provided security.

The mission was conducted without incident, and the entire operation lasted approximately five hours.

World War II Veteran Gets Hero’s Welcome

By Lisa Ferdinando
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, July 26, 2014 – The oldest living female World War II veteran, 108-year-old Lucy Coffey, received a hero's welcome here yesterday.

Coffey, who served with the Women's Army Auxiliary Corps, flew from San Antonio to Washington for a two-day trip to see the World War II Memorial and other sites.

After arriving to the cheers of a crowd at Washington’s Reagan National Airport, Coffey was taken to the White House where she was a special guest of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden.

"America's sweetheart, Lucy Coffey, 108-year-old WWII veteran went from Texas to the Whitehouse!" reads the caption of a picture posted on the Honor Flight Austin's Facebook page featuring Coffey with Obama and Biden.

Before Coffey’s flight arrived in Washington, airport staff announced on the public address system that she was on her way.

Greeters who gathered at the gate included uniformed members of all five services, veterans, USO and Honor Flight volunteers, children and even travelers who were beckoned by the announcement.

Coffey’s plane was given a water-cannon salute.

Army Staff Sgt. Floyd James Moss, who is stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C., said this was his first honor flight, and he was happy to be on hand to welcome Coffey.

"This is extremely important to us. She's one of our own," he said, noting Coffey is a trailblazer who "paved the way through that time" when military women faced great challenges.

Army Spc. Shikina McCargo, also stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, said it was exciting to come out and honor Coffey.

"Speechless," she said, when asked about how she felt after welcoming the veteran. "I feel like it's a [once-in-a-] lifetime experience."

Joe Manning was dressed to the nines in a red, swing dance suit, complete with red and white shoes, and a red hat with a feather in it.

A few other members of the crowd were dressed in a similar style, to give Coffey a welcome that heralded to "back in the day."

Welcoming the nation's veterans is just "something that needs to be done," Manning said.

"A lot of these folks never got any recognition at all, they just came home, got off the bus, went home and went to work," he said. "They get all emotional thanking us [for greeting them at the airport] and we're trying to thank them for what they did."

His daughter, Lynn Manning, who was visiting from Texas, was able to greet Coffey and share the experience with her father.

"It's really awesome; it's really wonderful," she said.

Navy veteran Bob Beebe is a volunteer greeter with the airport's Honor Flight group, and he often welcomes former service members who visit Washington on Honor Flights.

The veterans deserve this honor, he said, noting some service members from past conflicts did not get a big welcome when they returned home.

"They never got the parades and the 'Welcome Homes' that they deserved," Beebe said.

Susan Fines, who was holding a handmade welcome sign, said she drove about two hours to be at the airport. Her sign said: “Welcome to D.C. Ms. Lucy. Thanks for your service. You are a hero.”’

Coffey is “a hero, just like my sign says," Fines said.

Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Lori Kelly, who is stationed at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, was alongside Fines and Beebe waiting for Coffey to arrive.

"I'm here to honor Ms. Lucy," said Kelly, as she held a bouquet of flowers for the incoming veteran.