Sunday, July 27, 2014

CENTCOM Commander Visits CVN 77

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Connor McDermott, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

ARABIAN SEA (NNS) -- Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III, commander, U.S. Central Command, spoke to the crew of the aircraft carrier USS George H. W. Bush (CVN 77), provided an update on current events and thanked them for their service July 26.

"I just wanted to come out today and tell everyone thank you for what you do," said Austin. "Thanks for what you've done most recently as part of our operations in Iraq and Afghanistan."

Austin added that he wanted to remind Sailors that their country and he personally appreciated what they are doing in support of Operation Enduring Freedom.

"I know you're out here sweating on the deck, and you're wondering if you are making a difference or what you're doing is important. Well I'm here to tell you face-to-face today that it is important, and you're making a hell of a difference," said Austin.

After Austin finished his speech he made time to answer questions from Sailors on important strategic issues like operations in Iraq, the future of central command, Middle East exit strategies and hazardous duty pay.

"Gen. Austin lived up to his reputation, addressing my question perfectly," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class Charles Gillum, of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 87.

"The eyes of the world are on the conflict in Iraq and on this strike group because they know you bring the punch to where it matters and that you can make things happen," said Austin.

Austin ended the all hands call with a heartfelt thank you to all of the Sailors and their families.

"You're helping to promote the interests of the United States of America," said Austin. "Thanks for what you do. You're doing very well and we're all grateful."

Commanded by Rear Adm. DeWolfe Miller, George H. W. Bush Carrier Strike Group (GHWB CSG) is comprised of the aircraft carrier George H.W. Bush, Carrier Air Wing 8, Destroyer Squadron 22, the guided-missile cruiser USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), the guided-missile destroyer USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and the guided-missile destroyer USS Roosevelt (DDG 80).

GHWB CSG deployed Feb. 15, 2014, and is operating in the 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations, theater security cooperation efforts and support missions as part of Operation Enduring Freedom.

NAVEUR Commander Visits USS Mount Whitney

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Wright, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- Adm. Mark Ferguson, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, visited the U.S. 6th Fleet command and control ship USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) in Gaeta, July 25, for the first since taking command.

During an all-hands call with Sailors, Ferguson expressed his appreciation and gratitude for the hard work they do on a daily basis. He also said he plans to spend more time with the crew in the near future.

"The missions that Mount Whitney conducts are important," said Ferguson. "I am proud of each and every one of you."

While onboard, Ferguson toured department spaces, had a brief lunch with the ship's Commanding Officer, Capt. Mark Colombo, and pinned two Sailors with their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist pin.

"It really made me feel good to have a four star admiral pin my Enlisted Surface Warfare qualification," said Electronic Technician 3rd Class Rachel Stewart. "I will remember that moment for the rest of my life. It definitely gives me another story to talk with friends and family about."

Ferguson recently relieved Adm. Bruce Clingan as Commander, Allied Joint Force Command, Naples/Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.

Mount Whitney, forward deployed to Gaeta, Italy, operates with a combined crew of U.S. Navy Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners. The civil service mariners perform navigation, deck, engineering and supply service operations, while military personnel support communications, weapons systems and security. It is one of only two seaborne joint command platforms in the U.S. Navy, both of which are forward deployed.

DIA Chief: Transparency Builds Public Trust

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ASPEN, Colo., July 27, 2014 – Transparency has to be a watchword for the intelligence community if it is to regain the public’s trust, Army Lt. Gen. Michael T. Flynn, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said here yesterday.

“What transparency does is, transparency breeds trust,” Flynn told an audience at the Aspen Security Forum. And the intelligence community cannot afford to lose the trust of the American people, he added.

“When it happened in the past, this community got gutted and we failed the country again,” Flynn said.

The damage done by Edward Snowden was terrible, the director said. "This country can sustain big body blows, we will sustain this one, but … there will be risk,” Flynn said.

Since the leaks by Snowden, he said, the intelligence community has worked to correct itself.

“This is about transparency, security, civil liberties, our ability to protect this nation and trust. And I think the most [important] of all those is trust,” Flynn said.

The American public will regain its trust in the intelligence community if they know the community is abiding by laws approved by Congress, the executive branch and the judiciary, he said. There needs to be a national conversation about the role of intelligence, the general added.

Many of the threats and issues the intelligence community deals with every day are likely to be around for a long time, the director said. The nation is not safer for having been at war for the past 13 years, Flynn added.

“We have a whole gang of new actors out there that are far more extreme than al-Qaida,” he said, and they are involved in increasingly complex regional conflicts in places like Syria and Iraq.

And it is a mistake to underestimate these groups, Flynn noted.

"We look at some of these people as if they were in shower shoes and bathrobes, but twice they were defeating the most sophisticated military in the world -- in 2006 in Iraq and 2009 in Afghanistan,” he said. “And they're watching everything that's going on in Iraq as we transition out of Afghanistan."

These individuals have every intention to come to the United States and do damage, the general said.

One of the most dangerous threats that the U.S. faces, Flynn said, is the possibility of a group like the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant getting their hands on chemical weapons in Syria.

“So, we're worried about foreign fighters coming out of there, doing attacks here in this country or maybe against our partners, but actually, there's still chemical capabilities in that part of the world and in the hands of people who I know have the intent to use them and we need to be concerned about that,” he said.

Nation-states around the world are being challenged, Flynn said. The world is in a period of prolonged societal conflict, the general continued, and the United States needs to recognize that it cannot win alone.

And while the U.S. will always play an important international role in addressing these failures, he said, it may not always be a deciding one.

Northern Command Chief Explains Key Mission Areas

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 27, 2014 – U.S. Northern Command epitomizes the changes over the past decades in defending the United States of America, Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr., the commander of U.S. Northern Command and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, said yesterday.

Jacoby told attendees at the Aspen Security Forum in Colorado that he spent his first 34 years as a soldier “out there” -- meaning concentrating on overseas threats -- defending the United States. “The distinction between the home game and the away game is really changed and really less significant than it’s been in the past,” he said.

The mission of U.S. Northern Command falls into three groups, Jacoby said.

The command’s bedrock is the defense of the homeland, he said. This is more than just defending the shores from an invasion, and includes missile defense, cruise missile defense, maritime defense and cyberdefense.

“The second basket of things … is defense support to civil authorities,” he said. “That’s a mission set we have always performed, but I will tell you the first half of my career we wouldn’t have said that support to civil authorities was a core military task. It was something that we would do -- sometimes grudgingly.”

But after Hurricane Katrina in 2005, DoD understood that the American people had a legitimate expectation that the military would be there and be an effective partner to civilian authorities. “We would deliver at times of our citizens’ greatest needs,” the general said.

This second basket includes defense support to law enforcement and to the Department of Homeland Security.

The final group is working with North American partners -- Canada, Mexico and the Bahamas, he said.

Civil support is the mission that most people are familiar with. The command aids civil authorities during natural or man-made disasters. The command works with partners across the United States to develop and maintain relationships with other federal agencies and with state and local authorities.

The command also works with intelligence agencies to spot and hopefully interdict threats to the homeland.

Jacoby’s command “resists taking control” of a situation unless ordered by the president or unless local and state authorities ask.

And the command is always planning for the “what ifs” and seeking to make improvements. Since 2011, the command has restructured the chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear enterprise. “This was done with some view of what happened to the Japanese at Fukushima [nuclear power plant],” he said.

Today there are about 18,000 service members available to the command to respond within 24 to 96 hours to a chemical, biological or radiological event.

The command was tested during Hurricane Sandy in 2012. “I look back on it and we could have expected that a major hurricane slamming into the borough of Manhattan was not going to be just a Manhattan issue,” he said. The effect of a major hurricane hitting the nation’s largest city, he added, was going to be felt across the country and worldwide.

An example of that, Jacoby said, was when the first person to speak at a meeting on Hurricane Sandy was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner. He said it was imperative to get the markets running or the economic recovery would stall.

The command has to be prepared to bring huge industrial response to the problem, the general said. For Sandy, this meant providing pumps that drained the subways and tunnels. It meant deploying a Marine unit ashore. It meant airlifting electric company trucks aboard Air Force C-17s to fix the power grid.

“We have to be prepared to lean forward without leaning into or crowding,” Jacoby said. “It’s a bit of a balancing act.”