Tuesday, July 29, 2014

31 Days in PACAF...packing up, moving out

2nd Combat Camera Squadron

7/29/2014 - HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah -- Welcome! Welcome! Welcome! We are pleased to have you join us on this monumental adventure as we prepare to journey through the Pacific Air Forces (PACAF) with nothing but a couple of cameras, some writing utensils, and a can do attitude. I'm just kidding, we have enough gear it would make King Kong thing twice about asking if we "need a hand."

Our excellent expedition consists of 10 stops through PACAF bases in which we will document, ask interesting questions, and then share our findings with the world! Every base is essential in their mission supporting the Air Force and keeping things moving. We will be emphasizing our focus on the foundation of the Air Force, which is the story of the everyday Airman, to encompass anyone from load masters to security forces.

The league of extraordinary Airmen that have been tasked to carry out this mission include two photojournalists who will provide blog postings, and capture images. Also, we have two videographers who will conduct interviews and tell the stories of Airmen throughout PACAF.

USNS Richard E. Byrd Rescues Nine Individuals in the Gulf of Oman

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- USNS Richard E. Byrd (T-AKE 4), a Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship, rescued nine crew members from a Yemeni-flagged cargo vessel that had lost power, was taking on water and was adrift in the Gulf of Oman, July 28, at approximately 9:00 a.m. local.

The crew from Asaed requested assistance and Byrd was the first ship on scene. Asaed crewmembers departed their vessel via the ship's own lifeboat and maneuvered to Byrd, where they were safely recovered.

There are no reports of casualties or injuries to personnel. The Yemeni sailors are being further evaluated by Byrd's medical team. The Navy will coordinate the sailors' transfer ashore.

Richard E. Byrd is currently on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

America Embarks Trinidad and Tobago Distinguished Visitors

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) John Scorza, USS America Public Affairs

CARIBBEAN SEA (NNS) -- Eight distinguished visitors and 14 guests from Trinidad and Tobago embarked the future amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA 6) at sea for a key leadership engagement July 25.

The visit's main focus was for Trinidad and Tobago representatives, which included the minister of national security, chief of defence staff, representatives from the office of the prime minister, as well as military leadership, to engage in a "roundtable" discussion with America's key leadership, including: Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 3, Rear Adm. Frank L. Ponds, America's Commanding Officer Capt. Robert A. Hall Jr. and Special Purpose Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) South Commanding Officer, Lt. Col. George Hasseltine.

During the roundtable discussion, the group emphasized the importance of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HADR) preparedness, and the capabilities all countries bring to the effort.

"Building relationships establishes trust and delivers efficiencies during a time of crises," said Ponds. "When a crisis occurs, the region and countries affected must be ready to take a whole of government approach, including community leaders, to address the challenges and meet the needs of those impacted. Conversation and dialogue like the one today help to focus our efforts; leverage unique capabilities and identify our strengths to and build a joint, interagency and coalition team that is seamless and interoperable. "

Margaret Diop, charge d'Affairs, U.S. Embassy, Trinidad and Tobago, expressed her gratitude for America's hospitality and for the opportunity to engage in such productive conversation.

"When I think of events like this, with the newest ship in the U.S. fleet, it shows our Trinidanian counterparts that we are partners of an enduring type," said Diop. "For America to take the opportunity to meet with our partners provides proof of that [strong and growing] relationship."

The group toured the ship's medical facilities, hangar bay, vehicle stowage area and flight deck. SPMAGTF South displayed ground support vehicles and equipment, as well as a water purification system, which can be used to provide drinking water during HADR missions. Also on display was an MV-22 Osprey, assigned to the "Argonauts" of Marine Operational and Test Evaluation Squadron (VMX) 22.

"[Being able to visit the ship today] was a magnificent occasion," said Diop. "I was particularly impressed with the level of knowledge of everyone we spoke with."

The visit concluded with a gift exchange between U.S. military leadership and guests from Trinidad and Tobago.
"I believe that our regional partners, neighbors and friends of Trinidad and Tobago greatly enjoyed their time on board and appreciated the importance of our engagement as a significant step in addressing 'key' regional issues of mutual interest in a meaningful way; especially humanitarian assistance and disaster relief," said Ponds. "These engagements are invaluable and no matter how short their duration, we should never miss an opportunity to strengthen relationships and reassure our friends, allies and partners in the Western Hemisphere that we are here for them during their time of need."

America is transiting through the U.S. Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations en route to its assigned homeport, San Diego. U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet employ maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability and build enduring relationships that foster regional security in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.

America is the first ship of its class, replacing the Tawara-class of amphibious assault ships. As the next generation "big-deck" amphibious ship, America is optimized for aviation, capable of supporting current and future aircraft such as the tilt-rotor MV-22 Osprey and F-35B Joint Strike Fighter. The ship is scheduled to be ceremoniously commissioned Oct. 11 in San Francisco.

Oscar Austin Returns from BALTOPS 2014

By Lt. j.g. Jacqui Maxwell, Navy Public Affairs Support Element - East

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Oscar Austin (DDG 79) returned to Naval Station Norfolk, July 26, marking the completion of a two-month underway period in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of operations.

While underway, Oscar Austin took part in the 70th anniversary commemoration of the D-Day landings in France; participated in the 42nd annual Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2014, a multinational exercise in the Baltic Sea and conducted numerous engagements with partner nation governments and military officials.

"Despite deploying on very short notice, Oscar Austin performed superbly supporting international exercises and engagements," said Cmdr. Brian Diebold, commanding officer of Oscar Austin. "The crew greatly improved U.S. relationships and interoperability with our allies and partners during Baltic Operations 2014 and provided a tangible diplomatic presence in the Baltic region strengthening our partnerships through key engagements in Germany, Estonia, Latvia, Poland, Lithuania and France."

Following BALTOPS 2014, Oscar Austin visited ports around the Baltic Sea as part of an ongoing effort by U.S. military forces to strengthen ties with NATO allies and partners while working toward mutual goals of promoting peace and stability in the region.

"Even with the hectic pace, we've advanced qualification levels for several Sailors in a number of areas, even managing a few Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) completions," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class Julia Planes. "Overall, for the high work-load this has entailed, I think Oscar Austin rose to the challenge and exceeded expectations."

Commissioned in 2000, Oscar Austin is named for U.S. Marine Corps Pvt. 1st Class Oscar P. Austin. Austin received the Congressional Medal of Honor posthumously for his heroism and sacrifice during the Vietnam War in 1969.

U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.

U.S. Navy Ships Arrive at Changi Naval Base in Advance of CARAT Singapore 2014

By Lt. Lauryn Dempsey, Destroyer Squadron 7 Public Affairs

CHANGI NAVAL BASE, Singapore (NNS) -- USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) and USS Halsey (DDG 97) are in port Singapore July 28 in advance of the 2014 Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)exercise with the Republic of Singapore Navy.

Under the command of Destroyer Squadron 7, the two ships will participate in a number of in port exchanges and underway evolutions with their Singaporean counterparts.

"The RSN is one of the world's most capable navies and a terrific partner in this incredibly important maritime region of the world," said Capt. Fred Kacher, DESRON 7 commodore and co-commander of the exercise's task group. "Over the next week, our two navies will execute one of the most advanced underway programs in the CARAT exercise series and I can't wait to see our navies working together again at sea."

Singapore has partnered with the U.S. Navy since CARAT began in 1995. This year's iteration covers a broad range of naval complexities to include surface gunnery and air defense exercises, search and rescue, shipboard helicopter operations and maritime interdiction. The highlight of this year's sea phase will be an anti-submarine warfare exercise involving USN and RSN helicopters, as well as RSN ships, where torpedoes will be launched against an underwater target.

Wayne E. Meyer, on a routine deployment from San Diego, arrived in Singapore last week following operations in the East China Sea and Taiwan Strait.

"We are honored to be able to participate in CARAT Singapore with the RSN, as part of the premier naval exercise series in Southeast Asia," said Cmdr. Randy J. Van Rossum, commanding officer, Wayne E. Meyer. "This exercise provides our armed forces an opportunity to work together to sharpen our skills and learn from each other to continue our shared vision of regional security and stability."

Currently on the first half of its 2014 deployment, Halsey arrived in Singapore today to finalize exercise preparations.

"The 300 proud destroyermen of Halsey are excited to be training with DESRON 7, Wayne E. Meyer and the RSN for our first official exercise of our deployment," said Cmdr. Linda C. Seymour, Halsey commanding officer. "Partners like the Singaporeans are absolutely crucial to maintaining stability and freedom of navigation in the Pacific, something our namesake so dearly cherished."

CARAT Singapore officially begins July 29 and continues through Aug. 8, 2014. In its 20th year, CARAT is an annual, bilateral exercise series with the U.S. Navy, U.S. Marine Corps and the armed forces of nine partner nations including Bangladesh, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Timor-Leste.

U.S. Pacific Command Kicks Off Exercise Fortune Guard

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, July 29, 2014 – U.S. Pacific Command is hosting personnel from 31 nations as part of the proliferation security initiative Exercise Fortune Guard.

The exercise will be held in Hawaii and marks the beginning of a six-year series of exercises that various “expert” nations in the region will host. These are New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Japan, South Korea and the United States.

The initiative seeks to stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Over its 11-year history, the initiative has built resolve and capacity worldwide, said a senior defense official speaking on background.

The initiative began in 2003 with 11 endorsing nations. Today, that number is up to 104. “What ties these nations together is their commitment to act and prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” the official said.

Exercises such as Fortune Guard have provided nations a forum to demonstrate the intention to act and to enhance their capabilities and capacity, the official said.

The exercises help the nations share the best tactics against proliferators. Since the initiative began, the nature of the proliferation threat has changed, the official said, and the exercises are a way to disseminate current information.

In 2003, the threat was the shipment of whole systems, the official said. She pointed to North Korea’s attempt to export a full missile system to Yemen in 2002.

Today, the problem is dual-use items. “This is a way that nations can develop weapons of mass destruction related capabilities,” she said, noting that these dual-use items are harder to track and harder to prove the intention.

The world also is seeing a change in how proliferators transport the materials. In the past, it was by sea. Now, officials are seeing more smuggling by air and by land. “This makes it far more complex,” the official said.

Therefore, the official said, Fortune Guard focuses on dual-use commodities and diverse shipping modes. The initiative also stresses the whole-of-government approach to meeting challenges, the official said. “There may be a military or defense role as part of that whole of government push, but all the diplomatic, customs, border [agencies] need to come together for interdiction,” she added.

Fortune Guard will have a table-top exercise, a port exercise and an exercise at sea. It also will have an academic seminar focused on proliferation threats and trends and regional capabilities.

Specifically, exercise participants will observe a boarding at sea of the USNS Henry J. Kaiser, which will act as a suspect vessel. Japan and South Korea are contributing vessels and boarding teams, and Australia is providing role players. Ashore, there will be a demonstration on how to search a suspect aircraft.

Canadian officials will talk about the relationship between the initiative and the United Nations. Norwegian officials will discuss lessons learned from removing chemical weapons from Syria.