Military News

Wednesday, September 03, 2014

Operation PACANGEL 14-2 begins in Nepal

Release Number: 010914

9/3/2014 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii -- The United States and Nepal will conduct humanitarian assistance operations Sept. 8-13 as part of Operation Pacific Angel-Nepal.

Operation PACANGEL is a total force, joint and combined humanitarian assistance operation led by Pacific Air Forces.  PACANGEL 2014 includes general health, dental, optometry, pediatrics, and engineering programs as well as various subject-matter expert exchanges.

Approximately 65 U.S. military members, along with local non-governmental organizations, and host nation military forces will conduct humanitarian assistance operations throughout Nepal, as part of this operation.  PACANGEL enhances participating nations' humanitarian assistance and disaster relief capabilities.

Officially in its seventh year, PACANGEL supports U.S. Pacific Command's capacity-building efforts by partnering with other governments, non-governmental agencies and multilateral militaries in their respective region to provide medical, dental, optometry, and engineering assistance to their citizens.  The operation will be used to improve and build relationships in the event of future humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts.  Since 2007, U.S. military members, together with host nation military and civilian personnel throughout the region, have improved the lives of tens of thousands of people through PACANGEL operations.

Hagel Encourages Innovation, Adaptability to Maintain Edge



By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

NEWPORT, R.I., Sept. 3, 2014 – To maintain its technological advantage and stay on the cutting edge of technology, the United States must be willing to take risks in innovation and creative thinking, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said here today.

Despite ongoing national security challenges and uncertainty in Ukraine, Belize, Pakistan, Afghanistan and growing tension in the South China Sea, innovation challenges remain and must be addressed, Hagel said during the Southeastern New England Defense Industry Alliance-hosted Defense Innovation Days conference.

“It’s appropriate that we gather here … on the shores of Narragansett Bay, as an area that’s had a long history of innovation benefitting America’s national security,” he said.

The secretary noted to his audience of key decision makers, start-up company executives, homeland security experts, and other defense specialists that the nearby Naval War College had the foresight to analyze whether aircraft carriers could be used more effectively than battleships.

“With more than 300 simulated war games that sought to anticipate future threats, they developed the tactics and operational concepts that would establish naval aviation as an offensive force,” Hagel said. “Their innovative work proved decisive throughout World War II, and beyond – enabling countless victories in the Pacific Theater and shaping the doctrine that put aircraft carriers at the forefront of our military projects, and our ability to project power all over the world.”

Critical ties

As New England emerges as a hub for undersea warfare, technology, capabilities and future operational concepts, Hagel noted the critical ties to industry as the growth continues to support the Defense Department.

“The businesses that comprise our industrial base are as diverse as the troops they support, … and like our armed forces, they are unrivaled around the world,” he said.

Private-sector expertise also helps to give the U.S. military its technological edge and drives the economic strength that undergirds national power, the secretary said.

“From churning out over 100,000 combat aircraft during the Second World War … to constructing the mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles that continue to protect American soldiers and Marines in Afghanistan, … our men and women in uniform have been able to count on American innovation, American industry,” Hagel said. “We’ve been able to count on them to make the tools we need to win in battle and return home safely.”

Added stressors

But building an industrial partnership wasn’t an overnight process, Hagel asserted, acknowledging the added stressors of steep, abrupt budget cuts.

“Sequestration took a toll on the force by cutting into the readiness of all our troops,” Hagel said. “But we were also mindful of the harmful impact on American industry, and the ripple effects it caused up and down the supply chain.”

Despite a budget agreement last year that lessened the impact of spending cuts for fiscal years 2014 and 2015, sequestration will return in 2016 if Congress does not change the law, creating further uncertainty for DoD and industry, Hagel said. “No organization, whether a government agency or a for-profit business, can plan for the future without being able to make some basic assumptions about resources,” he added.

Challenges and threats to technological superiority stem from dwindling defense resources against the proliferation of sophisticated, deadly and diverse national security threats, Hagel said. “As the United States emerges from more than 13 years of grinding warfare and large-scale counterinsurgency operations,” he told the conference audience, “we’re seeing first-hand that the rest of the world has not stood still.”

Disruptive technologies, destructive weapons

Hagel described disruptive technologies and destructive weapons once solely possessed by advanced nations that now are ubiquitous and are being sought or acquired by unsophisticated militaries and terrorist groups.

“Meanwhile, China and Russia have been trying to close the technology gap by pursuing and funding long-term, comprehensive military modernization programs,” the secretary said. “They are also developing anti-ship, anti-air, counter-space, cyber, electronic warfare, and special operations capabilities that appear designed to counter traditional U.S. military advantages – in particular, our ability to project power to any region across the globe by surging aircraft, ships, troops, and supplies.”

American dominance on the seas, in the skies, in space and in cyberspace no longer can be taken for granted, the secretary said. “While the United States currently has a decisive military and technological edge over any potential adversary” he added, “our future superiority is not a given.”

Hagel said a world without a decisive edge portends less stability and security for the United States and its allies.

“We must take this challenge seriously, and do everything necessary to sustain and renew our military superiority,” Hagel said. “This will not only require active investment by both government and industry. It will require us to once again embrace a spirit of innovation and adaptability across our defense enterprise.”

Prioritizing key investments

In the 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review and the president’s fiscal 2015 budget request, Hagel explained, DoD prioritized key investments in submarines, cyber, next-generation fighter and bomber aircraft, missile defense, and special operations forces, putting a premium on rapidly deployable, self-sustaining platforms that can defeat more technologically advanced adversaries.

“To realistically sustain these critical investments while keeping our commitments to our people, we had to make tough but necessary choices, and tough but necessary tradeoffs,” Hagel said. “These included reducing the overall size of the force, divesting unneeded infrastructure, phasing out aging and less capable weapons platforms, and modestly adjusting military compensation.”

Hagel lauded Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work for his knowledge of strategies developed by 1950s and 1970s national security thinkers who ensured the military’s superiority, including prioritized nuclear deterrence, and the long-range research, development and planning program that shaped future investments in leap-ahead capabilities such as standoff precision strike, stealth, wide-area surveillance, and networked forces.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics, is a key part of innovation programming endeavors that will span throughout the next several decades, Hagel said, but the Defense Department’s role is only part of the effort required.

“We cannot assume – as we did in the 1950s and ’70s – that the Department of Defense will be the sole source of key breakthrough technologies,” Hagel said. “Today, a lot of groundbreaking technological change – in areas such as robotics, advanced computing, miniaturization, and 3D printing – comes from the commercial sector.”

DoD must be able to assess which commercial innovations have military potential, the secretary said, must rapidly adopt them and adapt them, then test and refine them, including through war-gaming and demonstrations.

Meanwhile, he said, DoD’s next round of improvements to the acquisition system will use stewardship initiatives to focus on the flow of technology to the warfighter.

Better Buying Power 3.0

The Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative, Hagel explained, will strengthen DoD’s efforts to incentivize innovation in both industry and government while using more modular and open systems architectures, will provide industry with draft requirements earlier, will remove obstacles to procuring commercial items, and will improve technology search and outreach in global markets.

“These initiatives and others will strengthen our defense industrial base and help both the U.S. and our allies and partners maintain our technological edge,” Hagel said.

With 20 percent of DoD acquisition dollars devoted to small businesses, Hagel noted, niche areas within industry can be particularly vulnerable when production rates decline. “Given today’s budget environment, we need to maintain the skills, the talents, the knowledge, and expertise that vulnerable firms bring to the table,” he said.

Caring for the workforce

Acquisition improvements, Hagel said, are not restricted to how DoD buys weapon systems. Rather, he added, they also pertain to caring for the workforce.

DoD released a request for proposals to restructure and modernize its electronic health records system to meet present and future national health care data standards for quality and timely services to veterans and service members, the secretary noted. “It will allow DoD to do a much better job with sharing information with both the [Veterans Affairs Department] and private-sector health care providers.”

While the breadth and magnitude of challenges are great, Hagel said, so is the DoD’s capacity to meet them.

“History shows us that America has always risen to this challenge, no matter how daunting, thanks to the drive and entrepreneurial spirit that is the hallmark of America’s national character,” he said. “We will not fail this historic charge.”

APF Mauritania students complete training

by Master Sgt. Brian M. Boisvert
AFAFRICA APF Mauritania


9/3/2014 - ATAR, Mauritania -- The last full day of training during the African Partnership Flight Mauritania took place Sept. 3, 2014, at Atar Airbase and included a group Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance planning exercise, an ISR field capstone event, and the arrival of two Mauritanian A-29B Super Tucanos and a Cessna-208 Grand Caravan.

The students from six African nations who participated in the week-long classroom training completed lessons in ISR, ground and air safety procedures, and air operations center management. The presentation of their APF Mauretania graduation certificates will take place during the event's closing ceremony scheduled for Sept. 4, 2014.

"[This training] is very important and beneficial to exchange skills and share experiences for improving [our nations here in Africa]," said a Burkina Faso student.

Following the last formal classroom training session, Col. Mohammad Lehreitani, Mauritania Air Force chief in command, meet with the students and asked them about the training they had received and what they learned from this event.

"This training is good for African forces to strengthen ties of brotherhood and exchange aviation modes," said a student from Senegal.

The final event allowed students and other distinguished visitors to view the Mauritanian Air Force intercepting and engaging a simulated threat using ISR capabilities.

"It was really interesting to see how everything we learned was put into use," said a Mauritanian student.

This is the third APF event this year and the first one the Mauritanian government has co-hosted. It focused on ISR training at the request of the Mauritanian government.

About 55 African air force airmen attended the APF premiere training event designed to build aviation capacity, enhance regional cooperation, and increase interoperability throughout the region while growing international aviation knowledge and developing stronger air force partnerships.

U.S. Army medical exercise supports underserved village in Honduras

by Capt. Steven Stubbs
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs


9/3/2014 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Hundreds of people, men, women and children of all ages, flocked to the remote village of Rio Platano to receive something that is very scarce in the region - basic medical care.

Some walked five hours on small goat trails while others traveled by canoe for three hours in the narrow canals that wind through the forest as there are no roads leading to Rio Platano. All of them gathered around old, paint-chipped buildings and patiently waited in the relentless heat of the Honduras sun. They stood there waiting for a smile, a kind word, a healing touch...waiting for someone to care.

Joint Task Force-Bravo's Medical Element (MEDEL) partnered with the Honduran Ministry of Health and the Honduran military Aug. 25-28 to provide basic medical care to the Department of Gracias a Dios. During this operation, known as a Medical Readiness Training Exercise (MEDRETE), Joint Task Force-Bravo, along with the 1-228th Aviation Regiment and Joint Security Forces, transported medical supplies, equipment, and personnel to the location selected by the Ministry of Health. Then U.S. medics and Honduran medical professionals provided care, preventative medicine, dental and pharmaceutical supplies to people who, more often than not, have never received professional medical care in their lives.

"The MEDRETE allowed us to provide medical and dental services to a population with limited resources and medical services," said U.S. Army Capt. Tarah Carnes, a registered nurse of MEDEL. "Our services reached not only the population of Rio Platano but also to seven communities that are scattered throughout the area. Several of the patients traveled several hours one way to receive the care that we were able to provide."

"People traveling from Brus Laguna had a one hour raft ride to get to the MEDRETE site," Tonela Wood, mayor of Brus Laguna, said. "It's the only way to get here. One nurse made a one hour walk with her patients from a small village called Nueva Jerusalem."

During this MEDRETE, the doctors, dentists, and medical professionals treated 763 patients over a two-day span and treated a wide variety of illnesses that occur due to their living conditions.

"Diseases and conditions are a reflection of the living conditions," said Carnes. "Most of the population has no electricity or running water and the area is unsanitary. Bathing and laundry is done in the ocean where the animals bathe and the landscape is littered with trash and human and animal feces."

Each MEDRETE presents its own unique set of challenges, not the least of which is setting up a functioning medical clinic in an extremely austere environment. Joint Task Force-Bravo and MEDEL utilizes these opportunities to exercise their expeditionary mission command and medical capabilities while supporting the Ministry of Health's efforts to provide medical care to the underserviced population.

Dr. Wilmer Blucha, Gracias a Dios health director, thanked the JTF-Bravo and Honduran teams for their medical efforts because "we know the central (Honduras) government's support to this area is scarce. The delivery process from Tegucigalpa is inefficient so there is a shortage of medicine in the town's medical station."

Several middle-aged men were suffering from the effects of decompression syndrome from years of diving in the ocean for seafood.

"These individuals presented paralysis, neurologic and musculoskeletal deficits, and pulmonary issues. It was extremely sad because this had affected their livelihood and families," added Carnes.

Throughout the MEDRETE, U.S. and Honduran healthcare professionals conducted classes for the patients to teach them about hygiene, nutrition, and preventative dental practices. They also provide wellness checkups, medication, dental care, and perform minor medical procedures as required. In these distant regions, access to even this basic healthcare is a rarity.

"A woman, who had traveled over two hours by boat to receive medical care, I treated was diagnosed with high blood pressure," stated Dr. Carlos Garay, a Honduran physician. "Having uncontrolled hypertension and not having access to the proper medications make her a high risk for a stroke. If this woman would not have made the trip to Rio Platano, she could have easily had a stroke and cut her life short."

Even after a long, hard day, those who participate in the MEDRETES say they can see the gratitude of the patients despite the language barrier.

"I have been involved in numerous MEDRETE missions before and it always humbles me how loving and appreciative the people are," said Carnes. "It puts into perspective how privileged we are to have all of the medical resources and capabilities that we have in the United States."

The Joint Task Force-Bravo Medical Element has been conducting medical readiness training exercises since Oct. 1993 and have treated nearly 350,000 medical patients, more than 69,000 dental patients and over 14,400 surgical patients throughout Central America.

End of WWII Anniversary Observed Onboard Battleship Missouri Memorial



By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Diana Quinlan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Detachment Hawaii

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Hawaii-based service members, veterans, government leaders and civilians attended a ceremony of the 69th anniversary of the end of World War II aboard the Battleship Missouri Memorial Sept. 2.

Now moored on Ford Island, the location where Sailors first witnessed the attack that brought America to war, USS Missouri, serves as a monument and a reminder for the beginning and the end of the WWII for the United States.

On Sept. 2, 1945, Japan officially surrendered as the Japanese Instrument of Surrender was signed on the wooden decks of the 'Mighty Mo.' Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu and other world leaders oversaw that historic moment that is remembered today.

At the ceremony, Rear Adm. Robert P. Girrier, deputy commander, U. S. Pacific Fleet, served as guest speaker.

"On September 2nd, 1945, right here on these decks, World War II was officially ended," said Girrier. "When you consider the lives lost, the emotional and physical suffering and the damage and destruction left behind - the cost of the war was incalculable. But as the war ended and the world rejoiced, it didn't stay focused on the past, instead it looked to the future with hope and expectation of great things to come."

Girrier spoke of the collaboration between the United States and Japan after the war in an effort to rebuild the world around them and commended constant efforts to improve mutual understanding, respect and a relationship that would lead to vast improvements in technology, economy and reliance on one another.

"Today, the United States has forces forward deployed in Japan as part of our alliance, and that gave us the ability to respond instantly," said Girrier. "And we work and train with the Japan Self Defense Forces continuously as we prepare to confront any possible manmade crisis or natural disaster that may challenge stability and security in this important region. We're there for each other and, just knowing that... is sometimes all that is needed."

He also stressed the importance of cooperation between all nations and strength that these relationships can offer.

"Today, as our world becomes more and more interconnected and interdependent, as we all rely on freedom of the seas for the safe and efficient movement of trade between nations the relationships that we have established with our allies, our partners and our friends are important to all of us," Girrier said.

Girrier also expressed his sincere gratitude to the veterans for their sacrifices, their strength and for the future they secured for the new generations.

One such person, representing today's youth, was Caitlyn Lodovico, a student from Radford High School, who researched and wrote an award winning essay for the Battleship Missouri Memorial September 2nd Essay contest. She was on hand and read her essay to the audience in attendance.

Art Albert, a World War II veteran who served aboard USS Missouri between 1944 and 1947, spoke of his experience of the ceremony and the feeling of standing on the deck plates of his first ship.

"When you come home, how do you feel? Good, right? This is how I feel, I am home," said Albert. "I went through the Korean and Vietnam Wars after I left [USS] Missouri but this is it - I do not care about other [duty stations] - this is my home. "

Albert recalled the men that gathered on decks and guns of the battleship as Gen. MacArthur arrived and the joy of his fellow Sailors as WWII was officially over. He also spoke of the pleasure he feels of seeing his "home" being taken care of.

"I am very grateful to the people here who take care of the ship," said Albert. "They work hard and it is the greatest thing that they did since the ship has been here -bringing it back like I used to know it when it was put in commission in 1944."

Michael Carr, the president of the Battleship Missouri Memorial, spoke about the importance of remembering the past, learning from the mistakes and striving to a better future. He thanked veterans as well as current and future service members for their dedication to the nation and its safekeeping.

"We are here today to honor the anniversary of the peace," said Carr. "Our eternal thanks go out to the Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Airmen, Coast Guardsmen and merchant marines who serve America with distinction and honor, and made this day possible."

He also welcomed guests to the unveiling of the newly renovated wardroom, which was restored to its 1991 inspection-ready condition - the last year the battleship was in service.

The ceremony concluded with a Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam rifle detail, providing a gun salute and the Marine Forces Pacific Band playing echo taps.

NETC Commander Advises Pensacola-area Chief selects



By Ed Barker, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The commander of Naval Education and Training Command met with chief petty officer selectees from the Pensacola-area military complex Sept. 2 to discuss their new role as leaders and mentors to the fleet.

Rear Adm. Mike White was invited to address the group by Naval Air Station Pensacola's Command Master Chief, Jeffery Grosso as part of the CPO 365 transition process for the chief selectees. CPO 365 is a three-phase year-round training cycle aimed at preparing board-eligible first class petty officers to become future chief petty officers.

"I think it's very important to hear from Rear Adm. White on his expectations of a chief petty officer," said Grosso. "The chief selects not only need to know how important it is to take care of junior Sailors, but also how it is equally important to develop junior officers. To get the perspective of the admiral and how senior enlisted members had lasting impacts on him throughout his career really sends the message home to our up-and-coming chief petty officers."

White shared his experience as a junior officer, just out of flight school in an A-7 squadron, where his command master chief advised him on being a better division officer and taking care of his Sailors. He stressed that one critical role of a chief is to help junior officers develop as leaders.

"The responsibilities of a chief petty officer are huge," said White. "Even the Harvard Business School acknowledged that the success of the Navy was due in large part to the chief's community. Their study of an aircraft carrier and the responsibilities delegated to chiefs was the foundation of the only business model that would permit such a complex operation to work."

Chief Naval Aircrewman (Select) (NAC/AW/EXW/SW) Roger Richards, Aviation Rescue Swimmer School training chief valued the Admiral's opinion on his new role as a chief.

"I really appreciated Rear Adm. White taking the time with the selects and the value that he places on his senior enlisted members," said Richards. "He really stressed the difference in responsibility between petty officers and chiefs - and the transition from technical experts to primary leaders who mentor junior officers and counsel Sailors."

The NAS Pensacola CPO 365 process wraps-up for 2014 with the new chief's pinning Sept. 16 at 9 a.m. in the Naval Aviation Schools Command Auditorium.