Friday, September 19, 2014

Wolf Pack and ROK defenders tackle combat readiness training

by Senior Airman Katrina Heikkinen
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

9/19/2014 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- More than 250 Airmen from the 8th Security Forces Squadron tackled quarterly combat readiness training with Republic of Korea Air Force and ROK special operations forces members Sept. 15 to 17 at Kunsan Air Base, ROK.

Wolf Pack defenders execute quarterly combat readiness training to ensure a seamless transition from armistice to contingency operations during both exercises and real-world situations.

"The overall goal for this training is to develop muscle memory," said Airman 1st Class Collin Dahlberg, 8th SFS response force member. "If we practice how we preach, there's no way we can fail. In case something happens in the real world, we'll be ready and know what to do."

Over the course of three days, Wolf Pack defenders covered topics including mounted and dismounted operations, individual and small unit tactics, land navigation, shoot-move and communication, tactical communications, enemy prisoner of war procedures, self-aid buddy care and additional battlefield curriculum. The defenders also re-qualified on their M4 rifle, a sustainment requirement for all security forces members.

"It is security forces responsibility to protect everyone on base," said Staff Sgt. Jose Ortiz, 8th SFS home station training non-commissioned officer in charge. "That's such a huge responsibility, and I like being the one ensuring they're properly trained to use the M4s. I take a lot of pride in this position as their instructor."

For many first-term Airmen, the quarterly readiness training provided an opportunity to expand on the foundation of basic security forces skills. For NCOs, the CRT allowed them to demonstrate their leadership skills whilst being evaluated by instructors. For others, the CRT was a chance for senior leadership to work side-by-side junior enlisted Airmen as they simulated opposing forces.

"It's a matter of being able to do the lowest ranking person's job," said Capt. Caesar Baldemor, 8th SFS operations officer. "I would never ask them to do something that I wouldn't do personally, so what better way of experiencing and learning that by getting out there and getting in the ditches with them; getting sandy with them."

Integrating Airmen of all ranks -- from airmen basic to senior NCOs and company grade officers -- with ROKAF members in quarterly CRTs helps instill a mindset of teamwork to ultimately ensure maximum security and safety of the Wolf Pack family.

"This was the first time we have done this in a while -- integrating our ROKAF and ROKSOF brethren," Baldemor said. "It's very important to have that strong relationship, should the time come to transition from armistice into contingency. We're here to help them and they're here to help us."

As Kunsan's first-line of defense, it is imperative for security forces members to accurately and effectively perform their tactical capabilities in order to defend against external threats in wartime and armistice.

"It's important to do it [CRT] so we don't lose perishable basic skills -- firing a rifle, building a range card, building a sector sketch, building an overlay, talking on a radio," Baldemor said. "So if we build on those skills, I can trust that they will make the right decision.  We are a 24-hour day, seven days a week, 365-days a year shop, and we are always training hard to be ready to fight tonight."

Face of Defense: Soldier Translates During U.S.-Japan Exercise

By Army Sgt. Deja Borden
5th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

YAKIMA TRAINING CENTER, Wash., Sept. 19, 2014 – The ability to speak more than one language is a difficult skill to master, and learning a new language in adulthood is not something many people accomplish.

Army Spc. Joshua Williams, a Washington National Guardsman with Company A, 341st Military Intelligence Battalion, learned two languages at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center at the Presidio of Monterey in California.

In 2005, Williams decided to join the Army National Guard and become a linguist. Coming from a family of service members and always having an interest in other languages, he said, it seemed only natural to choose that career path.

Before enlisting into the National Guard, Williams said, he studied several languages, including French, Spanish and German. He was introduced to the idea of becoming a linguist in the military by one his high school teachers, he added.

When he first attended DLI, he learned Mandarin Chinese. Though completing the training was no easy task, Williams said, he used his love of languages to finish successfully.

“It’s very fast-paced and very demanding,” he said. “I really enjoyed the language itself. Getting acclimated to the pace, it’s certainly no cakewalk.”

Two-month immersion tour

After graduating from DLI, he traveled to China for a two-month immersion tour with fellow students studying Chinese, where he was able to put his new skills to the test. “I found the language skills to be invaluable there,” he said. “I did a lot of the translation.”

Williams said he was one of the few individuals on the tour able to conduct full-length conversations.

“I find language learning personally enriching,” he said. “I think it’s a great way to make sure that I’m developing and growing my mind. It’s not fun all the time, but it’s something that, for me, is measurable. I can say I’m not just letting myself waste away.”

Williams works as the command language program manager for his battalion. When he’s not conducting missions, he maintains linguist records, sets up testing for the Defense Language Proficiency Test and assists in hosting language immersion courses. When he is not working as a linguist for the Army, he spends his spare time tending to his grandmother’s 10 acres of land and playing video games on his computer.

Building confidence

Learning these new languages was a way to break out of his shell and feel more confident, Williams said. “In English, I’m not very talkative,” he added. “As soon as we start getting into Chinese or Japanese, I become much more talkative.”

Williams attended DLI a second time this year to learn Japanese, and soon after completing the course, he was able to use his new skills for Operation Rising Thunder 2014, an annual training exercise conducted here with U.S. and Japanese forces, working for the 7th Infantry Division and the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force as an interpreter.

“When it comes to giving pointers and constructive criticism between each of our forces we’ve got to tread water lightly,” said Army Spc. Kyle Clark, an infantryman with 7th ID. “We don’t want to offend each other.”

Overcoming cultural differences

Overcoming cultural differences was difficult for both groups, Clark said, and Williams has played a major role in the training exercise.

“One of the things I really like about having these language skills is when there’s a need for communication, I can come in and bridge that gap, and I think that’s worthwhile,” Williams said.

Being located in the Pacific region makes knowing Japanese all the more important, Williams said, adding that he believes it’s necessary to communicate and build positive relationships with the Asian nations throughout the Pacific.

Military training in languages provides an advantage over other methods of learning, Williams said.

“The amount of one-on-one time and exposure in a high school or college course really doesn’t compare,” he explained. “You have to really want to be fluent and have an idea of what attaining fluency is like to be able to get there at a college level.”

Williams said he can’t imagine himself doing anything else, and that when his military career ends, he hopes he can find a profession that uses his language abilities.

Submarine Force Commemorates 4,000th Strategic Deterrent Patrol

By Kevin Copeland, Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Commander, Submarine Force Atlantic and Commander, Submarine Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in conjunction with Commander, U.S. Strategic Command, commemorated the Submarine Force's 4,000th strategic deterrent patrol, Sept. 19, by conducting dual ceremonies in Bangor, Washington and Kings Bay, Georgia.

The first fleet ballistic-missile submarine USS George Washington (SSBN 598) was commissioned Dec. 30, 1959, and completed the inaugural deterrent patrol in January 1961. Since then, 59 SSBNs have been commissioned in the last 50-plus years. Having patrolled the waters worldwide, the ship has established itself as the most survivable, critical, and efficient element of our U.S. national security and the security of U.S. allies and partners.

"The ballistic missile Submarine Force and the capability it offers is as important and relevant in today's uncertain world as it was when the first deterrent patrols were conducted more than five decades ago," said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, Commander, U.S. Strategic Command. "Commemorating the 4,000th patrol allows us to honor not only the submariners who have achieved this milestone, but also to pay homage to the men and women of our strategic forces who are on watch every day providing our nation with a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent against those who might think to do us harm."

Along with strategic bombers and the intercontinental ballistic missiles, the SSBNs make up the third element of the United States' triad of nuclear deterrence. SSBNs are critical, stabilizing and efficient elements of U.S. nuclear deterrence and reassurance, and with their sea-based missile launch capability makes them the most survivable asset. They carry the majority of deployed U.S. nuclear warheads allowing them to stabilize deterrent relationships and render surprise attacks inconceivable.

"Today, we celebrate a very special milestone in the undersea warfare community as we commemorate the 4,000th strategic deterrent patrol conducted by our fleet ballistic missile submarines," said Vice Adm. Michael Connor, commander, Submarine Forces. "Strategic deterrence has been the sole mission of the fleet ballistic missile submarine since its inception. As the sea-based leg of U.S. strategic deterrent forces, the current 14 Trident SSBNs carry more than 50 percent of the total U.S. strategic warheads. Today's concept of strategic deterrence seeks to deter attacks on the U.S. or its allies, dissuade adversaries from actions counter to stability, and peace, and to assure allies of the United States' commitment to their security."

The current fleet of Ohio-class SSBNs has already been life-extended and cannot be extended any further. They must be replaced by new class of SSBNs to meet the our future strategic commitments.

"The Sailors have done their part to ensure peace and the ships have done their part too as they now start to serve well beyond their original design service life," said Connor. "Now the country must do the same to continue to ensure the peace for our children and our children's children. We must build Ohio's replacement. There is no more important or more effective use of our national defense spending than to ensure that we build the 12 ships that will enable exceptional Sailors like you to guarantee the peace for future generations."

Vice Adm. Joseph Aucoin, deputy chief of Naval Operations for Warfare Systems, echoed Connor's concerns about the Ohio replacements.

"We as a nation are also demonstrating credibility through commitment to our deterrence strategy, the sustainment of the Ohio class and the procurement of the Ohio replacement. We must procure and maintain a force of Ohio replacement SSBNs, in order to keep them properly postured and positioned to be survivable and to ensure adequate target coverage."

While the material and mission readiness of the strategic deterrent fleet is primary focus areas, these elements would be mute without the personnel readiness of our Sailors. The professional and personal development needs of our Sailors and their families are critical aspects in recruiting and retaining our best and brightest to ensure mission accomplishment in the Submarine Force.

"The submarine is perhaps the most technological marvel ever! As we continue to build and develop new submarines they are becoming even more advanced - quieter, stealthier, going deeper, and armed with highly superior weapons systems," said Vice Adm. Terry Benedict, director, Strategic Systems Programs. "However, this is all for naught if not for the men and now women of the silent service. Equally - if not more important than the payload or the platform is the Sailor. Our Sailors have and will continue to protect and provide credible deterrence to those who would otherwise wish us harm."

In a letter sent to the Submarine Force, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus stated:

"It is my great honor to congratulate Commander, Submarine Forces and all the Sailors, civilians, and veterans of the Submarine Force who have dedicated themselves to achieving this significant milestone - our nation's 4,000th Strategic Deterrent Patrol. This milestone demonstrates not only the far-reaching importance of strategic deterrence to the security of the United States and its allies, but also the significant role the U.S. Navy plays in maintaining this posture.

"History shows us that it is difficult to predict the future of conflict. But it also shows us that we must always be prepared for the threat of conflict. So, I thank you, for protecting peace, promoting global security, and for all you do to ensure the safety of our Nation."

Taking Down ISIL Requires Cooperative Effort, Army Chief Says

By David Vergun
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2014 – Moderate fighters in Syria, Iraqi security forces, the Kurdish Peshmerga, and allies and partners of the United States all have a vested interest in defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and Levant, or ISIL, Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno said here today.

The United States has to continue to show resolve as well, he added during remarks to the Defense Writers Group.

"We have to realize this is a long-term threat that will take a long-term commitment," the general pointed out. "If you don't believe [ISIL] doesn't want to attack the West and America, you're kidding yourself. That is their goal."

The primary reason ISIL overran large swaths of territory and Iraqi troops abandoned their posts, he said, is not due to lack of equipment and training of the Iraqi security forces. It was "because people in some parts of Iraq lost faith in their government," he explained.

The most important piece of the fight going forward is for people in all parts of Iraq to regain confidence that the government will represent them and be there for them in all spheres, from economic and political to military and security support, he said.

Still time to turn things around

When he left Iraq in 2010, Odierno said, he was pleased to see signs of progress and believed things would get even better. Now, he said, he's "disappointed" at what's happening there, but believes there is still time to turn things around.

The Iraqi government needs to represent all of the people, he said. "Now, with a new government and new prime minister, there's some hope that will happen," he added.

The new government has promised a willingness to improve relations with all the people of Iraq, Odierno said, but he added that it will take time and actions to regain that trust. "They have to believe it's in their best interest to support the government," he said.

Boots on the ground

"Airstrikes have slowed the advances of ISIL. But airstrikes alone won't defeat ISIL," Odierno cautioned. "You need a complementary ground capability that will go in and do that."

These boots on the ground will be moderates in Syria and Iraq, as well as troops from other Arab nations who would like to assist, he said, adding that the U.S. will train, equip and advise them as needed.

"We all agree with the current strategy we're executing," he said, referring to the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the president. "We've got to give this time to work. It's important they're the ones who will defeat ISIL."

Odierno added that as is the case in any operation, assessments will continue to be made as events unfold, and that with input from his commanders, he will continue to provide the chairman and the president with candid advice.

All options are open, he said. "I never rule anything out," he added.

Airstrikes will become more difficult

While U.S. airstrikes have been effective at slowing the spread of ISIL, Odierno cautioned that targets will become more difficult in the future as the extremists blend in with the civilian population and possibly use them as human shields.

The U.S. military is using a cautious approach to "vetting" the forces who will engage with ISIL with U.S. training and arms, he said. "We must be sure they are who they are and won't be part of some extremist group," he explained.

Another caution he pointed to, is a danger inherent in the use of air power to target the extremists. "The worst thing that can happen to us is killing innocent Iraqis, innocent civilians, so we have to be careful and precise in targeting," the general said. That gets back to why Iraqi ground forces are needed on the ground to help with that targeting effort, he added.