Monday, October 27, 2014

Hagel Congratulates Ukraine’s New Defense Minister

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2014 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke by phone today with Gen. Col. Stepan Poltorak to congratulate him on his recent appointment as Ukraine’s defense minister, Assistant Pentagon Press Secretary Carl Woog said.

In a statement summarizing the call, Woog added that Hagel also congratulated the people of Ukraine for holding successful parliamentary elections yesterday.

"Secretary Hagel discussed with Minister Poltorak the types of security assistance that the United States is providing to address Ukrainian defense requirements,” Woog said. "Minister Poltorak also discussed Ukraine's efforts to reform its military and thanked Secretary Hagel for U.S. support in this area.”

Bilateral discussions

The U.S.-Ukraine Joint Commission recently held its inaugural meeting in Kyiv, building upon earlier meetings between military officials from U.S. European Command and Ukraine, the assistant press secretary noted, adding that both leaders agreed to continue to build on bilateral discussions in the near future.

"Finally, Secretary Hagel and Minister Poltorak discussed the need for Russian authorities and the separatists to immediately implement all of their obligations under the Sept. 5 ceasefire agreement," Woog said.

Obama congratulates Ukraine

Earlier today, President Barack Obama issued a statement on Ukraine’s parliamentary elections.

“Despite a challenging security environment in certain regions, millions of Ukrainians turned out across the country to cast their ballots in an orderly and peaceful manner,” he said. “I commend the government of Ukraine for the conduct of the campaign and election day vote, which international monitoring organizations assess to have been largely in line with international standards.

“At the same time,” he continued, “it is clear that Russian authorities occupying Crimea and Russian-backed separatists in parts of eastern Ukraine prevented many Ukrainian citizens from exercising their democratic rights to participate in national elections and cast their votes.”

Obama called on Russia to ensure that its proxies in eastern Ukraine allow voters in the parts of Donetsk and Luhansk subject to the Special Status Law to choose their representatives in legitimate local elections Dec. 7, in keeping with the agreement that Russia and separatist representatives signed in Minsk, Belarus, on Sept. 5.

“The United States will not recognize any election held in separatist-held areas that does not comport with Ukrainian law and is not held with the express consent and under the authority of the Ukrainian government,” the president said.

President to Present Medal of Honor for Civil War Heroism

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2014 – During a Nov. 6 ceremony at the White House, President Barack Obama will present the Medal of Honor posthumously to Army 1st Lt. Alonzo H. Cushing for the soldier’s conspicuous gallantry during the Civil War.

The Union Army lieutenant was commanding officer of Battery A, 4th United States Artillery, Artillery Brigade, 2nd Corps, Army of the Potomac, during combat operations near Cemetery Ridge in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, July 3, 1863.

During Longstreet's Assault, also known as Pickett's Charge, Cushing's battery took a severe pounding by Confederate artillery. As the Confederate forces advanced, he manned the only remaining, and serviceable, field piece in his battery.

During the advance, Cushing was wounded in the abdomen and the right shoulder. Refusing to evacuate to the rear despite his severe wounds, he directed the operation of his lone field piece, continuing to fire.

With the Confederate forces within 100 yards of his position, Cushing was shot and killed. His actions made it possible for the Union Army to successfully repel the assault.

Cushing's cousins, Frederic Stevens Sater and Frederic Cushing Stevens III, will be on hand for the ceremony with their families.

Medical response team begins training for possible Ebola cases

by Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

10/27/2014 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-FORT SAM HOUSTON, Texas -- Defense Department leaders are ensuring the 30 members of a medical support team that may be called upon to respond to new cases of Ebola in the U.S. are receiving world-class, state-of-the-art training, a senior military doctor said.

Air Force Col. John J. DeGoes, command surgeon for U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, discussed the training and its potential impact should the team be called upon to respond to Ebola cases.
The team began training here yesterday. It is comprised of 10 critical care nurses; 10 noncritical care in-patient nurses; five physicians with experience in infectious disease, internal medicine and critical care; and five individuals trained in specialties related to infection control.

"Because there's this need," DeGoes said, "we're going to make sure that we can respond effectively to it, but only after people are trained fully and proficient.
"It's absolutely critical that we train to standard and not to a pre-conceived time," he said. "There's risk, but we're doing everything to mitigate it and we think that this is an important mission for the United States of America."

Open-Ended Training

DeGoes noted that Northcom commander Army Gen. Charles H. Jacoby Jr. emphasized the importance of training the team properly, even if that means expanding the training schedule.

"There's no specific endpoint to this training," DeGoes said. "If we're not convinced on Saturday when we close down, Gen. Jacoby said we'll take Sunday off and we're back here again on Monday."

Jacoby also spent a substantial amount of time observing the training and interacting with the team members, hospital staff and course instructors.
DeGoes said he thinks the team -- composed of "some of the best the military health system has to offer" -- is receiving "some world-class training" to ensure they can succeed if they are called upon.

"We're using really good training items," he said. "This isn't your grandfather's training where you're just sitting in a bland classroom hearing lectures and seeing PowerPoint [presentations]."

Realistic Training Conditions

Training is taking place in an actual Intensive Care Unit converted into a simulation center with state-of-the-art personal protective equipment, DeGoes said.
Team members practice putting on personal protective equipment, or PPE, in a relevant setting, he said, simulating conditions they would encounter while caring for patients. The training is designed to help the team apply their new skills in the event they are necessary in an actual care environment.

"They're in something that's nearly identical to where they'd be called to go," DeGoes said. "We're able to use the great training aids of the San Antonio Military Medical Center's Education, Training and Simulation Department."

"They've got state-of-the-art mannequins here that they can simulate drawing blood," he said. "They can simulate all the things that you would do in an Ebola patient that was mildly sick to completely sick."

DeGoes also noted a particular training aid -- glow germ -- that lights up under a black light, indicating simulated contamination. This drives home the importance of not just putting the equipment on correctly, but taking it off correctly as well, the colonel said.

Focusing on Protective Measures

"This is one of the diseases where PPE is not just helpful -- it could really save your life," he said. "And proper use of it will also protect other people in the hospital, so that health care workers don't unknowingly drag contamination to a previously clean area that could potentially get to another patient."

The training includes measures to protect not just the health care workers, DeGoes said, but also the medical facility, other patients and families of health care workers.

"So not only will they have this training, but they will be supported by appropriate protocols that don't assume that they were perfect in the PPE," he said.
As precautions, DeGoes said the team will take their own temperatures twice a day, "even if they feel great enough to run a marathon."

"That will happen every day while they're working," he said, "and then after they're done working, to protect them in the unlikely event [they get sick]. They would get diagnosed earlier and protect their families and the community in which they work and live."

Serving the Nation

DeGoes said the team's risk of exposure to Ebola is certainly a concern, "... but it is a need for the nation right now." He said the team members, doctors, nurses and trainers, understand that they have been asked to join with counterparts from civilian agencies such as the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control, to take part in the national effort to stop this threat.
"But it is a risk," DeGoes acknowledged, "and as command surgeon, and a physician myself, I want to make sure that we do everything, every day in patient care to be as safe as possible for our health care workers and for patients to ensure the best outcome."

The colonel noted there's no template for a team like this, because "we've never had this before in the United States."

"So it was with an abundance of caution that the Department of Defense and Health and Human Services got together to come up with this particular team that had some broad capabilities that could go to any facility," DeGoes said.

Putting this team together, he said, shows the American people and the international community "that we are willing to work together to do whatever it takes to prevent the spread of this deadly disease."

"Working together is key," DeGoes said, "because none of us have all of the resources, and clearly it is an interagency [effort]."

The Department of Homeland Security, Health and Human Services and DoD, he said, working together with the National Guard, are key to this response and part of Jacoby's strategic plan to improve the nation's bio-response preparedness -- not just for Ebola, but for other future requirements as well.

Face of Defense: Air Force Officer Earns Army Ranger Tab

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Ryan Callaghan
23rd Wing

FORT BENNING, Ga., Oct. 27, 2014 – On average, more than 4,000 soldiers go through the U.S. Army Ranger School here each year. Just more than 300 Air Force airmen have completed the course since its inception in 1950.

Of these 300 Ranger-qualified airmen, 1st Lt. Casey Garner is the first of his kind.

Garner, an air liaison officer with the 7th Air Support Operations Squadron at Fort Bliss, Texas, became the first ALO to graduate from Ranger School, completing the rigorous 61-day course.

Wearing the Ranger tab on his shoulder will give Garner an unprecedented advantage among ALOs while working to supply air support to the Army units he will be attached to, he said.

Instant credibility

"As an ALO, you work around a lot of Army officers -- infantry, particularly," Garner said. "If they see that Ranger tab on your shoulder, you have instant credibility. That allows me to take better care of my [joint terminal attack controllers], because it incorporates me into the planning more. It just [earns] me that respect amongst the Army [when] they see that I'm willing to go and put myself through that with my Army brothers."

Garner said he knew it would be a challenge, given the course's 40 to 50 percent completion rate, but his inclination for leadership was a driving force that helped him through the adversities and challenges.

"I had heard about the challenges of the school," Garner said. "I knew it would mentally and physically test me to [my] ultimate limit. I wanted to prove to myself, and prove to the men that I was going to lead, that I could acquire that leadership -- [that] I could lead them through the most trying times."

Garner said being the lone airman in a sea of soldiers was an obstacle at first.

"The most challenging part was learning the operation order process for how you brief your squadron on the upcoming mission,” he said. “It's a very specific [process]. Infantry officers are taught this at a very early stage, and as an Air Force officer, I was thrust into that role. I had to learn on the run.

"My squadron really helped me out with the skill sets that I didn't know at that time," Garner continued. "It was a really neat experience bringing that other-branch mentality into it. I was known as 'Air Force,' but I made some really good, lifelong friends."

Emphasis on developing leadership abilities under stress

The course averages 19 hours of training per day, seven days a week. It creates students proficient in tactics and techniques for operations in wooded, mountainous, jungle and swamp environments. In addition to the strenuous training, said Army Lt. Col. Thomas Sager, the 4th Ranger Training Battalion commander, the emphasis is developing leadership abilities under conditions of mental and emotional stress.

"These men have all learned to be to be technically and tactically sufficient at patrolling, small unit and infantry tactics," Sager said. "Most importantly, they learned about themselves. They learned about their strengths and weaknesses when they were tired, wet, cold and hungry. They will leave here feeling confident in their ability to lead soldiers in the most difficult and arduous conditions."

The endeavor was worth it, Garner said.

"It feels wonderful," he added. "It feels great to finally be done and to have made it through on the first go. It changes your life once you get the tab. You're a different man, a different person. It's worth all the pain, everything you put your body through is worth it."