Military News

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Dempsey Speaks on Experiences in Civil-Military Relations



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is the principal military adviser to the president of the United States and the other members of the National Security Council – America’s civilian leaders.

It is no surprise then that the Center for a New American Security here asked Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey to be the keynote speaker at a conference on “the civil-military divide and the future of the all-volunteer force.”

The debate on the civil-military divide is timeless, the chairman said.

“The rocky road of civil-military relations is somewhat intentional,” he said. “There is going to be some friction, the question is how much and how is it managed.”

Bridging Two Cultures

To an extent the issue is about bridging the gulf between two cultures, he noted. In the military, Dempsey said, when confronted by a problem, military men and women tend to ask, “What’s the objective?”

“Once you know what you are trying to achieve, we go through this rather exquisite process of building a campaign plan to achieve it with intermediate objectives and milestones and so on and so forth,” he said.

Civilian leaders are generally more interested in what options they have when confronted by a problem, he said.

These are two fundamentally different ways of approaching a problem and the difference can cause both sides to talk past each other. “We literally come at this from two different cultures,” he said. “People ask me if I am the same chairman I was three years ago, and the answer is no. One of the things I have learned … is to find ways to bridge that gap between these two different cultures.”

It is also important to educate younger officers, “because it can be a source of enormous frustration when we speak past each other about whether we start with options or start with objectives,” the chairman said.

Candid Relationships Matter

Civil-military relations are built on the foundation of candor, Dempsey said. “All of my predecessors … when they came to educate me about my job, the single consistent, persistent theme was candor,” he said. “Relationships are based on candor.”

Dempsey believes building civil-military relationships is the responsibility of those in the military more than that of elected officials. “We don’t own 90 percent of the responsibility, but we certainly own more than half of the responsibility,” he said. “That’s appropriate and I think there are times when we have done that well and there are times we haven’t done it well enough.”

Dempsey weighed in on the discussion about the all-volunteer force. “It’s the right force for this nation, and we can’t take it for granted,” he said.

Service is not just about being in a combat zone, he said.

“If you want to stay connected to the American people, you can’t do it episodically,” the chairman said, noting the all-volunteer force needs to find ways to connect with people in communities around the nation.

Barksdale Airmen lead community training for Ebola response

by Capt. Phil Ventura
2nd Bomb Wing Public Affairs


11/19/2014 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE La. -  -- While the risk of an Ebola outbreak here remains low, 2nd Medical Group Airmen led training Nov. 14 with local civilian emergency medical services responders and hospital staff members in order to pre-emptively strengthen coordination efforts and increase awareness of procedures in the event they are needed.

The training derived from materials developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and focused on effectively employing the protective gear that would be worn by responders.

A situation involving a virus like Ebola, "requires everyone to step it up from the traditional gowns and gloves to full coverage to prevent any possible contact with fluids," according to Maj. Carl Champion, commander of the 2nd Aerospace Medical Squadron's Bioenvironmental Flight. "We don't want to be caught unprepared."

Most of the nearly 30 trainees in attendance were experienced medical professionals who would be returning to their organizations - which ranged from large urban hospitals to smaller rural ones - to oversee the training of their peers.

"Even little tips, like how to better take off your gloves is helpful," said Nicky Browning, a Willis-Knighton hospital nurse. "Just because we've been doing something a certain way forever, doesn't mean there isn't a better way."

In addition to demonstrating how to don the protective gear, Airmen also set up and demonstrated how to properly decontaminate while transitioning from a hot to clean zone. This type of activity may be performed infrequently in most civilian medical settings, but is part of the job and routinely practiced in the military, according to SrA Alycia Provenzo, a bioenvironmental engineer with 2nd AMDS, who emphasized her units, "constant state of readiness."

It was this level of proficiency and confidence that many of the civilian attendees found beneficial in their interactions with the Air Force service members.

"They have been in it more and had boots on the ground," said Angela Tucker, a safety officer with Louisiana State University Health. "We are looking for their expertise."

While Ebola was the genesis for the training, event organizers and participants discussed past health threats such as AIDS, SARS, anthrax and influenza and reflected on how important it is to be prepared.

This point was stressed by Lt. Col. Nima Alinejad, 2nd AMDS Chief of Flight Medicine, who closed the day's training by stating that, "If - not when - this happens, we are all in it together."


Wright Salutes Wounded Warriors’ ‘Courage and Resilience'



By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 20, 2014 – Honoring wounded, ill and injured warriors with a month-long recognition is “hugely important,” Jessica L. Garfola Wright, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said today.

Speaking at the inaugural Warrior Care Month Rehabilitation Expo in the Pentagon -- which highlighted resources for wounded, ill and injured warriors and their families, such as art and sculpting therapy and adaptive sports -- Wright told the audience this year’s theme, “Show in Strength,” is something the Defense Department demonstrates in many ways.

Therapeutic Approach

Numerous wounded warriors attended the expo to talk to visitors about how the therapeutic approach they chose helped in their recovery process.

Warrior Care Month is very personal to her, Wright said.

“[DoD senior leadership] has gone to the Invictus and Warrior games for the wounded, ill and injured,” she said. “Often times, we’re there to support these service members but [those] who get the big benefit are people like me who see their courage and resilience.”

Rather than display disabilities, what these warriors show is a change in lifestyle, she said, adding, “They are amazing individuals who give back to us every day.”

Sometimes people are afraid to talk to a wounded warrior, Wright noted, and she urged the audience to approach and engage them.

“They are amazing people. I learn from them and they warm my heart every single time [I see them],” she said. “They give me the courage to keep on doing what I do.”.           

AFSOUTH Liaison Officers: Embarking on a journey toward a promising future

by Jessica Casserly
12th Air Force (Air Forces Southern) Public Affairs


11/20/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- (This feature is part of the "AFSOUTH Liaison Officers" series. These stories focus on a single Air Forces Southern liaison officer, highlighting their experience serving as their country's representative to the AFSOUTH Commander.)

Colonel Alex Voigt has only been serving as the Air Forces Southern Chilean Liaison Officer at Davis-Monthan for a couple of months, but with a history of Chilean LNOs reaching the rank of general and one even going on to serve as the top ranking officer in their country's air force, Voigt is on track for success.

Voigt, who was hand-selected by the top-ranking official in the Chilean air force to serve as the AFSOUTH Chilean LNO, has been serving in the Chilean air force for 30 years. His air force journey officially began at the age of 16, when he started at the Chilean air force academy, but Voigt had dreams of becoming a pilot long before that.

"I saw the aircraft and thought about becoming a pilot," Voigt said. "My older brother was a pilot in the [Chilean] air force also, so I think he inspired me to join the air force."

While achieving his dream of becoming a command pilot with more than 3,600 flying hours in eight different aircraft, Voigt simultaneously perused professional education.  Excelling in all aspects of his career, Voigt has been selected for coveted opportunities to grow professionally and personally. It is these unique opportunities Voigt believes allowed him to stand out from him peers when being considered to serve as the AFSOUTH Chilean LNO.

"[The Chilean air force leadership] looks at your career and the former positions you have held when making this decision," Voigt said. "I attended Air Command and Staff College in Alabama at Maxwell Air Force Base in 2006. I think this might have been an important factor that helped to make the decision for the general. After the decision was made, I had about a month of training in Chile to prepare for my new job as the AFSOUTH Chilean LNO."

Though he has only been at AFSOUTH a short time, Voigt already sees the abundance of opportunities this position will afford him and his family.

"It is a great professional experience to work with U.S. Air Force personnel and the other liaison officers," Voigt said. "For my family, this is amazing. To live in a new country and learn a new culture--it's a great experience. We are happy and we are lucky also."

The AFSOUTH LNO General Program Manager, Tyrone Barbery, believes that Voigt's good fortune may just be starting. With a strong history of highly successful former AFSOUTH Chilean LNOs, the future looks very bright for Voigt.

"The current Chilean air force commander in chief, who is the equivalent of the U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff, took command on November 5 of this year," Barbery said. "He served as the AFOUTH Chilean LNO about eight years ago and was also the first ever liaison officer at AFSOUTH, so Colonel Voigt might be a future commander in chief of the Chilean air force. Also, all of the Chilean LNOs who have come here have made general, with the exception of our last one and that is only because it is not his time yet."

Though Voigt humbly protests suggestions that he may one day become a top-leader in his country's air force, he does see the advantages of someone with an AFSOUTH LNO background in such an influential position.

"[The Chilean air force] has a big advantage now, because our commander in chief was an LNO," Voigt said. "He understands very well how the U.S. Air Force works."

For Barbery, the success of a former Chilean LNO speaks to the importance and the success of the AFSOUTH LNO program.

"It's not only the Chilean air force that is proud of their new commander in chief," Barbery said. "Those of us who have been involved with the AFSOUTH LNO program are also proud."

No matter what the future holds, for now, Voigt is content to settle in to his new position as the AFSOUTH Chilean LNO and make the most of this experience.

"I'm looking forward to doing my job well and strengthening the ties between both air forces and countries," Voigt said. "It will be a good time, I am sure about that."

Navy unit trains with D-M

by Airman 1st Class Chris Massey
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


11/20/2014 - DAVIS-MONTHAN AIR FORCE BASE, Ariz. -- Sailors from Naval Air Station North Island, San Diego, Calif. conducted joint training with A-10C Thunderbolt II squadrons and Combat Search and Rescue units here Nov. 3-15.

Five MH-60S Knighthawks from the Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 4 Black Knights flew with the 48th and 55th Rescue Squadrons, as well as the 354th Fighter Squadron.

"The reason we're out here training is to conduct joint operations with the Air Force, and to get a little bit better understanding of how it is to work with them," said U.S. Navy Aviation Warfare Systems Operator 2nd Class Mitch Langenfeld, HSC-4.  "If we ever have to work with them in the theater, we'll have already done so and it won't be so much of a shock as to what's different."

The units trained in two of their primary mission areas: combat search and rescue and close air support.

"Any time we get an opportunity to train with another service, we benefit from learning new ways of executing missions and sharing experiences with other units," said LCDR Tom Murray, HSC-4 MH-60S Knight Hawk pilot.  "Detaching from our home base provides us an opportunity to work remotely and ensure that we retain the capability to do so in the future."

The training took place at several military training ranges in Southern Arizona and gave the units a chance to test their skills and strengthen joint operations between the services.

"The quality and proximity of the ranges around D-M make the training even better. Short transits to and from the ranges, coupled with the opportunity to train with local units made D-M an ideal location to conduct this training," Murray said.

During the eight days of training, the units conducted more than 200 flight hours and 17 integrated events.

"While we often talk about the differences between services, this detachment showed that we are able to easily integrate with another service and conduct complex missions under a variety of conditions," Murray said.  "The professionals with whom we worked were not only great hosts, but they were also experts at their trade and willingly shared their experiences with us. I hope to be able to again work with these units in the future."

Spartan Brigade hosts celebration of Native American culture, heritage

by Sgt. Brian Ragin
4-25th IBCT Public Affairs


11/20/2014 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson hosted a celebration of Alaska Native and Native American history and culture Nov. 13.

The 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division and the JBER Equal Opportunity Office hosted the event of song and dance at JBER's Frontier Theater.

Alaska Natives set up several displays about their culture, showing clothing, toys, jewelry and instruments.

The Alaska Native Heritage Center and Naaludisk Gwaiiyatki Dance groups performed songs and danced with service members from the Air Force and Army.

Native artwork was exhibited in the rear of the theater by a Native American artist, and cake and rybread were served after the event.

The celebration's guest speaker was Cindy Pennington, an Anchorage native who is of Sugpiaq heritage.

"We are hoping, the Sugpiaq people are hoping, that some day that we won't have people look at us with a blank look," Pennington said. "That you will know exactly who the Sugpiaq people are of Alaska."

Pennington was the first Alaska Native woman to be accepted nto the Anchorage Police Department Academy.

She has worked for Alaska Native profit and nonprofit organizations such as the Alaska Native Heritage Center, for more than 30 years.

An active community member, Pennington has also helped to reate the Alaska Native Women's Sexual Assault Committee, which  deals with the issue of violence committed against Alaska women.

Underlining the importance of National Native American Heritage Month, President Barack Obama recently stated Americans must not ignore the painful history Native Americans endured - a history of violence, marginalization, broken promises, and upended justice.

"When I was growing up I really didn't know about my ulture," Pennington said. "That was because of the era when I was growing up [1970s].

"You weren't supposed to be native - you were supposed to try to be American. A lot of people say I came from a culture that had an identity crisis."

"As we observe National American Indian Heritage onth, we must build on this work," Obama said in his proclamation.

"Let us shape a future worthy of a bright new generation. And together, let us ensure this country's promise is fully realized for every Native American."

National Guard Responds to Historic Western New York Snowfall



By Army Col. Richard Goldenberg
New York National Guard

BUFFALO, N.Y., Nov. 20, 2014 – For some 375 or so members of the New York National Guard called out to assist in western New York's snow emergency, the biggest impression was the stark differences in snowfall across the various locations where a storm blowing off Lake Erie dumped up to 6 feet of snow.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo initially called up than 240 soldiers and airmen Nov. 18 to assist the city of Buffalo and Erie County in the response to the historic snowfall. Within 24 hours, that number grew to the 375 expected on duty today.

The storm swept across Lake Erie on Nov. 17, creating bands of snowfall familiar to western New York residents, but dramatic in the amount of snow to pile up in just hours.

Lancaster, New York, just east of Buffalo, recorded more than 5 feet of snow by yesterday. But just 6 miles away, the Buffalo airport -- outside the heaviest band of lake effect snow -- received less than 4 inches.

"We are deploying the National Guard to ramp up efforts to keep western New York residents safe and to assist storm recovery efforts in any way possible," Cuomo said. "Travel bans and advisories remain in effect, and I urge drivers to stay off the roads so that our state agencies and the National Guard can assist those that need help."

Interstate Closed, Cars Stranded

The storm forced the state to close the New York State Thruway, Interstate 90, from Rochester west to the Pennsylvania state line. Some 100 cars were reported stranded along that 140-mile stretch of the highway.

The initial response included engineer soldiers and equipment of the 152nd Engineer Company in Buffalo and the 827th Engineer Company from Horseheads, New York, who deployed front-end loaders, Bobcats and dump trucks to assist in snow removal operations beginning the evening of Nov. 18 in support of Erie County Emergency Management.

The task force was led by Army Lt. Col. Jim Freehart from Troy, New York, commander of the 153rd Troop Command Headquarters, a Buffalo-based Army National Guard unit. Additional staffing for the joint task force came from nearby Niagara Falls in the New York Air National Guard headquarters of the 107th Airlift Wing.

The engineers were in action right away the night of Nov. 18, assisting the New York State Police and the New York State Thruway Authority in freeing a stranded bus carrying the women's basketball team players, coaches and relatives from Niagara University.

"It was an amazing feeling," Rene Polka, the director of women's basketball, told news reporters after the rescue. "It was dark when we first became trapped early Tuesday, but when the sun came up we saw how bad it was. Then it literally did not stop snowing all day, so we thought we might have been trapped for a lot longer."

Initial Response Forces

The engineers were joined by National Guard initial response forces from the 107th Airlift Wing at Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station and the 642nd Aviation Support Battalion from Rochester. The two units worked throughout the day yesterday to provide traffic control or assist in critical snow removal.

The two elements provided 40 personnel and 10 Humvees to assist the county's response efforts.

Airmen from the 107th Airlift Wing helped clear heavy snows yesterday from the roof of the Eden Heights Assisted Living Facility in West Seneca, New York. West Seneca experienced more than 4 feet of snow in just the first 24 hours of the storm.

The New York National Guard doubled those initial response forces yesterday with the call to two more elements from Syracuse -- the 174th Attack Wing and 27th Brigade Combat Team -- to deploy and join the task force today and assist as needed.

"We've brought in hundreds of National Guard personnel, and we will be bringing in more to impart, supplement, but also to relieve the existing personnel," Cuomo said in a news conference yesterday. "This is going to be a multiday event, given the weather pattern, so we're planning a four [to] five day workload, and we're adjusting accordingly."

The quick reaction of New York National Guard resources lies primarily in the creation of winter response force packages that each major command resources each year. These packages were then quickly relocated to western New York to assist local authorities.

Snow Removal Trucks

Joining that force to assist the Department of Transportation were two snow removal trucks from the 174th Attack Wing, along with additional operators from the Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing from Scotia, New York. The trucks partnered with local highway department resources with snow removal of key roadways. The Oshkosh H-Series blower vehicle can throw as much as 5,000 tons of snow an hour as far as 200 feet.

More than a dozen support missions were completed for the city and county in the first 36 hours of response, clearing snow from roofs of buildings at risk, transporting nurses to key medical facilities to ensure continued service, removing snow from entrances to disabled home, assisting in the recovery of stranded motorists, providing traffic control to law enforcement to keep vehicles from closed roads and highways and assisting in the large-scale clearance of vast amounts of snow to create access for first responders.

Snow Removal Missions

Adding manpower to the physically demanding snow removal missions on many critical flat roofs covered by heavy snow, 50 additional soldiers from the Troy-based 42nd Infantry Division Headquarters also join the force, arriving today.

Emergency responders' request for high-axle vehicles led the Joint Force Headquarters to alert the 53rd Troop Command to deploy an addition 35 Humvees with some additional 70 military police soldiers from Buffalo's 105th Military Police Company to assist in traffic control as directed by local officials from the Erie County Emergency Operations Center.

With weather forecasts showing continued snowfall through tomorrow and a warming trend through the weekend that highlight flooding concerns, New York National Guard leaders said they expect to maintain a strong presence in the Erie County Emergency Management Office.