Thursday, December 31, 2015

Guardsmen Battle Floods in Missouri, Elsewhere

By Steve Marshall National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., December 31, 2015 — At least 625 National Guard soldiers and airmen are on duty today as several southern and central states fight heavy floods triggered by rain and runoff.

In response to historic flooding in some areas of Missouri, Gov. Jay Nixon mobilized the Missouri National Guard to protect local communities and support emergency response personnel.

The human toll so far: At least 20 people dead over several days in Missouri and Illinois, the Associated Press reported.

States of Emergency

States of emergency have been declared in these states: Georgia, Texas, New Mexico, Missouri, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Illinois, Louisiana and Missouri, according to data from the National Guard Bureau.

By far, Missouri had the most guard personnel on duty, with about 515 according to NGB figures. The guard there mobilized a task force with several hundred soldiers and airmen in several different locations across the state to provide defense support of civil authorities by saving lives, protecting property, and maintaining public order, said Army Maj. Gen. Steve Danner, adjutant general of the Missouri National Guard.

About 50 troops are on duty in New Mexico and 54 in Oklahoma for weather-related assistance. The Iowa National Guard has agreed to provide support to Missouri personnel, but hasn't deployed anyone yet.

"The citizen-soldiers and airmen of the Missouri National Guard are once again ready to support fellow Missourians in need," Danner said. "We will provide the same high-quality emergency response they've come to expect."

Missouri National Guard liaison officers are at emergency operations centers in Perry, St. Charles, Cape Girardeau, Jefferson, St. Louis and Franklin counties, where in the coming days the Mississippi River is expected to exceed the record levels set in the Great Flood of 1993, which caused $15 billion in damages and flooded 30,000 square miles.

Supporting Local Authorities

While on duty, Missouri Guard members are expected to take on a number of missions in support of local authorities, to include directing traffic away from road closures, providing security around breached levees and evacuated areas, sandbagging, and levee monitoring, Danner said.

"We have a team of seasoned leaders who are well-versed in responding to state emergencies," Danner said. "[The] Missouri National Guard has supported 14 state emergencies since 2009, including major flooding in 2011."

The evacuation of the town of West Alton has already taken place as a result of flooding. Hundreds of roads have been closed across Missouri, including in St. Louis and all lanes of I-44 at Jerome near Rolla. In addition, 124 areas on rivers in Missouri are at or above flood stage.

Local officials in Perryville have been working with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to fortify the Bois Brule levee on the Mississippi River to protect area homes and businesses, including Sabreliner Corporation and Gilster-Mary Lee.

The troops are part of a task force organized under the 35th Engineer Brigade at Fort Leonard Wood in Missouri, with Army Lt. Col. Paul Kirchhoff as the task force commander. Other units supporting the flood response include 70th Troop Command and 157th Air Operations, Jefferson Barracks in St. Louis County; 205th Military Police Battalion, Poplar Bluff; 1140th Engineer Battalion, Cape Girardeau; and the Joint Operations Center at Joint Force Headquarters in Jefferson City.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

JTF-Bravo wraps up 2015 with CARVANA mission

by Capt. Christopher Mesnard
Joint Task Force-Bravo Public Affairs

12/29/2015 - SOTO CANO AIR BASE, Honduras -- Members from Joint Task Force-Bravo completed a two-day troop movement of Honduran soldiers Dec. 17, 2015, in the Gracias a Dios Department (state) of Honduras, as a part of a greater endeavor to assist the Central American nation's efforts to combat the trafficking of illicit materials through the region.

The troop-movement mission is part of a greater Honduran operation, named CARAVANA, and this iteration was the final one this calendar year, continuing to develop and build on the effects of the operation from the initial vision and request for support from the Honduran president in October 2014.

Originally, the request for aid to move troops came from the Honduran President's office to Gen. John F. Kelly, U.S. Southern Command commander.

"Our President has recognized the importance of supporting our Central American partners, making the region one of his top foreign policy priorities," Kelly stated in his March 12, 2015 Posture Statement to Congress. "We are now seeing real progress being made by the three 'Northern Triangle' countries. While there are many good examples, the situation is especially encouraging in Honduras, where the government is working hard to combat the drug trade, re-establish governance in remote areas, and take meaningful action to protect human rights."

Since its initiation, Operation CARAVANA has facilitated the movement of nearly 5,000 troops and over 210,000 pounds of cargo between remote locations in the eastern part of Honduras, giving the country the ability to quickly focus and adjust their forces against the ever changing tactics traffickers use in the region.

As Operation CARAVANA continues to evolve in its execution, JTF-Bravo continues to work in support of the Honduran Forces to ensure we facilitate efforts to gain significant effects against the trafficking organizations working within Honduras.

"The execution of this operation on a consistent basis has not only achieved the right effects within Gracias a Dios, but also effects throughout the region - impacting the overall trafficking network," said Col. Robert Harman, JTF-Bravo commander. "In addition, it has increased our interaction with the Honduran Staff in developing detailed and integrated plans, and also integrated command and control throughout the Honduran 30 day rotations of Operation CARAVANA. This operation is not only impacting the environment but providing the time and space for further development of our partnered forces."

Face of Defense: Marine Employee’s Path Leads Him Back to Birthplace

By Monique Randolph, Marine Corps Systems Command DoD News, Defense Media Activity

MARINE CORPS BASE QUANTICO, Va., December 30, 2015 — On the day before the U.S. Marines Corps celebrated its 240th birthday, one Marine Corps Systems Command civilian employee -- and former active-duty Marine -- celebrated his own birthday in a very special place.

Kevin Scott was born on the second floor of Naval Hospital Quantico, located on historic Hospital Point and now headquarters to the Marine Corps acquisition workforce. Today, you’ll find him working two floors below that birthing room as the head of manpower, personnel and training for Program Manager Combat Support Systems supporting program teams in the development and evaluation of acquisition training products against service standards. Scott never imagined his career path would take him full-circle to where he was born.

“I find it neat to say that I was born in this building and now I work here,” Scott said.

Idolizing Dad

When Scott was born, he said, his father was a first lieutenant in the Marines and a combat engineer on base.

“Growing up, I remember going to the emergency room and the pediatrics all the time to get bones fixed,” he said.

The former hospital was built in 1939 and commissioned as a Naval Hospital on July 1, 1941. During World War II, the hospital expanded with an inpatient capacity swelling to over 600 beds. Today, the old emergency room is the Riverside Café.

As he got older, Scott said he followed his father’s example, receiving a commission as a Marine Corps infantry officer in 1980.

“I can honestly say that my father was my idol growing up,” he said. “Not a sports legend or sports guy or anything. My father was my idol. I always wanted to do better than he did.”

Transitioning to Civilian Life

While serving thirteen years in the Corps, Scott, his wife Lisa, a former Navy nurse, and their two children saw the country, living in such places as Hawaii and Maine. After years away, he said he completed his service in 1993 and returned to Northern Virginia to be closer to family. Scott said he eventually rejoined his Quantico family as well, taking a position writing training standards at Marine Corps Training and Education Command.

In 2004, he accepted a position at MCSC and has served the past 11 years as a Marine Corps civilian employee in the very building where he was born.

Scott said he seldom thinks about the fact that he now works in the same building listed on his birth certificate, but his lifetime in the Marine Corps -- both as a child and adult -- left a lasting impression.

Nova Scott, his mother, said she is proud of the man her son has become.

“When we were raising our children we wanted to instill in them to be truthful and respectful,” she said. “But it had to be a learning experience. I think we did a good job.”
As the Marine Corps' only systems command, MCSC oversees the development, acquisition and lifecycle logistics of Marine Corps ground weapon and information technology system programs.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Pentagon says F-35 program on the right track

By Mitch Shaw , Hilltop Times correspondent / Published December 29, 2015

F-35A Lightning II Conventional Takeoff and Landing Variant
HILL AIR FORCE BASE, Utah (AFNS) -- Lockheed Martin and the Pentagon's F-35 Joint Program Office say they've finished delivering jets for 2015, increasing their yield from last year by 25 percent.

Joe DellaVedova, a spokesman with the F-35 office at the Pentagon, said 45 F-35s were delivered, which met Lockheed and the program office's delivery goal for the year and exceeded last year's deliveries by nine jets.

"Meeting aircraft production goals is a critical stepping stone in demonstrating the program is ready for the expected significant production ramp up," Lt. Gen. Chris Bogdan, the F-35 program’s executive officer, said in a press release.

Lorraine Martin, Lockheed's F-35 program general manager, said the 2015 deliveries were "a clear demonstration of our growing maturity and stability."

The performance boost represents good news for Hill Air Force Base, which accepted its first two jets in September and will continue to count on a steady income of fighters until 2019 to fill three F-35 squadrons.

Base spokesman Rich Essary said it has received a total five jets so far, with the next one scheduled to arrive in January. Essary said the plan is for Hill AFB to continue to accept jets at a rate of one or two each month until they receive their full allotment of 72.

By August 2016, the base hopes to have 15 jets in place in order to reach what the Air Force calls "initial operational capability," which means Hill AFB has met the minimum goal to use the jets for normal operations.

On Dec. 11, Maj. Jayson Rickard, a reservist with the 466th Fighter Squadron, flew the 100th F-35 sortie at Hill AFB since the first combat aircraft arrived in September.

Of the 45 jets delivered in 2015, the lion's share has gone to the Air Force, which has received 26 F-35As. The Marine Corps received eight F-35Bs and the Marines and the Navy each accepted four F-35Cs, which can take off and land vertically from aircraft carriers.

DellaVedova said 154 operational F-35s have been delivered to the Department of Defense and partner nations since the program's inception. The fleet has more than 45,000 flight hours. The multirole fighter will eventually replace the Air Force's entire fleet of F-16 Fighting Falcons and A-10 Thunderbolt IIs.