Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Incirlik hosts first-ever International Customs Day event

by Senior Airman Krystal Ardrey
39th Air Base Wing Public Affairs

1/30/2015 - INCIRLIK AIR BASE, Turkey  -- The 39th Air Base Wing hosted an appreciation luncheon for Incirlik Air Base's customs officials from the Ministry of Customs and Trade as part of an International Customs Day celebration, Jan. 26, here.

International Customs Day is celebrated every year on the 26th of January by the World Customs Organization to recognize international customs organizations and to focus on customs matter. The wing used this day of celebration to host Incirlik AB's first-ever ICD event, an appreciation luncheon for The Ministry of Customs and Trade staff on-base.

The Ministry of Customs and Trade is responsible for customs and trade related affairs in Turkey. The organization has an office on-base that focuses on, assists and supports the base's military customs needs, which is integral to the wing's mission.

"As a largely enforcement agency, we sometimes forget that they are the only Customs office on a military installation in the country, and that their presence on Incirlik Air Base greatly affects the accomplishment of our mission in a positive way," said Maj. Daniel Nigolian, 39th Logistics Readiness Squadron commander.

The base's customs office supports the exporting and importing of pertinent goods and shipments to and from the 39th ABW. In particular, they support the processing and shipment of military equipment as well as ensure that Airmen and their families receive their household goods shipments and vehicles in a timely manner. Thus, the luncheon was held to show the wing's appreciation for the office's contribution to the wing.

"At the local level, it is important for our customs partners to feel that we value and respect what they do for us," Nigolian said. "A great deal of our interaction is hashing through rules and regulations, which makes the fact that we took the time to celebrate this event all the more meaningful and important to these nine local nationals."

During the luncheon, the wing also welcomed Incirlik AB's new customs director, Kerem Korkmaz. He will be the principal officer in charge of clearing all customs requests for military cargo, household goods and privately owned vehicles of U.S. personnel at Incirlik AB.

Overall, this important event served as a great step in building and strengthening customs relations on base. When asked about the significance of the event, Col. Mark Anarumo, 39th ABW vice commander, stated the event was all about showing commitment and appreciation.

"Turkish customs is a critical member of the overall Incirlik Team," Anarumo said. "We wanted to demonstrate our commitment to our partnership for the customs officials that work alongside our Airmen every day." 

Supporting Wounded, Ill and Injured Troops a DoD Priority

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 – It is a Defense Department top priority to provide support to wounded, ill and injured service members, their families and caregivers with support for recovery, rehabilitation and reintegration into society, the deputy assistant secretary of defense for warrior care policy told a House panel today.

James Rodriguez outlined DoD’s latest wounded warrior program initiatives before members of a House Armed Services subcommittee. The director of each service’s wounded warrior program also testified on their progress.

“Today, our major combat operations are declining, but our national security challenges and responsibilities ensure all the needs of our wounded warriors are met,” Rodriguez said.

“They have the best available care and administrative management while being treated with dignity and respect from point of injury or illness to return to duty or transition from service,” he noted.

DoD Warrior Care Initiatives

DoD provides “concise policy oversight” so the services can deliver consistent, high-quality care and support for recovering service members, Rodriguez said.

Another DoD initiative includes visits to wounded warrior programs at various installations to ensure DoD policy compliance for recovery care, he added.

The department also established a quality-assurance program to standardize the services’ disability evaluation requirements, he said.

Offering more than medical care, Rodriguez said, DoD provides service members with opportunities to take part in adaptive sports and activities, professional skill-building programs, internships and employment preparation to help them transition back into civilian life.

Other DoD accomplishments include information technology systems that streamline case management. Caregiver support provides peer-to-peer forums. And an interagency care-coordination committee stretches across DoD and other agencies, he noted.

“Even as our nation reduces combat operations, our wounded, ill and injured service members will continue to exist and we must ensure our commitment to these individuals is not compromised,” Rodrigues told the panel.

“The American public and our leaders require it, and our service members and their families deserve the best services and support we can provide,” he said.

Elite U.S.-Canadian Unit Receives Nation’s Highest Civilian Honor

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

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 – Members of the U.S. Congress today presented the Congressional Gold Medal – the highest U.S. civilian honor Congress can bestow – to the First Special Service Force, made up of U.S. and Canadian troops who participated in the emancipation of Europe and helped end World War II.

Led by House Speaker John Boehner, and joined by other members of Congress, U.S. and Canadian veterans, defense officials, the multinational unit was honored for its demonstrated “fearlessness and bravery” in the Second World War.

“We’re here because from all that darkness came an outpouring of grace,” Boehner said. “For these men saved the free world. And now are free to savor the triumph and share their stories for years to come.”

“These men represent the finest of the finest,” he said.

Pioneers and Patriots

Army Gen. Joseph L. Votel, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command, noted the 1,800 soldiers of the “Devil’s Brigade” served as the precursor to modern day U.S. and Canadian special operators.

“Today,” he said, “I represent continuity; I represent those who came behind you.”

“When I think of the Devil’s Brigade two ideas come to mind – pioneer and patriot,” Votel said. “I believe it is important to note that these men before you laid the groundwork for both our countries’ modern day Special Forces.”

Earning Its Name

The general explained how the First Special Service Force earned its nickname.

“It was at Anzio where they earned the nickname of the ‘Black Devils,’ Votel said.

The brigade, he said, smeared black boot polish on their faces as they conducted night operations where they fought for 99 straight days without relief, displaying their indomitable spirit and what it means to serve.

“That spirit has carried on to the very descendants of the Devil’s Brigade -- the U.S. Army Green Berets and the Canadian Special Operations Regiment,” Votel said. “Both organizations continue to carry the honors won by this highly successful multi-national unit formed during the Second World War.”

Today’s Similarities

The general noted that like today’s special operations forces, the First Special Service Force had many distinct qualities.

“Their members come from all walks of life,” Votel said. “Many were rangers, lumberjacks, north woodsmen, hunters, prospectors and explorers.”

“They were intelligent, athletic, disciplined and well trained,” he said. “They received rigorous instruction in the use of stealth tactics, hand-to-hand combat, parachuting, explosives, demolition and amphibious, and mountain warfare.”

Moreover, Votel added, the unit’s standards were extremely high, as was their esprit de corps, and they were specially selected to tackle the war’s toughest problems.

“They were, indeed, the elite forces of their time,” he said, “and thus, the pioneers of our two nations’ special operations forces.”

“Like our current SOF warriors who have been fighting for these past 14 years,” Votel said, “the members of the Devil’s Brigade were also patriots. They saw a higher calling during a time when their countries and the world needed them most.”

Sincere Gratitude

Votel said many of the troops from the First Special Service Force “made the ultimate sacrifice.”

“For this,” he said, “each and every one of us here today should bestow upon them our sincere gratitude for their amazing contributions and accomplishments on the battlefields in Italy and France some 70 years ago today.”

Votel told the attending members of the First Special Service Force they should be “very proud” not only of their accomplishments, but also for the “foundation and groundwork that you laid to shape our modern day special operations forces, and for the close and professional relationship that ties our two countries together today.”

“Rest assured that your legacy lives on in today’s American and Canadian special operators,” he said.

Votel said without their service and sacrifice, it is “very possible” that Americans and Canadians may not have had the “luxuries of freedom and prosperity that we so fortunately enjoy today.”

“Both of our countries and citizens owe you a boundless debt of gratitude,” he said. “Thank you.”

Buddy Wing 15-2 kicks off at Daegu AB

by Senior Airman Divine Cox
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

2/3/2015 - DAEGU AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- The 8th Fighter Wing deployed four F-16 Fighting Falcons to Daegu Air Base, Republic of Korea, to participate in Exercise Buddy Wing 15-2 alongside the ROK Air Force's 11th Fighter Wing Feb. 3 through 6.

Buddy Wing exercises are part of a combined fighter exchange program designed to improve interoperability between USAF and ROKAF fighter squadrons. These exercises are conducted multiple times throughout the year in order to promote cultural awareness and sharpen combined combat capabilities.

"Buddy Wing exercises give us an opportunity to fly alongside ROKAF pilots in realistic training scenarios," said Maj. Dean Laansma, 80th Fighter Squadron assistant director of operations and Buddy Wing 15-2 detachment commander. "We are enhancing our ability to operate together and learn from each other, which in return, strengthens our combined efforts."

During flying operations, Wolf Pack pilots coordinate with 11th FW pilots on all aspects of training including mission planning, briefing, flying and debriefing.

According to Capt. Daniel Duncan, 80 FS pilot and Buddy Wing 15-2 project officer, this exercise is vital to the readiness of the ROK-U.S. Alliance to ensure not only a better understanding of each other's forces, but to learn from each other's strengths.

"What's unique about this iteration of Buddy Wing is that we get to train with ROKAF F-15K Slam Eagles," Duncan said. "This provides us an unparalleled opportunity to learn how to operate not only with ROKAF but with dissimilar aircraft."

In order to be prepared together, we must train together, he added.

After 60 years, the ROK-U.S. Alliance continues to be one of the longest standing and most successful alliances in modern history.

"This invaluable training opportunity increases the confidence, capabilities and cohesion between [partners] and gives all participants a realistic idea of how we would operate together in a real-world situation," Laansma said. "I look forward to exchanging ideas and tactics this week."

Worldwide Threat Scope, Complexity on the Rise

By Claudette Roulo
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 3, 2015 – Taken in aggregate, recent political, military, social and technological developments have created security challenges more diverse and complex than any the nation has ever experienced, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told Congress today.

Testifying before the House Armed Services Committee on the subject of worldwide threats, Stewart was joined by Army Lt. Gen. William Mayville, Joint Staff director for operations, and Mark S. Chandler, acting director for intelligence for the Joint Staff.

"Our challenges range from highly capable near-peer competitors, to empowered individuals with nefarious intentions. Increasing demands, coupled with today's challenging fiscal environment, have stressed our defense intelligence establishments and forced us to accept greater risk," Stewart said.

The existing strategic environment isn't going away any time soon, he said.

The increasing scope, volatility and complexity of threats are “the new normal,” Stewart said.

The Defense Intelligence Agency is focused on three areas of special concern, the general said.

Military Competitors

"Capable military competitors -- Russian military activity, for example -- [are] at historically high levels," he said. "Moscow is pursuing aggressive foreign and defense policies, including conducting destabilizing operations in the Ukraine, conducting a record number of out of area naval operations and increasing its long-range aviation patrols.

"In addition,” Stewart continued, “Beijing is focused on building a modern military capable of achieving success on a 21st century battlefield and advancing its core interests -- which include maintaining its sovereignty, protecting its territorial integrity and projecting its regional influence."

Breakdown of Law and Order

Vulnerable and ungoverned territory is on the rise due to the erosion of moderate and secular Islamic states, Stewart said.

"While coalition strikes have degraded [the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant's] ability to operate openly in Iraq and Syria, the group retains the ability to conduct limited offensive operations and is seeking to expand its presence and influence beyond these two countries," he said. "Governments in countries such as Egypt, Algeria, Jordan and Lebanon are under stress from a variety of sources, thereby reducing their capability as a region to confront the threat posed by violent extremists."

And the breakdown of order in Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Libya and northern Nigeria has created "fertile spawning grounds" for terrorist organizations with far-reaching influence, the general said.

Space, Cyber Threats

The space and cyber domains are increasingly threatened, he said. Russia and China are recognizing the strategic value of space and are focusing on diminishing the advantages held by the U.S. and its allies.

"Both countries are conducting anti-satellite research and developing anti-satellite weapons, with the intent of denying the U.S. the use of space in the event of conflict," Stewart said.

For the Defense Department, the cyber threat is particularly alarming because of the interconnected nature of weapons, communications and networks, he said.

"At low cost, with limited technical expertise, our adversaries have the potential to cause severe damage and disruption to U.S. systems, leaving little or no footprint behind," the general said. And the speed and influence of mobile communications and social media have the potential to magnify international crises and shorten an already compressed decision-making cycle, Stewart added.


The demand for intelligence has never been greater, he said, but sequestration and operational demands have forced the military intelligence community to accept increased risk.

This "will have a direct and lasting impact on our ability to provide high-quality, nuanced intelligence required by policy makers and war fighters. I fear that the true cost of these difficult choices today may be paid on the battlefield of the future," the general said.