Military News

Thursday, May 14, 2015

NATO Focuses on Combating Hybrid Warfare



By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015 – NATO foreign ministers have agreed on steps to combat hybrid warfare –- the type Russia has used against Ukraine -- NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters today in Antalya, Turkey.

Speaking at a news conference at the end of the NATO Foreign Ministers meeting, Stoltenberg said NATO is already undergoing its greatest transformation since the end of the Cold War and will continue steps to reassure allies and combat hybrid conflict.

NATO is also working with the European Union to stem conflict to the south, the secretary general said.

Combination of Threats

Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and its continued actions in eastern Ukraine are classic examples of hybrid war, Stoltenberg added. He said it’s a combination of threats, including conventional forces, subversion of legitimate governments and cyberattacks.

“We also face sophisticated disinformation and radicalization campaigns,” he said. “Our best weapon against disinformation is information based on our values of democracy, freedom of speech and open societies.”

The secretary general said he welcomed the United Kingdom’s announcement that it is providing funding to support NATO strategic communications to combat the Russian propaganda campaign. The U.K. also announced it will fund defense capacity building, and Turkey has also agreed to contribute to this effort, Stoltenberg said.

Increasing Cooperation, Stability

Capacity building is the heart of the strategy to combat hybrid war, he said. Stable governments can withstand threats from hybrid conflict and defense capacity building increases stability, the secretary general said.

“If our neighbors are more stable, we are more secure,” Stoltenberg said. “So we must do more for our neighbors and with our neighbors.”

The foreign ministers also examined ways to increase NATO’s cooperation with Sweden and Finland. “We have agreed to look at ways to hold more consultations and to share more information about what is happening in the Baltic Sea region and beyond, so that we all have the fullest possible picture,” he said. “We will also look at how we can conduct more exercises together with Finland and Sweden.”

The challenges from Russia and from the south will require a collective response, Stoltenberg said. All nations in Europe must work more closely together.

Part of that will be increased cooperation with the European Union to counter hybrid warfare, he said. “We will ensure that the strategies we are developing are complementary, so that we can work together quickly and effectively in the case of a hybrid threat against any of our members.” the secretary general said. “The overall goal will be to ensure that, in the event of a hybrid threat, there is clarity on ‘who does what and when.’”

Centurions, PJs conduct joint casualty exercise

by Air Force Staff Sgt. Wes Wright
JBER Public Affairs


5/14/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- It was 2 p.m. April 30 as a four-vehicle Army convoy rolled out of its forward operating base to deliver a high value target to a secure location. Any convoy in a deployed environment can be a dicey affair, but this one in particular had personnel on high alert.

From a hidden knoll in the distance, a terrorist watched as the convoy approached a carefully hidden improvised explosive device. He let the first vehicle pass before detonating the device. Reacting with practiced precision, Army personnel went into their defensive positions as the enemy opened up with small arms fire. Medics
began treating the injured as infantrymen established security, but it soon became
clear one of those priorities was going to suffer if they couldn't get out of there fast.

High overhead, a C-130 Hercules was circling with a contingent of highly trained Air Force pararescuemen. Within minutes of their Army brothers being pinned down, the PJs were free falling through the air, tactically deploying as close to the action as possible. Upon arrival, they were met with the chaos of war.

A smoky haze obscured the battlefield and the staccato of gunfire could be heard as bullets began whizzing by their position.

Fortunately, the bullets clipping tree branches around them were simulated munitions and the scenario was a training exercise on rangeland at Joint Base

Elmendorf-Richardson designed to integrate the Army and Air Force's combat  asualty
care capabilities.

"This was an opportunity to do a number of things," said Tech Sgt. Benjamin Westveer, 212th Rescue Squadron survival, evasion, resistance and escape  pecialist.
"We wanted to get to understand the Army and how they work. This is the first time we've done this with them. The secondary part is those are the types of people the rescue squadron would actually recover in the deployed environment. It was a good
opportunity to see how the Army operates," Westveer said.

Staff Sgt. Sonny Carlos, 212th RS pararescuman, was one of the PJs to get to experience the joint training.

When we got there, it was chaos, as usual," Carlos said. "That's what war is: chaos,
but you try to control it. Imagine yourself in an environment where a close friend has
been blown up. Your mind is not correct. That's what we're there for...to try to help
with that. Everybody in the military naturally wants to help and do what's right, but it can be difficult in those circumstances." After infiltrating and establishing their position, the PJs, under the direction of their team leader, quickly formulated a plan and began to execute it.

"Our first priority was determining a total number of patients to make sure we're not missing anyone," Carlos said. "Once we had that, we worked on getting them all to a casualty collection point."

Westveer led a team of opposition forces designed to test the mettle of joint servicemembers.

He and his team waited until the PJs were treating patients before opening fire from concealed vantage points with simulated munitions.

"Once we started taking fire, our immediate focus changed to returning fire," Carlos said. "That's how you're going to save lives: take over the objective and make sure you own it, so that way you're not going to be picking up a patient and then get shot in the back." With the Army personnel and PJs working in tandem to repel the ground attack, Westveer's team found their combined skill a force to be reckoned with.

"I never heard anybody lose their head when we attacked them," Westveer said. "They didn't lose control. They stayed with the situation and pushed us out and made the right calls. It as difficult to engage them directly. I know I got hit with several sim rounds, which is exactly what we hoped would happen."

Army 2nd Lt. David Hildon, leader of the evacuation Platoon of C Company, 725th Brigade Support Battalion (Airborne), 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division, U.S. Army Alaska, saw the training as invaluable for his Soldiers.

"Coming in, we knew what the PJs did in broad terms, but in terms of integrating tactics, techniques and procedures, we were able to practice those technical things that will ultimately be key to saving lives," Hildon said.

While the exercise went smoothly, there were also some lessons learned, Westveer said.

"We learned some communications issues and how to make sure we prep better," he said. "That's exactly why we're doing this. We're doing it so we can understand each other's limiting factors and how to overcome them."

Running into cross-service challenges during the exercise was something Hildon expected his Soldiers to face.

"It's good to practice these things now before it happens in real life," Hildon said. "There were some hiccups, but we expected that. Normally, in the Army, we use a crawl, walk, run methodology.

"These guys, special operations, they're already running. We're good at what we do; however, we haven't worked with them in an environment like this. We all learned quite a bit and that's the whole point."

According to Carlos, the joint training is critical because it's functional.

"How do we work? How do they work? What do we do differently?" Carlos said. "Maybe they have something they do better than we do or vice versa. Each branch is always trying to achieve that goal of bettering themselves and being better than the enemy. Seeing different perspectives is a huge help." Both services came away from the fight feeling better prepared
for real world application of integrated TTPs, and each had nothing but positive words on the other's behalf.

"The more you practice, the more you realize the importance of practice as you learn lessons along the way," Hildon said. "We're grateful for the opportunity to train with them and I'm  really proud of my guys and the great job they did."

Carlos had equally high praise for the Soldiers.

"Everybody takes their job seriously," Carlos said. "Working with them, we expect their top performance and that's what's given. I thought it went very well."

While this was the first time this type of exercise has happened on JBER, Westveer, one of the event organizers, said it won't be the last.

"It was phenomenal," Westveer said. "It's become much more critical as drawdowns happen in the active duty and [National] Guard. We have to cover each other more. We are different branches and operated differently, which is alright, but we need to understand how each other operates.

"This is the type of thing we need to keep doing, pushing for that joint integration, training with each other. We have great opportunities at this joint base to accomplish that," Westveer  said.

673d Security Forces Squadron dedicates memorial to fallen

by Tech. Sgt. Raymond Mills
JBER Public Affairs


5/14/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- The 673d Security Forces Squadron unveiled a bronze plaque commemorating Tech. Sgt. Jason Norton of Miami, Oklahoma, and Staff Sgt. Brian McElroy of San Antonio, May 11 on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

Norton and McElroy were assigned to the 586th Expeditionary Logistics Readiness Squadron when they were killed in Iraq on Jan. 22, 2006 after their vehicle struck an improvised explosive device while escorting supply trucks on Main Supply Route Tampa.

Both were posthumously awarded Bronze Star Medals and Purple Hearts for their actions.

"Though I did not have the honor of serving with Jason or Brian, through some research, and help from their families, it's clear that these two men where heroes, not only to their country but to their families and friends," said Lt.

Col. Christopher Bromen, 673d  SFS commander.

Norton, a military working dog trainer for the 3rd Security Forces Squadron, was born in Little Rock, Arkansas and grew up in Miami, Oklahoma. He graduated from Miami High school in 1991 prior to joining the Air Force.

Norton is remembered as a motivated noncommissioned officer who put the mission first.

"Sergeant Norton was my go-to-guy," said Capt. Kimani Alston, Norton's detachment commander in Iraq. "His last mission was the first for our detachment to that new location. He was one of our best and was excited to go on that dangerous mission."

Norton is survived by his wife, Christina Norton and children Rebecca and Dalton.

McElroy, the NCO in charge of information security for the 3rd Security Forces Squadron, was born in Bedford, England.  He graduated from Churchill High School in San Antonio in 1996 prior to enlisting in the Air Force.

"He was a remarkable man that approached his life with generosity to those around him, dedication to service and a mischievous sense of humor that positively sparkled in his eyes," said Norton's wife, Aymber McElroy.

McElroy is survived by his wife and his daughter Kaley.

"They recognized that remembering and honoring the sacrifice of those who came before us makes us stronger, more resilient and more dedicated to our own service," said Bromen. "Why we memorialize was said best by Abraham Lincoln during his Gettysburg Address."

"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us - that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion - that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain."

Face of Defense: Airman Propels Team to International Victory



By Air Force Senior Airman Jonathan Bass
20th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C., May 14, 2015 – A smile spreads across her face as she bounces a basketball, remembering the longest 40 minutes of her life.

“I just tried to play hard for the entire game,” said Air Force 2nd Lt. Micah Wessinger. “Even though I was tired, I pushed through until we won.”

Wessinger, 20th Logistics Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer, recently had the privilege of representing the U.S. armed forces during the Headquarters AirCom Inter-Nation Basketball Tournament, March 24-27. The tournament, which is held every two years, uses sports as an avenue to build relationships between NATO nations.

This year, six NATO nations’ air forces competed in the tournament: the U.S., Germany, the United Kingdom, Belgium, Poland and the Netherlands.

Basketball Fan Since Age 6

Wessinger, a native of Chester, South Carolina, not only led the U.S. Armed Forces Women’s Basketball Team to a gold medal, but won the event’s most valuable player award.

An avid basketball fan and player since age 6, Wessinger jumped at the opportunity when the Air Force provided it.

“It was random,” said Wessinger, who stands 5 feet 6 inches tall and plays shooting guard. “I received an email from the Air Force sports representative asking if I wanted to play and I said yes.”

Wessinger has played on both the Air Force Women’s Basketball Team and the U.S. Armed Forces Basketball Team in the past two years. By the end of the tournament, held at Royal Air Force Lakenheath, England, two foes-turned-allies met on the hardwood to settle the score. The U.S. beat Germany 90-89 to win the title, with Wessinger playing all 40 minutes of the game.

Innate Leadership

Bobby Seaberry, coach of the U.S. Women’s Team, made her the team captain at the start of the tournament, calling her “a leader, on and off the court.” Seaberry said he didn’t want to have her play the entire game, but having multiple team members in foul trouble caused a change in his plans.

Fortunately Wessinger’s innate leadership abilities took control. She knew it was on her to lead the team to a win when two of her teammates fouled out during the second half, she said.

“I never thought we would lose,” she said. “From the start of the game, I stayed in the mindset that we were going to win.”

Wessinger hit her final four free throws late in the game, helping secure the victory.

“I remember shooting those free throws and thinking, ‘We need these, do not miss these,’” she said.

Seaberry credited Wessinger’s ability to play both sides of the court as a big part of the team’s achievement.

“[Wessinger] did a great job in the tournament,” Seaberry said. “She hit some big shots and knocked down some big free throws, and played hard defense to come away with a few steals and grab some big rebounds for the team.”

Heart and Hustle

With 19 points, five rebounds, three assists, and three steals in the championship game, Wessinger’s abilities are apparent.

“I love both sides of the game, I think defense is more important, but offense is more fun,” said Wessinger as a smile widens across her face.

Wessinger’s tenacity on the court is a direct reflection of her work ethic and commitment to the Air Force. This allows her to play and lead well regardless of the situation.

“At work I have a hand in the deployment process for the entire wing, whether it’s for an exercise or sending Airmen down range, my office has a part and I love that part.”

Wessinger credits her success, on and off the court, to her heart. “I use my hustle,” she said. “During the game I never quit, I may not be the best player, but I always give it my best.”

Tyndall completes first combat deployment

by Senior Airman Alex Echols
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs


5/14/2015 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla.  -- The 95th Fighter Squadron recently returned after making history completing the first Tyndall and F-22 Raptor combat deployment.

"The complete success of our first-ever combat deployment proves once again the Airmen of Team Tyndall get the mission done," said Col. Derek C. France, 325th Fighter Wing commander. "We're really proud of everyone that went downrange and very happy to have them back. They did a fantastic job and made Tyndall proud from start to finish."

More than 200 Airmen deployed from the 95th FS, the 325th Operation Support Squadron, the 325th Maintenance Squadron, the 325th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and other offices. Six F-22s and approximately 230 short tons of cargo accompanied the Airmen.

"Overall it was great," said Lt. Col. Ronald E. Gilbert, 95th FS commander. "I was really proud of our folks and happy with their attitudes and the way they approached business. People kept the positive motivation moving forward and worked around the clock to ensure combat operations were uninterrupted. I think we represented Team Tyndall well."

The six month deployment to Southeast Asia began last September and concluded in April but preparation started months in advance and wrap-up still continues. This being Tyndall's first deployment, many processes and systems including an entire squadron needed to be created to ensure mission success.

"Before the transition to Air Combat Command in October 2012, Tyndall never really prepared to go to combat," said Gilbert. "The base didn't have the training, infrastructure, logistics or mobility in place to make it possible to deploy. So for two years, we prepared, moved folks here and stood up offices and squadrons to get ready. A lot of initial obstacles and challenges were overcome, and success was greatly achieved downrange once we were able to get there."

The deployment also marked the first time an F-22 squadron deployed to combat.

"The aircraft was outstanding," said Gilbert. "Best airplane to be in combat, no question."

The 95th FS was reactivated in Oct. 11, 2013 and since then it has received 24 F-22's, making Tyndall the largest contingent of 5th generation aircraft in the world.

Obama to Posthumously Award Medal of Honor to WWI Soldiers



DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 14, 2015 – Two fallen World War I veterans will posthumously receive the Medal of Honor for conspicuous gallantry from President Barack Obama during a June 2 White House ceremony.

Army Sgt. William Shemin

Army Sgt. William Shemin will receive the medal for his actions while serving as a rifleman for Company G, 2nd Battalion, 47th Infantry Regiment, 4th Division, American Expeditionary Forces. He distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Vesle River, Bazoches, France, on Aug. 7-9, 1918.

Shemin left the cover of his platoon’s trench and crossed open space, repeatedly exposing himself to heavy machine gun and rifle fire to rescue wounded comrades. Due to casualties suffered by his superiors, Shemin took command of the platoon and displayed great initiative under fire until he was wounded Aug. 9.

Ms. Elsie Shemin-Roth of Webster Grove, Missouri, will join the president at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on her father’s behalf.

Army Pvt. Henry Johnson

Army Pvt. Henry Johnson will receive the medal for his actions while serving as a member of Company C, 369th Infantry Regiment, 93rd Division, American Expeditionary Forces. Johnson distinguished himself during combat operations in the vicinity of the Tourbe and Aisne Rivers, northwest of Saint Menehoul, France, on May 15, 1918.

Johnson entered the Army on June 5, 1917. He was assigned to Company C, 15th New York (Colored) Infantry Regiment, an all-black National Guard unit that would later become the 369th Infantry Regiment. The regiment was ordered into battle in 1918, and Johnson and his unit were brigaded with a French Army colonial unit in front-line combat.

While on night sentry duty May 15, 1918, Johnson and a fellow soldier were attacked by a German raiding party comprising at least 12 soldiers. While under intense enemy fire and despite receiving significant wounds,

Johnson mounted a brave retaliation resulting in several enemy casualties. When his comrade was badly wounded, Johnson prevented him from being taken prisoner by German forces. He exposed himself to grave danger by advancing from his position to engage an enemy soldier in hand-to-hand combat. Displaying great courage, Johnson held back the enemy force until they retreated.

New York National Guard Command Sgt. Maj. Louis Wilson will join the President at the White House to accept the Medal of Honor on Johnson’s behalf.

The Medal of Honor is the nation’s highest military recognition, and is awarded to members of the armed forces who distinguish themselves conspicuously by gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty.