Monday, May 18, 2015

NATO Allies U.S., Bularia Demonstrate Capabilities in Eastern Europe

By Terri Moon Cronk
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 18, 2015 – U.S. and Bulgarian military personnel began an exercise today in the host country of Romania, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters today.

Exercise Platinum Eagle 2015 is a multinational exercise at Babadag Training Area, Romania, designed to demonstrate the capabilities of NATO allies in Eastern Europe, Warren said.

Approximately 150 U.S. Marines and sailors from the Black Sea Rotational Force will participate in the preplanned, annually scheduled exercise, which concludes May 28, he said.

“[Platinum Eagle events] will consist of basic infantry skills, advanced marksmanship, company-level command and control and the use of anti-armor weapons systems,” the colonel said.

The Black Sea Rotational Force is a contingent of U.S. Marines and sailors in the Black Sea, Balkans and Caucasus regions that maintain proven partnerships, build military capacity, promote regional security and provide the capability for rapid crisis response as directed by U.S. European Command and U.S. Marine Corps Forces Europe and Africa, officials said.

Yokota-Nepal support: Behind the readiness

by Staff Sgt. Cody H. Ramirez
374th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

5/14/2015 - YOKOTA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Members of Yokota, serving at the primary airlift hub in the Pacific region, often deploy to provide humanitarian aid to countries stricken by natural disasters. In recent years alone, the 374th Airlift Wing has deployed to support regional countries such as Japan after the Tohoku earthquake in 2011, the Philippines after typhoon Haiyan in 2013 and recently Nepal after the Gorkha earthquake April 25.

These deployments are typically initiated by an official tasking--a document detailing a requirement for a specific amount of personnel, equipment and aircraft, to be sent to a determined location.  The installation deployment officer takes this information and passes it to the designated squadrons. The deployment of the 374th AW to aid the people of Nepal wasn't typical though.

According to 1st Lt. Jeffrey Rearden, 374th Logistical Readiness Squadron installation deployment officer, wing leadership knew there would be a need for them, so they initiated a proactive plan to have a mobility package ready. This meant Rearden and his office of log planners would have to work backwards, building a deployment plan for an estimated, but unknown, mission.

Rearden said he had to begin thinking about the possible ... "If we were to send aircraft to select locations to support Nepal, what would we need to bring? That is where the log planners came into play, we determined, with the help of other units, what was needed for each aircraft-- such as how many maintainers and what cargo." Rearden said.

Deployment lines were set up to ensure personnel tasked with "standby" status for the mission were ready. More than 180 members were processed, readying a backup for almost every position.

"We didn't know what was required ... we didn't know what country we were going to or what medical immunizations would be required," Rearden said.

There is a lot of behind-the-scenes planning that goes into ensuring members are trained and ready prepared for deployments. According to Rearden, his team organized the tasking as well as they could with their given predicament.

Once they had the personnel and equipment planning sorted, they needed to have the cargo as prepared to leave as the personnel that would be joining it. The LRS completed a local agreement order and sent a bulk of the cargo work to the 730th Air Mobility Squadron.

"We are responsible of making sure the cargo is airworthy, which means there are no discrepancies, weights and balances of the cargo is accounted for and--if there is any hazardous material within the cargo--that they are certified and able to fly," said Master Sgt. Rafick Khan, 730 AMS airfreight section chief.

The airfreight section of the mobility squadron is broken down into three specialty shops: special handlings, cargo and ramp functions and load planning. According to Khan, every shop was essential in processing the cargo for the 36th Airlift Squadron.

"These guys were eager to take hold of a real-world, out-of-the-ordinary job," Khan said. "They knew this cargo was going to help people. All the training they had received up to this point was about to be tested."

Special Handlings Airmen ensured cargo was inspected for weights and balances and hazardous material compatibility. They conducted a joint inspection on the 11 cargo bundles and ensured the cargo was transported to their facility. Cargo and ramp function ensured the cargo movements with inbound trucks and the cargo itself were offloaded safely and by-the-books. And finally, the log planners loaded the equipment into a cargo tracking system.

Afterward, the cargo was set into a "ready line" to allow for an efficient and smooth loading process.

"When it was time to load, all we had to do was put it on K-loaders and bring it to the aircraft," Khan added. "We had everything ready to go within 2 hours of the cargo arriving to the cargo port."

The team processed more than 50,000 pounds of cargo, and according to Khan, his team put in more than 16 hours to ensure the cargo and equipment were bundled, inspected and organized to be sent to Nepal.

"Training and teamwork is key to short taskings like this," Khanl said. "The training to get these guys prepared had a big payoff. Everyone knew there part."

After long hours of cargo inspections and preparing a deployment package, four C-130 Hercules and nearly 100 personnel left Yokota May 5 to aid Joint Task Force-505 in its mission to support U.S. Agency of International Development and the Government of Nepal.

"I think it shows just how flexible we are, being able to adapt on the fly," Reardon said. "There were so many moving pieces to this movement, but we were all flexible and patient with each other."

Operation Sahayogi Haat cargo download passes 4 million pounds

by Maj. Ashley Connor
JTF-505 Public Affairs

5/18/2015 - KATHMANDU, Nepal  -- The Nepal army, in partnership with Airmen from the 36th Contingency Response Group supporting Operation Sahayogi Haat, has offloaded more than 4 million pounds of cargo from 80 aircraft since arriving at the Tribhuvan International Airport here May 5.

"Four million pounds of cargo is the most amount of cargo the 36th CRG has downloaded in one disaster relief operation," said Capt. Brint Ingersoll, 36th CRG operations officer. "Very soon we will begin to scale back our operations on the ramp to allow the Nepal army and Nepal airline contractors to assume all of the cargo downloads."

At the beginning of the operation the average download time was around two to three hours depending on the type of aircraft. Almost two weeks into the operation, the 36th CRG has been able to cut the download time for most aircraft in half, averaging 974 pounds of cargo downloaded every minute. Once downloaded, humanitarian aid is sent out to the villages or to the distribution center the same day it arrives in Nepal thereby avoiding any congestion at the airfield.

The 36th CRG, under Joint Task Force-505, is a 42-person team that represents more than 20 Air Force career fields needed to extend air mobility in support of disaster relief missions in nearly any type of environment.

Saving lives: Airman flies on casualty evacuation missions after Nepal earthquake

by Staff Sgt. Melissa White
JTF-505 Public Affairs

5/18/2015 - KATHMANDU, Nepal  -- Two weeks after a 7.8 magnitude earthquake devastated Nepal, a second 7.3 magnitude earthquake rattled the nation May 12, 2015, causing even more injuries, devastation and need for help.

Master Sgt. Joe Damian, 36th Contingency Response Group independent duty medical technician-paramedic, didn't know what was happening at first but was shocked when he realized another earthquake was shaking the ground. Immediately, his medical training kicked in as he wondered if earthquake victims would need his help as he started his daily shift at the Tribhuvan International Airport here.

"I was on the bus when we got to the airfield, and the first thing they did was yell my name and tell me to get off the bus," Damian said. "I saw the casualty collection point and I knew things were serious."

Damian found himself in the midst of helping other U.S. and Nepalese service members assess casualties who had been brought to the airfield for triage, treatment and transportation to a higher echelon of care.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Marines were gearing up to head out for casualty evacuations using UH-1Y Huey helicopters and MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft, but they didn't have enough medical professionals to ride along and assist with caring for the patients on the 20-minute flight back to the airfield. Col. Lee Anderson, 36th CRG commander, aware of Damian's skills and past experiences as a special operations forces medic flying on helicopters, unhesitatingly offered up his expertise.

"His previous experience as a special operations medic made him well suited for the job," Anderson said. "He came to Nepal to care for the CRG members who were assisting the government of Nepal with the relief efforts but we are happy he was able to use his longtime experience as an IDMT to treat the Nepalese who were injured in the earthquake."

Within an hour after the earthquake, which occurred at approximately 1 p.m., he was flying over the mountains to the remote village of Charikot looking for victims of the disaster.

"There were a lot of houses scattered everywhere in the mountains, and a lot of them were caved in," Damian said. "As soon as we landed, the Nepalese army trucks drove up right away to transfer the patients to us."

Damian was requested by name from the Marines to fly on the casualty evacuation missions with them for the next two days, totaling approximately 10 flying hours on nine sorties. He helped transport six patients to the flightline aid station at the airfield, which ended up treating a total of 59 earthquake victims.

"People don't want to see things like this happen, and this earthquake was almost as strong as the first one," he said. "When disasters like this happen, there are bound to be injuries. Out of the thousands who were injured from this one, we were able to provide care for people who really needed treatment."

Damian deployed with the 36th CRG from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam, and arrived in Nepal May 5 as part of Joint Task Force 505 to assist the government of Nepal and U.S. Agency for International Development with airfield operations and processing relief supplies.

In addition to caring for the Nepalese earthquake victims and the 36th CRG Airmen, he has found himself assisting the group with downloading hundreds of thousands of pounds of relief supplies daily. As of May 15, the group had downloaded 3.7 million pounds of cargo from more than 50 different aircraft.

"This experience has been really gratifying knowing I'm able to help out the people who need it most," he said. "My job is to save lives whether that is through medical care or by downloading relief supplies to get them to the earthquake victims."

Soldier Missing from Korean War Accounted For

The Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced today that the remains of a U.S. soldier, missing from the Korean War, have been identified and will be returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. Francis D. Knobel of La Crosse, Wisconsin, will be buried May 21, in Arlington National Cemetery. In December 1950, Knobel was a member of Headquarters Company, 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 7th Infantry Division, operating along the eastern side of the Chosin Reservoir in North Korea. On Dec. 12, 1950, following the battle, Knobel was one of many men reported missing in action.

From Aug. 31 to Nov. 9, 1954, the United Nations and communist forces exchanged war dead, commonly known as Operation Glory. As part of the exchange, communist forces turned over 25 boxes of remains that were believed to be American servicemen who were recovered near where Knobel was lost. The remains were transferred to the U.S. Army’s Central Identification Unit (CIU) in Kokura, Japan, for analysis. From the 25 boxes transferred to the CIU, 17 servicemen were identified; one box was believed to contain a Korean national, and the last seven boxes of remains could not be identified. When all attempts to associate the unidentified remains to American servicemen were unsuccessful, a military review board declared the remains to be unidentifiable and the remains were transferred to the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as the Punchbowl.

In 2014, with advances in technology, the Department of Defense re-examined records from the CIU and concluded it was possible to identify the remains. The remains were exhumed and analyzed.

To identify Knobel’s remains, scientists from DoD and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence, radiographs, and dental comparison.

Today, 7,852 Americans remain unaccounted for from the Korean War. Using modern technology, identifications continue to be made from remains that were previously turned over by North Korean officials or recovered from North Korea by American recovery teams.

Navy Lays Keel for PCU Indiana

From Team Submarine Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy held a keel laying ceremony for the Virginia-class submarine Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Indiana (SSN 789) at Huntington Ingalls Industries, Newport News Shipbuilding, May 16.

The initials of the submarine's sponsor, Diane Donald, were welded onto a steel plate that will be permanently affixed to the submarine. Donald is the wife of retired Adm. Kirkland Donald and a long serving member of the Submarine Force spouse organization. She actively supported, organized and ran charity events and projects to raise funds for the Dolphin Scholarship Foundation and other worthy organizations.

"The Indiana keel laying is an important construction milestone for us and our shipbuilding partners," said Rear Adm. David Johnson, program executive officer for Submarines. "This ceremony continues to demonstrate the collaboration between the Navy and our partners to ensure we are building a capable and affordable ship to defend our country."

Indiana began construction in September 2012 and is on track to continue the Virginia class program's trend of delivering submarines early to their contract delivery dates, within budget and ready for tasking by the fleet.

Indiana is the 16th submarine of the Virginia class and the sixth of the eight ship Block III construction contract. Virginia-class submarines are built under a unique teaming agreement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Huntington Ingalls Industries-Newport News Shipbuilding. So far, 28 Virginia-class submarines have either been delivered, are in construction, or are under contract.

Ships of the Virginia class embody the commitment by the Navy and industry to reduce costs without decreasing capabilities through a multi-year procurement strategy, continuous improvements in construction practices and cost-reduction design changes. These submarines excel in littoral and open-ocean environments and collect intelligence critical to irregular warfare efforts with advanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.