Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dempsey: NATO Military Committee Meeting Builds Alliance Solidarity

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BRUSSELS, May 20, 2015 – Meetings of NATO’s Military Committee are important in building solidarity within the alliance, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey met today with 27 other NATO chiefs of defense to discuss the issues of the alliance and plan for the way ahead.

During the meeting, U.S. Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of NATO’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, provided an update on the situation there. They also received updates on the security challenges emanating from Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and continued presence in eastern Ukraine. Next, they received briefings on the threat of extremists on the alliances southern flank.

The NATO defense chiefs also met with the Ukrainian and Georgian chiefs of defense.

Following the meeting, Dempsey called the alliance one of America’s asymmetric advantages. The existence of the alliance gives member states the advantage, he said, because member nations “have allies committed to our common defense.”

Earlier in the day, British army Lt. Gen. Sir Adrian J. Bradshaw, deputy supreme allied commander Europe, spoke to reporters traveling with Dempsey about Russia’s illegal annexation of Crimea and NATO’s response to the aggression.

“The issue we need to return to is the fact that they [Russia] have done what they’ve done,” he said. “That they continue to interfere with the affairs of a sovereign nation having annexed a part of it in contravention of international law. That is the issue.”

That Russia is helping the separatists operating in eastern Ukraine “is not a question anymore, it’s a certainty,” he said.

Bradshaw said the Minsk peace agreement is the best hope for some sort of stabilization in Ukraine and NATO nations “need to exert pressure for all parties to abide by this.”

NATO is in a good place with the steps it has taken since Russia’s aggression, he said. The alliance readiness action plan has reassured NATO countries on the eastern flank of the alliance and calls for changes to alliance capabilities to ensure swift and firm reinforcement should the need arise, the general said.

The manifestation of that commitment, the Spearhead force -- the alliance’s very high readiness force of around 5,000 personnel -- has been through alert tests. This summer, the force will deploy to Poland to test aspects of the rapid deployment and integration on the ground. “Thus far, it is going well,” Bradshaw said. “This is the interim force and we are on time and delivering what we said we would do.”

The general said gathering intelligence on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s intentions is tough because the actions are ordered by so few.

“Determining intent of individuals is a challenge for any known intelligence architecture,” Bradshaw said. “When the individual in charge of pulling the levers is surrounded by a close coterie of trusted advisers and decision-making doesn’t spread much farther than that, one is presented with obvious challenges.

“The only response you can take is to be ready for all eventualities, and I believe our readiness action plan takes account of that requirement,” he said.

NATO Adjusts to Change, Military Committee Chief Says

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

BRUSSELS, May 20, 2015 – A constantly changing security environment is the new norm, the chairman of the NATO Military Committee said here today as he opened a meeting of the alliance’s military chiefs.

Gen. Knut Bartels of the Danish army noted that the fighting in Yemen is threatening to become a regional conflict, and the move by the European Union to respond to the Mediterranean migration crisis are just two examples of changes in the security environment.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, is attending the meeting.

“Our meeting today will establish a common understanding of the issues as the first step in developing coherent responses,” Bartels said. “It will set the tone and identify the way ahead for the NATO military authorities in the second half of this year.”

This is the general’s last meeting as chair of the committee. He steps down next month, and Gen. Peter Pavel of the Czech Republic will succeed him.

Bartels said the alliance will implement the Readiness Action Plan by the alliance’s summit in Warsaw next year. The plan creates new capabilities to ensure NATO can respond quickly and firmly to challenges. It responds not only to the challenges Russia has posed, but also to threats from the Middle East and North Africa.

Restructuring, Beefing Up NATO Response Force

The plan restructured and beefed up the NATO Response Force in the land, sea and air domains. Part of the restructuring was creation of a quick-reaction Spearhead Force -- a brigade that will be able to deploy within 48 hours of notification. The force strengthens alliance collective defense capabilities and ensures NATO has the right forces in the right place at the right time, NATO officials said.

The Spearhead Force has reached interim capability and will continue exercises through 2015.

Bartels said the committee also will hear about progress on command and control centers being established in Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Bulgaria and Romania.

The NATO Military Committee plans meet with partners to discuss the interoperability achieved from working together in Afghanistan and ways to continue that growth, and it will also receive briefings from Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of the alliance’s Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan.

“We will complete our partner sessions by meeting with our special partners, Ukraine and Georgia,” Bartels said. “In both meetings, we will receive updates on how these two nations assess their regional security situation and on NATO’s support to enhance the resilience of their military institutions.”

DoD Disability Initiative Reaches Milestone

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

WASHINGTON, May 20, 2015 – A Defense Department program designed to help disabled service members, wounded warriors and federal employees through free assistive technology and appropriate accommodations recently assisted their 150,000th customer.

The Computer/Electronic Accommodations Program is a DoD program, founded in 1990, that provides free assistive technology and support services for federal employees with disabilities and service members with functional limitations.

Granted by U.S. Congress, and established by the 2000 National Defense Authorization Act, CAP became the first centrally funded reasonable accommodation program in the federal government and is the largest assistive technology program in the world.

150,000th Customer

Recently, the program assisted its 150,000th CAP customer, a DoD employee experiencing complications as a result of Parkinson’s disease, a progressive disorder of the nervous system.

“Like so many of our customers, this individual came to CAP not knowing what they needed,” said CAP Director, Stephen M. King. “We conducted a comprehensive needs assessment and recommended potential accommodation solutions, including screen magnification software.

“The software, along with other items we identified, was ordered and should be in the customer’s hands this week,” he said.

Unique Program

King discussed why the program’s efforts are unique. “While under no legal obligation to provide accommodations to federal employees outside of DoD,” he said, “defense leaders decided to allow other agencies to tap into the program and benefit from its efficiency and ease of use.

“DoD demonstrates our leadership in the disability field by not charging the agencies for the support CAP provides,” he added.

According to the disability initiative, since non-DoD agencies began taking advantage of CAP services in 2000, DoD has provided more than $17 million in assistive technologies to support, equip and empower federal employees at 68 partner agencies.

In addition to serving its 150,000th customer, King noted that CAP has been recognized as a “best practice” in the federal government.

"We are in the people business,” he said. "All of our customers are counting on us to provide the assistance they need, when they need it most. We take our responsibility seriously and are honored to support every one of our customers, but especially service members."

Since CAP expanded to support the military population in 2004, more than 42,000 computer and electronic items have been provided to wounded, ill and injured service members and other military personnel with functional limitations.

Small Staff

According to Michael Young, a CAP technology manager, the program’s small, fairly non-descript office in the Pentagon is usually busy with a constant flow of customers as it conducts individual assistance and needs assessments.

There were 302 customer contacts and 60 needs assessments conducted in April alone at the Pentagon CAPTEC Evaluation Center alone, he said.

Young, and Erin Sanderson, assistant CAPTEC manager, are two of the eight civilian employees and 21 contractors who serve as staff for the worldwide-reaching program.

Both CAPTEC managers also noted the program isn’t just for active duty troops; the initiative allows separating service members to retain equipment after separation enabling them to pursue education and employment opportunities.

Customers wishing to visit the CAPTEC evaluation center can schedule an appointment via email at or phone at 703-693-5160.