Thursday, May 28, 2015

USAID Widens Aperture for Economy, Diplomacy in Pacific

By Amaani Lyle
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, May 28, 2015 – Nepal’s beleaguered citizens are struggling to recover from the April 25 magnitude-7.8 earthquake that claimed more than 8,600 lives, caused countless injuries and left many thousands missing.

But a United States Agency for International Development official said broader collaboration continues concurrently with U.S. Pacific Command on regional priorities including disaster preparedness, nontraditional regional threats, such as resource insecurity; climate change, pandemic issues and environmental considerations.

“The steady state environment of Pacom gives us the opportunity to partner to achieve USAID development objectives, writ large,” said Natalie Freeman, senior USAID advisor to Pacific Command. “In the Asia-Pacific, USAID focuses on maternal and child health, food security, climate change, and inclusive economic growth. We can cooperate across the entire spectrum of our regional portfolio.”

Focus on Economic Integration

In this vast Asia-Pacific region -- particularly in Pacom’s area of responsibility, which covers more than 50 percent of the world's surface area and is home to just shy of 60 percent of the world’s population -- USAID focuses on opportunities, Freeman explained.

“Asia is home to three of the four largest economies in the world. It is the fastest growing region with a middle class of 1 billion people. The trade volume is expected to double by 2025. Asia Pacific is expected to almost double its share of global GDP by 2050. The opportunity for regional economic integration is quite expansive.” she said.

USAID and Pacom work closely with Association of the Southeast Asian Nations to focus on economic integration, resources and security, Freeman said. “We will soon have a maritime awareness workshop, bringing in delegates from ASEAN [and] experts from our regional mission in Bangkok to discuss and agree on recommendations that will advance maritime security and in turn support regional efforts for fisheries management that will support long term food security and economic livelihoods,” she added.

Impact of Unregulated Fishing

Freeman cited a specific issue in need of attention: illegal, unreported, and unregulated fishing in a certain regions of Pacom’s jurisdiction. “It’s very important from a security perspective because of the risks it creates at sea,” she explained. From a development perspective, she said, overfishing can adversely affect food security and economic growth.

“Fisheries contribute to livelihood and economic development,” she said. “There is a development interest in resilient economics and security at sea advancing this goal. This is one area of shared space where PACOM and USAID can work together.”

Evolution of Relationship With India

In describing broader diplomatic successes, Freeman noted the evolution of the U.S. relationship with India.

“We are transitioning our relationship with India from that of a donor-recipient to more of a strategic partner. For example, India is a strategic partner in Feed the Future, the Presidential Initiative on food security, given that India has demonstrated the ability to achieve economic growth through agricultural growth,” she said.

And Pacom, she added, is similarly focused, as evident in the ongoing Nepal disaster response.

“Building the capacity of regional leaders is something we both take on together, [and] ideally, countries in the region are better able to respond to their own needs or crises through having more capability.”

This, in turn, empowers nations to partner with the U.S. to lead the improvement of the living environment for their citizens rather than adopt a more reliant recipient role, she said.

Critical Stewardship

Collaboration with Pacom and other agencies also facilitates critical stewardship in an era of fiscal uncertainty.

“We never have enough resources for the demand,” Freeman said, “We must be strategic about the resources we have and try to make sure we get the best impact for the taxpayer’s dollar.”

Despite somewhat disparate authorities and appropriations, USAID and the military can mutually support efforts by leveraging resources, comparative advantages and unique capabilities to accomplish our respective missions, Freeman said.

“It’s important for the Department of Defense to articulate its rebalance to Asia, but equally important for the entire international apparatus for the United States, which includes development and diplomacy,” she added.

Efforts in Burma and Sri Lanka

Since the Asia rebalance began, Freeman said, USAID has opened a mission in Burma to assist the nation in its economic transition, political reform, private sector development and human rights issues. USAID, she added, is also considering support for the newly elected democratic government of Sri Lanka and has been instrumental in supporting development of better management of disaster risk reduction.

“There’s a broader message on the U.S. rebalance that involves defense, diplomacy and development, and it’s important that we coordinate that message to mutually reinforce our impact,” she said.

Beyond the initial response in Nepal, Freeman acknowledged, addressing engineering, deconstruction, reconstruction, health, sanitation issues and overall restorative efforts in Nepal will take time to complete. Meanwhile, the effort has enhanced civilian-military coordination, planning, and policy coherence.

“Since USAID’s first civil-military policy in 2008, much progress has been made. USAID and DOD know each other better now,” she said. “The Deputy Development Advisor, Garret Harries, and I include Pacom staff in relevant USAID training courses. We conduct the Development in Vulnerable Environments (DIVE) training for PACOM leadership and staff, and because we better understand how to work well together, I think we’re more successful in civil and military cooperation.”

French Air Force visit strengthens partnership

by Airman Jazmin Smith
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

5/28/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- Since its standup in 2009, Air Force Global Strike Command has worked to build and maintain a strong relationship with its allies in the French air forces.

A regular series of exchange visits between leadership, participation in joint exercises, and attendance at major events have served to develop mutual understanding and partnering opportunities between the two nations' strategic air forces.

In continuing that partnership, Lt. Gen. Philippe Steininger, commander of the French Air Force's Strategic Air Forces Command, along with a contingent of FAS members, visited Whiteman Air Force Base, Missouri, May 26-27, where they got an up-close look at B-2 mission and met with U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Stephen Wilson, AFGSC commander.

This was Steininger's first visit to an AFGSC base since taking command of the FAS. At Whiteman, Steininger had the chance to fly in a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber, an opportunity only approximately 600 people have had.

"First of all, being authorized to fly in the B-2 is quite unusual, so I very much appreciate this honor," said Steininger. "The people here at Whiteman have written a part of modern military history. The B-2 brought spirit to many operations in the past few years ... over the Balkans, over the Middle East, over Afghanistan, also over North Africa. The longest bombing mission ever has been flown here out of Whiteman. As a pilot, I'm very happy to have this tremendous experience on a very impressive jet, and as an officer, I'm also very proud to have met the people of Whiteman Air Force Base."

While visiting, Steininger and Wilson had an opportunity to discuss some of the differences and similarities in their operating procedures.

"Our weapons are different, our systems are different, our format obviously is different, but our challenges are exactly the same," said Steininger. "After all, our business is to be ready any time, be highly professional, be absolutely safe, and that's very true for Air Force Global Strike Command. That's also very true for my command, so we have a lot to learn from each other."

The United States and France are long-time allies, having joined forces on many occasions throughout history. With exchange visits between both countries, there are ample opportunities to continue strengthening those valuable connections.

"We want to continue to build upon an already great relationship and that's why these exchanges are really important," said Wilson. "We have a lot to learn from each other and I hope to continue to build and grow the relationship between us and the French strategic forces."

James to Air Force Cadets: ‘Lead Us Into The Future’

By Cheryl Pellerin
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2015 – Cadets graduating from the U.S. Air Force Academy as second lieutenants are entering the profession of arms at a time of unprecedented change and challenges, Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James told the Class of 2015 today in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Delivering the commencement speech at the academy’s Falcon Stadium, James said changes in geopolitics, technology and threats had taken place since the cadets began their four years of intense leadership training.

“Four years ago we were engaged across the world in many different missions and today we still are, but I would give that an uptick -- we are more globally engaged than we were four years ago,” James told the audience, detailing the changes.

Some of the world actors have changed, as have locations our nation worries about, she said.

Narrowing Gaps

“Our budgets are tighter, and from a technological standpoint the gaps between us and our nearest competitors are closing,” James said.

A high operations tempo coupled with frequent deployments and aging equipment prompt concerns about readiness across the Air Force. And disruptive technologies and weapons once possessed only by advanced nations are in the hands of a growing cast of nonstate actors and terrorist organizations, the secretary said.

“China and Russia meanwhile are plowing full-speed ahead with their military modernization programs,” she added, “and they're developing worrisome advanced capabilities like anti-air, counter-space and defensive cyber warfare capabilities.”

In the last year alone, the Air Force helped take the fight to the Middle East against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Air Force secretary said. Airmen helped curb the Ebola epidemic in Africa, provided humanitarian aid after multiple earthquakes in Nepal, and helped reassure U.S. allies in Europe against a resurgent Russia, James said.


“If there’s one thing that’s clear to me in the year and a half that I've been honored to be secretary of the Air Force, it’s that when big things happen around the world, the president of the United States calls 1-800-USAF and … we kick into action -- big time,” she said.

Because the pace of operations is unlikely to slow, James urged the graduating cadets “to lead us into the future because you are the next generation of leaders that Secretary of Defense Ash Carter calls the force of the future.”

Future Air Force leaders must be open to new ideas, welcome new ways of doing business and understand that the world is much more dynamic and complex than it has ever been, she told the cadets.

Deter, Defend

“Remember, graduates,” James said, “ultimately we exist for one reason, and that is to deter and defend and if necessary to fight and win America's wars.”

Everyone, she added, regardless of job description, career field or whether they are active duty, guard, reserve or civilian -- has a role to play in the fundamental mission.

“Secretary Carter and I believe that your success, your ability to lead us into that future and to fight and win America's wars will rest on three main pillars,” James said.

The first is to extend the technological edge over potential adversaries, she said. The second is to ensure that the Air Force is efficient and accountable and the third is to ensure that the future force leverages the finest talent America has to offer, James added.

Of the more than 800 cadets graduating today from the U.S. Air Force Academy Class of 2015, 89 are continuing on to graduate school, 360 are going directly into pilot training, 44 are destined for nuclear or missile operations, and 89 are headed for the fields of space and cyberspace, the secretary said.

Diversity, Inclusion

The Class of 2015 also is one of the most diverse classes in academy history, with more than 20 percent women and 26 percent minorities, James said.

“Going forward,” she said, “I think we can and must do even better, because … our future readiness will depend in part on our ability to successfully draw the best talent from every sector of society and every corner of this nation.”

This, she added, is why the Air Force is committed to “diversity and inclusion in our Air Force, to expanding opportunities for women, … removing barriers for same-sex couples [and] creating more on ramps and off ramps,” so personnel can more seamlessly go from active duty to national guard or reserve and back at different times in their careers.

“It's why we're developing leaders who are committed to an ethical and expert profession of arms and will focus on a culture where everyone is treated with the dignity and respect they deserve,” the secretary said, “leaders who will take care of their people [in] an Air Force where sexual assault simply has no safe haven.”

Bottom Line

James said the bottom line for future airmen is to institute Air Force core values -- integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all they do -- in every action going forward.

“I charge you to lead us into a future where you will need to confront and … overcome challenges unlike anything you could have imagined. You'll be asked to solve complex and multifaceted problems and your resolve will be tested over and over,” James said.

She added, “I charge you to lead us into the future with a more diverse and inclusive workforce and to help foster an environment and culture of dignity and respect, and … to care for the men and women under your command as well as their families.”

Rebalance Continues America’s Historic Role in Asia-Pacific

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

WASHINGTON, May 28, 2015 – America’s rebalance to the Asia-Pacific is a continuation of its pivotal role over the past 70 years in helping ensure prosperity in the region, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said yesterday.

Speaking to reporters as he departed Hawaii during his second visit to the region, Carter is on a 10-day international trip that will also take him to Singapore, Vietnam and India, focusing on trust-building, addressing regional challenges and further developing a strong regional security architecture in Southeast Asia.

Fundamental Importance of Region

Carter said the Asia-Pacific region is of fundamental importance to the future of America and the global community. Half of the planet’s population lives in the Asia-Pacific region, he said, and half of the global economy is generated there.

While it’s not a region that’s in the headlines all the time because of its fundamental importance, Carter said that is because of the security role the U.S. has played there for the last 70 years.

“That role and the continuation of that role is the basic theme of this trip,” he said, “and will be the basic theme of the speech I make in a day-and-a-half at the Shangri-La Dialogue.”

Shangri-La Dialogue

The defense secretary alluded to his upcoming speech at the Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore, which is a key element of the emerging regional security architecture and a forum where the Asia-Pacific’s defense ministers engage in discussion aimed at building confidence and fostering practical security cooperation.

Carter said he was at the very first of these meetings which the International Institute for Strategic Studies convened in 2002, with “the idea being to be an Asia-Pacific analog to the Munich Security Conference that’s held in early February every year.”

The defense secretary noted a congressional delegation will attend, led by U.S. Sen. John McCain, whom he lauded for his “expertise” and having “more depth of knowledge and time spent in this region that just about anybody in Washington.”

“The theme of my remarks will be the long-standing and to-be-continued, pivotal American role in ensuring that the Asia-Pacific is a region in which everybody gets to rise,” he said.

“Everybody rises, everybody wins,” Carter said. “That’s been the history of 70 years -- first Japan’s economic miracle, then South Korea, Taiwan, then Southeast Asia. Today, China and India.”

Purpose of U.S. Rebalance

Carter said a “system of inclusion and attention to principle” have kept the peace and enabled prosperity in that part of the world.

“It is in that climate, everyone has gotten to rise,” he said. “Everyone has gotten to prosper, and in a nutshell, the purpose of American strategy and the purpose of the American rebalance, which is a part of the military part of the rebalance strategy, is to keep that going.”

According to Carter, maritime security is an important dimension, although the region is “not exclusively but importantly” a maritime theater. During the course of the trip, he said, there will be opportunities to see the “sheer scale of trade” that passes through the area in places such as the Strait of Malacca.

Carter noted it is of “incredible importance” to all parties in the region to have, as they have for 70 years, freedom of navigation, freedom of the seas, and peaceful use of the commons.

Chinese Inclusion

The defense secretary responded to a question of how the U.S. will reassure China its rebalance to the region is not an act of aggression.

“The American approach, for 70 years, has been one which is, first of all, grounded in the values of participation by everyone, and security and prosperity for everyone,” he said. “So that is what the United States has stood for in the region.”

What the rebalance is about, Carter said, is basically helping to keep a security system -- not a purely American one, but one of friends, allies and inclusiveness -- going, which includes China.

Carter noted China has been invited to joint military exercises, and “we have very important ties … I hope we’re able to strengthen between our military and the Chinese military.”

“We work with the Chinese military,” he said, “along with lots of other militaries in the region on humanitarian assistance, disaster relief.”

Partnership in Asia-Pacific Region

Carter said the multinational humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts in Nepal following the destruction wrought by a magnitude-7.8 earthquake serve as an example of partnership in the region.

That was a situation, he said, where many countries -- including China -- trained with the U.S. for those types of circumstances with many of them operating U.S. equipment.

“Whether it’s refugees and trafficking, natural disasters, counternarcotics, [or] counterterrorism,” Carter said, “there are lots of things that plague this region of the world like they do others.”

He added, “Our system and our approach has always been one that is inclusive, and that’s when I say what we stand for is a system in which everybody wins.”

That’s not a hegemonic system, but a system in which everybody wins and everybody participates, Carter said.