Military News

Thursday, July 02, 2015

B-52s Demonstrate Strategic Reach in the Indo-Asia-Pacific Region

by U.S. Strategic Command Public Affairs

7/2/2015 - OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Two B-52 Stratofortresses assigned to the 2nd Bomb Wing, Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, returned today from a 44-hour, non-stop mission to Australia.

The mission, which was closely coordinated with the Australian Department of Defence, demonstrates the United States' ability to project its flexible, long-range global strike capability and provided unique opportunities to synchronize strategic activities and capabilities with a key ally in the U.S. Pacific Command (USPACOM) area of operations.

"These flights are one of the many ways the U.S. demonstrates its commitment to a stable and peaceful Indo-Asia Pacific region," said Adm. Cecil D. Haney, U.S. Strategic Command commander. "In addition to strengthening aircrew skills and enhancing their familiarity with operating worldwide, combined training and theater security cooperation engagements with our regional allies serve to improve our interoperability and capability to respond to any potential threat together."

During the mission, the B-52s integrated with Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) ground forces in the region, conducted an inert conventional weapons drop on the Delamere Air Weapons Range, and performed a low-approach at RAAF Base Tindal.

USSTRATCOM's bomber force regularly conducts such training and engagements around the globe. In June, three B-52s deployed to Royal Air Force (RAF) Fairford, United Kingdom, where they conducted training flights with ground and naval forces around the region and participated in multinational Exercises BALTOPS 15 and SABER STRIKE 15 over international waters in the Baltic Sea and the territory of the Baltic states and Poland.

In May, two B-52s participated alongside Jordanian forces in U.S. Central Command's (USCENTCOM's) Exercise EAGER LION 2015.  The mission consisted of a nonstop, 30-plus hour sortie from the continental U.S. to the USCENTCOM area of operations. Previously, in April, four B-52s flew round-trip flights to both the Arctic and North Sea regions. The training mission, POLAR GROWL, enabled bomber crews to conduct air intercept training with fighter aircraft from the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands.

B-52s also participated in NATO Exercise NOBLE JUSTIFICATION in October 2014, during which the bombers assisted in the exercise's focus of validating the Spanish Maritime Force as the 2015 Maritime NATO Response Force.

USSTRATCOM is one of nine DoD unified combatant commands and is charged with strategic deterrence; space operations; cyberspace operations; joint electronic warfare; global strike; missile defense; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; combating weapons of mass destruction; and analysis and targeting.

Army Sergeant Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy in Afghanistan Bribery Scheme


A Fort Campbell Army Sergeant pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to commit bribery in connection with contracting for supplies while serving in Afghanistan.

Assistant Attorney General Leslie R. Caldwell of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, Acting U.S. Attorney John E. Kuhn Jr. of the Western District of Kentucky, Assistant Director in Charge Andrew G. McCabe of the FBI’s Washington Field Office, Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction John F. Sopko, Director Frank Robey of the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command’s (CID) Major Procurement Fraud Unit, Acting Special Agent in Charge Paul Sternal of the Defense Criminal Investigative Service’s (DCIS) Mid-Atlantic Field Office and Brigadier General Keith M. Givens, Commander of the Air Force Office of Special Investigations (OSI) made the announcement.

Ramiro Pena Jr., 43, of Fort Campbell, Kentucky, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Thomas B. Russell of the Western District of Kentucky to a one-count information charging him with conspiracy to commit bribery.  Pena’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for Oct. 15, 2015.

From January 2008 through September 2009, Pena worked as a U.S. Army Sergeant First Class at the Humanitarian Assistance (HA) Yard at Bagram Airfield in Afghanistan.  Pena and his supervisor, Army Master Sergeant Jimmy W. Dennis, were responsible for contracting with local vendors to purchase supplies necessary to support humanitarian relief in Afghanistan.  On behalf of the Army, between June 2008 and March 2009, Pena and Dennis entered into approximately 217 such contracts for approximately $30,760,255.

In connection with his guilty plea, Pena admitted that he received money and jewelry from the vendors – primarily through Dennis – in return for Pena and Dennis taking action favorable to the vendors in connection with the HA Yard contracts.  Specifically, Pena admitted that he received from the vendors, through Dennis, a Rolex watch in addition to $100,000 in bribe payments, which he received in approximately six installments.

Pena admitted that he sent some of the cash to his family in Kentucky, which he dispersed throughout numerous greeting cards to avoid drawing attention to the thickness of any particular envelope.  Pena also used the bribe money to pay his family’s personal expenses both in Afghanistan and in the U.S., and to purchase a Harley Davidson motorcycle.

In May 2014, Dennis pleaded guilty in the Western District of Tennessee to conspiracy to launder bribe payments.  In January 2015, Dennis was sentenced to serve 41 months in prison and was ordered to forfeit $115,000.

This case was investigated by the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the FBI, CID, DCIS and OSI.  This case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Daniel P. Butler of the Criminal Division’s Fraud Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Nute A. Bonner of the Western District of Kentucky.

Face of Defense: Army Civilian Finds Passion in Engineering Project Management



By Sandra Arnold
U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Galveston District

GALVESTON, Texas, July 2, 2015 – Sifting through artifacts dating back to the Roman era -- discovered while excavating a roadway for a $200 million Army housing project in Wiesbaden, Germany -- is the most interesting job assignment Rhonda Brown has overseen during her 21 years with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“We came across Roman coins, tile roof and pottery pieces,” said Brown. “I thought for sure this would require the project to be relocated. However, Roman sites are found all over Europe so the German government simply collected some items, documented the location and the project continued with construction over the Roman site.”

Brown's career has provided her with other memorable experiences around the world, including a visit to ground zero of the World Trade Center during a disaster clean-up mission.

The landscape architect now serves as a project manager for the USACE Galveston District, directing each stage in the life of a project, from programming and planning to design and construction.

Broad Responsibilities

“I am currently managing the design of eight U.S. Customs and Border Protection command-and-control facilities in Texas and am the project manager for the Corpus Christi Border Patrol Station, Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station vehicle maintenance facility, and the Freeport Harbor Channel Improvement Project,” Brown said.

She said the USACE Galveston District provides planning, design and construction services to local, state and federal agencies, such as the USCBP, that either do not have in-house capabilities or are interested in combining their resources with the Corps’ to support construction projects that serve our nation and our armed forces.

“Keeping customers informed of project progress is imperative to maintaining good working relations,” Brown said. “Most of the border patrol project-development team members are located all over the United States. Each team is composed of a diverse set of individuals who bring to the table key skill sets that make a project successful.”

In the case of the $1.5 million Rio Grande City Border Patrol Station Vehicle Maintenance Facility, completed in September 2014, Brown said the project required a collaborative effort to identify and integrate critical functions that would adequately support border patrol operations and maintain more than 60 vehicles per week for the 400-plus agents who work at the station.

High Standards

Most Corps projects are designed and built to Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification standards, which seek to improve energy savings, water efficiency and indoor environmental quality, as well as to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Brown said she's please to incorporate all of those features into her designs.

“I chose this field and career with the Corps because I like to make things happen, I’m passionate about natural resources, and I enjoy getting to create both functional and aesthetic spaces in our environment,” said Brown. “Whether it’s improving the life of a border patrol agent through new and improved facilities or working to better manage our coastal resources, I feel rewarded by being able to contribute to state and federal assets.”

A native of Dallas, she earned her Bachelor of Science in Landscape Architecture from Texas A&M University in 1990 and is a registered landscape architect. Throughout her career, Brown has earned the Commander's Award for Civilian Service three times, the Achievement Medal for Civilian Service, the Galveston District 2002 Employee of the Year, and the coveted USACE Landscape Architect of the Year Award, also in 2002.

When she's not working, Brown and her spouse of 17 years, Georgia, help by volunteering in their community. They help at their church and take their dog, Lola, to local nursing homes to provide residents with pet therapy.

USS San Antonio Visits Iceland



From U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

REYKJAVIK, Iceland (NNS) -- The amphibious transport dock ship USS San Antonio (LPD 17) arrived in Reykjavik, Iceland, for a routine port visit, July 1.

While in port, Sailors and Marines will have the chance to visit the various cultural sites, shop and enjoy local hospitality.

Quick Facts:

*This port visit to Reykjavik is the first since July 2013 and demonstrates the shared commitment the U.S. has toward promoting safety and stability within the region.

*While in port, San Antonio crewmembers plan to attend scheduled functions and participate in community relations projects with their hosts.

*San Antonio recently visited Tallinn, Estonia, and while there, hosted U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter.

*San Antonio served as the command ship for Commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO, Vice Adm. James G. Foggo III, during the 43rd iteration of exercise Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2015, June 5-20 in the Baltic Sea, where a total of 49 ships, 61 aircraft, one submarine, and a combined landing force of 700 Swedish, Finnish, United Kingdom, and U.S. troops participated.

*Following BALTOPS, San Antonio participated in the maritime-focused city-wide festival Kiel Week in Kiel, Germany.

*U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts the full spectrum of joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied, joint, and interagency partners, in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.