Military News

Sunday, November 01, 2015

A Family Affair: Gen. Warner Robins' grandchildren visit base, museum

by Angela Woolen
78th Air Base Wing Public Affairs


10/29/2015 - ROBINS AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- The namesake of the city of Warner Robins and Robins Air Force Base had three daughters.

Brig. Gen. Augustine Warner Robins and his wife,  Dorothy Gretchen, were the parents of Dorothy Robins Gray, Elizabeth "Betty" Warner Robins and Helen Robins Guilfoyle.

On Oct. 26, the three children of the youngest daughter, Guilfoyle, made the trip from Texas to the city named after their grandfather for the first time.

Anne Guilfoyle Charlton and her husband George Charlton; Jane Guilfoyle Ward and her husband Michael Ward; and Frank Guilfoyle with his wife Mary, were greeted by Col. Jeffrey King, 78th Air Base Wing commander, and Warner Robins Mayor Randy Toms at the Museum of Aviation.

King told the family about the importance of the base's numerous missions to the military.

He also spoke about how the town of Wellston, which was the city's former name, has grown around the base.

Toms spoke with the family about how the town has grown in population in the past several years.

"Our roots are intertwined -- the Museum of Aviation, the town, the base. We're tied together," King said. "We hope your grandkids would come to visit."

The grandchildren were all born after Robins' death, but all remember "Mommy Robins" talking about her late husband.

Charlton said her grandmother was proud to have a city named after her husband.

"It makes us feel like royalty," she said. "It's a good family heritage."

One thing she remembers her grandmother telling them was how Augustine Warner Robins loved to fly but due to a crash, wasn't allowed to.

Robins graduated from West Point Academy and was in the cavalry before becoming a pilot. The oldest grandson has Robins' cavalry sword. Robins' father had been in the Civil War.

The family toured the museum and was given a windshield tour of the base. They took pictures of the portrait of their grandfather in the art gallery at the museum.

As Charlton looked at the portrait of the late Robins, she couldn't remember a single portrait or picture where her grandfather was smiling.

The mayor presented the family with a key to the city as well as city of Warner Robins pins.

"It seems kind of funny to give the key to Warner Robins to the family of Warner Robins," the mayor said. "Thank you for letting us be Warner Robins."

Carter Honored With Wilson Public Service Award, Addresses U.S. Strategy



By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2015 — Defense Secretary Ash Carter was honored with the Woodrow Wilson Award for Public Service by the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars here last night.

The event also featured tributes to the secretary from the Wilson Center and key industry leaders.

Carter noted that the Wilson Center was created to honor the 24th president by connecting policymakers with “actionable ideas” to make the United States “fit and safe,” and that the concept continues today in security and prosperity gains for the nation and around the world.

“That’s why we stand up for freedom of the seas around the world, whether in the South China Sea or the Persian Gulf or the Arctic,” he said. “That’s why we’re gaining momentum to defeat [Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant] barbarism in the Middle East. That’s why we are working to pass the Trans-Pacific Partnership, one of the largest trade agreements in history, and a similar trans-Atlantic pact.”

“Unfortunately, more and more, some are intent on eroding those values,” Carter continued. “Today, the rules-based international order faces challenges from Russia, terror elements, and in a very different way, China.”

Meeting those challenges requires the right strategies, he said, by using the nation’s history lessons, knowing which mix of foreign policy tools are best suited for any situation, and staying focused on U.S. interests. “They are our North Star in the Asia-Pacific, in Europe, and in the Middle East,” he said.

Asia-Pacific Rebalance

DoD is working on the next phase of U.S. rebalance to the Asia-Pacific region by deepening long-standing alliances and partnerships with South Korea, Japan, Australia and India, said Carter, who leaves today for a visit to the region. “The rebalance will diversify America’s force posture, and make new investments in “key capabilities and platforms, and building new partnerships with countries like Singapore and Vietnam.”

Because the Asia-Pacific is a maritime region, Carter said, he will focus on finalizing the Southeast Asia Maritime Security Initiative to build greater regional capacity to address maritime challenges, and continue maritime exercises such as the Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training exercise, which involves six Association of Southeast Asian Nations countries.

“Many nations in the Asia-Pacific want to work with us, and we want to work with them too,” the secretary said.

Protecting Domains for U.S., Other Nations

“We're also taking a stand for freedom of navigation, one of the rules and customs that have helped so many nations in the region rise,” Carter said. “We're making it clear the United States continues to favor peaceful resolutions to ongoing disputes, and that we will continue to fly, sail, and operate whenever and wherever international law allows,” he said. “The South China Sea is not, and will not be an exception.”

Free, fair, and open access to shared domains also apply to air, space and cyberspace, so all nations can rise and prosper, Carter said, adding that DoD will continue to defend its networks from intruders and to defend the nation from cyberattacks of significant consequence and seek to deter malicious cyber activity.

Challenges from Russia, ISIL

The nation and its allies continue to deter Russia’s “destabilizing influence, coercion, and aggression,” which threaten the peace, stability and rules-based order, he said. A new playbook includes helping to strengthen NATO’s new Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, and supporting Ukraine with security assistance and training, he said.

“We're working to help facilitate training and exercises, and make our forces more agile, mobile and responsive,” Carter said, noting that the United States is supporting NATO's Cyber Defense Center of Excellence to help nations develop cyber strategies, critical infrastructure protection plans, and cyber defense posture assessments.

Degrading, Defeating ISIL

Turning to the U.S. strategy in the Middle East, the secretary emphasized that ISIL forces will be degraded and defeated by the global coalition of 65 nations.

Coalition airstrikes are hampering ISIL's movement and operations and are systematically targeted the terrorist group's leadership, Carter said. “The United States and coalition partners can enable [Iraqi and Syrian opposition forces], but not substitute for them,” he added. “They’re the only path to ISIL’s lasting defeat.”

The campaign to defeat ISIL is gaining momentum by focusing on taking back Raqqa, ISIL’s stronghold in Syria, and Ramadi, Iraq, the secretary said. The United States also will help to support more raids to signal that “we won’t hold back from supporting capable partners in opportunistic attacks against ISIL, or conducting such missions directly as we did last week, whether by strikes from the air or direct action on the ground,” Carter told the audience.

Preparing for Uncertainty

A new regional, networked approach to countering terrorism and violent extremism will be use infrastructure already established in Afghanistan, the Levant, East Africa and Southern Europe, where local forces will provide forward presence and allow DoD to enable partners to respond to many challenges, he said.

DoD will stay ahead of such challenges by making aggressive investments in innovation with Silicon Valley partners, he added.

Another U.S. strength lies in its “unrivaled network” of longstanding, allied partners around the world, which exists because the U.S. military is “so capable … because our antagonists and competitors push many states toward us ... and because our troops are great partners [who] perform and conduct themselves admirably,” the secretary said. “They make us proud.”

Dunford Heads to Seoul for Military, Security Meetings



By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, October 30, 2015 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is en route to Seoul, South Korea, to participate in military and security discussions with America’s long-term ally.

Marine Corps Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr. will meet with South Korean and American leaders as part of the Military Committee Meeting and then will join Defense Secretary Ash Carter for the 47th Security Consultative Meeting, also in Seoul.

This is Dunford’s first trip to Seoul since taking office less than a month ago. Following the meetings there, the general will travel to Japan for meetings with military and civilian officials.

Discussions will likely cover North Korea, which remains a potent threat, with about 1.2 million active duty military personnel and millions of reservists, according to DoD figures. The military budget in the reclusive state is around $10 billion -- making it one of North Korea’s few well-funded activities.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un is unpredictable, and has threatened nuclear strikes on the United States and South Korea. North Korea has tested atomic weapons, and there is speculation in the United States as to whether the nation has miniaturized nuclear components to fit atop an intercontinental ballistic missile. North Korea also has entered the world of cyber war. Its attack on Sony last year showed those capabilities.

In August, North Korea placed mines that wounded two soldiers on the South Korean side of the Demilitarized Zone. The incident escalated to an exchange of artillery before North Korea took responsibility for the incident.

Increased U.S.-South Korean Cooperation

U.S. and South Korean leaders will also discuss increased cooperation on space-based and cyber activities and how the two countries are modernizing their military capabilities, officials said. About 28,000 American service members are based in Korea. U.S. and South Korean forces train to be ready “to fight tonight,” and assessing that capability also will be part of the meetings, they added.

South Korea is a large and important trading partner with the United States and many thousands of Americans live and work in South Korea. The country has grown from a devastated nation in 1953 to a dynamo of trade and commerce in Northeast Asia, boasting the world’s 11th-largest economy.

Eucom Commander Cites Threats in Europe, Concern Over Russia



By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2015 — As security threats in Europe increase, the United States remains concerned about Russia's destabilizing actions in Ukraine and Syria, the commander of U.S. forces in Europe said here today.

"European security challenges continue to grow and become, frankly, more complex," Air Force Gen. Philip M. Breedlove, commander of U.S. European Command and NATO's supreme allied commander for Europe, said at a Pentagon news conference.

"In fact, it wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that we are changing on almost a daily basis," the general said, adding that new threats and challenges seemingly emerge every day. "Given the complexity of challenges we face globally, it remains critical that we continue to work together with our allies and partners," he said.

Russia a 'Top Concern'

Russia's continued "aggressive actions and malign influence remain a top concern and a very high priority," Breedlove said. He noted although the ceasefire is still holding in eastern Ukraine, he is concerned with Russia's "lack of effort to end its occupations and honor its commitments in Ukraine."

In addition, Russia's intervention in Syria "continues to beg more questions than answers," Breedlove told reporters.

"Russia's actions prolong the conditions creating massive-scale immigration of refugees that is further worrying our southern allies, and the eastern allies continue to be concerned about Russian expansion," he said.

"These concerns, combined with the flow of foreign fighters, are a strategic challenge for all of Europe," Breedlove said.

"I continue to believe that we must strengthen our deterrence and that Eucom and our NATO alliance must continue to adapt by improving our readiness and responsiveness," he said.

Partnerships to Strengthen Europe

Breedlove said an example of improving readiness, interoperability and responsiveness in Europe is NATO's Trident Juncture exercise. It is NATO's largest exercise in more than a decade, and is currently taking place in Italy, Spain and Portugal. It involves more than 36,000 troops and 30 nations.

The exercise, Breedlove said, represents a "clear demonstration of NATO's resolve and capability," and is "enhancing our ability to work with our allies, partners and other international organizations in response to crisis situations."

Breedlove noted the United States is expanding its training program in Ukraine. While it started with Ukrainian national guard forces, it now includes training active military component troops. The expansion will strengthen Ukraine's capability and capacity to address the challenges that nation faces, the general said.

The U.S. focus for Ukraine, Breedlove told reporters, remains on a diplomatic solution that respects Ukraine's sovereignty and territorial integrity. "We continue to call on Russia to fully cease its destabilizing actions in eastern Ukraine, to end its occupation of Crimea and to fully honor its Minsk commitments," he said.

Vital Partner in ISIL Fight

The situation around Turkey continues to become more complex, Breedlove explained.

"Now a critical partner in degrading and defeating ISIL, we greatly appreciate the vital support Turkey provides to the international coalition across many lines of effort," he said. The use of Turkish bases for U.S. aircraft continues to be an important force multiplier, he added.

However, Russian actions are complicating the situation in Syria, the general said. Russia is being "pretty forward" about the fact that they are bombing the moderate Syrian opposition and other groups in the northern area, he noted.

"That raises questions about what is our future path in Syria,” Breedlove said. “I think all understand that we need a political transition in Syria. The moderate opposition is a part of forcing that political decision. The actions we see the Russians taking now, we believe, prolong this conflict, which prolongs the problem of the flow out of people into Europe and other places."

The concern, Breedlove explained, is that the eyes of the world are shifting away from Russian actions in Ukraine to Russian involvement in Syria.

"That is a technique that I think has been employed here a couple of times," he said. "Invade Crimea, take the world's eyes off of Crimea by invading Donbas. Take the world's eyes off of Dombas by getting involved in Syria."

Russian actions are part of a larger construct, he said. "We need to be thinking holistically about our response to Russia," he added.