Saturday, January 23, 2016

Carter: U.S. Welcomes Rise in Power of Asia-Pacific Nations

By Terri Moon Cronk DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, January 23, 2016 — China as a rising power is a major factor in Asia and the South China Sea that’s welcomed by the United States in almost every way, Defense Secretary Ash Carter said at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, yesterday.

The secretary spoke in the forum’s global security panel with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and Deputy Prime Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam of Singapore.

While Carter said he does not believe conflict between the United States and China is inevitable, he added, “It’s certainly not desirable. I don't think it's likely.”

More Nations on the Rise

China's rise is not the only one going on in Asia, he said, noting that India and Japan also are rising military powers, while other nations such as Vietnam and the Philippines also are expanding.

“The U.S. point of view is the same one we've had long-standing, which is we welcome that,” Carter said. “I think we were the pivotal factor in making [an environment] in which over seven decades essentially everybody could follow their own destiny towards prosperity.”

Carter said the United States has “never tried to obstruct China's economic rise and the lifting of hundreds of millions of people out of poverty.”

“We've welcomed that,” he added.

At the same time, the United States wants the region to maintain a system of peace and stability, the secretary said. “We are not separate, we are not dividing the region, [and] we don't seek to ask people to take sides,” he told the forum audience. “We do know people are coming to us increasingly, … because China is taking some steps that I think are self-isolating [and] driving people toward us.”

U.S. Firmly Against Claims, Outposts

The United States has said nations in the Asia-Pacific region should not militarize, Carter said. “To be clear,” he added, “China is not the only one making claims we do not agree with, and they are not the only ones [with] military outposts. We oppose all of that.”

The United States will continue on the same path it’s taken in the Asia-Pacific region, the secretary said.

“We will fly, sail, operate everywhere international law permits in the South China Sea, [and] we will make investments that are intended to sustain our military position, despite these developments,” Carter said.

The United States helps countries in the region who seek assistance with maritime security, he said, adding that U.S. alliances are continuing to strengthen with nations that include Japan, South Korea, the Philippines, India and Vietnam.

Dialogue is Key With China

“It's not our preferred course to see self-isolating behavior by China, and yes, dialogue is the way … [toward] good results,” Carter said.

 “I look forward to working with all my colleagues in the region, including the Chinese, to get an outcome that's win-win-win-win for everybody,” he said. “That's what we've always stood for. Everybody rises. That's our philosophy.”

National Guard Aids Civil Authorities as Blizzard Pounds East Coast

By Steve Marshall National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., January 23, 2016 — As much of the East Coast hunkered down today in the midst of a ferocious winter storm, National Guard citizen-soldiers and citizen-airmen were poised to assist local and state emergency agencies.

National Guard Bureau officials said more than 2,200 National Guard personnel from 12 states are supporting state and local authorities affected by the storm.

Governors in at least 11 states declared states of emergency, which enabled resources to be positioned to assist when the snow and high winds struck. Those states include: Delaware, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia.

National Guard soldiers are assisting Virginia State Police troopers and local emergency organizations in getting through heavy snow to respond to vehicle crashes and to evacuate residents who need medical assistance, and they also have helped to get equipment to a house fire.

400 Personnel Staged and Ready in Virginia

As of this morning, the Virginia Guard had about 400 personnel staged and ready in various portions of the state.

"I am extremely proud of how well our personnel are working as part of the commonwealth's multi-agency response team," said Army Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, Virginia’s adjutant general. “After we received the authorization from Governor [Terry] McAuliffe, we aggressively moved our forces into place so they would be ready to go when needed. It is great to see how the skills, experience and resources of our soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force are able to assist the statewide effort to protect the citizens of the commonwealth."

The Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team is providing mission command for the response operations in the field and is working almost 25 mission requests from the Virginia Department of Emergency Management to provide support to several localities as well as the Virginia State Police in Northern Virginia and along the I-81 and US 29 corridors.

"The Virginia State Police is fortunate to have the National Guard as an additional resource to aid us in our storm response efforts," said Col. W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police superintendent. "When every second counts in an emergency situation, having the ability to respond as swiftly and safely as possible is essential for our troopers."

The Virginia National Guard also has soldiers, airmen and members of the Virginia Defense Force on duty in Richmond, Sandston and Fort Pickett, where they are providing mission command, administrative and logistical support for the overall mission.

McAuliffe authorized up to 500 personnel for state active duty in his initial emergency declaration, and then he increased that number to 700. The Guard could bring additional personnel on duty if needed, officials said.

The Nation’s Capital, Delaware, New York

In Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser was emphatic to residents: "It has life and death implications, and (people) should treat it that way," she said. "People should hunker down, shelter in place and stay off the roads." The National Guard deployed 100 personnel in 30 Humvees to transport essential employees throughout the nation's capital.

Further north in Delaware, soldiers and airmen were busy with storm response.

"We are in constant communication with [the Delaware Emergency Management Agency] and all first responders in the state," said Army Maj. Gen. Frank Vavala, Delaware’s adjutant general. "Pre-positioning our soldiers, airmen and vehicles allowed us to be the ready and reliable force we are."

The Delaware National Guard has about 200 soldiers and airmen positioned around the state to support the citizens of Delaware throughout the storm. In coordination with DEMA, they conduct support missions ensuring that Delawareans are transported to safety and first responders and medical workers arrive to work safely.

The New York National Guard has pre-positioned 40 vehicles and 95 soldiers and airmen in the New York City and Long Island areas who are available to respond to aid local governments if directed by the governor.

Arkansas Response Winds Down

Guard personnel in Arkansas wound down their storm response yesterday. Initially, the Arkansas National Guard deployed six truck teams and three command and control support cells for 27 Humvees and 54 personnel.

Yesterday's mission closures sent truck teams back to their readiness centers. The next step for these Guard members is to refuel, resupply and prepare the equipment to stand ready for the next mission.

Each truck team consists of four Humvee vehicles and eight National Guard service members.

During the early hours of the winter storm, the Arkansas Guard truck teams reported treacherous road conditions as sleet and snow rapidly began to accumulate across the central and southeastern regions of the state. The overnight roving patrols logged over 1,000 miles and located 18 abandoned vehicles, transported three stranded motorists to local gas stations, transported three state troopers and worked several accidents involving 18-wheelers.