Friday, September 01, 2017

Northcom Chief Relays Mattis Message: 'Texas Gets Everything They Need'

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 1, 2017 — The commander of U.S. Northern Command delivered a message from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis to the people of Texas today during an update on Hurricane Harvey from the Texas State Operations Center in Austin, Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott led the update on the Category 4 hurricane that since Aug. 27 has devastated southeastern Texas, and he summarized the Federal Emergency Management Agency-led and ongoing rescue and restoration operations there, before introducing Air Force Gen. Lori J. Robinson.

On behalf of Mattis, Joint Chiefs Chairman Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford and the men and women of the armed forces, Robinson expressed hope for the people affected by the storm. "I would like to offer our heartfelt thoughts and prayers to all of those who have been affected by Hurricane Harvey," she said.

In her role as Northcom commander, the general said, she is responsible for deploying active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines to support FEMA and state requests for assistance to local, county, state and federal civil authorities in devastating times.

"When disasters of this magnitude strike, a whole-of-government response is necessary, and DoD is a part of all of that," Robinson said.

Right Capability, Right Time

The military has learned over time how important it is to have the right capability at the right place at the right time to support the needs of citizens, the general said. "Our military has unique capabilities to support disaster relief, and those same capabilities that make our armed forces so effective in combat make our forces uniquely effective in disaster relief efforts, she added. "We have been and we will continue to deploy any and all capabilities requested by FEMA and [the state of Texas]."

Robinson said she had a conversation yesterday with Mattis. "He made the comment to me: 'Lori, Texas gets everything they need, and we'll get it there as fast as we can,'" she said.

Military Contribution

"I'm so proud of the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that have deployed in the affected area and that will continue to deploy as long as requested and needed," Robinson said, and she summarized the military contribution so far to the affected areas in Texas:

-- The Army has provided 200 high-water vehicles to support the Red Cross in the moving personnel and patients. Army helicopters with hoisting capability are helping to rescue and transport survivors, and the Army is overseeing the receipt and issue of life-support items.

-- The Air Force is providing strategic airlift, fixed-wing airlift, medical evacuation, airborne command and control, and helicopters to transport people and supplies.

-- Navy amphibious ships USS Kearsarge and USS Oak Hill, along with Marines from the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit, are en route to Texas should the state need them.

-- The Defense Logistics Agency has provided fuel, sandbags, generators and incident-support bases and is delivering meals to dislocated citizens.

-- The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has deployed experts to the state and to FEMA, and response nodes to help provide technical assistance with power restoration.

These are just a few things the men and women in uniform are doing to help with the larger relief effort, Robinson said. "We are committed to assist local, state and federal agencies throughout this trying time for our nation," the general added.

Robinson also thanked the governor and other officials involved in overseeing the response for their leadership. "We look forward," she said, "and we will be there -- steady, ready and to support at a moment's notice."

Pacom Commander, South Korean Defense Minister Discuss North Korea

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Sept. 1, 2017 — The North Korean threat and the regional alliance highlighted a meeting here yesterday between the commander of U.S. Pacific Command and South Korea's defense minister, a Pacom spokeswoman said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Marine Corps Capt. Cassandra Gesecki noted that Navy Adm. Harry Harris Jr. and Defense Minister Song Young-moo had met 10 days earlier in South Korea's capital of Seoul.

Both praised the South Korean-U.S. coordination in response to North Korean missile threats in recent days, Gesecki said.

Grave Threat

Harris and Song talked about the grave threat posed by North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs, as well as bilateral coordination measures to effectively respond to provocations on the Korean Peninsula, she said. To protect South Korean citizens and U.S. forces, she added, they discussed the alliance's decision to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, which she emphasized is a purely defensive capability.

The admiral commended the professionalism of South Korean air force personnel involved in an Aug. 30 training mission that included live-fire weapons drops on the Pilsung Range by South Korean F-15K's, U.S. Air Force B-1B strategic bombers, and U.S. Marine Corps F-35B fifth-generation fighters, Gesecki said.

"He reaffirmed the ironclad U.S. commitment to the Mutual Defense Treaty, which states that a North Korean attack on one is an attack on both nations," she said. "He emphasized U.S. preparedness to fight tonight if called upon, using a full range of military options in defense of the U.S. homeland and allies."

Harris encouraged greater trilateral cooperation among the United States, Japan and South Korea, which he called a partnership with a purpose to meet the North Korean threat, the captain added.

Robust Combined Defense Posture

Song emphasized the importance of maintaining a robust combined defense posture to support the diplomatic and economic sanctions and pressure aimed at the peaceful denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, Gesecki said.

"He mentioned that he feels reassured to witness the strong readiness posture of Pacom," she said, "and on behalf of the [South Korean] government, expressed gratitude and encouragement for every Pacom staff member's dedication and efforts to support peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia."
Song stressed the importance of maintaining close communication and dialogue channels at all times, and pledged to maintain and develop the momentum of expanding military cooperation, she added.

U.S., Allies Conduct Aerial Show of Force in Response to North Korean Missile Launch

CAMP H.M. SMITH, Hawaii, Aug. 31, 2017 — The United States’ newest and most advanced fighter, the Marine Corps’ F-35B Lightning II, joined U.S. Air Force B-1B Lancer bombers for the first time in a sequenced bilateral mission with Japan and South Korean air forces in Northeast Asia yesterday, according to a Pacific Air Forces news release.

Two B-1Bs from Andersen Air Force Base, Guam; four U.S. Marine F-35Bs from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan; two Japan Air Self-Defense Force Koku Jieitai F-2s; and four South Korean air force F-15Ks executed this mission to emphasize the combined ironclad commitment to the defense of allies and the U.S. homeland. Enhancing combined military readiness through integrated missions ensures national leaders of viable and ready military options.

This mission was conducted in direct response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile launch, which flew directly over northern Japan on August 28 amid rising tension over North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile development programs.

North Korean Threat

"North Korea's actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,” said Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander, U.S. Pacific Air Forces, who just returned from an unscheduled visit to Japan to meet with his counterparts.

“This complex mission clearly demonstrates our solidarity with our Allies and underscores the broadening cooperation to defend against this common regional threat,” O’Shaughnessy added. “Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment’s notice if our nation calls."

Over the course of the 10-hour mission, the F-35Bs, B-1B bombers and Koku Jieitai fighters flew together over waters near Kyushu, Japan. The U.S. and South Korean aircraft then flew across the Korean Peninsula and practiced attack capabilities by releasing live weapons at the Pilsung Range training area before returning to their respective home stations.

"The F-35 embodies our commitment to our allies and contributes to the overall security and stability of the Indo-Asia Pacific region," said Marine Corps Lt. Gen. David H. Berger, commander, U.S. Marine Corps Forces Pacific. "By forward basing the F-35, the most advanced aircraft in the world, here in the Pacific, we are enabling the Marine Corps to respond quickly during a crisis in support of Japan, the Republic of Korea, and all our regional partners."

U.S. Pacific Command maintains strategic bomber and fighter capabilities in the Indo-Asia-Pacific theater, retaining the ability to respond to any regional threat at a moment’s notice.