Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Secretary Mattis Travels to Minot, ND, Omaha, NE, and Mexico City, Mexico

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis will embark on a three stop tour starting Wednesday, Sep. 13.  His visit to two nuclear-focused locations comes at an opportune time given the ongoing Nuclear Posture and Ballistic Missile Defense Reviews.  This will be the secretary's first trip to these locations during his tenure.

Secretary Mattis will begin his tour in Minot, ND.  Minot Air Force Base is the only U.S. base to host two legs of the nuclear triad - strategic bombers and intercontinental ballistic missiles.  He will tour a Missile Alert Facility (MAF) used to control ICBMs; and the Weapons Storage Area (WSA) where Airmen maintain U.S. ICBM warheads.

On Thursday, Sept. 14, the secretary will travel to Omaha, NE, to meet with U.S. Strategic Command leadership and discuss strategic deterrence in the 21st century.  USSTRATCOM employs tailored nuclear, space, cyberspace, global strike, missile defense and other capabilities for deterrence and assurance.  This culminates the secretary's tour of the nuclear enterprise, having visited all three legs of the nuclear triad.

The secretary concludes his trip on Friday, Sep. 15 as the first Secretary of Defense to participate in the Mexican Independence Day activities.  This will be the fifth ever visit by a U.S. Secretary of Defense to Mexico.  Secretary Mattis' visit to Mexico reaffirms our commitment to the bilateral defense relationship and to the North America Community.

U.S., Vietnamese Service Members Share Humanitarian Aid, Medical Knowledge

By Air Force 1st Lt. Kellie Rizer Pacific Air Forces

TAM KY, Vietnam, Sept. 12, 2017 — American and Vietnamese military members, along with several nongovernmental organizations, recently came together in Vietnam to attend seminars lead by subject matter experts who shared their knowledge on medical expertise and humanitarian assistance.

The Vietnam seminars are part of Operation Pacific Angel 17-2, also known as PACANGEL, which itself is one of a series of recurring civil-military missions hosted by U.S. Pacific Command consisting of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief activities, including medical health services outreach, engineering assistance programs and subject matter expert exchanges.

Held in Vietnam from Sept. 10-18, U.S. and Vietnamese military members have the opportunity to work in partnership with local nongovernmental organizations providing humanitarian assistance to the residents of Vietnam’s Tam Ky in Quang Nam province.

While the health services and civil engineering programs portion of the PACANGEL mission prepared to begin on Sept. 10, the U.S. subject matter experts kicked off information exchanges with their Vietnamese counterparts the week prior.

Variety of Medical Topics

The exchanges took place at medical facilities in Tam Ky and the Vietnam Air Defense Air Force Search and Rescue Center in Hanoi, and covered a variety of medical specialties including control and prevention of vector-borne diseases, emergency maternal and fetal care, medical aspects of water survival and management of metabolic syndromes.

Army Maj. Lewis Long, director of bio surveillance and entomology with Public Health Command Pacific at Camp Zama, Japan, worked with his Vietnamese counterparts, vector-borne disease control professionals, to capture and test local mosquitoes for the presence of malaria, dengue fever and other mosquito-spread diseases and pathogens.

“We demonstrated how the U.S. military conducts mosquito surveillance and methods for collecting mosquitoes for testing of mosquito-borne diseases, such as dengue [fever],” Long said. “By focusing our training on the mosquito and not a specific pathogen or disease, we can do a better job controlling everything from dengue [fever] to Zika to other related viruses found worldwide.”

Vietnamese participants also emphasized the importance of the exchange’s topic and expressed their appreciation for the opportunity to collaborate with their U.S. counterparts.

“I’m an officer, but also a doctor,” said Lt Col Nguyên Thề Nghĩa, deputy chief of Internal Medicine at the Aviation Medical Institute. “My focus is in infectious diseases and there’s [currently] an outbreak of dengue fever in Vietnam, so this topic is quite important and has provided useful information to apply to my practice. I hope that this program can continue to develop a good friendship with the U.S. and help improve care facilities in both Vietnam and in the [Army] healthcare system.”

The close partnerships and collaboration shared throughout the exchange provided invaluable educational opportunities for both the U.S. and Vietnamese participants to work toward better control programs and, ultimately, the overall reduction of human suffering.

“Sharing this training builds capacity within both the U.S. and Vietnamese communities in how we handle vector-borne disease surveillance,” Long said. “Partnering and collaborating with our Vietnamese partners to understand how they deal with vector-borne disease at the local level, and within the military, helps strengthen our connection to the community and how we provide public health.”

Air Force Maj. Christopher Meinhart, medical director of the women’s health clinic and obstetrician gynecologist with the 35th Medical Group at Misawa Air Base, Japan, explained how the use of a realistic labor and delivery simulator during his exchange on emergency maternal and fetal care provided beneficial hands-on training to address labor and delivery issues found in both the U.S and abroad.

“The [labor and delivery] complications that we see in the U.S. and within the military health system are the same complications that they see here,” Meinhart said. “Combining teaching techniques through lectures, teamwork activities and adding in the realism of the simulator has shown to lead to the most improvement in the neonatal and maternal outcomes.”

Many Participants

Many participants traveled from the far edges of Quang Nam province, as far as 90 miles to Tam Ky, to attend the symposium focused on techniques for managing complicated labor and deliveries. Meinhart described the personal benefits he received through his participation in the symposium.

“Beyond the scope of my day-to-day practice and daily interaction with my own patients, it’s rewarding to work with other practitioners and impart some of the skill and knowledge I’ve gained over the years,” Meinhart explained. “It’s been both a humbling and fulfilling experience.”

PACANGELs have built positive relations through interactions such as these for the last decade in Bangladesh, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Indonesia, Vietnam, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Mongolia, Laos, Tonga, Nepal and Papua New Guinea.

New York Guard Sends Helicopters, Aircrews to Florida for Irma Relief Tasks

By Eric Durr New York National Guard

LATHAM, N.Y., Sept. 11, 2017 — The National Guard’s response to Hurricane Irma continued today as 10 New York Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and 55 soldiers left for Jacksonville, Florida.

The aircraft came from Army Aviation Support Facilities in Rochester, Latham, which is near Albany, and Ronkonkoma on Long Island. Three aircraft came from Rochester, four from Long Island and three from Latham.

The aircraft are capable of moving supplies or personnel from confined locations or in areas with limited access. Six of the 10 helicopters are equipped with hoists.

The soldiers on the mission are assigned to Alpha and Bravo companies of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation, based in Latham and Ronkonkoma, respectively, and Charlie Company (Medical Evacuation) of the 1st Battalion, 171st Aviation in Rochester.

En Route to Florida

The aircraft were slated to fly today to Richmond, Virginia, where they will conduct maintenance and get further information on the situation in Florida, according to Army Maj. Paul Baille, the executive officer of the 3rd Battalion, 142nd Aviation.

Their mission could start out being search and rescue, and will then likely shift to flying critical personnel and supplies and then general airborne transportation, Baille explained.

Some of the soldiers who are part of the mission flew missions along the Gulf Coast following Hurricane Katrina and others have experience in flying missions following Superstorm Sandy in 2012 and Tropical Storm Irene in 2011, said Baille, who served during Katrina as an aviation liaison officer.

Army Capt. Forrest Thrush, a member of Alpha Company, said that he would take his cue from the unit members who had experience flying in support of previous weather emergencies. "I'll learn from them," Thrush said.

Aviation Task Forces

Once the New York helicopters arrive in Florida, they will be assigned missions by the Florida National Guard, which will organize aviation task forces, Baille said.

On Sept. 7, the New York Air National Guard's 106th Rescue Wing deployed 130 airmen with three HH-60 Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and two HC-130P/N King search and rescue aircraft. The helicopters and airmen, who are based at Gabreski Air National Guard Base in Westhampton Beach, New York, were carried in two C-17 Globemaster IIIs assigned to the 105th Airlift Wing from Stewart Air National Guard Base in Newburgh.

The team based out of San Juan, Puerto Rico and conducted missions in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The wing also conducted evacuation operations on the island of St. Martin in conjunction with airlift wings from Puerto Rico and Kentucky. Using six aircraft, the three wings moved 1,582 Americans from the joint French- and Dutch-administered island to Puerto Rico so they could return home.

Today, the wing moved from Puerto Rico to Florida to support operations in that state if required.

Deploying Aircraft

The 106th Rescue Wing also deployed a third HC-130P/N from Gabreski Air National Guard Base to transport additional personnel from the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Special Tactics Squadron to Florida.

The New York Air National Guard's 105th Airlift Wing also moved a Joint Incident Site Communications Capability system to Mississippi yesterday. The JISCC system allows airmen to rapidly set up internet and other communications capabilities during natural and manmade disasters. The system was staged in Mississippi to await movement into Florida if required.

And on Sept. 9, a C-130 Hercules aircraft assigned to the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing in Stratton Air National Guard Base, outside Schenectady, flew to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands where hurricane damage was particularly severe with medical supplies and emergency food rations, returning to New York yesterday.