Friday, September 15, 2017

DoD: Full Range of Capabilities Available Against North Korean Threat

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2017 — The U.S. Pacific Command detected and tracked what it assessed as a single North Korean ballistic missile launch yesterday at 5:57 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Rob Manning said here today.
An aircraft refuels another aircraft in midair.

Pacom’s initial assessment is that the projectile was an intermediate range ballistic missile or IRBM, he added, which is a ballistic missile with a range of 1,864 miles to 3,418 miles.

The missile posed no threat to North America or Guam, Manning told reporters during a briefing this morning.

“Our commitment to the defense of our allies, including [South] Korea and Japan,” he added, “in the face of these threats remains ironclad. We remain prepared to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation and to use the full range of capabilities at our disposal against the threat from North Korea.”

Manning said that if the IRBM had been a direct threat to the United States or its allies, “We would have taken appropriate action.”

The launch occurred near Sunan Air Base in Pyongyang and the IRBM headed east, he added, overflying the territory of northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean east of Japan.

“The full range of capabilities are at our disposal against the threat from North Korea,” Manning said. “North Korea continues to pose a threat to global security and stability and must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its illegal programs.”

Face of Defense: Reserve Sailor Excels in Recruiting America's Best

SAN ANTONIO, Sept. 15, 2017 — Anyone who knows Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Christopher Thomas, a master-at-arms and recruiter assigned to Navy Recruiting District San Antonio, knows he is not afraid to talk to people -- unless he has to talk about himself. This humility has served him well in both his military and civilian careers.

In 2003, Thomas joined the Navy, a decision he attributes to not having much as a kid growing up here.

“I came from a low-income household, so I knew the Navy would be the only way I would be able to afford college and maybe someday fulfill my childhood dream of becoming a police officer,” he said.

Varied Career

Thomas is a man of few words when broached with the topic of his personal life, but a sailor who has worn so many hats has a lot to tell. During his first tour in Bahrain aboard the USS Tarawa, he apprenticed as a corpsman, but when he had an opportunity to attend master-at-arms school, he decided to change his rate.

Thomas said working as a master-at-arms gave him the experience he would need later when he became a Texas state police officer.

“Being a [master-at-arms gave me the opportunity to train as a K-9 handler and a jailer, so I now have my K-9 and jailers’ licenses for the state,” he explained.

In 2007, Thomas left active duty and decided to join the Navy Reserve; it was during this time that he also went through the rigorous training to become a civilian police officer.

After eight years as a police officer and Navy reservist, he decided to enter the Canvasser Recruiter program.

A consummate professional, Thomas routinely utilizes his years of practical experience in law enforcement to help the command's anti-terrorism and force protection planning and execution, ensuring the safety of all hands.

“Thomas is an exemplary and professional sailor with an incomparable work ethic,” said Navy Cmdr. Jeffrey Reynolds, the commander of Navy Recruiting District San Antonio. “He represents the very best that a sailor can be, is an outstanding Navy ambassador in the local community, and is an indispensable asset to my command.”

Canvasser Recruiter Program

The Canvasser Recruiter program is a temporary recall program designed for eligible sailors to join the Navy’s recruiting force.

Recruiters are the face of the Navy to the civilian world and connect qualified individuals with careers in 72 ratings within the active and reserve components.

As a recruiter, Thomas said he feels he has been given an opportunity to give back to the Navy that has served him so well throughout his career.

“I enjoy working as a police officer and enjoyed my time as a [master-at-arms], but I have no regrets about switching over to recruiting,” he explained. “In recruiting, I have been able to connect with people in a different way that can change their lives for the better.”

While recruiting seems to have come easily to Thomas, he admits that it has been a difficult journey at times.

“It is not a job everyone can do, you have to be willing to put yourself out there and shake hands with new people every day,” he said. “I had to learn to pay attention to detail and be willing to learn from my mistakes.”

Work-Life Balance

Frequently, recruiters will point to how difficult it can be in finding a balance.

Thomas is no different, he admits; he had to learn to juggle work, family life and school.

“I have an associate’s degree in criminal justice and I’m currently attending the University of the Incarnate Word working towards a bachelor’s degree. If not for my wife, who supports me and helps take the brunt of the family responsibilities, I would not be able to get it all done.”

With the bravery of a master-at-arms, Thomas has faced the challenges of recruiting. His tenacity was recognized by his leaders, and in June he was promoted to the rank of petty officer first class through the Meritorious Advancement Program.

Through MAP, sailors may be promoted based on their readiness to take on the next level of responsibility and not solely on their advancement exam scores.

“I was so surprised to be MAPped,” Thomas said. “I have taken the exam many times, so it was such a great feeling to have my hard work recognized this way.”

Looking towards the future, Thomas plans to complete his degree and submit a package to convert to the Full Time Support Navy Career Recruiting Force program and ultimately hopes to advance to chief petty officer.

The NCRF program is made up of a group of enlisted Navy production recruiters and recruiting managers who provide stability and leadership for field production recruiters and recruiting management personnel. Enlisted sailors can laterally convert from the Canvasser Recruiter program to the Full Time Support program.

Sacred Mission for DoD POW/MIA Agency: Leave No One Behind

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 15, 2017 — On behalf of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan honored former prisoners of war and remembered 83,000 Americans still unaccounted for since World War II.

Shanahan hosted the Defense Department’s National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony today at the Pentagon River Terrace Parade Field. Speeches were followed by a pass in review, a joint service anthem medley and a flyover of two FA-18 Hornets.

Joining Shanahan in addressing U.S. ambassadors from several countries, veteran’s advocates, military veterans, families of those missing in action and former prisoners of war, was Army Command Sgt. Maj. John Wayne Troxell, senior enlisted advisor to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Sacred Mission

“Since our founding it has been our military's sacred pledge to never leave anyone behind,” Troxell said. “We will account for, bury with honor, respect and, if possible, bring home to our shores every one of those selfless warriors who lies within our earthly power to reach.”

Today, he added, everyone in the audience renews the pledge to bring closure to the families of service members missing in action.

“From the jungles of South Asia to the fields of France and beyond, men and women of the Department of Defense have dedicated their lives to tracking down every lead, leaving no stone unturned, to return or loved ones home where they belong,” Troxell said.
Fallen Troops

“The example we set today will guide future generations and continuing this sacred mission,” he added.

Two Colors, a Silhouette

More often than not, Shanahan said during his remarks, as the American flag waves the POW/MIA flag flies beneath it, instantly recognizable to millions of Americans.

“We thank the [National League of American Prisoners and Missing in Southeast Asia] for that. With two colors and a silhouette, you galvanized a generation to compassionate action for this community,” Shanahan said.

Over the past year the Defense Department’s POW/MIA Accounting Agency has conducted 34 investigative missions and 40 recovery missions, and repatriated Americans lost in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War, he added.

Since last year's POW/MIA Recognition Day, Shanahan said, the agency has accounted for 155 fallen service members.

Full Military Honors

“By their work, the agency's devoted men and women, strategic partners and host nations secured recognition and full military honors for heroes like Alberic M. Blanchette,” the deputy secretary said.

Marine Corps Reserve Pvt. Blanchette, 19, from Caribou, Maine, assigned to Company K, 3rd Battalion, 2nd Marines, 2nd Marine Division, died on the first day of fierce combat on Tarawa Atoll in the Central Pacific in 1943. He returned home this month, 75 years later, Shanahan said.

The agency also recently repatriated the remains of Air Force Capt. Robert E. Holton, 27, of Butte, Montana, an A-4 Skyhawk pilot with the 497th Tactical Fighter Squadron in the Vietnam War. He was lost on an armed reconnaissance mission over southern Laos in 1969.

Between 1994 and 2011, the Defense Department conducted nine investigations and excavated sites in Vietnam and Laos to try to bring Bolton home. In January a joint U.S.-Laotian team recovered his remains.

“Why did we go to such lengths?” Shanahan asked. “Because we refused to forget Robert Holton.”

And last month the agency announced identifying the remains of Max E. Harris, 21, of Monticello, Indiana, an Army sergeant who deployed with the 3rd Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment to an area east of the Chosin Reservoir in Korea in 1950.

“After a fierce battle Max was captured by Chinese forces,” Shanahan said. “A year later en route to a prisoner of war camp, he died. We refused to forget Max Harris. Decades later, painstaking research and scientific analysis enabled the agency to identify Max.”
Poster for National POW/MIA Recognition Day 2017. DoD graphic

Thanks to such testing, he added, “we can now ensure no service member ever returns home unknown. The work is far from complete but it will go on with fervor.”

Shanahan said that under the leadership of director Kelly K. McKeague, who Mattis appointed just last week, “the agency will strive daily to fulfill this solemn responsibility.”

Shanahan thanked the families of the missing for sharing their quiet courage and steadfastly waiting for answers. He thanked veterans’ organizations for their ceaseless efforts on veterans’ behalf.

To the devoted professionals of the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, he added, “thank you for persevering to fulfill our nation's promise. And to all former POWs who endured, who withstood the fear, anguish and pain, thank you for your powerful inspiration to us today.”