Military News

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Mattis: North Korea Sanctions Are Working



By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2017 — U.N. Security Council sanctions targeting North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests are working, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said yesterday during an informal briefing with members of the press.

The secretary said the sanctions, which began in 2006, have shown North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that there’s a penalty to pay for ignoring international concerns and norms.

“We are putting the leader in North Korea in a position to be aware of -- [with] the international community voting unanimously twice now in the United Nations Security Council -- … the increasing diplomatic isolation that comes with the economic sanctions,” Mattis said.

Under Pressure

The secretary made a Sept. 15 trip to Mexico City to strengthen the bilateral defense relationship and participate in Mexican Independence Day activities, and to the reporters he said that Mexico had declared the North Korean ambassador a persona non grata.

On Sept.7, according to an official press release, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto issued an executive order instructing all government agencies to comply with new UNSC economic sanctions imposed on North Korea. The same day, the Mexican government gave North Korean Ambassador Kim Hyong Gil 72 hours to leave the country.

Spain, Peru and Kuwait, according to news reports, also have ordered North Korean ambassadors and envoys out of their countries.

“That's an example of what is working,” Mattis said. “It's a pressurization effort to raise the cost” to Pyongyang of continued testing of missiles and nuclear weapons.

Responding to Provocations

Since January, North Korea has tested five ballistic missiles and a nuclear weapon, and reporters asked Mattis why the United States doesn’t shoot the missiles down.

“Those missiles are not directly threatening any of us,” the secretary said.

Japan and U.S. missile defenses and radars are operating, he added, and North Korea is intentionally initiating provocations “that seem to press against the envelope for just how far can they push without going over some kind of a line in their minds that would make them vulnerable.”

So they aim for the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Mattis said, “where at least we hope no ships are around.”

The bottom line, he said, is that if the missiles were a threat to Guam or Japan, “that would elicit a different response from us.” Mattis noted that there are military options that would not put South Korea at grave risk, but declined to explain further.

“We will defend ourselves, our interests [and] our allies,” he said, “and we work together very transparently and openly with our allies.”

Face of Defense: Citizen-Soldier Applies Skills to Military, Civilian Jobs



By Army Sgt. Zane Craig 109th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

FORT INDIANTOWN GAP, Pa., Sept. 19, 2017 — Army Spc. Breyonnha Chester, a resident of Philadelphia, serves as a motor transport operator with the Pennsylvania Army National Guard's Detachment 1, 1067th Transportation Company, 213th Regional Support Group here.

Motor transport operators are primarily responsible for supervising or operating wheeled vehicles to transport personnel and cargo. They are a core component of the Army's support and sustainment structure, providing advanced mobility on and off the battlefield.

"The main reason I joined the National Guard was because I come from a military family," Chester said. "My dad and grandad both served, so I always knew growing up that joining the military and helping others was something I wanted to do."

In her civilian life, Chester is a mail carrier and assistant supervisor for the Newtown, Pennsylvania, post office. She credits the National Guard with teaching her the value of being disciplined.

"Having the ability to listen well and follow instructions, but also knowing when to step up to lead is important," she said. "These skills have helped me a lot in the civilian world, especially in my position at the post office."

Each Profession Helps the Other

Though her military occupation differs from her civilian career, Chester said, she uses her experiences from each to better herself in both fields.

"I'm a truck driver in the military and a mail carrier in my civilian capacity," she explained. "Though they're quite different jobs, I've found similarities between the two positions because I serve in a leadership role in both.

"I'm an assistant supervisor at the Newtown post office," she continued, "and I'm a team leader with Detachment 1, 1067th Transportation Company. I have several lower enlisted soldiers in my team I'm responsible for, and I serve as a leader for new soldiers entering the unit. I try to use the skills and lessons I've learned from both aspects of my life, civilian and military, to improve my leadership abilities and performance in each position."

Chester recently was part of a group of soldiers with the 213th Regional Support Group, Pennsylvania Army National Guard who volunteered to respond and assist with Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. Within 48 hours of being tasked, these soldiers mobilized and drove 16 Pennsylvania National Guard M915 trucks hauling relief supplies and equipment to Texas.
"I think the Pennsylvania National Guard's response to Hurricane Harvey is an amazing thing, and I'm so happy volunteers from the [Pennsylvania] Guard and other states are stepping up to aid Texas in a time of need," Chester said. "All of the 213th RSG soldiers here today volunteered and mobilized in an extremely short amount of time. As citizen-soldiers, it takes a lot for someone to put their personal life on hold and be ready to assist at a moment's notice, so I'm proud to call these people my battle buddies."

South Pacific Exercise Focuses on Interoperability in Disaster Response



By Army Sgt. David J. Overson, 305th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

NOUMEA, New Caledonia, Sept. 19, 2017 — Improved interoperability in responses to natural disasters was the goal as the U.S. Army Reserve's 9th Mission Support Command worked hand in hand with NATO and partner nations Sept. 4-16 at Exercise Equateur 2017 in this French territory in the South Pacific.

In addition to the United States and host-nation France, participants in this year's annual exercise, a series that began in the late 1990s, included Australia, Fiji, Japan; New Zealand, Papua-New Guinea, Tonga, Vanuatu, the United Kingdom and Canada. Its intent is to simulate a national disaster enabling countries from the Pacific region to work together and provide both security and humanitarian aid to those affected by natural disasters.

The scenario this year split the island of New Caledonia into three different countries: the North Federation to the north, the United Islands of Koryphon in the center and the Republic of Thaery to the south. In the scenario, the North Federation was hit by an enormous tsunami, which left thousands of people in need of humanitarian aid. Militia factions were causing chaos along the way in the exercise scenario, which provided the opportunity for training in such a situation.

The recent and ongoing hurricane-related disasters in the United States and the Caribbean Sea underscore the value of response training, and New Caledonia, positioned in between Fiji and Australia, is susceptible to similar circumstances.

Army Lt. Col. Jeremy M Wasilewski, the 9th MSC officer in charge of Equateur 2017 training from the U.S. perspective, was technically the deputy exercise director external evaluator for the exercise. He has participated in this annual exercise in one form or another for three years, returning each time with newfound technical experience and guidance.

Important Training

"This training is very important to maintain our relationships in the Pacific with our partners and allies," Wasilewski said. "This allows us to learn their techniques and develop points of contacts in case there ever was a real disaster in the area, which would allow us to react and assist if ever needed."

Personnel from the 9th MSC, headquartered on Hawaii's island of Oahu, know all too well how devastating an event like this could be if it ever really happened. In preparation, disaster planning and training is a crucial element for those who reside on Pacific islands, he noted.

"On the surface, there are obviously language issues -- and, believe it or not, even with other English-speaking nations," Wasilewski said. "Some of the terms that Americans use are different from what the British may use, or the Australians and so on. However, when you dig deeper into it, we all try to use a common NATO doctrine. So, it's really interesting during the planning phase when each country brings their own flavor to it, if you will, and we all learn from that."

Though France is a NATO member and would always help in this type of real disaster, they do have a vested interest. New Caledonia is a French territory and is host to about 1,200 military personnel on any given day.

The officer in charge of the entire exercise was Col. Dominique Tardif, who commands the French air force's base here when not in exercise mode.

"I feel this exercise is very important to improve the working relationship between the nations here in the Southwest Pacific," he said. "In addition, as French troops rotate through this assignment here in New Caledonia, it's important they begin working with officers from other nations to grow as leaders."

Sept. 4-16 was the planning stage of the exercise, which will pick up where it left off in May, when hundreds of ground forces will arrive on the island to play out the scenario for Exercise Croix Du Sud 2018.
"I was very pleased with the progress of this exercise compared to the 2015 exercise,” Tardif said. "The planning phase went really well, and the different nations' officers worked very well together. These past two weeks have been very successful, and I feel confident in our ability to work with other nations in case a real disaster should ever strike."