Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Face of Defense: Marine Works Hard to Stay Fit at Sea

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jonah Baase 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit

ABOARD THE USS BONHOMME RICHARD, Sept. 20, 2017 — Marines and sailors with the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit and the Navy’s Expeditionary Strike Group 7 crowd this amphibious assault ship’s gym at all hours of the day and night.

Still, some faces in the gym are more common than the rest. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cary Chase is one of those faces.

“I needed to change my habits,” said Chase, the disbursing chief of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit’s Combat Logistics Battalion 31, who hails from Bonire, Georgia. “I wasn’t happy with where I was physically, but now the gym is my home away from home where I can tune the world out for a while.”

Rigorous Gym Schedule

Finding that a rigorous gym schedule reinforced the discipline required to manage financial accounts for the 31st MEU’s Marines and sailors, Chase goes to the gym twice a day, every day, and studies nutrition to focus her food intake.

Chase’s ambitions did not stop with becoming more fit. Her passion for weightlifting continued to grow as she won three bodybuilding competitions in gyms from Tokyo to Okinawa, Japan.

“Competitions were the next step to prove to myself that I was making progress,” Chase said. “You don’t see results overnight, and this was how I wanted to test my strength.”

Keeping Fit

The demands of life in the Marine Corps make physical fitness vital to any Marine’s success. At any time a Marine may be called to get the job done no matter the mission, whether it’s combat or humanitarian aid and disaster relief.

“It’s more than a routine,” Chase said. “It helps me prepare physically and mentally to support my Marines whether it be in a combat zone or day to day operations.”

Once Chase started working out with Sgt. Theresa Batt, a finance technician with CLB-31, from Cleveland, Ohio, Batt said she learned how to be a stronger leader, inside and outside the gym, taking her time to provide mentorship and guidance to her Marines to support their personal and professional goals.


“We became frequent gym partners,” Batt said of Chase. “She corrected my form and wouldn’t let me off the bench until my sets were completed. She doesn’t quit on her Marines, she’s full of energy and always motivates Marines she works and trains with.”

Chase continues to stick with her rigorous workout schedule, training with Batt to ensure they’re ready to meet any challenge.
“We need to be prepared for anything with the world we live in,” Chase said. “A Marine needs to be proficient at their job, and that includes pushing themselves and their peers to be the best they can.”

Mattis Praises Romania for Defense Partnership

WASHINGTON, Sept. 20, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis yesterday praised fellow NATO member nation Romania as a valued ally in alliance efforts to deter Russian aggressive actions in Eastern Europe and in the campaign to defeat terrorist groups, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

During a ceremony welcoming Romanian Minister of National Defense Mihai-Viorel Fifor and his delegation to the Pentagon for bilateral meetings, Mattis saluted Romania as “a staunch NATO ally.”

Mattis said he and Fifor would “discuss, obviously, our shared priorities, as is appropriate between two allies. You have been a reliable partner … I also want to thank you for honoring the Wales Commitment the way your country has.”

Romania has committed two percent of its annual gross domestic product for defense needs, as part of an agreement made at the NATO Wales Summit meeting in September 2014, whereby member nations would aim to move towards the existing NATO guideline of spending two percent of gross domestic product on defense and with a view to meeting NATO capability priorities.

“I would just tell you that, by the end of this year, you'll be at the two percent, I believe. And you've increased spending nearly 50 percent over the last year. That is a phenomenal sacrifice and commitment by your country and your people, and we recognize it for what it is,” Mattis told the Romanian delegation.

Saber Guardian Exercise

Mattis said this summer's Saber Guardian exercise demonstrated NATO unity and firm resolve in the face of Russia's aggressive behavior.

Romania, one of the co-hosts of Saber Guardian -- which was also conducted in Hungary and Bulgaria -- “was integral to the success of that exercise. And your commitment to unity and stability shows, I would call it leadership by example, there in NATO,” Mattis said.

Mattis saluted Romania for its participation in NATO’s Resolute Support campaign against terrorists in Afghanistan.

“I must also thank you for Romania's commitment to the Resolute Support mission today in Afghanistan,” the secretary said to the Romanian delegation. “But you were also one of the first nations to engage with us, stand with us after we were attacked [on 9/11]. And you deployed even before joining NATO, making it very clear where you stood when it came to terrorism.”

The secretary also offered his condolences for the loss of Romanian troops, “including dozens of your troops who have been killed in action standing with us in some of the most difficult parts of the battles.”

Mattis added, “And just last Friday, we lost a Romanian soldier, a comrade in arms in Kandahar province, one of the fiercest provinces there in Afghanistan. But the service and sacrifices of your troops are tangible demonstrations that NATO military alliance stands united in the face of terror or other threats from the East.”

Fifor thanked Mattis, noting the strategic partnership with the United States is one of the fundamental pillars of Romania's security and defense.

Bilateral Defense Relationship

“One of the priorities of my mandate is to further consolidate it, especially on the defense dimension,” Fifor said of the U.S.-Romanian defense partnership. “We have a solid bilateral relationship, and I praise your constant and relevant support on defense matters you provide us.”

Russia's influence in the Balkan region has been significantly increased, Fifor said. NATO is seen as the main foreign military threat to Russia's security, he said, and subsequently, the states hosting components of the allied ballistic missile defense, including Romania, are also considered by Russia as potential threats.

There is a need for a comprehensive approach in the political, operational and major acquisition fields, Fifor said, to ensure a strategic balance of power in Black Sea region. And in this regard, he said, the U.S. is already playing an essential part in a resolute way.


The U.S. efforts in the Black Sea region demonstrate a strengthened, credible and effective deterrence and defense posture on NATO’s eastern flank, Fifor said.

And, U.S.-Romanian bilateral cooperation “is an important booster for the modernization of the Romanian armed forces, he said.

“We already took important steps, as you say, towards this, based on the [Romanian] government's strong commitment to properly budget the defense sector at two percent of the GDP,” Fifor said.” And, almost 40 percent is allotted for the acquisition of new equipment and the modernization.”

He added, “We firmly believe that the new opportunities for cooperation with Romanian defense companies will arise and [we] welcome further extending the American investments in the Romanian defense sector.”
And, Romania remains “fully committed to the Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, where our soldiers are engaged shoulder to shoulder with U.S. troops in the fight against terrorism,”including the campaign to defeat ISIS, Fifor said.

National Guard Plans Relief Efforts as Hurricane Maria Slams Puerto Rico

By Army Sgt. Juanita Philip and Sgt. 1st Class Jessica Barnett National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 20, 2017 — National Guard troops and members of federal agencies throughout the Caribbean region are hunkering down and making disaster relief preparations as Hurricane Maria made landfall today in Puerto Rico as a Category 4 storm, with winds of 150 mph, weather officials said.
Puerto Rico hit again by hurricane

With Maria following a similar path as Hurricane Irma, the U.S. Virgin Islands National Guard is once again preparing for another massive storm; this one, coming at St. Croix instead of St. Thomas and St. John.

Joint operations center personnel have spent the last 48 hours preparing for the second natural disaster in two weeks.

"We spent the last 48 hours coming up with a good bed-down plan for [Virgin Islands National Guard] forces and any [Emergency Management Assistance Compact] forces still on the ground," said Army Maj. Ryan Barry, acting joint operations center battle captain for the night shift.

Making Preparations

"We are adapting a forward posture to ensure that the people of the Virgin Islands are taken care of," Barry added.

He spoke about the amount of responsibility to account for personnel this time around because of increased personnel at the Estate Bethlehem Military Compound.

"We also have an increased amount of [Federal Emergency Management Agency] and other civil agencies personnel bedding down with us," Barry said.

"We also are getting accountability of everybody,” he said, “making sure we know where they're sleeping, how they're posturing and taking care of them, so right after the disaster, we can push into the community and start relief efforts."

Earlier, Maria made landfall on the nearby island of Dominica as a Category 5 storm with 160 mph winds, causing widespread damage. The storm is heading along a path similar to the devastating Hurricane Irma.

Weather models predicted Puerto Rico would receive 20-25 inches of rain and 6 to 9 feet of storm surge, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Hurricane Maria preparation

"You have to evacuate. Otherwise, you're going to die," said Hector Pesquera, the island's public safety commissioner. "I don't know how to make this any clearer."

Communities in the U.S. Virgin Islands are still reeling from devastation caused by Hurricane Irma two weeks ago, creating a major concern for loose debris, which can become extremely dangerous projectiles. Residents on both islands quickly switched from recovery efforts back to preparations against impending flooding and disparaging winds. Puerto Rico reports about 63,500 people are still without power and another 200 are still in shelters on the island.

"This is going to impact all of Puerto Rico with a force and violence that we haven't seen for several generations," said Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Roselló Nevares. "We're going to lose a lot of infrastructure in Puerto Rico. We're going to have to rebuild."

Many people who sought shelter in Puerto Rico from harder-hit islands nearby are unfortunately seeking shelter once more.

President Donald J. Trump declared a state of emergency for Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands Sept. 18. Air operations there have ceased and all airports have closed.

Relief Efforts

Aircraft and nonessential personnel are being relocated off the islands to posture for relief efforts once operations are able to resume. A number of personnel will remain behind to provide initial response. Two UH-60 Black Hawk medevac helicopters from the Kentucky Army National Guard and another four from the Tennessee Army National Guard operating out of St. Croix are sheltered in Puerto Rico.

About 430 Virgin Islands National Guardsmen are still called up and another 390 brought in from other states for support will shelter in place to help in first response. A select number of National Guardsmen on the ground via an Emergency Management Assistance Compact have been relocated to Homestead Air Reserve Base, Florida, for the time being.

The U.S. Virgin Islands welcomed a Joint Incident Site Communication Capability team from the New York National Guard Sept. 19. The team will assist in communications support for first responders and other government agencies after the storm. U.S. Virgin Islands Gov. Kenneth Mapp signed mutual orders of understandings with Puerto Rico and New York for Military Police support.

Puerto Rico has slightly more than 500 guard members reporting for duty.

In preparation, the Puerto Rico National Guard is supporting the relocation of Virgin Islands residents. A barge was received in San Juan from New Jersey carrying a supply of water, cots and generators.

Overall, three Air National Guard C-130 Hercules transport aircraft are on standby at San Juan, Puerto Rico, for St. Thomas evacuation operations. A mobile kitchen trailer and 15 service members are set to deploy to St. Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands, post-landfall. Eleven pallets of food and water have also been arranged post landfall from Kentucky. St Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, is set to receive two Joint Incident Site Communications Capability systems; one each from the Maine National Guard and the New York National Guard.

More than 200 guard members have been called from multiple states to provide hurricane relief efforts to the U.S. Virgin Islands once air operations commence.

Barnett is with the 105th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment and reported from Arlington, Va.; Philip is with the 51st Public Affairs Detachment and reported from the U.S. Virgin Islands