Monday, October 09, 2017

DoD Ready to Respond After Hurricane Nate

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 8, 2017 — Defense Department personnel stand ready to respond in the Gulf Coast for any request for assistance following Hurricane Nate.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis pre-approved DoD lifesaving and life-sustaining support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency in response to the hurricane.

The storm, which has since weakened to a tropical depression, made its first landfall last night in southeastern Louisiana as a Category 1 hurricane, according to the National Hurricane Center, and made its second landfall near Biloxi, Mississippi, also as a Category 1 storm.

Northcom Fully Engaged

U.S. Northern Command is fully engaged with federal, state and territorial mission partners as the command balances support to the response for Hurricane Maria and the planning for and pre-positioning of DoD assets in preparation for Hurricane Nate.

Northcom has activated defense coordinating officers with defense supporting staff elements to the FEMA regional response coordinating centers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and in Atlanta. The DoD personnel will be able to provide the states and regions with DoD regional knowledge, requirements validation and liaison, officials said, adding that the command's Marine Forces North component will be the lead component if there is a request to respond.

The amphibious transport dock ship USS New York, along with components of Fleet Surgical Team 8, Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadrons 40 and 46 departed Naval Station Mayport, Florida, yesterday to support the Gulf Coast region in the event assistance is requested.

The USS New York is capable of providing medical support, maritime civil affairs, maritime security, expeditionary logistic support, medium and heavy lift air support, and it brings diverse skills, including assessment and security.

Leaning Forward

DoD is also leaning forward to support states that may potentially be affected by the hurricane, preparing a search and rescue package and coordinating element, light-, medium- and heavy-lift helicopters, an air expeditionary group for support operations, an E-3 Airborne Early Warning and Control System, trucks and general-purpose boats, officials said.

Additionally, Northcom officials said, Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama, has stood up as an installation support base to support the staging of response personnel and provide assets to support the distribution of supplies to affected areas.

Northcom's mission is to assist lead federal relief agencies in helping those affected by natural disasters to minimize suffering while continuing its mission of defending the homeland.

U.S. Military Adapting in Complex Environment, Mattis Says

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 9, 2017 — The U.S. military is adapting to remain the most lethal joint force on the planet and to respond to evolving global security challenges, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said here today.

"The international situation is the most complex and demanding that I have seen in all my years of service -- and that's over four decades," Mattis said in the keynote address at the Association of the United States Army's annual meeting and exposition.

Terrorists in the Middle East continue to conduct murder and mayhem despite significant and accelerating losses, Mattis said. And "one state sponsor of terror in the Mideast cannot hide behind its nation-state status while, in effect, it is actually a destabilizing revolutionary regime," he added.

In Europe, for the first time since World War II, national borders have been changed by the force of arms, Mattis told the audience. "One country proved willing to ignore international law to exercise a veto authority over its neighbors' rights to make decisions in the economic, diplomatic and security domain," he said.

Meanwhile in the Pacific, North Korean provocations are "threatening regional and even global peace despite universal condemnation by the United Nations," the secretary said.

"This is the reality that faces our Department of Defense and our like-minded allies," he said. "We must have militaries fit for their purpose, fit for their time in these days of emerging challenges."

In addition, Mattis described challenges in new domains of conflict in space and in cyberspace, including "deniable attacks even on our democratic processes."

First Line of Effort: Increasing Lethality

Mattis highlighted three lines of efforts to "maintain a safe and secure nuclear deterrent and maintain a decisive conventional force that can also fight irregular warfare."

First, the Defense Department must ensure that everything it does contributes to the lethality of the force, he said. "We must never lose sight of the fact that we have no God-given right to victory on the battlefield," he added.

Acting Army Secretary Ryan D. McCarthy and Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley are examining personnel policy, training time, the organization and more "to ensure they contribute to make us the most lethal joint force in the world," Mattis said.

The secretary warned against automatic budget cuts under sequestration.

"I want the Congress back in the driver's seat of budget decisions, not in the spectator's seat of automatic cuts," he said. "I have great confidence in the U.S. Congress, but I have no confidence in automatic mathematical budget cuts."

Second Line of Effort: Strengthening Alliances

The second line of effort is to build or strengthen alliances, as was done after World War II, Mattis said. That effort includes relationships at NATO, in the defeat-ISIS coalition, in Afghanistan, and in expanding friend and partner bonds in the Indo-Pacific region, he said.

The retired Marine Corps general said he had the honor of fighting many times for America. "I never once fought in an all-American or solely American formation. It was always alongside allies," he said. "I will just tell you from NATO in Europe and to the Pacific, the message to our allies is: we are with you."

Third Line of Effort: Reforming Business Practices

Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan is responsible for most of the continued effort for the third line of effort, reworking business practices to gain full benefit from every dollar spent on defense, Mattis said.

"We are taking aggressive action to reform the way we do business," he said, adding that those efforts include gaining and holding the trust of Congress and the American people.

The effort will show "that we are responsible stewards of the money allocated to us and that it translates directly every dollar into the defense of our country and what we stand for," Mattis said.

Mattis Lauds 'Greatest, Most Trusted Army on Earth'

The AUSA annual meeting and exposition is a multiday event attended by thousands of people, including current and retired military personnel. In his address, Mattis praised the Army for setting the standard for the last 242 years.

"I'm grateful to serve once again alongside soldiers of the greatest army, the most trusted army, on earth," he said, adding that the Army's members are "among the disciplined, ethical, capable high-spirited soldiers whose character I have seen rise to every occasion in the worst possible circumstances."

Today's Army is filled with willing, high-quality patriots -- all volunteers, he said, and he commended the contributions of the soldiers of wars past.

"To all the veterans in the room: you set an uncompromising bar that every one of us on duty today must live up to," he said.