Thursday, November 02, 2017

Armenia, U.S. Celebrate Reopening of Zar Peacekeeping Training Area

STUTTGART, Germany, Nov. 2, 2017 — Armenian and U.S. leaders celebrated the reopening of the Zar Peacekeeping Training Area in Yerevan, Armenia, Oct. 31.

The training area is designed to increase the readiness and training of the 12th Peacekeeping Brigade, U.S. European Command officials said.

"By renovating this facility, the U.S. government is contributing to the Armenian Ministry of Defense's efforts to boost training readiness," said U.S. Embassy Armenia Charge d'Affaires Rafik Mansour. "This will have a noticeable impact on the 12th PKB's ability to deploy in support of peacekeeping operations worldwide."

Armenia and the United States have a long-standing partnership built on a common vision of a Europe that is whole, free and at peace, celebrating 25 years of diplomatic relations, officials said.

Symbol of Cooperation

"The opening of the Zar PTA is a strong symbol of the cooperation between the United States and Armenia," Air Force Brig. Gen. Dawne L. Deskins, Eucom's deputy director of partnering and missile defense, said at the ribbon-cutting ceremony. "We look forward to many more years together bringing greater security throughout the region."

The training area's goal is to establish a permanent cadre and support staff that will provide regional and international partners continuous use of the facility, Eucom officials said.

The 12th PKB is an Armenian unit that contributes troops to multinational peacekeeping missions. Mansour noted Armenia's contributions to international peacekeeping operations.
"Armenia's deployment of troops to places like Afghanistan, Kosovo and Lebanon has demonstrated a commitment to make the world a safer place," he said.

Partnership Enables Sealift Relief Efforts for Puerto Rico

By Air Force Staff Sgt. William O'Brien Joint Base Charleston

JOINT BASE CHARLESTON, S.C., Nov. 2, 2017 — The first humanitarian relief supplies sealifted from here to Ponce, Puerto Rico, departed Oct. 31.

In the hours following Hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria, Joint Base Charleston C-17 Globemaster III transport jets responded, delivering more than 1,700 tons of aid, supplies and medical teams to affected areas. The C-17s can get to austere locations quickly, but the amount of cargo they can carry is limited.

"The 841st Transportation Battalion has been working with [the Federal Emergency Management Agency] and other interagency partners over the past couple of weeks to move critical equipment and supplies to aid in recovery efforts in Puerto Rico," said Army Lt. Col. Chad Blacketer, 841st Transportation Battalion commander. "That effort culminated when we finished loading the [USNS Brittin] and it departed."

More Trips Planned

The Military Sealift Command ship is scheduled to travel between here and Puerto Rico several times over the next few months. The first trip is bringing essentials such as food, water and vehicles to get aid to areas where mudslides have created access issues. Later deliveries will provide the equipment to restore utilities and rebuild the infrastructure on the island, officials said.

"We plan to take the USNS Brittin on several rotations in support of the rebuilding efforts in Puerto Rico. The devastating hurricanes destroyed their power grid and much of their infrastructure," said Shawny Dallam, a FEMA transportation specialist. "On this first rotation, we have sourced specialized electrical maintenance equipment and other support supplies while still sending over basic survival support needs such as refrigeration units to cool food and medications."

The ship's captain, Alfred Murray, a Coast Guard veteran, has been part of numerous cargo shipments in his career. But this particular mission is more meaningful to him, he said, because he experienced the devastation of a natural disaster firsthand when his Mississippi home was destroyed during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

"They were hit hard by a natural disaster. The first things needed to get back to a normal life are food, water and to begin rebuilding, and this is a big part of that," Murray said. "People are suffering, because power and water are big parts of civilization and what we rely on to live. These are fellow Americans in need, and we are here to help them get their lives back to normal."

Efforts Continue

As the first shipment makes its way through the Atlantic Ocean, FEMA's cargo receiving efforts continue at the installation support base here in preparation for future sealifts. As the recovery efforts continue, the deliveries will begin to shift from essentials to the equipment and supplies required to rebuild the damaged infrastructure.

"FEMA continues to work with all of our military and private partners to send support equipment to help Puerto Rico," Dallam said. "The Army Corps of Engineers diligently works to improve the compromised dam and, in future returns, the ship will bring telephone poles to allow electricity to return to the island."

Blacketer said he is proud all these agencies came together to help those in their time of need and serve a purpose greater than themselves. "To all my fellow Americans in Puerto Rico, help is on the way," he added.

Face of Defense: Soldier Finds Unique Experiences in New Army Brigade

By Army Staff Sgt. Sierra A. Melendez 50th Public Affairs Detachment

FORT BENNING, Ga., Nov. 2, 2017 — Growing up in Springfield, Missouri, Army Sgt. Jeston L. Perryman never envisioned being a skilled operator of foreign military-grade weapon systems. Even after enlisting, he imagined he would primarily troubleshoot malfunctions of infantry weapons and towed artillery.

Perryman's assumptions would be correct – in a typical Army unit.

However, Perryman serves in the Army's 1st Security Forces Assistance Brigade, an exclusive specialized unit made up of soldiers selected based on qualifications and experience.

"It has, hands down, been the greatest opportunity I have had in my career," Perryman said. "I have done things in the short amount of time I have been assigned here that many don't get to experience once in their time in the Army."

As part of Army Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Milley's initiative, the brigade is designed to conduct security force assistance operations to train, advise, assist, accompany and enable partner-nation security forces in support of combatant command requirements worldwide.

In the past, advise-and-assist missions were conducted primarily by brigade combat teams. The creation of security forces assistance brigades will allow brigade combat teams to shift their focus back on readiness for warfighting against near-peer threats.

Elite Fighting Force

Perryman touts the security forces assistance brigade as building an elite fighting force with a caliber of training and leadership surpassing any other unit he has served with.

"It has been constant specialized training events, one after the other," he said. "Myself and other soldiers have had the opportunity to attend Army schools that I know I wouldn't have had the opportunity to in a traditional line unit."

For example, Perryman, along with all other soldiers in the brigade, have attended the Military Advisor Training Academy.

"We've already done some simulated key leader engagements with soldiers acting as role players as Afghan counterparts during the MATA," said Perryman. "It's unlike anything I have ever done before."

Additionally, Perryman had the opportunity to attend foreign weapons training, receiving close to the same experience the Army's special operations community has on the subject.

"We were able to get familiarized with Afghan weapon systems such as the AK-47, the Rocket Propelled Grenade 7 and the DShK," Perryman said. "This way, we are adequately prepared to train our foreign-national counterparts on their own weapons."

Latest Equipment

Foreign weapons familiarization is not the only incentive that soldiers have  to look forward to if they make the decision to apply for the premier, volunteer-only unit. Security forces assistance brigade volunteers will receive the latest personal equipment and arrive to the battlefield using vehicles that include a combination of up-armored Humvees; mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and light medium tactical vehicles.

Volunteers will receive training that includes common core operations, advising, communications, foreign weapons, and foreign language training, culminating with division-level sponsored capstone exercises at one of the Army's combat training centers prior to deployment.

Higher Deployment Tempo

Like many soldiers who raise their right hand to serve, Perryman knew he wanted to deploy – soon and often. Although much of the Army has seen a decline in frequency in overseas and combat deployments, security forces assistance brigades will deploy to combat and will likely have a higher deployment tempo than other conventional Army units.

Perryman urged his peers to obtain more information if they think they are interested in the opportunities the new brigade has to offer.
"My company has 51 people, so you really get to know each other," he said. "There is a type of unit cohesion that is unlike any other unit that I have served with. It's great. You know everyone here deserves to be here."