Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Face of Defense: Marine Takes Leave to Help Hurricane Victims

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Niles Lee Marine Forces Reserve

NEW ORLEANS, Nov. 8, 2017 — When Hurricane Harvey made landfall in southeast Texas, Aug. 25, it flooded thousands of homes and displaced more than 30,000 people. In response to the devastation, thousands of people from across the country rushed to Texas to help, taking time away from their homes and work to help others out.

Among those who headed to Texas was Marine Corps Cpl. Eric Gore, a dark-haired, easygoing and friendly chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defense specialist at Headquarters Battalion, Marine Forces Reserve here.

“I just wanted to help my fellow countrymen out,” Gore said. “Helping our neighbors in Texas was something I was able to do, so I went.”

Gore, his unit’s CBRN training noncommissioned officer, was sitting at home going through social media when he first saw the effects of Hurricane Harvey. At that moment he decided he had to take leave and join the relief efforts.

“I knew I had the capacity to do something, but instead I was just sitting at work going through my day-to-day tasks,” he said. “There’s no sense in standing-by when people need assistance, especially when you’re perfectly able to help them.”

Gore left New Orleans Sept. 1, taking an additional four days of leave after the Labor Day weekend to extend his time in Texas.

Cajun Navy

He first drove with another Marine to Beaumont, Texas, where they linked up with members of the Cajun Navy, an informal group of private boat owners who helped in the relief efforts following 2005’s Hurricane Katrina.

With the Cajun Navy, Gore used his experience in the Marines to first help them set up an operations center in the back office of a dance studio. He then communicated with members of the Cajun Navy through phone calls and mobile apps to direct vehicles to distress calls and organize supply convoys to flooded neighborhoods.

“Emergency management is at the heart of my job,” Gore said. “CBRN is the 9/11 of the Marine Corps. Everyone just thinks we run the gas chambers, but we’re also trained to respond to hazmat incidents and things of that nature.”

Besides organizing and directing assets in the makeshift command center, Gore also participated in many of the supply convoys, personally delivering supplies to people affected by Hurricane Harvey whenever an extra hand was needed.

“I did as much as I could,” he said. “But, in reality, I was a small part of the relief efforts. Without the help of all the individuals involved donating their time and money to relief efforts, none of my work would have been possible.”

Gore said he planned to take leave again to help in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria, which made landfall there Sept. 20 and left the majority of Puerto Ricans without power. He organized a private flight to the island with a cargo of 12 donated generators, as well as additional relief supplies. However, he had to cancel his plans due to Hurricane Nate, which made landfall in New Orleans.
He said he is still communicating with members of the Cajun Navy though social media, instant messaging and phone apps, hoping to head to Puerto Rico in the near future.

New Commands, Cyber, Afghanistan on Plate for NATO Defense Ministers

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 8, 2017 — NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg previewed the NATO Defense Ministers meeting, saying the alliance will continue to adapt to the challenges of the 21st century.

Stoltenberg spoke at NATO headquarters as alliance defense ministers -- including Defense Secretary Jim Mattis -- gathered in Brussels to begin their deliberations. The meeting will help set the stage for the NATO Summit next summer, also in Brussels.

NATO will continue to change to meet the threats facing it, the secretary general said.

“Our command structure is the backbone of the alliance,” he said during a short conversation with reporters. “It has evolved through the decades, to reflect changing security conditions. And it must continue to evolve to remain robust, agile and fully fit for purpose.”

NATO ministers are looking at an outline design for an adapted NATO command structure, Stoltenberg said. This will include new commands to improve the movement of troops across the Atlantic and within Europe, he said.

Power projection and military mobility is essential to the alliance’s deterrence and defense capabilities, the secretary general said.

The alliance is also looking to update the military requirements for civilian infrastructure, such as roads, railways and airports, Stoltenberg said.

“This is vital for NATO,” he said. Bridges, culverts, roads and railroads, he said, must be checked to ensure they can take the stress of armored vehicles. Bridges need to be high enough to allow taller vehicles to pass under. Before the fall of the Soviet Union, NATO nations did this routinely throughout Western Europe.

Now the effort must be renewed in Western Europe and extend into Central and Eastern allies, the secretary general said.


“Cyber is another top priority for NATO, which will be reflected in our updated command structure,” Stoltenberg said. “I expect ministers will decide on ways to integrate cyber into all NATO planning and operations. So we can be just as effective in the cyber domain, as we are in air, on land and at sea.”

The ministers will meet with European Union Vice President for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Federica Mogherini, he said. They also will discuss threats to international security, including North Korea.

“Pressure is required to find the path for peace,” the secretary general said. “We will need full and transparent implementation of U.N. sanctions. Russia and China have a special role to play as neighboring countries and as permanent members of the U.N. Security Council. This is a global threat, which requires a global response.”

Tomorrow, the ministers will discuss developments in Afghanistan, where the security situation remains unstable. Stoltenberg said Afghan forces are making progress. The United States and other NATO allies and partners are sending more troops to the country. All this serves to “strengthen the Afghan forces so that they can fight international terrorists, and pave the way for a lasting political solution,” he said.

The last item is a meeting of the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, which is chaired by Mattis. That group, which now includes NATO as an entity, will examine the progress made in the effort and the moves that remain.

USNS Comfort Restocks to Continue Post-Hurricane Care

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Stephane Belcher, Navy Medicine East

PUERTO RICO, Nov. 8, 2017 — The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort replenished its medical supplies, food and other necessities, by connecting with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Big Horn while underway off the coast of San Juan, Puerto Rico, Nov. 6.

Since it departed from Norfolk, Virginia, Sept. 29 to provide humanitarian relief in the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, the sailors aboard the Comfort have treated 1,476 patients, performed 147 surgeries and admitted 293 patients. Patients continued to be treated on the ship during the short underway period.

“I am proud of the accomplishments and contributions we’ve made so far in our partnership with the lead federal agency, the health and human services and the Puerto Rican administrators of health and their providers,” said Navy Capt. Kevin Buckley, commander of the military treatment facility aboard Comfort. “Our [Disaster Medical Assistance Teams] team partnership has worked really well, embedding them with our staff, helping screen patients and relieve human suffering.”

New Life

During the Comfort’s time in Puerto Rico, two babies have been delivered on board, a boy and a girl, the first children born aboard the ship since 2010 in Haiti.

“It has been a really wonderful opportunity for our crew to see and participate in,” said Buckley, discussing the two births. “And the thankfulness of the Puerto Rican people --it’s Americans helping Americans. They’re very appreciative of all the efforts we’ve had, and it shows.”

The Comfort received 193 pallets of food and medical supplies from the Big Horn during the underway replenishment.

“There are medical supplies we need to keep frozen or chilled, so we keep them in freezers or chill boxes and limit exposure to the elements on the transit down from Norfolk,” said Navy Cmdr. Scott Stahl, the Comfort’s supply officer. “It was a total team effort, the civilian mariners and military working together to bring on 165 pallets via [vertical replenishment] and 28 pallets via [connected replenishment]. We work really well with the crew here.”

The Comfort is a seagoing medical treatment facility that has more than 850 personnel embarked for the Puerto Rico mission, including Navy medical and support staff assembled from 22 commands, as well as more than 70 civil service mariners.

The Defense Department is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which coordinates all federal assistance requested by the government of Puerto Rico to help those affected by Hurricane Maria.
The Comfort’s primary mission is to provide an afloat, mobile, acute surgical medical facility to the U.S. military that is flexible, capable and uniquely adaptable to support expeditionary warfare. The ship’s secondary mission is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide.