Saturday, November 18, 2017

Deputy Secretary, Uganda's Defense Minister Discuss Africa Security

WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 2017 — Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan met with Ugandan Defense Minister Adolf Mwesige in Vancouver, British Columbia, at the 2017 U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial conference yesterday.

Shanahan is on his first international trip in his current role.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, Navy Cmdr. Sarah Higgins, a spokesperson for Shanahan, said the deputy secretary recognized that Uganda has been in Somalia for 10 years and thanked Mwesige for his country's contribution to security there.

"He also acknowledged those Ugandan lives lost in Somalia," Higgins said. "He expressed his understanding of the frustration with the pace of progress in Somalia, but also his confidence that progress is being made."

Helping the Horn of Africa

The leaders discussed how to best help the Horn of Africa move forward toward stability in Somalia, Higgins said, noting that the Defense Department continues to support Ugandan forces in Somalia with equipment, including mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles and five new Huey 2 helicopters, which were delivered yesterday.

"Both leaders confirmed the importance of continued collaboration between DoD and the Ugandan Ministry of Defense in advancing regional security in East Africa," Higgins added.

Deputy Secretary Goes to the 'Gemba' to Examine Readiness

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

ABOARD A MILITARY AIRCRAFT, Nov. 16, 2017 — Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan returned today from his first trip outside the Beltway as the Pentagon's second-in-charge, armed with information to share with military leaders and Congress on improving readiness.

The focus of the visits Nov. 14 and yesterday in Washington state to Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Naval Air Station Whidbey Island was to hear directly from service members about the successes and challenges they face in readiness, Shanahan explained to reporters traveling with him.

His mission, he said, was to build upon the priorities of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. "The secretary always talks about lethality -- and readiness is such a critical component of that," Shanahan said.

At Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Shanahan was briefed on Air Force transport as well as innovation in 3-D printing. He observed Army training and viewed combat assets, he lunched with airmen and soldiers, and he talked with Army maintenance crews.

At Whidbey Island, he visited the Navy's Electronic Attack Wing Pacific for discussions on the EA-18G Growler, an all-weather, electronic attack aircraft with the primary role of suppressing enemy air defense systems.

At Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10, he toured aircraft and had discussions with P-3 Orion maritime patrol squadrons and the EP-3 fleet air reconnaissance squadrons. He closed out the visit with a tour of the Fleet Readiness Center Northwest, which meets fleet requirements by providing responsive, innovative, and cost-effective maintenance solutions for naval aviation systems and equipment.

Candid Conversations

"You don't improve readiness by managing from behind a desk," Shanahan said, explaining his intent at both bases was to have candid conversations with the people who know the job best, whether the most junior service member or highest-ranking person.

The Japanese, he pointed out, have an expression of going to the “gemba.” In manufacturing, that means to go to the factory floor; he explained, where you meet the workers and see what is really going on. "Quite often what gets the attention is the difficult, demanding and dangerous missions that people are doing downrange," he said. "But the work that these folks do enables all of that."

Shanahan said he will use the information he gathered to identify systemic problems and work on aligning leaders in those areas to tackle those issues. All this, he explained, is to optimize readiness and make the forces more lethal.

"The No. 1 reason that I took the trip to go understand readiness was to be able to address to Congress what it is we need to do to improve readiness," he said. "When I do spend time on the Hill, people are very focused on 'We want to help, and we expect you to be articulate on how we can help.'''

In addition to these visits, Shanahan made his first international trip as deputy defense secretary, attending a U.N. Peacekeeping Defense Ministerial conference yesterday in Vancouver, British Columbia.

Shanahan, who became deputy defense secretary in July, said he engaged with fellow defense leaders from around the world, reaffirming bilateral relationships and forging new friendships to take back with him to Washington.

‘Keep up the Good Fight,’ Apache Pilot Advises Deployed Service Members

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Washington, Nov. 16, 2017 — “Keep up the good fight” is the advice Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Tyson Edkin would like to pass along to deployed service members.

Edkin, an AH-64 Apache helicopter pilot with the 4-6 Attack Cavalry Squadron, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade based here, returned in August from Iraq, his third deployment.

“It feels good to go over there and know that you did your job and you could affect the battlefield in any way, shape or form and to help people that needed your help,” Edkin told reporters who were visiting the base Nov. 14 with Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan.

Shanahan was at the base engaging service members on readiness.

Edkin, who deployed in 2006 to Iraq and in 2012 to Afghanistan, said he worked 12 to 14 hours every day during his most recent overseas mission. As an Apache test pilot, his job was to troubleshoot and ensure the aircraft were mission-ready.

He credits air superiority for altering the course of the fight against the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

U.S. Air Superiority

“That gives you a huge advantage in any battlefield I think, so that's probably your No. 1 advantage,” he said. “They're fighting a ground war; we're fighting an air-to-ground war, so we can do a lot more.”

While acknowledging it was a “grind” with very long days, Edkin said it was a good deployment that went by quickly. He said he has no complaints.

“We went out there, we executed our mission. I think we knocked it out of the park,” he said, adding that, most importantly, everyone returned home safely from the nine-month deployment.