Friday, December 01, 2017

Mattis Departs for 5-Day Middle East Trip

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2017 — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis departed today on a five-day trip to reaffirm the enduring U.S. commitment to partnerships in the Middle East, West Africa and South Asia, Defense Department officials said.

Mattis will begin his engagements with a visit to Egypt tomorrow, where he will meet with President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and Defense Minister Gen. Sedki Sobhi.

He will then travel to Jordan, where, on Dec 3, he will participate in the Aqaba Process, a meeting on countering violent extremism in West Africa, hosted by Jordan’s King Abdullah II. Attendees will also include officials from France, the U.K., and several Western African nations, as well as representatives from the African Union, the European Union, NATO and the U.N.

The defense secretary will then travel to Pakistan, Dec. 4, where he is planning to meet with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Chief of Army Staff Gen. Qamar Bajwa. He will conclude his trip with a visit to Kuwait on Dec. 5, where he will meet with Kuwaiti Emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah and other Kuwaiti leaders.

Coast Guard Hosts Arctic Awareness Meeting

By Walter Ham, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2017 — The Coast Guard hosted an Arctic Domain Awareness Center meeting at its headquarters here, Nov. 28-29.

The meeting brought together researchers from the Department of Homeland Security’s Center of Excellence with leaders from its principal customer, the Coast Guard.

Working with international, interagency and tribal partners, ADAC conducts research to support Coast Guard Arctic search and rescue, humanitarian assistance, disaster response and security missions.

Tracking Arctic Oil Spills, Mapping New Sea Lanes

Among its many projects, the center is studying capabilities to track Arctic oil spills, map new sea lanes, forecast sea ice and improve situational awareness. ADAC is also working to develop a Great Lakes ice classification system that could be applied in the Arctic.

ADAC conducts research at the University of Alaska’s Anchorage and Fairbanks campuses and works with academic and industry partners around the U.S. and Canada.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Michael McAllister, the commander of the organization’s Juneau, Alaska-based 17th District, provided an overview of the challenges the Coast Guard faces in the Arctic. McAllister said these challenges, from the potential for a major oil spill to a mass search and rescue operation, are compounded by increased vessel traffic.

Saving Lives

McAllister said Coast Guard cutters spent 185 days this year operating and executing missions above the Arctic Circle, and the service has saved 16 lives there so far in 2017.

The 17th District commander added that the service is eager to capitalize on ADAC's research projects and transition them into operational capability.

“Traffic drives the need for capabilities to operate in the northern latitudes,” McAllister said.

Keynote speaker Adm. Charles Michel, the vice commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard, thanked the researchers for their efforts to increase situational awareness in the Arctic region and to help the Coast Guard to prepare for increased human activity there.

"We're dealing with very dynamic changes in the Arctic," said Michel, adding that "the first line of effort in our arctic strategy is improving awareness."

Face of Defense: Airman Brings Age, Experience to Montana Base

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Daniel Brosam, 341st Missile Wing

MALMSTROM AIR FORCE BASE, Mont., Dec. 1, 2017 — The Air Force raised the maximum age for enlisted members from 27 to 39 years old in mid-2014, allowing an airman serving in the 341st Logistics Readiness Squadron here to contribute his experience.

Air Force Airman 1st Class Mark Martinez is responsible for maintaining base government vehicles. He ensures the vehicles are clean, in working condition and ready to go. Martinez also drives a wrecker truck to retrieve downed military vehicles.

Martinez joined the Air Force in November 2016 at age 39.

Serving His Country

Martinez said he wanted to answer a call to serve his country and to continue his secondary education. His son was about to graduate high school and they were going to join together.

“He decided he did not want to join the military,” Martinez said. “I wasn’t upset, but I told him, ‘I don’t care what you do, as long as you are the best you can be at whatever you do.’”

Martinez left his three sons and his wife, Theresa, to attend basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. Being expected to perform the same as or better than airman half his age didn’t bother Martinez much, although he wondered how his age might affect him.

“Am I going to be able to keep up?” Martinez said, recalling his thinking during basic training. “The first week of BMT was rough but I pushed myself to give everything I could. I felt like I was in good shape and I was keeping up with the younger airmen.”

Martinez graduated, completed technical training and arrived here March 2017. Two months later, Martinez turned 40.

Staying Positive, Motivated

Since being here, he said he has stayed positive and motivated and tries to mentor the younger airmen he works with to get them more involved and hands-on.

“I try to let the other airmen know that time is the most valuable asset in life,” Martinez said. “That, no matter what you do, you can never get your time back.”

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Clifford Teel, 341st LRS noncommissioned officer in charge of equipment support, said Martinez has never stopped smiling.

“He’ll tell you that he is blessed to have the opportunity to serve this late in his life, and that he considers himself lucky and always arrives ready to accomplish whatever needs to be done,” Teel said of Martinez. “He is progressing through training in order to become a more effective airman and has never used his age as an excuse, only as a tool.

“He uses his age to motivate his fellow airmen and his leaders,” Teel continued. “Martinez is definitely an asset to our Malmstrom team, and we are blessed to have him as part of our family.”

Martinez said he loves being at Malmstrom and is grateful for the opportunities the Air Force provides.
“I’m humbled to be here, to be in good health and to serve in the Air Force,” Martinez said.