Tuesday, December 05, 2017

Mattis, Malaysian Counterpart Confer on Regional Security Issues

WASHINGTON, Dec. 5, 2017 — A discussion of regional security issues highlighted a phone call yesterday between Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said today.

In a statement summarizing the call, White said Mattis thanked his counterpart for Malaysia's support to the international community's efforts to pressure North Korea "to abandon its dangerous and illegal nuclear and missile programs," White said.

Preventing ISIS Foothold

"The secretary and the minister also discussed regional counterterrorism cooperation," she said.

White said the two leaders reaffirmed their shared appreciation of the situation and their desire to prevent the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria from gaining a foothold in Southeast Asia.‎
The two defense leaders also exchanged views on enhancing U.S.-Malaysia bilateral defense cooperation, White said.

No Day at the Beach: U.S. Troops Learn Desert Commando Skills

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Timothy Moore Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa

ARTA, Djibouti, Dec. 5, 2017 — U.S. service members assigned to Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa geared up with their French counterparts recently for the French Desert Commando Course at the Djibouti Range Complex here.

The 12-day course began Nov. 26 and exposes service members to the fundamentals of desert combat, survival and troop movements while also bridging language and cultural barriers between the French and American troops.

“What we’re hoping to do is not just practice our tactics, but also practice integrating with a foreign unit … and hopefully learn from them,” said Army 1st Lt. Joshua York, a platoon leader with the Texas Army National Guard’s 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bayonet.

Every service member who successfully completes the required tasks will receive a desert commando badge at the end of the course.

Tough Standards

To select participants for the course, the battalion conducted a two-day assessment that consisted of a 5-mile ruck march, a 5-mile uniform run, pullups, rope and wall climbs and a swim test.

Out of the 60 service members who participated, the top 30 were sent on to a two-day assessment conducted by the French. It included an 8-kilometer (5-mile) run and another swim test through obstacles. Those that successfully completed the French assessment were able to participate in the desert commando course.

“It’s exciting because I get to work with other militaries,” said Army Spc. Zachary Frazier, with the 3rd Battalion, 144th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bayonet. “I get to see other parts of Djibouti, and [I get to] see what I’m made of here.”

In addition to testing their mettle and leaving with one of the coveted French Desert Commando badges, many of the U.S. service members hope to leave with more.

“I’ve been a [platoon leader] before, but that was a few years ago and it was never with the French,” York said. “So, [I’m hoping to learn] new tactics and have a good learning experience.”

Invaluable Experience

Because some of the troops never get to work outside of the boundaries of Camp Lemonnier, York believes this training could be invaluable to them, as they not only get to learn from people who work in the environment more regularly, but also because they get to experience more of Djibouti.

“It’s a great opportunity to learn new tactics with our fellow French servicemen and work interchangeably with them, and learn desert survival,” Frazier said. “Things we probably wouldn’t get stateside.”

Though pushing themselves and becoming better is everyone’s primary goal, York said he hopes they’ll also enjoy the experience.

“We are ready to have some fun and learn” he said. “They have some exciting obstacle courses here -- some in the water, some on the side of a mountain -- plus some fun-filled tactics. So right now, we’re highly motivated.”

U.S., Brazilian Doctors Partner to Bring Medical Care to Amazon

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Brame Navy News Service

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 5, 2017 — Five Navy doctors recently boarded the Brazilian navy hospital ship NAsH Soares de Meirelles and began a monthlong humanitarian mission that will take them deep into the Amazon. These doctors will be working closely with the Brazilian navy to deliver healthcare to some of the isolated peoples in the world.

Navy Capt. William Scouten, the mission's medical planner, said he hopes that this will be the first of many similar endeavors.

"The purpose of this mission is to establish a long-range collaborative effort that will span over the many years to come," he said. "The overall intent of this mission is to perpetuate a regular collaborative experience. This mission is a 'capstone,' where medical practitioners can experience what they have learned in the classroom."

The U.S. team includes specialists in internal medicine, general medicine, infectious disease and dermatology.

In addition to providing care to people in remote jungle villages, these doctors will work together to create a curriculum for delivering health care to resource-limited areas along the river.

"I am excited to swap cases at the end of each day and continuously learn about the environment that we will be in," Scouten said. "Also, learning new perspectives is always something that I look forward to, because sometimes, the way we do things ... doesn't always translate well depending on the environment we are in."

Long-Term Collaboration

The curriculum will be a "living" document. On future missions, Brazilian, U.S. armed forces and civilian clinical specialists will continue to collaborate on the program, altering it over time to address changes in disease prevalence, technology and educational priorities.

Scouten said he hopes that this mission will grow to include other countries and regional partners in the future. Increased readiness and strengthened relationships, however, are not the only benefit he expects from missions like this one.

"The long-range goal here is to provide the indigenous population with a broader array of healthcare that they might not have received otherwise," he said. "Hopefully, with all the data that we have been able to collect and will collect, we could be able to identify specific pathologies, perhaps eradicating, or at least mitigating some of them."