Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Caribbean Nations Must Evolve Networks to Face New Challenges, Tidd Says

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2017 — Networks are a fact of life in the world today and they are both the problem and the solution, U.S. Southern Command’s chief said today at the Caribbean Nations Security Conference in Georgetown, Guyana.

Navy Adm. Kurt W. Tidd reiterated a theme he broached in last year’s conference: the idea of networks.

Networks are a fact of life in the 21st century and they drive the world. “They are a defining characteristic of our daily lives,” the admiral said. “We rely on them, we're part of them, and we're threatened by them.”

Transnational Threat Challenges

Whether these are networks of people, nations, communities, computers, satellites, drug lords, terrorists; they must be dealt with in their own ways. “Everywhere we look, we see volatility, uncertainty, and interconnectedness of challenges,” he said.

The days when a threat could be isolated to one area are over. Today, threats originating in one country will travel the world at the speed of electrons. “Regional and global risks are materializing in new and unexpected ways,” Tidd said. “We see both traditional and nontraditional threats coexisting and reinforcing one another. We see state and nonstate actors competing for influence and challenging democratic values. And we see the rising frequency of extreme weather events and their far-reaching impacts on our people and economies.”

These events and networks must be dealt with using other networks.

“Our security cooperation has evolved and grown beyond individual and the bilateral -- beyond even the subregional,” he said. “Our security cooperation is now a system -- a network -- that binds together the nations of the Western Hemisphere.”

Tidd noted that multinational organizations like the Caribbean Community, the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency, the Regional Security System and the Inter-American Development Bank are key to working together in the region. Partners across the Atlantic -- Great Britain, France, the Netherlands and others -- also bring important resources and systems to help.

Information Sharing Network

“This network was born of sustained engagements that emphasize collective action and cooperative solutions,” the admiral said. “It is built upon the foundation of information sharing. It is inclusive and principled, binding together like-minded nations who share common values and a commitment to work together.”

These values bind together the nations of the region and bind together often disparate efforts so they work together, he said.

“The collective investments we have made are not just investments in our shared security and prosperity, they are investments in one another,” Tidd said. “They are investments in the capacities of our civilian, military, and interagency institutions, investments in our interoperability in areas like disaster response and countering threat networks, and investments in improved coordination at the strategic, operational and tactical levels.”

These networks reinforce each other and the payoff is stronger partnerships, deeper trust and increased unity of effort. “Our hemisphere is more secure, and our forces more capable, because of them,” the admiral said. “We know more, share more, and do more, because of close, regular engagement.”

Challenging Hurricane Season

The 2017 hurricane season tested these networks, the admiral said. Years of working together to strengthen collective capabilities and capacities, he said, helped during the unprecedented season of dangerous storms. “When we were tested by Irma and Maria, our forces rose to the challenge as one network, unified in action and united in purpose,” Tidd said. “The regional response effort, led by important organizations like CDEMA, CARICOM and the RSS, was networked collaboration at its finest -- rapidly assessing the situation, connecting needs with capabilities, and sharing information with the broadest group of stakeholders.”

The storms caused major devastation throughout the Caribbean, but the networks worked and they are continuing to work as the region recovers and rebuilds from the atmospheric onslaught. “I am confident that this network will continue to serve us well,” the admiral said.

But what is next?

The nations of the region must work to expand and sustain the network and find new and innovative ways to employ these networks, Tidd said. Leaders must foster “even greater cooperation and inclusive integration, not just within the Caribbean, but trans-regionally,” he added.

“The untapped potential of this network is tremendous. Greater integration and linkages can have all sorts of cross-cutting effects,” Tidd said.

The conference continues through tomorrow.

Fort Stewart Soldiers Stand Together to Prevent Suicide

By Army Pfc. Calab Franklin, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division

FORT STEWART, Ga., Dec. 6, 2017 — Soldiers and civilians assigned here and to Hunter Army Airfield gathered here Dec. 1 to promote awareness and offer resources to help prevent suicide.

Medical professionals from the 3rd Infantry Division’s 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team and embedded behavioral health specialists from Fort Stewart used the backdrop of a car show to engage participants in conversation surrounding suicide. The event included a guest speaker, personal testimonials, musical entertainment, food trucks and more.

The guest speaker was Jason Roncoroni, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and a mental health advocate. Roncoroni also once served as the garrison commander of Hunter Army Airfield. During his 2015 retirement speech he moved the audience by highlighting his struggle in coping with stress. Roncoroni now uses his story to help and inspire those who deal with similar challenges.

Sharing Experiences

“I use my platform to be very honest about my experience, and what I went through with my combat stress, moral injury, and combat trauma,” he said. “Total health is important, and I don’t think you can have that without the mental, spiritual, or emotional components. As the culture is changing, and as we start to embrace this overall approach on health more openly, the condition and wellness of our soldiers and their families is going to improve.”

Army Maj. (Dr.) Selina Jeanise, the 2nd ABCT surgeon, talked about how the behavioral health team wanted to do something different for the soldiers, giving them an opportunity to connect socially in a healthy, yet fun, way.

“The social setting gives the soldier's time to build conversation in a very natural and relaxed environment, while still educating and informing about suicide prevention. This gives us a chance to show the soldiers what resources are available to them both in and outside of the military.” said Army Capt. Brooke Wirtz, 2nd ABCT behavioral health officer.

Showing Support

Many soldiers came to show support for their brothers- and sisters-in-arms who may have a hard time taking the first step towards help.

Army Spc. Ethan Yates, a medic with Charlie Company, 703rd Brigade Support Battalion, performed a rap song about his personal experiences and the importance of reaching out for help. He talks about how a suicide hotline responder saved his life just by talking to him. To show others a way to take the first step towards help, Yates repeats the suicide hotline number (1-800-273-8255) several times in his rap.

“I was so scared of how people I know would think of me if I told them how I felt. Talking to someone who was a complete stranger was easier. As soon I opened up to her I was completely relieved” Yates said.

DoD Urges Congress to Pass FY18 Budget

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2017 — The Pentagon urged Congress to pass the Fiscal Year 2018 Defense Appropriations Bill before the current continuing resolution expires on Friday.

Pentagon spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning said the men and women of the department deserve the certainty such a move would make.

“To be very clear, continuing resolutions are wasteful and inefficient,” Manning told Pentagon reporters today. “Continuing resolutions immediately disrupt training, impede readiness recovery, delay maintenance, impose uncertainty on the workforce and induce inefficient and constrained contracting practices.”

Continuing Resolution

The department is under a continuing resolution now. A continuing resolution is designed to be a short, stopgap measure to allow Congress to finish work on pending appropriations bills. Continuing resolutions provide funding at the level most recently approved -- in this case the funding level for fiscal 2017. During a continuing resolution, the department cannot begin new programs or new construction.

“The longer [continuing resolutions] last, the more damage they do,” Manning said. “A stable and robust defense spending bill received on time is critical to the Department of Defense both now, and in the years to come.”