Sunday, February 11, 2018

Mattis to Reaffirm Partnerships, Alliances During Trip to Europe

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2018 — Defense Secretary James N. Mattis departs tomorrow for a trip to reaffirm key partnerships and alliances in Europe.

Mattis will begin his trip Feb. 12-13 in Rome, conducting bilateral meetings with senior officials, including Italian Defense Minister Roberta Pinotti, Pentagon officials said in a statement announcing the trip.

Feb. 14-15, Mattis will be in Brussels to attend 2018’s first conference of NATO defense ministers. He will engage with allies to discuss how to strengthen the alliance and forge new partnerships, ensure that the alliance is fit for its time, and to how to deter or defeat threats NATO faces, officials said.

He then will travel to Stuttgart, Germany, to visit with the leadership and troops of U.S. European Command and U.S. Africa Command during a visit to their respective headquarters Feb. 15-16.
Mattis will conclude his trip Feb. 16-17 in Munich to participate in the 54th Munich Security Conference, where he will discuss current crises and future challenges in European security policy, officials said.

Military Sealift Command Delivers Cobra Gold Essentials

By Grady Fontana, Military Sealift Command Far East

LAEM CHABANG, Thailand, Feb. 10, 2018 — Military Sealift Command’s maritime pre-positioning ship USNS Pililaau arrived at the port here Feb. 5 and offloaded equipment marked for various locations in Thailand to support Exercise Cobra Gold 2018.

Cobra Gold 2018 is a Thailand and United States co-sponsored exercise conducted annually in Thailand.

The Pililaau, a large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off platform, was the first of three ships to arrive and offload equipment for this year’s Cobra Gold. The other vessels were operated under a U.S. Army Pacific contract to deliver additional equipment.

“We originated from Saipan, traveled to [the Japanese island of] Okinawa and picked up the offload preparation party Marines, then traveled to Thailand for the discharge of equipment,” said civilian mariner Capt. Thomas P. Madden, master of the USNS Pililaau. Over the course of about three days, the Marines and the ship’s crew discharged about 265 pieces of gear from the Pililaau.

Pre-Positioning Ships

The USNS Pililaau is part of Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 3, a fleet of government-owned ships operated by Military Sealift Command and based in the Guam-Saipan area of the western Pacific Ocean.

In addition, a second fleet, Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 2, based out of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, delivers a strategic power-projection capability for the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force. Maritime pre-positioning ships deliver a forward presence and rapid crisis response capability by delivering equipment and supplies to various locations at sea.

“Put together a few of these ships, and you can sustain [15,000 to 18,000] Marines for 30 days -- everything from fuel, food, water, the whole nine yards,” Madden said. “With this program, your footprint is a lot less.”

Unconventional Logistics Operations

Aside from the common pierside offloads, the Pililaau can also function during unconventional logistics operations such as in a seabasing scenario, when cargo is discharged from ship to shore while at sea. In a seabasing operation, cargo is transferred offshore through an in-stream offload. Offloaded equipment and supplies are then connected with the Marines and sailors staged at nearby land bases.

“It’s terrific if you can come into a port to offload cargo, but if those ports are contested or not available, these ships have the capability to anchor off and discharge cargo,” Madden said. “By marrying up with an [expeditionary transfer dock and air-cushioned landing craft], we’re able to do a little bit more over-the-horizon logistics and discharge cargo at sea.”

Meeting Combatant Commanders’ Needs

The Maritime Prepositioning Force is scalable to meet the needs of the geographical combatant commanders, or can support exercises such as Cobra Gold with one large, medium-speed, roll-on/roll-off platform.

“If we were to discharge the entire ship, we could fill eight football fields,” Madden said. “With enough drivers, this vessel can offload all the [roll-on/roll-off] cargo in less than 24 hours.”

However, only select items were required for Cobra Gold 2018. Some of it lay deep in the cargo decks of the Pililaau.

“This involved an offload and backload of a number of [additional] vehicles in order to get to the specific items that the Marines needed,” said Navy Lt. j.g. Will Contarino, Maritime Prepositioning Ships Squadron 3 supply officer. As a result, he added, the offload took the offload preparation party three days to complete.

Contarino is serving as his squadron’s liaison officer during Cobra Gold, representing Military Sealift Command as the link between the ship’s crew and the Marines.

After the discharge operation, the Pililaau moved to a site off the coast of Thailand and will remain there until Cobra Gold 2018 ends. The ship will then return to port and reload the equipment before embarking on in next assignment.

Exercise Cobra Gold, in its 37th iteration, is designed to advance regional security and ensure effective responses to regional crises by bringing together a robust multinational force to address shared goals and security commitments in the Indo-Pacific region.
Military Sealift Command operates some 115 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically pre-position combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

Soldier Takes Aim Toward DoD Warrior Games and Beyond

By MaryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 10, 2018 — Have you ever wanted something so badly that you would do just about anything to obtain it? Army Staff Sgt. Ross Alewine, assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Belvoir, Virginia, has endured multiple surgeries following injuries he suffered over multiple deployments. As a result, the 29-year-old Infantryman soon will be medically retired and leave his beloved Army for civilian life.

With retirement imminent, Alewine said, he is working to win the title “Ultimate Champion” in June at the 2018 Department of Defense Warrior Games hosted by the U.S. Air Force Academy.

Alewine is training six days a week for four hours a day, hoping to earn a spot on Team Army for the 2018 DoD Warrior Games at the Army trials in March at Fort Bliss, Texas. To get there, he said, he has one stop to make and another pretty big personal goal.

“I want to make Team Army and compete at the DoD Warrior Games for several reasons,” he said. “The two that stand out and mean the most are that I can show other soldiers who have injuries they can still be a competitor, and most importantly is to lead by example and challenge myself. One day I want to be able to look back on this and teach my kids a valuable life lesson -- sometimes life gets hard and knocks you down, but you always have to get up and give it your all, no matter what.”

To be named Ultimate Champion, Alewine must compete and perform well in all of the Warrior Games events: track, field, air rifle and pistol, archery, sitting volleyball, wheelchair basketball and swimming.

Pushing Himself to the Limit

“Becoming an Ultimate Champion is to push myself to the limit and see what I have left in the tank,” Alewine said. “It is not easy by any means. All the mental and physical work it takes to transition from one event to another is very challenging, but a challenge I take with a smile on my face. I truly just love competing and cheering my fellow brothers and sisters on.”

That is the kind of support Alewine has found at the Fort Belvoir Warrior Transition Battalion. He likes to stress that the battalion is not focused on developing athletes, but is focused on doing what’s best for each individual’s recovery.

“The WTB has a very balanced approach to everything,” Alewine said. “They want you to be as active as possible within the limits of your physical condition, and they teach you how to do so. For me, I tried to return to duty when I first got here and they supported me 100 percent. But now, since I’m transitioning to veteran status, they help me focus on my life after the Army.”

New Ways to Learn

Alewine said he plans to start classes in the fall at Greenville Tech in Greenville, South Carolina. Even with a traumatic brain injury, he added, he believes he has the tools to press on.

“I have worked with my TBI clinic to figure out new ways to learn,” he said. “With my TBI, educational learning can be a challenge, but I am confident that I will have at least a 3.5 GPA and graduate with a bachelor’s degree in business within three years.”
As Alewine continues to train for Army trials and a chance to compete at the Warrior Games, he is preparing himself for his future after the Army and beyond the Games.