Tuesday, March 06, 2018

Utah Guard Artillery Soldiers Train in Kuwait

By Army Spc. Joshua P. Morris U.S. Army Central

CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait, March 6, 2018 — The Utah National Guard’s Delta Battery, 1st Battalion, 145th Field Artillery Regiment cannoneers had an opportunity tackle other tasks Feb. 28 during a complex training exercise.

After eight weeks of training in the field, Delta Battery executed Operation Diamond Strike, an exercise testing their combat skills in urban terrain. The exercise’s training scenario involved infiltrating a village to locate an informant who would provide the whereabouts of some high-value targets.

Army Spc. Matthew Miyasaki, who’s assigned to Delta Battery, 1-145th FA, is among a group of artillery soldiers who went through the training.

“We’re usually field artillerymen, so we’re used to being the guys supporting the guys doing this,” he said. “So actually getting in their boots and doing what they do gives us a better picture on both ends of the battlefield.”

After securing a landing zone for two UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, the soldiers were picked up and inserted near the village that they needed to infiltrate. Immediately, the squads got to work on their objective.

Putting Training to Work

Three squad leaders directed their teams in accordance to their element’s respective role of assault, support or security. As they hurried toward the village, the soldiers prepared to fall back on every skill they learned during the previous weeks of training. Not all of the training was combat-oriented.

“The ‘hearts-and-minds’ aspect helps us out, because it limits the amount of hostiles that we would engage with and the amount of negative reception that we would have on the United States Army moving into an operation,” Miyasaki said. “So giving a good American presence within whatever our area of operation would give us a smoother and more precise way of pinpointing where we could target the enemy.”

Keeping this training in mind, the artillerymen proceeded with caution upon entering the village. After making contact, however, the squads received enemy fire. Within moments, everything learned during the prior weeks was called into action.

Smoke grenades were employed, suppressive fire was deployed, masks were donned, and the mock informant was detained. Soon, the high-value targets were captured and the operation was completed.

Valuable Lessons

Army Capt. Kyle Rawlinson, 1-145th FA’s executive officer, was there to watch his troops maneuver through the urban terrain.

“This is everything that we’d be doing in our combat role,” he said. “The main thing that we are trying to get is sustainment training on their [crew-served machine guns and other] weapons.”

Training like this is effective for the soldiers to have internally, Rawlinson said, and it will also help with joint operations.
“The training value of an event like this is a combined arms [situation] when we are working with other units,” he said. “What I hope 3rd platoon learned out of this training event is [urban terrain] tactics and also small-unit tactics -- moving as a unit, working at both squads and platoon levels.”

Aircraft Carrier USS Carl Vinson Makes Vietnam Port Call

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, March 5, 2018 — The USS Carl Vinson arrived in Danang, Vietnam, today, becoming the first aircraft carrier to dock in the country since the Vietnam War ended in 1975.

The guided missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer are also making the port call.

The Vietnamese port was also the site of the first arrival of U.S. combat troops, when Marines landed there in 1965.

Positive U.S.-Vietnam Relationship

The three American ships with about 6,500 sailors and Marines aboard are conducting a port visit that demonstrates how far U.S.-Vietnamese relations have progressed. Vietnamese leaders agreed to the four-day port call during President Donald J. Trump’s visit to the country last year.

“This visit marks a significant milestone in our bilateral relations and demonstrates the U.S. support for a strong, prosperous and independent Vietnam,” Defense Department spokesman Army Col. Robert Manning III told Pentagon reporters this morning. “The visit also builds on the positive momentum of the comprehensive partnership between the U.S. and Vietnam, and will not only serve to strengthen the bilateral defense relationship, but will also help enhance cultural and professional ties.”

The sailors and Marines will participate in cultural exchanges with their Vietnamese counterparts, and some personnel will visit a center for victims of Agent Orange -- a defoliant that American planes sprayed on the jungle to remove cover.

“Our nations’ relationship has reached new heights in the past few years, and USS Carl Vinson’s port visit to Vietnam is a reflection of that,” said Navy Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet. “I am confident that engagements like this will further expand the comprehensive partnership between the United States and Vietnam.”

Commitment to Regional Prosperity, Security

The port call and U.S. operations in the South China Sea are routine, Manning said. “They demonstrate our commitment to regional prosperity and stability,” he said.

The United States and Vietnam normalized relations in 1995. The first port visit to Vietnam following the war was by the cruiser USS Vandergrift in November 2003, which docked at Ho Chi Minh City on the Saigon River. In June 2012, then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta visited the USNS Richard C. Byrd in Cam Ranh Bay -- the logistics hub of U.S. forces during the Vietnam War.

In October 2016, two U.S. ships -- the submarine tender USS Frank Cable and destroyer USS John S. McCain -- also visited Cam Ranh Bay.

The South China Sea is off the coast of Vietnam, and that body of water sees $5 trillion in cargo pass through each year. A number of nations have competing territorial claims in the South China Sea region. Vietnam, China, Indonesia, the Philippines, Brunei, Thailand and Singapore have disputes in the area.

China has been aggressive in asserting claims in the South China Sea area, and has built islands on reefs and militarized those facilities.

The United States takes no sides in the disputes, but insists that freedom of navigation for all is maintained.

Face of Defense: Soldier Helps Others Maintain Well-Being, Readiness

By Army Staff Sgt. David Overson Joint Multinational Readiness Center Hohenfels

HOHENFELS, Germany, March 6, 2018 — Army Sgt. Isabel Giron is the consummate, professional, modern-day soldier, doing what she does best -- helping other soldiers.

A human resources specialist at the Joint Multinational Readiness Center here, Giron is responsible for providing support that affects soldiers’ overall welfare and well-being while assisting leaders with keeping soldiers combat-ready and effective.

Giron enlisted in the Army in 2013 from her hometown of Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, shortly after graduating from high school.

“I wanted to be part of something bigger,” she said. “In high school I had a best friend who had enlisted in the Army, and he always told me how great it was. So when I had the opportunity, I took it. And I’m so glad I did.”

Giron is no different than many young soldiers in a sense. At the age of 19, she experienced a combat zone firsthand during a deployment to Afghanistan in 2014 while assigned to the now inactivated 159th Combat Aviation Brigade.

“Deploying to Afghanistan was quite the experience,” she said. “It was a great learning experience. I definitely got to learn more about my job and I learned a lot about my fellow soldiers.”

Small World

Now enjoying her time in the heart of the Bavarian countryside, 23-year-old Giron appreciates everything the Army has to offer.

“The best thing I like about the Army is traveling,” she said. “The Army will take you anywhere. Wherever you go, you will always find someone who you used to work with. Though large, the Army is a small world.”

After five years of Army service, Giron has earned the respect and admiration of her coworkers.

“Sgt. Giron is a rock-star soldier and a fantastic noncommissioned officer,” said Army Staff Sgt. Keith Thomas, a human resources specialist who works with Giron. “She's the go-to [noncommissioned officer] for many of the soldiers throughout [the Joint Multinational Readiness Center] and 1st Battalion, 4th Infantry Regiment.”

As it is for many soldiers, life can be challenging and difficult at times, but Giron said she always reminds herself why she continues serving -- her family.

“My family has always been my motivation, and will continue to be,” she said. “I do this for them. When I feel like giving up, or I am having a hard day, I always think to myself, ‘You are making them proud; they are looking up to you.’”

Whether Giron makes a career of the Army remains to be seen. Nevertheless, her work exemplifies everything the Army stands for and her exceptional performance is recognized by all.

“Sgt. Giron truly exhibits and lives the NCO Creed,” Thomas said. “When I hear, ‘No one is more professional than I ... ,’ Sgt. Giron is who comes to mind. It's been a personal pleasure to have served with her.”

When not in uniform, you may see Giron hiking, drawing or longboarding. And though she is the first person in her family to serve in the military, one thing is certain -- she’s as Army as they come.
“The Army is a great organization,” she said. “You get to serve your country and meet a lot of great people, and see a lot of new places.”