Saturday, April 28, 2018

Mattis, Israeli Counterpart Discuss Mutual Security Concerns

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met at the Pentagon today with Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman to discuss mutual security issues, including Iranian malign influence and destabilizing effects in the region, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said Mattis and Lieberman reaffirmed their commitment to the U.S.-Israeli defense relationship and qualitative military edge, as well as the “unwavering” U.S. commitment to Israel’s security.

Durable Relationship

Before the meeting, Mattis noted that during his most recent visit to Washington, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reinforced the relationship’s durability, “emphasizing that the U.S. and Israel's tremendous friendship has never been stronger, and our unwavering bond is built now on a foundation of mutual respect, shared democratic values and aligned global interests, coupled, of course, with decades, now, of robust defense cooperation.”

The U.S. and Israeli militaries have never worked more closely together than they do today, Mattis said, noting recent joint exercises and training events such as the joint Juniper Cobra exercise held in Israel last month.

“It keeps the U.S. force and the Israeli defense forces fit for our times,” the secretary said. “These exercises further enhanced our militaries' shared capabilities, their joint lethality and interoperability, while bolstering our ability to respond rapidly in times of need. Our continued military-to-military cooperation is critical to making a stable and secure Middle East a reality, especially in the face of an Iran intent on spreading its malign influence across the region.”

Budget Request Continues on Path to Military Recovery, Chairman Says

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The current budget situation will allow the military to restore its competitive advantage over any possible adversary, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Senate Armed Services Committee today.

Marine Corps Gen. Joe Dunford stressed that the U.S. military has a competitive advantage over any potential adversary right now.

“I’m confident we can deter a nuclear attack, defend the homeland, meet our alliance commitments and prevail in any conflict,” he said. “But as we’ve previously discussed, after years of sustained operational commitments, budgetary instability and advances by our adversaries, our competitive advantage has eroded and our readiness degraded.”

The appropriations in fiscal years 2017 and 2018 and the proposed fiscal 2019 budget support building the lethal and joint force the nation needs, he said.

The chairman detailed the strategic environment the United States military faces. Russia and China are the immediate priority, he said. But the United States must be able to confront rogue regimes such as Iran and North Korea and continue to keep violent extremist groups in check.

China and Russia are America’s near-peer competitors, and those countries continue to invest across the full range of nuclear, cyber, space and conventional capabilities, Dunford told the senators. “Both states are focused on limiting our ability to project power and undermining the credibility of our alliances,” the chairman said. “They are also increasingly adept … at enhancing their interests through coercive competitive activity below the threshold of armed conflict.”

North Korea has been on a relentless pursuit of nuclear capability and the means to launch those weapons. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been clear that these capabilities are intended to threaten the United States and U.S. allies in the region.

Iran continues to spread malign influence and create instabilities across the Middle East. Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said earlier this year that Iran has its hands in every conflict in the region.

The United States and its allies and partners have made tremendous progress against violent extremist groups in the past year, Dunford said, but more must happen to deal with the challenges of violent extremism, including the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, al-Qaida and associated movements.

“Defending our homeland and our allies, and advancing our interests in the context of these and other challenges requires us to maintain a balanced inventory of ready, lethal and flexible forces that are relevant across the range of military operations,” the general said.

Dunford said the U.S. military is on a path toward developing the force that is needed for the future. “This year’s budget again builds on the readiness recovery that we started in fiscal ’17 and accelerates our efforts to develop the capabilities we need both today and tomorrow,” he said. “In requesting your support for this year’s budget, I – along with all the senior leaders in the department – are making a commitment to you to make every dollar count.”

To restore the military’s competitive advantage and make sure service members never find themselves in a fair fight, the U.S. military requires sustained, sufficient and predictable funding, he said.

“The funding in this budget is sufficient,” Dunford said. “I look forward to working with Congress to make sure that it is sustained and predictable in the future.”

Surgeons General Testify on Medical Readiness at Senate Hearing

By Terri Moon Cronk, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The services’ surgeons general updated senators on Capitol Hill today on the needs and priorities of military health programs.

Army Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Nadja Y. West, Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) C. Forrest Faison III and Air Force Lt. Gen. (Dr.) Mark A. Ediger testified on the posture of the services’ medical departments at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee on the president’s fiscal year 2019 funding request for the Defense Department’s health program.

Army medicine is focusing on readiness, modernization and its people to support the priorities of the service’s leaders, West said.

“Readiness permeates everything we do and has two essential components: an Army that is ready and a medical force within our Army that is ready,” she told the senators. “And readiness begins with a fit and healthy Army that serves as the foundation of a strong national defense.”

Army medicine has incorporated lessons learned from military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq to modify or create capabilities to better support warfighters’ needs, she said.

Such lessons, for example, led to the Army’s new expeditionary combat medic program and its expeditionary resuscitation surgery program, which is expected to decrease morbidity and mortality during high-intensity conflict, West said. “It will also increase our ability to provide prolonged battlefield care in the current and future environments we will be operating in,” she added.

Army medicine modernization efforts include partnering with academic institutions and industry to develop innovative solutions and counter measures to protect the force in any environment, she noted.

“The strength of our Army is our people,” West said. “The ability to recruit, develop, employ and retain our soldiers who are agile, adaptable, skilled medical professionals is vital for us to accomplish our mission.”

Readiness and Support

“Our greatest responsibility continues to be the readiness and support of a highly deployed Navy and Marine Corps team,” the Navy surgeon general said.

“Much of the success that we saw in saving lives on the battlefield during our most recent conflicts can be directly attributable to the heroic work of our first responders -- our corpsmen, medics and technicians,” Faison told the panel.

To address emerging challenges, the Navy surgeon general noted, Navy medicine has launched a comprehensive program targeted at preparing corpsmen to meet their lifesaving responsibilities and missions whether aboard a destroyer at sea or embedded with the Marine Corps in conflict.

Navy medicine continues to conduct worldwide research and development in support of its warfighters and their deployment readiness, he said. “These efforts range from trials of new malaria vaccine to assessing the threats of the newly discovered viruses in far-reaching corners of the world, he told the panel. “Our researchers are also directly engaged with the naval aviation community in conducting vital research aimed at understanding and mitigating physiologic episodes affecting air crew in tactical aircraft.”

Surgical Teams and Critical Care

Air Force medicine in 2017 revamped its surgical teams by changing their composition, training and equipment to increase independence and agility in coordination with the other services in the military health system, Ediger said.

“They are known as ground surgical teams consisting of only six airmen proven capable of trauma stabilization and damage control surgery in remote settings,” he explained. “We are building more ground surgical teams to increase our capacity to respond to the combatant commands.”

Critical care during medical air transportation has become transformational for medical support to combat operations, Ediger noted. “We are responding to a significant increase in operational requirements for critical care air medical transport teams by repurchasing end-strength into critical care skill sets.”

And to keep trauma and critical care teams ready, the Air Force implemented in 2017 standards for keeping deployable teams ready, specifying the annual frequency and mix of clinical procedures necessary to sustain readiness, he said.

Air Force medicine also increased its partnerships with premier institutions, which has resulted in highly effective readiness platforms for its trauma and critical care teams, the Air Force surgeon general said.

“We are working to implement a framework in close collaboration with the Army, Navy, Joint Staff and Defense Health Agency that will produce meaningful reform to health care delivery while implementing a new approach to sustaining a ready medical force,” Ediger said.