Thursday, June 07, 2018

NATO Defense Ministers Approve Joint Force Commands, Discuss Burden Sharing

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- NATO defense ministers approved the creation of two new joint force commands and discussed burden sharing during their meeting in Brussels today.

NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg also announced that for the fourth year in a row, alliance defense spending has grown.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis is attending the defense ministers meeting for the United States.

The NATO defense ministers approved creation of a joint force command in Norfolk, Virginia, that will ensure alliance maritime security in the Atlantic. They also approved a joint force command to be based in Ulm, Germany. These changes will grow the NATO command structure by more than 1,200 personnel, Stoltenberg said during a news conference.

‘These Headquarters Will be Essential’

“These headquarters will be essential for Alliance reinforcements across the Atlantic and across Europe,” he said.

The defense ministers also approved a new NATO Readiness Initiative, called the “Four Thirties” -- 30 battalions, 30 squadrons and 30 ships ready for deployment in 30 days.

“This is not about new forces, but about increasing the readiness of the forces our nations already have,” the secretary general said. “This shows our determination to instill a culture of readiness across the alliance.”

The leaders addressed defense burden sharing, which is a particular concern of President Donald J. Trump. “Allies are making real progress on all aspects of burden sharing -- cash, capabilities and contributions,” the secretary general said.

On the budget side, Stoltenberg announced there has been four consecutive years of real increases in defense spending. “All allies have stopped the cuts,” he said. “All allies are increasing defense spending.”

More NATO members are spending 2 percent of their nations’ gross domestic product on defense and the majority of allies now have plans to do so by 2024, Stoltenberg said.

The European allies and Canada have increased spending by 3.8 percent this year. “This means that, since 2014, European allies and Canada will have spent additionally $87 billion dollars on defense,” he said. “When it comes to capabilities, allies have committed to investing 20 percent of their defense spending on major equipment.”

Alliance nations have also increased contributions to NATO missions and operations, the secretary general said.

“But of course, we still have more work to do,” Stoltenberg said. “Burden sharing will be a key theme of our summit next month, and I expect all allies to continue their efforts.”

The defense ministers also discussed cyber defense, he said. Since 2016, allies have enhanced cyber capabilities and look to building a cyber operations center as part of the new alliance command structure.

“Having agreed the principles last year, we have now agreed to a framework for the integration of sovereign cyber effects into alliance operations and missions,” Stoltenberg said. “This supports NATO’s overall deterrence and defense because all crises today have a cyber dimension. And we must be as effective in cyberspace as we are on land, at sea and in the air.”

U.S., Egyptian Navy Vessels Perform Maneuvering Drills

By Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Evan Thompson, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East

U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF OPERATIONS -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Winston S. Churchill and the Egyptian navy’s frigate El Suez participated in a passing exercise here, June 3.

Navy Cmdr. Thomas Van Scoten, commanding officer of Winston S. Churchill, exchanged greetings with the Egyptian frigate’s leadership before the two ships conducted an exchange of liaison officers and performed maneuvering drills.

“The crew aboard the Churchill was thrilled to take part in this exercise with the Egyptian naval force,” Van Scoten said. “Exchanging liaison officers and conducting various tactical events help to strengthen a long-standing relationship between our two navies, while providing an opportunity to increase mutual tactical proficiency and foster interoperability.”

‘This Exercise Was Very Successful’

He added, “This exercise was very successful and opens the door for many more like it in the future. I welcome the idea of continuing to work together with the Egyptians to enrich this history of positive navy-to-navy cooperation.”

Winston S. Churchill is deployed to the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners and preserve the freedom of navigation and the free flow of commerce in the region.

Face of Defense: Army Guard Recruiter Wins Strongman Competition

By Army Capt. Tammy Muckenfuss, 108th Public Affairs Detachment

FORT JACKSON, S.C. -- Army Staff Sgt. Levar Curry, a South Carolina National Guard recruiter in the Columbia area known affectionately as “Big Sarge” competed and won first place overall for men in the Strong Man/Strong Woman Competition, May 17.

Military athletes from around Columbia gathered at the Hilton Field Softball Complex to compete in the strength competition hosted by Fort Jackson’s Morale Welfare and Recreation program.

Forty-seven athletes competed and cheered each other on.

The competition was open to all military ID holders 18 years and older and is held every year on the Thursday prior to Armed Forces Day.

Community Spirit

“We hold this event every year to build esprit de corps and promote healthy rivalries,” said Cindi Keene, Sports and Fitness Coordinator for Fort Jackson’s MWR program. “The soldiers love it and compete hard to earn the bragging rights.”

Participants were weighed May 16 and broken down into four weight class categories: light weight, middle weight, heavy weight and super-heavy weight. They were then separated by gender to compete in four strongman events: the farmers walk, tire flip, stone carry and Humvee pull.

Curry competed in the super-heavy weight class, requiring him to farmers carry 100-pound weights per side, flip a 400-pound tire, and carry a South Carolina shaped stone weighing 200 pounds before pulling a Humvee 100 feet for time.

‘I Fell in Love With Challenging Myself’

“I’ve been competing in powerlifting and strength training events for the past ten years,” Curry said. “I fell in love with challenging myself to get stronger after I flipped my first 1,500-pound car at a strongman training center in New Jersey.
Staff Sgt. Levar Curry, a South Carolina Army National Guard recruiter in the Columbia area, competed and won first place overall for men in the ‘Strong Man/Strong Woman Competition’ May 17, 2018.

“I keep fit by maintaining a healthy lifestyle,” he continued, “that includes lifting heavy weights, working on my endurance and speed and eating natural foods.”

He added, “I also instruct Zumba, and that helps me with my cardiovascular fitness. I love it, and have a great time dancing and interacting with the people in my community.”

Curry is a top recruiter for the South Carolina Army National Guard who sees his job in recruiting as not just a mission to meet, but a personal challenge to help others better their lives through military training and educational opportunities.

He dedicated this win to his wife Kelly.

“She is my reason to be better every day and to always compete as strong as I can in everything,” Curry said.