Sunday, June 24, 2018

Secretary General: History, Interests Argue for Solidarity Among North Atlantic Alliance

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- There have been disagreements throughout the history of the North Atlantic Alliance, but the member states have always been able to work together for collective defense, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in London today.

The secretary general previewed the NATO summit in Brussels next month during an address at the Lancaster House. He stressed the necessity of the trans-Atlantic alliance and urged the nations to stand together.

The United States has disagreements with NATO allies on economic aspects such as the Iran deal and climate change. There are disagreements within Europe, too, Stoltenberg said. European allies disagree other over the future of the European Union, what makes up European values, and the growth of populism.

Overcoming Divisions

But NATO must overcome the divisions, the secretary general said, adding that he believes the nations will deal with them as they have throughout to 70 years of peace alliance enabled in Europe.

“Our bond is strong, but today, some are doubting the strength of that bond,” Stoltenberg said. “It is not written in stone that the trans-Atlantic bond will survive forever, but I believe we will preserve it.”

The alliance is not a monolithic entity like the Warsaw Pact once was. It was and is made up of democracies that have had legitimate differences throughout the history of the alliance. “We have overcome disagreements before -- differences of opinion is nothing new,” the secretary general said. “Some of them have been substantial.” Stoltenberg listed the Suez Crisis of 1956, the French withdrawal from NATO’s command structure in 1966 and the Iraq War in 2003.

“We are 29 democracies with different history, geography and culture,” he said. “So of course, sometimes there are disagreements.”

But that has not stopped the most successful alliance in history, he said. “Again and again, we unite around our common goal. We stand together. We protect each other,” he added.

But beyond the disagreements, one aspect stands alone: it is in each country’s strategic interest to maintain the trans-Atlantic alliance, the secretary general said, noting that history is a harsh teacher.

“Two world wars and a Cold War have taught us that Europe and North America are stronger, safer and more prosperous together,” Stoltenberg said. “That is why young American and Canadian soldiers fought on the Western Front in the First World War, and why their sons fought their way across the beaches of Normandy almost 30 years later.”

The United States fought in World War I and then washed its hands of the continent, he pointed out. “That was not a success,” Stoltenberg said. “After World War II, they stayed – in NATO -- and that was a success.”

Stronger and Safer

All Western nations are stronger and safer under the alliance, he said. “It is why hundreds of thousands of European and Canadian troops have served shoulder to shoulder with American troops in Afghanistan, to defeat international terrorism, and with more than a thousand paying the ultimate price,” said he added. “It is – and has always been – in our fundamental interest to stand together. That is as true now as it has been ever before.”

The security environment is more complicated now than it has been in a generation, the secretary general said. International terrorism, missile and nuclear proliferation, cyberattacks and a resurgent Russia, which uses intimidation and force against its neighbors, are just some of the challenges of this new security environment. “It is in our common interest to face them together,” he said.

And alliance nations are facing these common challenges. “There are many different ties that bind Europe and North America together,” he said. “We may have seen the weakening of some of them lately, but our ties on defense have grown stronger. After the Cold War, the U.S. and Canada gradually reduced their military presence in Europe, and European allies cut defense spending.”

But that has changed. U.S. armored forces are back in Europe. The number of American service members on the continent has risen. Since coming to office, the Trump administration has increased funding for the U.S. presence in Europe by 40 percent. Canada has also increased its commitment to the defense of Europe.

“At the same time, Europeans are stepping up too, spending billions more on defense and taking greater responsibility for Euro-Atlantic security alongside their North American allies,” Stoltenberg said. “All allies have stopped the cuts to defense. All allies are increasing their defense spending in real terms.”

European allies and Canada have added an extra $87 billion since 2014, and more are investing 2 percent of gross domestic product – the NATO goal -- on defense. “This has underpinned the biggest increase in our collective defense since the Cold War,” the secretary general said.

And there are concrete capabilities to show for the money, including the deployment of multinational battlegroups to the Baltic countries and Poland. The alliance also has tripled the size of the NATO Response Force and established a task force ready to move in 48 hours, and NATO has joined the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.

New Capabilities

The alliance will do more, Stoltenberg said, and he expects leaders to approve new capabilities during the Brussels summit. “They will agree to increase the readiness of our forces with 30 mechanized battalions, 30 air squadrons and 30 combat ships ready to use within 30 days or less,” he said. “They will decide on a new NATO command structure with two new commands.”

NATO leaders will make decisions of integrating national cyber capabilities into the alliance’s operations, and will agree a new training mission in Iraq, he said.

Finally, he said, alliance leaders will extend funding for the Afghan forces and deepen cooperation with the European Union.

“All of this shows our determination to provide for our common defense, ready to respond to any attack from any direction,” he said. “We face a difficult security environment, but when NATO is challenged, when others would divide us, weaken us undermine us; we must stay united and rise to the challenge with strength, solidarity and resolve, just as we always have.”

Defense Health Agency Director: Progress in Preventing Opioid Abuse, More Needs to Be Done

By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The Military Health System is making progress in preventing and managing opioid abuse among its beneficiaries, but further actions in education and prevention are needed, the director of the Defense Health Agency said yesterday.

Navy Vice Adm. Raquel C. Bono told the House Armed Services military personnel subcommittee that the Military Health System has an obligation to provide the best care for its beneficiaries, including in pain management, while taking steps to prevent addiction.

"The department has made strides in managing opioid abuse within our system and is continuously looking to further enhance our programs,” she told the committee members.
Staff Sergeant Matthew Pick, 66th Security Forces Squadron, holds a nasal applicator and naloxone medication vial.

Less than one percent of active duty service members either abuse or are addicted to opioids, she said, adding, the overdose death rate among active duty service members is 2.7 out of 100,000, half of the national rate when adjusted for demographics.

Steps to Educate, Prevent, Manage

In the Military Health System, 83 percent of long-term opioid patients are older than 45 years old, most likely to be retirees or retiree family members, and obtain most of their care from outside of military hospitals and clinics, Bono said.

She outlined steps the department is taking to prevent opioid abuse, to include: instituting comprehensive provider education that leads to a reduction in opioid prescribing; expanding partnerships with federal, state, private sector and contracted partners; developing alternatives to opioids for both direct and purchased care settings; and further expanding a prescription drug monitoring program to include state monitoring programs.

Commitment to Patients, Nation

The Military Health System’s mission is to ensure the medical readiness of the nation’s armed forces and provide world-class healthcare for its 9.4 million beneficiaries, Bono told the committee.

As part of the larger U.S. health system, the Military Health System has a shared responsibility in addressing the nation’s opioid epidemic, she said.

"This crisis is touching the lives of so many of our fellow citizens and the department is committed to playing its part to help combat the epidemic and ensure our patients receive the finest care we can provide,” Bono said.

She explained DoD’s approach to the opioid crisis has a dual focus: to implement a comprehensive model of pain management that focuses on nonpharmacologic pain treatments; and to optimize safe usage for patients when opioid use is necessary.

The department, according to Bono, is “making headway, but there is more to be done in educating our patients and providers on threats from opioid addiction and strategies to reduce abuse.”

Aiming High at More Than 200 Miles Per Hour

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Greg Erwin, 18th Wing

INDIANAPOLIS --On the surface, it may be hard to see how the Air Force and auto racing are similar. Upon closer inspection, however, the themes of teamwork, perseverance and excellence ring true in both worlds.

For race car driver Conor Daly, support from his team – and support from the Air Force – may have helped fuel the most gratifying race of his young career.

The crown jewel of North American auto racing is the Memorial Day weekend Indianapolis 500, and this year’s running was the 102nd event. Daly’s effort in the Indy 500 was fielded by Thom Burns Racing, in the No. 17 car, and sponsorship from the U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service. With the partnership, the car’s livery – or paint scheme – was made up to look like an F-16, mirroring the Air Force Thunderbirds aerial demonstration team.

Before hitting the track, one of the perks of the sponsorship for Daly was getting a chance to visit Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, to fly with the Thunderbirds. Throughout the visit, Daly was able to get a better look at what makes the United States Air Force the world’s greatest.

“The big theme I got from my ride with the Thunderbirds was teamwork,” he said. “That’s one thing we also have here in racing. It’s one of those things where everyone has to do their job, everyone has to execute, and when that happens, good results will come.”

All in the Family

Good results seem to be in his genes -- to say racing is in the family would be an understatement. Daly is the son of former Formula 1 driver and current TV analyst Derek Daly. His mother, Beth Boles, is married to the president of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, J. Douglas Boles.

Being the son of a driver who raced in the premier auto racing series comes with a high set of expectations, but a lack of funding can derail fulfilling those dreams. As with many other sports professionals, this has been Daly’s struggle toward consistently maintaining a ride.

Fortunately, one race Daly has frequently qualified for is the Indianapolis 500. This year’s attempt was the most difficult yet, but sponsorship from the Air Force enabled the team to qualify for the race. Daly’s car owner, Thom Burns, an Indianapolis-based contractor and military veteran, has been trying for years to put together a program to work with the Air Force in the Indy 500.

“We’ve tried to get the Air Force deal for a couple of years, but they had been focused on NASCAR and other sports,” Burns said.

This year, the pieces fell into place for Burns to land the sponsorship. Once in place, the process to acquire bodywork, a chassis and an engine were expedited, thanks to a partnership with full-time team Dale Coyne Racing. With the partnership of Coyne, and sponsorship from the Air Force, the only missing piece was a driver -- insert Conor Daly.

“I’ve had multiple people message me since we announced the deal,” Burns said. “Every single one has said that Conor is the best driver I’ve ever had. … That means a lot.”

Being a one-off effort – or not a full-time team – the team was stretched thin on funding and resources, making the attempt much more difficult at times during the Indianapolis “Month of May” racing. Much like the Air Force however, in times of stress, the team found a way to complete the mission.

The Bump Line

On qualification day, also known as “bump day,” 35 entries were vying for the 33 starting positions. After making multiple changes to the car, a stoppage for rain, and some late qualification session drama, the No. 17 team found themselves on the right side of the bump line when the gun was fired signifying the end of the session.

The dream of being in the top 33 had been met; the team would be competing in the 102nd Indy 500. The elation from the members of the team, Daly’s family and Daly himself showed just how important making this race was to each of them – especially when they were representing the Air Force.

After another week of preparations, the day of the race came and went. Daly was able to keep the car clean and played the best strategy possible for the one-off effort, coming home in 21st place of the 33-car field. Daly and his team were able to enjoy the accomplishment of making the world’s biggest race – while representing the world’s greatest Air Force.

“It’s an honor to represent the U.S. Air Force. It’s an incredible group of people,” Daly said. “I’m a very passionate American, I try to be the most American guy I can be, and to be able to have this red, white and blue car that looks like a Thunderbird and on Memorial Day weekend – it’s a perfect partnership and we’d love to do more in the future with the Air Force.”