Friday, June 29, 2018

Mattis, Chinese Central Military Committee Official Meet in Beijing

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with Central Military Commission Vice Chairman Gen. Xu Qiliang of China at the People’s Liberation Army’s Bayi Building in Beijing today, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said.

In a statement summarizing the meeting, White said the leaders discussed a broad range of defense issues and the importance of substantive military-to-military contacts to reduce risk and strategic uncertainty.

“Secretary Mattis acknowledged potential areas of cooperation, including shared interest in the denuclearization of North Korea,” she added.

US and Lebanon Hold Joint Military Commission Meeting

Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs Robert Karem invited Gen. Joseph Aoun, commander of the Lebanese Armed Forces, to Washington, District of Columbia, to co-chair the U.S.-Lebanon Joint Military Commission on June 26-27. 

The two nations reaffirmed the partnership between our militaries and our shared objectives of maintaining regional stability and security, countering terrorism, and building the capabilities of the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF) as the sole defender of Lebanon’s sovereignty.

In his opening remarks, Karem commended the LAF for its recent successes in maintaining security and stability within Lebanon and expanding its control of Lebanon’s borders. 

In August 2017, the LAF launched its largest offensive in almost a decade and expelled the last strongholds of ISIS and al-Qa’ida from Lebanese territory.  The LAF also increased its presence throughout Lebanon, with a focus on increasing control over Lebanon’s border with Syria. In Southern Lebanon, the LAF has increased joint border patrols with the U.N. Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) peacekeeping mission.   

Since 2006, the United States has provided security assistance to the LAF, with a focus on transforming the LAF into an organization that is capable of executing complex military counter-terrorism operations, defending Lebanon’s borders, fulfilling Lebanon’s international obligations under U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1559 and 1701, and becoming the sole guarantor of Lebanon’s security and sovereignty.  To this end, Karem announced a new package of assistance for the LAF to improve its mobility and logistics capabilities, including the procurement of 100 up-armored high mobility multipurpose wheeled vehicles (HMMWV), logistics trucks, and associated communications equipment, ammunition, spare parts and training.

Karem’s delegation included U.S. Ambassador to Lebanon Elizabeth Richard and senior defense officials from U.S. Embassy Beirut, along with representatives from the Joint Staff, U.S. Central Command, the Defense Security Cooperation Agency and the Department of State.

Face of Defense: Dual-Military Couple Faces Challenges Head-On

By Air Force Master Sgt. Luke Johnson, Air Force Reserve

PHOENIX -- Two Air Force reservists credit the success of their relationship to positive attitudes and continual communications, even as they have endured several geographic separations.

Air Force Tech Sgt. Dawn Gettys met Tech Sgt. Cazavia Henley during a deployment in 2009. Gettys was based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, and Henley was based at what was then Pope Air Force Base, North Carolina.

“It was a long-distance [relationship] for a good two to three years, which was hard because when she deployed [again, to Afghanistan in 2012], I was not there when she left or got home,” Gettys said.

The couple is now serving together at the 445th Security Forces Squadron at Wright-Patterson. Both airmen are preparing for nearly simultaneous deployments to separate locations. The women primed for their separation by attending training here hosted by the Air Force Reserve Yellow Ribbon Reintegration Program, which promotes the well-being of reservists and their loved ones by connecting them with resources before and after deployments.

‘I Depended On Her’

“I’ve never seen [her] leave and me having to take care of the home, so I don’t know what that is like,” Henley said. “Sometimes, I’m upset because I don’t know what that is like because she had to take care of everything while I was gone; she … sent me care packages and I depended on her so much.”

Henley said spouses of service members often single-handedly take care of the day-to-day business at home during a deployment, developing their own routines apart from how their deployed spouse might do things.

“When we are deployed, we don’t have amenities, but our spouse [is] taking care of home, and sometimes their amenities are gone as well because they don’t have any free time because they are taking care of bills, kids, pets,” Henley said.

The reservists agree that, as a dual-military couple within the same professions, they understand each other’s service and what they both have to deal with while deployed.

“So that makes it easier for us as we know what each other’s job is while deployed, and what we go through during a deployment,” Gettys said.

The Yellow Ribbon event provided the couple with a wealth of resources and also a sense of community with other reserve airmen and their loved ones, they said.

“I know so much about the deployed side. [Now] I’m learning about the key spouse part,” Henley said. “Right now, I’m not looking at this [training] as a deployed member. I’m looking at it as if [only] she is deploying.”

A Sense of Family

While apart, they plan to communicate with one another and address any challenges with open conversations and mutual support.

“We are very old school,” said Henley. “During every deployment, we have written letters and postcards to each other every day.”

Gettys and Henley both said they are grateful of all the support that they have received from their unit and fellow reservists.

“You are not alone,” said Henley. “When you marry a service member you, just gained a whole other family. You never leave an airmen behind, no matter what.”

Celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2018, Yellow Ribbon began following a congressional mandate for the Defense Department to help members of the reserve and National Guard forces to build resiliency as they transition between their military and civilian roles. Each year, the Air Force Reserve’s Yellow Ribbon program trains 7,000 reservists and those closest to them in education benefits, health care, retirement information and more.