Military News

Wednesday, August 01, 2018

Ceremony Marks Opening of Garuda Shield 2018


By Army Capt. Marshall Howell, 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team

PUSLATPUR, Indonesia -- With well-rehearsed precision, Indiana Army National Guardsmen from the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team held a joint ceremony here July 30 with their Indonesian army counterparts to mark the opening of the twelfth iteration of Exercise Garuda Shield, a bilateral exercise sponsored by U.S. Army Pacific.

Garuda Shield 18 is the third exercise in USARPAC’s second iteration of Pacific Pathways, a series of multinational engagements with ally and partner militaries in the Indo-Pacific region. This year also marks the first time an Army National Guard unit is participating in the series as the lead training element that will conduct a joint staff exercise with the Indonesian army.

“The opening ceremony really highlighted the importance of the bilateral training experiences that we are having as the U.S. Army with many of our coalition, NATO and allied partners around the world,” said Army Col. Robert D. Burke, commander of the 76th IBCT. “The camaraderie, the esprit de corps and just the vibrancy that we had in the opening ceremony really highlighted how great these next two weeks will be as we work through this staff exercise together.”

Exercises such as Garuda Shield contribute to peacekeeping capability in the Indo-Pacific region, which in turn fosters interoperability and competency with partner nations that strengthen the Army’s capabilities to respond to a crisis situation.

State Partnership Program

Indonesian army Maj. Gen. Marga Taufiq, the commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, also welcomed the Hawaii National Guard Adjutant General, Army Maj. Gen. Arthur J. Logan, as his co-host of the opening ceremony while emphasizing the shared respect between the partner armies.

“The Hawaii National Guard has had a state partnership with Indonesia since 2007 when we began with subject matter exchanges and exercises such as Garuda Shield, as well as senior leader visits,” Logan said. “Participating in these numerous bilateral exercises allows the United States to focus on building capacity and relationships, thereby enhancing the sovereignty of Indonesia and security in this region.”

“I’m positive that the staff exercise between the [Indonesian army’s] 9th Brigade and the 76th IBCT, focusing on the military decision-making process, will only enhance capacity building and relationships, and more importantly will encourage joint participation with the senior and junior officers, and noncommissioned officers, working together,” he said.

Burke agreed on the importance of the relationships being established between the two staffs participating in the exercise along with Army support personnel from Schofield Barracks, Hawaii and Okinawa, Japan.

“To have Maj. Gen. Logan as a part of this, representing the Hawaii National Guard and their state partnership program that they have with Indonesia, is really going to solidify that lasting, long-term relationship that we are going to have for many years to come as the U.S. Army, and have a National Guard flavor to that relationship, in a country that is truly a partner to the security of this region of the world,” he said.

Following the ceremony, the combined units showed their enthusiasm for working together by conducting a “Yel-Yel,” a cry-and-response war dance similar to a Maori haka, to kick off the training.

“It really set the tone for what we are looking forward to doing over the next few weeks and demonstrated the willingness of their soldiers and ours to embrace the environment we are in together and the cooperativeness that we are going to experience together as we both share and learn things that we each do well in our armies,” said 76th IBCT Army Command Sgt. Maj. Steven J. Bishop.

“We both share in our hearts similar things as professionals in the profession of arms, and, in that, we speak a common language that quickly tears down the barriers and walls that you see when you incorporate two different people and two different nations together in this type of exercise,” he said.

Face of Defense: Sailor Aids Pedestrian Struck by Car in Guam


By JoAnna Delfin, Joint Region Marianas

SANTA RITA, Guam -- Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Andrew Pluss, an electrician’s mate assigned to the submarine tender USS Frank Cable, was driving along Route 1 here July 16 when he noticed a car accident and an unresponsive victim lying on the street.

Pluss’ military training kicked in, and he administered CPR to the victim until first responders arrived on the scene.

“In the moment, I didn’t know if he had passed,” Pluss said. “My thought was, ‘This could be something to save his life. He may not be responding now, but once all the available medical personnel and more equipment arrives, they may be able to save him based off of what I was doing.’”

Trained, Ready

As an electrician’s mate, Pluss receives CPR training every two to three years.

“One of the things we’re worried about is someone getting shocked, which could stop your heart …,” he said. “I’ve always had the thought process, growing up, that if I could help someone in any way, I’m going to try. I did it because I believed it was what was right to do.”

Navy Capt. Jeffrey Farah, the commander of the USS Cable, awarded Pluss with the Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal July 18.

“Pluss is a hard-working sailor in our repair department,” Farah said. “The award was given because of his heroism, but he’s also doing hard work every single day while he’s here. Usually, we reserve [that award] for an end-of-tour completion.”

Pluss said it was his Navy training that kept him ready in the moment.
“I knew I had been trained and, once I noticed, it naturally kicked in,” he said. “There was no point where I was like, ‘Do I need to do this? Should I do this?’ It was more of, ‘He’s in trouble. Go help him.’”

Language Barrier No Obstacle for Deployed Doctors


By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Nick Wilson, 435th Air Expeditionary Wing

NIAMEY, Niger -- A worldwide average of 1.2 million people die from vehicle accidents each year. Deployed service members from multiple nations collaborated here recently to prevent adding another death to this statistic.

An Italian civilian woman was involved in a nearly fatal car accident adjacent to Nigerien Air Base 101 here. She likely would have died at the civilian hospital here if it weren’t for the efforts of service members from the U.S., Canada, France, Germany and Italy, according to Air Force Lt. Col. Kyle Korver, commander of the 768th Expeditionary Air Base Squadron.

“When we were notified by the Italians of this particular incident, we basically started calling and coordinating with them on how we could possibly help,” Korver said.

A male passenger was also in the car during the accident. Nigerien ambulance services rushed both patients to the civilian hospital here. Due to the extent of the woman’s injuries, she needed to be transported to a more advanced medical facility. That’s where the doctors and staff of Special Operations Command Forward North and West Africa’s Ground Surgical Team, and the airmen at Air Base 101 worked together to help save a life.

International Intervention

“Once we found out they intended to move the individuals and were trying to get them airlifted somewhere else, [Italian leaders] approached our ground surgical team through Special Operations Command Africa channels and actually asked if this patient in particular, who was the worst off of the two, could come over here for a lifesaving surgery,” Korver said.

The Italians sought medical advice from the U.S. ground surgical team, which recommended treatment before the woman was airlifted to another hospital.

“There were findings on the CT scan that indicated there were likely injuries that would require surgical care [gas and fluid in the abdomen],” said Air Force Capt. Nicholas McKenzie, the ground surgical team general surgeon for Special Operations Command Forward North and West Africa.

Nigerien doctors in Niamey had performed the CT scan roughly 20 hours before the patient arrived at Air Base 101.

“While difficult to quantify survival accurately, given the delay in recognition, the patient had injuries that would be fatal from abdominal sepsis,” McKenzie said. “We felt very strongly she would not survive a flight to receive care.”

“You literally had medical personnel from five different countries all coordinating on the care of this patient,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Justin Tingey, a flight doctor with the 768th EABS.

Multilingual Care

An Italian doctor coordinated the patient’s transfer from the hospital to Air Base 101, and then on to her final destination at a hospital in Senegal. The doctor spoke three languages in an effort to synchronize information sharing with French, Nigeriens, Italians, Senegalese, Germans and Americans.

“The French and Germans were actually brought in because the French were integral to coordinating a lot of the activities that went on here,” Tingey said. “The Germans -- they actually were a backup plan to get the patient out of here if the original plan did not work as far as bringing a civilian in to perform an aeromedical evacuation.”

Additionally, the medical specialists on the German team were integral to consultations on all aspects of the patient care, he said.

The woman is back in Italy and on the road to recovery, according to Air Base 101’s Italian team. As a whole, the event highlights the capability U.S. forces can provide to Niger and the surrounding region when needed, Korver said.