Thursday, August 30, 2018

U.S.-India Meeting Seeks to Deepen Cooperation

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Next week’s “two-plus-two” meeting of defense and diplomatic leaders in New Delhi will seek to deepen cooperation between India and the United States and bolster programs and policies to maintain the free and independent Indo-Pacific region that has been in place since World War II, the assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security affairs said today.

Randall G. Schriver spoke with Ashley J. Tellins at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace about the ground-breaking meeting scheduled Sept. 6 and 7 between Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary James N. Mattis and their Indian counterparts, External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman.

It is the first such meeting between the nations.

The outreach to India – the largest democracy in the world – is the outgrowth of more than 20 years of diplomacy reaching back to the Clinton administration, Schriver said. At its heart is ensuring conditions for a free and independent region.

“We believe countries should have complete sovereign control of their countries, to make decisions from capital free from coercion [and] free from undue pressure. We also mean free, open and reciprocal trade relationships,” he said. “By ‘open,’ we’re talking about open areas for commerce, for navigation, for broad participation in the life of the region commercially and economically.”

Schriver talked about “operationalizing” the areas of convergence between the two nations. Some of these areas will be in defense, some will be economic, and others will be political, he said, noting that the principals will discuss this at the meeting.

Chinese Aspirations

China is the elephant in the room. Though U.S. policy is not aimed at any specific nation, Schriver said, “China is demonstrating that they have a different aspiration for the Indo-Pacific region. This manifests in their economic strategy, the Belt and Road Initiative, their militarization of the South China Sea, a lot of the coercive approaches to the politics of others.” The Belt and Road Initiative is Chinese investment in infrastructure projects in countries that lie between China and Europe.

The United States would prefer China buy into the current rules-based international system, the assistant secretary said.

At the meeting, officials will examine how and where the United States and India can work together, Schriver said, adding that he sees both countries’ efforts complementing each other in some nations of the region and closer cooperation on the security side.

“We’ve seen exercises – not just bilateral India-U.S. exercises, but multilateral exercises,” he said. “Obviously, you exercise for a reason. You exercise to improve the readiness and training of your own forces, but you think about contingencies, you think about real-world possibilities.”

The substance of the meeting will be discussions about regional and global issues, but there will also be concrete outcomes, Shriver said.

“We’re working on a set of enabling agreements,” he said. “Collectively, what they will allow us to do is have secure communications, protect technology, protect information. Getting those agreements in place will allow security assistance cooperation to go forward, allow us to exercise and train in more meaningful ways. I think we are going to expand the scope of some of our exercises – increase the complexity and elements that will participate.”

Schriver said discussions also will look at the situations in Russia, Afghanistan, Iran and Pakistan.

Face of Defense: Marine Reservist Leads Squad During Competition

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Samantha Schwoch, Marine Forces Reserve

JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Marine Corps Sgt. James Ellis, a rifleman with Weapons Company, 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, and a full-time student at Missouri State University majoring in nursing, serves his country while bettering himself.

“I joined the Marine Corps Reserve after I had gotten off active duty,” said Ellis, who hails from Eldon, Missouri. “I knew that I wanted to keep a hand in the Marine Corps, but I also wanted to further my education and obtain my bachelor’s degree. Joining the Reserve allowed me to do both.”

Squad Leader

Ellis recently took part in the 4th Marine Division’s Annual Rifle Squad Competition here. Ellis served as the squad leader for 3rd Squad, made up of Marines in 3rd Battalion, 23rd Marine Regiment, from across the country. As a squad leader he was responsible for the discipline, training, control, conduct and welfare of his team.

The competition gives Marines the ability to perform in realistic training situations and execute the tasks they have learned prior to the competitions.

“Having classes to cover this material can only do so much,” Ellis said. “Most Marines are visual and hands-on learners, so being able to actually conduct this training was invaluable.”

Joining the Marine Corps has made him a better person, he said.

“I can definitely say that the Marine Corps has made a difference in who I am,” Ellis said. “The military forced me to grow up and mature, and made me a more responsible citizen. This [also] applies to school, as I work countless hours to maintain a 4.0 [grade point average].”

Airmen Support Refueling Missions From Above

By Air Force Airman 1st Class Gerald R. Willis, 36th Wing

ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- On June 27, 1923, two Army Air Service Airco DH-4B biplanes completed the first midair refueling. Afterward, aerial refueling skyrocketed as new technologies and capabilities developed.

Today, the 506th Expeditionary Aerial Refueling Squadron based here leads the aerial refueling mission in the Indo-Pacific region, the largest area of responsibility in the Defense Department.

“Nothing could happen without tanker support in this region,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Steve Olson, 506th EARS commander. “While deployed to Guam, our airmen are flying sorties supporting refueling and airlift missions like Indo-Pacific Command’s continuous bomber presence and theater security packages.”

Pivotal Mission

The 506th EARS is comprised of multiple Air National Guard, Air Force Reserve and active-duty KC-135 Stratotanker units. Each unit serves about a three-month rotation, providing a pivotal link in consecutive inflight refueling and airlift operations.

“I am proud to be representing the 126th Air Refueling Wing out of Scott Air Force Base, Illinois,” Olson said. “We bring constant and reliable aerial refueling, force extension, airlift capabilities and emergency medical evacuation to the table every day. We support any and every higher headquarters mission in this region.”

The tanker units bring years of experience in the U.S. Central Command area of operations to the mission here. The KC-135 units are no stranger to this mission set; the hardy aircraft was originally designed to refuel strategic bombers and now fits perfectly into the continuous bomber presence mission in the Indo-Pacific theater.

“Guard and Reserve units have a presence in multiple missions around the world. Today we are seeing a substantial increase in tasking and deployment rates of Guard and Reserve,” Olson said. “These increased requirements can be a unique challenge on drill status guardsman and reservists as they balance their military careers with their civilian employers.”

Total Force Operation

After arriving in Guam, airmen, regardless of their status, are expected to take over operations immediately. This includes flight operations, maintenance, logistics, medical support, communications and all other support operations of the 506th EARS.

This is a total force operation that works closely with the host unit, the 36th Wing, Olson said.

“Refueling the fight is one of the greatest privileges,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Nathan Moore, 506th EARS chief boom operator. “This is the best enlisted job in the Air Force, in my opinion. We play a vital role in every mission and offer our capabilities as force multipliers all over the world.”