Monday, September 10, 2018

Face of Defense: Army Brothers Bring Civilian Expertise to Mideast Deployment

By Army Capt. Melanie Nelson, U.S. Army Central

CAMP ARIFJAN, Kuwait -- Two brothers deployed here with the Kentucky Army National Guard are able to tap into their professional lives as engineers while serving with the Area Support Group-Kuwait Directorate of Public Works.

Army Capt. William Parker is the project officer for DPW. His brother, Army Staff Sgt. Bryan Parker, serves as DPW's projects noncommissioned officer-in-charge.

They both serve as contract officer representatives, the on-site adviser to government contractors.

The Parker brothers are members of the 613th Engineering Facilities Detachment headquartered in Springfield, Kentucky.

Contract Supervision

The duo are tapping into their civilian engineering backgrounds to supervise contracts, and improve the quality of life for service members deployed here.

"Due to operational requirements, Area Support Group-Kuwait relies on the National Guard and Reserve components to complete its mission," said Army Col. Shannon Nielsen, commander of Area Support Group-Kuwait. "These multi-component soldiers bring a specialized capability to our team."

"It has been a unique opportunity for me to use what I do in the civilian world in order to really do some good," Bryan said. "My civilian employer is Louisville Gas & Electric and Kentucky Utilities in Louisville, Kentucky. I am an environmental engineer within the company's environmental affairs department."

He added, “Being the environmental contract officer representative at DPW allows me to use my knowledge and experience to make an impact on the operations in Kuwait.”

William said his electrical engineering expertise “comes in very handy,” since he’s also the diesel generator contracting officer representative.

“Because of that,” he added, “I am usually given projects that are mostly electrical as my knowledge in electrical theory and standards come in handy to make sure the contractor is delivering the correct products."
The support of their employers back home makes deployments possible. "I get support from the people I work with; a lot of them are veterans themselves," Bryan said. "The company is also supplementing my salary while I've been on orders. This is a huge benefit the company provides, and their support of the National Guard and Reserve is one of the primary reasons I wanted to work there."

Southeastern States Prepare for Hurricane Florence

RICHMOND, Va. -- Emergency preparations have been underway over the weekend in Virginia and other southeastern states in advance of an anticipated strike this week by Hurricane Florence.
Satellite image shows the strong storm dubbed Florence in the Caribbean. Southeastern U.S. states are preparing the storm's arrival later this week.

Virginia Department of Emergency Management teams have worked throughout the weekend preparing for what may be Virginia’s most significant hurricane event in decades. With Virginia under a state of emergency, and forecasts showing Florence zeroing in on the mid-Atlantic, the time for all Virginians to prepare is now, officials said.

The governors of South Carolina, North Carolina and Virginia have declared states of emergency. In South Carolina today, about 750 National Guard members were expected on duty. Totals from other states weren’t available as of this morning.

While it is too soon to know the exact track that Hurricane Florence will take, the majority of forecast models are indicating significant potential impacts to Virginia in the form of coastal storm surge, catastrophic inland flooding, high winds and possible widespread power outages.

Virginia emergency managers and first responders are mobilizing to prepare for the storm. Virginia Gov. Ralph Northam declared a state of emergency late Sept. 8 to mobilize personnel and resources for storm impacts and to speed the response to those communities that are damaged by the storm. This includes resources from Virginia Department of Emergency Management, the Virginia Department of Transportation, Virginia State Police, Virginia Department of Health, Virginia National Guard and others.

Hurricane Threats

The largest threat to life from hurricanes is not the high winds, officials said, noting that flooding is the deadliest result of these storms.

Current forecast models indicate that Florence could strike the Carolinas and enter central Virginia, possibly stalling and dropping more than 20 inches of rain in some areas. This will lead to widespread and dangerous flooding, inundation of roads and damaged infrastructure. Potential widespread power outages are also expected.

Residents and visitors should prepare for rising waters, flash flooding and remember to never drive across flooded roadways. Most injuries and deaths occur when motorists try to cross flooded roads. Roads and bridges can be damaged or completely washed away beneath flood waters, and a few inches of water can sweep vehicles downstream.

Some forecast models are indicating a possible strike more directly on the Hampton Roads region and coastal Virginia. If this track becomes a reality, coastal Virginians can expect significant flooding, damaging winds and storm surge flooding throughout the region. If the storm moves on a coastal track, it would require the commonwealth to enact a tiered evacuation plan, commonly known as “Know Your Zone.”
With the onset of tropical storm force winds and rain only a couple of days away, the time to prepare is now, emergency management officials said. They recommended getting homes, businesses and families ready for whatever impacts this storm may bring.

U.S., South Korean Soldiers Raft for Relaxation, Resilience

By Army Sgt. Raquel Villalona, 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division

CHERWON, South Korea -- Equipped with a helmet, life vest and paddle, first-time rafters were filled with both excitement and anxiety as they approached their yellow rafts.

The U.S. and South Korean soldiers each grabbed a handle and guided their rafts down a hill to the foot of the bank as they prepared to embark the rapids together.

The 2nd Infantry Division/Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Division unit ministry team hosted a Hantan River whitewater rafting trip Sept. 7 to provide members of the Warrior division spiritual resilience training and focus on teamwork.

The day started with a group discussion that included the importance of stress management and comprehensive resilience.

“Living with stress and knowing how to handle pressure is necessary for survival,” said Army Chaplain (Capt.) Steven K. Love, an Edwardsville, Illinois, native, and Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion spiritual leader. “It is related to a person’s ability to take control of their own destiny from the circumstances that surround them.”

Love ties the idea of river rafting to overcoming obstacles in life.

“Whitewater rafting requires the entire team to be fully engaged to get through the challenges, and that relates to life,” he said. “Like the river, soldiers hit some tough spots and it can be fearful, but you learn to get through it with the support of others.”

After the insightful discussions, a morale-boosting Korean barbeque lunch and a safety brief, enthusiastic soldiers descended onto the Hantan River.

‘A Ton of Fun’

“This is my first duty station and first time whitewater rafting,” said Army Pvt. Haley N. Deline, a Grand Blanc, Michigan, native and wheeled-vehicle mechanic for Headquarters Support Company. “It took teamwork and coordination to prevent the raft from flipping over, but we handled the situations well and had a ton of fun.”

The soldiers paddled in sync, creating new bonds and gaining both courage and insight while navigating their way through the intense rapids.

“Rafting made it easier to connect with other soldiers from the division,” said Pfc. Hyun-rae Kim, a South Korean army soldier serving as a U.S. Army augmentee. He is a native of Sejong City and works as a Headquarters Support Company supply specialist.

“I translated in Korean and English for the tour guide, which forced me to interact with soldiers I didn’t know. And in the end, I made new friends,” he added.

Army Maj. Jeffrey P. Nelson, native of Joliet, Illinois, and the division’s deputy plans officer, agreed that communication was key.
“We had to communicate effectively and be aware of what was going on around us and maneuver the raft together,” Nelson said. “We also had to take on different team roles, which is similar to our experience as soldiers in leadership positions.”