Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Face of Defense: Marines Enjoy Duty as Military Police Working Dog Handlers

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Kelcey Seymour, Marine Corps Installations Pacific

CAMP HANSEN, OKINAWA, Japan – Military working dog Gage and Cpl. Alex Marquissee play with a tennis ball Aug. 31 at the kennels on Camp Hansen, Okinawa, Japan.

Military police officers have many conditions they have to fulfill to effectively complete the mission of prevention and protection in peace and wartime. One aspect of their duty is to be handlers for the military working dogs.

“To even have the opportunity to be a military working dog handler, you have to be military police by trade,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Hunter Gullick, a military working dog handler with Headquarters and Support Battalion, Marine Corps Installations Pacific at Marine Corps Base Camp Butler, Japan.

“We go to the school at Fort Leonard Wood [Missouri] for roughly three months before graduating and joining the fleet. After that you can put a package in to request the chance,” he said. “This process is long since they screen you with background checks, schooling history and recommendations. If they accept you, you are sent to Lackland Air Force Base in Texas for another three months of school, this time strictly for military working dog handler training.”

Long Tradition

The tradition of using dogs during war dates back thousands of years, but the U.S. military did not officially have military working dogs until World War I. Since that time the partnership between the canines and their human has grown.

“We utilize the dogs for a number of thing,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Garrett Impola, a military working dog handler with Headquarters and Support Battalion, MCIPAC. “The dogs are trained for substance location, tracking, and explosive device detection. During festivals and events we use them as security to do sweeps and to detrude conflicts. No other single MOS can do everything our dogs can.”

The handlers spend most of their working days with their partners to keep at top performance. This can be both a struggle -- as much as it is a joy -- for the Marine partner.

“The best part about my job is the dogs, for sure,” Gullick said. “They give everything they have to you, so we give everything to them in return. The most challenging aspect of my job would be that sometimes the dogs are like kids. It can get frustrating, so you have to have patience. You also have to be humble because as a handler you have to be able to take constructive criticism.”

The Marine and military working dog are a team. The job of being a handler is always a work in progress. Marines are encouraged to push their limits and learn more when it comes to doing their jobs. They are always learning new techniques and procedures when it comes to performing their job to the best of their abilities.

“You will never know everything because each dog is different,” Gullick said. “With one, you think that you have the dog world figured out and then another one comes along and throws a curveball at you. You have to continually learn and adapt.”

Superseding Indictment Filed Against Man Charged for Attempted Manslaughter of a U.S. Airforce Airman on Military Base in Japan

A federal grand jury in Little Rock, Arkansas, returned a seven-count superseding indictment against a man who was residing on the Misawa Air Base, a military base in Japan, charging him with multiple counts relating to the assault of three U.S. Air Force airmen.  The federal grand jury also returned a two-count indictment against his son, charging him with two counts relating to his role in the assault.

Assistant Attorney General Brian A. Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s Criminal Division, U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland of the Eastern District of Arkansas and Colonel Kirk B. Stabler of the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations made the announcement.

Rodrigo Pineda Gomez, 44, who was residing in Japan, is charged with one count of attempted voluntary manslaughter, one count of assault with a dangerous weapon, three counts of assault by striking, beating, or wounding, one count of resisting a federal officer, and one count of making a false statement to law enforcement.  Miguel Gomez, 21, is charged with one count of resisting a federal officer and one count of assault by striking, beating, or wounding.  The defendants had their initial court appearance earlier today before Magistrate Judge Patricia S. Harris in the Eastern District of Arkansas.

The superseding indictment, which was returned on Aug. 7, alleges that on Dec. 31, 2016, on Misawa Air Base in Japan, the defendants, Rodrigo Gomez and his son, Miguel Gomez, assaulted three U.S. Air Force airmen.  The superseding indictment alleges that defendant Rodrigo Gomez attempted to kill one of the airmen, resisted arrest after law enforcement arrived, and then later made a false statement about the incident.  Defendant Miguel Gomez assaulted one of the airmen and also resisted arrest after law enforcement arrived at the scene.  At the time of the assault, defendant Rodrigo Gomez was the dependent spouse and Miguel Gomez the son of an active duty service member assigned to the base.  Their last known U.S. address is alleged to be Jacksonville, Arkansas.

An indictment is merely an allegation.  All defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. The prosecution is being handled by Trial Attorney Frank Rangoussis of the Criminal Division’s Human Rights and Special Prosecutions Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stacy Williams of the Eastern District of Arkansas.

Northcom Commander: Response Framework Working Well in Florence Aftermath

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- The National Response Framework is operating as designed as the Carolinas face the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, the commander of U.S. Northern Command said in Raleigh, North Carolina, today.

Speaking to Pentagon reporters via video link, Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessey said local, state and federal cooperation has been outstanding.

The general spoke from outside North Carolina’s operations center and said the effort allowed state and local officials to identify the capabilities needed as the storm approached, which allowed the Federal Emergency Management Agency and Northcom to integrate them into the broader federal response.

“Our Department of Defense anticipated that we would need things like search and rescue, we would need … the high-water vehicles, [and] helicopters and vertical lift to transport things back and forth,” he said. “That was exactly what we needed to have, and we had them pre-positioned and pre-postured, and the plan is now actively part of the response.”

Strong Cooperation

He said the cooperation and communication on the federal side has been incredibly strong, “as has the coordination and collaboration from the state ops centers and FEMA and us.”

About 13,000 service members are participating in the effort, with 8,000 being National Guardsmen. With Florence’s dissipation, the concern goes from the storm itself to the flooding. Streams and rivers throughout the region have broken their banks and flooded vast swaths of land. A drone video released early today shows what looks like a river, but actually is Interstate 40 – a major east-west highway.

“We are still concerned over the next 48 hours about the rising flood waters and how that can have a separate, but nonetheless equally important, impact to the local area,” O’Shaughnessey said.
Soldiers arrive at flood scene in high-water vehicle.
Soldiers assigned to 129th Combat Support Sustainment Battalion, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), 101st Airborne Division Sustainment Brigade “Lifeliners” arrive to join the ongoing joint operations conducted in support of the Hurricane Florence Relief effort at Lumberton, N.C., Sept. 17, 2018. The soldiers made the 22-hour trip from Fort Campbell, Ky. Army photo by Spc. Andrea Salgado Rivera

Officials are watching flood gauges and assessing what will be needed if communities are isolated or people need to be rescued. “We are well-postured to augment the state force that has been actively engaged,” the general said. “I would say my overall assessment of the DoD response has been outstanding, and the key to that has been the coordination with the state – from the first responders to the state National Guard, and tying directly in with them.”

Both states activated their dual-status commanders, giving officials one point of contact for military help. “They both have forces under their command that allows them to synchronize their governors’ efforts with FEMA’s efforts and the Department of Defense,” he said.