Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Indiana Guardsmen Talk About Experiences in Pacific Pathways

By Jim Garamone, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- Four Indiana National Guard soldiers talked with reporters at the Pentagon today about the experiences they had training alongside Australian, Japanese and Indonesian service members as part of the Defense Department’s “Showcasing lethality” series.

The soldiers – from the 76th Infantry Brigade Combat Team – were the first from the Guard to lead one of the annual U.S. Indo-Pacific Command series of Pacific Pathways exercises, said Army Command Sgt. Maj. James R. Gordon, the state command sergeant major.

The exercise is a way to build expeditionary readiness while at the same time reinforcing the U.S. Army’s commitment to its allies and partners in the Pacific region, the sergeant major said.

A battalion from the brigade went to each of the countries. Army Sgt. Samuel Gawaluck, a squad leader with the 2nd Battalion, 151st Infantry, said his unit trained right alongside a Japanese unit.

“For the first part of the training, it was about chemical warfare, urban operations and platoon attacks,” the Lafayette, Indiana, police officer said. “We also conducted a bilateral field training exercise for three days that culminated with both militaries assaulting an urban area.”

The American and Japanese soldiers would observe each other as they pressed an attac, or cleared a building, giving soldiers from both countries and opportunity to learn, he said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Daryl Bollhoeffer is a platoon sergeant with A Company, 1 st Battalion, 293rd Infantry. His unit went to Australia and worked alongside both the Australian Defense Force and U.S. Marines. His platoon would move in and relieve the Marines to go on another mission, then the Marines would move in and relieve his unit, he said.

The training site was a massive area on the eastern side of the continent. “It was winter for Australia, but it was not the winter we have in Indiana,” Bollhoeffer said. “Watching the Australians fight and working alongside them throughout the mission set was pretty educational. They are very good at what they do, they are very disciplined. They were curious as to how we conduct exercises.”

Mechanized Forces

The Australians brought mechanized forces into the exercise, Bollhoeffer said. “We had to integrate that mindset into how we train,” he said. “It’s awful nice to have tanks over your right shoulder when you are moving across an objective.”

Bollhoeffer said that nothing in the exercise was “canned.” There was no set recipe for the way things would turn out, he explained, and that made it invaluable for the Indiana Guardsmen.

The whole exercise was an eye-opener for Army Sgt. David Kent, a section leader with Headquarters Company of the 76th Brigade, who said it increased the Indiana Guardsmen’s appreciation for U.S. partners and allies. While he was in Australia, he noted, the exercise coincided with the 100th anniversary of the Battle of Hamel, where Australian and U.S. soldiers fought together on the Western Front in World War I.

“Gawaluck reflected on his experience working with Japanese soldiers.

“Not many guys get a chance to train with the Japanese Self-Defense Force,” he said. “It was very cool, very realistic. It was a lot different than training in Indiana, where it is flat. We were hiking up mountains with our rucks on. It was pretty amazing in our break time to talk with the Japanese and realize they are guys just like us. They are there to protect their homeland, and we are with them to train to protect our homeland.”

Mattis, French Leaders Reaffirm Defense Relationship

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary James N. Mattis met with French President Emmanuel Macron and Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly today in Paris to reaffirm the long-standing defense relationship between the United States and France.

In a statement, chief Pentagon spokesperson Dana W. White said Mattis thanked Macron and Parly for their leadership and contributions to the fight against terror in the Levant and Sahel.

“Both nations agreed NATO remains the cornerstone of European military security.” White said.
After meeting with the French leaders, Mattis traveled to Brussels, where he will attend a conference of NATO defense ministers.

Stoltenberg Forecasts NATO Defense Minister Discussions

By Jim Garamone, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON -- NATO defense ministers are meeting in Brussels to implement the decisions made by alliance heads of state in July and to discuss burden sharing, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said today.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis will join the other NATO allies in discussing the threats from Russia and the south, as well as changes to the alliance to deal with threats from the cyber world.

Alliance members are making progress toward achieving the goal of nations spending 2 percent of gross domestic product on defense, a goal agreed upon at NATO’s 2014 summit in Wales. “Over the past two years, European allies and Canada have spent a cumulative $41 billion more on defense, and I expect allies to make good on their commitments,” Stoltenberg said.

The defense ministers will also focus on alliance deterrence and defense. The ministerial conference will feature a meeting of the Nuclear Planning Group, and will address concerns about Russian violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed in 1987.

The ministers will review changes to the alliance command structure, which will include the addition of more than 1,200 personnel. Two new commands – one hosted in Norfolk, Virginia, and the other in Germany – will improve the movement of troops across the Atlantic and within Europe.

Cyber Operations, Partnerships

“We are also setting up our new Cyber Operations Centre, which will help us strengthen our defenses against a real and present threat,” the secretary general said. “Our top military commanders will brief us on the progress made.”

Finally, the ministers will address work with partner countries. They will discuss efforts in and around the Black Sea and the aspiration of Georgia to join the alliance.

The ministers also will review the NATO training mission in Iraq. The effort will include more than 500 troops and will help the country preserve the gains made by the global coalition to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, Stoltenberg said.

Also, the ministers will meet with European Union Vice President Federica Mogherini to discuss cooperation in areas such as military mobility and managing hybrid threats. “Done in the right way, these efforts can contribute to fairer burden sharing between Europe and North America,” he said.