Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Face of Defense: Safe and Smart


As nearly 400 members of the Ohio National Guard go to work each day packaging, transporting and distributing food and other essential items to the state's most vulnerable populations, Air Force 1st Lt. Justin Rainier is working as a logistics readiness officer and a temporary intelligence officer assigned to the 178th Wing to ensure the guardsmen are safe.

He isn't an intelligence officer by trade, but Rainier said there is some overlap between both roles. They require him to determine how to best allocate resources to complete the mission, which is the overarching mission of the task force.

Keeping Service Members Smart ...

As a member of Joint Task Force 37, Rainier is supporting Operation Steady Resolve as an intelligence officer.

He said his job is to gather intelligence information for the various commanders to pass onto the soldiers and airmen working at the food banks. Some of the information he gathers includes threats against the guardsmen, severe weather and road conditions that might impact food distribution routes.

"If you have flooding or road closures in some of the more rural parts of the state, there might only be one road in or out," Rainier said. "If civilians can't get to the food bank because of flooding, we have equipment that can ford through water and get that food where it’s needed."
... And Safe

He said he's also tracking how COVID-19 is spreading throughout the state to help guide decisions on how to best keep guardsmen healthy while performing their missions.

"This is something fairly unprecedented," Rainier said. "We've done all this before, but the difference here is the scale and the duration, and we’re just getting started."
A New Realm

Rainier has worked quickly to master his new responsibilities.

"I'm getting a crash course in just a sliver of what they (intelligence officers) do every day," Rainier said. "This is a new realm for me, but we as guardsmen are flexible by nature, because we never know what the mission is going to be and it can always change at the drop of a hat."

Maj. Nick Palmer, operations officer for the task force, said: “I’ve been impressed by him since he walked in the door. He received little to no guidance and he jumped right in, briefing terrain and weather affects to the boss.”
Protecting the Community

Rainier said it's critical for the Guard to step in and help ensure that people's basic needs are met to help keep the community safe and healthy.

"We're serving a greater purpose," Rainier said. "Everything we're doing is to try and save lives."

(Air Force Tech. Sgt. Shane Hughes is assigned to the Ohio Air National Guard’s 178th Wing.)

Corps of Engineers Converts NYC's Javits Center into Hospital

April 1, 2020 | BY C. Todd Lopez , DOD News

The New York District of the Army Corps of Engineers has completed its conversion of the 1,800,000-square-foot Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City into an alternate care facility for more than 2,000 non-COVID-19 patients.

More than 165 New York District personnel provided design, engineering and construction support to facilitate the conversion in response to a Federal Emergency Management Agency request, said Michael Embrich, a Corps of Engineers spokesman.

The Corps of Engineers got the call from FEMA about two weeks ago to outfit the convention center into an alternate care facility, Embrich said. Work began about a week later, and was complete just a week after that. The speed at which the Corps was able to get the project completed is unusual, he said, but the circumstances warranted the extra effort.

"It was much quicker than we usually design, engineer and construct a project," he said. "We worked 24 hours a day, seven days a week with our vertical team to spec out the sites [and] award contracts, and then began work immediately after the contracts were awarded."

Patients were able to move into the converted facility March 30, Embrich said.

The alternate care facility will not be used for COVID-19 patients. It will be used for non-COVID-19 patients, allowing area hospitals more room to treat patients infected by the coronavirus.

Contracts were recently awarded to convert additional locations in New York into alternate care facilities. Included among those are the Westchester County Community Center in White Plains, New York, and at the State University of New York's campuses at Stony Brook and Old Westbury on Long Island. Work should begin on those projects soon, Embrich said.

It wasn't the Corps of Engineers alone that made the effort at the convention center possible, Embrich said.

This effort wouldn't be possible without the "phenomenal teammates" the Corps of Engineers has at the state of New York, the city of New York, the New York National Guard, FEMA, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the General Services Administration, as well as the Defense Department and the armed forces, he said.

"There are so many people from the health care professionals to the staff at the Javits Center who are still working throughout New York and New Jersey," he added. "Truthfully, there are too many to name."

Embrich said that during emergencies, the Corps of Engineers serves as the federal government's lead public works and engineering support agency.

"The New York District works 365 days a year in New York and in the surrounding communities," he said. "Currently, the Corps has numerous studies that will help bring more constructed projects to New York City that will increase resiliency and reduce risk to persons, property and infrastructure in the city."

Remembering the Battle of Okinawa

April 1, 2020 | BY David Vergun , DOD News

The Battle of Okinawa, which began 75 years ago, was the last major battle of World War II — and the bloodiest of the Pacific campaign.

At dawn on Easter Sunday, April 1, 1945, a fleet of 1,300 U.S. ships and 50 British ships closed in for the invasion of the island, which is part of Japan's southernmost prefecture.

The battle lasted three months and involved four U.S. Army and two Marine Corps divisions.

The landings were relatively unopposed because the Japanese refused to fight on the beaches. Instead, they withdrew into caves in the rocky hills to force a battle of attrition, according to John Ray Skates, a historian with the Center of Military History.

The Japanese strategy worked, he said. "U.S. casualties were staggering, the largest of the Pacific war."

More than 12,000 U.S. soldiers, sailors and Marines died during the fighting.

In the waters around Okinawa, the Japanese launched the largest kamikaze, or suicide, attack of the war. Japanese planes rammed into allied ships, sinking 26 and severely damaging 168. Almost 40% of the U.S. dead were sailors lost to these attacks, Skates said.

The Japanese military suffered even more, with around 100,000 killed, including many who committed suicide. Around the same number of Okinawan civilians were killed or committed suicide.
Among the Americans killed was Army Lt. Gen. Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr., who was killed by Japanese artillery fire. He was the highest ranking military officer killed during the entire war.

The Battle of Okinawa was a series of battles, including the battle for Hacksaw Ridge. An Army medic during that battle rescued 75 of his wounded comrades. For his valor, Cpl. Desmond T. Doss was awarded the Medal of Honor. What makes his service so unique is that he was a conscientious objector who refused to carry a weapon or kill the enemy. A 2016 movie, "Hacksaw Ridge," chronicles his story.

The Allies planned to use Okinawa as a base to attack mainland Japan, dubbed Operation Downfall. However, on Aug. 15, 1945, Japan announced its unconditional surrender, thereby avoiding further bloodshed.

In 1972, the U.S. returned Okinawa to Japanese control. Today, Japan is a valued ally of the United States.