Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Joint Press Statement for the 17th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD)

April 21, 2020

The Republic of Korea (ROK) Ministry of National Defense (MND) and the United States (U.S.) Department of Defense (DoD) held the 17th Korea-U.S. Integrated Defense Dialogue (KIDD) on April 21, 2020.  Due to travel restrictions as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the KIDD was held remotely via secure video teleconferencing.  ROK Deputy Minister for National Defense Policy Chung Sukhwan and U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense (DASD) for East Asia Heino Klinck led their respective delegations composed of key ROK and U.S. defense officials.

DASD Klinck applauded the Republic of Korea (ROK)'s proactive leadership in combating COVID-19 as a model of transparency, flexibility, and rapid response for the world. He also expressed gratitude for the ROK’s efforts in support of U.S. forces and their families in the ROK. The two sides also acknowledged effective coordination to contain COVID-19.

Both sides assessed the ongoing joint work to conclude the 11th Special Measures Agreement (SMA), emphasizing the importance of concluding the SMA at a fair and mutually agreeable level that strengthens the ROK-U.S. Alliance and its combined defense posture.

Both delegations reviewed the Conditions-Based Operational Control (OPCON) Transition Plan and concurred on the importance of completing and assessing the strategic documents.  They also discussed impacts and the way ahead on the certification assessment for the full operational capability (FOC) schedule in light of the COVID-19 pandemic and other factors.

Both sides discussed ways to strengthen the Alliance's military readiness and combined defense posture to address the dynamic security changes on the Korean Peninsula and to deepen U.S.-ROK cooperation long into the future.

The two sides also shared assessments on the recent missile launches by North Korea and reaffirmed the importance of continuing close coordination to remain vigilant in the face of North Korean actions.  Furthermore, the two sides committed to cooperate closely on achieving the complete denuclearization of North Korea.  Both sides pledged to work jointly in 2020 to devise measures to strengthen the deterrence posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance through the Deterrence Strategy Committee (DSC).

The two sides reaffirmed that the KIDD continues to play a critical role in coordinating defense policies between the ROK and the United States.  They also pledged to continue close communication and cooperation to maintain and strengthen the combined readiness posture of the ROK-U.S. Alliance, which serves as the linchpin of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asian region.

OD Details $133 Million Defense Production Act Title 3 COVID-19 Project

April 21, 2020

Statement attributed to Lt. Col. Mike Andrews, Department of Defense spokesman:

"As previously announced, the Department of Defense will invest $133 million to increase U.S. domestic N95 mask production by over 39 million over the next 90 days.

Three companies were awarded contracts: 3M ($76 million), O&M Halyward ($29 million) and Honeywell ($27.4 million). The increased production will ensure the U.S. Government gets dedicated long term industrial capacity to meet the needs of the nation.

3M will add 78 million units within 6 months, with an additional 13 million units per month by June. 3M will accelerate production by converting current equipment supplier into a N95 producer, and will also expand meltblown material production in the Sheboygan Falls, Wis., and Aberdeen, Neb. plants.

O&M Halyward will add 25 million units within 6 months, with an additional 12.5 million masks every month after. In addition, they will be able to complete their Health and Human Services (HHS) N95 order within 12 months vs. 18 months without this action. O&M Halyward will expand their production line by five N95 machines their at Del Rio, Texas facility, while also expanding meltblown material production at Lexington, N.C. facility.

Honeywell will add 38 million units within 6 months, with an additional 12 million units per month after. In addition, they will be able to complete their HHS N95 order within 10 months vs. 13 months without this action.  Honeywell will accelerate production scale-up, including capital equipment, at the Smithfield, R.I. plant. They will also accelerate a 2nd production line at the Phoenix, Ariz. plant to provide additional domestic capacity for long-term needs.”

Squadron Keeps Munitions Moving Despite COVID-19 Crisis

April 21, 2020 | BY Todd Cromar

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the 649th Munitions Squadron at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, has adopted new procedures and precautions to balance airmen's safety and health with supporting worldwide warfighter requirements.

As part of the Air Force Sustainment Center, the squadron supports AMMO resupply requirements for the Air Force, the Defense Department and allied and partner-nation warfighters. This involves placing bombs, missiles and other weapons onto aircraft pallets for shipment via cargo aircraft to warfighters around the globe.

The squadron also packages and ships aircraft parts and items such as explosive components that are part of ejection seats and life-support equipment.

''We are taking standard preventative measures like wearing masks, social distancing and disinfecting at our shipping/receiving and inspection bays,'' said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Brett Kemp, 649th MUNS materiel flight chief. ''Also, we have taken a staggered approach to manning requirements, depending on changing mission needs.''

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Toby McGuire, 649th MUNS shipping/receiving assistant section chief, said airmen in the squadron are primarily operating out of two large bays in their main facility. ''COVID-19 has obviously changed our work process, but the job still has to happen,'' he said.

The shipping bay is where all outgoing assets get inspected and then shipped out to the organizations worldwide. The receiving bay is where all items coming into the squadron’s depot are inspected before being accepted and added to the inventory stockpile.

''We are on the hook to be always ready, any time an asset resupply is needed in an area of response. That’s what we do,'' Kemp said. ''Of equal importance is our regular warfighter support involving egress items and life support explosive component parts.''

Kemp added that the squadron is always inspecting incoming, outgoing and static assets, along with moving various items, preparing materials and coordinating with other agencies throughout each step of the process.

''It's not what gets all the AMMO glory, but it’s what saves lives,'' Kemp said.

(Todd Cromar is assigned to the 75th Air Base Wing.)