Monday, March 18, 2013

Hagel Tasks Civilian, Military Leaders to Examine Strategy

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 18, 2013 – Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has tasked senior civilian and military personnel to examine the Defense Department’s strategic assumptions, given changes in the fiscal environment, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said today.

Hagel asked Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to lead the effort. Their deadline is May 31.

The secretary asked them to examine the choices underlying the department’s strategy, force posture, investments and institutional management. This examination will include past assumptions, systems and practices, Little said in a meeting with reporters.

The new examination follows up on the Defense Strategic Guidance. That guidance called for rebalancing military forces toward the Asia-Pacific region, supporting partner nations and building partnership capacity, ensuring access to the global commons, countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and winning the wars of today.

Officials used that guidance -- released in January 2012 -- to form the fiscal 2013 budget request. That request took into account the $487 billion cut in the DOD budget over 10 years.

As an equivalent additional spending cut over the next decade loomed under a sequestration mechanism in budget law, then-Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta and Dempsey said sequestration could make the defense strategic guidance moot. Sequestration triggered this month, leading to the look at the strategy’s assumptions today.

“This Strategic Choices and Management Review will define the major decisions that must be made in the decade ahead to preserve and adapt our defense strategy, our force and our institutions under a range of future budgetary scenarios,” Little said. “The results of this review will frame the secretary’s guidance for the fiscal 2015 budget and will ultimately be the foundation for the Quadrennial Defense Review due to Congress in February 2014.”

Carter Reaffirms U.S. Commitment to South Korea

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, March 18, 2013 – During a series of high-level meetings here, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter met with members of South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s new administration, and with U.S. military and diplomatic officials.

Click photo for screen-resolution image
Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter addresses U.S. and South Korean forces assigned to the joint operations center of Command Post TANGO near Seoul, South Korea, March 18, 2013. Carter thanked the troops for their service and reminded them to thank their family members for the sacrifices they make in serving their countries. DOD photo by Glenn Fawcett

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Carter had an excellent round of consultations with senior members of Park’s new team, he told reporters during a briefing this afternoon, and in each meeting reconfirmed a steadfast commitment to the nearly 60-year-old alliance between the United States and South Korea.
“It’s safe to report that the relationship between the Park and Obama administrations is off to a very productive start,” he said. “My visit reflects the importance [Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel] and I attach to this alliance.”
Park, South Korea’s first woman president, was sworn in Feb. 25, less than two weeks after North Korean state media announced that the nation had conducted its third underground nuclear test since 2006. This and other provocations that are part of a continuing North Korean pattern were key topics in discussions today, Carter said, adding that such actions pose a serious threat to the United States, to South Korea and to regional stability.

“If the North Koreans think this kind of thing is going to get them anywhere, they're mistaken,” the deputy secretary said. “The only effect it's having is to bring down upon North Korea the opprobrium of the entire world.”

The United States is working with friends and allies around the world to employ an integrated response to these unacceptable provocations, Carter added.

The response includes United Nations Security Council resolutions with unprecedentedly strong sanctions against North Korea, and more unilateral sanctions of great effect, and the nation’s resulting progressive isolation, he said.

“In the military sphere, the United States remains steadfast in its defense commitments to the Republic of Korea,” the deputy defense secretary observed. “Together, we are taking important steps to advance the alliance military capabilities.”

In particular, the United States remains committed to extended deterrence offered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, and to ensuring that all capabilities remain available to the alliance, he added.
For example, Carter noted the routine presence of strategic bombers taking part in flight training on the Korean Peninsula, adding that a B-52 flight will take place tomorrow. B-52s are long-range, strategic heavy bombers that can drop or launch the widest array of weapons in the U.S. inventory.
As Hagel announced March 15, the United States will strengthen its missile defenses and is determined to keep ahead of the progress of North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile development, the deputy defense secretary said.

The annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises Key Resolve, ongoing until March 21, and Foal Eagle, a combined and joint field training exercise that runs across the Korean Peninsula from March 1 to April 30, “demonstrate the U.S. commitment to the alliance,” Carter said, “and ensure the readiness of both of our forces to defend the Republic of Korea and deepen interoperability with U.S. and South Korean forces.”

On this cool, hazy Monday morning in Seoul, Carter started his day with a visit to Army Gen. James D. Thurman, commander of U.S. Forces Korea. Afterward, he met with U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim.

Carter then visited the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade to meet with Minister Yun Byung-se.

The U.S. commitment to South Korea is very strong, Carter told Yun in remarks before the meeting.

“Our capabilities are very formidable -- yours, ours and ours combined,” Carter said, clasping his hands together in illustration. “And as you know,” he added, “we have the full range of capabilities for both countries committed to the defense of South Korea. That has been true for decades, and it has not changed.”

Later, Carter traveled to the Blue House and met with Kim Jang-Soo at the National Security Office. The Blue House comprises the executive offices and official residence of the president. It translates to "pavilion of blue tiles" and is built in the Korean architectural tradition with modern elements.

Carter’s final meeting today was with Minister of National Defense Kim Kwan-jin.
In addition to the threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, Carter and the South Korean officials discussed adding military capabilities to the alliance, continuing extended nuclear deterrence, and continuing the U.S. commitment to resource the Asia-Pacific rebalance, including the U.S. presence on the Korean Peninsula.

During the afternoon news conference, Carter answered a question about potential effects of extreme Defense Department budget cuts -- a process known as sequestration -- on the U.S. commitment to South Korea. Specifically, he was asked whether the United States would ask South Korea for a larger contribution to U.S. efforts on the peninsula.

“The United States has not asked the Republic of Korea for funds associated with sequester,” the deputy defense secretary said, describing the process as a temporary budget turbulence imposed by the U.S. Congress that will last until Oct. 1.

“We will deal with that turmoil in a way that does not affect the Korean Peninsula. That's the direction I've given,” he added, “and so operations and actions on the Korean Peninsula aren't affected.”

Carter and his South Korean counterparts pledged close and continuing cooperation on these issues at senior levels of government.

After the news conference, Carter and Thurman toured Command Post TANGO -- for theater air naval ground operations -- a high-tech bunker 11 miles south of Seoul that serves as the Korean theater’s main warfighting headquarters.

There, Carter observed elements of the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises, and thanked U.S and South Korean troops for their service and for keeping the world safe from harm.
Carter’s Asian visit will end tomorrow night after a stop in Jakarta, Indonesia, where he will hold bilateral meetings, attend a dinner with members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ Council of Permanent Representatives, and attend for the first time as deputy defense secretary the Jakarta International Defense Dialogue.

WRM: The backbone of Misawa

by Airman 1st Class Kia Atkins
35th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

3/15/2013 - MISAWA AIR BASE, Japan -- In the military, we face threats on a daily basis whether it be war or natural disaster. In times of crisis, the 35th Logistics Readiness Squadron's Vehicle Maintenance Flight's War Readiness Materials' section is ready to spring into action on a moment's notice by being poised with a well-maintained fleet of specialty vehicles to help many missions carry on.

Their main duties consist of determining the overall condition of vehicles and correcting deficiencies by replacing worn or damaged parts with new or reconditioned ones.

"I get a great sense of satisfaction about what I do in the military," said Airman 1st Class Jeff Louis, 35 LRS vehicle maintenance apprentice. "I take pride in maintaining vehicles. By the time I finish performing maintenance on them, they are 100 percent ready to perform their respective functions."

In Louis' opinion, if vehicle maintenance personnel weren't around to take care of vehicles, it could present a big problem.

"I think the WRM section and the vehicles we maintain are essential for the base," said Louis. "If something happened and we weren't there, like during an operation, then the base would probably have to request vehicles from somewhere else."

In an emergency situation, specialty vehicles may be needed on the spot, which is why the WRM section maintains the fleet daily.

"Since we are here and ready to go at any time, we're prepared for any vehicle requests the base might need," said Louis. "Regardless of the timeline they give us, we will get it done."

All of the vehicles in the WRM section are postured for any crisis scenarios, base exercises, or operations in the Pacific region, whether in wartime or peacetime.

"If war were ever to break out here in the Pacific, we could supply these vehicles to help build new base infrastructures or anything else they are needed for," said Master Sgt. Michael Brower 35 LRS vehicle maintenance section chief.

Because of the WRM sections presence, the base is considered a humanitarian response unit. Due to the variety of vehicles stored in WRM, the 35th Fighter Wing is equipped to respond during any disaster by providing materials handling vehicles, ambulances and personnel transport vehicles.

"A lot of our vehicles were used during Operation Tomodachi," said Brower. "The forklifts we have were especially needed for the aid we provided. They helped transport all the water and food we had coming through."

WRM is sponsored by Pacific Air Forces, so if Misawa's vehicles are ever needed elsewhere in the region, they could be sent to those locations.

"I think WRM is very essential to the Air Force," said Louis. "As long as we have the equipment and the people like us to maintain them, we'll be ready to go and assist wherever we are needed."

The WRM section represents the backbone of the wing during disaster times and special operations when specialty vehicles are needed.

"There is no greater enjoyment than knowing what I do for a living has the potential to save lives and protect those in need," said Louis. "I invest all my knowledge and resources into maintaining those vehicles for that reason."