Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Trials and tribulations lead to triumph

by Airman 1st Class Michaela R. Slanchik
509th Bomb Wing Public Affairs

9/21/2015 - WHITEMAN AIR FORCE BASE, Mo. -- On Aug. 16, 2011, an Airman was working with a group of U.S. Army Soldiers while deployed to Panjwaii, Afghanistan. At around seven that morning, the Airman's patrol came under fire. While defending themselves, the foot patrol proceeded into town to regroup with their main element.

Before the patrol made it to their rallying point, the Airman was shot through the wrist.

Tech. Sgt. David Hernandez, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron NCO in charge of resource management, returned from Afghanistan in 2011 with an injury that changed his life, and qualified him as a wounded warrior.

Hernandez, now a Purple Heart recipient, went to physical therapy for more than a year after being shot. He eventually regained about 50 percent of the movement in his left wrist.

"Physical therapy was fun," said Hernandez. "After being told I wouldn't get my movement back, I took my bow and arrow in and measured the degree for what I needed to shoot it again. That was my goal for physical therapy, to have 12 degrees of movement. I got there after a year and a half. Everything else just came with me slowly working out and stretching."

Every year, the Wounded Warrior Project sends out a list of activities and events to participate in. One of the activities listed this year was a tournament that allows veterans and service members with physical and/or visual disabilities to select events in which to compete.

When Hernandez received the email, he decided to take on the challenge. After choosing the events he would compete in, he began training six days a week.

"You pick three different events," said Hernandez. "They're set up for your disability. No matter the disability that you have, there is an event you can participate in."

Last month, Hernandez competed against other wounded warriors and placed in two out of three of his events.

The competition tested his skill in power lifting, shot put and archery. There was nearly a tie in the power lifting competition, but Hernandez took the gold. He also earned third place in archery.

"The second place winner for this year's power lifting competition had been going there every year, taking it with ease," said Hernandez. "I was glad to give him some tough competition."

Eileen Hawkins, 509th Logistics Readiness Squadron operation compliance manager, said she believed the games would be a piece of cake for Hernandez due to his preparation and how he consistently strives for excellence.

"With his determination, I had no doubt that he would be in the top three," said Hawkins. "He is committed to achieving the goals he sets for himself."

The games weren't strictly competition; the warriors also had the opportunity to learn a lot from each other.

"There were wounded warriors from every war imaginable," said Hernandez. "They all had different injuries, stories and attitudes. It seemed a lot of the competitors lived for the games. I think it's important to get everyone together so the wounded warriors realize they're not the only ones going through everything they're going through. We're not alone."

Hernandez said the games give competitors healthy competition, friendships that last a life time and more importantly, they give some a reason to live.

Hawkins said she believes that the competition has helped him improve his job performance.

"Being able to prepare for and participate in these games added to his discipline which carried over to his job performance," said Hawkins. "He has improved his work performance and overall morale by accomplishing goals."

While some may avoid certain activities due to such an injury, Hernandez does not let his wrist hinder him.

"He is willing to take on any task assigned to him and see it through," said Hawkins. "He does not say that he can't do something because of his injury."

Hernandez said he believes the competition has inspired him in many ways.

He now has plans to get more involved with other events that help veterans who went through similar situations during their service. He is also looking to give back by helping at a post-traumatic stress disorder camp at the end of the year and plans to compete in more competitions.

"It gave him a goal and something to work towards," said Hawkins. "He strives to do his best and it shows."

68 Years: Proud Past, Promising Future

by Maj. Angela Webb
JBER Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska  -- Although downtown Anchorage was flooded with those in pirate costumes, another celebration brought together almost 700 military members, families and other distinguished guests dressed in their finest attire to honor the Air Force's legacy at the Dena'ina Convention Center, Saturday.

U.S. Air Force installations across the globe celebrated the 68th Air Force birthday in some fashion, and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson threw a party to remember a proud past and promising future.

While it was a night of celebration, the Air Force birthday and POW/MIA Recognition day are on the same day - so there was also a solemn moment to honor America's prisoners of war and those missing in action, with a missing-man table and honors ceremony.

The evening's guest speaker, the Hon. Dan Sullivan, U.S. Senator for Alaska and U.S. Marine Reservist, spoke about family, service and sacrifice. He included several anecdotes of Air Force and other military leaders who began this journey more than 68 years ago to construct today's U.S. Air Force.

"I feel that the warriors of the sky are all toasting along with you tonight to celebrate one of the greatest services that they helped to create," Sullivan said. "Trust and take pride in your service, sacrifice and dedication in protecting this country."

From the Air Force Ball Committee's production of JBER historical and present-day photos to the youngest and oldest Airman in the room cutting the cake and the singing of the Air Force song, the night showcased the esprit de corps and pride of the Air Force.

Before the birthday celebration ended, there was a round of applause for all Airmen and their families in the room.   

"Thank you for everything you do, day in and day out, to make our Air Force the very best in the world," said Col. Brian R. Bruckbauer, JBER and 673d Air Base Wing commander, during closing comments. "As we walk out these doors, let's continue to make history."

Flying Tigers land in Estonia

by Andrea Jenkins
23d Wing Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - AMARI AIR BASE, Estonia -- Twelve A-10 Thunderbolt IIs and approximately 350 Airmen from the 74th Expeditionary Fighter Squadron arrived at Amari Air Base, Estonia September 21, as part of a theater security package deployment in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

The Airmen and aircraft, deployed from the 23d Wing out of Moody Air Force Base, Ga., will augment the U.S. Air Forces in Europe's existing efforts as part of OAR to conduct training with NATO allies to further develop interoperability and demonstrate U.S. commitment to the security and stability of Europe.

"This deployment represents something greater than just Moody," said U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Bryan France, 74th EFS commander. "It is an opportunity for us to represent not only Moody, but the United States Air Force, and it's a chance to come together and work with our NATO partners to strengthen our alliances."

The benefits to training with our NATO allies are astronomical," added France. "It's a very difficult piece ... to be able to communicate effectively with one another on the battlefield and in the battle space so being here in Eastern Europe to train alongside those military partners will enable us to better operate on the battlefield together. It also allows us to learn from each other which better prepares us to operate together in the future."

During the six month deployment, the 74th EFS Airmen will not only conduct routine flying training but will participate in several exercises and training events with NATO allies and European partners.

"We hope to learn as much as we can," said Estonian Air Force Lt. Col. Ular Lohmas, Amari Air Base commander. "Amari is a very young air base and (the Americans) bring a lot of experience so we can learn new procedures. I hope they learn a little from us too."

Both Lohmas and France agreed training opportunities like these are win-win for all involved.

"This is a great opportunity for our pilots, maintainers and support Airmen," said France. "Both the United States Air Force and the Estonian Air Force will gain tremendous benefits. It's really a synergistic relationship that we gain when we are able to operate out of an airfield in a foreign country with our allies. We will be able to brief, execute, debrief together  and learn those lessons and turn around and reapply them the next day."

This TSP deployment is a first for Moody's A-10s and adds another chapter to the legacy of the historic Flying Tigers.

"The Flying Tigers have a very rich history of working with coalition partners and nations that dates back to 1941 and we are going to be able to further that heritage here over the next six months. Honestly, I could not be more proud and excited to lead these Flying Tiger Airmen during our first TSP deployment."

Hanscom captain chosen for prestigious doctoral program

by Justin Oakes
66th Air Base Group Public Affairs

9/15/2015 - HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE, Mass. -- A Hanscom program manager found himself on a very short list of selectees when the Air Force announced its choices for the 2015 Chief of Staff of the Air Force Prestigious
Captains Ph.D. Program.

Capt. Jason Rathje -- who oversees the Advanced Tactical Command and Control program within C3I and Network's Special Programs Division -- is one of three hand-picked company grade officers who will be pursuing a fully funded doctorate degree at a top-tier civilian institution.

"I am a firm believer in the necessary and rewarding relationship between academia, industry and the Air Force," said Rathje.

However, Rathje is no stranger to academia. Holding both a bachelor's and master's degree in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he will now have the opportunity to apply from a list of 23 schools. MIT is among the institutions on the roster.

Selectees can choose from nine different degree options including: Asia Pacific studies, history, political science, international relations, economics, philosophy, international business relations, international security studies and political systems and theories.

It's still early in the planning stages for Rathje, as far as which school he wants to attend; however, the captain knows exactly what area of study he'd like to pursue -- international business relations with a focus in strategy and emergent technologies.

"This is huge, and I intend to make the most out of this opportunity," Rathje said. "By continuing my education, I hope to gain a broader and deeper understanding of industry and academia in relation to their entrepreneurial spirit within the technology space."

To be considered for the doctoral program, applicants have to be an active-duty captain with fewer than nine years of total active commissioned time. They must also have completed their bachelor's and master's degrees and earned the grade point average required by their preferred school.

Rathje attributes his selection to his efforts within U.S. Special Operations Command's Ghost program and the RATPAC, which is short for Revolutionary Acquisition Techniques Procedure and Collaboration, organization.

Through the Special Operations Research, Development and Acquisition Command's Ghost program, Rathje deployed to Afghanistan, where he was immersed in the tactics, techniques and procedures of SOCOM and its acquisition tenets.

"When I deployed to integrate a new capability, I had the honor of working side by side with our finest operators," Rathje said. "My acquisition work directly impacted operations, and I was hooked."

The RATPAC organization was later conceived from the Ghost experience when the CSAF asked Ghost participants to integrate SOCOM acquisition methods into all Air Force acquisition communities.

Rathje was one of the first to accept the challenge, and as a participant and co-founder of RATPAC, facilitated national and local events at both Hanscom and Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.

In under a year, he was able to organize more than 150 junior military and civilian acquirers with the goal of sharing acquisition TTPs and spreading the results throughout the Department of Defense community.

The first Hanscom RATPAC think tank took place in July, and the group plans to continue meeting and promoting crosstalk twice a year.

"In the several events that I have planned and attended, I have noticed marked improvements in our ability to share and discuss acquisition TTPs," Rathje said. "We have realized that as tactical threads of best practices are identified, strategic impact can be woven to effect Air Force-wide change."

His Ghost deployment contributions along with RATPAC efforts are a few examples of what propelled Rathje above the competition and solidified his selection for the CSAF Captains Ph.D. Program.

"To be one of three captains hand-picked across the entire Air Force says something special about Jason's extraordinary talent and commitment to serve," said Maj. Gen. Craig Olson, C3I and Networks program executive officer. "We're very blessed to have such an outstanding Airman and program manager on our team, and his selection for this prestigious program will enable him to make significant contributions to the Air Force and nation in the years ahead."

Rathje and the other two captains will begin their three-year doctoral program in fall 2016.

U-2 Dragon Lady takes center stage during Air Force celebrations

by Senior Airman Bobby Cummings
9th Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs

9/21/2015 - JOINT BASE ANDREWS, Maryland -- For 60 years the U-2 "Dragon Lady" has been providing high-altitude intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for national decision-makers enabling them to make educated decisions regarding the security and safety of the United States. Throughout 2015, the U. S. Air Force has been celebrating the aircrafts 60th anniversary.

On Sep. 19, 2015, the U-2 was celebrated during two major U.S. Air Force events. In the early morning hours on Sep. 19th, a U-2 "Dragon Lady" piloted by Capt. Travis, a U-2 pilot with the 99th Reconnaissance Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, California, took flight from Joint Base Andrews, Maryland.

Travis flew the aircraft west, where he would perform a flyover at the start of the 19th annual U.S. Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the birthplace of aviation. Thousands of spectators witnessed the flyover.

"As I began flying over the marathon I could see a vast crowd, the start line and all of the flashes from the cameras on the ground," Travis said. "The flyover had a specific timeframe. I had to time the aircraft being overhead of the starting line to the second. Due to precise coordination and teamwork we accomplished our goal."

After completing the flyover, Travis turned the U-2 east for his return flight to Joint Base Andrews where another U.S. Air Force event was occurring. JBA was hosting an air show with thousands of attendees, including U.S. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III.

"I've never had the opportunity to fly by a significant amount of people or land in front of thousands of spectators. It was truly a unique experience," Travis said. "This was my first time executing a fly by during an air show. I'm happy we were able to do this and create more exposure for the U-2 and our mission."

Although the pilot plays a vital role during any flight, there are many individuals behind the scenes who make every flight possible. Nearly 30 personnel from the 9th Reconnaissance Wing, Beale Air Force Base, also attended the air show including Airmen from the 9th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron and Airmen from the 9th Physiological Support Squadron.

"The whole team here has functioned seamlessly through every phase of our trip," said Lt. Col. Andrew McVicker, 9th Operations Group deputy commander, Beale Air Force Base. "A temporary deployment is similar to an expeditionary operation because we're operating outside of our normal framework, but we train and prepare for a reason. I'm reluctant to say anything ever goes flawlessly but this has truly been a perfect evolution, all because we've been working together."

The U-2 "Dragon Lady" has been soaring at the edge of space since 1955. During that time, Frank Sinatra was topping the music industry charts, and Mickey Mantle was in the early stages of his career playing outfield for the New York Yankees. The aircraft was developed by the Skunk Works program for Lockheed Martin led by aircraft designer Kelly Johnson.

"The legacy of the U-2 is immense. What is more impressive is how relevant its legacy remains today," McVicker said. "There are principles in the aircraft's design that are enduring. Kelly Johnson did a spectacular job designing the U-2. Through all these generations of conflict and people who operate and support the aircraft we've adapted the aircraft to the demands of modern day. That's a story of generations of teamwork."

The culmination of teamwork throughout the generations was on display throughout the weekend for thousands of people to witness.

"The most rewarding part of this trip for me is the opportunity to connect with the community," McVicker said. "In many cases the U-2 mission is not fully understood, and this has been a tremendous opportunity to interact with people and share our story."

Exploring Denali in recognition of military appreciation

by Tech. Sgt. John Gordinier
Alaskan Command Public Affairs

9/21/2015 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- Each September Denali National Park and Preserve hosts a "road lottery" where winners can drive as much of the Denali Park Road as weather allows. Sept. 19 was Military Appreciation Day, and 400 lottery tickets were given to military members throughout Alaska.

On normal business days, the park only allows visitors to drive to mile 15 of the Denali Park Road, but weather permitting, lottery winners can drive all the way to the end around mile marker 85 near Wonder Lake. Winners are afforded the opportunity to see wildlife, spectacular scenery and closer views of Denali.

According to the National Park Service website, "Military Appreciation Day began in the late 2000s, in the style of the road lottery. It occurred the day after the main lottery ended, all fees were waived and road passes were given out by the military to 400 Alaska-based servicemembers. In 2014, park superintendent Don Striker made this an annual event.

"Denali is honored each year to formally recognize the longstanding contributions of the (military) to national parks in general and to Denali specifically," Striker said. "We are humbled to do our small part to thank our military families who sacrifice much to protect us, and we hope a visit inspires a deep connection to the democracy that national parks represent so well."

This year, the park decided that it made more sense to offer Military Appreciation Day on the weekend of road lottery, rather than on a Tuesday, and rearranged the dates of the public lottery to accommodate this change.

"I was thrilled when I found out I was a lottery winner and was chosen to drive the Denali Park Road," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Monik Chhim, 11th Air Force commander's support staff NCO. "It was beautiful; we saw a huge herd of caribou, a few dall Sheep, a couple of bears and one huge bull moose."

"I thank the National Park Service and their personnel for allowing me and my fellow servicemembers the opportunity to enjoy all of Denali National Park amenities," Chhim said. "I was greeted by many park rangers along the way and they were all so courteous and polite. It was truly amazing and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure."

Sentiments felt were mirrored by park rangers.

"I met hundreds of servicewomen and men and their families, and it was an absolute pleasure and privilege getting to meet all of them and to chat briefly with them," said Cass Ray, acting public information officer for Denali National Park and Preserve. "We recognize and thank members of the military and their families for their service and contributions to our nation."

Dempsey Discusses Unsettled, Unpredictable World Situation

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, September 22, 2015 — The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said recently that the world is more unsettled and unpredictable than at any time during his 41-year military career.

Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey sat down with DoD News to discuss his four-year tenure as chairman. He retires at the end of the month.

He said one constant throughout his term as chairman has been the increasing complexity of the world situation.

Complex World Situation

“It has always been the case that there have been threats to our national interests, and in some cases in the past, at home,” the general said. “What’s different about this period is that we’ve got this kind of convergence of both state actors who threaten us and we have the persistent threat of, let’s call it sub-state or non-state groups like the Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant.”

ISIL and the other “alphabet soup” of terrorist organizations bring a new aspect to the fight, he said. These groups share a common interest in changing the American way of life and propagating theirs, the chairman said.

Over his career it has been one or the other. When the chairman was commissioned out of West Point in 1974, the superpower rivalry between America and the Soviet Union dominated strategic thinking.

New Threats Emerge

From 2001 to 2011, al-Qaida and its affiliates dominated the threat spectrum. The U.S. military concentrated on counterinsurgency and counterterrorism operations, Dempsey said.

“What’s happened, I think, that increases the instability now is you’ve got state actors who are asserting themselves and trying to change the international order, and you’ve got the persistent threat from these non- and sub-state groups,” he said. “It’s the combination of those that makes it difficult to distribute the force, … because each kind of threat requires a different kind of military instrument.”

Dempsey noted the cliché that every problem looks like a nail if the only tool you’ve got in your tool bag is a hammer. “Well, we’ve got nails, we’ve got screws, we got bolts, we got, you know, thumbtacks,” he said. “There are a lot of problems out there.”

Confronting these threats -- especially the threat of violent extremism -- will be a generational struggle, he said. Some critics have said the United States doesn’t have the patience for such an effort.

Struggle in the Middle East

“It doesn’t matter whether we have the patience -- our adversaries have the patience,” Dempsey said. “It is a generational struggle, because the underlying causes of this violence in the Middle East have a lot to do with demographic shifts and tribal and, of course, religion, economic disparity, bad, bad politics and governance.”

He added, “Those underlying issues are not going to be resolved for a generation or more.”

Overcoming such issues are key to defeating the threat of groups like al-Qaida or ISIL or whatever comes next, Dempsey said. Just addressing the threat posed by current groups without addressing the underlying causes of their popularity means that another group will rise and take its place, he said. Good governance, economic hope, and laws justly enforced are just as important in the fight against terror as bullets and bombs, the chairman said.

The adversary exploits the underlying issues, the exploitation of social media and the perversion of religion to create “a very dangerous, volatile situation that’s going to take a very long time to overcome,” he said.

“Now, we are getting it done,” Dempsey said. “We’ve got great leaders at every level from lieutenant and ensign all the way up to general and admiral, and we’re figuring it out.”

Barksdale Airmen participate in EUCOM exercise

Air Force Global Strike Command Public Affairs

9/22/2015 - BARKSDALE AIR FORCE BASE, La. -- A 2nd Bomb Wing B-52 Stratofortress aircrew conducted a long-range bomber mission from the United States to the U.S. European Command area of operations Sept. 17-18, where they participated in Exercise Immediate Response 2015.

During the nonstop sortie, which lasted approximately 30 hours, the aircrew flew from Barksdale Air Force Base, Louisiana, to Postojna, Slovenia, where they worked with Slovenian and U.S. Joint Terminal Attack Controllers (JTAC) at a range near the Slovenian town of Pivka to provide close air support to allied forces. Additionally, they conducted a low altitude demonstration for distinguished multinational visitors and leaders.

"This exercise sends a very specific message to our partners and allies in the region that the B-52 is prepared to provide immediate combat power anywhere in the world when called upon," said Capt. Ryan Loucks, 96th Bomb Squadron assistant director of operations, who was part of the support team that planned and launched the sortie. "Exercise Immediate Response affords our combat aircrew an outstanding opportunity to train with our coalition partners and foster multinational integration within the region. It also allows us to exercise our capability to transit multiple AORs on a single mission and achieve very precise objectives on the ground in a very realistic scenario."

Exercise Immediate Response 2015 is a multinational, brigade-level exercise using computer-assisted simulations and field training exercises in Croatia and Slovenia. Exercise activities were designed to enhance regional stability, strengthen partner capacity and improve interoperability between partner nations. The exercise supports the goal of a "strong Europe" in that partner nations are trained and ready to combine forces to ensure unified security across allied nations.

The B-52 mission in support of Immediate Response followed a series of similar partnership activities in the EUCOM AOR. In June, three Stratofortresses from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, deployed to Royal Air Force Fairford, England, where the bombers trained and integrated with U.S. and allied military forces during Exercises BALTOPS and Saber Strike.  In April, two Barksdale B-52s and two Minot B-52s performed a nonstop roundtrip mission to the North Sea and Arctic regions, where aircrews participated in dissimilar air intercept maneuvers with fighters from the Royal Canadian Air Force, the United Kingdom's Royal Air Force and the Royal Netherlands Air Force.

According to Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, 8th Air Force commander and the U.S. Strategic Command's Joint Functional Component Command for Global Strike commander, the participation of B-52 forces in Exercise Immediate Response 2015 demonstrates the Air Force's ability to integrate with joint forces while simultaneously supporting the nation's efforts to build and foster partnerships with its allies.

"Exercises such as Immediate Response provide participating nations with the ability to plan, prepare and execute joint and combined training in a real-time, realistic setting," Clark said. "For our aircrews and support apparatus, these events not only provide an excellent opportunity to strengthen and improve interoperability, but they allow our bomber forces to train like we fight and exercise our long-range strike playbook in a practice scrimmage on the global gridiron."

The B-52 Stratofortress is a long-range, multi-role bomber capable of delivering both conventional and nuclear munitions. The aircraft can fly at high subsonic speeds at altitudes up to 50,000 feet.

USS George Washington (CVN 73) Enters 4th Fleet Area of Operations to Conduct Southern Seas 2015

By Ensign Carol McKenzie, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command Public Affairs

MAYPORT, Fla. (NNS) -- The aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) arrived in the U.S. 4th Fleet area of operations to begin the Southern Seas 2015 deployment and participate in UNITAS 2015, from late Sept. to mid Dec. 2015.

George Washington, Carrier Strike Group 9 (CSG9), Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW-2), USNS Bighorn (T-AO-198), USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200), USS Chafee (DDG 90) and USS McFaul (DDG 74) are deployed to the waters surrounding Latin America and the Caribbean to conduct Southern Seas 2015.

Sailors and Marines, as well as Military Sealift Command civilian mariners will join together to conduct the deployment to circumnavigate South America as George Washington transits to Norfolk, Virginia to begin a scheduled refueling.

Southern Seas 2015 is a U.S. Southern Command-directed operation planned by commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. Fourth Fleet and carried out by George Washington task group.

Southern Seas 2015 is a collaborative deployment in the U.S. Southern Command area of focus where the task group will conduct a variety of exercises and multinational exchanges. These exchanges include distinguished visitor embark engagements with Panama, Peru, Colombia, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, and Uruguay; and bilateral at-sea operations with Japan, Peru, Chile and Brazil.

"This deployment demonstrates our continued commitment and enduring relationships with our partner nations; it is an opportunity to come together and collaboratively exercise our skills in an increasingly challenging maritime environment," said Rear Adm. George Ballance, commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet. "I look forward to the multinational participation and opportunities to learn from each other during this deployment."

As part of Southern Seas 2015, the multinational forces exercise UNITAS 2015 will be conducted in two phases.

UNITAS Pacific, scheduled for mid-October, will be hosted by Chile and include participation from Brazil, Colombia, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, New Zealand, Panama, and the United States. UNITAS Atlantic, scheduled for mid-November, will be hosted by Brazil and include participation from Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Peru, Senegal, and the U.S.

UNITAS, which is Latin for "unity," was first started in 1959 and has been held every year since. This year marks the 56th iteration of this long-running exercise. UNITAS 2015 provides unique training opportunities at sea, a challenging and uncertain environment, which incorporates scripted, event-driven scenarios, to provide the maximum opportunity to improve interoperability.

The eighth deployment of its kind, Southern Seas 2015 seeks to enhance interoperability, increase regional stability, and build and maintain regional relationships with countries throughout the region through joint, multinational and interagency exchanges and cooperation.

George Washington will visit Peru, Chile, and Brazil. During these port visits, the ship's crew will have the opportunity to experience the rich culture of their host nation and to serve as goodwill ambassadors. Additionally many of the Sailors and Marines of Southern Seas 2015 will have the chance to volunteer for enhancement projects at local schools, orphanages, and other facilities.

U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet supports U.S. Southern Command's joint and combined military operations by employing maritime forces in cooperative maritime security operations in order to maintain access, enhance interoperability, and build enduring partnerships in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.