Military News

Monday, August 28, 2017

‘Iron Brigade’ Soldiers Hone Readiness at Grafenwoehr Exercise

By Army Staff Sgt. Ange Desinor, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division

GRAFENWOEHR TRAINING AREA, Germany, Aug. 28, 2017 — Soldiers of the 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, closed out their final major exercise in Europe with a bang during the Combined Resolve IX live-fire exercise held here Aug. 19-24.

The exercise, involving about 2,000 soldiers from five of the “Iron Brigade’s” seven battalions and the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, enhanced the readiness of U.S. Army Europe’s regionally allocated land and aviation forces to deter aggression in Europe while serving in support of Operation Atlantic Resolve.

“Combined Resolve IX is a brigade-level combined arms live-fire coordination exercise,” said Army Maj. Michael Harrison, 3rd ABCT, 4th Infantry Division, operations officer. “It’s a culminating event for our readiness progression as well as the deployment. This strengthens our readiness and ability to fight as a brigade.”

Synchronzied Capabilities

The brigade synchronized capabilities in a defensive scenario that emphasized speed while maneuvering to dominant battle positions against a conventional adversary.

Tanks and mechanized infantry took up the frontline fight as artillery, combat engineers, close-air support and unmanned aerial reconnaissance shaped conditions before and during the fight.

“This was a chance for us to challenge ourselves and see how we operate, how we fight, and how we function as a brigade-level organization,” Harrison said.

Combined Resolve IX was the sixth brigade-level combined arms live-fire coordination exercise for 3rd ABCT in the last 13 months.

Four of those exercises occurred during the brigade’s nine-month Atlantic Resolve rotation, including two opportunities to serve as a multinational task force during U.S. Army Europe exercises Combined Resolve VIII at Hohenfels Training Area, Germany, and Getica Saber at Cincu, Romania.

“We are very well trained,” Harrison said. “When we go back to Fort Carson, Colorado, our level of readiness will be extremely high, especially when we transition back to our own training area.”

Army Sgt. Maj. Joseph Nicholson, the operations sergeant major for 3rd ABCT, 4th Infantry Division, said a key for the brigade is carrying forward the knowledge gained during the latest exercise and the cumulative bilateral and multinational training that’s occurred with NATO allies and partners since the brigade arrived in Europe in January.

“Our goal moving forward is to maintain our current state of readiness. We need to ensure that everything we have learned here is not lost. It must be captured and continued to be exercised and improved upon,” Nicholson said.

Air Assault Training

During Combined Resolve IX, an emphasis by the brigade was imposing its lethality on an opponent early and often. This included an air assault to move scouts and infantrymen to forward positions and an artillery raid designed to steer the notional enemy onto ground favorable to the Iron Brigade.

“The artillery raid was an interesting thing to do because some soldiers have never done it for and actual mission. Throughout this entire Atlantic Resolve rotation, we have really emphasized agility and innovative approaches to engaging a near-peer threat, if we ever needed to,” Harrison said.

This final validation exercise also allowed USAREUR’s rotational armored brigade to team up with its rotational helicopter assets from the 10th CAB, out of Fort Drum, New York. During the main fight, AH-64 Apache attack helicopters addressed targets overhead as M1A2 tanks from 1st Battalion, 68th Armor Regiment, pushed to encounter their own targets.

Additionally, infantrymen from 1st Battalion, 8th Infantry Regiment, who normally serve in a mechanized role in Bradley Fighting Vehicles, were excited to jump in UH-60 Black Hawk and a CH-47 Chinook helicopter during an air assault with the 3rd General Support Aviation Battalion, 10th CAB.

“It’s not often that we get to do an air assault mission,” said Army 1st Lt. Brandon Castinado, a platoon leader with Company A, 1st Bn., 8th Infantry Regiment “It’s a great experience to see the brigade use all of our assets in various ways to defeat an enemy. This shows that we are capable of completing missions that are thought to be difficult or impossible to achieve. We did it, and we beat the odds. We are adaptable, resilient and most importantly, well-trained.”

U.S. Service Members Provide Humanitarian Aid in Djibouti

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa

DJIBOUTI CITY, Djibouti, Aug. 28, 2017 — Members of Combined Joint Task Force Horn of Africa and Camp Lemonnier helped mitigate the likelihood of disease transmission at a local youth center here Aug 22.
Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Samantha Ward, center, assigned to the Camp Lemonnier Emergency Medical Facility, and Army Maj. Donald Dais, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion Functional Specialty Team Environmental Health officer in charge, test water samples at Caritas Djibouti, a mission providing humanitarian aid and education to Djiboutian children living on the streets, in Djibouti City, Djibouti, Aug. 23, 2017. The team checked for chlorine levels and retrieved samples to test for bacteria, in addition to conducting a food handling and sanitation tutorial. Air National Guard photo by Air Force Tech. Sgt. Andria Allmond

Led by Army Maj. Donald Dais, 443rd Civil Affairs Battalion Functional Specialty Team Environmental Health officer in charge, the unit conducted food-handler training, environmental health assessments, as well as tested multiple water sources for chlorine and bacteria levels at Caritas Djibouti -- a mission providing humanitarian aid and education mostly to Djiboutian children living on the streets.

“The [Camp Lemonnier] chaplains had asked me to go to Caritas with them to do an assessment the last time they went,” Dais said.

There, he identified some improvements that could be made to areas such as food-handling methods and sanitation, and created and taught a tailored class to educate and inform the Caritas volunteers in an effort to intercept the onset and proliferation of disease.

Health Appraisals

Dais and his team also conducted water purity testing and evaluated the sleeping conditions as part of the health appraisal.

“We don’t have a specialist here that can do what [the U.S military] can do to check our water,” said Alain Djeudi, a Caritas kitchen and food service volunteer. “We must be sure that there are no diseases here; we must keep everybody healthy.”

Djeudi said that many of the children that come to Caritas Djibouti are ill, refugees from areas like Somalia and Ethiopia. Often times, they arrive at the mission with both wounds and illnesses. This creates a scenario in which Caritas attempts to not only treat the acute affliction, but also halt the spread of infectious diseases from spreading to other children and eventually progressing into the local community.

Therefore, Dais’s disease prevention program has the potential to positively affect the entire region, helping shape the environment while maintaining freedom of movement in the joint operating area of East Africa.

Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Samantha Ward, assigned to the Camp Lemonnier Emergency Medical Facility, assisted Dias during the assessment.

“It’s important that we realize that what we as U.S. citizens consider the correct way isn’t always the best way for the people of other regions in the world,” Ward said. “What we’re here to do is see what can be done to assist them in implementing what works best in this environment.”

Dias echoed Ward’s sentiments, noting the dual role they played in the Caritas visit.

“We are here to conduct ourselves as not only professionals in the field of public health and disease prevention, but we are also serving as ambassadors,” he said. “In that role, we are committed to doing the very best for our regional partners, while remaining mindful of the host-nation culture.”

DoD Moves Troops, Search-Rescue Units, Aircraft, Vehicles to Texas

By Cheryl Pellerin DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 28, 2017 — The Defense Department is prepositioning troops, search and rescue units, aircraft, vehicles, equipment and supplies to staging areas near the worst of the flooding in southeastern Texas in anticipation of a possible request for assistance, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

Army Col. Robert Manning updated the media on DoD response efforts to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, and summarized activities of the Texas National Guard and the National Guard Bureau.

“Continuing rainfall from the hurricane is expected to cause devastating and life-threatening flooding throughout this week,” Manning said, adding, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims.”

State, Local Efforts

On Aug. 27, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed a memorandum of agreement approving a dual-status command, Manning said, which authorizes one commander to direct active-duty and National Guard forces.

“As of now, all Guard personnel providing assistance are on Title 32, or state orders. Active-duty units are en route to the staging area in anticipation of a possible request. There has been no formal tasking [yet] of Title 10 DoD units,” the colonel added.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott today activated his state’s entire National Guard force in response to Hurricane Harvey, bringing the total number of deployed Texas Guard members to roughly 12,000.

The Texas National Guard currently has 16 aircraft and personnel conducting day and night wide-area search and rescue missions along the Texas coast from Corpus Christi to Houston.

That effort includes 10 UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters, four UH-72 Lakota multi-mission helicopters, and two CH-47 Chinook cargo helicopters.

Manning said the New York Air National Guard has provided one C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft, three HH-60 Pave Hawk search and rescue helicopters and two C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft. And six rotary-wing aircraft from the Utah, Nebraska and North Carolina Army National Guard are en route to the area.

Seven fixed-wing aircraft from the U.S. Coast Guard and Air National Guard are in support, he added, and the Texas National Guard is using about 200 Humvees, 218 high-water vehicles, 15 wreckers and 19 fuelers.

DoD Support

Manning said U.S. Northern Command is poised to provide DoD support to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the federal lead. State and local response agencies are in the lead for their own response efforts.

“DoD has provided [Joint Base San Antonio-]Randolph, Seguin Auxiliary Airfield as a forward staging area to support distribution of supplies and equipment to the affected areas,” the colonel added, “and DoD has prepositioned a search and rescue … unit that includes two SAR planners, nine SAR rotary-wing aircraft, two fixed-wing aircraft, pararescue teams and associated command-and-control … elements.”

The search and rescue assets are deploying to Joint Reserve Base Fort Worth in Texas, he said, and the Defense Logistics Agency has prepositioned logistics management and resource support, including 11 generators, 50,000 gallons of gasoline and 50,000 gallons of diesel fuel.

“Safety is the No. 1 priority,” Manning said. “We urge residents in the affected areas to continue to follow the instructions of state, local and tribal officials” and to stay away from evacuated areas until they are told the areas are safe.