Tuesday, February 13, 2018

U.S. Stores Donated Blood for Emergency Use During Cobra Gold Exercise

By Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Micaiah Anthony III Marine Expeditionary Force

BANGKOK, Feb. 13, 2018 — CAMP FOSTER, OKINAWA, Japan – Lance Cpl. Jarrid Young donates blood Jan. 11 at the Single Marine Program blood drive aboard Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.

The blood was delivered to Bangkok Hospital Pattaya and Bangkok Hospital Chanthanburi Feb. 10.

The blood drives were conducted from American bases and camps around Okinawa, Japan, and the blood was transported to Thailand.

“We supply all the operations that the military conducts in the Pacific,” said Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Oscar Valdueza, the lead petty officer and public affairs specialist for the Armed Services Blood Bank Center. “This blood is for [exercise] Cobra Gold [2018].”

Annual Exercise in Thailand

Exercise Cobra Gold 2018 is an annual exercise conducted in Thailand, held from Feb. 13-23, with seven full participating nations.

The blood was sent to the hospitals to be stored and available for use by U.S. troops in case of an accident during the exercise.

“We prestage the blood at host nation hospitals because Thailand has a great network that is able to hold and facilitate our blood in the event of an emergency,” said Navy Lt. Nii Adjei Oninku, III Marine Expeditionary Force health service support officer. “Blood is the same as any other medical supplies. We bring our own bandages, gauze and tongue suppressors. So, we bring our own blood, too.”

According to Lt. Oninku, after the exercise the remaining donated blood will be turned over to the local hospitals for their use.

Programs like the Armed Services Blood Bank Center are aimed at improving the quality of life, as well as the general health and welfare, of civilian residents in the exercise areas.

“Every time there is a blood drive I try to donate,” said Marine Corps Pfc. Melvin Barnard, a defense clerk with Legal Services Support Section at Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan. “I started donating because I figured it could help someone. So, why not do it?”

Airmen, Soldiers Brave Alaska’s Cold at Contingency Exercise

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Liliana Moreno, 621st Contingency Response Wing

TRAVIS AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Feb. 13, 2018 — Airmen from the 621st Contingency Response Wing here trained alongside soldiers from Fort Wainwright, Alaska, during the Rapid Alaskan Airlift Week exercise at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska, Jan. 19-26.

The exercise is designed to optimize exercise opportunities in a cold weather environment and enable sharing of tactics, techniques and procedures between airmen and soldiers. During the training, the service members trained on de-icing aircraft and loading mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicle, small unit support vehicles, AH-64 Apache helicopters and Stryker combat vehicles.

“Most of the training was focused on getting U.S. Army Alaska units familiar with their aircraft loads, so if faced with an accelerated deployment they will be better trained to deploy with minimal support,” said Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Jeremy Fisher, 821st Contingency Response Squadron operations superintendent.


Airmen and soldiers worked together to effectively operate in arctic climates, with subzero temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. “Most of us have deployed and have operated in temps surpassing 100 degrees Fahrenheit, but there is no comparison to operating in subzero temperatures, with snowfall, winds blowing, and decked out in bulky clothes. It's not fun at all, but the team did it all with ease,” Fisher said.

“Snow, frost and ice on the flight surfaces of an aircraft can lead to extremely hazardous situations during a flight,” said Air Force Master Sgt. Desmond Carr, 821 CRS maintenance flight chief. The airmen participating in the exercise, he said, “have to be ready to operate in a wide variety of climate conditions … [like the] severe weather conditions in Alaska, and specifically at Eielson, allowed us to operate in conditions that relatively few people have experience living in, let alone working in.”

According to Fisher, the maintainers at the exercise were challenged with the cold temperatures and snow more than anybody else on the team. “Despite being limited on equipment and de-icing trucks, they were able to develop alternative deicing options to prevent aircraft from terminating at Eielson for weather holds,” he said.

The exercise was another opportunity for soldiers and airmen to train together.

“Anytime you can get a look at another service’s deployment process, become familiar with their cargo, or have an opportunity to mission plan together, it becomes value-added training,” Fisher said. “This exercise allowed us to learn how the Army prioritizes their movements.”

The exercise “provided a unique opportunity to conduct rapid, robust contingency response operations in a very challenging physical environment with our joint partners,” said Air Force Lt. Col. Blaine Baker, 821 CRS commander.

Officials Highlight Importance of U.S. Security Sector Assistance

By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 12, 2018 — U.S. security sector assistance is an important tool to build partner capacity and strengthen regional security, officials said today during a panel discussion at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here.

The Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act required reforms to U.S. security sector assistance, including largely consolidating more than 120 different authorities, Greg Pollock, acting deputy assistant secretary of defense for security cooperation, said.

Pollock and Army Brig. Gen. Antonio Fletcher, U.S. Southern Command’s director of strategy, policy and plans, were among the speakers at the discussion, titled “Oversight and Accountability in U.S. Security Sector Assistance: Seeking Return on Investment.”

A key authority for the Defense Department is the Section 333 Global Train and Equip Authority, which seeks real strategic effects consistent with the National Defense Strategy, Pollock explained.

“It's a wide-reaching effort that really touches every combatant command, all of the services, so maintaining that network and creating a partnership across those echelons is really central to my day-to-day work,” he said.

Evolving Challenges, Long-Term Strategy

The new authorities allow flexibility to fund both priorities both short-term and long-term across geography and domains, Pollock said.

"We're out there looking at the big picture and trying to make investments that meet all of our respective national security interests,” he said. “The security environment will evolve, but our interests won't evolve.”

The U.S. security support around the globe is an important investment, he explained.

"We hope that we can depend upon the partnership of both our current allies and more and more the sort of partners that we're investing in out there, whether it’s in Eastern Europe on the margins of Russia or in Southeast Asia [or] East Asia," Pollock said.

The Defense Department will continue to ensure the combatant commands have the resources they need to “work by, with and through partners to deal with local sources of instability and potentially terrorism as well," he said.

The challenge, he explained, is to ensure thoughtful investments for “partners that are in the fight today, but also investing in partners that we want to count on for the long haul, particularly in respect to some of the near-peer competitors out there."

Pollock highlighted the importance of a collaborative, interagency and long-term approach, including efforts with the State Department.

He described this as a “very exciting moment” in which security cooperation is situated into the wider framework of foreign policy and defense strategy, and welcomed efforts to further boost engagements with the State Department.

Southcom Perspective

Southcom’s theater engagement strategy is a long-term effort built on themes that resonate in the entire area of responsibility, Fletcher said. Those themes include human rights and countering transregional and transnational threat networks. 

"I think too often where there is risk to force [and] risk to mission, we make some short-term decisions that may not be in the best interests long term,” he said. “So what we are trying to do in Southcom is actually take a very long look, long-term approach to our engagements in the [area of responsibility]."

The aim includes improving resilience of nations in responding to humanitarian assistance or disaster relief. With the investment comes the expectation that the recipient allies and partners will share what they learned with their regional partners, he said. Colombia is a great example of a success story, he pointed out.

Fletcher highlighted the importance of strengthening the no-commissioned officer corps of partner nations. "At the end of the day, if you look at the American military and DoD, really it is our NCO corps that sets us apart from most of the militaries around the world.”

A central focus of the Southcom strategy is the importance of an interagency and joint force approach, he explained. "It takes the whole-of-government, it takes a complete team to be effective," he added. "We built our strategy around that, and we think it will pay dividends going forward."