Tuesday, June 19, 2018

DoD Halts Planning for Ulchi Freedom Guardian Exercise, Spokesperson Says

WASHINGTON -- Consistent with President Donald J. Trump's commitment to North Korea and in concert with South Korea, the United States military has suspended all planning for Ulchi Freedom Guardian, this August's defensive war game, Dana W. White, chief Pentagon spokesperson, said in a statement today.

“We are still coordinating additional actions,” she said. “No decisions on subsequent war games have been made.”

There will be a meeting on this issue at the Pentagon later this week with the defense secretary, secretary of state and the national security advisor, she said. “There is no impact on Pacific exercises outside of the Korean Peninsula.”

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is an annual U.S.-South Korean command and control exercise that began in 1976 and is designed to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula. Last year, about 17,500 U.S. service members took part, as well as participants from Australia, Canada, Colombia, Denmark, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom and New Zealand.

Face of Defense: Reserve Soldier Returns to Help Hometown Recruiters

By Army Maj. Brandon Mace, 4th Sustainment Command

EL PASO, Texas -- One of the unique ways an Army Reservist can make a difference after returning from their initial entry training is to serve as a hometown recruiter.

Army Spc. Alexis Chacon, a human resources specialist with the 77th Quartermaster Group here, was excited to help the recruiters in her home town.

“I just wanted the experience,” Chacon said. “I wanted to build my communication skills. I wanted to learn how to put myself out there and be able to explain the Army Reserve to someone.”

The Hometown Recruiter Assistance Program allows enlisted soldiers who have recently completed initial entry training to return to their home towns to assist recruiters by sharing their Army training experiences with family, friends, high school classmates, future soldiers, veterans and community leaders.

Reaching Students

This is the second time Chacon has participated. A few weeks ago she returned to her alma mater, Bel Air High School, to talk with students and teachers about her experiences.

“We went to Bel Air and did presentations for all of the seniors that were graduating,” Chacon said. “We went out and talked about all the benefits, things like education benefits.”

Like most high school seniors, Chacon had fears and concerns before she reported to her initial entry training in 2016 at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. She said that it was interesting to hear some of the students share the same kinds of fears she had when she was joining.

“One guy said he was afraid of leaving his family behind,” shared Chacon. “When I started my mom didn’t want me to leave, and I knew I’d miss her, but everyone is going through the same thing. It’s teamwork to get through it together.”

Firsthand Knowledge

Army Staff Sgt. Matthew Stepan, a recruiter with the El Paso Recruiting Company, said the full-time recruiters love when soldiers return to be hometown recruiters.

“We offer it every time we have an enlistment,” he said. “We ask them to come back because they have the knowledge and know firsthand what the Army is doing at their level.”

Stepan said that hometown recruiters can really relate with high school students and address their questions and concerns in a unique way. He added that he was glad Chacon could help talk directly with the students they met with.

“She went through boot camp and AIT, and she has a fresh knowledge about how it is right now,” he said. “She knows how things affect [high school] seniors, from education to finances, not only in the military but as a civilian as well, because she is in the Army Reserve, and she loves it!”

In addition to serving in an Army Reserve unit here, Chacon is hoping to do even more to help her community. She has already applied and tested to join the El Paso Police Department.

“One thing I like about El Paso is the people,” she said. “Everyone knows each other. The community is really close, so if I can be out there protecting them on the police force and I can be serving here in the Reserve, it is something I want to do. I want to maintain our community the way it is.”

Coast Guard Receives International Recognition for Hurricane Response

By Walter Ham, U.S. Coast Guard Headquarters

INCHEON, South Korea -- As the 2018 hurricane season opens, the international maritime community recognized the Coast Guard for its efforts last year to restore safe marine navigation in waterways hit by hurricanes Harvey, Irma and Maria.

The members of the International Association of Marine Aids to Navigation and Lighthouse Authorities selected the Coast Guard for its best practices award during its quadrennial conference, held here May 27-June 2.

A leader in the employment of electronic aids to navigation, the Coast Guard maintains more than a quarter of the eATON in use around the world today.

Using the Nationwide Automatic Identification System network of shore-based towers, the service employs eATON to augment its constellation of physical aids to navigation for mariners who can “see” eATON with an AIS receiver and electronic charting system or integrated radar.

Besides hurricane preparation and response, eATON has also been successfully used to respond to high-water events in the West and to supplement buoys in ice-covered waterways.

Hurricane Response

Following Hurricane Harvey, the Coast Guard established 13 eATON around Port Aransas, Texas. By temporarily using eATON to mark the buoys and beacons that were destroyed or damaged by the hurricane, the Coast Guard was able to reopen the port more quickly.

Leveraging the lessons learned from Hurricane Harvey to prepare for Hurricane Irma, the Coast Guard proactively established 301 eATON locations around U.S. waterways that were predicted to lie in the storm’s track. The eATON marked waterways from Tampa, Florida, to Key West, Florida, and up the eastern seaboard to Charleston, South Carolina, as well as around Puerto Rico.

Following the hurricanes, eATON provided a constant aid to navigation for mariners, including the buoy tenders and ATON teams that reconstituted the damaged physical ATON system.

International Recognition

Based in Saint Germain-en-Laye, France, IALA is no-profit, international technical association that brings together Aids to Navigation authorities from 80 nations, as well as numerous industrial members who provide ATON services or technical advice.

During the IALA Conference’s general assembly, the United States was re-elected to the IALA Council, which is IALA’s governing body and responsible for approval of all IALA guidelines and recommendations.

“It is an honor and privilege to be a part of the leadership team that will lead IALA into the future,” said Coast Guard Capt. Mary Ellen Durley, chief of the Office of Navigation Systems and the designated U.S. councilor to IALA. “The maritime industry is going through a stage of rapid technological advances, and I look forward to IALA addressing these challenges over the next four year work plan.”

Coast Guard ATON personnel serve on IALA committees and contribute to the organization’s aim to ensure that seafarers are provided with effective and harmonized aids to navigation services worldwide to assist in the safe navigation of shipping and protection of the environment.

In addition to making presentations and chairing various panels, members from the U.S. delegation were also appointed to positions on IALA’s e-Navigation Committee and Aids to Navigation Requirements and Management Committee.
“I was very impressed with the openness of all delegations working together to share their technical knowledge and collectively advance safety and the future of navigation,” said Coast Guard Capt. Kevin C. Kiefer, the deputy director of the U.S. Marine Transportation System Directorate, which oversees the Coast Guard’s navigation systems, waterways management, bridges and Arctic policy programs. “The U.S. Coast Guard continues to play a major role in developing and supporting these international efforts.”