A number of construction projects that will benefit local communities and enhance the skills of military engineers as part of exercise Balikatan are set to begin in early April in the Philippines. Balikatan officially kicks off Apr. 16.
As noted by the Philippine Information Agency, the projects include road construction, upgrades to water systems, and additions at several schools.
U.S. Army, U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps engineers will work alongside their Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) counterparts to complete the projects. Partnering in this way not only provides assistance to these communities, but allows the engineers to learn from one another and improve their ability to work together as a team.
Balikatan will emphasize training and activities that ensure disaster relief efforts are more responsive, efficient and effective. Included in this professional development are numerous medical outreach projects that will have medical professionals from both nations assisting local communities.
Balikatan is U.S. Pacific Command’s premier bilateral military exercise with the AFP. The Government of the Republic of the Philippines and the United States have a long relationship and history of working together. This partnership includes a 57-year mutual defense treaty.
Tuesday, March 31, 2009
A number of construction projects that will benefit local communities and enhance the skills of military engineers as part of exercise Balikatan are set to begin in early April in the Philippines. Balikatan officially kicks off Apr. 16.
Sunday, March 29, 2009
Fallen WWII Navy pilot Ensign Robert Tills was laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery this past week following the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command’s (JPAC) 2008 identification of his remains and material evidence more than 66 years after his death.
The Herald Times Reporter of Manitowoc, Wisc., reported on the service, which included full military honors and a missing man formation flyover by Navy F-18s.
Tills died on Dec. 8, 1941 in the Philippines when his PBY-4 Catalina Flying Boat aircraft was strafed with machine gun fire from a Japanese fighter plane. His remains were found by local divers and fishermen in Malalag Bay in eastern Mindanao in late 2007 and early 2008, and subsequently retrieved by JPAC from the Philippine Government for identification.
In addition to maintaining detachments in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, JPAC teams routinely deploy throughout the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility, and beyond, partnering with local and national agencies with the mission of achieving the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation's past conflicts.
Thursday, March 26, 2009
Indonesia’s first Warrior Leader Course led by Tentara Nasional Indonesia – Angkatan Darat (TNI-AD), or Indonesian army, instructors graduated March 25 in Indonesia, and marks the first time the nation led its own professional development class for its non-commissioned officers (NCOs).
Indonesia is one of the first nations in the Asia-Pacific region to take this step in their NCO development. NCOs are known as the backbone of the U.S. military and are tasked with mentoring junior officers and enlisted service members, while providing guidance to senior officers. They are recognized for their technical and tactical proficiency and their ability to adapt and overcome, often without receiving direction.
As evidenced by the implementation of the Warrior Leader Course, Indonesia is looking to develop some of these same characteristics in its own NCO Corps. This graduation highlights more than a year of significant efforts by the TNI-AD, working in conjunction with U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC), to establish a professional development system for its NCOs.
The idea of such a program was first discussed in 2007 at a concept development forum. By January 2008, Army Master Sgt. Gerald Daniel, from the Office of Defense Cooperation, was engaged in earnest discussions to establish the program.
The idea behind the program was not for the U.S. to train Indonesian NCOs, but rather to form a partnership with a mutual interest of furthering the competency of NCOs in the region.
Now, Daniel and his two counterparts, Army Sgt. 1st Class Kevin Pelayo from USARPAC International Military Affairs and Army Staff Sgt. Travis Snook from the NCO Academy Hawaii, are serving as advisors to a six-member cadre of TNI instructors. There were 53 students in the class that graduated March 25, all in the rank of second sergeant, which is equivalent to an enlisted five (E-5) rank in the U.S. military.
While the concept of enlisted development isn’t new to the U.S., it is one that is just taking hold throughout Asia-Pacific nations, with Indonesia at the forefront. Indonesia is currently working on developing not only the Warrior Leader Course, but also a platoon sergeants course and a company/first sergeant course. Their goal is to promote competent NCO leadership that is capable of further developing subordinate leaders.
This subordinate development will allow senior leadership to plan and prepare for future objectives, thus enhancing the overall success of their organization and the strength of the NCO Corps.
U.S. Pacific Command recognizes that a strong NCO Corps can enforce standards, discipline and individual readiness. This vital skill set will enable the Indonesian army to further participate in bilateral and multilateral engagements throughout the Asia-Pacific region and help increase the readiness of militaries to respond to operational or humanitarian contingencies.
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
The commander of U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Timothy J. Keating, testified before the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Mar. 24, responding to a wide range of questions that spanned the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility.
When responding to questions regarding his top concern in the region, Adm. Keating said that an area on which PACOM continues to focus is countering the spread of violent extremism. He noted that significant progress has been made by working with partners and allies throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
He also highlighted the dramatic decline in piracy in the Strait of Malacca - to less than five incidents last year - as a result of funding, training, and dialogue that have allowed neighboring countries of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and now Thailand to collaborate closer and enjoy greater success with improved safety and security in this critical chokepoint.
Other issues addressed during the testimony included the planned move of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, missile defense, India and Pakistan, the USNS Impeccable incident, and the status of military-to-military relations with China.
Adm. Keating’s prepared statement, which was submitted to the HASC, addresses all of the broader issues raised during the testimony. Video of the complete session is available on the HASC website. View Part 1 and Part 2.
Monday, March 23, 2009
Twenty-two senior Asia-Pacific military and civilian leaders took part in the weeklong Transnational Security Cooperation course last week at the Asia-Pacific Center for Security Studies (APCSS) in Honolulu.
The course is an intensive program that includes interactive seminar workshop scenarios, guest speakers, and discussions with senior U.S. Pacific Command officials. Topics included issues such as understanding and assessing security implications of transnational threats, and economic security.
Participants included U.S. Pacific Command’s Director for Intelligence Rear Adm. Michael Rogers, and Deputy Director for Strategic Planning and Policy Brig. Gen. William Uhle.
Represented during the course were: Afghanistan, Australia, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mongolia, Nepal, the Pacific Island Forum, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Timor-Leste, the United States, and Vietnam.
The Transnational Security Cooperation course gives senior leaders from throughout Asia-Pacific an opportunity to consider, discuss, and share perspectives concerning the impact of regional and global security threats.
U.S. Pacific Command seeks bilateral and multilateral solutions with its allies and partners to meet challenges together. Through its courses, APCSS provides not only executive education, but opportunities to enhance important relationships and identify cooperative approaches to current and future security issues.
Friday, March 20, 2009
“We (U.S. Pacific Command) employ a strategy which concentrates on partnership, readiness and presence. We think this is a blueprint for enhancing United States relationships. And we think we take advantage of a capability of our allies and regional partners to address challenges and leverage significant opportunities in the Asia Pacific region.
We want to enhance our position as the indispensable partner with all of those in the region through sustained and persistent collaboration and cooperation, and by employing those forces that are necessary to strengthen the partnerships and support all those conditions which preclude the necessity for combat operations.” (Adm. Keating to the Senate Armed Services Committee)
Adm. Keating, commander of U.S. Pacific Command testified, alongside the commanders of U.S. Forces Korea and U.S. Strategic Command, before the Senate Armed Services Committee Mar. 19. Read Adm. Keating’s statement, or view video of the testimony.
Adm. Keating discussed U.S. Pacific Command’s strategy in the Asia-Pacific region and answered a range of questions from the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee that included: the status of military-to-military engagement with China; the recent incident with USNS Impeccable in international waters in the South China Sea; North Korea’s stated intent to launch a satellite in April; military-to-military interaction with India following the Mumbai terrorist attacks; status of the planned move of U.S. Marines from Okinawa to Guam; and the importance of funding and training programs with Indonesia and other countries throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Members of the Executive Committee (EXECOM) for the U.S. and Philippine Mutual Defense Board (MDB) and Security Engagement Board (SEB) met Mar. 13 at Schofield Barracks, Hawaii to discuss and forward to the MDB and SEB detailed plans for 2010 engagements, as well as a five-year plan for future large-scale engagements.
These plans will be presented to the board for approval and final signatures by co-chairs, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command and the chief of staff of the Armed Forces of the Philippines. The board is scheduled to convene in Hawaii the first week in August.
The MDB was formed in 1958 as a way to enhance the U.S. and Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT), which was signed in 1951 and is the oldest treaty the U.S. has with a Pacific nation. As regional threats and military requirements changed, there became a need for the SEB, which addresses non-traditional issues like terrorism and natural disasters.
A recent development to the MDB-SEB process is the identification of specific goals and objectives to increase the ability of the Philippines to participate in coalition operations. This is especially important in assuring military readiness for both countries as stipulated in the MDT.
To address this need, one of the most significant inputs on this year’s meetings calls for an increased focus on humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR), multilateral cooperation, and interagency coordination during training exercises like Balikatan.
The EXECOM also addressed professional enlisted development, an area that is just taking root among most Asia-Pacific militaries, with the Philippines at the forefront.
Once the board approves the plan, it will serve to continue and further enhance the long standing partnership that has been enjoyed by the U.S. and Philippines for more than 50 years.
Monday, March 16, 2009
The U.S. Army’s Hawaii-based 8th Theater Sustainment Command (TSC) is in the second week of a two-week command post exercise (CPX) at Camp Zama, Japan, that is serving as another step in defining the operational capability and readiness of the relatively new command.
The 8th TSC is one of three theater-level sustainment commands in the Army and was established in 2006 following an Army reorganization. The command is responsible for Army logistics sustainment in the Pacific Theater, including military police support.
As noted by Stars and Stripes coverage and an 8th TSC news story, the CPX is helping 8th TSC refine its doctrine by replicating a real-world scenario requiring the management of sustainment operations through a forward command post -- a capability that did not exist in original TSC doctrine.
Logistics are critical in the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility (AOR), and 8th TSC’s burgeoning capability represents an enhanced expeditionary logistics capacity in support of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations and other contingencies that may arise in the PACOM AOR.
Friday, March 13, 2009
U.S. military Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) experts assigned to the Joint Special Operations Task Force Philippines (JSOTF-P) recently provided training to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) and Philippine National Police in Zamboanga City to safely dispose of 64 pieces of ordnance.
As reported by Philippines outlet ABS-CBN, local ordnance disposal takes place regularly in Zamboanga City, on the southern Philippines island of Mindanao, helping to ensure that ordnance does not fall into the hands of extremists.
The training provided by the JSOTF-P EOD team was timely, as a local police official was badly burned the previous week during an attempt at disposing of black powder.
Sharing expertise in explosive ordnance disposal is just one example of how JSOTF-P assists in building the capacity of the AFP – and other Philippines local and national government agencies through partnership – in support of its ongoing counter-terrorism effort.
At the request of the Government of the Philippines, JSOTF-P provides support to the AFP in several areas, including enhancing the AFP’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance to terrorist-inflicted communities, and through tactical training programs.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
A March 8 article in the Honolulu Star-Bulletin highlights health security initiatives taking place in Vietnam to mitigate the risk of and provide treatment for AIDS.
The Center for Excellence (COE) in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance, which is a U.S. Pacific Command direct reporting unit, has been working in concert with other government and non-governmental organizations since 2002 to help fund various AIDS-related programs throughout the Asia-Pacific region. These programs were started with funds from the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief program (PEPFAR) and the U.S. DoD HIV/AIDS Prevention Program (DHAPP).
While COE’s engagements under PEPFAR include India and Indonesia, the program is largest in Vietnam. COE also executes military-to-military HIV/AIDS programs with DHAPP funding in East Timor, Papua New Guinea, Nepal, Cambodia, and Laos. A program with OHDACA funds was also recently launched in Bangladesh.
During 2008, approximately $3.5 million was used by COE to facilitate HIV/AIDS education, prevention, treatment and care activities among Vietnamese active-duty military, new recruits, family members, and civilians. To date, more than 15,000 Vietnamese military recruits have received HIV prevention information, nearly 270 military healthcare providers were trained in HIV/AIDS treatment and care, and more than 350 patients have received HIV symptom care, with 171 patients on anti-retrovirus treatment.
To address long-term, big picture prevention, COE has provided funding for two laboratories that support comprehensive HIV/AIDS monitoring, with an additional two scheduled to open this May. Additionally, COE has helped fund two blood banks that are ensuring a safe supply of blood throughout the country, with two more scheduled to open in May.
While many of these projects are funded in part or in whole by COE, the value of the initiative expands beyond face value. As Craig Gima states in his article, these types of engagements help develop personal and professional relationships. They also help increase the readiness of forces in the region to respond to contingencies. Every service member who is educated in HIV/AIDS prevention is one more person who is better prepared to offer support when the region calls.
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
A pair of routine, joint and combined military exercises began March 9 in different regions of the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility.
Aviation and ground units from the Republic of Singapore Air Force, Royal Thai Air Force and Army, and the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps are taking part in exercise Cope Tiger, an annual multilateral air training exercise in Thailand.
Cope Tiger includes opportunities for developing multilateral interoperability and coalition procedures in air power missions such as close air support, tactical airlift, aerial refueling, and airborne command and control. Along with the training, a number of humanitarian and civic assistance projects will take place, including medical outreach.
Underway in the Republic of Korea (ROK) is Key Resolve/Foal Eagle, an annual defense-oriented Combined Forces Command (CFC) exercise designed to enhance readiness and the ability of the ROK-U.S. alliance to defend the ROK if necessary.
As noted by Gen. William Sharp, CFC’s commander, Key Resolve/Foal Eagle is designed to help teach, coach, and mentor military members while exercising senior leaders’ decision-making capabilities, takes place every year, and has no connection to ongoing or current events.
Every day throughout the PACOM area of responsibility, U.S. service members are training and interacting with their counterparts from partner and allied nations, demonstrating not only the larger U.S. commitment to regional peace and stability, but a commitment to collaboration and mutual professional growth.
For Key Resolve/Foal Eagle news, visit the United States Forces Korea website. Keep up with Cope Tiger on the 13th Air Force website.
Sunday, March 8, 2009
Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) soldiers, along with US military personnel, turned over four recently completed development projects Mar. 5 to the people who reside in and around Jolo, Sulu in the southern Philippines. The Philippine Information Agency provided details of the ceremony.
The four projects included two roads to improve commerce transport and two deep wells for better access to water. Ongoing development projects, which are lead by the Government of the Republic of the Philippines (GRP) and the AFP, are designed to help improve the lives of the local population by providing the infrastructure required to build a better future. Infrastructure improvements help lead to improved security, stability, and prosperity.
U.S. military personnel are in the Philippines at the request of the GRP and provide direct support to the AFP with development projects to counter the influence of terrorists and other violent extremists.
U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) routinely provides support to its friends and alllies in the struggle against violent extremism throughout the Asia-Pacific region. Through military-to-military exchanges or working with both government and non-government organizations, PACOM takes a "whole-of-government" approach to leverage all instruments of national power to enhance security and protect our collective interests.
Thursday, March 5, 2009
U.S. Pacific Fleet announced plans March 3 for its next annual humanitarian civic assistance mission, Pacific Partnership 2009, which is slated to conduct engineering projects and provide medical, dental, and veterinary assistance to Samoa, Solomon Islands, Tonga, Kiribati, and the Marshall Islands.
Pacific Partnership 2009 is the fourth in the series of humanitarian missions that work in concert with partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. Government agencies.
This year’s mission will be based on board USS Dubuque (LPD 8), an Austin-class amphibious transport dock ship home ported in San Diego. USS Dubuque’s unique ability to transport and expeditiously unload heavy equipment and supplies make it the ideal platform from which to conduct engineering projects and provide humanitarian assistance.
The ship will carry humanitarian civic assistance equipment and a robust team of preventive medicine personnel, veterinarians, medical and dental teams who will conduct medical and civic action programs ashore.
The Pacific Partnership campaign originated from unprecedented international disaster response for countries involved in the 2004 Asia tsunami.
Humanitarian and civic campaigns such as Pacific Partnership help to improve the lives of the people in which it comes in contact. They also build regional capacity by strengthening relationships and improving security cooperation between national governments, militaries, international organizations, and non-governmental organizations during disaster relief operations.
Collaborative efforts such as Pacific Partnership support U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) focus on partnership, readiness, and presence. USPACOM maintains a constant presence throughout the Asia-Pacific region and works with its friends and allies to be better prepared to face challenges and crisis together.
See Pacific Fleet Announces Pacific Partnership 2009.
Tuesday, March 3, 2009
Annual bilateral field training exercise North Wind between the U.S. Army and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force began March 2 on the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.
Over the next week-plus, approximately 800 U.S. and Japanese soldiers will take part in cold weather squad, platoon and company level infantry tactics training.
The Kentucky Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Regiment is a primary U.S. participant, along with various support units and representatives from U.S. Army Japan. See the Stars and Stripes story.
North Wind is one of four major exercises that take place each year between the U.S. Army and JGSDF focused on the defense of Japan. Yama Sakura, Orient Shield and Rising Warrior are the others.
North Wind will also include social events, home visits and cultural exchanges.
Exercises such as North Wind play a key role in strengthening professional and personal relationships, and enhancing tactical efficiencies between U.S. forces and their Japan Self Defense Force counterparts.
Throughout the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility, military exercises, both bilateral and multilateral, are a key component of PACOM’s strategy to partner with friends and allies to help ensure security and stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Enhancing military readiness together strengthens our ability to act collectively against threats to our mutual interests.
Sunday, March 1, 2009
Throughout the Asia-Pacific region there have been multiple deaths from avian bird flu, which is scientifically known as the H5N1 virus. While some nations around the world have downplayed the risks of the virus, a Feb. 26 article in the Monterey County Herald focuses on the ever-present threats it presents, especially in the Asia-Pacific region.
Currently, this virus can only be transferred from birds to humans through direct contact, but if a mutation were to occur in the strain that allowed for human-to-human transfer, the impact could be devastating to the region. It’s estimated that a pandemic could incapacitate as much as 40 percent of the work force throughout the region.
At the U.S. Pacific Command headquarters on
This capacity building includes meeting with other nations throughout the region to share information and provide training where it’s needed. Though this may not seem like a topic the military needs to focus on, the second and third order effects of a pandemic may call for military involvement. The working group is conducting multilateral engagements to ensure military forces are prepared to provide necessary support in the event of an outbreak.
The team is identifying and helping other countries in the region to identify shortcomings in the recognition of a pandemic, and its associated responses. Assessments are focusing on surveillance/prevention, preparedness/communication, and response/containment. These assessments are being conducted during various conferences and exercises.
In July, Joint Task Force Homeland Defense will lead Exercise Lightning Rescue, which is an annual event that incorporates the military, nongovernmental agencies, local emergency response teams, and other agencies into a simulated response to a pandemic. This year, international representatives have been invited to observe the exercise in hopes of furthering response capacity throughout the region.