Saturday, January 31, 2009

Adm. Keating Discusses U.S. Pacific Command Strategy with NPR

U.S. Pacific Command's cooperative and collaborative approach to security in the Asia-Pacific region was among several topics discussed when Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command sat down with KUOW Puget Sound Public Radio talk show host Steve Scher, in Seattle, WA recently.

The interview can be heard in its entirety external to this post in RealAudio, or MP3 (HI)/(LO) formats, or below.

Adm. Keating provided insight into the PACOM strategy, which is founded on three main pillars of partnership, readiness, and presence. The admiral addressed questions regarding the current state of U.S.-China military relations; India-Pakistan following the Nov. terrorists attacks in Mumbai, India; North Korea; and U.S. military support to the government of the Philippines with its efforts to counter violent extremist organizations.

The admiral also discussed the emphasis the U.S. military places on environmental stewardship, as it trains and operates in the maritime environment to ensure its equipment and tactics are ready to respond across the spectrum of operations. He noted that if the U.S. is going to be instrumental to security that it has to be capable of fighting and winning.

However, a long held view of Adm. Keating's is that major conflict in Asia-Pacific is not inevitable. The admiral believes that transparency of intentions, combined with cooperation and collaboration, will help avoid possible confrontation and confusion that could lead to crisis. He also pointed out that there are ample opportunities for all countries in the Asia-Pacific region, including China. He said that by working together, we will be better postured to protect our respective vital interests.


Thursday, January 29, 2009

School Project on Mindanao Completed by Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines

An elementary school construction project in the Philippines was completed and turned over to local officials Jan. 28 as part of ongoing efforts by U.S. Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) to help improve quality of life on the island of Mindanao.

A Philippine Information Agency news release provides the details.

At the request of the Government of the Philippines, JSOTF-P supports the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in its ongoing counter-terrorism effort. Key to this support is a number of humanitarian initiatives conducted in consultation with U.S. Embassy Manila, AFP officials and local civilian leaders in terrorist-afflicted communities. Various bilateral humanitarian improvement programs, such as medical and engineering projects, are ongoing at any one time as part of the JSOTF-P mission.

Helping to build the infrastructure that supports opportunity for a better future, JSOTF P will continue to work with the AFP and assist wherever they are needed. The JSOTF-P mission and its associated activities are fully integrated into the overall U.S. effort to support the government of the Philippines and its people.


Monday, January 26, 2009

Collective Counter-Piracy Efforts in Southeast Asia are Key to Success

A recent story in the Malaysia Insider highlights the results of collective efforts in countering the threat of piracy in Southeast Asia.

Piracy is an international problem that requires an international solution and the cooperative multinational efforts of Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and now Thailand have resulted in a dramatic downward trend in the number of piracy incidents in Southeast Asia. Through cooperation on an operational basis and by training extensively with each other, not just with the U.S., those countries have experienced success in decreasing incidents of piracy across Southeast Asia.

U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) supports its friends and allies in this critical area by promoting information sharing, collective action, and capacity building through frequent maritime security exercises and funding technology initiatives.

The power of increased cooperation and collaboration between countries with standing governments, who have rigid adherence to the rule of law, eliminates safe havens and makes it much more difficult for the pirates to operate.

Secure waterways are vital to the peace and prosperity of the entire Asia-Pacific region and contributing to the enhancement of maritime security capabilities through regional partnerships continues to be a PACOM priority.


Friday, January 23, 2009

U.S. Navy Ship Crew Rescues Indonesian Fishermen

The crew of USNS Richard E. Byrd rescued three Indonesian fishermen along with their damaged fishing vessel in international waters approximately 575 miles west of the island of Sumatra, Indonesia Jan. 19.

Byrd responded to a visual distress signal from the crew of the wooden fishing boat by placing one of its small boats in the water to investigate. It was later learned that the Indonesian crew had been adrift for two days without food or water.

After attending to the Indonesian crew’s immediate needs and determining that the vessel was beyond immediate repair, Byrd hoisted the vessel aboard. Following transit through the Strait of Malacca and coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Indonesia, Byrd rendezvoused with an Indonesian Marine Police vessel in the vicinity of Batam, Indonesia Jan. 23 for the transfer of the Indonesian fishermen and their boat.

During the transit from the rescue point to the turnover point, the Byrd crew collected donations of money, clothes and comfort items from the ship’s store for the Indonesian fishermen.

Byrd is a dry cargo/ammunition ship of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command, providing logistics support to maritime operations in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.


Thursday, January 22, 2009

PACOM Supports USAID Development Work in Sri Lanka

U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) is supporting a U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) initiative to refurbish seven schools and a hospital in Sri Lanka. Details of the project are outlined in a recent USAID news release.

The project is made possible, in part, with Overseas Humanitarian, Disaster and Civic Aid (OHDACA) funds, which are being administered by PACOM. While coordination of humanitarian assistance efforts with USAID offices in foreign countries is not new, the use of PACOM’s OHDACA funds to support a USAID-managed projects is.

This project is an example of both USAID’s (Department of State) and PACOM’s (Department of Defense) pursuit of co-sponsored country engagement with a shared commitment to assist those in need.

The Department of Defense OHDACA program is managed by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency. It is designed to build cooperative relationships and allow friends and allies to improve infrastructure and conditions that would otherwise result in human suffering. PACOM receives an annual OHDACA budget and works closely with U.S. Embassies throughout the PACOM area of responsibility to identify humanitarian projects.

The support for USAID’s efforts in Sri Lanka is indicative of PACOM’s whole-of-government approach to enhancing security and stability throughout Asia-Pacific.


Monday, January 19, 2009

Remains of U.S. Servicemembers from Past Conflicts to be Returned This Week

The Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) will conduct an arrival ceremony to honor unidentified fallen service members this Friday, Jan. 23 at Hickam, Air Force Base. A news release on the JPAC Web site provides details of the ceremony.

The mission of the approximately 400 men and women of JPAC is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts. JPAC does this by deploying teams throughout Asia-Pacific – as well as Europe and the U.S. – to search for remains, which when discovered are returned to Oahu and the world’s largest staff of anthropologists and odontologists. Additional details of the JPAC mission can be found on their Frequently Asked Questions page.

Today, JPAC has teams operating in Cambodia and the Republic of Korea, and upcoming missions will include work in Vietnam and Laos. JPAC’s work touches many lives, most importantly those of the family and friends of fallen service members who are ultimately identified.

Their work also contributes to U.S. Pacific Command’s (PACOM) strategic objectives. With overseas detachments in Thailand, Vietnam and Laos, and routine interaction with officials wherever they operate, JPAC personnel do much to strengthen ties between the U.S. military and nations throughout the PACOM area of responsibility.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Latest Bilateral Command Post Exercise With Japan Underway

Exercise Keen Edge kicked off yesterday in Japan and will run until Jan. 27.

The exercise, led on the U.S. side by U.S. Forces Japan, is the latest in a series of joint/bilateral command post exercises involving U.S. military and Japan Self Defense Forces (JSDF) personnel designed to increase combat readiness and interoperability between U.S. forces and the JSDF. See Stars & Stripes coverage.

Keen Edge has historically been part of an annual exercise series that alternates between field training exercises (called Keen Sword) and command post exercises. During Keen Edge this year, various Japanese and U.S. headquarters staffs will employ computer simulations to practice the steps they would take in the event of a crisis or contingency.

Command post exercises are a cost-effective way of providing military participants with realistic and unobtrusive training in a simulated crisis.

Exercises such as Keen Edge are an integral part of the U.S. Pacific Command strategy, as they play a significant role in strengthening and enhancing relationships with allies and partners, while increasing military readiness.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

F-16 Rotation to Replace Departing Apache Helicopters in Korea

Twelve U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter aircraft will replace a unit of U.S. Army Apache helicopters deployed to the Republic of Korea beginning this March. See the Associated Press report and U.S. Forces Korea press release.

The F-16s will be deployed on a rotational basis and in place before the Apaches of the 1-2 Attack Reconnaissance Battalion depart Korea, ensuring no gap in capability occurs.

U.S. Pacific Command routinely deploys military forces throughout the Asia-Pacific region as part of longstanding U.S. support to its allies and partners and to fulfill its security responsibilities.

U.S. Air Force A-10 aircraft were orginally identified as the replacement for the Apache helicopters. However, due to increased requirements for inspections and repairs to the A-10 aircraft fleet, the decision was made to deploy the F-16s instead. The F-16 is a multi-role fighter capable of conducting a broad range of missions, including close air support, precision strike and counter-air. It provides added capability in targeting, precision munitions, detection, and defensive measures

The U.S. remains committed to the defense of the Republic of Korea and will ensure the right mix of capabilities are deployed on and around the Korean Peninsula to support key Alliance missions and deter aggression.


Monday, January 12, 2009

U.S. Army and India Military Leaders Meet in Hawaii

As reported in India’s The Telegraph, U.S. Army Pacific (USARPAC) hosted an annual Executive Steering Group (ESG) with Indian military officials Jan. 3-8 in Hawaii.

The purpose of the ESG was to coordinate training engagements with the Indian Army. USARPAC was joined by representatives from U.S. Marine Forces Pacific (MARFORPAC) and Special Operations Command, Pacific (SOCPAC). The ESG focused on reviewing and assessing the previous years’ joint and combined training events and coordinating events for the next two years. This was the 13th ESG with India dating back to 1995.

U.S. Pacific Command’s growing relationship with the Indian Armed Forces is enhanced through routine dialogue and collaboration. The result is exercises and engagements between the U.S. and India that continue to increase in scope and sophistication.


Friday, January 9, 2009

U.S. Air Force F-22A "Raptors" Deploy to Pacific

Twenty four U.S. Air Force F-22A “Raptors,” with approximately 500 people, began an approximately three-month deployment to the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility this week. Twelve aircraft from the 90th Fighter Squadron, 3rd Wing, at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska, are deploying to Andersen AFB, Guam. The remaining 12 aircraft, assigned to the 27th Fighter Squadron, 1st Fighter Wing, Langley AFB, Virginia, are deploying to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa, Japan.

The deployment of the Raptors support PACOM’s commitment to maintaining a robust forward deployed military presence ready to contribute to stability in the region.

During a brief stopover at Hickam Air Force Base (AFB) yesterday, Hawaii-based media received a first-hand look at the Japan-bound “Raptors.” See the coverage of KHON-2 and the Honolulu Advertiser, and video of the arrival below, courtesy of Pacific Air Forces.

The F-22A is a transformational combat aircraft that is capable of avoiding enemy detection, cruises at supersonic speeds, is highly maneuverable, and provides the joint force an unprecedented level of integrated situational awareness.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

U.S. Army, Thai Researchers Working Together to Battle Diseases

The Voice of America recently highlighted the efforts of the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Sciences (AFRIMS) in Bangkok, Thailand. AFRIMS is staffed by U.S. Army personnel as a Special Foreign Activity of the Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, and Royal Thai Army counterparts. Their mission is to conduct research on important endemic diseases in the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility, including dengue, HIV, malaria, scrub typhus, and others.

The institute’s important work is mutually beneficial to U.S. and Thai interests. It supports the USPACOM mission of fostering a secure and stable environment by helping mitigate humanitarian crises such as pandemic illness.

As part of a joint Royal Thai Army institute within the Thai Ministry of Defense, the U.S. Army component of AFRIMS plays a significant relationship-building role while also contributing to capacity building. In addition to its research, the Army component assists with training, conducts classes and contributes faculty to the Royal Thai Armed Forces Regional Medical Training Center, most notably in the areas of HIV/AIDS and pandemic and avian influenza.


Monday, January 5, 2009

U.S. Support to the Government of the Philippines to Continue

The Business World Online highlights an interview conducted recently with the U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines, Kristie A. Kenney, regarding U.S. support to the Philippines.

The article notes that U.S. support such as U.S. military rotations to Mindinao, which have been ongoing at the request of the Government of the Philippines in support of its fight against terrorist organizations, is expected to continue. There are still no intentions to permanently base U.S. forces anywhere in the Philippines.


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