Thursday, February 26, 2009

U.S. Pacific Command NCOs Play Vital Role in Readiness

At the Association of the United States Army Annual Meeting in October 2008, the Secretary of the Army, Pete Geren announced that 2009 would be “the Year of the Noncommissioned Officer (NCO),” celebrating accomplished military professionals who provide an invaluable service, making great sacrifices on behalf of our Nation.

Throughout the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility, NCOs from every branch of service are playing a key role in daily operations and advancing PACOM and U.S. strategic interests throughout the region.

The contributions our enlisted leaders make in the areas of education, training, and discipline act as a model for many of the world’s armies to emulate.

In October 2008, a delegation consisting of three noncommissioned officers and 10 officers from China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) visited PACOM. This marked the first time in history enlisted members were part of an official delegation to another nation. It was also the first step in developing exchanges between the two nations which helps to promote stability and security throughout the Asia-Pacific Region.

While visiting PACOM, the PLA NCOs developed a better understanding of the structure and role of the U.S. NCO Corps and the U.S. military, and interacted with senior enlisted members from the Marines, Air Force, Navy and Army.

Exchanges such as these help to develop relationships, eliminate misunderstanding of intention, and help break through barriers of communication.

We expect our NCOs to be standard bearers. We empower our NCOs to operate autonomously and ensure their subordinates are prepared to function as effective unit and team members in order to accomplish any mission.

Well-trained and disciplined military members are a direct reflection of the senior enlisted members responsible for their health and welfare. The more disciplined and better trained its members are, the more prepared a force is to respond to any situation.

NCOs play a vital role in day-to-day operations in PACOM. They provide inspiration and motivation; train, mentor, and care for subordinates and families, provide sound advice and counsel to senior leadership, and have well earned the moniker “backbone of the military.”

Sailor's Creed
Marine Corps Staff NCO Creed
Army and Air Force NCO creeds


Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Antarctica Mission Complete for 2008-2009 Season

The 2008-2009 season of Operation Deep Freeze, the U.S. military’s operational and logistical support of the U.S. Antarctic Program and scientific research activities of the National Science Foundation (NSF), wrapped up last week.

According to its website, the NSF is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1950 "to promote the progress of science; to advance the national health, prosperity, and welfare; to secure the national defense…"

U.S. Pacific Command’s annual support to NSF is one example of its “whole-of-government” approach to helping enhance security. Assisting both government and non-government agencies with their respective efforts to improve in areas dealing with environmental, energy, and economic issues collectively serves the best interest of the nation.

This past season’s logistical support kicked off Sept. 4, 2008 and after six months resulted in more than 50 C-17 inter-continental missions moving 4.3 million pounds of material and 3,800 passengers. Additionally, more than 280 LC-130 ice missions were flown by U.S. Air Force LC-130 aircraft, moving more than 2,000 passengers and approximately 8.7 million pounds of supplies. The tanker Gianella and cargo ship American Tern of the U.S. Navy’s Military Sealift Command delivered approximately 5.7 million gallons of fuel and 14.6 million pounds of cargo.

Operation Deep Freeze mission oversight and support is coordinated by Joint Task Force (JTF) Support Forces Antarctica, headquartered at Hickam Air Force Base, Hawaii and lead by 13th Air Force.

The JTF coordinates strategic intertheater airlift, tactical deep field support, aeromedical evacuation support, search and rescue response, sealift, seaport access, bulk fuel supply, port cargo handling, and transportation requirements for Operation Deep Freeze.

A firsthand account of the mission in Antarctica can be viewed by visiting the PACAF Pixels blog. An archive of Operation Deep Freeze news stories is available on the 13th Air Force website.


Sunday, February 22, 2009

USPACOM Commander Concludes Asia-Pacific Visit

Adm. Timothy J. Keating, commander, U.S. Pacific Command, met with senior government and military officials in Thailand, Japan and South Korea this past week during a five-day Asia-Pacific trip that ended Feb. 20.

While in Thailand, the admiral attended the closing ceremonies of Exercise Cobra Gold 2009. Senior officials from the participating members of Thailand, Indonesia, Singapore, Japan, and the U.S. met to review the highlights of the multilateral exercise and express their appreciation for the collective efforts of those involved. In particular, Adm. Keating noted that Exercise Cobra Gold 2009 was "a clear demonstration of all of our countries' commitment to peace security and prosperity throughout the region."

The trip also included a brief stop in Hong Kong which coincided with the presence of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis. The visit to Hong Kong provided Adm. Keating an opportunity to visit the ship and its leadership while engaging with Hong Kong officials. The admiral also met with a group of journalists at the U.S. Consulate during the visit. Many of the questions focused on the status of U.S. and China military-to-military relations. The admiral expressed optimism for the resumption of dialogue and stressed the importance of the two sides working together toward a common goal of security throughout the Asia-Pacifc region.

"This goes to our long term desire to have them operate with us rather than against us. To understand what it is we are about and we develop an understanding of what they are about," said Keating. "The Asia Pacific region is vast. It is full of opportunity and full of potential. There are the unmistakable challenges. We’d like to reduce the challenges. We want to walk away from opportunities where there could be confusion leading to conflict, leading to crisis. The more dialogue we have, the more inter-operating we do with them, the less chance for confusion and conflict and crisis."

In his calls on senior leaders throughout the trip, a common theme was the importance of partnership and readiness to deal with common challenges.

Adm. Keating routinely travels throughout the U.S. Pacific Command area of responsibility, meeting with his military counterparts and civilian leaders to promote security cooperation and explore opportunities for expanding existing relationships.


Thursday, February 19, 2009

Asia-Pacific Intelligence Leaders Gather in Singapore

Military intelligence professionals from the armed forces of 25 Asia-Pacific nations and beyond gathered together in Singapore this week to explore ways to increase information sharing in an age where multinational approaches to addressing regional challenges is becoming the norm.

The Asia-Pacific Intelligence Chiefs Conference (APICC), Feb. 17-20, was co-hosted by the Singapore Armed Forces Military Intelligence Organisation and U.S. Pacific Command’s (USPACOM) Directorate for Intelligence.

During the conference, which included the presence of 17 intelligence chiefs, plus 8 representatives, the attendees took part in a number of organized presentations and discussions, as well as social events that play such an important role in fostering personal relationships and building trust.

Speaking during the conference’s opening ceremony, Singapore’s Minister for Defense Mr. Teo Chee Hean said that in order for appropriate coordinated responses by nations to security challenges, “…our armed forces and intelligence professionals need to cooperate in the sharing of information, knowledge and expertise.”

As reported in the Singapore Straits Times, Rear Adm. Mike Rogers, USPACOM Director for Intelligence, noted, "No country is so large that it can do everything on its own. Neither can one country be so small that it can never contribute to the rest."

The first APICC took place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in September 2007. Eighteen countries took part in that inaugural conference, marking relative growth in the size and scope of APICC from the first to the second gathering.


Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Cobra Gold Comes to a Close in Thailand

Exercise Cobra Gold wrapped up Feb. 17 with a ceremony in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

The ceremony was attended by Royal Thai Armed Forces Commander General Songkitti Jaggabatara and Commander, U.S Pacific Command Admiral Timothy J. Keating, as well as ambassadors to Thailand from Japan, Singapore and Indonesia.

U.S. Ambassador to Thailand Eric G. John spoke during the ceremony, emphasizing that the training carried out during the exercise can help save lives in future operations, peacekeeping deployments, and disaster responses.

Approximately 11,600 personnel from the U.S., Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore took part in this year’s exercise. Participants had an opportunity to work together and share experiences in areas such as the operation of a coalition task force staff and in field training events.

Six engineering civic action projects were conducted to improve infrastructure at local schools. All five participating nations contributed to the exercise’s seven medical civic action projects, during which more than 4,000 patients were treated for more than 4,500 issues such as pediatric care, optometry, dental care, and veterinary services.

The Cobra Gold website is a repository of news, photos and videos that provides an overview of the many and varied activities that took place during the exercise. The Cobra Gold Flickr page contains hundred of images from across the spectrum of training and outreach events.

Exercises such as Cobra Gold are an important component of U.S. Pacific Command’s commitment to fostering multilateral relationships to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region.


Sunday, February 15, 2009

Royal Thai Army Chief of Joint Staff Highlights Exercise Cobra Gold

Royal Thai Army Gen. Ratchakrit Kanchanawat witnessed Cobra Gold activities this week and expressed his appreciation for the many contributions the exercise makes toward developing multinational capabilities -- as well as the benefit to Thailand.

As reported by Pacific Stars and Stripes, the Royal Thai Army Chief of Joint Staff drew examples from real world events such as the 2004 tsunami to explain the value of training with partners and neighbors in advance of contingencies.

Cobra Gold and similar military exercises in the U.S. Pacific Command (PACOM) area of responsibility are designed to enhance partnerships and readiness as the general noted. History is proof that multinational solutions to common problems provides the best opportunity for success.

Cobra Gold began on Feb. 4 and continues through Feb. 17.


Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Enhancing Multilateral Ties in Exercise Cobra Gold

The headline of a Pacific Stars and Stripes news story in the Feb. 11 edition, regarding Exercise Cobra Gold, highlighted a key objective of the joint, multinational exercise currently taking place in Thailand – the building of trust.

While Cobra Gold offers a variety of training and an opportunity to advance expertise in skill sets as diverse as firing weapons and planning for United Nations peacekeeping operations, the one parallel is partnership between the participating nations.

Working together in an exercise scenario provides the individual exercise participant an opportunity to become familiar with how their counterparts from other nations operate. Along the way they have an opportunity to develop understanding, respect and relationships, all of which contribute to the building of trust – a real dividend when militaries are asked to work together in a contingency.

Exercise Cobra Gold supports many elements of the U.S. Pacific Command strategy. Chief among them is developing strong partnerships as the best approach or solution to facing common challenges.

More than 11,500 participants in total from the United States, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan and Singapore are taking part Cobra Gold, Feb. 4-17.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Manila American Cemetery, a Memorial to Partnership and Sacrifice

During a recent trip to the Philippines, I had an opportunity to visit the Manila American Cemetery and Memorial. It stands as a somber remdinder of the ultimate sacrifice thousands made during World War II to guarantee the security of the U.S. and its allies in the Pacific.

Many family and friends of those buried and remembered here routintely make their way to the cemetery to pay their respects to loved ones who never made it home. The cemetery also serves as a reminder of the long standing partnership between the U.S. and the Philippines, that is as relevant today as it was when those who are remembered here fought and died.

The cemetery contains the largest numbers of graves of our military dead from World War II outside the U.S. A total of 17,202, most of whom lost their lives in operations in New Guinea and the Philippines were buried in the cemetry with another 36,285 names of missing inscribed on limestone tablets.

Among those names are 28 Medal of Honor recipients and the five Sullivan brothers of Iowa, who perished when the ship they were aboard, the USS Indianoplis, was sunk by a Japanese submarine torpedo attack.

The chapel, a white masonry building enriched with sculpture and mosaic, stands near the center of the cemetery, which spans 152 acres. Twenty-five mosaic maps recall the achievements of the American armed forces in the Pacific, China, India and Burma. From the memorial and other points within the cemetery there are impressive views over the lowlands to Laguna de Bay and towards the distant mountains.

The cemetery is open daily to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. except December 25 and January 1. It is open on host country holidays. When the cemetery is open to the public, a staff member is on duty in the Visitor Building to answer questions and escort relatives to grave and memorial sites.


Friday, February 6, 2009

USARPAC Commanding General Talks Cobra Gold With Bloggers

Lt. Gen Benjamin Mixon, commanding general of U.S. Army Pacific and the co-exercise director of Cobra Gold 2009, spoke with bloggers and online journalists Feb. 6 during a Defense Department bloggers roundtable.

During the roundtable, Lt. Gen. Mixon noted the multifaceted nature of Cobra Gold and extensive training opportunities it allows while showing the interest the U.S. has in creating partnerships with the countries participating.

Lt. Gen. Mixon also pointed out the essential role Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) play in the exercise, pointing out that NCOs lead most, if not all of the training while doing most of the tactical interface with the participating militaries. The general went on to say that NCOs are also a valuable part of the headquarters’ operations and that he makes a special point to ensure the NCOs on his staff are visible and present during the exercise as an example for exercise partners.

The complete transcript and audio file from the bloggers roundtable is available on DOD Live.

Follow the exercise on the Cobra Gold website.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cobra Gold in Full Swing in Thailand

Cobra Gold, a joint and coalition multinational exercise that includes participation by Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Singapore and the United States, kicked off officially Feb. 4 in Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Hosted for the past 28 years by Thailand, Cobra Gold provides unique and dynamic training opportunities for participating military partners, while also promoting relationship building between the militaries and local communities in the exercise areas.

See Agence France-Presse’s coverage of the exercise start.

In addition to events such as a United Nations Force staff exercise and coalition task force staff and field training, more than a dozen medical assistance and engineering construction projects are taking place during the exercise.

Nations observing the exercise are China, South Korea, India, Germany, Laos, Brunei, Vietnam, the Philippines, Cambodia, Malaysia, Italy, United Kingdom, France, Australia and Nepal.

Exercises such as Cobra Gold are an important component of U.S. Pacific Command’s commitment to fostering multilateral relationships to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region.

Keep track of the exercise on the Cobra Gold website, and via the Cobra Gold Flickr page.


Tuesday, February 3, 2009

JPAC Team Dedicated to Fullest Possible Accounting in Republic of Korea

A team from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) is in the third week of an investigative mission in the Republic of Korea.

A Stars and Stripes reporter recently spent time with the team and the newspaper published a feature story on the team’s efforts.

The mission of the approximately 400 men and women of JPAC, which celebrated its fifth anniversary this past October, is to achieve the fullest possible accounting of all Americans missing as a result of the nation’s past conflicts.

In those five years, JPAC teams have spanned the globe, operating in over thirty countries. Last year, teams deployed to 12 countries on 69 recovery and investigative missions, and completed 75 identifications. Also in the past year, the Central Identification Laboratory (CIL) became the third Federal Laboratory to pass the International American Society of Crime Laboratory Assessment, and the CIL opened the Forensic Science Academy, an advanced forensic anthropology program consisting of five courses, taught under the auspices of the Department of Defense.

JPAC continues to build strong and expanding relationships within the countries it operates, many of which are located in the U.S. Pacific Command area of operations.


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