Monday, November 30, 2009

U.S., Singapore to Begin Commando Sling Air Exercise Series this Week

The first of three phases of the annual Commando Sling air combat training exercise between the U.S. and Republic of Singapore air forces gets underway Dec. 2 in Singapore and wraps up Dec. 18.

As noted in a 13th Air Force release, the exercise series runs from December 2009 through July 2010. U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcons from the 35th Fighter Wing at Misawa Air Base, Japan, will participate in the December iteration. F-16s from the 8th Fighter Wing at Kunsan Air Base, Republic of Korea, and F-15 Eagles from the 18th Wing at Kadena Air Base, Japan, will participate in the following two iterations, respectively.

The annual Commando Sling series began in 1990 and allows U.S. units to sharpen their air combat skills, improve procedures and readiness, and enhance relationships with the Republic of Singapore Air Force.

Commando Sling is one of a number of military training exercises, both bilateral and multilateral, where U.S. and Singaporean forces train together. These include exercises such as Cobra Gold, Cope Tiger, Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) and Tiger Balm.

Military exercises are an important component of U.S. Pacific Command’s commitment to working with allies and friends to enhance stability in the Asia-Pacific region. Each exercise, while differing in scope and intent, contributes to the enhanced readiness of the participating forces, as well as their mutual cooperation and understanding.


Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Navy Shares Training, Leadership Principles in Cambodia

A team of U.S. Navy Sailors recently spent four weeks in Cambodia working with the Royal Cambodian Navy (RCN) to share training techniques and leadership principles as the RCN prepares to induct 400 new recruits over the next year.

The U.S. Sailors, assigned to the Navy’s Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training Command, led the courses of instruction from mid-October to mid-November at Ream Naval Base for 20 Cambodian officers to expand their leadership skills and help them to become more effective instructors.

The “Train the Trainer” course and leadership principles course were requested by the RCN, which will be receiving its first new recruits in nearly 15 years.

As noted in a September 2009 news release from the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh following Cambodian Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of National Defense Tea Banh’s visit to Washington, D.C., since 2004 the U.S. has sought to strengthen and expand its bilateral defense relationship with Cambodia.

Cooperation focuses on a number of areas, including maritime security, international peacekeeping, transnational threats, and humanitarian assistance.


Monday, November 23, 2009

Good Leadership Embraces Good Prevention

Although seemingly far removed from our home in the Pacific, the events of Nov.5, 2009, at Ft. Hood have undoubtedly touched each of us. Twelve were killed and 31 injured by a service-member opening fire on fellow Soldiers. It will probably never be known if this tragedy could have been prevented had others intervened during his career or if others had recognized warning signs of him being in trouble.

This tragedy does, however, serve as a reminder of the importance of taking care of ourselves and each other and stepping forward when we see a Wingman/Battle Buddy/Shipmate/Marine in need. We must remain aware of changes in behavior and demeanor, of signs that something is not right, whether it be with a co-worker, friend or family member. We should not hesitate to speak up or to act. We must set discomfort aside and understand our responsibility to look out for each other and ourselves. Service members pride themselves on their ability to be strong in the face of extreme stress, yet we must be strong enough to embrace the idea that getting help is not a sign of weakness.

The Department of Defense has launched efforts aimed at reducing the stigma associated with receiving behavioral health services and provides an array of resources that may serve as that first step in accessing care. Help is easily accessible and confidential. Speed of treatment and getting the right treatment are key to minimizing long-term behavioral health consequences. Signs of problems may include anxiety, depression, hyper-vigilance, insomnia, nightmares, emotional numbness, cognitive difficulties and intrusive thoughts. Additionally, feelings of guilt or sorrow, abuse of alcohol or drugs, loneliness, divorce and domestic violence can occur.

To care for others, we must also take care of ourselves and seek out help if stressors become too much or begin to overwhelm us. It may be difficult to take that first step to help others or to obtain help for ourselves. We must understand that it is not only acceptable to seek help but seeking help should be encouraged. We may need to point our colleagues towards available resources, and we need to follow-up with them, to make sure that they have sought help and that those who can help have in fact responded. We need to do the same with our families, our neighbors and our friends.

Good leadership embraces good prevention. From seaman to admiral or private to general, we are all trained to lead. Preventive behavioral and mental health must be endorsed as a leadership and peer-to-peer responsibility. A profound part of looking after people under our charge, or people important in our lives, is to reinforce the benefits of behavioral/mental health assistance and to encourage getting help when needed.

GUEST BLOGGER: Rear Adm. Michael H Anderson,
U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon


Friday, November 20, 2009

Center for Excellence Supports Disaster Response Exercise in Fiji

Staff from the Hawaii-based Center for Excellence in Disaster Management and Humanitarian Assistance (COE) joined local government and military officials, representatives from United Nations organizations, non-governmental organizations and a number of diplomatic missions Nov. 17-20 during a U.S. Embassy-hosted disaster management exercise in Fiji.

“The exercise and training is based on real-life situations encountered during and after natural disasters in Fiji”, said Ambassador Steven McGann, U.S. Ambassador to Fiji. “The idea for this kind of intensive training was borne out of our assessment of Fiji’s disaster preparedness mechanisms in the aftermath of the devastating floods of January this year.”

The four-day tabletop exercise was based on real-world scenarios and designed to enhance coordination and disaster response capabilities, which Ambassador McGann noted in a Fiji Times article as being a U.S. priority.

Lt. Gen. (Ret) John F. Goodman, COE’s director, gave the keynote address to kick off the exercise (see Fiji TV coverage below), which was led by his staff and also included U.S. representatives from the Coast Guard and Pacific Tsunami Warning Center. The diplomatic missions of China, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, United Kingdom, Papua New Guinea and France also took part.

COE is a direct reporting unit to Pacific Command and principal agency to promote disaster preparedness and societal resiliency in the Asia-Pacific region. COE was established by the US Congress in 1994. As part of its mandate, COE facilitates education and training in disaster preparedness, consequence management and health security to develop domestic, foreign and international capability and capacity.


Monday, November 16, 2009

Sri Lanka Schools Open Following USAID-PACOM Partnership

A pair of schools rebuilt in Sri Lanka by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – with funding from U.S. Pacific Command – opened last week.

As reported by the Sri Lanka Sunday Times, U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka Patricia A. Butenis presided over the opening ceremony for the two schools in the Trincomalee District, where a total of five schools were rehabilitated. In addition to those five schools, two schools and one hospital were also rehabilitated in the Batticaloa District.

The project was 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, as noted in a January blog post.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

PACOM Commander Speaks at Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit

Adm. Robert F. Willard discussed U.S. Pacific Command’s focus on addressing and mitigating transnational threats, and that effort’s correlation to the Asia-Pacific Homeland Security Summit’s “Securing Population Centers” theme, Nov. 10.

Sponsored by the State of Hawaii, and as noted on the event’s website, the summit and exposition brought together in Honolulu attendees from 11 nations to discuss present and future capabilities necessary to protect population centers.

Adm. Willard was one of three panelists during the summit’s closing session, and said PACOM expends considerable resources and time endeavoring to defend against transnational threats, and “…prevent them from reaching our shores, or the shores of our allies and partners.” He defined these threats as violent extremism and terror, international criminal activity such as piracy, narcotics and human trafficking, weapons proliferation including weapons of mass destructions, and natural and manmade disasters that create humanitarian crises.

“I think to put the security of our population centers in complete context, we have to understand this as much as the immediate response to crises in our homeland or close to home,” Adm. Willard said. “Even with natural disasters, while it would seem there’s not much we can do to directly defend against them, through prior preparation and disaster response training and exercises, we attempt to mitigate the impact of natural disasters so they don’t become destabilizing.”

He said that what the 300,000-plus men and women in the PACOM area of responsibility do daily is designed to ensure regional security and stability. “Part of that is at the high end, through deterrence efforts aimed at keeping the peace among major powers,” Adm. Willard said. “But by doing things that reduce societal tension and relieve population stress, we mitigate situations that could lead to conflicts and crisis.

“We believe there’s a great payoff for the military support of civil authorities, for capacity building with our regional partners, and for liberally sharing what we know with our friends,” he said.

Adm. Willard went on to mention trends that are likely to affect the future security environment, such as demographic shifts, the growing magnitude and complexity of economic interdependencies, and challenges associated with environmental, energy, and resource security, “…especially in a region of the world that’s home to many of the most important sea lanes and choke points and where demands for energy and natural resources are growing.”


To realize solutions to the challenges faced in the Asia-Pacific, Adm. Willard said relationships are the key. “They must be trust-based, personal relationships that enable information exchange and capacity building, ones that close the seams that so often obscure solutions and impede progress.

“When we consider the bonds that ought to be fostered in order to ensure stability and security prevail, it’s important to entertain relationships between departments within an agency, across agencies within a government, across governments within a region, or even across sectors within society,” he said.

Adm. Willard noted that that while there is much more to do, progress is being made, citing examples such as the Pacific Partnership humanitarian and civic assistance mission that wrapped up in September, and the recently completed Chiefs of Defense Conference, where, “Over the course of several days we openly discussed many of the common security concerns that you have discussed here,” he said, “And most importantly, strengthened the personal and professional relationships that regional security and stability absolutely depend on.

“The task at hand is to continually advance our knowledge, capabilities, and capacities to defend this region against transnational threats, and in doing so, to secure its population centers,” Adm. Willard said in conclusion. “We need to ask ourselves the tough questions about the nature of these threats and the knowledge that we have of them. And where needed, improve our knowledge and act decisively on what we know.

“Because this is a team sport, we must do our utmost to build enduring personal relationships with our regional partners, and then have in place the policies and agreed-to protocols that enable real action.”


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

MINEX Brings Four Nations Together to Address WWII Mines

The U.S. Navy has joined French, Australian and New Zealand military personnel in a French-led humanitarian effort to remove World War II era sea mines from New Caledonian waters in the South Pacific.

Lagoon Mine Exercise (MINEX), which runs through the third week of November, includes the support of approximately 300 military personnel from the four participating nations, and several Australian, New Zealand, and French Navy mine hunting, survey, and amphibious ships.

The U.S. Navy has provided a team of divers from Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 1 with four bottlenose dolphins trained to hunt mines.

Their combined efforts will focus on de-mining in the New Caledonia Lagoon.

During World War II, New Caledonia became an important outpost. Over the course of the war, more than 40,000 U.S. troops were stationed on the island. Based on the possibility of enemy attack, the U.S. requested assistance from Australia to do defensive mining around the island.

In 1944, the U.S. conducted mechanical sweeping clearance operations. Swept mines either surfaced and were destroyed or sunk. All remaining mines are now assessed to be neutralized or are on the bottom.

MINEX will focus on recovering or making the remaining mines safe.


Friday, November 6, 2009

JSOTF-P Provides Assistance through Veterinary Care in Southern Philippines

A team from Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines (JSOTF-P) partnered with the only two veterinarians in Lanao Del Sur province on the island of Mindanao to provide instruction and treatment for livestock and pets earlier this week.

As explained in a JSOTF-P news story, local residents, leaders from the district and instructors from the local college attended a workshop that taught individuals how to treat sick animals and strategies for preventing diseases.

Information from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences was distributed explaining what to do in cases of suspected avian influenza in poultry.

The following day, in addition to some pets, local residents brought cows, horses, goats and roosters for deworming medication, vitamins and rabies vaccinations.

The livelihood of the community is affected by the health of its animals, which contribute staples such as milk and meat.

At the request of the Government of the Philippines, JSOTF-P provides support to the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in several areas, including enhancing the AFP’s ability to provide humanitarian assistance to terrorist-inflicted communities, through tactical training programs, and the sharing of information.

To learn more and to keep up with the work taking place in the southern Philippines, visit the JSOTF-P website.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Cope Taufan to Bring U.S., Malaysian Air Forces Together for Training

The U.S. Air Force and Royal Malaysian Air Force are set to train together Nov. 9-20 in Malaysia during exercise Cope Taufan.

Nearly 100 U.S. Airmen will take part, along with eight U.S. Air Force F-15 Eagle aircraft.Cope Taufan is a live-fly exercise that involves dissimilar basic fighter maneuver training and dissimilar air combat tactics training with the Royal Malaysian Air Force’s fourth generation fighters - the F/A-18D Hornet and MiG-29 Fulcrum.

The exercise gives U.S. and Malaysian airmen an opportunity to exchange techniques and procedures, enhancing their ability to work together when needed.

The U.S. and Malaysian Armed Forces have a long history of cooperation, taking part in common humanitarian assistance and disaster relief efforts, training exercises, and professional exchanges.

Other noteworthy U.S.-Malaysia bilateral training events in 2009 include Keris Strike, a bilateral Army exercise, and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT), a bilateral Navy exercise that includes participation across the Malaysian Armed Forces.

JERAM SISIK, Malaysia (June 24, 2009) - Malaysian Army Maj. Norul Hisyam shows the distinctions between edible and poisonous plants to U.S. Marines as part of a jungle survival course during Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT). Exercise Cope Taufan, Nov. 9-20, will be the latest in a series of regular training events between the U.S. and Malaysian Armed Forces.


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