Canadian Army Medic Participates in International Exercise > U.S. Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

ULAANBAATAR, Mongolia — Canadian Army Cpl. Michelle Gerdis is a medic in with 31st Canadian Forces Health Service Center, stationed in Canadian Forces Base Borden in Ontario, Canada, and is participating in Khaan Quest 2019 at Five Hills Training Area, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia from June 14-28.

Gerdis, a Kingston, Ontario, native attended the University of Ottawa where she received a degree in biology. Prior to enlisting, Gerdis worked at the Royal Military College convenience store, Canex, before joining the Canadian Forces.

Q: Why did you decide to join the Canadian Army?

A: “I always enjoyed the structure of the military and while in university, I got very used to it. I finished my biology degree and then decided to enlist to become a medic.”

Q: Do you enjoy being a medic?

A: “I love the army and what it has to offer. I also love the structure and the opportunities it presents. Being a medic is great in that aspect, in the sense that it allows you to work in so many diverse environments. I could work in a primary care clinic, out in the field with the guys doing rucksack marches, and I also get the opportunity to come out on these international exercises. It’s always a challenge and I really enjoy it.”

Q: How are all of these countries coming together for Khaan Quest 2019 an important thing?

A: “I think bringing all these different nationalities together adds an important piece of education and diversity. Every different country has their own way of doing certain things, so you can always learn from everyone. It’s a great way for us to grow as peacekeeping nations.”

Q: With you talking about the diversity, what’s important about women being here and having the opportunity to go into these field exercises?

A: “Within

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Osan A-10’s Fly Alaskan Skies > U.S. Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

EIELSON AIR FORCE BASE, Alaska — Airmen assigned to the 25th Fighter Squadron and 51st Aircraft Maintenance Squadron from Osan Air Base, Republic of Korea, are participating in RED FLAG-Alaska 19-2 at Eielson Air Force Base, Alaska.

The 25th FS contributed their A-10 Thunderbolt II aircraft to the large-scale exercise, which is held several times each year and designed to provide participants with realistic joint operational experience in a controlled environment.

“RED FLAG provides the United States an opportunity to combine air and ground mission sets, complete an integrated large-scale tactical vulnerability period with our coalition partners and demonstrates our commitment to the Indo-Pacific region,” said Col. Jesse Friedel, 51st Fighter Wing vice commander and RED FLAG-Alaska 19-2 deployed forces commander. “Integration of our joint capabilities allows us to learn from one another and maintains our readiness for any military challenges.”

Members of the Republic of Korea Air Force, the Japan Air Self-Defense Force and the Royal Thai Air Force train alongside their U.S. counterparts enabling all involved to share tactics, techniques, procedures and improve bilateral integration.

“RF-A is a multinational flying event, and the 25th is here to capitalize on that,” said 1st Lt. Dae-hyuc “Duck” Yim, a pilot assigned to the 25th FS. “It’s great to see how everyone works because every military is different based on mission needs. We get a look at how they operate, issues they face and how we can work together to accomplish our goals.”

On the maintenance side, the exercise gives maintenance teams the experience needed working under different conditions in a fast-paced environment.

“We get a little bit more pressure here, so we learn to work with it and still get our mission done,” said Staff Sgt. Sean Griese, a dedicated crew chief assigned to the 51st AMXS. “We always have

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167th AW, Argos, USDA continue black vulture research > U.S. Air Force > Article Display


In 2018, the 167th Airlift Wing, Argos Cement Plant and the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service’s Wildlife Services teamed up to research black vultures in and around Martinsburg, in an effort to mitigate potential aviation hazards.

Since then, 164 black vultures have been fitted with red tags bearing an alphanumeric code and one black vulture now carries a telemetry device on its back, so the bird’s movements can be tracked and studied.

Four more devices, jointly funded by Argos and the 167th AW, are scheduled to be placed on black vultures in the coming weeks.

Chad Neil, a wildlife biologist for USDA APHIS Wildlife Services-W.Va. and part of the 167th AW’s Bird/Wildlife Aircraft Strike Hazard, or BASH, team, said the device is already providing the team with useful information.

“We could see that (the black vulture) stuck around Argos for two days then looped around the airfield and then headed down to Front Royal, Virginia,” Neil said.

The solar-powered device weighs 45 grams and is expected to transmit a plethora of data for at least six months, according to Neil.

Maj. James Holsinger, 167th AW chief of safety, noted that the devices provide location, movement, altitudes, airspeeds, vertical velocity and activity levels.

“The (team) takes the tracker data combined with solar and lunar data, weather, season and terrain features to identify high risk areas to our mission,” Holsinger explained. “These high risk areas are then provided to crews to aid in their risk assessment and mitigation processes.”

Andrew Frye, the environmental manager for Argos, solicited biologists with Conservation Science Global to help with the black vulture research.

Adam Duerr, director of research and senior wildlife biologist for Conservation Science Global and Trish Miller, also a senior wildlife biologist for CSG, spent

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Mine Warfare in the construct of BALTOPS

Rear Adm. Scott Robertson
Commander of the BALTOPS 2019 Mine Warfare Task Group (CTG 162.60)
Commander Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC)

Mine warfare (MIW) is a critical warfare capability that the U.S. Navy, our allies, and our partners take seriously in an era of great power competition. During Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2019, the Navy’s global mine warfare battle staff — a functional team positioned within Naval Surface and Mine Warfighting Development Center (SMWDC) seamlessly integrated a team of MIW professionals from 11-NATO nations into an effective MIW Task Group in the Baltic Sea.

As Commander, U.S. Second Fleet Vice Adm. Lewis, who is also the commander of BALTOPS 2019, said at the start of the exercise in Kiel, no one nation can do it alone. We must work together as partners and allies to maintain open sea lines of communication for freedom of navigation, for military and economic security, and regional stability. Our allies and partners lead the MIW effort globally, and we rely on their experience and expertise to improve our tactics, to fortify our partnerships, and to maintain a strong, forward presence.

Over the course of BALTOPS 2019, the Task Units within the MIW Task Group demonstrated remarkable expertise and resolve. Baltic Squadron (BALTRON), Standing NATO Mine Countermeasures Group (SNMCMG) 1, and Mine Countermeasures Division (MCMDIV) 31 each led subordinate task units within our larger team. We were also honored to have members of the NATO Naval Mine Warfare Center of Excellence on hand to work with multiple teams to explore new and innovative ways to use existing capabilities, and to begin the process of refining common doctrine and tactics, techniques, and procedures.

During BALTOPS 2019, BALTRON was comprised of Polish, Latvian, and Lithuanian naval units and was a diverse team capable

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Hardware, software, training reshaped as part of ‘Year of the Defender’ initiative > U.S. Air Force > Article Display


The Air Force has undertaken a comprehensive effort to revitalize and reconfigure its security forces squadrons during the past year with the Reconstitute Defender Initiative.

Travis Air Force Base is no exception. The initial push is 2019’s “Year of the Defender,” something Master Sgt. Joshua Wells, 60th Security Forces Squadron noncommissioned officer in charge of operations, said aims to adapt, update and evolve the unit’s approach on many fronts, from the digital realm to Airmen’s practical, day-to-day mission.

“It’s meeting a need that the Air Force has in our career field to revive development for our people,” Wells said. “They’re taking the initiative here on the ground to foresee the needs that are being directed from up top.”

Air Force leadership has identified eight areas of focus: Human capital, competent/lethal defenders, improved policy, modern equipment, modern weapons, improved facilities, improved infrastructure and integrated technology.

“We must always take integrated and layered base defense to a new level by increasing investment in our defenders with new equipment, new training, new tactics, techniques and procedures, and renewed focus at every echelon of command,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein. “This is the Year of the Defender because we don’t project power without the network of bases and infrastructure needed to execute multi-domain operations.”

What that means on the ground at Travis AFB is a bevy of changes, including modernizing tactics and training. One example is the discontinuation of career development courses in favor of on-the-job training. Wells said CDCs felt more like homework and prepared Airmen to answer a question in a book, but didn’t necessarily deliver the practical knowledge needed to accomplish the mission.

“Now these guys have to sit in a car or out on a post or after

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Travis AFB completes joint inspection with FEMA, ensures readiness > U.S. Air Force > Article Display


Airmen conducted a combined annual logistics drill and inspection with California Urban Search and Rescue Task Force 7, or CA TF-7, June 13, at Travis Air Force Base.

Urban search and rescue is considered a “multi-hazard” discipline, as it may be needed for a variety of emergencies or disasters, including earthquakes, hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, dam failures, technological accidents, terrorist activities and hazardous materials releases.

When one of these disasters strike, task force personnel and equipment can be used locally as well global deployments. This means the CA TF-7, one of 28 Federal Emergency Management Agency Urban Search and Rescue Task Forces in the nation and one of eight in California, must be ready to load their assets onto Air Force aircraft based at Travis AFB within six hours of notification.

To avoid delays that might prevent the task force from swiftly reaching its destination, it is imperative the pallets, watercraft, vehicles and equipment that arrive at Travis AFB are airworthy.

Annual joint inspections ensure members of the task force and the 60th Aerial Port Squadron have the knowledge and understanding of all governing directives and requirements to safely and efficiently load equipment onto an aircraft. The training also provided a hands-on and visual experience of loading cargo onto a Travis AFB C-17 Globemaster III.

CA TF-7 team members participated while 60th APS personnel inspected, weighed, measured and then loaded the cargo. The equipment, which included four lightweight boats, two trucks, a van and two trailers were packed with tents and chainsaws.

“This is a fast, light package that we can get out quickly,” said Scott Johnson, Sacramento Fire Department fire captain and CA TF-7 logistics manager.

Tech. Sgt. Dominic Jones, 60th APS noncommissioned officer in charge of special handling, took part in organizing

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Marine Corps at the forefront for ground-based lasers > The Official United States Marine Corps Public Website > News Display

A drone-killing, directed energy weapon prototype is now in the hands of Marines. The Compact Laser Weapons System—or CLaWS—is the first ground-based laser approved by the Department of Defense for use by warfighters on the ground.

“This was all in response to a need for counter unmanned aerial systems to take down drones,” said Don Kelley, program manager for Ground Based Air Defense at Program Executive Officer Land Systems. “We developed a CLaWS prototype for Marines to use and evaluate.”

In recent years, the Defense department has assessed directed energy weapons—more commonly known as “lasers”—as an affordable alternative to traditional firepower to keep enemy drones from tracking and targeting Marines on the ground.

CLaWS is not intended to be a standalone system for Marines to use to counter enemy drones. Rather, if the prototype continues to do well in the current research and development phase, it will serve as a component to an overall system used to counter drones.

“We’re providing CLaWS to Marines as a rapid prototype for evaluation,” Kelley said. “Depending on the results, CLaWS could become part of a larger capability set.”

Rapid prototyping, rapid delivery

The GBAD program, managed within the portfolio of PEO Land Systems procured the CLaWS prototype through the Defense Ordnance Technology Consortium—or DOTC—which was commissioned by the then-Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics to foster collaboration between government, industry and academia regarding ordnance technology development and prototyping.

“The typical acquisition timeline can be lengthy,” said Lt. Col. Ho Lee, product manager for GBAD Future Weapons Systems at PEO Land Systems. “But this project, from start to finish—from when we awarded the DOTC contract, to getting all the integration complete, all the testing complete, getting the Marines trained, and getting the systems ready to

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Pence Tours USNS Comfort Before Its Latin America Deployment > U.S. Southern Command > News

Vice President Mike Pence and his wife, Karen Pence, toured the USNS Comfort at the Port of Miami as the ship prepares to embark on a five-month deployment to Latin America and the Caribbean to address the humanitarian crisis in Venezuela and to strengthen partnerships in the region.

During today’s visit, the vice president called the deployment a lifesaving mission.

“When the USNS Comfort pushes off tomorrow, she will embark on no ordinary mission,” he said. “Her departure from this place will be [its] second deployment to Latin America in the last six months.”

Pence expressed his “great appreciation” to the men and women who are serving aboard the hospital ship to continue America’s effort to bring desperately needed medical care to those in need, especially the men, women and children who are suffering under the unprecedented crisis in Venezuela under dictator Nicolas Maduro.

After six years of oppression under Maduro and his regime, what was one of the wealthiest countries in the Western Hemisphere is now a country where nine out of 10 people live in poverty, Pence said.

The vice president described a country where thousands of children are starving and many are dying from lack of basic medical care. Crime, violence and lawlessness have spread like a virus, the vice president said, adding that vicious gangs have turned streets into war zones, and Venezuela now has the world’s highest murder rate.

The Maduro regime is a threat to peace and security across the hemisphere, Pence said.

“While the United States has taken humanitarian action to include delivering food, Venezuelan people need more than food. They need medical care, and that’s why the USNS Comfort will deploy once again,” Pence said.

The vice president offered encouragement to the USNS Comfort crew. “You’re embarking

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USS Green Bay, USS Ashland Visit Brisbane, Australia > U.S. Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

BRISBANE, Australia — The forward-deployed San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD 20), Whidbey Island-class amphibious dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD 48), and the embarked 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) arrived in Brisbane for a scheduled port visit, June 18.

“It’s great to be back in Brisbane. The crew is ecstatic to have this opportunity to come back to Australia again after having visited Cairns this past November and Brisbane in June of 2017,” said Capt. Thomas E. Shultz, commanding officer of Green Bay. “We really appreciate the warm welcome we receive when we visit, and we’re looking forward to a little rest and relaxation, enjoying everything Brisbane has to offer.”

The Wasp Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 31st MEU team is a flexible, self-sustained crisis response force, capable of conducting operations from combat missions, to humanitarian aid and disaster relief. They are the premier crisis response force in the Indo-Pacific region.

“Australia and the United States have a deep friendship, and the United States Marine Corps and Navy have a long history visiting and training in Australia,” said Lt. Col. Christopher Johnson, Combat Logistics Battalion 31 commanding officer. “I have only known Australians to be wonderful ambassadors of their country while aboard, and I hope the Marines and Sailors visiting Brisbane sustain our mutual feelings of kinship and friendship. Thank you for hosting us and welcoming us to your beautiful country.”

Green Bay and Ashland, forward deployed from Sasebo, Japan, are in Brisbane prior to exercise Talisman Sabre 2019.

“Fortunately, our schedule has afforded the crew an opportunity to spend a few days in Brisbane. The crew is excited to participate in the many opportunities to explore Australia,” said Cmdr. Patrick German, commanding officer of Ashland. “The city of Brisbane is beautiful and the people are

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599th Transportation Brigade Partners Upload Ocean Jazz for Pacific Pathways > U.S. Indo-Pacific Command > 2015

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii — 599th Transportation Brigade personnel teamed with Fleet Logistics Center; U.S. Coast Guard; 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division; Hawaii Stevedore, Inc.; and Military Sealift Command personnel June 7-9 at both Fleet Logistics Center and Naval Magazine here to facilitate upload of 2/25 IBCT cargo and equipment bound for Pacific Pathways exercises.

Because of safety concerns, when the M/V Ocean Jazz arrived from Washington state on the morning of June 7, it first had to offload ammunition at NAVMAG before it could come into to FLC for upload of the bulk of the cargo and equipment.

“The ammunition had to be offloaded at NAVMAG before coming to FLC because ammunition is not allowed on ships at FLC,” said Carlos Tibbetts, 599th terminal operations chief. “The port is not certified for any ammo whatsoever, not even small arms ammunition.

“Once the ammunition was on the pier at NAVMAG, the 25th Infantry

Division had to station armed guards on the pier in 24-hour rotating shifts until it was reloaded at the end of the operation,” he added.

After they offloaded the ammunition at NAVMAG, the ship sailed to FLC. The safety briefing was conducted at 6:30 p.m., and the upload of remaining cargo began at 8:40 p.m., said Davey Flores, 599th traffic management specialist.

The Ocean Jazz is a lift-on, lift-off vessel. While it does have a cargo ramp, it is directly in the stern of the ship, so cannot be used for operations at either port here.

Hawaii Stevedores, Inc. employees stowed the cargo and lashed it down according to the stow plan, while 599th personnel assisted FLC-PH personnel in counting and recording the cargo arriving on the ship by hand.

“HSI provided two gangs at night, but then only one showed up for the

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