Archive for February 2017

Pentagon Spokesman Discusses ISIS Preliminary Plan, Budget Amendment

February 27, 2017

Flintlock 2017 kicks off in N'Djamena, Chad

By Cheryl Pellerin

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 27, 2017 — U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis will present a preliminary version of the Pentagon’s new plan to rapidly defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria during a meeting of the White House Principals Committee today, Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said here this morning.

The Cabinet-level senior interagency forum, which usually does not include the president, already has received copies of the classified report, which Davis described as a framework for a broader global plan. President Donald J. Trump requested the plan in a Jan. 28 presidential memorandum.

“This is not just a military plan,” he told reporters during a briefing. “It draws upon all elements of national power — diplomatic, financial, cyber, intelligence [and] public diplomacy, and it’s been drafted in close coordination with our interagency partners.”

Davis added, “This plan is truly transregional. This is not just about Iraq and Syria, it is about defeating ISIS around the globe,” and other transregional violent extremist organizations, such as al-Qaida.

“From the secretary’s standpoint,” Davis said, “he is very committed to rebuilding readiness and is looking for us to find ways to do that quickly and in ways that reflect our being good stewards of taxpayer dollars.”

2017 Budget Amendment

Davis also said the Pentagon is working with the Office of Management and Budget to finalize Defense Department budget amendment numbers.

“We are not able at this point to confirm specific numbers, the captain said, “but stay tuned to what OMB has to say. Once we’ve settled on the numbers we are postured to provide OMB with our budget amendment material as soon as possible in order to meet their goal of March 1.”

As Mattis has emphasized, he added, the budget amendment will focus on meeting warfighter needs and addressing critical readiness shortfalls.

“The highest priority for the fiscal year 2017 budget amendment is on programs and efforts that can be executed in the remainder of [fiscal year 2017] ending on Sept. 30,” Davis said. “Items that cannot be reasonably expected to be executed in this fiscal year will be recommended to be deferred [for placement] in the FY 2018 base budget.”

Exercise Flintlock 2017

Also during the briefing, Davis said that beginning today about 2,000 service members from 24 African, European and North American partner nations will participate in Flintlock 2017 — U.S. Africa Command’s premier special operations forces exercise. It takes place in seven nations throughout North and West Africa.

“This year,” Davis said, “Flintlock is being hosted by Burkina Faso, Chad, Cameroon, Niger, Mauritania, Morocco and Tunisia.”

The exercise bolsters partnerships among African, European and North American special operations forces, increasing their ability to work together in times of crises, Davis added.

According to Africom, participating nations include Algeria, Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Mauritania, Morocco, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, Tunisia, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Chadian soldiers raise the flags of partner nations participating in Flintlock 17 during the opening ceremony Feb. 27, 2017. Flintlock is an annual Special Operations Exercise involving more than 20 nation forces that strengthens security institutions, promotes multilateral sharing of information, and develops interoperability among partner nations in North West Africa.

U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Terrance Payton

Air Force Chief Of Staff Outlines Future Challenges of Military Readiness

February 23, 2017

SD arrives at NATO

By Terri Moon Cronk

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 23, 2017 — Readiness is central to the military services, and the biggest challenge for the U.S. Air Force lies in its growth as its smallest-ever force takes on growing missions, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David L. Goldfein said today.

Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies here, the general said that, at 660,000 active-duty personnel, today’s Air Force is “the smallest we’ve ever been.”

Goldfein said the Air Force has “serious challenges” in terms of its readiness.

“For an air component, there are five things that go into building readiness,” the general said. “You’ve got to have trained people, a weapons system sustainment program [and] a program that pays for the actual flying.”

Once airborne, there must be places to train and the time to train, he added.

People: Top Priority

The general said that for him and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, people are the No. 1 readiness priority.

“There’s talk of going to a year-long continuing resolution,” Goldfein said of the Defense Department budget. “That’s $1.3 billion. I’m not going to be able to hire the people I need to get those aircraft airborne or get the pilots to fly those missions. I’m not going to be able to get aircraft in a depot; the lines are going to stop. The civilian hiring freeze will continue for the remainder of the year. I’m not going to have the flying hours to get those things airborne, I’m not going to be able to invest in the training and I’m not going to have any relief on the time.”

The demands on the Air Force have been consistent for the last 15 years in four key areas, he said: space; cyber; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; and nuclear enterprise.

With mandatory budget cuts across the Defense Department, the Air Force, for example, has had to make reductions in its personnel, infrastructure and conventional airpower capacity, the general said.

“You could explain [those cuts] in 2013, but when Russia became active in 2014 and invaded another country, [and] when China got active and started militarizing islands in the South China Sea, when [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] came back, the world changed,” Goldfein said, and the path the Air Force was on didn’t make sense anymore.

Readiness For Future Conflict

“So, right now, we’ve got to get balance back. And for me, the No.1 thing we’ve got to get after is people. I’ve got to get the formations built back up … for the many missions we’ve been given,” he said.

Goldfein outlined what he sees when he looks at long-term readiness and future conflict.

“I think future conflict victory will go to that individual who can turn data to decision, command and control his or her forces in a way that you can produce multiple dilemmas from multiple domains and multiple components, at a rate and decision speed that overwhelms the adversary, while denying him the ability to do the same,” he said.

What the Air Force needs for the future is to “get the network piece right, which is how we tied together all the domains and components and weapons systems with apps riding on the network to get to decision speed,” the general said, adding, “That’s a major effort we as an Air Force are focused on as we think toward where we are going in the future.”

Industry plays a vital role in the U.S. military’s future, he noted.

“I’m in continual dialogue with [chief executive officers] of all the majors [corporations] and I describe this as one of the problems I need their help solving,” Goldfein said. “I think industry is going to help solve this one and get it right.”

First African-American Medal of Honor Recipient Protected U.S. Flag at All Costs…

February 9, 2017


Meet Sgt. William Carney: The First African-American Medal of Honor Recipient

By Katie Lange

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 8, 2017 — Of the 3,498 service members who have received the Medal of Honor throughout U.S. history, only 88 have been black.

In recognition of African American History Month, we’re sharing the stories of the brave men who so gallantly risked and gave their lives for others, even in times when others weren’t willing to do the same in return. We’ll start with the first black recipient of the award: Army Sgt. William H. Carney, who earned the honor for protecting one of the United States’ greatest symbols during the Civil War — the American flag.

Born Into Slavery

Carney was born into slavery in Norfolk, Virginia, in 1840. His family was eventually granted freedom and moved to Massachusetts, where Carney was eager to learn and secretly got involved in academics, despite laws and restrictions that banned blacks from learning to read and write. Carney had wanted to pursue a career in the church, but when the Civil War broke out, he decided the best way he could serve God was by serving in the military to help free the oppressed.

In March 1863, Carney joined the Union Army and was attached to Company C, 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment, the first official black unit recruited for the Union in the north. Forty other black men served with him, including two of famed abolitionist Frederick Douglass’ sons. Within a few months, Carney’s training would be put to the ultimate test during the unit’s first major combat mission in Charleston, South Carolina.

Charge on Fort Wagner

On July 18, 1863, the soldiers of Carney’s regiment led the charge on Fort Wagner. During the battle, the unit’s color guard was shot. Carney, who was just a few feet away, saw the dying man stumble, and he scrambled to catch the falling flag.

Despite suffering several serious gunshot wounds himself, Carney kept the symbol of the Union held high as he crawled up the hill to the walls of Fort Wagner, urging his fellow troops to follow him. He planted the flag in the sand at the base of the fort and held it upright until his near-lifeless body was rescued.

Even then, though, he didn’t give it up. Many witnesses said Carney refused to give the flag to his rescuers, holding onto it tighter until, with assistance, he made it to the Union’s temporary barracks.

Promoted for His Actions

Carney lost a lot of blood and nearly lost his life, but not once did he allow the flag to touch the ground!

His heroics inspired other soldiers that day and were crucial to the North securing victory at Fort Wagner. Carney was promoted to the rank of sergeant for his actions. For his bravery, Carney was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on May 23, 1900.

Carney’s legacy serves as a shining example of the patriotism that Americans felt at that time, despite the color of their skin. As for the 54th Massachusetts Colored Infantry Regiment in which Carney served? It was disestablished long ago, but reactivated in 2008. It now serves as a National Guard ceremonial unit that renders honorary funerals and state functions. It was even invited to march in President Barack Obama’s inaugural parade.

Read More ‘Medal of Honor Monday’ Posts

February 6, 2017

SD hosts Canadian minister of defense

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis, Canadian Defense Minister Meet at Pentagon

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 6, 2017 — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted Canada’s Minister of National Defense Harjit Sajjan at the Pentagon today, Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis said in a statement.

It was Mattis’ first time hosting a defense counterpart as Secretary of Defense, Davis said.

Mattis and Sajjan reaffirmed the U.S.- Canada defense relationship, emphasizing their commitments to the North American Aerospace Defense Command and continental defense, and agreeing to deepen cooperation to protect North America, noting that 2018 will be NORAD’s 60th anniversary, Davis said.

Mattis addressed enhancing North American defense relations and the North American Defense Ministerial, which he offered to host this spring in Washington, D.C.

International Priorities, Operations

The secretary and Sajjan also discussed international priorities and operations, as well as the upcoming NATO Defense Ministerial, Davis said. The secretary and the Canadian Defense Minister discussed U.S. and Canadian leadership as framework nations for enhanced forward presence, members of the international counter-Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant coalition, and support for United Nations peacekeeping, the spokesman said.

Mattis thanked Canada for its commitments to NATO and the counter-ISIL campaign, and agreed to continued discussions with Canada and other coalition members on the progress of the U.S. counter-ISIL strategy review, Davis said.

The secretary and Sajjan also discussed the importance of defense investments and modernization to ensure continued cooperation, the spokesman said.

Mattis commended Sajjan for his consistent leadership, noting the need for both the U.S. and Canada to continue to represent their shared values and advance security, prosperity, and freedom, Davis said.

The two leaders also noted the long relationship between the U.S. Military and Canadian Armed Forces and stated they looked forward to deepening the U.S.- Canada relationship and continuing to work closely together, the spokesman said.

February 2, 2017

Free Tax Software, Support Available for Military, Families

By Lisa Ferdinando

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Feb. 2, 2017 — With the tax season upon us, service members and their families can access free tax-filing software and consultations to help them navigate the task of submitting their annual taxes.

Military members and their families can visit the Military OneSource website or call 1-800-342-9647 for the no-cost “MilTax” software, explained Erika Slaton, a program analyst with Military OneSource.

The Defense Department recognizes military members and their families have unique filing situations with deployments, relocations and various deductions and credits, she said.

The MilTax software, previously known as “Military OneSource Tax Services,” was created with the military situation in mind, Slaton said.

Expert Tax Consultants Ready to Help

Tax consultants are available via phone through Military OneSource, Slaton said. In-person tax filing assistance can be accessed at military installations at a Volunteer Income Tax Assistance location.

The tax consultants can inform eligible users about the unique tax benefits available to service members and their families, Slaton said.

Tax laws change each year, Slaton pointed out, adding MilTax consultants are experts on the nuances of the law and can help users get the tax credits they earned and deserve.

“That’s why it’s such a great program because it is a program that is specifically designed for those unique military tax situations,” she said.

Confidential, Secure Resources

MilTax is confidential and secure, Slaton said. The online filing program allows users to submit a federal return and up to three state tax returns, she said.

Those eligible for MilTax include members of the Air Force, Army, Navy, Marines and National Guard. Coast Guardsmen serving under Title 10 authority are entitled to the services as well. Retired and honorably discharged members are authorized for up to 180 days past their separation. Spouses, dependent children and survivors are able to use the free services as well.

Calculations are backed by a 100-percent accuracy guarantee, Slaton said.

The deadline to file taxes this year is Tuesday, April 18. The traditional tax deadline day is April 15, but it falls on a Saturday this year, and the following Monday, April 17, is Emancipation Day, in the District of Columbia — a legal holiday — according to the IRS.

Call, Click, Connect

Slaton wants the military community to know about the range of services and resources available at no cost through the Defense Department-funded Military OneSource, including related to health, family relationships, education, employment, financial issues, deployments and transitions.

Military members and their families, she said, can “call, click and connect today” to access these services.

“We encourage service members and their families to learn more about Military OneSource, MilTax and all of the services that are available because it is a benefit that they deserve,” she said.