NANGARHAR PROVINCE, Afghanistan, Oct. 28, 2009 â€“ A native of Chinaâ€™s Fujian province who was not in the United States long before she decided to serve her adopted country says the dedication of her fellow soldiers helps to inspire her own service.
Army Spc. Meirong Wang was about to finish her college degree and start teaching high school physics when she was granted the opportunity to leave China and travel to the United States.
â€œWhen you see a different country, itâ€™s not about the country or the area, itâ€™s about the people,â€ she said of her decision to leave China. â€œPeople are brave to stand up for the things [they] want to fight for.â€
Wang said she is proud to be here, and cited the discipline required in the military as something that makes it different from any other career.
â€œAs long as you maintain discipline, you want to do better,â€ she said. A human resources specialist for Task Force Mountain Warriorâ€™s 4th Special Troops Battalion, Wang uses her discipline to better herself every day.
â€œSpecialist Wang makes my job easy,â€ said Army Sgt. 1st Class Jason A. Coulter, Wangâ€™s noncommissioned officer in charge. â€œHer work ethic, attention to detail and willingness to take on responsibilities [make her] the type of soldier leaders want and the Army needs.â€
Though Wangâ€™s discipline and desire to do better drive her every day, Coulter said, she still faces some challenges as she works to overcome the language barrier.
â€œSpecialist Wang has identified that as a weakness, and has improved her English tremendously,â€ he said. â€œAs leaders, we identify our weaknesses and seek self-improvement. Wang has many characteristics of a leader, and that is just one of them.â€
Wang attributes much of her success to her fellow soldiers and leaders.
In the process that led to her being named as Task Force Mountain Warriorâ€™s soldier of the quarter, Wang had to face many challenges and her teammates helped her to prepare. Even though the competition was an individual event, she noted, it still took a team effort for her be selected.
â€œSo many people stood behind me and supported me,â€ Wang said, adding that her leaders want her to be a good leader as well.
â€œThey also tell my comrades we need to support each other to be good leaders,â€ she said.
Coulter proudly recalled how Wangâ€™s fellow soldiers helped her prepare for the evaluation board.
â€œSpecialist Wang and her co-workers pulled together as a team; they went to the gym together, woke up early and did physical training,â€ he said. â€œAnd the team drilled her with evaluation board questions daily.â€
The support paid off in Wangâ€™s selection as soldier of the quarter.
â€œThereâ€™s no way I could win this board without everyone here,â€ she said. Coulter said itâ€™s typical of Wang to give credit to her leadership and fellow soldiers.
â€œShe is an unselfish soldier [who] exemplifies selfless service,â€ he said.
Wednesday, 28 October 2009: By Army Spc. Eugene H. Cushing whom serves in the Task Force Mountain Warrior public affairs office- Special to American Forces Press Service.
The 3-kilometer by 10-kilometer range was built by the 33rd IA Brigade Military Transition Team, 9th Engineer Battalion, and 2nd Battalion, 28th Infantry Regiment. Four months of planning made the Monowara range a reality.
"The purpose of this range is to assist the Iraqi Army with tactics and maneuvers, as well as showing them the different air assets they can use to defeat the enemy," said Maj. Jon K. Thiessen, maneuvers, fires and effects advisor, 33rd IA Bde., MiTT.
The exercise began with 120 mm mortars providing indirect fire support to suppress the simulated enemy as each platoon negotiated the course. Soldiers navigated through the range, performed weapon checks and conducted mounted and dismounted target engagements.
Each platoon performed key tasks at six different areas of the range. Starting at the assembly area all the way to the trenches at the limit of advance, tasks such as executing basic troop-leading procedures, transmitting proper contact reports and maneuvering a squad tested the Iraqi Soldiers' abilities.
Loading and correcting weapon systems malfunctions, performing simulated first aid while under direct fire also challenged the Iraqi platoons.
"We provided the IA with kinetic effects, such as air weapons teams and a fixed wing aircraft to show them how kinetic assets will aid them to kill or warn their enemies," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Jonathan W. Bishop, joint tactical air controller, 2nd Air Support Operations Squadron. "During the exercise, the IA had to request air assets with specific locations for the fighter plane to drop a 500 pound bomb to help defeat their enemy."
Following the training, The IA Soldiers went over their experience in a review, which helped to identify ways to improve.
"I believe we handled the exercise very well," said 2nd Lt. Sadiq Kittab Muhsen, platoon commander, 33rd IA Bde. "The exercise helped us to train and increased our ability to attack and defend against our enemies."
Wednesday, 28 October 2009: By Pfc. Bethany Little- Multi-National Division - South
Navy Adm. Mike Mullen met with the leaders in the region during a Pacific trip.
This was Mullenâ€™s first visit to Japan since a new government took over. It also was his first meeting with his Japanese counterpart, Gen. Ryoichi Oriki.
The U.S.-Japan relationship is about more than mutual defense; it has regional and global implications, Mullen said.
â€œThis is a vital relationship, bilaterally,â€ the chairman said. â€œItâ€™s a vital region in the world. I actually spent a great deal of my time in the Pacific growing up, and I'm particularly focused on this relationship and this region. And some of the areas â€“ whether itâ€™s missile defense or counter-piracy â€“ weâ€™re looking for ways to strengthen the bonds.â€
He said the U.S.-Japan alliance is as strong as it ever has been.
Mullen thanked the Japanese for their contributions to peace around the world. â€œIâ€™m especially grateful for the contributions of Japan in Central Asia: the refueling operations, the support to the â€¦ Pakistani military,â€ he said. â€œIâ€™m also mindful of the contributions to the salaries of the police in Afghanistan. Thatâ€™s a significant contribution, and we really think the way to stability in Afghanistan is through the development of their forces â€“ their army and police.â€
The admiral said he wants the agreement signed between the United States and Japan in 2006 to move forward. That agreement calls for the relocation of Marines from Okinawa to Guam, the realignment of other U.S. forces and ways the two nations work together militarily. While the alliance is about the defense of Japan, â€œit has also provided a basis for regional stability and for response,â€ Mullen said.
The realignment of U.S. forces in Japan provides â€œthe military capability, the operational flexibility, the adjustment to the continuing threats in the region,â€ Mullen said, giving the nations the ability to respond to current and future threats.
Reporters quizzed Mullen about Japanese contributions to operations in Afghanistan. The Japanese have provided ship refueling capability in the Indian Ocean. The Japanese also sponsored a donorsâ€™ conference for the region and have financed police training and pay.
The chairman called Afghanistan and Pakistan the epicenter of terrorism in the world. â€œSo itâ€™s not just a regional issue, itâ€™s a global issue,â€ he said.
He applauded the Japanese efforts in many areas. The Japanese have opportunities to help in building or rebuilding infrastructure in Afghanistan, he noted, and he called on them to continue their support to the Afghan National Police. The Japanese can continue to fund â€œthose kinds of things which arenâ€™t as directly militarily focused as some others that could also be very helpful,â€ he said.
The chairman spoke about the regional picture in Northeast Asia, and said North Korea clearly is a threat to Japan. The success of talks designed to get North Korea to dismantle its nuclear facilities and stop proliferating nuclear and missile technology, he added, are vital to the region.
â€œI think we all agree that a denuclearized North Korea is the outcome we all seek,â€ Mullen said. â€œWe canâ€™t accept anything else.â€
The chairman also addressed the Chinese military build-up. â€œI have been concerned about their increased investment in their defense capability, their clear shift of focus from a ground-centric force to a naval- and air- centric force that seems to, now, push off-island, if you will, beyond the first island chain and out to the second island chain,â€ he said.
The United States has renewed military-to-military relationships with China, and the chairman said he believes this is a positive move. â€œI have said for a long time that the peaceful rise of China, the economic engine that China is, thereâ€™s a lot of positive potential there,â€ Mullen said.
But it is still difficult to understand the strategic intent of Chinaâ€™s military buildup, he acknowledged. He said some of the build-up seems targeted at U.S. and Japanese naval forces.
â€œAnd so I would hope in the end that, in fact, their strategic intent is a positive one of security for their people and their country and not one that puts us into a position that could generate a conflict,â€ he said.
The chairman said cyberwarfare is becoming a â€œmainstream threatâ€ and that all nations of the region must deal with it. The cyberspace domain is critical to both the United Stats and Japan, and he said the two nations will work together to defend this new battlespace.Â Â Â Â Â
October 24, 2009: By Jim Garamone- American Forces Press Service
Redistributed By: www.SupportOurTroops.Org
A wounded warrior now serving in the plans, training, mobilization and security directorate at the U.S. Army garrison here believes that attaining NCO status does not automatically make a soldier a leader.
Though his injuries prevent him from accomplishing the basics such as physical training, weapons training or physically showing other soldiers how to perform tasks, Sgt. 1st Class Chris Edwards has elected to remain in the Army and continue to serve.
After becoming an NCO, Edwards said, a soldier usually goes through a transition period before becoming an effective leader, and learning humility is an important aspect of that transition.
"I think that the easiest way to transfer from being an NCO to a leader is for one, you have to be humble,â€ he said. â€œIn the grand scheme of life, you're not better than anybody else. Yes, you're a higher rank. You've probably been in longer than your troops. But to really be a leader, you have to take the needs of your soldiers before the needs of yourself. Once your troops figure out that you're there for them and not the other way around, that's when you become a leader. That's when they give you the respect.
â€œYou earn the respect; you haven't demanded it,â€ he continued. â€œThey give it to you freely, and it's a much better environment."
An NCO doesnâ€™t need to yell and scream to get respect, Edwards said. â€œIt irritates me to no end to see a young NCO yelling and screaming at his guys,â€ he said. â€œYou could get twice as far with just a calm word and explaining to them what they're doing wrong instead of yelling at them.â€
The transition from being an NCO to being a leader comes with maturity, Edwards said, â€œbecause then you're leading your troops, you're not telling them what to do."
Edwards said that being an NCO has taken on a totally different perspective for him since he was injured, but the meaning of being an NCO remains as intact in his mind as when he was able to lead his soldiers into battle.
"Being a wounded warrior, I chose to stay on active duty,â€ he said. â€œI didn't need to, but it's just that I love being an NCO. I don't think there's any greater honor than leading troops into battle."
But things are much different for him now, Edwards acknowledged. "I'm just being around the guys,â€ he said. â€œI'm helping out the younger troops with whatever it might be - helping to spread a little bit of knowledge, a little bit of wisdom.
"Being an NCO is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,â€ he continued. â€œOnce you leave, you're done. I mean, you can always retire and sit around reliving the glory days, but I wasn't ready for that, so I chose to stay in and still live them."
October 26, 2009: By Ignacio Rubalcava-Â Public Affairs Office at U.S. Army Garrison Baumholder- Special to American Forces Press Service
Redistributed By: www.SupportOurTroops.Org
Bold Quest 2009, a capability assessment designed by Joint Forces Command's joint capability development directorate, will focus on testing air and ground units' ability to exchange information and on improving coalition warfighters' ability to identify friendly forces on the ground, said John Miller, the joint capability integration and fires division's operational manager for the exercise.
"It's about passing friendly ground force location information to strike [aircrews] who may have to engage ground targets,â€ he said. â€œWe're assessing some advanced technologies and the associated procedures that would enable those [aircrews] to interrogate ground target areas and receive a quick, accurate response from any friendly ground forces who are equipped with compatible technologies."
Miller said the assessment, the latest in the Bold Quest series, is driven by a need to provide tools that make warfighters more effective in engaging targets while minimizing the risk of fratricide. Past assessments focused on ground forces' ability to interact and identify each other. This time, the idea is to see whether aircrews can use those same technologies.
"Identifying your friends is about as basic as it gets," he said. "Shooters are confronted with a lot of confusion - noise, dust, darkness. The technologies, techniques and procedures that we're assessing here are designed to enable them to start sorting that confusion out."
The demonstration will collect both technical data on systems and subjective judgments from the warfighters using them. Demonstration analysts will collect and analyze information which will be put together as the exerciseâ€™s coalition military utility assessment.
Bold Quest 2009 includes military units and technical teams from all four services and U.S. Special Operations Command, as well as representatives from the United Kingdom, Australia, Belgium, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden. Most of these nations participated in past Bold Quests, and Miller said their continued participation shows that their militaries see the value in continued participation.
"An event like this enables them to collectively get an early look at what works, what doesn't work, and what has the highest degree of military utility," he said. "As they look at their resources, an event like this will allow them to get an early look at the military utility of these solutions and better enable them to invest further their limited developmental dollars."
Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. Rob Roscoe, United Kingdom liaison officer, said his nation's military gets multiple benefits from participating in the demonstration.
"We do it to look at emerging technologies," he said. "[It also allows us] to demonstrate our own kit. â€¦ Weâ€™ve bought the kit, but the environment that you have at Bold Quest is an ideal opportunity to test out what the full capability of that kit is."
Improved interoperability between coalition and U.S. systems is another reason to participate, Roscoe said.
"The ability to test [our systems] with a range of aircraft isn't available to us in the U.K.," he said. "We can test it against our own aircraft, but it's when we go to Afghanistan or other regions, we can test it to a much wider range of aircraft.
"We need to know where the U.S. is going," he continued. "If you go down a particular path of technology, we need to have the same ID system or the same capability to operate an ID system. Otherwise, we'll be a liability when we come to operate together, because you won't know it's us."
Besides operating out of Cherry Point, aircraft from the United States, Canada and France supporting the demonstration will launch from Langley Air Force Base, Va.; Naval Air Station Oceana, Va.; Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, N.C.; Patuxent River, Md.; and Shaw Air Force Base, S.C.
Demonstrations have been held annually since 2003.
October 26, 2009: By Jacob Boyer- Special to American Forces Press Service
Redistributed By: www.SupportOurTroops.Org
ÂWASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2009 â€“ President Barack Obama today thanked U.S. military members for their service and sacrifice to the nation during his visit to a Florida Navy base.
America has the best military in the world, â€œbecause we have the finest personnel in the world,â€ Obama told servicemembers at Naval Air Station Jacksonville.
â€œYou are the best-trained, the best-prepared, the best-led force in history,â€ Obama said. â€œOur people are our most precious resource.â€
Obama then cited the 11 U.S. servicemembers and three U.S. civilians who perished today in Afghanistan as a result of two separate helicopter crashes.
â€œFourteen Americans gave their lives. And our prayers are with these servicemembers, their civilian colleagues and the families who loved them,â€ Obama said.
Relatives and friends of the departed may find some comfort, Obama said, in knowing that their loved ones died to prevent Afghanistan from again becoming a safe haven for al-Qaida terrorists and their extremist allies. Those who perished in the helicopter crashes in Afghanistan â€œgave their lives to protect ours,â€ said the president added.
Obama told the military members that he is humbled by their service to the nation.
â€œThe American people thank you for your service,â€ he said. â€œWe honor you for your sacrifices. And just as you have fulfilled your responsibilities to your nation, your nation will fulfill its responsibilities to you.â€
Of all the presidential privileges and responsibilities, Obama said, his highest honor is to serve as commander in chief of the U.S. military. â€œYou inspire me,â€ he said. â€œAnd Iâ€™m here today to deliver a simple message â€“ a message of thanks to you and your families.â€
Earlier today, Obama conducted a sixth White House meeting with his national security advisors to discuss the way ahead in Afghanistan. As deliberations continue, the president emphasized in Jacksonville, he will never rush the decision to send Americaâ€™s servicemembers into harmâ€™s way.
â€œI wonâ€™t risk your lives unless itâ€™s absolutely necessary,â€ Obama told servicemembers. â€œAnd if it is necessary, we will back you up to the hilt, because you deserve the strategy, the clear mission and the defined goals as well as the equipment and support that you need to get the job done.â€
Obama pledged that U.S. servicemembers always would be fully supported back home, noting he will soon sign a $680.2 billion defense authorization bill for fiscal 2010 that contains added funding for the military.
Obama also vowed to take care of U.S. servicemembersâ€™ families, noting First Lady Michelle Obama has been visiting bases across the country to connect with military families. Recent actions, the president said, have increased military pay and education benefits and improved child care and hospital facilities as part of efforts to improve quality of life for servicemembers and military families.
He also cited initiatives designed to reduce military familiesâ€™ stress while loved ones are deployed and efforts that bolster medical care for wounded warriors.
â€œWeâ€™re improving care for our wounded warriors, especially those with post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injuries,â€ Obama said.
And to take better care of the nationâ€™s veterans, Obama said, the Department of Veterans Affairs budget is being increased by the highest percentage in more than 30 years. Servicemembers, their families and veterans deserve these initiatives and more, the president said, because of their service to the nation.
â€œYou have always taken care of America; America must take care of you, always,â€ Obama told servicemembers.
Obama recalled Jacksonvilleâ€™s recent welcome home for previously missing Navy aviator Capt. Michael Scott Speicher, whose remains were discovered in August in Iraq and returned to his family for burial. Speicher was shot down over Iraq in 1991 during the Persian Gulf War.
As Speicherâ€™s flag-draped casket lay in repose at the naval baseâ€™s chapel before his burial, Jacksonvilleâ€™s military members and civilians â€œgave Scott back to the city he loved,â€ Obama said.
â€œThatâ€™s what you do,â€ he added, â€œnot only for Scott, but for all the fallen warriors you bring home.â€
While in Jacksonville, Obama also met with 11 sailors and Marines noted for their leadership, high achievement and excellence during performance of their duties.
October 26, 2009: By Gerry J. Gilmore-Â American Forces Press Service
Redistributed By: www.SupportOurTroops.Org