The SITREP: Army Purifies Puerto Rico Water, Air Force Provides Wildfire Support & More

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Spc. Reynaldo Sotomayor, left, and Pfc. Francisco Morales, both with the 105th Quartermaster Water Purification and Distribution Company, Puerto Rico National Guard, fill a local resident’s containers with potable water. The Puerto Rico Guardsmen set up a Reverse Osmosis Water Purification Unit underneath an overpass on Route 2 near Quebradilla and purified more than 12,000 gallons of water from the Guajataca River. U.S. Army National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Armando Vasquez

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, October 19, 2017.

  • Water treatment specialists from the 105th Quartermaster Water Purification and Distribution Company, Puerto Rico Army National Guard, are helping their neighbors by purifying water from the river and the ocean.
  • Marine Corps Tactical Systems Support Activity engineers demonstrated a virtualized tactical afloat network capability aboard Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, California.
  • Airmen from the California Air National Guard continue to provide cell phone and internet support to people who fled their homes as wildfires raged through California’s wine country.
  • Defense Department officials stress importance of cybersecurity during National Cybersecurity Awareness Month.

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The SITREP: Army Purifies Puerto Rico Water, Air Force Provides Wildfire Support & More

Iconic ‘Lone Sailor’ Now Greets Visitors to Pearl Harbor

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

You may recognize him – a lone sailor, bundled in his button-down coat, a sea bag by his side, gazing into the distance.

The new Lone Sailor statue stands at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center in Hawaii, overlooking the USS Arizona Memorial. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers T. Steelman

The bronze statue of the Lone Sailor is an iconic symbol of the U.S. Navy, meant to honor, recognize and celebrate the men and women of the sea services. The original statue can be found in Washington, D.C., and several other Navy memorials across the U.S.

Now, there’s one overlooking Pearl Harbor in Hawaii.

The Lone Sailor statue is an iconic symbol representing the U.S. Navy Memorial’s mission to honor, recognize and celebrate the men and women of the U.S. Navy. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers T. Steelman

The new Lone Sailor statue was dedicated after the Navy’s 242nd birthday celebration Oct. 13 at the WWII Valor in the Pacific National Monument Visitor Center. The center is the entrance to the USS Arizona Memorial – a fitting location, since it’s the final resting place of 945 men who were never able to escape the burning, sinking ship on Dec. 7, 1941.

“Now the Lone Sailor statue will look out over Pearl Harbor, standing watch, seeing the USS Arizona Memorial … listening to the many voices and many languages of international visitors, and remembering 75 years ago as our military fought to shape our nation and our world,” wrote Navy Rear Adm. Brian Fort, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, in an op-ed prior to the ceremony.

The statue is also a physical tribute to those fallen men, as its base contains steel from the Arizona.

“This statue is a reflection of the pivotal role Navy sailors have played in our nation’s history … the personification of our Navy core values of honor, courage and commitment,” said Navy Adm. Harry Harris, head of U.S. Pacific Command.

From left: Retired Rear Adm. Frank Throp, retired Capt. J. Phillip London, retired Vice Adm. Carol Pottenger and Rear Adm. Brian Fort Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Commander, Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, dedicate the Lone Sailor statue at the Pearl Harbor Visitor Center on the Navy’s 242nd birthday. Navy photo by Petty Officer 2nd Class Somers Steelman

The statue was dedicated in the Hawaiian tradition of ceremonially untying a Mai’li Lei, followed by the blessing of a Hawaiian Kahu (minister). The Mai’li Lei is a Hawaiian version of a ribbon cutting. The leis were then hung on the statue.

Retired Navy Capt. J. Phillip London, retired Rear Adm. Frank Throp, retired Vice Adm. Carol Pottenger and Rear Adm. Fort all took part in the dedication, which was presented by Command Navy Region Hawaii, the Navy Memorial Foundation and the National Park Service.

The original Lone Sailor statue was dedicated at the Navy Memorial in Washington in 1987. It was sculpted by Stanley Bleifeld.

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Iconic ‘Lone Sailor’ Now Greets Visitors to Pearl Harbor

DoD Sexual Assault Experts Offer, Gain Valuable Insight at Annual Training Event

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

The Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO) works continuously to ensure service members get the help they need. To uphold this mission, SAPRO strives to make certain those who support and assist victims have all the latest information.

This effort was recently highlighted during the 43rd National Organization for Victim Assistance Training Event in San Diego, where a huge military presence turned out. Event organizers said more than 500 service members and DoD civilians were there, accounting for nearly a third of the 1,600 people in attendance.

There were more than 100 presentations and workshops for service sexual assault prevention and response (SAPR) personnel to attend, ranging from crisis tips to mock exercises that will help hone key skills that better assist survivors of this crime.

Navy Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, Commander, Navy Region Singapore, signs a sexual assault prevention pledge. Navy photo by Marc Ayalin

During a session called Military Monday, experts from SAPRO were able to share resources and explain what the department has learned with other practitioners in the SAPR community. A panel discussion gave the services the opportunity to ask questions of SAPRO leadership. The attendees – nearly 600 of them – were energetic and engaged, offering an impressive amount of participation and insight from the field. That feedback, from NOVA and other events, will help inform departmental program and policy enhancements aimed to address military sexual assault.

“We were particularly excited by the large numbers of DoD SAPR personnel at Military Monday and at presentations throughout the week, as well as their high levels of participation and engagement,” said Bette Inch, SAPRO’s Senior Victim Assistance Advisor. “These personnel have a real passion for their jobs, and it was a privilege to be part of their learning experience.”

RADM Ann Burkhardt, the director of DoD SAPRO, gave a speech at the opening of the week-long event  to service SAPR personnel, thanking them for their efforts on behalf of sexual assault survivors and for advocating for victims’ rights. RADM Burkhardt also praised these key practitioners for their enthusiasm in delivering high-quality care to every survivor.

While acknowledging that sexual assault continues to be a significant challenge in the military, she shared what is showing promise for the DoD – thanks, in part, to the sharing of best practices from the civilian community.

At the event, civilian partners worked with DoD’s experts to provide advanced victim advocacy training that met or exceeded standards of the National Advocate Credentialing Program, allowing DoD attendees to receive DoD Sexual Assault Advocate Certification Program continuing education credits, a requirement for advocates to renew their credentials. Through this collaboration, SAPRO has developed a cadre of credentialed advocates who stand ready to serve military sexual assault survivors – more than 24,000 service members and DoD civilians are currently certified across the department.

Through the DoD community, advocates who are a lifeline for survivors don’t have to be the only people to help victims put their lives back together. SAPR programs in every service have a multifaceted team of experts to assist with reporting, health care, the investigative process and the legal process. Experts include Sexual Assault Response Coordinators, Victim Advocates, medical forensic examiners, the Special Victims’ Counsel and Victim’s Legal Counsel legal personnel, military chaplains, criminal investigators, inspectors general and special victims’ prosecutors.

Burkhardt also reiterated the military’s commitment to the mission and how it starts from the top.

“We are an organization comprised of people who understand what this problem means to an effective fighting force. We engage every individual – from the Secretary of Defense … to the newest recruits and future service members on delayed entry – to be part of the solution,” she said. “This issue is lethal to our military and we must continue to do everything in our power to eradicate it from our force.”

While recent DoD data shows sexual assault is occurring less often among service members, and a greater share of service members are choosing to report the notoriously underreported crime, Burkhardt was quick to point out that progress didn’t mean success.

“Despite major declines in occurrences of sexual assault, far too many of our people still find their lives changed by a perpetrator of this crime. And far too many continue to suffer in silence,” she said. “Units are divided when cohesiveness is shattered with the broken bond of trust.”

The NOVA Training Event is just one of many throughout the year that help SAPR personnel further develop their skills as practitioners. The unprecedented turnout and participation of SAPR personnel from across the department shows the dedication and commitment the military has to tackling this issue.

For free confidential assistance, call the DoD Safe Helpline at 877-995-5247 or visit safehelpline.org.

LEARN MORE: Advocacy Tools and Resources

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DoD Sexual Assault Experts Offer, Gain Valuable Insight at Annual Training Event

The SITREP: Army Surgeon Describes Vegas Aftermath, Marines Rebuild School & More

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Retired Army colonel and MultiCare Health System surgeon, Dr. James Sebesta, right, and friend, Stephen Williams, speak with the media Oct. 4 about their experience evacuating the wounded at the mass shooting at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas, Oct. 1. U.S. Army photo by Pamela) Kulokas

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, October 17, 2017.

  • Army surgeon who helped save lives during the Las Vegas mass shooting says it was the “most devastating thing” he’s ever seen.
  • The Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey departed Naval Station Norfolk for a surge deployment to support maritime security operations and increase theater security cooperation.
  • Marines from reserve units acorss the United States helped compete a renovation project at a school in Honduras.
  • “Eight Bells – A Sea-Service Celebration” honors the everyday traditions common aboard all U.S. Coast Guard cutters, highlights the shared experiences across all afloat platforms, and recognizes the hard work done by Coast Guard members who serve aboard the cutters.
  • Now that school is back in session, many teens may be experiencing fatigue. The Military Health System can help teens ensure they get the sleep they need.

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The SITREP: Army Surgeon Describes Vegas Aftermath, Marines Rebuild School & More

USNS Comfort Welcomes Baby Girl Off Coast of Puerto Rico

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By Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Ernest Scott

The sound of two bells rang through the passageways of the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort as the announcement passed over the ship’s one main circuit.

“Sara Victoria Llull Rodriguiz, born this day Oct. 14, arriving!”

Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello (far right) holds Sara Victoria Llull Rodriguiz, the first child born aboard the USNS Comfort in more than seven years. The hospital ship is under way operating in the vicinity of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to provide medical services to those affected by Hurricane Maria. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Ernest Scott

With Comfort underway in the vicinity of San Juan, Puerto Rico, providing medical assistance throughout a region devastated by Hurricane Maria, the birth of Sara aboard the ship was a reminder of the work to be done, but also hope for the future of the island.

“I never thought that our special moment would happen here on this ship,” said Francisco Llull Vera, Sara’s father. “Everyone has been so helpful and gentle while caring for our baby. I hope this opens the door for those who still need help to seek out the Comfort.”

At 6 lbs 8 oz., Sara may be small, but her presence is mighty. Her birth on Comfort gained the attention of Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello, who said this has been a bit of good news that has gone across the island. Capt. Kevin Robinson, Comfort’s mission commander, said the special occasion is one felt throughout the ship.

COMFORT BABY

It’s a girl!!! Sara Victoria is the first baby born aboard USNS Comfort in more than seven years. The Comfort is in the vicinity of San Juan and will be traveling around the island to assist Puerto Rico in the recovery process during the aftermath of Hurricane Maria.…

Posted by All Hands Magazine on Tuesday, October 17, 2017

“I think the birth of that little girl has reinvigorated the crew,” said Robinson.

One of Comfort’s primary missions is to provide full hospital services to support U.S. disaster relief and humanitarian operations worldwide. Although fully equipped, capable and ready to support, Sara’s delivery came to many as a welcome surprise.

“We stood up the labor and delivery ward prior to getting underway,” said Lt. Karri Washbon, a labor and delivery nurse aboard Comfort who assisted with Sara’s birth. “We expected to see a lot of patients, but we weren’t sure how often we’d get to utilize this aspect. With every birth there is a unique story and we are glad to be a part of their experience. Now everyone just wants to see the baby!”

While more than 800 medical personnel and support staff aboard Comfort want to greet their newest “shipmate,” Sara’s 6-year-old brother Alonzo and 4-year-old sister Sofia, who are currently staying with family ashore in Puerto Rico, anxiously await her return.

The Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort departs Naval Station Norfolk to support hurricane relief efforts in Puerto Rico. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Brittany Tobin

“They are so excited to meet her,” said Tania Rodriguiz Ramos, Sara’s mother. “I got the chance to call my family and let them know that I am OK and that the baby is healthy and happy. It’s a huge blessing for Sara to be here; I owe everything to the doctors and nurses and everyone onboard.”

“It’s a huge blessing for Sara to be here; I owe everything to the doctors and nurses and everyone onboard.”

The last birth aboard Comfort occurred on Jan. 21, 2010, while the ship was providing humanitarian relief in support of Operation Unified Response following a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that caused severe damage in Haiti.

Recognizing the rarity of the situation, Comfort’s current Ship’s Master Roger Gwinn ceremoniously renamed one of the ship’s two small boat tenders the Sara Victoria.

“We wanted to do something special. The crew has taken to the baby as one of our own,” said Gwinn. “As she goes forward in life, we hope she carries Comfort with her.”

As of Oct. 15, Comfort has delivered more than 10 tons of food and water, 21,000 liters of oxygen, and treated more than 100 patients to relieve pressure on the Puerto Rican health system.

READ MORE: How the Comfort Helps During Disasters

Comfort is currently underway operating in the vicinity of San Juan, Puerto Rico, to provide medical services with additional visits being planned around the island. The U.S. Health and Human Services and Puerto Rico Department of Health representatives are prioritizing patients at each stop prior to Comfort’s arrival. The Department of Defense is supporting the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the lead federal agency, in helping those affected by Hurricane Maria to minimize suffering and is one component of the overall whole-of-government response effort.

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USNS Comfort Welcomes Baby Girl Off Coast of Puerto Rico

The Challenge Coin Tradition: Do You Know How It Started?

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

If you’ve been in the military or worked for the Defense Department, you know what a challenge coin is. They’ve been an American military tradition for a century, meant to instill unit pride, improve esprit de corps and reward hard work and excellence.

For centuries, coins have been an important part of military service. Presenting a service member with a coin is one way in which leaders show their appreciation for the service member’s hard work and dedication. Air Force Photo by 2nd Lt. David Murphy

The coins represent anything from a small unit to the offices of top leaders, such as the defense secretary. There are also coins made for special events, anniversaries and even nonmilitary leaders.

Many service members and veterans proudly display challenge coins at their desks or homes, showing off the many missions they’ve been on, the top leaders they’ve met and the units for which they’ve worked.

But how did this tradition get started?

Challenge coins are often put in racks to show off. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Deana Heitzman

I was curious, so I checked with the National Defense University, Pentagon librarians and historians, as well as those with the U.S. Army Center of Military History and the Naval History and Heritage Command. Those institutions couldn’t find any written records, probably because the challenge coin tradition didn’t start as an officially sanctioned activity. So I dove into the modern-day oral histories of the world – also known as the internet – to see what I could find.

The Most Common Myth

The most well-known story that the internet produced linked the challenge coin tradition back to World War I. As the U.S. started building up its Army Air Service, many men volunteered to serve. One of those men was a wealthy lieutenant who wanted to give each member of his unit a memento, so he ordered several coin-sized bronze medallions to be made.

Challenge coins collected from active and retired service members on Marine Corps Logistics Base Barstow, Calif. Photo by Marine Corps Pfc. Samuel Ranney

The lieutenant put his own medallion in a small leather pouch that he wore around his neck. A short time later, his plane was shot down over Germany. He survived but was captured by a German patrol, who took all of his identifiable items so he would have no way to identify himself if he escaped. What they didn’t take was the small pouch with the medallion.

The lieutenant was taken to a small town near the front lines of the war. Despite his lack of ID, he managed to find some civilian clothing and escaped anyway, eventually stumbling into a French outpost. Wary of anyone not in uniform, the French soldiers didn’t recognize his accent and immediately assumed he was an enemy.

They initially planned to execute him, since they couldn’t ID him. But the lieutenant, remembering he still had the small pouch around his neck, pulled out the coin to show the soldiers his unit’s insignia. One of the Frenchmen recognized that insignia, so he was spared.

Challenge coins have been an American military tradition for nearly a century. In units around the world, and perhaps more so at deployed locations, personnel of the U.S. Armed Forces carry, collect and trade unit challenge coins. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss

Instead of being executed, the lieutenant was given a bottle of wine, probably as a form of reparation for his initial treatment. When he finally made it back to his squadron, it became a tradition for all service members to carry a unit-emblazoned coin at all times, just in case.

Not Everyone Believes That Depiction

While that story sounds cool, Air Force Historical Research Agency archivist Barry Spink isn’t buying it.

He said he’d been told in the 1990s that the tradition started in Vietnam, when an Army infantry-run bar tried to keep non-infantrymen away by forcing “outsiders” to buy drinks for the whole bar if they couldn’t prove they had been in combat. The “proof” started with enemy bullets, then got a little out of control with grenades, rockets and unexploded ordnance. So a coin-sized item emblazoned with the unit’s insignia became the accepted form of proof.

This tradition – now known as a coin check – continues today, hence it being called a “challenge” coin.

Charles “Charlie” Fink, a Marine Vietnam veteran, holds specialty-made commemorative Marine Corps challenge coins. The coin on the left is for Marine veteran Sgt. Robert O’Malley, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for his actions during Operation Starlite. Photo by Marine Corps Sgt. Melissa Karnath

One More Possibility

Spink also sent me an article called “Coining a Tradition” that was printed in a 1994 edition of Soldiers Magazine. It offered a similar version of the Vietnam story, the World War I tale and one other option, which dates back to the early 1960s:

“A member of the 11th Special Forces Group took old coins, had them overstamped with a different emblem, then presented them to unit members, according to Roxanne Merritt, curator of the John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Museum at Fort Bragg, N.C. A former commander of the 10th SFG picked up on the idea, becoming the first to mint a unit coin for the U.S. military unit. The 10th group remained the only Army unit with its own coin until the mid-1980s, Merritt said, when ‘an explosion took place and everybody started minting coins.’”

So if you’ve ever wondered how the challenge coin came about, you can take your pick of which story to believe!

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The Challenge Coin Tradition: Do You Know How It Started?

The SITREP: USS Cole Heroes Remembered, Nellis Spouses Help Heal Las Vegas & More

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Shannon Janelle, wife of Staff Sgt. Jeffrey Janelle, an instructor assigned to the Nellis Air Force Base First Term Airman Center, carries water to a donation site in downtown Las Vegas. Shannon teamed with more than 30 spouses, friends and families to collect donated items following the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas. U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Kevin Tanenbaum

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Thursday, October 12, 2017.

  • Move over, Navy? Army Mariners are training for lethality on the open ocean.
  • The Navy remembers the fallen heroes of the USS Cole.
  • The Coast Guard started the Hurricane Lessons Learned crowdsourcing mission to collect the wealth of knowledge gained during its recent hurricane response efforts.
  • For the first time, U.S. Marine amphibious assault vehicles embarked and launched on a Philippine Navy sea lift vessel off the coast of Luzon to expand both militaries’ operational support capabilities.
  • Nellis Air Force Base spouses are combining efforts to provide for the needs of community volunteers, displaced family members and hospital staff in the wake of the recent mass shooting in Las Vegas.

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The SITREP: USS Cole Heroes Remembered, Nellis Spouses Help Heal Las Vegas & More

U.S. Central Command: Differentiating Its Major Operations

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis recently visited Afghanistan to meet with leaders at U.S. Central Command, one of the Defense Department’s combatant commands. Each command has a particular mission with varying operations and exercises to fit them.

Centcom, as we call it, has been around since 1983 and is one of the DoD’s busiest combatant commands. It’s area of responsibility includes Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Syria and 15 other countries found in the center of the world map (hence, “central” command).

U.S. Central Command’s AOR is highlighted. DoD graphic

Centcom’s major missions are ones we hear about often in the news – Inherent Resolve, Resolute Support, and Freedom’s Sentinel – but we easily get them confused. So here’s a little explainer.

Operation Inherent Resolve

In late 2014, the U.S. created a new combined joint task force to fight the terrorist group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. The mission was named Operation Inherent Resolve to reflect the deep commitment of the U.S. and its partner nations to eliminate ISIS and the threat it posed to the Middle East and across the world. This mission continues.

Navy sailors work on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz in the Arabian Gulf. Nimitz is deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations in support of Operation Inherent Resolve. While in this region, the ship and strike group are conducting maritime security operations to reassure allies and partners, preserve freedom of navigation, and maintain the free flow of commerce. Navy photo by Seaman Emily Johnston

Many members of the coalition, made up of 62 nations, provide military support via arms, equipment, air power, training and advice. Others are helping to degrade and defeat ISIS by cutting off its funding and flow of fighters and exposing its true nature.

While ISIS’s territory and abilities in Iraq and Syria have been degraded since 2014, there’s still fighting to do. The coalition is committed to the restoration of stability to the region.

How Inherent Resolve is different than prior Iraq operations:
Many remember Operation Iraqi Freedom, which included major combat operations, occupation and reconstruction during the War in Iraq from March 2003 to August 2010. Iraqi Freedom’s replacement was Operation New Dawn, which coincided with the drawdown of troops in the region by 50,000. New Dawn concluded when the War in Iraq ended in December 2011.

As for Afghanistan, there are currently two operations going on in that region, and they’re both successors to Operation Enduring Freedom. Enduring Freedom lasted more than 13 years (October 2001-December 2014) and aimed to expel from Afghanistan the Taliban government, which was harboring al Qaida terrorists.

Enduring Freedom formally ended in January 2015. That’s when operations Resolute Support and Freedom’s Sentinel began.

Operation Resolute Support

Resolute Support aims to stabilize Afghan National Defense and Security Forces. It’s a NATO-led mission involving troops from more than 40 countries who train, advise and assist Afghan forces and institutions build their capabilities and create long-term stability in the region.

At a ceremony at Resolute Support Headquarters, Gen. John Nicholson, commander of Resolute Support, pays his respects to service members who made the ultimate sacrifice in Afghanistan. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Robert M. Trujillo

Resolute Support is a smaller noncombat mission compared to its predecessor during Enduring Freedom, the International Security Assistance Force. The ISAF had provided security and training for Afghan forces since August 2003, with the hopes of making sure Afghanistan would never again be a safe haven for terrorists. When Enduring Freedom ended, NATO handed off the reigns from the ISAF to Afghan forces so they could assume all of their own security responsibilities.

Resolute Support was launched immediately after that. Its goal is to help the country reinstate a fully functioning government by developing Afghan leadership, advising them on reforms for fighting corruption, and optimizing ANDSF capabilities and resources so they can protect themselves from enemies.

The coalition helps provide the framework and guidelines for those goals through eight key areas:

  • Multiyear budgeting
  • Transparency, accountability and oversight
  • Force generation (recruit, train and equip the force)
  • Force sustainment (supply and maintenance)
  • Strategy and policy planning, resourcing and execution
  • Intelligence
  • Strategic communications
  • Civilian oversight of Afghan Security Institutions

The coalition also contributes to the financing of the ANDSF and works to strengthen political consultations with the country.

Operation Freedom’s Sentinel

Army Reserve soldiers board a flight at Fort Bliss for a deployment in support of Operation Freedom’s Sentinel. Air Force photo by Ismael Ortega

Freedom’s Sentinel is essentially the continued counterterrorism efforts aimed at ridding the remnants of al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups from the region. The goal is to make sure that Afghanistan is never again used to stage attacks against America, like it was for Sept. 11, 2001.

Freedom’s Sentinel works hand in hand with Operation Resolute Support.

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U.S. Central Command: Differentiating Its Major Operations

The SITREP: Marines Test Future of Flight, Army Rolls Out New Tanks & More

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Marines prepare to test a small unmanned aerial system at Camp Lejeune, N.C., Sept. 27, 2017. Technicians from the United States Army Research Lab demonstrated to the Marines how easy the system is to create and have it fully operational with little to no training. U.S. Marine Corps photo by Taylor W. Cooper

From the military services and around the DoD, here’s your SITREP for Tuesday, October 10, 2017.

  • The Army celebrated the delivery of the next iteration of the iconic Abrams Main Battle Tank with the first of six M1A2 System Enhancement Package Version 3 initial production vehicles.
  • The Navy commissioned and brought to life its newest Virginia class submarine, USS Washington (SSN 787), during a ceremony on board Naval Station Norfolk.
  • Marines tested remote controlled small unmanned aerial systems made through 3-D printing at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina.
  • The Military Health System reminds women to reset their health care habits and make better health a priority.

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The SITREP: Marines Test Future of Flight, Army Rolls Out New Tanks & More

Mattis Isn’t Even ‘Mad’ About His Real Call Sign

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By Katie Lange
Defense Media Activity

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis doesn’t usually reveal personal details to the public, but recently he told us a good bit about his call sign, which is “Chaos.”

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis speaks during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 20, 2017. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

For those of you who don’t know, a call sign is pretty much a nickname. They were originally given to communications stations, facilities, commands and units so they could be uniquely identified over radio transmissions and telegraph lines.

Call signs can be structured around a unit’s nickname – Bulldog 6, for example, might be assigned to an Army company commander. They can also be given to an individual in jest, due to an embarrassing incident or misfortune, or because of an unusual way that person operates. While they can be embarrassing, they’re usually considered to be a great honor.

Mattis sees it that way – especially since he picked his himself.


Watch: Mattis’ Explains His Call Sign During Speech

The defense secretary was recently asked about his press-issued nickname “Mad Dog” during the Air Force Association’s Air, Space and Cyber Conference. His response — he didn’t have any clue where that nickname came from.

“Even my troops laughed at it when they read it in the newspaper,” Mattis said, getting laughter from the crowd. “It was a slow news day, I think, and somebody made it up.”

Instead, he said his longtime call sign is Chaos, a nickname he earned back when he was a Marine Corps colonel.

“When I was a regimental commander of 7,500 sailors and Marines out in the Mojave Desert, there was nothing to do but go blow up the desert,” Mattis said. “I always had good ideas – at least I thought they were very good ideas. And one day, walking out of my operations officer’s office, I noticed ‘chaos’ written on this whiteboard. I said, ‘What’s this about?’”

The officer replied, “Oh, you don’t need to know that.”

But Mattis’ curiosity got the best of him, and he kept asking.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis interacts with audience members before speaking during the Air Force Association Air, Space and Cyber Conference in National Harbor, Md., Sept. 20, 2017. DoD photo by U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Brigitte N. Brantley

“Finally, [the officer] kind of said, ‘Well, it means the colonel has an outstanding solution,’” Mattis explained. “It was very much tongue-in-cheek. They didn’t consider all my solutions quite as outstanding as I enthusiastically promoted them.”

Was Mattis mad about it? Nope – quite the opposite.

“I liked what my irreverent troops had used there, so I adopted it as my call sign,” Mattis said.

And that’s that! Maybe people will stop calling him Mad Dog now?

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Mattis Isn’t Even ‘Mad’ About His Real Call Sign