Military News

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Mattis Swears In DoD’s First Chief Management Officer

By Lisa Ferdinando, DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON --  Defense Secretary James N. Mattis today swore in John H. Gibson II as the department’s chief management officer, hailing him as the right person to lead the effort in reforming the department for improved efficiency.

"You have a truly unique role as the first chief management officer in the history of the Department of Defense,” Mattis said at the Pentagon ceremony.

The chief management officer is third for authority at the Defense Department. The position was created in the 2017 National Defense Authorization Act.

Mattis explained Gibson will spearhead efforts to support the third line of effort in the National Defense Strategy: reforming the department for efficiency, capability and affordability.

Success in the first two lines of effort – increasing lethality and strengthening alliances – depends on whether the department can perform better, the secretary noted.

The practices of the department are not set in stone, Mattis said, further explaining he expects Gibson to reform any practice that does not increase lethality or strengthen international partnerships.

Gibson will be a trailblazer in the effort to spend wisely every dollar entrusted to the department by Congress and the American people, Mattis said.

“We need you to set a precedent in this job that's so faultless -- that no successor could dream of departing from the path that you're going to blaze for them," the secretary said.

Up for the Task

Gibson, who most recently served as deputy chief management officer, was nominated by President Donald J. Trump in January 2018 to serve as CMO. The Senate confirmed the nomination in February 2018.

Addressing the ceremony today, Gibson acknowledged there will be challenges in reforming the department for greater performance and affordability. 

“Accomplishing the secretary’s third priority of reforming the business of the department will not be easy,” he said. “Those who have succeeded at this type of change will tell you it takes five to seven years to see enduring results, but, it has to start and build momentum.”

Attempts at such monumental change require alignment, communication, trust and never-ending persistence, he said.

“It is my responsibility to set the highest level of performance in each of these attributes to ensure we achieve success,” he said.

Improving Efficiencies, Spending Tax Dollars Wisely

Success in his job, Gibson explained, entails the alignment of the organization in the most efficient and effective manner across the Defense Department enterprise. He further detailed success to include improved readiness, found savings to return to the warfighter, and that continuous improvement based on performance and accountability becomes the norm.

“Lowering the cost of doing business and returning resources for higher priorities is simply the right thing to do for this department and as stewards of the American taxpayer investment,” he said.

Eucom Commander Launches Readiness Program Training Initiative in Georgia

STUTTGART, Germany -- The commander of U.S. European Command met with senior Georgian leaders during a two-day visit this week to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to Georgia’s sovereignty and its aspirations to become a member of NATO.

As part of his visit, Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti participated in the launch and ribbon-cutting ceremony yesterday for the Georgia Defense Readiness Program Training initiative.

“Georgia is a key strategic partner of the United States,” Scaparrotti said during the launch ceremony at the Georgian armed forces’ Vaziani military base. “The United States and Georgia have a long history of cooperation, and Georgia is an important friend, partner, and ally.”

Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria and Maj. Gen. Vladimir Chachibaia, chief of Georgia’s General Staff, also spoke at the event. The Georgian Armed Forces Band performed the U.S. and Georgian national anthems, and troop formations from both nations were present on the parade field. After the ceremony, the leaders toured a new training barracks.

New Era for Georgia

“A new era opens in Georgia,” Izoria said during his opening remarks. “U.S. cooperation in the long-term perspective will enhance and strengthen defense capabilities of our country, as well as the security of our citizens.”

Scaparrotti echoed that the launch of the training element marks the beginning of a new era of partnership with Georgia.

“Bilateral programs such as the GDRP demonstrate that proven partnerships are built upon shared values, experiences and visions,” he said. “This GDRP training program contributes to the security of the Black Sea region, and thus, the stability of the greater European security environment.”

The GDRP-T is part of the steadfast commitment between the two countries to improve Georgia’s combat readiness and to further develop a self-sustaining institutional capacity to man, train and equip a force prepared to accomplish assigned national missions, Eucom officials said.

Global Contributions

Scaparrotti also emphasized Georgia’s contributions globally, including sending service members to Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Throughout the last seven years, Georgia has deployed more than 13,000 soldiers in support of the NATO International Security Assistance Force and Resolute Support mission in Afghanistan, and more than 7,800 Georgian soldiers have previously deployed to Iraq,” he said.

Scaparrotti also commended Georgia for its NATO contributions, identifying Georgia as the “largest non-NATO force contributor alongside U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan,” and as having “provided more troops per capita than any other country in the world.”

Aiding Interoperability, Defense Capabilities

U.S. Army Europe will take the lead in supporting the Georgian Ministry of Defense’s training of nine Georgian battalions over the next three years. During the training program, the Georgian armed forces will maintain and complement an already high level of training and readiness for its international missions, Eucom officials said, adding that the GDRP training mission will add to Georgia’s interoperability and strengthen its territorial defense capabilities.

Before the ceremony, Scaparrotti met individually with Izoria, Georgian Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili. Each spoke about a variety of topics of mutual interest, Eucom officials said, mainly focusing on the need for continued efforts to deter Russia, continued enhanced partnerships through the GDRP-T and other programs, commitment to shared western, democratic values, and support for Georgia’s goals in NATO membership.
“The United States is proud to support Georgia, and we look forward to continuing our commitment to this country in the future,” Scaparrotti said.

Friday, May 18, 2018

Face of Defense: Airman Draws Inspiration From Vietnam Veteran

By Air Force Senior Master Sgt. Emily Beightol-Deyerle, 167th Airlift Wing, West Virginia Air National Guard

MARTINSBURG, W. Va -- Forty-three years ago, as the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong took over the South Vietnam capital city of Saigon, thousands of refugees fled their home country and the communist government.

Many found their way to the United States.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Michael Thompson’s mother was one of those refugees.

Thompson, an electronic integrated systems mechanic for the 167th Airlift Wing’s communications, countermeasures and navigation systems section here, said his mother’s journey to the United States started with one member of the Air Force who sponsored her, her two sisters, and their mother.

It was that one airman who inspired Thompson to join the military as a member of the West Virginia Air National Guard.

Making a Difference

“There is a whole family tree over here that wouldn’t exist if he hadn’t done what he did,” Thompson said. “I’ve never forgotten the difference one member of the military made on our family and I always hoped that if I joined I would make a difference in someone else’s life.”

In April 1975, two years after the U.S. had pulled combat troops out of Vietnam, it became clear that the communist party would take over South Vietnam. Americans, as well as Vietnamese who were deemed at-risk if they remained in the country, were evacuated en masse.

Thompson said his mother, not quite a teenager then, recalls the evacuation.

“She remembers them frantically loading people onto a C-130 and then high-tailing it out of there as fast as they could. They [and] the plane, were being actively attacked from the ground when they were leaving,” he said.

Settling in West Virginia

Without the sponsorship of that one member of the military, a man who befriended his grandmother in Vietnam, it’s unlikely his family would have made it out of the country and to the small town of Shepherdstown, West Virginia, where they settled after leaving their home.

Thompson said his grandmother went to work in a factory to provide for her daughters and eventually bought a house.

“She made sure that her kids got the opportunity to learn the language, get an education and go to college,” he said. “My mom and her sisters all went on to raise their own families and live comfortable lives. They have so much more here than they ever would’ve had if they stayed in Vietnam.”

Thompson said he had always hoped to join the military, but his mother, because of her experiences in Vietnam, tried to dissuade him.

Instead, she pushed him to focus on his studies and to perform well in school.

“I think I had a very strict upbringing but compared to what she went through, my childhood was a vacation. I only had to worry about doing chores and homework. She had to worry about dodging landmines on the way to school. It puts things into perspective,” he said.

School, Joining the Military

When Thompson graduated from high school in 2003, he chose to study engineering.

“In high school, I thought about all of the jobs that really make a difference and as I narrowed down the list it became engineering or the military. I saw both as having end results that make a difference,” Thompson said.

Thomas attended engineering school in Flint, Michigan, and then moved to Chicago during his last two years of college for an internship at a large wealth management firm.

After completing college and the internship, he said he felt unfulfilled and the call to serve his country had not quieted.

Thompson left Chicago, returned home, and told his mother he was joining the military.

His mother’s views on the military had softened by this time. She had taken a job at a bank, which was located on the 167th Airlift Wing’s installation at the time, and got to know many of the members of the wing.

Thompson said a former first sergeant for the 167th Logistics Readiness Squadron and family friend helped him transition into the wing.

“Chip Palmer told me I should go into avionics. He told me what I should do and I trusted him. He was right,” Thompson said.

After nearly ten years in the career field, he said he still enjoys his job.

“We get the ball rolling here so that stuff can happen out there,” Thompson said, in explaining how his job here at the wing ensures deployed airmen and soldiers get the supplies and equipment they need.
“I know that someone out there is making a difference because I’m doing my job here,” Thompson said. “And I can see that clear line between me and them.”