Military News

Friday, December 29, 2017

Lines Blurring Between Special Ops, Conventional Forces, Mattis Says

By Jim Garamone DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 29, 2017 — There is a blurring line that separates conventional operating forces from special operations forces and the defense secretary expects general purpose forces will eventually shoulder missions once the province of their special forces brethren.

Defense Secretary James N. Mattis told Pentagon reporters today that the experiences of war since 9/11 have blurred the lines.

This change will not be enshrined in strategy, he said, but will come about as a result of policy and the growth of general purpose forces’ capabilities.

Growth of General Purpose Force Capabilities

Mattis said he expects more general purpose forces to take on missions in Iraq and Syria. “In the Trans-Sahel [region of Africa], many of the force supporting the French effort are general purpose forces,” the secretary said.

If a mission comes up, the secretary said he’ll determine the parameters of it and pass that to the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The chairman will then determine what forces take on that mission. They may be special operations forces or general purpose forces with unique capabilities.

U.S. Military Evolves Through War Experiences

This is an evolution of the U.S. military spurred by the lessons of war, the secretary said.

Mattis said he does not want a force that is dominant in yesterday’s challenges, but irrelevant in today’s. The general purpose force, he added, is going to have to have the capabilities that were once associated only with special operations forces.

The secretary gave the example of remotely piloted vehicles. In 2001, he said, the only people who ran drones were special operations forces.

In 2007, an Army captain on one street was looking at a feed from a drone overhead with strike capabilities from the Navy and Army standing by, the secretary said. In the meantime, a “CIA guy was in his headquarters talking with one of his agents in an Army brigade,” Mattis said. “That is not what an Army brigade did in Desert Storm or the Fulda Gap [in what was then West Germany]. The change happened because war initiated those changes. Those are now common capabilities.”

Air Force Medical Technician Saves Airborne Heart Attack Victim

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Franklin R. Ramos, 51st Fighter Wing

OSAN AIR BASE, South Korea, Dec. 29, 2017 — After visiting family in Santa Ana, California, Air Force Staff Sgt. Cassidy McCurdy, an independent duty medical technician with the 51st Medical Group here, was heading back to his base on a connecting flight from San Francisco to Seattle, when things took an unexpected turn.

“I was taking a nap and there was some commotion going on in the back [of the aircraft],” McCurdy recalled. “Then the [flight attendants] asked if there was a doctor or emergency medical technician onboard.”

McCurdy sprung to action to assess the situation.

“I got up and there was a woman in cardiac arrest,” McCurdy said. “There were no other medics around [at the moment] and she didn’t have a pulse, so I started to do chest compressions. I just completely reacted and did everything I’ve been trained to do through the emergency medicine protocols that we do. It was the first time I had to 100-percent rely on myself to know what to do [in a cardiac arrest situation].”

It took around two minutes of cardiopulmonary resuscitation for the victim to gain consciousness.

“She quickly gained consciousness. Then another gentleman moved her to the back where the flight attendants sit,” McCurdy said. “So from there, we just got her stable [when] she started vomiting and another nurse came back and assisted.”

Years of Medical Experience

McCurdy has more than five years of experience in the Air Force’s medical field, including two years as an independent duty medical technician.

“[As an IDMT] we’re essentially physician extenders trained on anything in the hospital. We’re able to see patients, prescribe medication, diagnose and treat them under a flight surgeon,” McCurdy said. “We’re supposed to be like a mini-hospital ourselves, so if we deploy, we can help take care of everything like dental, labs, pharmacy, public health and water testing.”
Is there a medic onboard?

McCurdy applied what she learned during her military career to help aid the victim.

Treating the Patient

“We administered oxygen, maintained her vitals, obtained glucose readings and made sure she stayed stable,” McCurdy said. “I was able to do a full neurological exam to rule out a couple of other things.”

Once the aircraft landed, emergency responders from the ground transported the patient to the emergency room.

“I feel very grateful I was there. She truly was my reason for being on the plane that night. It has been more than a month since this happened, and each day I have wondered if what I did was enough and how she is doing,” McCurdy. “I joined the medical field to help people, so it feels great knowing that the skillset the Air Force has taught me allowed me to do so in a moment’s notice.”

Face of Defense: Soldier Deploys With Red Cross After Hometown Crisis

By Steven Stover, 780th Military Intelligence Brigade (Cyber)

FORT GEORGE G. MEADE, Md., Dec. 29, 2017 — When Hurricane Maria struck Puerto Rico on Sept. 20 it caused widespread destruction that continues to impact the U.S. territory’s more than 3 million people.

For one soldier, the opportunity to make a difference in the place he calls home was a calling he could not ignore.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Rafael Ortiz, a cybersecurity noncommissioned officer with the 781st Military Intelligence Battalion here and a newly minted Red Cross team leader, used his personal leave time to cover his 21-day deployment to Puerto Rico with the Red Cross to assist others during this humanitarian crisis.

Volunteers for Humanitarian Mission

“My family -- parents, grandmother, sister, uncles, aunts -- live in Puerto Rico. Immediately after the hurricane, a lot of people were doing fundraisers. I felt that I could be more useful by going myself as volunteer,” Ortiz said. “So I sent a lot of applications to different organizations to become a volunteer to go to Puerto Rico. The Red Cross was the first one that responded to my application. I went through an interview process, then a deployment briefing, and finally I received my assignment.”

When Ortiz arrived in Puerto Rico on Oct. 13, his initial responsibility was reunification. His job was to assist the people living outside Puerto Rico to reconnect with their family members on the island.

Ortiz asked to be moved to a section called bulk distribution because he wanted to be close to the people.

“For 16 consecutive days I was the team lead of a group that went out with a truck to distribute food, water, hand sanitizer, tarps, and other items to different municipalities,” he said. “We visited 13 municipalities -- sometimes more than once.”

Ortiz said while his Red Cross team had a direct impact on over 18,000 people, it wasn’t enough. He wanted to do more.

“I saw a little bit of everything. I saw people with no power, water, food, jobs, home … I saw others in better conditions. [Today] most of the island is in bad shape, especially the inside of it. In the mountains the situation is bad,” Ortiz said. “One of the things that I will never forget is when we ran out of items at the distribution site. I had to tell about 400 people that we didn’t have any more food and water. It broke my heart. It happened almost everywhere we went. Some people left crying.”

Helping People in Need

Ortiz recalled his visits to the municipalities of Utuado and Aguas Buenas.

“Utuado was the worst-affected area. After I went there the first time, I asked to be sent again,” Ortiz said. “The need in Utuado is big. During my third time there, people immediately knew who I was. They were so happy to see us back.

“The second memory is the visit to an orphanage in Aguas Buenas,” he continued. “We had some food and water left, so I asked the local police if they knew of a place where what we had was needed. They took us to an orphanage and we left everything there. Those kids marked my life.”

The people of Puerto Rico are grateful for the help and have a good attitude, Ortiz said.
“The people were smiling and thankful for the assistance,” he said. “They understand it will take hard work and a long time for things to get back to normal. However, they take one day at a time. The best way to describe the people there is with one word: resilience.”