FEMA in the News

This week, Administrator Long met with Acting Director of the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency Brian Baker. Administrator Long and Mr. Baker spoke about their shared priorities, the history of successful collaboration between the two agencies, and the importance of individual and community preparedness.

Administrator Long met with FEMA employees on improving processes and procedures throughout FEMA and focusing on the workforce. He also held a discovery change session with employees on simplifying recovery and reducing disaster costs.  

Today, Administrator Long visited Senator Hoeven in Minot, North Dakota, to discuss the city’s comprehensive flood protection efforts, affordable flood insurance and review the city’s ongoing projects.

Around the Nation …

The U.S. Department of Defense reported on FEMA and U.S. Army North’s Task Force 51 participation in the Vigilant Guard exercise at the Ornate Military Complex in the city of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The exercise, which simulated a 7.0 magnitude earthquake, was designed to help “local, state, and federal agencies coordinate emergency relief efforts and response-and-recovery management.” U.S. Army Colonel and Deputy Coordinating Officer for FEMA’s Region VI office Barry Graham commented, “I think it has been a great exercise and everyone has gotten something out of this training. New Mexico is very prepared because of this exercise.”

In New York, The Daily News reported on the attendance by two members of the Genesee County Emergency Support Unit at a Crude by Rail Emergency Response training program. The FEMA funded training focused on teaching first responders how to plan and respond to incidents on crude oil hauled by railroads.

In Indiana, the Northwest Indiana Times highlighted FEMA awarding $680,000 to help several Porter County volunteer fire departments buy dual-frequency radios for Porter County’s emergency radio system. Hebron Fire Department Chief Franzman praised the FEMA grant, saying the purchase would have been impossible without the help of FEMA’s Assistance to Firefighters Grant Program.

In Michigan, Detroit News reported FEMA awarded the Sterling Heights Fire Department over $2.6 million through the agency’s Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response Grant Program. The federal funding is reported to help pay for the hiring of 15 firefighters and paramedics. Sterling Heights Mayor Michael C. Taylor praised the award as an “incredible grant,” stating the new firefighters and paramedics will strengthen the fire department’s current team of first responders.

In Minnesota, WDIO reported FEMA provided funding for a mitigation project to prepare a local park to handle winter run-off and summer downpours in the future. Construction crews began working to clear out brush along a section of Miller Creek in Lincoln Park. According to project manager Mike LeBeau, the goal is to widen the creek in some areas while re-stabilizing the existing wall and shoreline.

Social Media …




FEMA’s mission is to support our citizens and first responders to ensure that as a nation we work together to build, sustain and improve our capability to prepare for, protect against, respond to, recover from and mitigate all hazards.

Follow FEMA online at www.fema.gov/blog, www.twitter.com/fema, www.twitter.com/femaspox, www.facebook.com/fema and www.youtube.com/fema.  Also, follow Administrator Brock Long’s activities at www.twitter.com/fema_brock.

The social media links provided are for reference only. FEMA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies or applications.

President Elevates U.S. Cyber Command to Unified Combatant Command

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2017 — At the direction of the president, the Defense Department today initiated the process to elevate U.S. Cyber Command to a unified combatant command.

“This new unified combatant command will strengthen our cyberspace operations and create more opportunities to improve our nation’s defense,” President Donald J. Trump said in a written statement.

The elevation of the command demonstrates the increased U.S. resolve against cyberspace threats and will help reassure allies and partners and deter adversaries, the statement said.  The elevation also will help to streamline command and control of time-sensitive cyberspace operations by consolidating them under a single commander with authorities commensurate with the importance of those operations and will ensure that critical cyberspace operations are adequately funded, the statement said.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis is examining the possibility of separating U.S. Cyber Command from the National Security Agency, and is to announce his recommendations at a later date.

Growing Mission

The decision to elevate U.S. Cyber Command is consistent with Mattis’ recommendation and the requirements of the fiscal year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, Kenneth P. Rapuano, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and global security, told reporters at the Pentagon today.

“The decision is a welcome and necessary one that ensures that the nation is best positioned to address the increasing threats in cyberspace,” he added.

Cybercom’s elevation from its previous subunified command status demonstrates the growing centrality of cyberspace to U.S. national security, Rapuano said, adding that the move signals the U.S. resolve to “embrace the changing nature of warfare and maintain U.S. military superiority across all domains and phases of conflict.”

Cybercom was established in 2009 in response to a clear need to match and exceed enemies seeking to use the cyber realm to attack the United States and its allies. The command is based at Fort George G. Meade, Maryland, with the National Security Agency. Navy Adm. Michael S. Rogers is the commander of U.S. Cyber Command and the National Security Agency director. The president has directed Mattis to recommend a commander for U.S. Cyber Command, and Rogers for now remains in the dual-hatted role, Rapuano said.

More Strategic Role

Since its establishment, Cybercom has grown significantly, consistent with DoD’s cyber strategy and reflective of major increases in investments in capabilities and infrastructure, Rapuano said. The command reached full operational capability Oct. 31, 2010, but it is still growing and evolving. The command is concentrating on building its Cyber Mission Force, which should be complete by the end of fiscal year 2018, he said.

The force is expected to consist of almost 6,200 personnel organized into 133 teams. All of the teams have already reached initial operational capability, and many are actively conducting operations. The force incorporates reserve component personnel and leverages key cyber talent from the civilian sector.

“This decision means that Cyber Command will play an even more strategic role in synchronizing cyber forces and training,  conducting and coordinating military cyberspace operations, and advocating for and prioritizing cyber investments within the department,”  Rapuano said.

Cybercom already has been performing many responsibilities of a unified combatant command. The elevation also raises the stature of the commander of Cyber Command to a peer level with the other unified combatant command commanders, allowing the Cybercom commander to report directly to the secretary of defense, Rapuano pointed out.

The new command will be the central point of contact for resources for the department’s operations in the cyber domain and will serve to synchronize cyber forces under a single manager. The commander will also ensure U.S. forces will be interoperable.

“This decision is a significant step in the department’s continued efforts to build its cyber capabilities, enabling Cyber Command to provide real, meaningful capabilities as a command on par with the other geographic and functional combat commands,” Rapuano said.

(Follow Jim Garamone and Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @GaramoneDoDNews and @FerdinandoDoD)

Tip Sheet Number 17 — August 18, 2017

School Enrollment in the United States: 2016

These tables provide information by age, sex, race, Hispanic origin, family income, type of college, employment status, nativity, foreign-born parentage, attendance status (full or part time), type of school (public or private) and vocational course enrollment. They also delve into topics such as nursery school and kindergarten enrollment, the likelihood of being enrolled in a grade appropriate for their age, and the percentage of young adults enrolled in college. Historical tables are also provided. (Tentatively scheduled for release Aug. 23.)

2014 Age, Sex, Race, Hispanic Origin and Foreign-Born Table Package

These tables from the 2014 Current Population Survey include detailed social and economic statistics for age groups, and the Hispanic, black, Asian and foreign-born populations. (Scheduled for release Aug. 23.)

Computer and Internet Use in the United States: 2015

This report uses American Community Survey data to look at access to computers and a broadband Internet subscriptions nationwide. It also examines the digital divide that exists between those who have and those who lack access to computers and the internet. Important differences can been seen by demographics, social and geographic characteristics.  (Tentatively scheduled for release Aug. 29.)

Report on Characteristics of Female Veterans — An Analytic View Across Age-Cohorts: 2015

A new report on the Characteristics of Female Veterans from the 2015 American Community Survey will be released. The report details the transition of female veterans from the military to civilian life and uses three different age snapshots as career proxies to determine if female veterans are different from female nonveterans throughout their working ages. (Tentatively scheduled for release Aug. 31.)

Common Pay Patterns and Extra Earnings: 2013

This report examaines the different types of pay received during calendar year 2013, including wage and salary and extra earnings (which collectively refer to commission, tips, overtime, and bonus payments). This report also provides information on earnings by sex, age, race, and Hispanic origin. The data for this report come from the 2014 Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) Panel Wave 1. (Tentatively scheduled for release Aug. 31).

Income and Poverty in the United States: 2016

On Sept. 12, the Census Bureau will announce its findings on income and poverty for the nation based on the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2017 Current Population Survey. The report will include statistics pertaining to the 2016 calendar year and will also compare trends over time. (Scheduled for release Sept. 12.)

Health Insurance in the United States: 2016

On Sept. 12, the Census Bureau will announce its findings on health insurance coverage. The report will include national-level statistics from the Annual Social and Economic Supplement to the 2017 Current Population Survey and some national- and state-level statistics from the American Community Survey. It will include data from the 2016 calendar year and compare it with previous years. (Scheduled for release Sept. 12.)

Air National Guardsman adds reenlistment to the menu at Microsoft summer picnic

At a Microsoft company picnic on Lake Sammamish, Corporate Vice President Suresh Kumar (center) was on hand as Retired Army Col. Doug Mouton (right) administered the Oath of Enlistment to his Microsoft colleague, Staff Sgt. and Air Traffic Control Watch Supervisor Jesse Phillips-Mead.

At a Microsoft company picnic on Lake Sammamish, Corporate Vice President Suresh Kumar (center) was on hand as Retired Army Col. Doug Mouton (left) administered the Oath of Enlistment to his Microsoft colleague, Staff Sgt. and Air Traffic Control Watch Supervisor Jesse Phillips-Mead (right).

Company picnics are for barbecued burgers, games with the kids, and ice-cold drinks in the hot summer sun. For Jesse Phillips-Mead, systems program manager for datacenter execution in the Microsoft Cloud Infrastructure and Operations organization (MCIO), the team picnic was also a chance to share a special moment with his colleagues: his reenlistment ceremony for the Oregon Air National Guard.

“I wanted to do this here, and I wanted to do it at work, because I spend most of my time with a lot of you, and you’re a second family,” said Phillips-Mead. “It’s a privilege to work with all of you.”

Phillips-Mead has served in the National Guard since his graduation from military air traffic control school in 2010. A staff sergeant and air traffic control watch supervisor in the 270th Air Traffic Control Squadron at Kingsley Air National Guard Base in Klamath Falls, Ore., he has controlled thousands of hours of flight operation without incident and has trained apprentices in air traffic control. He could have chosen to end his service when his first contract came to an end, but decided to go above and beyond the commitment he made when he first enlisted in the Air Force by signing up for another six years.

Brent Huntington, a project manager on Phillips-Mead’s team and gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps Reserve, kicked off the ceremony. Corporate Vice President Suresh Kumar was on hand to welcome colleagues and picnic guests. Team General Manager and retired Army Col. Doug Mouton then administered the Oath of Enlistment, which Phillips-Mead repeated and affirmed. And after the two exchanged the customary military salutes, Phillips-Mead thanked his colleagues and girlfriend for supporting and inspiring his service.

Reenlistment ceremonies are usually held on military installations, with friends and family invited to watch a group of service members recommit to serve their country. By formalizing his reenlistment at a company picnic at Vasa Park on Lake Sammamish in Bellevue, Wash., Phillips-Mead surrounded himself with the support of both his civilian colleagues and his many Microsoft co-workers who are also members of the National Guard & Reserve or who were formerly active duty members of the military.

“This is a unique opportunity that doesn’t happen often in the business world,” Huntington said. “It really shows the impact and support that military members have at Microsoft. By doing this, Col. Mouton is showing his continued support to the men and women who serve our country and demonstrating to the entire MCIO organization the value these service members bring to Microsoft.”

Under the provisions of the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 (USERRA), civilian employers are required to allow their guardsmen and reservists to take necessary time out for training and duty. But Microsoft goes above the minimum to offer tangible support for employees’ service in many ways. For example, employee and family benefits, such as healthcare coverage, do not lapse during guard and reserve leaves. Microsoft also pays employees the difference between their Microsoft and military salaries while they’re on active duty. These are just some of the reasons that Microsoft received the 2016 Extraordinary Employer Support Award from the U.S. Department of Defense in recognition of its sustained support of National Guard and Reserve military members. All those who attended Phillips-Mead’s reenlistment ceremony in the midst of a company summer picnic experienced firsthand the depth of Microsoft’s support for both the professional and military commitments that service members make.

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Training Advisory for August 18, 2017, through August 28, 2017


Marine Corps Base Quantico (MCBQ) has provided military, federal, state and local organizations robust training services since 1917.

Today, 54 ranges support live-fire training for more than 40 Federal organizations, the Department of Defense, and multiple regional and local law enforcement agencies.

Residents in the vicinity of Marine Corps Base Quantico may be inconvenienced by the sounds, vibrations, and/or illuminations resulting from the following:

  • Demolition Training:

August 28 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

  • Live Fire Training:

August 25 6:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The impact of noise, vibrations, and/or illuminations experienced across the area will depend on atmospheric conditions and changes to the local sound barriers.

All questions regarding training should be directed to the Quantico Public Affairs Office at (703) 784-2741.

DoD Announces Start of Exercise Ulchi Freedom Guardian

WASHINGTON, Aug. 18, 2017 — South Korea and U.S. Combined Forces Command will hold the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise Aug. 21-31, defense officials announced today.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is a computer-simulated defensive exercise designed to enhance readiness, protect the region and maintain stability on the Korean Peninsula, defense officials said. About 17,500 U.S. service members will participate, with about 3,000 coming from installations outside South Korea, the officials said.

Multinational Participation

U.S. forces will join military forces from major South Korean units representing all services, as well as South Korean government participants. In addition, United Nations Command forces from seven nations, including Australia, Canada, Columbia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, will participate in the exercise.

Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission observers will monitor the exercise to ensure it complies with the 1953 armistice agreement, defense officials said. Training exercises like Ulchi Freedom Guardian are carried out in the spirit of the Oct. 1, 1953, South Korean-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty and in accordance with the armistice, the officials added.

“These exercises also highlight the longstanding military partnership, commitment and enduring friendship between the two nations, help to ensure peace and security on the peninsula, and reaffirm U.S. commitment to the alliance,” the defense officials said.

Press Releases: Remarks Addressing State Department Student Programs and Fellowships Participants

SECRETARY TILLERSON: Well, good morning, all. And regrettably, I’m going to open the session this morning with a little bit of not-so-great news. I want to acknowledge that we have now received word and confirmed the death of one American citizen in the terrorist attacks in Spain amongst those who have been killed. We are still confirming the injuries and deaths of others, but obviously we express our deepest sympathies to the loved ones of this individual, and obviously the others who have been – who have suffered loss of life. And we offer our thoughts and prayers to their families, as they’re going to be dealing with a very, very tough few days ahead of them.

So let’s return to the subject at hand. Again, one of the things I most enjoy about this job, and I’ve enjoyed in the past, is the opportunity to have a conversation with young adults and people that are on kind of the front end and front edges of their professional life and where they may be headed. And so this is a real special opportunity for me to have the chance to talk with you a bit this morning. I know each of you are wrapping up your time with your experience here at the State Department. I’m certain – hopefully, I’m certain that you found it to be very useful, a great learning experience for you, and to also help inform you as to some choices that you’ll be making about your future – the career you want to choose, your future professional life, and the path you want to travel.

So first, I want to thank you for the time you spent with us here. Thank you for your contributions and your service while here. You worked hard, and we appreciate on behalf of the country your service while you were here at the State Department as well, and I know your colleagues deeply appreciate your contributions as well.

I think with the events of so many things that have been happening this past week, I want to use this as an opportunity in particular, because we have so many of – a great representation of so many of young great Americans who are making these choices ahead of them. And I know it’s a topic that’s on everyone’s mind, in particular, and I think that’s the topic of our race relations and diversity in the workplace. And I think, first, it’s simply important to say – although I think it is well understood and embraced by, I’m certain, everyone in this room – that we all know hate is not an American value.

Nowhere is it an American value. We do honor, protect, and defend freedom of speech, First Amendment rights. It’s what sets us apart from every other government regime in the world, in allowing people a right to expression. These are good things. But we do not honor, nor do we promote or accept hate speech in any form. And those who embrace it poison our public discourse and they damage the very country that they claim to love. So we condemn racism, bigotry in all its forms. Racism is evil; it is antithetical to America’s values. It’s antithetical to the American idea.

George Washington said in an address to the synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, that his vision for our country was, I quote, “a government to which bigotry gives no sanction; to persecution, no assistance.” In his second inaugural address in the middle of the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln called on Americans to “bind up the nation’s wounds.” What Lincoln knew, and that we are sadly reminded today, that painful racial tensions are part of our experience as a nation. We too today should seek to bind up the wounds. We must pursue reconciliation, understanding, and respect regardless of skin color, ethnicity, or religious, or political views.

One of America’s defining characteristics is the promise of opportunity for advancement regardless of your skin color, how much money your parents make, or where you came from. It’s why millions of Americans, millions of people have risked their lives and their fortunes to protect this country, to come to this country – because they know that America promises a chance to fulfill your aspirations no matter your background. You will succeed based upon your efforts.

As my good friend Condi Rice has said, the essence of America is that which really unites us. It is not ethnicity or nationality or religion, it is an idea that you can come from humble circumstances and do great things. That it doesn’t matter where you came from but where you’re going. As the arm of the U.S. Government representing America around the world, the U.S. State Department should be a clear display of America’s values and our people, not just in our mission but in the composition of our workforce.

We have a great diversity gap in the State Department. We need the State – we need a State Department that reflects the American people, reflects who we are. The State Department must redouble our efforts to increase diversity at the highest ranks of the Department, including at the ambassador level. Only about 12 percent of our senior Foreign Service officers are non-white. That number is about the same for our senior executive service.

To better understand our talent pool, I have directed the relevant committees to adopt a new procedure. Every time we have an opening for an ambassador position, at least one of the candidates must be a minority candidate. Now they may not be ready, but we will know where the talent pool is. A big part of developing our minority leadership is identifying qualified individuals five and 10 years before they are ready to become senior leaders and managing and developing their careers, as we do others, so that they’re undergoing preparations for those senior roles over time. We need to be – we need a more deliberate process to cultivate the abundance of minority talent we already have in the State Department.

All of this is a leadership issue. It’s the role of leadership from the Secretary of State to the assistant secretaries and directors of bureaus and everyone in between. We have to own this process. We have to manage this process and be held accountable for the results of this process.

We’re also going to re-examine and expand where we recruit from. As some of you know better than most, America’s best and brightest are not just from the Ivy League, but they’re from a lot of other places in the country – Laredo, Texas; Detroit, Michigan; Roanoke, Virginia. They’re kids sitting on the front row of their high school classes, they’re veterans from our military who are coming out of service looking for the next part of their career, and many of them with a strong desire to continue to serve their country. And they’re so gifted in many ways from many walks of life.

So we’re going to build our recruiting team operations out in places that we haven’t concentrated before. Now, that doesn’t mean coming through town once a year and dropping some pamphlets off at the recruiting office. We’re going to build and develop relationships with institutions around the country so that people can more easily find us, and more importantly, we can find them, not just to rely upon people seeking us out.

Qualified Americans of all backgrounds should know a State Department career at State is possible, and we need to work harder to find those individuals. Twenty-five percent of our Civil Service is African American. Only 9 percent of our Foreign Service specialists and 5 percent of our Foreign Service generalists are African American.

While our diplomats in residence at Howard, Spellman, Morehouse, and Florida A&M do an outstanding job ensuring that people understand the opportunities at the State Department, there are more than 100 historically black colleges and universities, and there’s so much more we can do to raise awareness about the range of careers at State.

Only 7 percent of our Civil Service is Hispanic, in addition to 6 percent of our foreign generalists and 10 percent of our Foreign Service specialists. We’re also recruiting at Hispanic-serving institutions, including Miami Dade College, Florida International University, the University of Illinois at Chicago, and the University of New Mexico. But we can do more to partner with Hispanic- and Latino-serving institutions and include more Hispanic and Latinos on our team.

We also want to expand our footprint at minority-focused job fairs, and we can do more to recruit from one of the most diverse and proven talent pools, as I mentioned: our U.S. military, the men and women in uniform who are completing the service to their country and ready to move on to their civilian life. We already hire 29 percent of our Civil Service team, 29 percent of our Foreign Service generalists, and 16 percent of our Foreign Service specialists from the military, so we know this is a rich talent pool from which to fish.

Only about one-third of our senior Foreign Service officers are women, and we will work to close the gender gap as well.

Today is a fitting occasion to be sharing this with you because all of you in this room, through your participation in fellowships and internships here at the State Department, made an early declaration of your interest in public service. Some of you will even be working here soon. We will be keeping all of our fellowship and internship programs in place. The department-wide freeze we put on hiring programs early this year is only temporary, and it was a temporary measure so we could take a thorough accounting of the entire State Department in consideration of how to best strengthen it and to position ourselves to improve our diversity.

Our current fellowships and internships are valuable pipelines of talent for our organization and necessary to achieving our diversity objectives. You’re our future leaders, whether here at the department or elsewhere in roles you may choose in the country. The seeds of greater diversity that we’re planting today will have to be nurtured for years to come. Whether you find yourselves here or somewhere else, as future leaders, it will be your responsibility to run with that torch.

I think one of the things that it’s important to appreciate is the value of diversity. It’s not just to achieve a mix of population that looks like the rest of our country. I know from my long career in the private sector, my experience has been the value of diversity in the workplace is it enriches our work, it enriches our work product to have individuals who come with a different cultural perspective or they come with different life experiences. That’s the value. They will see things in the world that I cannot see. I did not have that life experience.

And so whether it’s African American, Latino, Hispanic, women, LGBT, come with experiences I do not know. This enriches the quality of our work. We know we are a stronger organization when we embrace, incorporate diverse points of view into our work product.

More importantly, I would say to you as individuals, if you are open, you will enrich your life. You will enrich your life by engaging with people of different backgrounds, different life experiences than you had as you were growing up, and you will find life to be a wonderful, wonderful mosaic. So I encourage you to do that.Now, before I close, I always – when I speak to young adults and people who are beginning the early parts of their career, I have a message I like to convey to all, and this is on the issue of integrity. Much of your future success and what defines you in your professional career or whether you fall short will be a function of how you view your personal integrity and how you view to deploy your personal integrity or you choose to compromise your personal integrity.

So what does integrity mean? Well, I’m an engineer by training. I graduated from the University of Texas with a civil engineering degree. I was a practicing engineer for many years and worked at a very technical background. So when I think about integrity – and if you go to the dictionary and look it up, the second definition is “the state of being whole and complete.” Now, from an engineer, I think about this building – structural integrity. It’s whole, it’s complete; we don’t worry about this building falling in on us because we know it is whole and complete structurally. It’s sound. We just rely upon it.

Well, your personal integrity is much the same way. It’s not something that can be trained. It’s not something that can be taught. You’re born with it. You’re born with a clean slate, with your personal integrity. No one can take it from you. Only you can relinquish it. And you express that integrity every day in so many actions that you may not even think about. And most importantly, it’s those things you do when no one’s looking, that you do the right thing not only when people are watching but, more importantly, when they’re not watching the choices you make. If you relinquish your personal integrity – you choose to take a shortcut, you choose to compromise a rule, you choose to move ahead at someone else’s expense – you may have a short-term gain out of that. But once you relinquish any element of your personal integrity, it is very, very difficult to regain it. It puts you on a pathway that’s very hard to reverse.

So I can’t emphasize to you enough the value of that quality that exists in you. It’s yours; you own it. It’s yours alone to decide how you use it. If you choose to conduct yourself committed to a life of personal integrity, you will be whole and complete. I promise you. If you choose to compromise or give away your personal integrity, you will have a life that is neither whole nor complete. I know this because I have seen it happen to others.

So you’re at this stage of your career where you get to choose how you want to conduct yourself. This is the most important quality you will take to the workplace with you. Yes, your skills and all that you’ve learned and all you’ve studied hard to do, and that will be a continuum – for the rest of your life you will be learning. But your integrity is just there. It defines how you will conduct yourself, how others will see you as well – as a trusted partner, a trusted colleague, or someone they have to keep an eye on. I know you’ll choose the right path of integrity.

So, again, thank you for your service here this summer. I wish you all the best. Whatever decisions you may make about your future, I know the quality of this group of individuals. You’re going to be extraordinary citizens to our country. You’re going to be extraordinary leaders in our country whatever you choose to do. We’re proud of you. We’re proud you were with us for this time. And for those of you that come back to work for us, I look forward to seeing you around the building. God speed to all of you and God bless you. (Applause.)

Boeing-Built Satellite Completes NASA’s Space Communications Network

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla., Aug. 18, 2017 – The sixth and final Boeing [NYSE: BA] Tracking and Data Relay Satellite (TDRS), launched today, will enhance NASA’s space communications network when the satellite becomes fully operational early next year.

TDRS-M is the latest satellite in NASA’s TDRS constellation and will provide high-bandwidth communications to spacecraft in low-Earth orbit. The TDRS network enables continuous communication with the International Space Station, the Hubble Space Telescope, the Earth Observing System and other programs supporting human space flight.

This is the sixth TDRS satellite Boeing has built for NASA, the first of which was delivered in 2000. After reaching its final orbit, the satellite will undergo testing and checkout before being declared operational.

“This TDRS-M milestone is another step forward in Boeing’s commitment to developing technologies to support future NASA near-Earth, moon, Mars and deep space missions – and to do so affordably, drawing on our 40-plus years of strong Boeing-NASA partnership,” said Enrico Attanasio, executive director, Department of Defense and Civil Programs, Boeing Satellite Systems.

Boeing has provided space communication services to NASA for more than four decades, and has been NASA’s sole provider of tracking and data relay satellites since 1995.

For more information on Defense, Space & Security, visit www.boeing.com. Follow us on Twitter: @BoeingDefense.

# # #


Dan Beck
Space & Missile Systems
Office: +1 703-414-6447
Mobile: +1 562-243-7082

Medical Exercise in Cameroon Enhances Army Readiness

GAROUA, Cameroon, Aug. 18, 2017 — As the sun begins to peek over the horizon, a 10-person Army medical team from the 212th Combat Support Hospital makes its way through the thick morning fog at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, mostly in silence. Some of the team members boarding the waiting C-130 Hercules aircraft have already been to the African continent, but for most, this is their first real Army mission and first time going to Africa.

“I’m nervous. A new place, new people, something different — it always gives me a bit of anxiety,” said Army Spc. Kess Houck, an operating room technician with the 212th CSH, taking in her surroundings right after touching down Aug. 5 at the military airstrip here. The team was supporting U.S. Army Africa-led Medical Readiness Training Exercise 17-5, which was held at the Military Hospital of Garoua. This exercise was the fifth and final such exercise in the 2017 series.

Unlike previous iterations this year that U.S. Army Africa facilitated on the African continent, this one allows the team to live on an established contingency location and work in northern Cameroon, outside of the partnered country’s capital. The lodging placed the soldiers in a field setting and simulated a deployed environment. For the team, field life is familiar.

“We spend a lot of time in the field, working as a unit and setting up a combat support hospital that is able to perform surgeries in no more than 72 hours,” said Army Capt. Charmayne Pope, an operations officer for MEDRETE 17-5 and a company commander for the 212th CSH. “That’s the mission of a CSH. We are a tailorable rapidly deployable surgical treatment facility with inpatient capacity.”

Setting Up

Landing on an airstrip, the group took in the difference in terrain and temperature. Escorted off the flight line by members of the local U.S. task force and transported to a green tent with six cots lining each side, each team member methodically chose their personal spaces for the next two weeks. Assessing how to make the tight quarters more functional, some strung up 550 cord, a versatile 7-strand nylon paracord, while others put up “privacy walls’ to accommodate the mixed-gender living conditions.

While setting up their lodging is a familiar task for members of this unit, they were not required to set up their own hospital facility in an austere environment. This exercise enabled them to work at a partnered nation’s established and alternatively resourced medical facility, shoulder to shoulder with their Cameroonian counterparts.

The U.S. group, ranging in age, gender and professional skill level, was equipped with a full surgical and emergency medical team supported by administrative personnel. The experienced personnel balanced the neophytes and increased the training possibilities available to the team. Each junior professional paired up with senior team members throughout the exercise, and the twosome then partnered with Cameroonian medical staff.

Skilled, but less experienced team members were deliberately chosen to participate because of their potential to positively influence the future of their career field, Pope said.

“We invested in the Army’s future. We chose certain people to allow them to continue growing in their field,” she added.

Establishing Relationships

Being the first MEDRETE U.S. Army Africa has facilitated in this region, the team concentrated on establishing professional and personal relationships with their Cameroonian counterparts to set the stage for future collaborations. Throughout the two-week exercise, the team rotated personnel through the different areas of the hospital — emergency room, operating room, patient wards and clinics — to offer them a deeper understanding of the processes and an opportunity to interact with all the Cameroonian army medical staff.

The MEDRETE team’s junior medic was able to observe a routine surgery the U.S. surgical team and their Cameroonian counterparts performed together. The young soldier entered the operating room wearing borrowed green scrubs and watched as the surgeons and technicians worked together.

 “It was my first time in an actual operating room,” Army Pfc. Jason Macha said. “Watching our team members partner with the Cameroonian staff was very interesting to watch. I didn’t realize how tedious surgery was, and it was an opportunity I was glad to have.”

More seasoned members of the team also witnessed things they hadn’t seen before. Emergency room physician Army Maj. (Dr.) Warren Johnson, who is 10 years into his career, saw two separate pathologies that he hasn’t witnessed before: bilateral kidney stones severe enough to cause renal obstruction and gestational transfer of malaria.

“A mission like this opens eyes,” Pope said. “It exposes my medical personnel to different environments, allowing them to see treatment of patients with different techniques, with less equipment, and challenges them to provide the same level of care with less.”

The gained knowledge of different treatment processes and exposure to an alternatively resourced environment benefits the American soldiers in their individual medical capacities, said Army Capt. Matthew Veith, a critical care nurse..

“[The exercise] has offered our team the chance to gain knowledge on how our allies and partners do business,” he added. “There are some obvious differences and some obvious challenges. … I was honored to be a part of this mission, and working with their team only strengthens the Army medical capabilities and readiness in the future.”

Shark Therapy: Wounded Soldiers Learn Coping Skills in Shark Tank

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash., Aug. 18, 2017 — The four soldiers who stood over the shark tank knew what creatures lurked below. But as large flashes of gray streaked across the dark water, they willingly dove in to see if what many find terrifying could actually be therapeutic.

The directors of Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium’s Operation Shark Dive in Tacoma, Washington, have been working with ill, injured or wounded soldiers here in a program that helps soldiers heal physically and emotionally by diving with sharks.

Operation Shark Dive is one of several programs soldiers can participate in while assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, a unit designed for soldiers to recover from injury, illness or trauma as they work to transition back to regular Army units or civilian life.

Adaptive Sports

The dive is part of the battalion’s adaptive sports program, a diverse program that offers on- and off-post activities for wounded soldiers to stay active and engaged in the community. The adaptive sports program also satisfies their physical training requirements.

Brian Caskin, a physical therapy assistant for the battalion at Madigan Army Medical Center here, said the dive is primarily designed for learning breathing techniques. The process of controlling one’s breath in the tank mimics yoga and meditation breathing exercises, “with a more interesting view,” he explained.

“It is good practice for staying calm and for breathing control,” Caskin said. “They are addressing a fear while being forced to control their breathing.”

Army Staff Sgt. Jose Parra, Sgt. Steve Wurth and Spc. Jessica Knoerr are no strangers to overcoming fear. They’ve each overcome their own obstacles, including a traumatic vehicular accident for one of the soldiers.

None of them had even been snorkeling before they dove into the shark tank. The program gave them the opportunity to don a dry suit and respirator and submerge themselves in a tank, just an arm’s length away from five different species of sharks.

‘Surreal Experience’

Parra said swimming so close to sharks is surreal. “It’s definitely a check off the bucket list,” he said. “I didn’t think I’d be checking off something like this.”

The partnership with Point Defiance Zoo and Aquarium began in February, and since then, the WTB has offered monthly dives. There are plans to conduct two dives per month starting in September, Caskin said.

David Todd, a member of the shark dive team at Point Defiance, said the program aims to teach participants that sharks are vital to ocean life and are not the fearsome creatures of gory cinema.

“The experience is meant to be mesmerizing, rather than high-adrenaline,” Todd said. “We’ve all seen “Jaws,” and most people would say sharks are intimidating, but some of the sharks are even timid around the 4-inch-long damselfish in the tank.”

Despite the tame nature of the sharks at Point Defiance, participants must stay in a cage during the dive.

Todd said staying in the cage is a matter of safety for the divers so staff can ensure the respirators work, as breathing with the equipment does not come naturally to everyone. He added that prohibiting the divers from roaming the tank is a safety measure for the sharks and coral as well.

Taking the Initiative

The pre-dive preparation includes a small course on the types of sharks in the tank and the importance of ocean conservation as well as the ecological role of sharks and other sea life. At the end of the dive participants are encouraged to sign a pledge to protect the ocean and help keep it clean.

The tank holds blacktip reef sharks, Japanese wobbegong sharks, sandbar sharks, nurse sharks — the heaviest in the tank at 350 to 400 pounds — and sand tiger sharks — which are the most timid of the sharks in the tank, Todd said.

Army Sgt. 1st Class Erica Graham, a platoon sergeant for the WTB who also participated in the dive, said the opportunities are available for soldiers to have adventures and experiences like this, but participating takes initiative on the soldier’s part.

“It’s up to them to take advantage of the opportunities,” she said, “This one was about conservation and a sport that soldiers with injuries can participate in, and there’s a lot more out there for those who want to do it.”

Operation Shark Dive is free to all soldiers in the WTB, and soldiers need only to sign up through their platoon sergeants or through the adaptive sports program desk to participate.

Point Defiance also runs a program for the public called the Eye-to-Eye Shark Dive that began in 2013. It is similar to Operation Shark Dive, but it is not free and the course and time in the tank are condensed.