DoD Identifies Army Casualty
The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Inherent Resolve.
Pfc. Monterrious T. Daniel, 19, of Griffin, Georgia, died June 12 in Camp Buehring, Kuwait, in a non-combat related incident.
He was assigned to 68th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 43rd Sustainment Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colorado.
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, April 14, 2015 – The remains of up to 388 unaccounted-for sailors and Marines associated with the USS Oklahoma will be exhumed later this year for analysis that could lead to identifying most of them, Defense Department officials announced today.
On Dec. 7, 1941, 429 sailors and Marines were killed when Japanese torpedoes sank the ship during the attacks on Pearl Harbor.
Upon disinterment, the remains will be transferred to the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency laboratory in Hawaii for examination, officials said in a news release, noting that analysis of all available evidence indicates that most USS Oklahoma crew members can be identified upon disinterment.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work approved the disinterment and established a broader DoD policy that defines threshold criteria for disinterment of unknowns.
“The secretary of defense and I will work tirelessly to ensure your loved one’s remains will be recovered, identified, and returned to you as expeditiously as possible, and we will do so with dignity, respect and care,” Work said. “While not all families will receive an individual identification, we will strive to provide resolution to as many families as possible.”
The disinterment policy applies to all unidentified remains from the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific and other permanent American military cemeteries. However, this policy does not extend to sailors and Marines lost at sea or to remains entombed in U.S. Navy vessels serving as national memorials, officials said.
The threshold criteria include research, family reference samples for DNA comparison, medical and dental records of the missing service members, and the scientific capacity to identify the remains in a timely manner, officials said. To disinter cases of commingled remains, they added, the department must estimate the ability to identify at least 60 percent of the individuals associated with a group. A likelihood of at least 50 percent identification must be attained for individual unknowns.
“The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency is prepared to begin this solemn undertaking in concert with ongoing worldwide recovery missions,” Navy Rear Adm. Mike Franken, DPAA’s acting director, said. “Personally, I am most privileged to be part of this honorable mission, and I very much appreciate the efforts of many people who saw this revised disinterment policy come to fruition.”
In the years immediately following the attacks, 35 crew members were positively identified and buried.
During salvage operations from June 1942 to May 1944, the remaining service members’ remains were removed from the ship and initially interred as unknowns in Hawaii’s Nuuanu and Halawa cemeteries. In 1947, all remains in those cemeteries were disinterred for attempted identification. Twenty-seven unknowns from the USS Oklahoma were proposed for identification based on dental comparisons, but all proposed identifications were disapproved.
By 1950, all unidentified remains associated with the ship were re-interred as unknowns at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, commonly known as the Punchbowl.
In 2003, the DoD laboratory in Hawaii disinterred one casket containing USS Oklahoma remains based on historical evidence provided by Ray Emory, a Pearl Harbor survivor. The evidence helped to establish the identification of five servicemen; however, the casket contained the remains of up to 100 men who have not yet been identified.
Analysis of remains will begin immediately after their arrival into the DPAA laboratory and will use current forensic tools and techniques, including DNA testing, Pentagon officials said. Service members who are identified will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Navy and Marine Corps casualty offices began notifying the next-of-kin this morning, officials said.
By Nick Simeone
WASHINGTON, March 4, 2015 – While Afghanistan remains a dangerous place with many challenges ahead, it’s unlikely the Taliban have the ability to best Afghan forces on the battlefield or topple the government, the top U.S. general in the country said today.
Army Gen. John F. Campbell, commander of Operation Resolute Support and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, said in prepared remarks to the House Armed Services Committee that while the Taliban has shifted tactics to high-profile attacks against soft targets, it is not capable of overthrowing the Afghan government in Kabul.
While they will continue to test Afghan security forces, “it’s unlikely that the Taliban will be able to overmatch the Afghan national defense and security forces on the battlefield in 2015,” Campbell said.
He predicted that indirect fire, insider attacks and other Taliban offensives will increase during the upcoming fighting season, but “these are not the tactics of an insurgent movement capable of overthrowing the Afghan government.”
Afghans Control Key Territory
With 350,000 Afghan security forces now in charge of the country’s security, Campbell said, the Afghan government has been able to maintain control over all key territory and populated areas including the country’s 34 provincial capitals and its major cities.
Casualties among Afghan security forces were higher last year than in 2013, he said, primarily because of the stepped-up role Afghan forces have taken in security operations at a time when coalition forces were drawing down.
Though U.S. and coalition casualties were lower, “Afghanistan remains a dangerous place,” Campbell said. In the coming months, he added, “we can anticipate we will be targeted and we will suffer casualties.”
Some 10,600 U.S. forces remain in Afghanistan — out of a total coalition force of 13,000 — continuing with a mission to train, advise and assist Afghan forces and conduct counterterrorism operations.
“Our primary focus continues to be on preventing Afghanistan from becoming a safe haven again for al-Qaida and other international extremist groups,” Campbell said, including the Haqqani network. That network, he said, could pose a formidable challenge to the Afghan government and coalition forces.
There is evidence of recruiting efforts in Afghanistan by Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists and that some Taliban members have rebranded themselves as ISIL, Campbell said. These are developments, he said, that bear watching.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneDoDNews)
Army Gen. John. F. Campbell
Afghanistan Resolute Support Mission
Special Report: Operation Inherent Resolve – Targeted Operations Against ISIL Terrorists
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By Nick Simeone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Feb. 26, 2015 – Funding cuts triggered by the 2011 Budget Control Act have negatively impacted Navy and Marine Corps readiness, leaving sailors and Marines inadequately prepared to fight and increasing the dangers to them if they do, the chief of naval operations told Congress today.
“This means longer timelines to arrive, less time to prevail, if we do, more ships and aircraft out of action when in battle, more sailors, Marines and merchant mariners killed,” Navy Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert told the House Appropriations Committee as lawmakers took up the Pentagon’s $534 billion base budget request for fiscal year 2016.
Greenert, along with Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, described the sequester-caused damage to readiness and warned of what could occur if it returns in the coming fiscal year.
U.S. Warfighting Advantages Decline
“The overall impact of budget shortfalls in the past three years has manifested in the continued decline of our relative warfighting advantages in many areas,” Greenert told the House panel. For example, he said, the Navy is now less able to satisfy contingency response requirements around the world.
“Our combatant commanders require three carrier strike groups and three amphibious ready groups ready to deploy within 30 days to respond to a major crisis,” he said. “However, on average, we have been able to keep only one carrier strike group and one amphibious ready group in this readiness posture.”
The Navy’s top uniformed officer said the administration’s 2016 budget request — which proposes defense spending above sequester limits — “represents the absolute minimum funding levels needed to execute our strategic guidance.”
More Cuts Would Damage National Security
Any further cuts, he said, would damage national security.
Also testifying was Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who described his service as having to make tough choices to deal with the effects of years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan in addition to reduced budgets.
“As a result,” Dunford said, “approximately half of our non-deployed units — and those are the ones that provide the bench to respond to unforeseen contingencies — are suffering personnel, equipment and training shortfalls.” This situation, he added, will delay response times and put American lives at risk unnecessarily.
“Perhaps more concerning, it will result in fewer Marines and sailors being forward-deployed and in a position to immediately respond to a crisis involving diplomatic posts, American citizens or U.S. interests,” Dunford said.
The effects of the automatic across-the-board cuts known as the sequester — imposed after the White House and Congress failed in 2011 to agree on a plan to reduce the budget deficit — were mitigated by legislation last year that restored some military spending, but without congressional action the sequester law is set to take effect again Oct. 1.
(Follow Nick Simeone on Twitter: @simeoneDoDNews)
The Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA) announced yesterday that the remains of U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been accounted for and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.
Army Air Forces 1st Lts. William D. Bernier of Augusta, Montana; Bryant E. Poulsen of Salt Lake City, Utah; Herbert V. Young Jr. of Clarkdale, Arizona and Tech Sgts. Charles L. Johnston of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Hugh F. Moore of Elkton, Maryland and Staff Sgts. John E. Copeland of Dearing, Kansas; Charles J. Jones of Athens, Georgia; and Sgt. Charles A. Gardner of San Francisco, California, have been accounted for and buried with full military honors. Jones will be buried Feb. 28 in Athens, Georgia and Johnston will be buried March 2 in Arlington National Cemetery. On March 18, there will be a group burial service at Arlington National Cemetery honoring Poulsen, Copeland and the other crew members. Bernier was buried Sept. 19, 2014, in his hometown. Young was buried Oct. 15, 2014, in Prescott, Arizona Moore was buried on Nov. 11, 2014, in his hometown. Gardner was buried on Dec. 4, 2014 in Arlington National Cemetery.
On April 10, 1944, 12 B-24D Liberator crew members took off from Texter Strip, Nazdab Air Field, New Guinea, on a mission to attack an anti-aircraft site at Hansa Bay. The aircraft was shot down by enemy anti-aircraft fire over the Madang Province, New Guinea. Four of the crewmen were able to parachute from the aircraft, but were reported to have died in captivity.
Following World War II, the Army Graves Registration Service (AGRS) conducted investigations and recovered the remains of three of the missing airmen. In May 1949, AGRS concluded the remaining nine crew members were unrecoverable.
In 2001, a U.S.-led team located wreckage of a B-24D that bore the tail number of this aircraft. After several surveys, DoD teams excavated the site and recovered human remains and non-biological material evidence.
To identify Jones’ remains, scientists from DPAA and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory (AFDIL) used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Jones’ maternal niece.
To identify Johnston’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Johnston’s maternal cousins.
To identify Gardner’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Gardner’s maternal niece and nephew.
To identify Young’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Young’s sister.
To identify Moore’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Moore’s niece and grand-niece.
To identify Bernier’s remains, scientists from DPAA and AFDIL used circumstantial evidence and forensic identification tools, including, mitochondrial DNA, which matched Bernier’s cousins.
To account for Poulsen and Copeland, scientists from DPAA used circumstantial evidence that placed them on the aircraft and accounted for as them as part of the group.
For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, who went missing while serving our country, visit the DPAA website at www.dpaa.mil or call 703-699-1169.
From a Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve News Release
SOUTHWEST ASIA, Jan. 14, 2015 – U.S. and coalition military forces continued to attack Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant terrorists in Syria, using bomber and fighter aircraft to conduct six airstrikes, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve officials reported today.
Separately, U.S. and coalition military forces conducted 12 airstrikes in Iraq, using attack, fighter, and remotely piloted aircraft against ISIL terrorists, officials reported.
All strikes took place between 8 a.m., yesterday, and 8 a.m., today, local time.
Airstrikes in Syria
— Near Kobani, six airstrikes struck an ISIL fighting position and destroyed eight ISIL fighting positions and an ISIL armored vehicle.
Airstrikes in Iraq
— Near Bayji, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL artillery system.
— Near Taji, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
— Near Ar Rutbah, two airstrikes struck an ISIL checkpoint and an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL vehicle.
— Near Baqubah, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL building, an ISIL vehicle, and an ISIL recoilless rifle system.
— Near Al Asad, an airstrike destroyed an ISIL VBIED.
— Near Sinjar, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit and destroyed an ISIL excavator.
— Near Mosul, four airstrikes struck three ISIL tactical units, two ISIL excavators, and an ISIL bunker, and destroyed an ISIL armored vehicle and an ISIL vehicle, and
— Near Baghdad, an airstrike struck an ISIL tactical unit.
Airstrike assessments are based on initial reports. All aircraft returned to base safely.
Part of Operation Inherent Resolve
The strikes were conducted as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the operation to eliminate the ISIL terrorist group and the threat they pose to Iraq, Syria, the region, and the wider international community. The destruction of ISIL targets in Syria and Iraq further limits the terrorist group’s ability to project terror and conduct operations.
Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Iraq include the U.S., Australia, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, France, the Netherlands, and the United Kingdom. Coalition nations conducting airstrikes in Syria include the U.S., Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.
NATO Chief says Alliance Taking on All Forms of Terror
By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, Jan. 14, 2015 – There are many different types of terror and democratic nations must use many defenses against them, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in Berlin today.
The secretary general met with German Chancellor Angela Merkel a week after terrorists struck in the heart of Paris. “Those terrorist attacks — they were attacks on innocent people, but also attacks on the freedom of speech, the freedom of expression and our open free societies,” Stoltenberg said. “I think it just reminds us of the importance of security and defense. And we have to fight terror in many different ways. It’s about attitudes; it’s about defending our values.”
The scene of people around the world standing with the French people is encouraging to the NATO chief, and he said the alliance will continue its work against terror. “We have stepped up our information exchange related to foreign fighters,” he said. “We know that this is posing a threat to our societies, and we have agreed that we shall cooperate even closer when it comes to fighting the threat related to returning foreign fighters.”
NATO is also developing technologies to be able to protect member states against attacks, especially related to explosives.
The alliance also works with partner countries “to enable them to be more able to fight terror in their countries and in their regions,” he said.
Allied militaries worked closely for more than a decade in Afghanistan and that is providing a solid basis for cooperation in the fight against terrorists, he said.
The German chancellor and NATO leaders also discussed the situation in Ukraine. “We see that international law is violated, and that the sovereignty and the territorial integrity of Ukraine is not respected,” Stoltenberg said. “We call on Russia to respect the Minsk agreements, to use all its influence on the separatists to make them respect the ceasefire and (for Russia) to withdraw the support for the separatists.”
No Confrontation with Russia
Stoltenberg stressed the alliance does not seek confrontation with Russia. “NATO aspires for a more constructive and cooperative relationship with Russia,” he said. “But to be able to establish that, Russia must want it too.”
Russia must respect the core values and the rule-based system that NATO nations have strived to establish in Europe, he said.