14 APRIL 2020

 US DoD supports transportation of Covid-19 medical supplies

The US Department of Defense (DoD) has stepped up efforts to transport coronavirus (Covid-19) medical supplies to points of need.

The US Transportation Command (Transcom), one of the unified commands of the US DoD, has procured and delivered testing kits from overseas.

Transcom has also been associated with the delivery of field hospitals in New York and Washington state, which are significantly affected by the pandemic.

Army General Stephen R Lyons also noted that the command is working to evacuate US citizens stuck in other countries. Overall, Transcom has been effective in repatriating around 800 travellers from abroad.

The National Guard is also working in every state and territory to support Covid-19 response efforts.

The Army National Guard and Air National Guard is engaged in the distribution of food and medicines, apart from supporting communities at testing sites.

The Massachusetts National Guard is supplying personal protective equipment to first responders and hospitals, while the Iowa National Guard was involved in transporting medical supplies.

The Arizona National Guard, logistic teams from the West Virginia National Guard and Louisiana National Guard were also involved in transporting personal protective gears and equipment in respective states.

Overall, state governors have called around 29,000 guardsmen to support Covid-19 response, according to a Defense Department media fact sheet.

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases in the country is now nearing 583,000, while the death toll crossed 23,600.

Since the outbreak, DoD has been associated to support the Covid-19 response efforts in the country.

Last month, the department formed a task force to meet medical and protective equipment requirements.

14 APRIL 2020

 US Army mobilises medical task forces for communities hit by Covid-19

The US Army has deployed eight Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces to the New York area in an effort to help communities hit by coronavirus (Covid-19).

Senior army leaders said that four task forces are going to hospitals in New Jersey and another to Connecticut to further contain the spread of the virus.

US Army Medical Research and Development Command scientists at Fort Detrick in Maryland are currently working with researchers globally on vaccines for Covid-19.

The army called up medical professionals from country-wide reserve units to build the Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces.

US Army Chief of Staff James McConville said that the Reserve volunteers were vetted to ensure they were not already engaged in the battle against the virus in their own communities.

McConville further added: “We did not want to take medical personnel out of civilian communities where they were actually fighting the virus. We went ahead and we knew that there was going to be a lot of demand for medical professionals. We put together these 15 Urban Augmentation Medical Task Forces and they are motivated and ready to go.”

With 85 personnel, each task force is capable of providing the same service as a 250-bed hospital.

Some of the task forces will support patients receiving treatment at the Javits Convention Center in New York City and others will augment community hospitals.

Each task force comprises 14 physicians, including an infectious disease specialist and four respiratory specialists. Each has 16 medics, 13 nurses, five physician assistants, two dentists, four pharmacists, two clinical psychologists.

They also have a psychiatrist, two occupational therapy specialists, four dieticians and 18 other supporting staff. The task forces will perform low-acuity care and can also test for Covid-19.

On standby are the remaining seven task forces, which can be ready to travel within 24 hours after the US Army North and the Federal Emergency Management Agency identify location.

14 APRIL 2020

 New Zealand Defence Force conducts training exercise in South Auckland

The New Zealand Defence Force (NZDF) is set to conduct a critical training exercise in the South Auckland and Papakura areas this month in order to maintain its operational readiness.

The critical training exercise, which will see the participation of NZ Army soldiers and Royal New Zealand Air Force helicopters, will be performed on 16 and 17 April.

With this training, NZDF troops are expected to remain ready to respond and to support the country.

NZDF noted that it needs to undertake training in various land, air and sea environments to make sure that it maintains its readiness to deploy.

Furthermore, being able to exercise in multiple environments will ensure that its personnel are trained well and can offer support to a range of domestic, regional and security situations worldwide.

NZDF said in a statement: “The effects and restrictions of Covid-19 have meant that much of the defence force training activities have been reduced significantly in line with government direction.

“However, critical training exercises will occur from time-to-time enabling the NZDF to maintain our operational readiness. We appreciate the support and understanding from local communities when we conduct our exercises and training activities.”

In a separate development, 70 NZDF personnel have been drafted into various agencies, and military planning skills are being put to good use in the fight against Covid-19.

NZDF personnel are using their expertise to help government agencies ‘put in the long patrol’ against the virus. Soldiers of the NZDF have so far helped distribute care packages around Manawatū and Royal New Zealand Navy Reserves have helped clear a hospital ward in Dunedin.

14 APRIL 2020

 Dover AFB reservists airlift counterdrug equipment from Panama

A team of reservists from the Dover Air Force Base has airlifted counterdrug equipment out of Panama in a special mission to support the US Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The mission, conducted earlier this month, involved a 512th Airlift Wing (AW) aircrew composed of reserve airmen.

Overall, it hauled more than 100,000lb of cargo from Panama Pacifico International Airport, Panama, to San Angelo Regional Airport, Texas.

709th Airlift Squadron pilot and aircraft commander Captain Scott McCoy said: “It was a difficult mission because of all the moving parts and the constantly changing dynamics. It was successful, because we had a crew of highly experienced people who went above and beyond to make sure the job got done.”

In the mission, loadmasters and DHS personnel loaded 12 pallets and 11 rolling stock items. It included mobile generators, trailers and surveillance equipment, which are used to track to combat illicit drug trafficking across the region.

Additionally, three loadmasters and a flight engineer passed evaluation check-rides in the operation which affirms their readiness to operate in such circumstances.

USAF 709th AS evaluator loadmaster Master Sergeant David Finfinger said: “With minimal on-ground support in Panama, these loadmasters successfully accomplished a difficult load in an efficient manner.”

The 512th AW is trained and experienced in participating in such operations. The unit uses its C-5M Super Galaxy and C-17 Globemaster III aircraft to transport personnel and material for other government agencies.

14 APRIL 2020

 Covid-19: AFRS revises transport procedure of future airmen

The Air Force Recruiting Service (AFRS) in the US has revised its procedures to transport future airmen for basic military training.

The move was taken due to travel restrictions and social distancing guidelines implemented across the country in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

According to the AFRS, it is utilising operational Military Entrance Processing Station (MEPS) locations to conduct a final medical check-up of the future airmen. Subsequently, the recruits are transported to basic military training centres.

The step helps in minimising the risks of transmission, as well as continuing to meet airforce accession requirements.

USAF 364th Recruiting Squadron director of operations captain Eric Roe said: “Today’s airforce calls for our recruiting team to adapt to the constant changes in their current needs and requirements for each new ship week to basic military training.

“Our recruiting team must be ready to pivot, prioritise and match applicants to an optimal job and enter active duty date on a weekly and sometimes hourly basis.”

Under the usual process, the potential applicants meet with the recruiters and members in the Delayed Enlistment Program (DEP) persona

USAF 317th Recruiting Squadron enlisted accessions recruiter Technical Sergeant Charles Giertz said: “Technology has allowed us as recruiters to maintain our relationships with our applicants and DEPers. It has been the unbelievable receptiveness of the applicants to flex to this new way of doing things that has made this transition as seamless as possible.”

Meanwhile, the number of Covid-19 cases in the US has crossed 580,000

lly to discuss options and complete accession paperwork.

14 APRIL 2020

 Airbus A400M airlifter for Luxembourg completes maiden flight

Airbus has conducted maiden flight testing of its A400M new-generation airlifter ordered by the Luxembourg Armed Forces. The move serves a key milestone before its scheduled delivery to the Luxembourg military.

In its maiden flight, the aircraft, known as MSN104, took off from Seville in Spain and remained airborne for five hours before landing back on site.

The A400M airlifter is scheduled to be delivered in this quarter. Once delivered, the aircraft will be operated by a binational unit of Belgium and Luxembourg in the former country.

According to the Airbus website, the A400M is designed to carry strategic loads for deliveries to theatres of operations.

Capable of delivering payloads of up to 37t, the aircraft can be used to carry paratroopers, heavy vehicles, equipment and other cargo, as well as for refuelling. 

The aircraft assembly works are carried out in Spain while the wings and fuselage are built at the UK and Germany respectively.

The French Air Force inducted the first A400M aircraft in 2014. Since then, Airbus has delivered a total of 88 units. Last year, the company carried out the A400M airlifter’s first air-to-air refuelling contacts with a helicopter in southern France.

Recently, Airbus has also adapted wing production activity in the plants in the UK and Germany due to the impact of Covid-19 pandemic.

14 APRIL 2020

 US approves sale of ten AGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles to India

The US State Department has approved the potential foreign military sale of ten AGM-84L Harpoon Block II air launched missiles and related equipment to the Government of India for $92m.

The deal also includes containers, spare and repair parts, support and test equipment, publications and technical documentation, personnel training and training equipment, Specialized Assignment Airlift Missions (SAAM).

The proposed sale will include US Government and contractor representatives technical assistance, engineering, and logistics support services, and other related elements of logistics and programme support.

It will help to strengthen the strategic relationship between the US and India by supporting the foreign policy and national security of the US.

Additionally, the sale will improve India’s capability to meet existing and future threats from enemy weapon systems.

The Harpoon missile system can perform anti-surface warfare missions to defend critical sea lanes when integrated into the P-8I aircraft.

The enhanced capability will be used by India as a deterrent to regional threats and to strengthen its homeland security.

Boeing will serve as the principal contractor of the deal. The required certification was delivered by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

India has also requested to buy 16 MK 54 All Up Round Lightweight Torpedoes (LWT), three MK 54 Exercise Torpedoes, and related equipment for roughly $63m.

The proposed sale includes MK 54 spare parts, torpedo containers, two Recoverable Exercise Torpedoes (REXTORP) with containers; Fleet Exercise Section (FES), and fuel tanks built into MK 54 LWT Kits.

13 APRIL 2020

 3rd Marine Logistics supports USS Theodore Roosevelt Covid-19 efforts

Approximately 230 Sailors and Marines with 3rd Medical Battalion, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force have arrived in Guam to offer support to the members of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) aircraft carrier.

The team of medical professionals are supporting the onboard medical staff of the vessel. Support is extended during assessing, managing and treating the symptoms of Covid-19 cases on the ship.

US Marine Corps 3rd Marine Logistics Group Commanding General brigade general Keith Reventlow said: “As a Maritime Force, we need to work together as a Navy and Marine Corps team to stop the spread of Covid-19 in order to remain a ready force in the region.

“Soon after receiving the request for support, we rapidly deployed a team of highly skilled medical professionals to augment Theodore Roosevelt’s existing capabilities with manpower and resources to effectively assist with Covid-19 cases. Our combined efforts to combat the virus and protect the health of our force will allow us to continue our mission in Indo-Pacific theater.”

The recently deployed team added professional medical care to the more than 70 embarked officers and corpsmen and a team from the Biological Defense Research Directorate, Fort Detrick, Maryland on the ship.

Early-warning surveillance testing is being conducted for sailors present with influenza-like symptoms by the team on board Theodore Roosevelt.

Based in Japan, the 3rd Medical Battalion has a force ready to deploy immediately to support natural disasters, humanitarian assistance and various other missions.

Carrier Strike Group Nine commander Rear Admiral Stu Baker said: “The rapid response by the 3rd MLG was incredible. Their footprint ashore will ensure our Sailors off ship are well cared for.”