Northwest Military Blogs: Army West Blog

Posts made in: November, 2016 (22) Currently Viewing: 1 - 10 of 22

November 3, 2016 at 10:06am

Grueling testing shows true experts

Soldiers stand in formation after getting pinned the Expert Infantryman Badge for successfully completing the EIB testing course Oct. 21 at Joint Base Lewis-McChord. Photo credit: Staff Sgt. Samuel Northrup

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - The sun had not yet risen, but the soldiers were pushing forward toward their objective. Sweat was dripping off the chins of some, hitting the ground as each mile passed.

Their rucksacks seemed heavier with each passing step. Their helmets seemed like lead covers on their heads. They had to complete a full 12 miles before their trek was done.
Once they reached their destination, there was one more task at hand: each soldier had to treat a simulated casualty and carry him out on a litter.

This was the final event for the Expert Infantryman Badge testing that took place Oct. 17-21, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Of the 832 who started the Expert Infantryman Badge testing, only 143 soldiers successfully completed all the required tasks and earned their badge - making the attrition rate 83 percent.

EIB testing is a set of tasks conducted by infantryman to test both their tactical and technical knowledge, as well as their mental capacity to handle complex infantry tasks," said 1st Sgt. Christopher Carbone, the first sergeant for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1-2 Stryker Brigade Combat Team.

The EIB's purpose is to recognize infantrymen who have demonstrated they have mastered critical infantry arts and skills needed to successfully defend the United States from its enemies.

"The badge represents the culmination of infantry skills that a soldier has," said Pfc. Alex Jenkins, a soldier with HHC, 1-2 SBCT.

The EIB evaluation included an Army Physical Fitness Test, with a minimum score of 80 points in each event; day and night land navigation; medical, patrol, and weapons lanes; a 12-mile forced march; and Objective Bull (evaluate, apply a tourniquet to and transport a casualty).

"With all these tasks, you are given a standard to meet and have to pay attention to all the little details," said Spc. Daniel Wygal, also a soldier with HHC, 1-2 SBCT. "That is what is what EIB is all about in my opinion: attention to detail. You have to ensure you pay attention to everything you do. If you don't complete a certain step in sequence, you will get a no-go. It is as simple as that."

The performance steps in certain lanes, such as Estimate Range, can be difficult for some, said Lacy. There are a lot of small miscalculations a soldier has to make at the end of the equation for estimating range. It can make the difference between getting a go or a no-go.

"You get two opportunities to get a go at a station," said Carbone. "But if you get a double no-go at a station or cumulative three no-go's at multiple stations, you are out of the running for the Expert Infantryman Badge."

The best way to successfully complete EIB testing is to focus only on the current event being tested, said Wygal. Soldiers should not focus on what they did wrong or right at the previous event, or what they have to after the current event. Just focus on the current event.

"These tasks that are given to us during EIB sharpen your skills as a soldier and allow you to better yourself, not only as a soldier, but as a person in general," said Wygal. "You get to test your limits and see how well you perform different tasks."

The EIB testing builds muscle memory, said Jenkins. Soldiers are doing a lot of things they may have never done before or are rusty on. The repetition of training increases the soldier's ability to do their job.

"These soldiers have been training for two weeks," Carbone said. "They have had their EIB books for months. If a soldier truly wants the EIB, the trainers will facilitate the correct training. The trainer's goal is to get you your EIB, not to fail you."

Not everyone can earn the Expert Infantryman Badge, Carbone added. For those who truly desire to succeed, the training is there and they will be able to earn it.

He watched his squad leader get his EIB last year, said Pfc. Jeffery Boothe, an infantryman with 1st Battalion, 23rd Infantry Regiment, 1-2 SBCT. His squad leader pushed through the 12-mile ruck march with an injury. That act of determination motivated Boothe to push himself through the ruck march and earn his badge.

The EIB was developed in 1944 to represent the infantry's tough, hard-hitting role in combat and symbolize proficiency in infantry craft.

For the first EIB evaluation, 100 noncommissioned officers were selected to undergo three days of testing. When the testing was over, 10 NCOs remained. The remaining 10 were interviewed to determine the first Expert Infantryman.

On March 29, 1944, Tech. Sgt. Walter Bull was the first soldier to be awarded the EIB.

November 3, 2016 at 1:11pm

JBLM hosts the Alpha Warrior Military Demonstration

Photo from Fort Bliss taken from Facebook.

JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash.American Ninja Warrior Competitors Brent Steffensen and Kacy Catanzaro will visit JBLM Saturday as part of Army Entertainment and Army Sport’s Alpha Warrior Military Demonstration.

The Alpha Warrior Challenge brings pure sport to obstacle racing. Alpha Warrior is a new type of technical obstacle course that will push participants in ways they’ve never been pushed before. Participants get to break away from the mundane, have fun with friends, while attempting obstacles rarely seen in real life.

The obstacle course is a demonstration of how functional fitness and healthy lifestyles can prepare service members for some of the unexpected obstacles they may encounter during a mission or during their career.

Alpha Warrior is not measured in miles or distance, but instead focuses on completing each obstacle at hand. The course is designed to test strength, core, fitness, and fortitude - pushing bodies and minds to its physical and mental limit. The objective is to complete each obstacle on the course and finish with a 100 percent completion rate to become a proven Alpha Warrior.

A video demonstration of Alpha Warrior can be viewed at

The remainder of the Alpha Warrior Demonstration schedule is as follows:

10:30-10:45 a.m.            Obstacle training by Brent & Kacy

11 a.m.-12:30 p.m.        Obstacle course open

12:30-12:45 p.m.           Obstacle training by Brent & Kacy

1-2 p.m.                        Youth open

2-5:30 p.m.                    Adult timed challenge

November 3, 2016 at 2:23pm

JBLM Tigers strike gold at bowling regionals

Cathy Fowler of the JBLM Tigers team throws the ball down the lane during the Special Olympics Washington Southwest Regional bowling tournament at Pacific Lanes in Tacoma Saturday. (JBLM PAO Photo)

As bowlers finished up at each lane at Pacific Lanes in Tacoma Saturday during the Special Olympics Washington Southwest Regional tournament, medals were announced for each division. It started with the fourth place ribbon, third place bronze, second place silver and then the gold medal.

As the fourth through second place bowlers were named in the 300 Singles Division, Cathy Fowler, of the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Tigers team, started to realize her high game of 142 was enough to win her first gold medal in four years. She tried to hide her tears of happiness by covering her face, but then she proudly let them flow as family and teammates cheered.

“I’ve worked so hard in bowling for four years,” Fowler said, who started with Metro Parks in Tacoma before joining the JBLM Special Olympics program January 2015.

Throughout the entire regional tournament, the JBLM Tigers finished with six gold medals, three silver, five bronze and two additional fourth place ribbons. There were several individual athletes from JBLM who did well, including Alexis Kinnan winning gold in Division 301 (played next to Fowler and Division 300).

The tournament featured divisions that allowed unified four-person teams where athletes with and without disabilities team together. The team of Ethan Crow, Zehariah Castro, Riley Allen and Ryan Nelson led all of JBLM’s unified teams with gold in Division 100.

There were also unified doubles teams where the JBLM Tigers saw Andy and Alex McFarland win gold in Division 108. The competition featured ramp bowling for those in wheelchairs who received assistance in sending the ball down the lane.

Although ribbons were handed out to all participants, the JBLM Tigers still finished with 16 finishes in the top four with ribbons and medals.

“It gives them that sense of achievement,” said Genia Stewart, the six-year head coach for the JBLM Tigers.

The JBLM Tigers and Metro Parks Tacoma had a special exhibition the weekend prior at Bowl Arena Lanes on JBLM; however, the Southwest Regional tournament is the lone competition for the teams from Lacey, Lakewood, Olympia and other parts of Pierce and Thurston counties.

Bowlers often run into each other not only during tournaments, but also during other Special Olympics sports like basketball and swimming. Meeting old friends and making new ones is one of the aspects Stewart enjoys about coaching at Special Olympics events.

“Over the years, you get to see certain ones grow up and see how they’ve improved,” Stewart said.

Although it’s still a competition with medals and ribbons, the main goal of the regional tournaments throughout the state this month is to provide a fun activity for the Special Olympics athletes. Parents and family members supported children while reminding them to have fun with the tournament.

JBLM Tigers volunteer coach Jim Newlander could be heard shouting “bird is the word” when a bowler knocked down all of the pins except for the five pin, which he has affectionately called the “bird.”

While he can’t coach the JBLM Tigers or any bowlers during the tournament, he would shout things to help lighten the mood while supporting everyone participating.

“We’re out here to have fun,” Newlander said. “Everybody cheers everyone else on. We’re like a little community.”

November 3, 2016 at 3:01pm

ACU's annual tournament tees off

JBLM PAO photo Organizers would like to raise at least $45,000 for charity during the Turkey Shoot golf tournament at Eagles Pride Golf Course on Lewis Main Friday.

Ken Leonard, America’s Credit Union president and chief executive officer, has a special connection with the local military community; his father is a retired Army command sergeant major who served on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Leonard said he has a deep appreciation for the military, which has inspired him to provide support for the base community through ACU’s annual Turkey Shoot golf tournament Friday on Eagles Pride Golf Course on Lewis Main. Since the first tournament in 2001, more than $500,000 has been raised for Santa’s Castle, the Madigan Foundation and the Food Basket Program on JBLM.

“All of the money raised when people donate, sponsor and pay to golf is going straight to those charities,” said tournament director Amber Young. “Our CEO is very, very passionate about supporting the military and about golfing, so he puts a lot into the Turkey Shoot to make sure everybody has a good time.”

Friday will be the 16th annual Turkey Shoot at Eagles Pride, and the hope is that the tournament will raise at least $45,000 — entirely possible based on the turnout in recent years.

“On average, we see about 150 (golfers),” Young said. “Some years we may only have 122, and other years we may have 170.”

Registration is open for this year’s tournament at 9 a.m. The tournament begins with a shotgun start at 10 a.m.

Golfers can sign up either as an individual to be placed with someone else or as teams of two to play in a two-person scramble format. The fee is $90 per golfer and $175 when registering a two-person team.

The tournament’s field features a wide-range of community members that includes service members, veterans, family members and civilians.

“Golf is something that anyone can just pick up the clubs and have fun with it, as long as it’s all in good fun,” Young said.

Although the tournament is all about fun, there are some prizes for doing well at Eagles Pride. There will be three holes on the course where golfers can win prizes for sinking a hole-in-one. Two of the holes will be for $10,000 and another will be for an all-expense paid vacation trip.

Young also said there are plenty of regular participants who don’t necessarily come out for the round of golf. The raffle items awarded during the after-tournament dinner are a big attraction where there are golf supplies, dinner vouchers, hotel stays and more — including 15 turkeys for Thanksgiving dinners.

For more information about the 16th annual Turkey Shoot tournament, visit or email

November 7, 2016 at 5:56am

Free meals and deals for Veterans Day 2016

There are many ways to honor former servicemembers on Veterans Day – parades, salutes, all-you-can eat pancakes or a free hot cup of (G.I.) joe.

To mark Veterans Day on Nov. 11, restaurants around the country are offering free or discounted food. Some offers are strictly for vets; others include active-duty and retired troops. Offers may not be available at locations overseas. Call ahead to make sure your local places are participating -- and ask what you need to bring to identify yourself. Many will ask for a DD-214 or other proof of service – or you can come in uniform!

Check to make sure what exactly is included in the offers. For example, beverages and gratuities are often not covered at eateries.

Here’s a look at some meals and deals. All are good Nov. 11 unless otherwise noted:

Applebee’s -- Veterans and active duty military receive a free meal from a limited menu that includes burgers and butcher’s meat and potatoes.

Bar Louie – Free meal (up to $12) for vets and active duty.

Bob Evans -- Veterans and active duty receive free breakfast from six menu options.

Bonefish Grill – Free Bang Bang Shrimp appetizer for vets and military on Nov. 11.

Boston Market – Free brownie or cookie with purchase of any meal Nov. 11. For vets, active duty and retired military – and their families.

California Pizza Kitchen – Veterans and active military receive a free pizza, salad or pasta from a special menu.

Carrabba’s – All active and retired veterans get a free appetizer Nov. 7-13.

Chevy’s Fresh Mex – Free choice from special menu from 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Nov. 11 for active and retired military.

Chili’s – Active duty and veterans can choose a free meal from five options, including chipotle chicken and Margherita flatbread.

Chipotle – Buy one burrito, bowl or salad from 3 p.m. to close Nov. 11 and get one free. Vets, military and spouses.

City Barbecue – Free sandwich platter for military and vets.

Coffee Beanery – Free tall coffee for vets and active duty.

Cracker Barrel -- Free slice of Double Chocolate Fudge Coca-Cola Cake to all dine-in veterans.

Chuck E. Cheese – Free personal pizza to active and retired military.

Famous Dave’s – Get a free Two Meat BBQ Salute – your choice of two from ribs to cod – on Nov. 11.

54th Street Grill – Free meal (up to $12) for veterans.

Friendly’s – Veterans and active military get a free breakfast, lunch or dinner with beverage from a limited menu.

Glory Days Grill – Free appetizer or an order of boneless or regular wings Nov. 11 for veterans.

Golden Corral -- Free buffet dinner and beverage will be available from 5-9 p.m. Nov. 14 for retirees, veterans, active duty, National Guard and Reserves.

Greene Turtle – Free entrée from special menu, with free upgrades to fries, from 11 a.m. to close Nov. 11. For veterans and active duty.

Hooters – Veterans and active duty military get a free meal from special menu with a drink purchase.

IHOP – Free stack of red, white and blue pancakes from 7 a.m.-7 p.m. Nov. 11 for veterans, active duty and retired.

IKEA café – From Nov. 8-11, free entrée for veterans.

Krystal – Free sausage biscuit for veterans on Nov. 11.

LongHorn Steakhouse – Veterans and current service members receive a free appetizer and dessert from a select menu. Check about the 10 percent discount for “eligible customers.”

Max & Erma’s – Free ½ cheeseburger, endless fries and beverage for vets and active duty personnel.

McCormickk & Schmick’s Seafood and Steaks – Free meal for vets and Gold Star Families on Nov. 6 from a special menu that includes salmon, fish and chips, and beef medallions. Reservations recommended.

Menchi’s -- Free 6-ounce frozen yogurt for veterans and active duty.

Mission BBQ – Free sandwiches and cake to vets and active duty after a live performance of the National Anthem.

O’Charley’s – Vets and active duty get a free meal Nov. 11.

Olive Garden – Free meal from limited menu for vets and active duty.

On the Border – Free meal from “Create Your Own Combo” meal for veterans and active duty military.

Outback Steakhouse – All active and former service members receive a free Bloomin’ Onion and a beverage on Nov. 11. Outback is also offering active and former servicemembers 15 percent off their meals Nov. 12-Dec. 31.

Peet’s Coffee & Tea – Free small coffee or tea on Nov. 11. For troops and vets.

Perkins – Vets get a free Magnificent 7 breakfast.

Red Hot & Blue -- Veterans receive a free entrée (up to $10) from Nov. 9-11 with the purchase of a second entrée and two beverages.

Red Lobster -- Veterans, retired and active-duty military personnel receive a free appetizer or dessert from a limited menu Nov. 10 and 11.

Red Robin -- Free Red’s Tavern double burger with Bottomless Steak Fries for vets and active duty.

Ruby Tuesday – Free appetizer (up to $10) for vets, active duty and reserves.

Sheetz – Free lunch Nov. 11 for vets and active duty.

Shoney’s -- Free All-American Burger to veterans and active duty service members.

Sizzler -- Active duty and veteran military members get a free meal and beverage from a limited menu on Tuesday until 4 p.m. Nov. 11.

Spaghetti Warehouse – From Nov. 11-13, buy one entrée and get the second entrée free – lasagna or spaghetti. Coupon required. For veterans.

Texas Roadhouse -- Free lunch Nov. 11; hours may vary. Choose from 10 menu options, from pulled pork sandwich to sirloin steak. Offer is good for active duty, retired or former U.S. military.

Uno Pizzeria and Grill – Free meal or personal pizza Nov. 11 with purchase of meal or pizza. Veterans and active duty.

Village Inn – Free breakfast anytime Nov. 11 for veterans and active duty.

White Castle – Free breakfast combo or Castle combo meal for veterans and military Nov. 11.

World of Beer – A free beer (or $5 off a check) for veterans and active duty. Check local location.

Zoe’s Kitchen – Active duty military and veterans get a free meal.

Other discounts, specials

Mount Vernon -- All active duty, former or retired military personnel are admitted free on Veterans Day.

National Parks -- On Veterans Day, veterans will have free access to over 100 national parks that require entrance fees.

Great Clips – On Nov. 11, customers can get a free haircut card to give to their favorite veteran. Veterans also receive a free haircut or haircut card. Haircuts are redeemable until Dec. 31.

Home Depot -- Home Depot offers a 10 percent discount to all veterans. Home Depot offers 10 percent discount year-round to for active duty and retirees.

Lowe’s -- All veterans receive a 10% discount on Veterans Day, Nov. 11. The offer is available in stores only.

Rack Room Shoes -- Military personnel and their dependents get a 10 percent discount off entire purchase Nov. 11.

Sport Clips -- Participating locations are offering veterans and active duty servicemembers free haircuts on Nov. 11

Cabela’s -- Increased discount for military personnel as well as law enforcement, irefighters and Emergency Medical Service personnel.

November 10, 2016 at 1:33pm

JBLM soldiers take over in Afghanistan

U.S. Army Lt. Col. James C. Reese and Command Sgt. Maj. Randy B. Gray case the 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment unit colors during their transfer of authority ceremony. Photo credit: Robert Harrison

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, AFGHANISTAN (Nov. 5) - The U.S. Army 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery (ADA) Regiment, relinquished authority for the Counter Rocket, Artillery and Mortar (C-RAM) mission in Afghanistan to the 5th Battalion (BN), 5th ADA Regiment, during a ceremony held here on Wednesday. U.S. Army Maj. Gen. John C. Thomson, III, Bagram Airfield commander, presided over the transfer of mission.

Second BN, 44th ADA soldiers will redeploy to their home station at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, along with their detachment that had been serving in Iraq. The 5/5 ADA recently arrived from Joint Base Lewis-McChord and will have an element concurrently serving in Iraq.

Lt. Col. James C. Reese and Command Sgt. Maj. Randy B. Gray, 2/44 ADA commander and command sergeant major, cased their unit colors in preparation for movement back to their home station.

Maj. Bruce J. Pauley and Master Sgt. Kevin M. Vanliew, 5/5 ADA Detachment commander and sergeant major, saluted the outgoing command team signifying their assumption of the mission. The 5/5 ADA battalion headquarters element is currently on-mission in Iraq.

"Since their arrival here in February, Lt. Col. Jim Reese and Command Sgt. Maj. Randy Gray have led their team in providing vital protection to our forces in two geographically separate theaters," said Thomson as he began his remarks.

"For the first time in CRAM history, ‘Strike Fear' executed split-based operations sending a Mission Command element, Alpha Battery, and Charlie Battery to Iraq, while the battalion headquarters along with Bravo Battery deployed to Afghanistan.

"With vigilance as their watchword, Strike Fear stood on point, 24/7, while the rest of us went about our business or slept. In essence, Strike Fear gave us freedom of action to focus on the mission," Thomson added.

"‘Strike Fear' is replaced today by the ‘Dragon Slayers' of the 5th Battalion, 5th Air Defense Artillery Regiment out of JBLM, Washington," Thomson continued, as he introduced the new team.

"This battalion's storied past includes the activation of the first C-RAM intercept unit back on March 14, 2006 in Iraq. No stranger to the mission here, the Dragon Slayers arrived for their last tour here at Bagram almost exactly two years ago, Oct. 24, 2014.

"This great team has also been called to conduct split-based operations in support of two tough missions, which they will no doubt complete with the same level of skill and dedication displayed by their predecessors," Thomson added.

Lt. Col. Reese thanked his soldiers, his leadership, and their U.S. and coalition partners for enabling the successes of his unit.

I'm humbled to stand here today as we mark another high point in the long history of the 2nd Battalion, 44th Air Defense Artillery Regiment.

"The soldiers standing before you represent the most deployed and combat experienced battalion in the air defense artillery branch; including our third deployment to Afghanistan and our eighth deployment as a battalion since 2003," said Reese.

"At a time when the enemy's abilities to place effective fires on BAF increased, our soldiers over-matched them at every step of the way," he added.

"To the soldiers of 5-5 ADA battalion, the ‘Dragon Slayer' Battalion, you are about to begin an incredible mission," Reese concluded.

"I look forward to hearing about the successes that your outstanding unit will accomplish."

Maj. Bruce J. Pauley thanked everyone in attendance for their warm welcome and support as 5/5 ADA prepared to assume the C-RAM mission.

I am honored to stand here today as we assume the mission in providing the critical early warning, take shelter, and defeating the enemy's rockets, artillery and mortars," said Pauley.

"These soldiers have dedicated countless hours of training to ensure their readiness in protecting our joint partners and allies at each of our defended locations throughout Afghanistan and the CENTCOM area of operation and responsibility," he added.

"Our soldiers are ready to live up to the high standards of readiness and execution set by our fellow soldiers in Task Force Strike Fear.

"Strike First!"

November 10, 2016 at 2:05pm

201st EMI Bde. wins intramural crown

Members of 201st EMI Bde. celebrate after winning the JBLM Commander’s Cup Intramural Flag Football Championship at the Lewis North Athletic Complex Nov. 3. 201st EMI Bde. defeated Madigan 28-21. (JBLM PAO photo)

Clark Jones, of the 201st Expeditionary Military Intelligence Brigade, considers himself more of a runner than a passer. But as the quarterback for the team during the Joint Base Lewis-McChord Commander’s Cup flag football championship Nov. 3, he showed he can do both effectively.

During the championship game at the Lewis North Athletic Complex, Jones completed 14 of 20 passes for three touchdowns with one interception en route to a 28-21 win over Bravo Company, Madigan Army Medical Center. Jones also had 17 carries for 129 yards and a touchdown.

“I was seeing a lot of holes in their defense,” Jones said. “But we have a lot of playmakers, so (Madigan) didn’t know where the ball was going.”

Jones was able to lead the team down the field for a quick drive to score its first touchdown on a two-yard run by Jones early in the first half. The drive also featured five out of six plays on the run.

On the second drive for the 201st EMI Bde., Jones showed his ability to find open receivers who could evade defenders. This was evident in the 16-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Cummings, who was one of Jones’ favorite targets with five receptions for 88 yards.

The game started out slow for Madigan, which struggled in its first two offensive drives with quarterback Richard Williams. Despite being its spark through the regular season and the tournament, Williams struggled with an interception thrown on the first drive and a three-and-out on the second drive.

This led to a quarterback change to Zachary Wilhelm, who led a fast drive with three completions for 58 yards that was capped off by a five-yard touchdown pass to Richard Rios.

After the 201st EMI Bde. went up 20-6 when Jones threw a 17-yard touchdown to Daniel Ledezma, Wilhelm was able to lead Madigan on an eight-play drive that led to a 17-yard touchdown pass to Eduardo Gomez Sanchez —— followed by a two-point conversion — to close the gap 20-14 at halftime.

“Everybody did an awesome job adapting to something we’ve never done before,” Wilhelm said.

The 201st EMI Bde. was able to score quickly in the second half after another drive led by Jones ended on a short, three-yard touchdown pass to Nigel Brown Thompson. But Madigan wouldn’t go away as Wilhelm completed deep passes to set up a five-yard dive into the end zone to bring the score 28-21.

Madigan caught what could have been the momentum-changing play as Williams intercepted a pass from Jones in the end zone and brought the ball back to the 20-yard-line of 201st EMI Bde. Wilhelm brought the ball to about three yards from the end zone on fourth down, but a false start on the line brought the team back.

The ensuing passing play into the end zone was broken up by multiple defenders and the ball went back to the 201st EMI Bde.

“The play call was to roll out to the right,” Wilhelm said. “But (the team) had someone coming straight up the middle and I had to go left. We were outnumbered on that side of the field.”

Jones would have had a 64-yard touchdown pass to Cummings in the final seconds of the game, but an unsportsmanlike penalty negated the score and brought the ball back to about the Madigan 20-yard-line.

Still, Jones received the game’s Most Valuable Player award with 354 total yards of offense. He didn’t want to take all of the credit for the championship win, calling it a team victory for the 201st EMI Bde.

“I had a lot of trust in my receivers when I knew I could trust them to make big plays,” Jones said. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have won.”

November 10, 2016 at 2:32pm

60 tons of trash collected on JBLM

Service members with 1st Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division and 593rd Expeditionary Sustainment Command work together to unload a truckload of old furniture found dumped on a JBLM training area during Fall Cleanup Week and Ammunition Amnesty Day on Lewis Main

Service Members worked diligently to organize the more than 60 tons of trash collected around Joint Base Lewis-McChord as part of Fall Cleanup Week Oct. 31 through Friday and Ammunition Amnesty Day Nov. 3.

The coordinated cleanup effort, which occurs twice a year, allows units on JBLM to scour the base and collect illegally-dumped garbage.

This involves going through the wooded and residential areas to find trash and dispose of it properly.

“When you have kids someday, do you want them to live in an environment that is full of brown grass or green grass,” said Pfc. Alec Garner of the 8th Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 2nd Brigade, 2nd Infantry Division. “If you have trash (lying) around, it makes the environment and our homes a lot weaker.”

Garbage dump stations were set up all around base, with the main location in the shadow of the C-5 mockup by East Gate. It was here that Greg Mason, an environmental investigator with the JBLM Environmental Division of the Directorate of Public Works, oversaw loads of garbage being collected and the service members separating and organizing them.

“We have a huge responsibility to the land that was given to us by the public,” Mason said. “The command on the military side and civilian side have been incredibly supportive of this program. They understand that having Soldiers out here picking up garbage is a nasty job. Everyone, both in command and the civilians, works hard to make sure that this land is taken care of.”

Mason said that his team is committed to finding and punishing people who are improperly dumping trash around JBLM. Cameras are set up around some of the more popular illegal dumping sites, and the price of properly disposing of your trash is a much wiser financial investment, he said.

“Fines can start around $1,000,” Mason said. “It’s just not worth it. We have a team of people (who) figure out who dumped trash. If you’re doing it, we will find you.”


Running alongside the cleanup day is also the Ammunition Amnesty Day, a semiannual event intended to encourage surrender of old or misplaced ammunition service members may have. Program officials aren’t interested in where everything comes from; all they want to do is remove potentially dangerous material from the JBLM community.

“You get things that happen when you’re training or coming back from combat, and you miss turning something in during the proper process,” said Stacy Gossett, the JBLM chief quality assurance specialist ammunition surveillance. “Some people may be a little rattled that they are an E-4 and they have this ammo that didn’t get turned in. We want them to feel comfortable to know they can drop it off here and know that it will be handled properly. They can stop worrying about it.”

Unchecked ammunition can also become unstable and dangerous, making this program even more important, Gossett said. Just a few years ago, Gossett spoke of a person who was cleaning out his garage and attempted to move an old ammo box. The box exploded and took off parts of the man’s fingers, Gossett said. It is stories like this Gossett hopes people keep in mind when they are debating on bringing in their old ammunition or not.

“These programs are meant to make JBLM a better place,” Gossett said.

November 10, 2016 at 2:38pm

First 30mm cannon on Stryker troop carrier delivered

Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems photo The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle outfitted with a 30 mm cannon was delivered to the Army Oct. 26. The vehicle will be known as the “Dragoon,” the name of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment

WASHINGTON, D.C. The first prototype Stryker Infantry Carrier Vehicle, outfitted with a 30 mm cannon, was delivered to the Army Oct. 26.

The upgraded Stryker vehicle will be known as the “Dragoon,” the name of the 2nd Cavalry Regiment.

The prototype also features a new fully-integrated commander’s station, upgraded driveline componentry and hull modifications, according to a press release from Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems.

“It’s important to realize the genesis of this event,” said Army Vice Chief of Staff Gen. Daniel B. Allyn, speaking at the General Dynamics Land Systems Maneuver Collaboration Center in Sterling Heights, Mich.

Following the 2015 Russian invasion of Ukraine, Army leaders in Europe “identified a capability gap that threatened our forces in theater,” Allyn said. “The Russians, it turns out, had upgraded and fielded significant capabilities while we were engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

Army leaders recognized that existing Stryker weaponry placed U.S. forces at “unacceptable risk,” he said.

The Urgent Operational Needs statement, submitted in March 2015, resulted in a directed Stryker lethality requirement, one that included an accelerated acquisition effort to integrate the 30 mm cannon on the vehicles, he said.

Fielding to the 2nd Cavalry Regiment in Europe will begin in May 2018, which represents “a near-record time from concept to delivery,” according to Allyn.

“This is an example of what is possible when government, military and industry leaders unite as one team,” Lyon said, describing the collaboration between General Dynamics Land Systems and Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems.

The goal, he said, was to offer forces on the ground the best equipment and protection possible.

“It’s all about the people on the ground, serving and sacrificing on our behalf, each and every day, around the globe,” Allyn said.

According to Program Executive Office Ground Combat Systems, the Army has provided programmatic direction to initiate the first two elements of the Stryker Fleet Lethality strategy.

Those are providing an under-armor Javelin capability for the Stryker and improving the capabilities of the Stryker Anti-Tank Guided Missile vehicle to better locate and engage targets via networked fires.


“It’s important to know we are a nation at war right now, and our Army remains globally engaged,” Allyn said. “Today, over 8,000 Soldiers are in Afghanistan, providing enabling support to an emerging force, fighting a persistent insurgent threat.”

Nearly 5,000 more are in the Middle East, supporting the fight against the Islamic State, “a ruthless force, intent on destabilizing the region and the globe.”

More than 33,000 Soldiers are assigned or allocated to Europe “to assure our allies and to deter a potentially grave threat to freedom,” Allyn said.

Nearly 80,000 are assigned to U.S. Pacific Command, including 20,000 in South Korea, where they are prepared “to respond tonight with our (Republic of Korea) allies,” Allyn said.

Supporting the fight around the globe means having the best technologies for Soldiers to ensure overmatch against future adversaries in an increasingly complex and dangerous world where the threat is often “elusive and ambiguous,” he said.

This environment will place a premium on unmanned systems, lethal technologies and rapid maneuver capabilities that the new Stryker system exemplifies, Allyn said.

November 10, 2016 at 2:42pm

Hackers wanted in the Army

ARLINGTON, Va. Cyber professionals are often capable of doing much, much more than what the law allows. In their private-sector jobs, they’ve got to be on the right side of the law if they don’t want to end up in a prison cell.

But those same skilled cyber professionals may be able to cut loose if they were in the Army. In fact, that potential for greater freedom in cyberspace might entice some of those professionals to don a uniform and practice their craft safely inside the Army tent.

It may also serve as an enticement for cyber professionals who are already serving in the Army to stay in the Army, the Army’s vice chief of staff said.

“The good news is, for our cyber professionals, they can do things in defense of our nation that they would get arrested for in the outside world,” said Vice Chief of Staff of the Army Gen. Daniel B. Allyn Thursday, while speaking at a cyber forum at the Association of the U.S. Army headquarters.

“That’s very attractive to those who are very, very skilled and committed to the security of our country. And for that we are thankful for both their skill, and as importantly, for their desire to continue to serve and protect our country.”

The Army is currently in the midst of growing its cyber force of commissioned officers, noncommissioned officers, and warrant officers to defend the Army network and apply effects against adversary networks, if need be.

The Army has its own cyber branch now, career field 17, for cyber professionals, and a schoolhouse as well at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Right now the branch has 397 officers, 141 warrant officers and 560 enlisted Soldiers in its ranks, Allyn said.

“Army is on track fielding our cyber mission force, from 41 teams today, to eventually a full fill of 62 total force teams,” Allyn said.

The Army’s Cyber School stood up in 2014. This year, 21 officers graduated, and he said next year the Army’s on track to beat that.

In March 2017, enlisted Soldiers will for the first time attend Army Advanced Individual Training for cyber. Also in March, Army-developed AIT to defend the network will begin at Fort Gordon, Georgia. Allyn said he expects an initial 300 Soldiers to graduate from that course.

Attracting and retaining cyber talent remains a concern for the Army, Allyn said. It’s not just Army networks that need to be protected -- commercial networks require protection as well -- and the Army must compete with the private sector to attract the best cyber talent.

One way to make Army cyber attractive, Allyn said, is through lateral accessions, a strategy used in other career fields in the Army, like medical -- where officers can be brought in at a higher rank and higher pay as a way to be more competitive with the private sector.

“The ability to laterally access skilled professionals is something we do already in the Army in some of our skills -- medical is one that is widely understood,” Allyn said. “But we have recognized that this has applicability in specialty fields like cyber. And that is being matured and developed as an option for the chief and the secretary.”

Allyn said the possibility of lateral accessions for cyber was a measure that was considered as part of the Army’s “Force of the Future” analysis conducted last year.

“Not only will we have to apply new accessions tools, but we are going to have to also consider, ‘How do you retain this incredible talent?’” he said.

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