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Registration Deadline for Disaster Assistance Is Two Weeks Away

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Registration Deadline for Disaster Assistance Is Two Weeks Away
10/31/2016 06:35 PM EDT

BATON ROUGE, La. – Louisiana disaster survivors affected by August flooding have two weeks left to register for disaster assistance with the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The deadline to register is Monday, Nov. 14, 2016.

Survivors may register with FEMA by going online with any computer, smartphone or tablet to DisasterAssistance.gov, calling the FEMA helpline at 800-621-3362, or downloading the FEMA mobile app. Survivors who use a TTY may call 800-462-7585 to register.

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NEA, DoD Launch Creative Forces Sites Expansion to Increase Art Therapies

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NEA, DoD Launch Creative Forces Sites Expansion to Increase Art Therapies
10/31/2016 04:57 PM CDT

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Masks, decorated by service members, sit on display as part of the Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 21, 2016. National Endowment for the Arts courtesy photo

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NEA, DoD Launch Creative Forces Sites Expansion to Increase Art Therapies

By Amaani Lyle

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WALTER REED NATIONAL MILITARY MEDICAL CENTER, Md., Oct. 31, 2016 — At the National Intrepid Center of Excellence here, officials on Oct. 25 announced an expansion between the National Endowment for the Arts and the Defense Department to bring creative arts therapies to service members, veterans and their families.

The initiative, Creative Forces: NEA Military Healing Arts Network, deepens connections between the military and civilian communities through patient-centered care at 10 additional clinical sites beyond Walter Reed in Bethesda and NICoE Intrepid Spirit 1, Fort Belvoir, Va., and broadens access to therapeutic arts activities in local communities, even in remote locations.

“We’re seeing such transformational results in our service members and our expansion plans have come as a result of them saying that they want this program to be closer to their communities as they make a transition back into civilian life,” said Jane Chu, NEA chairperson. “This is a way to help service members and veterans … understand the dignity that they already have and so much deserve.”

Expanding Funding, Time

Chu said since the program’s nascence in 2011, the program has continued to proliferate and gained the recognition of President Barack Obama and Congress, who in fiscal year 2016 appropriated a $1.98 million budget increase to the NEA, specifically allocated to expand the healing arts program.

With this budget increase, the NEA and DoD can support creative arts therapies for a total of 12 sites across the nation by 2017. Five additional locations have already committed to joining the network: Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton, Oceanside, Calif., Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, N.C.; Madigan Army Medical Center, Tacoma, Washington; Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Anchorage, Alaska; and Fort Hood, Killeen, Texas.

“Instead of conducting one- or two-day workshops, we knew that the impact could be deeper and more meaningful if service members could engage with the arts over a longer period of time,” Chu explained. “Post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury are notoriously complex conditions to treat.”

As such, the NICoE Walter Reed clinicians developed a therapeutic writing program, which functioned in tandem with the NICoE’s creative arts therapies program and now includes visual arts and music therapy. And many service members who participated in these programs acknowledge improvements, Chu said.

“Because they get to create through this arts program, they can now manage their stress, their memory is more enhanced; they can communicate more clearly and they can manage their physical pain better,” Chu said. “We believe that the arts have allowed them to tap into the meaning and the value of their own lives, which were always there but may have been buried during times of combat.”

Families, Caregivers Also Benefit

Similarly, Chu said family members and caregivers noticed significant and positive changes in their loved ones. “One hundred percent of the caregivers at the Fort Belvoir program said they experienced positive results in the service members who participated in the creative arts therapies program.”

She noted that one spouse whose husband received treatment at Walter Reed reported arts therapies healed family disruption.

Chu also cited a service member who wrote, “Previously, I had been unwilling or unable to explain how tortured I felt … art therapy provided the outlet which directly impacted one of the most important course changes of my life.”

Ron Capps, a combat veteran and volunteer creative writing instructor for the Creative Forces program, illustrated the success of creative writing therapy. “It’s as if you have this traumatic memory, and it’s hot or radioactive,” he said. “You pick it up with your bare hand, your bare brain so to speak — you can’t manage it … but by putting art or music or writing in between, you have a filter. It’s like putting on a pair of gloves.”

Warrior Turned Artist

Rusty Noesner, said he can fully attest to “wearing the gloves” and leveraging the power of transformational change. During his time serving with Navy Seal Team 10 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, from 2010-2011, he suffered traumatic brain injury among other others following rocket fire that injured two of his friends and killed a U.S. soldier. In addition to visible scars, he returned home with anxiety, depression, and cognitive limitations.

He admitted going to NICoE with initial reluctance and a discomfort with the unknown.

“I didn’t want to be here and I didn’t want to involve myself in any of this,” Noesner recounted. “I soon learned I was completely wrong to think that, as the staff and everybody here was so professional, kind, courteous and receptive to what I was going through and what other veterans are going through.”

But eventually, he gravitated to the arts, turning to painting, fittingly, of masks, which he said brought him and other veterans a certain freedom in embracing recurring combat themes such as pain and duality. He’s since launched his own nonprofit group, War Paints, to promote art for veterans.

“You learn how to begin the process of redefining yourself,” Noesner said. “It’s not a sign of weakness, it’s about acknowledging what’s going on in your own brain then moving forward and it’s a way for you to express what’s going on mentally without having said anything at all.”

And whether one brush stroke or one sentence at a time, Noesner said he was able to allow the cathartic response to resonate as he enjoyed the tangible outcome of his work. “Throughout that creative process, it’s not always easy — that self-discovery is essential in healing,” he said.

Site Selection Criteria

According to Chu, NEA officials considered five criteria when selecting the clinical locations: readiness, diversity, location, population density and leadership. The expansion sites, she added, will complement existing clinical services for traumatic brain injury and psychological health conditions.

“In each of the locations, the leadership believes in the healing power of the arts and is committed to including the arts in their integrative care approach,” Chu said. “This is critical to the success of our work together and we applaud the leadership at each of these sites for their vision and unceasing quest to better serve our service members.”

The expansion includes a network of community based nonprofit organizations that provide healing arts programs for members of the military, veterans and their families, Chu noted.

“This part of the expansion will support the reintegration for people leaving a medical center by allowing them to continue arts programming, and it will address individuals who need treatment but fear the possible stigma of receiving ongoing clinical care,” she said.

Ultimately, NEA will build capacity by developing a portal of resources and tools that will help communities and arts organizations improve the dialog among service members, veterans and their families, Chu said.

“It’s a privilege to be part of a program that benefits the brave men and women who so proudly serve the United States of America,” she said.

(Follow Amaani Lyle on Twitter: @LyleDoDNews)

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161025-D-TM683-002.JPG National Endowment for the Arts Chairperson Jane Chu announces its expansion of sites within the Creative Forces Military Healing Arts Network at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 21, 2016. Creative Forces will extend creative arts therapies to 10 additional locations by 2017. DoD photo by Amaani Lyle
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161025-D-TM683-003.JPG Rusty Noesner, a retired Navy Seal Team 10 member who served in Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2010, shares his experience about therapeutic creative arts therapies in remarks at the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., Oct. 21, 2016. Noesner suffered traumatic brain injury following a rocket attack. DoD photo by Amaani Lyle
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Pentagon Hails Progress, Momentum in Mosul Fight

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Pentagon Hails Progress, Momentum in Mosul Fight
10/31/2016 04:22 PM CDT

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An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Fighting Swordsmen of Strike Fighter Squadron 32 makes an arrested landing on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower in the Persian Gulf, Aug. 27, 2016. Ike and its Carrier Strike Group are deployed in support of Operation Inherent Resolve, maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. Navy photo by Petty Officer 3rd Class Nathan T. Beard

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Pentagon Hails Progress, Momentum in Mosul Fight

By Lisa Ferdinando

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2016 — Iraqi security forces and Kurdish Peshmerga fighters are making progress as they push toward Mosul in the effort to liberate the city from the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, the Pentagon’s press secretary said today.

“There’s no question that counter-ISIL forces continue to have the momentum in this fight,” spokesman Peter Cook said at today’s Pentagon press briefing.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter, who was in Iraq last week, was encouraged by the performance of the counter-ISIL forces in the opening days of the battle, and continues to be encouraged, Cook said.

“The campaign is on track and moving forward according to plan,” Cook said.

Progress in the last 24 hours includes the successful clearing of the villages of Ali Rash on the southeast outskirts of Mosul, and the clearing of Kharab Bayt and Kani Shirin north of Mosul, Cook pointed out.

The offensive to liberate Mosul began Oct. 17.

Progress Due to ‘Bravery and Dedication’

Cook said Iraqi forces have reported that in some places they are less than a kilometer from the city. Tough fighting ahead is expected, he said.

ISIL has used vehicle-borne improvised explosive devices, indirect fire and snipers in an attempt to delay the advance of the Iraqi forces, he said. The terrorists have also set an obscuration fire to try to conceal their positions and movements.

“None of this has stopped the Iraqi advance, and of course, the support for the Iraqi advance from the coalition,” Cook remarked.

There are reports ISIL is forcing civilians to act as human shields, he said.

The coalition will continue to conduct the campaign with an “eye toward protecting the innocent lives ISIL is putting at risk in the course of this fight,” Cook said.

“The progress we have made to date is a testament to the bravery and dedication of the Iraqi soldiers, the Peshmerga fighters, the federal police and the others on the front lines,” he said.

Effort Backed by International Coalition

Cook highlighted the support from the international coalition in Operation Inherent Resolve.

Over the last day, coalition forces have delivered 118 munitions through the air and artillery strikes, bringing the total employed since Oct. 17 to nearly 2,900, he said.

In addition, the coalition recently delivered 228 additional vehicles to Iraqi forces and has continued to provide food and ammunition resupply across the battlefield, according to Cook.

‘Feeling Heat’ in Iraq, Syria

The coalition believes in the importance of maintaining pressure on ISIL, and is focused on defeating the terrorists in both Iraq and Syria, Cook said.

“While they’re feeling the heat in Mosul, they’re also feeling the heat in Syria,” he said.

The coalition is continuing to support local partners in Syria, and is continuing air operations both in Syria and Iraq, Cook said. Those efforts to defeat ISIL, he said, are to include beginning the isolation of Raqqa in “the not too distant future.”

(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)

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Ashton B. Carter is the 25th Secretary of Defense.Secretary Carter has spent more than three decades

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U.S. Department of Defense Defense News Lead Photo Update

You are subscribed to Defense News Lead Photo for U.S. Department of Defense. This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

Night Visions
10/24/2016 07:00 PM CDT

Soldiers secure an area in view of the aurora borealis during night live-fire training as part of Exercise Spartan Cerberus at Fort Greely, Alaska, Oct. 25, 2016. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Daniel Love

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Free Legal Assistance for Survivors Affected by Florida Hurricanes

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You are subscribed to Region 4 News for FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency). This information has recently been updated, and is now available.

Free Legal Assistance for Survivors Affected by Florida Hurricanes
10/31/2016 04:38 PM EDT

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Free legal assistance is available to eligible low-income survivors in the 17 counties affected by hurricanes Hermine and Matthew: Brevard, Citrus, Dixie, Duval, Flagler, Hernando, Hillsborough, Indian River, Leon, Levy, Nassau, Pasco, Pinellas, Putnam, Seminole, St.

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U.S., Russian Jet Incident Over Syria Not Hostile, Cook Says

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U.S., Russian Jet Incident Over Syria Not Hostile, Cook Says
10/31/2016 03:48 PM CDT

U.S., Russian Jet Incident Over Syria Not Hostile, Cook Says

By Terri Moon Cronk

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2016 — The Oct. 17 incident in which American and Russian aircraft flew within a half mile of one another over Syrian battlespace was inadvertent contact and not hostile, Pentagon Press Secretary Peter Cook told reporters today.

The flight was disclosed during a teleconferenced news briefing out of Baghdad Oct. 28 with Air Force Col. John Dorrian, Combined Joint Task Force Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman.

‘Unusual Occurrence’

Cook called the proximity of the two planes — which Dorrian described as a Russian fighter jet and a coalition larger-framed aircraft — was an unusual occurrence.

“Obviously, it’s a concern for us. [The] emergency line of communication was used and there was discussion afterward, and it’s been determined by our folks that they saw this as an inadvertent contact,” the press secretary said, adding, “This was not something they saw an intentional act of hostility.”

The incident will be a continued focus of conversation according to the memorandum of understanding the United States and Russia have over Syrian airspace safety, he said.

Closest In Proximity To Date

“We continue to have those conversations with the Russians,” Cook noted. “But I think it’s fair to say that this was the closest in terms of proximity that we had come to date, and that is why there was a particular cause for concern.”

Cook reiterated that the United States engaged in conversations with the Russians to gain a better understanding of what happened. “And we’ll continue to have those conversations with the Russians to try to make sure something like this can’t happen again,” he said.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter and other DoD officials were notified of the occurrence, Cook said.

“There has been professional handling of it [on both sides],” he said. “And, we continue to believe that is the best way to handle these issues going forward.”

“The Russian jet passed in front of the coalition jet close enough that the jet wash from that flight was felt within the larger aircraft,” Dorrian said last week. “So, that’s closer than we’d like. There was an immediate [radio] contact between the aircraft, and then follow-up through the de-confliction channel that we’ve been working with the Russians [on] for quite some time.”

(Follow Terri Moon Cronk on Twitter: @MoonCronkDoD)

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Peter Cook
Peter Cook serves as the Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the principal

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Deputy Secretary: Third Offset Strategy Bolsters America’s Military Deterrence

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Deputy Secretary: Third Offset Strategy Bolsters America’s Military Deterrence
10/31/2016 02:58 PM CDT

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Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the Pentagon’s third offset strategy in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee

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Deputy Secretary: Third Offset Strategy Bolsters America’s Military Deterrence

By Cheryl Pellerin

DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 31, 2016 — The Pentagon’s Third Offset Strategy pursues next-generation technologies and concepts to assure U.S. military superiority, but the real focus is strengthening U.S. conventional deterrence to make sure wars don’t happen, Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work says.

He spoke last week at a Center for Strategic and International Studies’ event titled, Assessing the Third Offset Strategy. Joining Work during the opening plenary was Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

At the forum, defense leaders discussed DoD’s drive to identify innovative capabilities that will ensure U.S. military superiority over what the deputy secretary calls “pacing competitors.”

Pacing Competitors

Work said the third offset begins by focusing on competitors who are developing advanced capabilities.

“The pacing competitors — not adversaries — are Russia and China, because they’re developing advanced capabilities that potentially worry us,” he added.

Work says his thinking about the third offset began in 2012 when then-Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter established what’s known as the Strategic Capabilities Office, which Work says was motivated by the kind of thinking that produced the third offset.

SCO, now a piece of the third offset, takes systems the Defense Department already has tremendous investments in and transforms, or repurposes, them for use in ways the world has never seen, or countered.

SCO engineers take something designed for one mission, for example, and make it do a completely different mission, or they integrate single systems into teams, or they change the game by adding in commercial technology.

Work’s introduction to SCO was followed, he explained, by “a very important presentation that [Carter] gave to the National Security Council on the growing capabilities and threats to our space constellation,” which is critical to the department’s theater-wide battle networks.

Work says offset strategies happen when potential competitors reach parity with the United States in some critical military area, and potential competitors have reached parity in what the department calls theater-wide battle networks.

Offsets also focus on having an advantage at the operational level of war, also called the theater or campaign level “because historically … having that advantage is the surest way to underwrite conventional deterrence,” the deputy secretary said.

Approaching Parity

“China and Russia now have theater-wide battle networks that are approaching parity with us,” he added, “so to strengthen conventional deterrence, we want to make sure that we can extend our advantage in that area.”

He described a battle network as a sensor grid that sees what’s happening in theater, a command, control, communications, computers and intelligence, or C4I, grid that makes sense of what’s happening and offers a range of effects, a grid that achieves the chosen effects and a logistics and support grid that keeps the network running.

“Our pacing competitors have put a lot of money in counter-network operations because they know how powerful our battle networks are, so they spend a lot of money on cyber capabilities, on electronic warfare capabilities and on counter-space capabilities because our space constellation is a very important part of our ability to put these battle networks together,” Work said.

The third offset’s initial vector, he added, is to exploit all the advances in artificial intelligence and autonomy and insert them into DoD’s battle networks to achieve a step increase in performance that the department believes will strengthen conventional deterrence.

The offset includes technological leaps, Work said, but it’s really about operational and organizational constructs based on doctrine, training and exercises that allow the joint force to operate with such technologies to achieve an advantage.

“It’s also institutional strategy about how we’re organizing the entire Department of Defense to compete in this new dynamic environment,” he noted.

Operational Experimentation

In his remarks, Selva said technologies and ideas are turned into tactics, techniques, procedures and doctrine through operational experimentation that begins with designing concepts, testing them in wargames and ultimately testing them in exercises.

“From an operational perspective, the journey we’re on has the potential to vastly increase the effectiveness of our conventional forces but we have to ask the right questions,” he added.

“We have to experiment with the right tactics, techniques and procedures. We have to disseminate those in doctrine to our fielded forces, to our partners, our allies and our friends,” Selva said, “and figure out how to offset this capability that all of our competitors are bringing to the conventional battle space, which is, in simple terms, long-range precision strike at volume in space, in cyber space, in the air, on land and at sea.”

Everyone who wishes to compete with the United States has read its military doctrine and watched its forces in battle, the vice chairman said.

“They’ve analyzed our strengths to find asymmetries, and they are reflecting what we’re good at right back on us,” he added, “so we have to figure out how to offset that in the operational battle space.”

People and Machines

In response to a question about the third offset’s role in the broader defense strategy — the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, non-state threats in general, homeland security and other operational challenges — Work explained the department’s focus on artificial intelligence and autonomy.

“When we say we’re injecting AI and autonomy into the grids, we’re looking at five different things,” the deputy secretary said.

These include autonomous learning systems for handling big data and determining patterns, human-machine collaboration for more timely relevant decision making, and assisted human operations through technology assistance like exoskeletons or wearable electronics, he added.

Other capabilities, Work said, are advanced human-machine combat teaming such as with manned and unmanned systems working together, and network-enabled autonomous weapons and high-speed weapons like directed energy, electromagnetic rail guns and hypersonics.

“All of those things will be injected into the sensor grid, into the C4I grid, into the effects grid and the logistics and support grid, allowing a big performance impact,” he said, noting that the third offset and its effect on a range of military capabilities is not just about the technology.

“It’s how [Selva] goes from the [Joint Capabilities Integration and Development System] process, saying, here are the requirements to the doctrine developers, who say this is how we will use this, to exercises in the field to train our forces to fight in a new way,” Work said. “That is what we are talking about on the third offset.”

The deputy secretary added, “There will be new means of [indications and warning], going after terrorists [and] operating against regional powers and great-state powers. This is totally transferable across the range of operations.”

Third Offset Potential

For those who push back on the notion of AI and algorithms “helping us do what we do better,” Selva told the audience that sometime during the day all of them would interact with a piece of artificial intelligence that helps do something a little faster, a little better or a little more efficiently.

“We have not to this point harnessed the capability of that part of our IT inventive and innovative community and applied it to broad military problems, [but] we have in very narrow spaces,” he said.

Part of what the department is trying to do with the question the leadership is asking about the potential for a third offset, Selva said, is simply to plant that question in the minds of people who work for the department.

“Is there a better way? And if there is a better way, can you assist that operation by taking your intellectual effort, and putting it where it is most value added and letting machines do the rudimentary work for you?” the vice chairman asked.

“I think there’s great promise in that space,” Selva said, “but we have to be willing to take that step.”

(Follow Cheryl Pellerin on Twitter @PellerinDoDNews)

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161028-D-SK590-150.JPG Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul J. Selva speaks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies about the Pentagon’s third offset strategy in Washington, D.C., Oct. 28, 2016. DoD photo by Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Tim D. Godbee
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160621-M-CK339-125.JPG Marine Corps F-35B Lighting II aircraft assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 121, Marine Air Group 13, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, participate in aerial refueling missions with KC-130J Super Hercules aircraft assigned to Marine Aerial Refueler Transport Squadron 352 at Marine Corps Air Station Yuma, Ariz., June 21, 2016. The F-35’s operating software, avionics, integrated electronic sensors, displays and communications systems make it a good example of Third Offset capabilities. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Jeremy L. Laboy
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