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Obama Names First Ever Woman To Head Secret Service

The United States Secret Service star logo.

The United States Secret Service star logo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, President Barack Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key Administration post:

  • Julia A. Pierson – Director of the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security

President Obama said, “I am pleased to announce that I will appoint Julia A. Pierson to be the next Director of the United States Secret Service. Over her 30 years of experience with the Secret Service, Julia has consistently exemplified the spirit and dedication the men and women of the service demonstrate every day. A veteran of the Miami and Orlando field offices, where she began her career at the Secret Service, Julia has served as the Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations, Assistant Director of Human Resources and Training, and most recently as the Chief of Staff.  Julia is eminently qualified to lead the agency that not only safeguards Americans at major events and secures our financial system, but also protects our leaders and our first families, including my own. Julia has had an exemplary career, and I know these experiences will guide her as she takes on this new challenge to lead the impressive men and women of this important agency.”

President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individual to a key Administration post:

Julia A. Pierson, Appointee for Director of the United States Secret Service, Department of Homeland Security

Julia A. Pierson currently serves as Chief of Staff in the Office of the Director of the United States Secret Service (USSS).  Prior to her current role, from 2006 to 2008, she served as USSS Assistant Director of the Office of Human Resources and Training.  Ms. Pierson’s previous leadership roles within the USSS include:  Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Protective Operations (2005-2006), Deputy Assistant Director of the Office of Administration (2001-2005), and Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Protective Operations (2000-2001).  Ms. Pierson joined the USSS in 1983 as a Special Agent in Miami, Florida.  Prior to joining the USSS, Ms. Pierson was a police officer in the Orlando Police Department from 1980 to 1983.  She received a B.A. from the University of Central Florida.

Press Conference on Missle Defense with Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel; James Miller, Principal Deputy Undersecretary for Policy, Department Of Defense; Admiral James Winnefeld, Vice Chairman, Joint Chiefs Of Staff

   SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL:   Good afternoon.  I have a statement, and then I’ll take a couple questions.  And then ask the undersecretary and the vice chief to address the specific questions you have about the topic — that we’re gonna talk about – missile defense.

            Today I’m announcing a series of steps the United States will take to stay ahead of the challenge posed by Iran and North Korea’s development of longer-range ballistic missile capabilities.  The United States has missile defense systems in place to protect us from limited ICBM attacks.  But North Korea in particular has recently made advances in its capabilities and is engaged in a series of irresponsible and reckless provocations.

            Specifically, North Korea announced last month that it conducted its third nuclear test.  And last April, displayed what appears to be a road mobile ICBM.  It also used its Taepodong-2 missile to put a satellite into orbit, thus demonstrating progress in its development of long-range missile technology.

            In order to bolster our protection of the homeland and stay ahead of this threat, we are taking four steps.  First, we will strengthen homeland missile defense by deploying 14 additional ground-based interceptors, GBIs, at Fort Greely, Alaska.  That will increase the number of deployed ground-based interceptors from 30 to 44, including the four GBIs at Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.  These additional GBIs will provide a nearly will 50 percent increase in our missile defense capability.

            Second, with the support of the Japanese government, we are planning to deploy an additional radar in Japan.  The second TPY-2, or TPY-2 radar, will provide improved early warning and tracking of any missile launched in North Korea at the United States or Japan.

            Third, as directed by Congress, we are conducting environmental impact studies for a potential additional GBI site in the United States.  While the administration has not made any decision on whether to proceed with an additional site, conducting environmental impact studies will shorten the timeline for construction should that decision be made.

            And fourth, we are restructuring the SM-3 IIB program.  As many of you know, we had planned to deploy the SM-3 IIB as part of the European Phased Adaptive Approach.  The purpose was to add to the protection of the U.S. homeland already provided by our current GBIs against missile threats from the Middle East.

            The timeline for deploying this program had been delayed to at least 2022 due to cuts in congressional funding.  Meanwhile, the threat matures.

            By shifting resources from this lagging program to fund the additional GBIs as well as advance-kill vehicle technology that will improve the performance of the GBI and other versions of the SM-3 interceptor we will be able to add protection against missiles from Iran sooner, while also providing additional protection against the North Korean threat.

            Let me emphasize the strong and continued commitment of the United States to NATO missile defense.  That commitment remains ironclad.

            The missile deployments the United States is making in phases one through three of the European Phased Adaptive Approach, including sites in Poland and Romania, will be able to provide coverage of all European NATO territory as planned by 2018.

            The collective result of these four decisions will be to further improve our ability to counter future missile threats from Iran and North Korea while maximizing increasing, scarce taxpayer resources.  The American people expect us to take every necessary step to protect our security at home and U.S. strategic interests abroad, but they expect us to do so in the most efficient and effective manner possible.

            By taking the steps I outlined today we will strengthen our homeland defense, maintain our commitments to our allies and partners, and make clear to the world that the United States stands firm against aggression.

Thank you.

            Bob?

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, can you say with confidence that the ground-based interceptors in Alaska would actually shoot down a North Korean missile if it were fired at the U.S. given the very poor test performance of this interceptor?

            SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as you know, there was an issue regarding our gyro guidance system.  As you probably know, we are going to further test later this year.

            We have confidence in our system.  And we certainly will not go forward with the additional 14 interceptors until we are sure that we have the complete confidence that we will need.

            But — but the American people should be assured that our interceptors are effective.

            Q:  Can I follow up on that, sir?

            (CROSSTALK)

            Q:  When do you think these 14 interceptors will be fielded?  And — and also, if you could, do you really believe that a deterrent will work against a country like North Korea?

            SEC. HAGEL:  Well, we’re looking at having all 14 interceptors in place by FY 217 — 2017.  The reason that we’re doing what we’re doing and the reason we’re advancing our program here for homeland security is to not take any chances — is to stay ahead of the threat and to assure any contingency.  And that’s — that’s why we’ve made the decisions that we have.

            Q:  Mr. Secretary, in hindsight, was it — was it a mistake to take missile field one offline and now having to spend the money to reactivate it?

            SEC. HAGEL:  Well, I’m gonna ask either the vice chief or the under secretary to answer that question because they’ve been here through the process.  I’ll take one more, then I’ll — we’ll get back to that question.

            Q:  What is the estimate on when North Korea would actually have a true intercontinental ballistic missile armed with a nuclear warhead?

            SEC. HAGEL:  Well, one of the reasons, again, we’re doing at we’re doing, based on the intelligence we have, is to assure that whatever their timelines are, that we’re not reacting to those timelines, that we’re ahead of any timelines of any potential threat.

            Q:  (inaudible)

            SEC. HAGEL:  Well, we — we feel confident that to have the 30 in place now and an additional 14 — be 44 by the end of 2017.  That gives our — our country the security it needs, and the people need to be reassured that that security is there.

            Let me — let me ask the under secretary and the vice chief to take your specific questions.

            Thank you.

            Q:  Mr. Miller, can you be clear on one thing?  The deploying of the additional 14 interceptors by 2017 is contingent on the United States Missile Defense Agency proving that the CE-2 warhead is verified and can hit a target.  Is that the pacing factor?

            UNDERSECRETARY JAMES MILLER:  That’s exactly right.  We will continue to stick with our fly before you buy approach.  As was noted before, the CE-2 — the CE-2 interceptor kill vehicle had a couple of test failures.  We had a successful test flight on January 26th.  MDA is looking to go forward from that successful test flight on the 26th for an intercept test in the coming months.

            It’s not — the schedule is not yet set.  We’ll be looking to try to do it within this calendar year.

            And then going forward from that we would — we would be looking to make the — make changes to those CE-2s that are currently in place, and then the new ground-based interceptors would also be CE-2s.

            At this point — I think if you talk to Jim Syring, the director of Missile Defense Agency, has pretty high confidence that we’re gonna be able to go forward on a — on a reasonable timeframe.

            If I could just also take this opportunity to say whether — whether the earlier decision to put a pause on Missile Field 1 was a mistake.  I think it was — at the time, based on the intelligence assessment that we had, it was a good bet.

            We saved — we saved resources at the time that we’ll now have to spend.  But at that time, the threat was uncertain.  Right?  We didn’t — we didn’t know that we would see today what we are now, and so it was — the whole concept of having a hedge, of being prepared to go from 30 to 44 ground-based interceptors was — understanding that the threat was uncertain and understanding that we may need to come and implement the hedge from 30 to 44, that’s what we’re doing today.

            Q:  Yes, thank you.  What was the reaction from China and Russia after they announced if we are working with other countries, other than Japan in the area, like India, as far as this new system is concerned?  Because in the USA, the Americans and Russian (inaudible) power are (inaudible).

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Now, let me just say that — that — that, first, we’ve talked to the Republic of Korea, we’ve talked to the Japanese, and — and have — and they understand the rationale for us going forward and — and the Japanese, as the secretary indicated, have agreed to move forward with the so-called TPY-2 radar to improve our coverage for both the United States and Japan.

            We have informed the Chinese.  And — and at this point I can’t characterize their reaction.

            Q:  They didn’t object or — did you consult with them or did you just inform them?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  We informed them.

            Q:  So what about — this’ll defend the United States.  I was just curious about Hawaii, like the American possessions in the Western Pacific; Marianas, Guam, those areas, will this — will this all cover those areas too?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  The — the Ground-Based Mid-Course Defense System provides coverage of — of the — of not just the continental United States, but — but all the United States.

            Q:  A clarification, then a question here.

            The second TPY-2 in Japan.  Is this the one that Secretary Panetta announced on his last day?  This isn’t another second radar, is it?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  That’s correct.

            Q:  I just wanted to make sure.

            And a more substantive question, you’re often talking about when you look at an adversary; there’s capability and intent.  The secretary talked about this new capability that we see in North Koreans’ testing, but how much of it is a new assessment of the new leader’s possible intentions, based on the rather incredibly caustic language in recent weeks?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Tom, the — the policy that we have for missile defense is we are — as we articulated in the 2010 ballistic defense review is to stay ahead of the threat.  Now, with respect to both North Korea and Iran, that means staying ahead of where we believe that capability would be and — and is not contingent on any assessment of intentions.

            ADMIRAL JAMES WINNEFELD:  But, Tom, there was a question a moment ago about deterrence.  And — and the fact of the matter is that deterrence exists in two forms.  One is denying an adversary’s objectives.  The other is imposing costs if they — if deterrence fails.

            And I think the national security adviser made it very clear in his speech on Monday that we not only intend to put the mechanics in place to deny any potential North Korean objective to launch a missile to the United States, but also to impose costs upon them if they do.

            And we believe that this young lad ought to be deterred by that.  And if he’s not, we’ll be ready.

            Q:  On the second intercept test, how soon will you know whether or not you’ll be able to conduct it by the end of this calendar year?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  The intent is essentially we wanted to make sure that we had a successful test this January before we proceeded, doing that fly-before-you-buy piece.

            And, in fact, that test was extremely successful.  We put a kill vehicle up there.  Missile Defense Agency put it through its paces in a very rigorous way, and it passed with flying colors.

            So now the real deciding factor in how long it will take us to conduct the next test against a target will be how long it takes us to build another interceptor with — another kill vehicle with the modifications to it that — that the Missile Defense Agency has made to fix the problem.

            So it’s really just a matter of doing that, and then we’re gonna do another test.

            Q:  Where are you in the process then?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  They’re — they’ve started assembling — you know, acquiring the components and assembling the additional EKV.  And that’s a — that’s a very technical piece of equipment.  It takes a while to put together.

            Q:  All right, thank you.

            Q:  Can you talk about the estimated cost to this entire project and how that fits in to the sequester?

            And this may be obvious, but I don’t know, where is the third GBI site slated to be?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Right, the — the cost of the — of this step will include, first of all, additional funding for Missile Field 2 — excuse me, Missile Field 1, to complete Missile Field 1 at Fort Greely.

            And then, an additional 14 ground-based interceptors, to — to — to emplace — in fact, what we’ll do is take test assets and bring them up to the CE-2 standard, and then replace them with procured, additional GBIs.

            So there isn’t — there is another 14 ground-based interceptors that will be bought, because of this.

            Very — very round numbers, it’ll be a little bit less than a billion dollars overall, is our best — our best current estimate.

            Q:  You say that 14 will be bought new, because Orbital Science has got a contract for 70 right now.  They delivered 53.

            (CROSSTALK)

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  There are some — as you know, when the last test failed, there were a number of these that were in various stages of construction.  And that work was halted.

            Q:  OK.

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  So when we have a successful test, let’s say this fall, that work will resume, so those — those existing missiles on a production line would continue.  And then we would procure new ones as well.

            I don’t have the exact numbers on how many of which, but we would want to defer to Missile Defense Agency to give you the specifics on that.

            Matt?

            Q:  Sorry, can I go back to my question?  So is anything going to be — are you going to stop work anywhere else to, you know, fund this $1 billion project?  Where are you getting those funds?

            And, again, the third GBI setup, where is that gonna be?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  The — the funds that we’re — will be requesting will start in F.Y. 14 and so it’ll be — it’s part of the — of the budget bill that we’ve been — that we’ve been working on and will be submitting to Congress in the coming weeks.

            Congress mandated that — that the Department of Defense look at three locations for a potential additional site in the United States and mandated that two of them be on the East Coast.  And so, the Missile Defense Agency is currently assessing what two alternative locations on the East Coast to look at, and we’ll most likely have the third be Fort Greely, Alaska, where we already have interceptors.

            Q:  But you can’t be more specific?  I’m sorry…

            (CROSSTALK)

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  We’re still looking at sites.

            Q:  Sir, I’m with TVN from Poland, so obviously, it is a question of regional interest.  Will this program announced today have any influence on the plans for a site in Poland — interceptor site in Poland?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  It will have no impact on that.  We will still go forward, as planned, with phase one through three.  Phase three for the European Phase-Adaptive Approach will involve deploying about 24 SM3 IIA interceptors, SM-3 interceptors including the IIA in Poland.  Same timeline, same footprint of U.S. forces to support that.

            And, as the secretary said, same coverage of NATO Europe.

            Q:  On that same point then, didn’t the secretary say that you’re restructuring that program?  Are you dropping the final phase of it and saving some money on that?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  That’s correct.

            (CROSSTALK)

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Yes, the — the prior plan had four phases.  The third phase involved the deployment of interceptors in Poland.  And we will continue with phases one through three.  In the fourth phase, in the previous plan, we would have added some additional — an additional type of interceptors, the so-called SM-3 IIB would have been added to the mix in Poland.

            We no longer intend to — to add them to the mix, but we’ll continue to have the same number of deployed interceptors in Poland that will provide coverage for all of NATO in Europe.

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  So the upshot of that is that the Europeans will see no difference in their ballistic missile defense.  The phase four for the SM3-IIB was about continuing defense of Europe, but also being able to extend that defense to part of the United States.

            It turns out that by doing what we’re announcing today, we get — and remember, this phase four of the SM-3 IIB wasn’t gonna appear until 2022 or beyond.  And this threat’s going a little faster.  So doing what we’re announcing today, we’re gonna get better defense of the United States, more fulsome coverage of the United States, and we’re gonna get it a lot sooner.

            So it makes complete sense to do this.  And the Europeans will not see a difference.

            Q:  On that point, sir, you just said this threat’s going a little faster.  Can you just expand on that, what — what threat, specifically, are you talking about here?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  In particular, the North Korean threat…

            (CROSSTALK)

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  But we’re also obviously keeping a very close eye on the Iranian threat as well.

            Q:  What — what — what, technically, is happening?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  The — you know, last April we saw a parade in Pyongyang that had mixed — mixed accounts of whether they were real or fake missiles.  Six KN-08 missiles.  And we’ve also seen a nuclear test, the third nuclear test, recently.

            Obviously, without getting into intelligence aspects, we watch this evolving threat very, very closely.

            As you know, at the very beginning of this missile defense journey, we — we knew that we were going to have to be potentially adaptive in this.  And so, we have continually built this hedge — a set of tools from which we can select, if the threat either goes faster or slower than — than we thought.

            And so, the Korean threat went just a little bit faster than we might have expected. Very simply.  Pull the tools off the — off the shelf, and those four tools are what we’re announcing today.

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Let me just say…

            (CROSSTALK)

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Let me just add to what the admiral said, that we also saw the Taepodong-2 launch in December as well.

            Q:  But do you know if that that KN-08 is a real or a fake missile?  And do you know whether it has the range to reach the United States?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  We would probably want to avoid the intelligent aspects of that.  But — but we believe the KN-08 probably does have the range to reach the United States and the — our assessment of — of where it exists in its lifetime is something that would remain classified.

            Q:  And one last question on what you know, the nuclear test. Has — has the U.S. been able to confirm that, that was in fact a nuclear test, and if so, whether it was a test using a uranium device or a plutonium device?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  I’d defer to the intelligence community, but we have a pretty high degree of confidence that it was a nuclear test, and I wouldn’t want to get into the characterization.

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  We believe it was — yes?

            Q:  Are you deploying more Aegis and SM-3s to Asia-Pacific?

            And on the second radar to Japan, when do you expect it deployed, and where would that be?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Good question. We continue to — to build and deploy additional SM-3 interceptors.  As you know, we currently have the SM-318 deployed.  We are beginning the process of — of moving from development to deployment of the SM-3 IB interceptor and we are co-developing with Japan the SM-3 IIA.

            And so that — that — the number of SM-3 interceptors will continue to grow.  And that will be true globally.  And as you look at our — at our overall force posture, including our continued efforts to rebalance the Asia-Pacific, you’ll see a growing number of SM-3 interceptors in the Asia-Pacific over time.

            With respect to the time line for the second TPY-2, we’re in discussions with the — with the Japanese government about — about precisely when that can be accomplished, and at this point I would say it’s a matter of at least some months before that — before that will occur.

            Q:  How many Aegis do you have other there?  Do you expect more?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  Yeah, the exact number of BMD-capable Aegis ships, I don’t have at my fingertips, but it’s around five.  That — that sort of number.

            The real — Dr. Miller really hit the key point, and that is, this is more about how many interceptors we have over there, filling the tubes on those ships, than it is the number of ships.

            Q:  The scale back of the SM-3 IIB to Europe; does that in any way impact that Japan’s helping you develop the SM-3 IIA.

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  No, not at all.

            Q:  On the deterrence issue, can you tell the public a little bit why they should have any confidence in this system given that it hasn’t had a successful interception since December 2008?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  Sure.

            We have two types of GBI missiles.  There’s, as you know, the CE-1 and CE-2 missile.  We have to test — successfully tested the CE-1 missile.  We have confidence in that missile, and we’re going to test it again this summer just to maintain, as Congress has asked and we believe we should continue testing those missiles to make sure that they’re healthy.

            And in the meantime, we wanted to improve that missile, and so we developed what’s called the CE-2 missile.  It’s got a number of key upgrades to it, and what we discovered, unfortunately, was that there was one component on that missile that was vulnerable to something we couldn’t test on the ground, something we could only test in space.

            And the Missile Defense Agency has done a really good job of thoroughly diagnosing that problem, and has retested that missile – not against a target – in January, and it performed beautifully.  And so, we have a lot of confidence right now that even the CE-2 missile we test it this fall, will be successful.  Obviously we still have to do that.

            But we retain our confidence in the CE-1 missile, which is in silos up in Alaska right now.  So the American people should have faith in that missile, and that we can defend ourselves against a potential North Korean threat as it exists today.

            This is also a prudent measure as that threat evolves, and also potentially evolves from Iran to continue the hedge.

            Q:  (inaudible) flight test?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  We are going to flight test the CE-1 this summer, and we are gonna hopefully flight test the CE-2 after we build it this fall.

            Q:  (inaudible) have any (inaudible) or any (inaudible) in your mind to bolster the total cooperation between U.S., Japan, and South Korea in (inaudible)?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  We’ve — we’ve had very strong bilateral discussions, as you — as you know, with both Japan and with South Korea.  And we’ve begun to — to initiate some tri-lateral discussions as well.  We’ll see where those go.  We think there’s certainly value in pursuing that path.

            Q:  A clarification of coverage — how much of the United States will be covered by — by these interceptors if they are only in Alaska?

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  The entire United States.

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  All the United States.

            Q:  (inaudible) Iran and North Korea from some (inaudible) are under international strict sanctions.  And who is helping in their missile systems, these two countries?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  That’s a good question.  It’s I’m gonna do what the Admiral did earlier — that’s an intelligence question and I’m not going to answer it today.

            Q:  What will — what do you think will be the Chinese reaction after this announcement?

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  I won’t predict that.  I hope that they understand that we need to take the steps necessary to defend ourselves against potential emerging threats from Iran and North Korea.  It’s our policy to stay ahead of that — of — of those threats and we’re taking prudent actions to ensure that we do so.

            Q:  Thank you.

            UNDERSEC. MILLER:  Thank you.

            ADM. WINNEFELD:  Thank you.

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Multi Agency Emergency Drill in Alameda Corridor a Success

On March 10, 2013 a full-scale exercise took place, providing a vivid depiction of a unified command working together on a simulated incident inside the Alameda Corridor.

The drill took place from 9:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and included the Los Angeles Fire Department (LAFD), Los Angeles County Fire Department (LACoFD), Vernon Fire Department, Compton Fire Department, Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Union Pacific Railroad, BNSF Railway and representatives of the Alameda Corridor Transportation Authority (ACTA).

The exercise was held at 52nd Street at Little Alameda City of Vernon and simulated the sighting of smoke from a well car on a train in the Alameda Corridor trench, a leaking tank car, and injured railroad personnel. The objective of the drill is to improve unified command, communications, hazardous materials operations and command operations to an incident inside the Alameda Corridor.
The Alameda Corridor is a 20-mile dedicated freight expressway linking the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the transcontinental rail network near downtown Los Angeles. The Alameda Corridor, which opened in 2002, was built by ACTA, a joint powers authority governed by the cities and ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. In 2012, the Alameda Corridor handled roughly 42 trains per day, each train about one and a half miles long (about 300 containers per train).

This is yet another example of multiple local agencies working together to ensure the greatest care for Los Angeles citizens, and taking pride in the Los Angeles Fire Department motto, “Train as if your life depends on it… Because it does!”

Coast Guard Station Point Judith loses power during an electrical surge, remains fully operational | Coast Guard News

No doubt this is a result of the major winter storm that has been moving through the east coast. The crew of Station Point Judith deserve credit, and our gratitude for adapting so quickly to the circumstances.

 

Coast Guard Station Point Judith loses power during an electrical surge, remains fully operational | Coast Guard News.

Seal Beach Trains First Responders During Exercise Citadel Shield

SEAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) — Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach participated in the annual security training exercise known as Citadel Shield 2013 from Feb. 26 to March 1.

Citadel Shield is the largest force protection and anti-terrorism exercise of the year and is conducted on naval bases and installations throughout the continental United States.

“It’s designed to enhance the training of our security forces to respond to threats, leveraging all processes security forces would implement in the event of an actual emergency,” said training officer Patrick Harding.

Thirteen events were conducted between the Seal Beach installation and subordinate units in Fallbrook, Norco and San Pedro, Calif. Some of the scenarios included active gunmen, suspicious packages, fraudulent identification cards at the gate, and even a mock protest.

“The exercise makes sure the security force isn’t getting complacent,” said Harding. “These drills keep our Sailors and security forces updated on current tactics and threats.”

In addition, base personnel had to coordinate their scenarios with their chains of command.

“It also tests the installation’s ability to communicate with higher headquarters and ensure proper reporting criteria are met,” said Lt. Christopher Ambrosi, security officer.

“We met our objectives,” said Ambrosi. “We will take our lessons learned and provide additional training as required.”

DOD Press Briefing on Sequestration from the Pentagon

SECRETARY OF DEFENSE CHUCK HAGEL: Deputy Secretary Carter and I wanted to take a few minutes this afternoon to talk a little bit about sequestration and what was announced today. Many of you saw the President a few hours ago. And I’ll make a statement, and then the Deputy Secretary and I will entertain questions. So, thank you for coming.

            I just spent an hour, actually and hour-and-a-half, with the Joint Chiefs to talk about this issue and to talk about consequences, and how we will continue to adjust to the realities that face our country and face this institution.

            In particular, I’d like to address the uncertainty that sequestration is causing, [and] will continue to cause this department. But at the outset of my remarks, let me make it clear that this uncertainty puts at risk our ability to effectively fulfill all of our missions. Leadership in the Pentagon, all of us, have two serious concerns: first, the abrupt and arbitrary cuts imposed by sequester; and second, the lack of budget management flexibility that we now face under the current continuing resolution.

             Over the past two months, DOD has begun to see the effects and consequences of that uncertainty. As sequester continues, we will be forced to assume more risk, with steps that will progressively have far-reaching effects.

             Let me highlight a couple of actions that we are taking as a result of these budget constraints. The Navy will gradually stand down at least four wings. The first wing will stand down in April.

             Effective immediately, Air Force flying hours will be cut back. This will have a major impact on training and readiness.

             The Army will curtail training for all units except those deploying to Afghanistan, adversely impacting nearly 80 percent of Army operational units.

             Later this month, we intend to issue preliminary notifications to thousands of civilian employees who will be furloughed. These steps come on top of those the department began in January to slow spending in view of this uncertainty. Those included delaying deployment of naval assets; imposing civilian hiring freezes; beginning to lay off temporary and term employees; sharply cutting back facilities maintenance; and beginning reviews to delay contracts.

             If sequester continues and the continuing resolution is extended in its current form, other damaging effects will become apparent. Our number one concern is our people, military and civilian, the millions of men and women of this department who work very hard every day to ensure America’s security.

             I know that these budget cuts will cause pain, particularly among our civilian workforce and their families. I’m also concerned, as we all are, about the impact on readiness that these cuts will have across our force.

             For these reasons, the department’s senior leadership and I will continue to work with the administration and Congress to help resolve this uncertainty. Specifically, we need a balanced deficit reduction plan that leads to an end to sequestration. And we need Congress to pass appropriations bills for DOD and all federal agencies.

             We will need to make hard choices. And I will do everything within my power to see that America upholds its commitment to our allies and our partners and, most importantly, to our service members and their families.

Today, America has the best fighting force in the world capable of responding to any challenge. This unnecessary budget crisis makes that job much harder. But we will continue to ensure America’s security. Thank you.

I’ll take a couple of questions, and then I’ll ask Ash for his responses.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Mr. Secretary, thank you.

You, having laid out a number of consequences there, you — the language you used was not as dramatic as been used by others in this building in recent months of talking about “catastrophic” and “disastrous” results if sequestration happened.

Are you of the view that this is not a situation which the U.S. will be reduced to a second-rate military power?

And may I ask a question also on Syria: What’s your view about whether the U.S. ought to be doing more militarily to help the rebels?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, Bob, your first question, America, as I concluded in my remarks, has the best fighting force, the most capable fighting force, the most powerful fighting force in the world. The management of this institution, starting with the Joint Chiefs, are not gonna allow this — this capacity to erode.

We will manage these issues. These are adjustments. We anticipated these kinds of realities. And we will do what we need to do to assure the capabilities of — of our forces.

On Syria, I think it’s clear what our policy — the administration’s policy is on Syria: non- lethal assistance. Secretary of State Kerry has recently commented, as you know, following his trip around the world. And I think the policy that the United States has is the correct policy.

Q: Sequestration has been described as a slope not a cliff. So in your opinion, how long can sequestration go on before there is real damage to the defense of the United States?

SEC. HAGEL:  We are adjusting for the realities not just of what happened today, but, as I noted in my remarks, we have a continuing resolution that expires on March 27th that’s an additional complication.

I have confidence in the — the president and the Congress that decisions, consensus, to — at some point to avert tremendous damage to this — this institution.

This is the security of the United States of America we’re talking about. That is the highest order of any government, any leader. And we will — we will do what is necessary, what it takes to assure that security, as I noticed before and mentioned in my — in my comments.

Q: Mr. Secretary, your predecessor and many other senior leaders of the department have expressed concern that the budget uncertainties with sequestration and the C.R. are going to prevent the department from implementing the defense strategy that the Obama administration unveiled last year.

Do you share that view? And, if so, when do you think you need to start modifying the strategy?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, as I said, first, adjustments are being made, and we’ve anticipated the required adjustments to our budget to assure the capabilities and readiness of our — of our forces.

As to the issue of the President’s strategic guidance, that is the policy. In my opinion, I think our leadership’s opinion, it’s the correct policy.

We have been implementing that strategic guidance over the last year. We will continue to implement that — that policy.

Q: (inaudible), Swiss Television.

Given your role inside NATO, what is going to happen to NATO? And are you in contact or will you be in contact with the allies and the secretary general to explain the situation?

SEC. HAGEL:  Well, we have been in touch with our NATO allies. We, as you know, are in constant communication with our NATO allies. I think that they are not unmindful and not unaware of this issue that we are currently engaged in.

Our NATO allies have difficulties as well, with their economic issues. And the fact is NATO represents probably the most successful collective security relationship in the history of man.

That relationship remains strong; will continue to remain strong; must remain strong.

Q: Mr. Secretary, just to clarify something you said earlier, when you said the consensus will be reached to avert tremendous damage to the institution, are you saying you think there’ll be some sort of an agreement made on sequestration or…

SEC. HAGEL:  I said — I said I hoped that and I have confidence that we will eventually see a consensus. And that’s the only way that we’re going to get out of it. This is a partnership. This is a — this is a republic, and it is the executive and the congressional branches working together to find a way out.

If you listen to our leaders, all are saying the same thing. We need to find a way to resolve the issue. And that — that’s the only way out.

(CROSSTALK)

SEC. HAGEL:  I’m going to leave. This gentleman, who some of you may know, are not unfamiliar, Ash Carter, who, as you know is our deputy secretary and has had a very significant role, a leadership role, on this particular issue as well as others.

And I might say, as I ask him to come to the podium, I appreciate very much his leadership and his focus on what not only has been going on here, but his years of service to this institution. And it’s — it’s a benefit to our country, and it’s a benefit to this institution, especially at a difficult time like this.

So I don’t want to say anything more about him, other than that.

Ash, thank you.

Q: A couple questions. Can you flesh out over the next couple weeks what practical impacts we will — the Pentagon and its forces will see from sequestration, versus three or four months now, but over the next two weeks what will we see?

DEPUTY SECRETARY OF DEFENSE ASHTON B. CARTER:  Let me start with the Army.  You’ll see the Army beginning to curtail training at, for example, the National Training Center. If we go to the Air Force now, you’ll see the Air Force beginning to curb flying hours. And that means that the nuclear-capable Air Force, that part of the Air Force that is participating in operations in Afghanistan, we will protect them, and that means that the cuts caused by sequestration, also the continuing resolution, will fall more heavily on other parts of the combat Air Force. They’ll need to cease training, which means they won’t be ready for other conflicts, which is a serious impact.

You’ve already seen the Navy begin to make adjustments in terms of how many ships are at sea. And you will see each of our program managers — remember, sequester affects each of 2,500 individual investment programs individually. And so we’re working with our industry partners on each of those, and you’ll them begin to make adjustments, for example, in the number of weapons systems in a given category that are being purchased. So a different kind of arrangement — fewer weapons systems in a contract that we anticipated were going to be put in a contract.

That’s the kind of thing you’ll see. And as the secretary indicated and as the president indicated earlier today, this progressively builds over — over coming months and constitutes a serious problem, particularly in the readiness accounts.

Q: And one follow-up. Don’t the services have flexibility within their individual — their O&M accounts to protect the operations — the operating forces account that actually bankrolls training?

DR. CARTER: They do have some flexibility even under sequestration with O&M accounts. They are using that flexibility. They’re using that flexibility to protect operations in Afghanistan. So we are not curbing or withholding in any way training from units that are going to Afghanistan. What that means, though, is that the burden falls more heavily upon the rest of the Air Force.

A lot of people ask why does so much happen so fast. And you begin to see some of the reason for that. You have the combination of sequester and the continuing resolution. You have the fact that we’re trying to protect the war in Afghanistan. You have the fact that only half of the fiscal year is left.

And so what remains even in those O&M accounts, even after that we move everything around — and — and what Secretary Hagel just said is we’re doing everything we possibly can to protect national security and minimize damage. But the reality is, even after you’ve done all of that, even in the O&M accounts, which are the largest, you still don’t have enough money left to do the training that underlies readiness. And that’s why the readiness crisis that the chiefs referred to is very real. It builds as the year goes along.

Q: (inaudible), thank you, sir.

You talked about the programs that you’re concerned about. Now, which people are you most concerned about today, now that the sequester is official? Are there any immediate impacts on personnel and their families (inaudible)?

DR. CARTER: I — I think the impacts are immediate in all three of the populations that we depend on for national defense. First, for the troops themselves, of course, the president has exempted the pay for military personnel from sequester — the right decision.

However, our military personnel will still feel things immediately. For example, if you planned to fly or to train in the next few months, that’s their duty. That’s their profession. That’s their responsibility to our national security. They’re not going to be able to do that. They’ll feel that immediately.

Second, our civilian workforce. As you know, our civilian workforce is about 800,000 strong. Those people, too, are dedicated to the defense mission. They live all over the country, which I remind you, 86 percent of them live completely outside the Washington area; 86 percent. Forty-four percent of them are veterans. So they’re dedicated to the mission, too. And as the year goes on, many of them will be subject to furlough.

Third, and finally, the contractor workforce that depends on us, and we in turn depend on them. We — we don’t make anything here in the Pentagon. So we depend upon the industrial base to make our weapons systems, which, second only to our people, what make us, as the Secretary Hagel said, the greatest military in the world.

Many of them will be affected very directly by this, because we’ll be cutting back on contractor spend.

Remember, we have to find $46 billion — $46 billion — between now and the end of the year. And — and the civilian and military workforce, per se, will only provide of those savings — even if we do drastic things there — a few billion dollars. The rest of that will affect the contractors.

So all three of those populations upon whom we depend, the effects will be serious and immediate.

Q: The — in your view, how many of these initial cuts will have lasting effects that will trickle on and be felt in the years ahead?

DR. CARTER: That’s a good question.

Q: Will readiness — or if it’s not immediate, how soon until the cuts that will impact readiness for years to come?

DR. CARTER: It’s a good question. Once again, in this as in every other area, we’re doing everything we can to minimize lasting damage. But you can’t eliminate it. Let me give you two examples right away.

When you can’t afford to begin overhaul or maintenance of a ship and you defer that maintenance, what that means — our shipyards have their — their planned maintenance planned out heel — heel to toe through many years. And so once you’ve created a gap this year that gap propagates into the future.

Another example. I — I explained that the Air Force wasn’t going to be able to afford to have many of the pilots in combat aircraft — Air Force train in the latter part of the year. Well, if you stop training for a while and you’re a combat pilot, then you’d lose your rating and eventually can’t fly at all. Because we can’t allow you to fly if you can’t fly safely. So you not only can’t fly safely, you obviously can’t fly proficiently if you can’t even fly safely.

Then you have to go back to the long building back process of getting your readiness back.

So this is not something that, even if it’s temporary — and the secretary explained that everybody hopes that in — in some way both sequester and the problems or experiences (inaudible) associated with a continuing resolution will be resolved through legislation and a — a large budget deal of some kind.

But even were that to occur some months from now, there would be lasting damage from this. It’s very serious.

Q: (inaudible), ABC News.

Of all of the cuts that you see potentially coming down the pipeline, what gives the Pentagon the greatest pause?

And can you tell us at midnight today what are the specific threats to the Pentagon that you feel — the cuts that you could be seeing immediately right at midnight tonight?

DR. CARTER: The — right at midnight tonight and then building, as I said, through the days and weeks and months into the future, we will begin curbing training for units.

So let me just take that example and sort of play that out. What does that mean for national security? What it means is that as the — as the year goes on, apart from Afghanistan, apart from nuclear deterrence through two missions we are strictly protecting, the readiness of the other units to respond to other contingencies will gradually decline. That’s not safe. And that we’re trying to minimize that in every way we possibly can.

But reduced readiness is a serious matter. As — as the chiefs have emphasized and as the Secretary emphasized.

Q: (inaudible) do you have any — do you have any concerns that the lack of any clear impact on national security, short of something obvious and tangible, will make people think the Pentagon can simply absorb these cuts?

And (inaudible) a lot of these things are kind of down the road. They’re — you know, they’re — they’re — people will be less ready, they’ll be less capable. But it might not be something obvious. Does that concern you that it might not be tangible enough to really sound alarms with the American public?

DR. CARTER: Well, we have been trying now for 16 months to sound the alarm about sequestration. We’re describing to you in all the detail that we can how each and every part of this enterprise will be affected adversely — the people, the weapons programs, readiness.

We’re not going to take actions that are unnecessary just to do something, to use your word, “obvious.” But all this is going to be abundantly obvious, starting tomorrow and building through the year. And I think people when they — those who do not appreciate how serious this is, as the year goes on, it will be unmistakable. This is not subtle. This is an abrupt, serious curbing of activity in each and every one of our key categories of activity in the Department of Defense. It’s not subtle.

(CROSSTALK)

Q: Thank you very much.

There’s a contrarian narrative out there. I’m sure you’ve heard it. I’d (inaudible) to hear your response. It says the war in Iraq is over. The winding down in Afghanistan; Al Qaeda central is diminished; we’re not in a nuclear standoff with Russia; China’s a competitor, not an enemy.

So even if we stipulate sequester is a clumsy tool, why can’t and why shouldn’t this department be forced to operate on less after 10 years of so much money coming your way?

DR. CARTER: Well, first of all, beginning back a year ago, the department embarked on $487 billion in defense cuts, exactly in accordance with what you just said. That in fact built upon $300 billion or so that Secretary Gates had begun back in the so-called “efficiency initiative.” So we understand that as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, that our overall budget authority will go down and that will make a contribution to — to deficit reduction. The — but sequestration is a different matter. It is arbitrary. It is abrupt. And on top of sequestration, we have a continuing resolution in force which creates its own set of problems, I won’t go into, but in some categories are just as serious.

So, the net of this is, as I described, something that is abrupt. It’s deleterious. It’s a very real detriment to defense. We should only get the money that we deserve and that the nation needs. We understand that, and that is the principle upon which built the new strategy last year. And that’s right, and the secretary alluded to that.

This country’s turning a strategic corner, and that’s the broader point, I think, that you’re — you’re making, Tom. We’re coming out of the era of Iraq and Afghanistan. We’re trying to address the national security problems that are going to define this country’s future and this world’s future. And we’re prepared to do that.

And we also understand that we’re going to have less resources than we did in that last decade. All of that is understood. This is a different matter. This is something that is not managerially or, from a national security point of view, prudent.

Q: Mr. Secretary, you mentioned before how the civilian workforce has a mission with the department also.

DR. CARTER: I’m sorry — the…

Q: The civilian workforce has a mission.

DR. CARTER: Yes, indeed.

             Q: And feels they have the mission. What do you say to a GS-5 or somebody contemplating a career — a civilian career with the military (inaudible). Do you still think it’s a good idea, given the uncertainty that this causes?

             DR. CARTER: Well, I mean, we’re realistic. We — our civilians who make important contributions to defense, otherwise they wouldn’t be part of the defense establishment. As I explained, 44 percent of them are veterans. They do real things that are really important to us.

             And they’ve had their pay frozen for years. Now, they’re subject to furlough. And as I talk to — and you say, “why would anybody join our ranks under those circumstances.” And the reason is — the reason you’d want it to be, they join with us, and I hope they’ll stick with us, because of mission, because they’re committed to what we do, which is defend the country and help to make a better world.

             That’s why they do it.

             (CROSSTALK)

             DR. CARTER: Thank you all very much.

             Q: Thank you.