Rustic American Flag Gunny's Job Board

Category Archives: Karl Thomas

A Keen Eye on Keen Sword

By Rear. Adm. Karl Thomas
Commander, Task Force 70

This week, we wrapped up Keen Sword 2019, the biennial exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force, (JMSDF) or Kaijo Jieitai as they are known in Japan. This exercise is designed to strengthen and demonstrate our commitment to the U.S. – Japan alliance and ultimately increase the interoperability of our forces.

As we prepared for the final maritime strike, I had the opportunity to assist in the targeting of the enemy forces in the exercise from the back end of a VAW-125 Tigertail E-2D Advanced Hawkeye. With nearly 3,000 hours in the back of an E-2C, this was my first opportunity to experience the impressive capability of an E-2D. Hawkeyes have always been the fleet’s eye in the sky, but with the advancements in the new E-2D that eye is much more focused. I watched this radar develop throughout my career from its beginnings on a mountain-top in Hawaii, through a transition to the back of a C-130 test platform, and finally as it became reality in the fleet. It is simply a game changer.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy's forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, commander, Task Force 70, departs an E-2D Hawkeye on the flight deck of the Navy’s forward deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class MacAdam Kane Weissman/Released)

 

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) An E-2D Hawkeye launches off the flight deck of the Navy's forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 7, 2018) An E-2D Hawkeye launches off the flight deck of the Navy’s forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyleigh Williams/Released)

As we walked to the aircraft in preparation for our flight, it dawned on me that I had more years of service than all four young Tigertail aviators combined. To fly with this next generation of warfighters who have the same drive and energy I possessed at their age is exactly why I continue to serve. It seemed like just yesterday I was the young aviator walking to the plane, showing the old guy how the system worked. The young Tigertail aviators manipulated the numerous systems in the back of the aircraft with ease as they fired up one system after another. A talented young E-2D naval flight officer, Lt. Cmdr. Mike “Hansel” Boyle, walked me through the radar functionality, explaining the differences of the APY-9 radar and how it transmits, receives and processes energy. I was like a kid in a candy store as I witnessed on my radar scope what I had only seen in simulators. This system is already making a huge impact on Keen Sword 19 and I couldn’t help but think of the capability and capacity that the recently acquired Japanese E-2Ds would add to future Keen Sword exercises. It all comes down to interoperability; the U.S. Navy and Kaijo Jieitai are an extremely effective team because of the common tactics, procedures, and equipment we employ.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), left, and the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Hyuga (DDH 181), right, are underway in formation with 16 other ships from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) as aircraft from the U.S. Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force fly overhead in formation during Keen Sword 2019. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Erwin Jacob V. Miciano/Released)

 

Throughout this exercise, ships and aircraft from both of our countries have focused on sailing, operating, flying together and building interoperability so that we can respond as one team if ever needed. Day after day I watched U.S and numerous Kaijo Jieitai ships protect USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) from attacking exercise submarines, while the striking power of Air Wing Five launched from the deck several times a day to fight side-by-side with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) and U.S. Air Force. This ability to fight with our allies across service lines is simply awe-inspiring. The relationships we build amongst aviators, surface warriors, warfare commanders and senior leaders in exercises such as Keen Sword is the cornerstone of our alliance – an alliance that has ensured regional peace and stability for nearly 60 years.

PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) and the JMSDF Hatsuyuki-class destroyer JS Asayuki (DD 132) steam in formation with other ships from the U.S. Navy and JMSDF during exercise Keen Sword 19. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy M. Black/Released)
PHILIPPINE SEA (Nov. 8, 2018) The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Kirisame (DD 104) and the JMSDF Hatsuyuki-class destroyer JS Asayuki (DD 132) steam in formation with other ships from the U.S. Navy and JMSDF during exercise Keen Sword 19. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Timothy M. Black/Released)

As I sat drinking a cup of coffee with Rear Adm. Egawa, commander, Escort Flotilla One, while discussing lessons from our current exercise, we reminisced on our experiences as young naval officers. We talked of the ports we had visited, agreed how we could build upon our already strong relationship, and discussed how this partnership would only grow stronger upon our return to Yokosuka, Japan. At one point, we discussed my flight and what I observed, and it dawned on me how that moment really summed up what made Keen Sword special. From the young Kaijo Jieitai and U.S. Navy officers and Sailors flying and sailing together as one to the two senior officers ending the day together over a cup of coffee; exercises like Keen Sword enable us to practice integration so that it becomes simple, routine and highly effective. We ended our meeting with a keen eye to the future, and pondered whether the young aviators who fly our two nation’s E-2D Advanced Hawkeyes would be the catalyst to take Keen Sword 2021’s interoperability to an entirely new level.

Editor’s note: Rear Adm. Thomas is a career E-2C Hawkeye naval flight officer and the commander of Task Force 70, which is based in Yokosuka, Japan.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/11/09/a-keen-eye-on-keen-sword/ U.S. Navy

Sailing side by side the JMSDF–Strengthening Interoperability with a key Ally!

By Rear Adm. Karl Thomas, Commander, Task Force 70

“Launch the alert 15, side 203, initial vector 240” crackles over the 1MC (the ship’s loudspeaker system) early in the morning.  An unknown air contact has been detected and is closing the force. Sailors from the U.S. Navy and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) spring into action across the strike group. U.S. Navy pilots and aircrew scramble to their jets, U.S. Navy and JMSDF leadership discuss the threat on the watch floor onboard USS Ronald Reagan, and radars from U.S. and Japanese ships probe the sky for the contact. In this case the unknown air contact was just one of many training scenarios the Ronald Reagan Strike Group conducted with the JMSDF this past week demonstrating some very real interoperability. JMSDF Commander, Escort Division (CCD) 6 and JS Kirishima joined our Battle Force alongside USS Antietam, USS Benfold, USS Milius and USS Curtis Wilbur and fulfilled air, surface and subsurface responsibilities, increasing the overall strength of our aggregated force.

As an E-2 Hawkeye aviator, I spent much of my career managing aircraft across warfare areas and building situational awareness for the Strike Group Commander.  I enjoyed having that responsibility to manage the big picture.  Now, it doesn’t get any bigger than having a team of experts that control the forces operating in the Western Pacific waterways that directly impact the world’s global economy, stability and prosperity. Providing security in a free and open Indo-Pacific for all mariners requires a team effort.

It was absolutely exhilarating to watch the teamwork as all the pieces come together this past week. JS Kirishima participated in air defense and communications exercises with strike group ships.  Her air controllers provided control for Air Wing aircraft, and along with USS Antietam and USS Milius, she supported USS Ronald Reagan with flight operations.  Additionally, a U.S. Navy SH-60S Sea Hawk from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron Twelve (HSC-12) demonstrated how seamlessly our ships and aircraft can work together when it landed and refueled on JS Kirishima.  Sharing experiences and lessons while exercising with our partners and allies is our surest way to strengthen naval power at and from the sea.

My staff and I had the opportunity to work directly with the JMSDF CCD6 staff and I witnessed first-hand how exchanging liaison officers accelerates our learning.  The exchanges included JMSDF CCD 6 liaison officers working alongside Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 in Sea Combat onboard Ronald Reagan integrating our cruisers and destroyers.  CCD6 officers also embarked USS Antietam to increase air defense interoperability throughout the strike group.  The deep interoperability we have built over the years through exercises and bilateral training was clearly evident in CCD6 and JS Kirishima’s seamless integration into our strike group operations this past week.

This is the sixth carrier I’ve served on and it is extremely gratifying each day at sea to watch our crews operate with precision and professionalism.  Seamlessly coordinating with our allies in today’s highly technical information driven environment is even more rewarding.  Every time we work with our Japanese allies we each learn from one another, which in turn makes our alliance stronger.  I look forward to the next opportunity to host the JMSDF, or Kaijo Jieitai as they are known in Japan, onboard Ronald Reagan and to train alongside their highly professional ships and Sailors.

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/08/30/sailing-side-by-side-the-jmsdf-strengthening-interoperability-with-a-key-ally/ parcher

SAAPM 2018: Protecting our People Protects Our Mission

By Rear Adm. Karl Thomas
Director, 21st Century Sailor Office

As we enter SAAPM, we’d like to reflect on this year’s theme, Protecting our People Protects Our Mission. Each of us has a role to play in preventing, reporting and eliminating sexual assault. We are all accountable. We can protect our mission by ensuring everyone in the Department of the Navy is committed to advancing an environment where threatening behaviors, sexual harassment, hazing, bullying, and sexual assault are not tolerated, condoned or ignored.

We must encourage positive behaviors by recognizing acts that contribute to a supportive command climate. We must commit to possess the courage necessary to conduct all activities of our lives with respect for ourselves and our fellow Sailors. It’s up to us to hold ourselves and each other to the high standards expected of us by the Navy and the American public.

You can hear some of these same thoughts on the SAAPM podcast below.

 

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2018/04/04/saapm-2018-protecting-our-people-protects-our-mission/ U.S. Navy

Suicide Prevention: Act. Care. Treat.

Our measure of success really is how well our Sailors perform at their job. Ensuring they can come to work in a healthy environment. There are policies to set them up for success.

There are a lot of reasons members decide to take their own life. So words and thoughts matter, and pay attention to them.

 

MC2 Burleson: Welcome, I’m joined today by the director of the 21st Century Sailor office, Rear Adm. Karl Thomas to discuss his role as director, his expectations for Sailors and his plans to further the 21st century sailor program during his tenure. Sir, thank you for being here.

Rear Adm. Thomas: Thanks for having me.

MC2 Burleson: Sir, you have been here for a few months now. What are your long terms goals that you hope to accomplish during your tenure?

Rear Adm. Thomas: The 21st Century Sailor Office is responsible for a wide range of personnel policy, things like sexual harassment, sexual assault, suicide prevention, alcohol and drug abuse, and physical readiness. I tell my teams that our day job is to make sure those policies are current and they are relevant. Our measure of success really is how well our Sailors perform at their job. Ensuring they can come to work in a healthy environment. There are policies to set them up for success. My long-term goal really is about ensuring that every Sailor’s behavior is in line with our Navy core values and our Navy core attributes so that teams can be stronger, teams flourish. You can develop that unit pride that makes our Navy so special.

MC2 Burleson: Sir, as you know we are approaching Suicide Prevention Month. What is your message for Sailors for caring for themselves and caring for others?

Rear Adm. Thomas: The business and the lifestyle that we lead is not easy. We ask an awful lot of our Sailors and our leaders on a daily basis. It can be stressful. It can be work related stress; personal stress; social stress; financial stress and I would ask our Sailors to look out for one another. I would ask our leaders to find ways to reduce stress in the work environment. We need to have a place, an environment where Sailors feel comfortable bringing their challenges forward. We need our Sailors to feel comfortable. If they don’t feel well to go seek help. I would ask Sailors to look out if they notice somebody is hurting, to intervene and ask. It is really all about being human. It is about treating others like you would want to be treated, and being there for every Sailor every day, and follow and act. Act, care and treat.

MC2 Burleson: Sir, what should Sailors be looking for in their interactions with others –other Sailors, other family members, maybe their friends? What should we be looking for?

Rear Adm. Thomas: Suicide usually occurs in Sailors who are under a lot of stress and experiencing a multitude of different types of stress. It can be relationship challenges; it can be problems at work, both personal or professional. It can be career transitions, disciplinary, or legal issues, financial strain. There are a lot of reasons members decide to take their own life. So words and thoughts matter, and pay attention to them. If you hear something that concerns you, act on it, and ask if the person is doing all right. There is no harm in asking someone if they have a firearm. Unfortunately, about 60 percent of our members that die by a suicide use a firearm, so asking if they have a gun, asking if it’s locked up, asking if you can hold on to it or maybe take it to an armory. Those are all viable questions that may be that break the chain that prevents a suicide.

MC2 Burleson: Earlier this year the Navy began Sailor Assistance and Intercept for Life Program, or SAIL. What can you tell us about that program and what is means for Sailors?

Rear Adm. Thomas: SAIL is a great program. SAIL is a program we took from the Marine Corps and applied to the Navy. The critical 90 days following suicide related behavior the command will approach the Sailor and ask if they would like to be involved in the SAIL program. What is does is it hooks that Sailor up with a trained counselor at the Fleet and Family Service Center, and that counselor can talk to that Sailor on a frequent basis and maybe bridge that gap between the mental health appointments. It’s not replacing the mental health services that those individuals need, but it’s that care and contact that has a chance to intervene and just check up on you. Make sure you get the treatment you need and get you through those difficult 90 days so that we can get the Sailor back into the command and get them productive and make them feel good about themselves.

MC2 Burleson: Where can Sailors get more information about suicide prevention and the 21st Century Sailor Program?

Rear Adm. Thomas: This September is obviously suicide prevention month and we a website dedicated to that. It’s www.suicide.navy.mil. There is also a host of resources about the 21st Century Sailor Office on the NPC website. It will be coming to My Navy Portal in the near future. Visit those sites; ask questions. If you have concerns talk to your leadership. We want you to have a very safe September and the rest of the year. This is an opportunity for us to reenergize our knowledge about suicide awareness and take those small acts every day, and make sure that your shipmates are looking out for each other.

MC2 Burleson: Sir, thank you for being here and answering all the questions.

Rear Adm. Thomas: Thanks for having me.

MC2 Burleson: Thank you all for watching.

http://navylive.dodlive.mil/2017/08/28/suicide-prevention-act-care-treat/ U.S. Navy