- Law Center
Chapter 63 of the Reserve Officers Association of the U. S. meets on the fourth Saturday of the month at the Holiday Inn (formerly the San Jose Wyndham Hotel) located at 1350 North First Street, San Jose, CA.
The Chapter supports the Santa Clara University Army ROTC Bronco Battalion -- through the LTC Frank Holt Memorial Army ROTC Scholarship -- the San Jose State University Air Force ROTC Unit, and High School JROTC units in Santa Clara Valley.
Click here for the Event Announcement for the Election/Installation on 22 March.
After Action Report – 22 February 2014 – MAJ Thomas P. Galvin, U.S. Army (Ret.)
BRAC Closure – Presidio of San Francisco -- Part II
What Happened to The Sixth Army Headquarters
In late February 2014 Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made it clear that cost cuts would once again target military personnel, specifically by limiting military pay raises, increasing fees for health care benefits, decreasing housing allowances, and even eliminating certain subsidies for the commissary. Members of the military coalition have suggested that instead of making these kinds of cuts legislators should close certain unnecessary military bases; however, for years that course of action has been problematic and it is likely to be more so in an election year. It’s often possible to gain a greater appreciation of current events by examining issues and outcomes from a past era.
The chapter’s February luncheon speaker was MAJ Thomas P. Galvin, USA, (Ret.), a Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC) action officer who is familiar with the Presidio of San Francisco closure process. He was a civilian employee at the Presidio and had a key planning/decision-making role for some years leading to deactivation of the Sixth United States Army. The organization’s mission was to provide training to Reserve units serving the twelve western states, and it did well as was proven in Desert Shield and Desert Storm. The Presidio of San Francisco was closed and the Sixth U.S. Army was deactivated in 1995.
MAJ Galvin was a past chapter speaker at which time he told about BRAC actions at Bay Area installations, and he began his presentation by reviewing recent history of the Presidio of San Francisco: In 1991 Sixth Army sent its remaining units to the Middle East and to war for the last time, coordinating the deployment of National Guard and Reserve units in the Western U.S. The Presidio appeared on the 1st BRAC list; it was closed and transferred to the National Park Service in 1995. The major issue of this presentation had to do with what would become of Sixth United States Army, and the story involved a complex political dimension, the actions of military and civilian personalities, directives sent by Washington, D.C. bureaucrats, the expressed interests and needs of San Francisco politicians, and others.
The initial intent was to relocate the Sixth Army to another installation and the top choice was Fort Carson, CO, but MAJ Galvin characterized that as “stupid” because it involved moving a three star general to a two star post, which caused complications such as who would be assigned the best office and other facilities. Fort Ord was considered, but a 1991 BRAC decision had already been made to close it; for all practical purposes the general guidance was, “sit down and shut up.” It was then discovered that Moffett Field in nearby Mt. View would be perfect and a move there would save perhaps $35 million; however, Moffett also ended up on a BRAC list. It seemed so foolish—75% of the reserve units were on the West Coast; the principle ports of debarkation were Seattle, Oakland, and Long Beach; the West Coast is prime territory for military assistance to civil authorities, and other reasons certainly seemed to justify a move to Moffett. But the Washington, D.C. decision-makers were not impressed and seemed to care little about monetary savings.
Finally, the 1988 Department of Defense BRAC Commission recommendation would be changed to allow only the Sixth U.S. Army Headquarters to remain at the Presidio of San Francisco, CA. Other options were explored and without success. As the U.S. Army departed the Presidio, one individual relaxed on a lawn chair, out enjoying the sunshine and reading a paper, stood and removed an overhead sign, “Presidio of San Francisco,” and stored it in a nearby building, closing another era in military history.
MAJ Galvin told colorful stories about competition between active and reserve elements, how it is the source of funding that determines who will be installation commander, how a union representative, a glazier, tried to influence the course of events, humorous but serious matters. He answered a number of member questions such as: Is the cemetery still there? (Yes, it still exists and is managed by the Department of Veterans Affairs, not DoD); How many armies does the U.S. have today? (1st Army implements Total Force Policy; 5th Army is responsible for homeland defense); what are the new developments at Moffett Field? (A division of Google has been awarded a contract to recover Hangar 1 and manage airfield and other operations); what was Mikhail Gorbachev doing at the Presidio in 1993? (He was making early inquiries about establishing a Gorbachev Foundation/Institute for World Peace in San Francisco; MAJ Galvin told interesting stories about the man and his efforts to acquire a house on the Presidio grounds).
The Army felt staying in California would enhance the Sixth Army's ability to exercise command and control of all Reserve units within its area of responsibility, but it was not to be.
SOURCE: Luncheon Speaker
Chapter GW/063 Luncheon Program After Action Report – 25 January 2014
Subject: Our Mission -- Saving Lives Everywhere - Anywhere – in Peace – In War
Speaker: 2d Lt Roderick B. Bersamina -- Public Affairs Officer – 129th Rescue Wing
California Air National Guard – Moffett Field – Mountain View, California
On August 26, 2013 an Air National Guard HH-60G Pave Hawk helicopter crew conducted a precision water bucket drop in support of the Rim Fire suppression operation in Tuolumne County near Yosemite. Wildfires raging in and around the Stanislaus National Forest continued to threaten lives, property and critical infrastructure. "The awesomeness of the fires could be seen from our helicopter in the plumes of smoke they made--the fire consumed everything in its path," said air crew member Staff Sgt. Edward Drew. The 129th Rescue Wing aircraft based at Moffett Field was operating temporarily out of Mather Air Force Base, Sacramento.
The chapter’s January luncheon speaker was 2d Lt. Roderick B. Bersamina, CAANG, Public Affairs Officer, who provided an overview of the 129th Rescue Wing’s mission, leadership, organization structure, equipment, and capabilities.
Perhaps the highlight of the presentation was the showing of a brand new full-color video completed just days ago which included scenes from over-water rescues such as removing a very ill passenger from a cruise ship; Middle East/Africa deployment activities involving in part the saving of an Afghanistan police officer with a gunshot wound; domestic actions such as the Rim Fire; para-rescue jumpers parachuting from a C-130; a demonstration of automatic weapons fire from a helicopter; and even an awards ceremony celebrating the achievements of crew members who demonstrated high levels of accomplishment.
Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, the 129th Rescue Wing's mission is to train and prepare to perform its wartime mission of combat search and rescue anywhere in the world as well as conduct domestic search and rescue activities. The unit has performed rescue missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Horn of Africa and other locations around the globe. The wing is the “go to” unit due to its specialized capabilities in a wide range of environments, such fires, floods, earthquakes, and hurricanes. The 129th has undertaken a wide variety of civilian search and rescue missions, including distressed persons aboard ships, lost or injured hikers, and medical evacuations. The 129th has a record of 414 combat saves and 589 homeland saves for a total to date of 1,003 saves which includes 692 since 2004.
Lt. Bersamina provided a full listing of Air Guard elements in California; a description of the 129th command group senior leadership; information about the C-130 Combat Shadow fixed wing aircraft as well as the Pave Hawk helicopter; deployment experiences to Al Jaber Air Base, Kuwait following the 9/11 attack on the United States as well as subsequent trips to Kuwait, Incirlik AB Turkey, Bashur, Iraq, and Afghanistan. To date, 11 Distinguished Flying Crosses, 3 Air Medals for Valor, 2 Purple Hearts, and multiple Bronze Stars and Oak Leaf Clusters have been awarded, definitely totals approaching those of an active duty wing. It is very clear that the 129th and its people live up to the unit motto, "These Things We Do That Others May Live.”
Chapter members had a number of questions including, (1) If the unit is deployed how are local emergencies handled? The entire force is not deployed; there are plenty of assets left behind to handle any and all contingencies; (2) Do wing personnel respond to direct emergency calls for assistance? No. Only to the orders of federal or California leaders; (3) How are the wing’s more than 600 part-time guardsmen recruited? There is a recruiting office on El Camino Real in Mt. View; (4) Are replacement parts and other supplies readily available from the active duty supply chain or is there competition with active units for that materiel? The sequester is taking a toll; however, there has been no real problem to date obtaining needed equipment and parts; (5) Does the Air Guard partner with Northern Command (NORCOM) and other agencies such as FEMA? Yes there is close coordination on all issues; (6) What is the number of C-130 aircraft and Pave Hawk aircraft in the inventory locally? The total was unavailable. (7) Does the aircraft carry Gatling guns and other high performance weaponry? Not usually; however, aircraft operating in combat zones are well-armed.
SOURCE: Luncheon Speaker
Event After-Action Report
ROA / MOAA Christmas Luncheon Program – 19 December 2013
Colonel Keith Giles, USAF (Ret.)
Touring in Turkey – A Turkey Trot
The chapter’s December meeting was by tradition a joint event with the Silicon Valley Chapter of Military Officers Association of America (MOAA), and most members of the Chapter #63 executive committee were in attendance. Following a delightful buffet luncheon, Colonel Keith Giles, USAF, (Ret.), provided an illustrated presentation of a tourist trip to Turkey. The travelogue was scheduled because the results of a speaker topic preference survey indicated that members were interested in programs featuring both domestic and international travel.
Travel has real value when it comes to self-renewal. According to John Gardner, “As we mature we progressively narrow the scope and variety of our lives. Of all the interests we might pursue, we settle on a few. Of all the people with whom we might associate, we select a small number. We view our familiar surroundings with less and less freshness of perception. We no longer look with a wakeful, perceiving eye at the faces of people we see every day, nor at any other features of our everyday world. That is why travel is a vivid experience for most of us. At home we have lost the capacity to see what is before us. Travel shakes us out of our apathy, and we regain an attentiveness that heightens every experience. The exhilaration of travel has many sources, but surely one of them is that we recapture in some measure the unspoiled awareness of children.” The presentation narrative and photos effectively cast the audience vicariously across the world for a time and provided an often much-needed respite from the cares of a life in Silicon Valley.
Now in his late eighties and well beyond the average lifespan, Colonel Giles felt it was a matter of now or never for a guided tour of Turkey, a place he always wanted to visit. So he arranged to fly to Istanbul and began his adventure at the famous mosques and palaces and within a day took boat tours of the Bosporus, a waterway between the Sea of Marmara and the Black Sea, and the Golden Horn, a body of water dividing the city of Istanbul. He was impressed with the thousands of multi-colored tulips and architecture featuring gorgeous bright blue tiles, along with merchants and their wares and foods, and even hardware on display. He showed photos of buildings large and small, the city streets, views from high points, bridges on the waterways, the people, and specific tourist attractions such as the Blue Mosque and Topkapi Palace. He entered the Grand Bazaar but didn’t haggle his way to a bargain.
After an early morning flight to the capital Ankara which included an interesting breakfast likely featuring the famous Turkish flat bread, Keith and his group traveled on to the highlight of his trip, which was floating over the spectacular landscape of Cappadocia in a hot-air balloon. All along the way there were Roman ruins, huge rock formations, caves in the hillsides, courtyards and statues, museums, signs of ancient civilizations, underground cities and tunnels, “evil eye jewelry,” a look that is believed to be able to cause injury or bad luck for the person at whom it is directed, and blue-topped minarets seemingly everywhere. There was a merchant in a stall selling viagra; and, there was always plenty of pressure to purchase ceramics or rugs.
The tour continued to Ephesus, an ancient Greek city near the western coast at Ionia, very close to present-day Selcuk in İzmir, which is the best-preserved ancient city in the eastern Mediterranean. Keith took some beautiful photos of the ancient ruins. Then it was on to the Dardanelles, a narrow strait in northwestern Turkey connecting the Aegean Sea to the Sea of Marmara. The tour group then went on to take in the history of the eerily peaceful Gallipoli Peninsula, learning about certain key battles of World War I. The tour guide planned to skip this part of the trip but Keith was adamant and demanded a visit on the basis he paid for it in advance. It proved so interesting that some of his Indian touring comrades thanked him for insisting on the visit. Finally, it was back to Istanbul and an early morning flight to Frankfurt, the first leg on his return home.
A FEDERAL INVESTIGATOR’S INSIGHTS
Chapter GW/063 After Action Report – 23 Nov 2013
CWO4 Patrick Clark, U.S. Army (Ret.) – Chapter Luncheon Program Speaker
Nidal Malik Hasan is a former psychiatrist and Medical Corps officer who fatally shot 13 people and injured more than 30 others in the Fort Hood mass shooting on November 5, 2009. At his court-martial in August 2013, Hasan admitted to the shootings. A panel of officers later convicted him of all charges and specifications and he is currently incarcerated at the U.S. Disciplinary Barracks, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas awaiting execution while his case is being reviewed. Issues about the man, his ideology and motives, the trial and conclusions, and particularly how he was able to obtain a security clearance all remain controversial.
The chapter’s November speaker was CWO4 Patrick Clark, USA (Ret.), and currently employed by the Federal Investigative Service, a branch of the Office of Personnel Management, who provided a perspective on the requirements and challenges of conducting effective background checks of military and civilian personnel. In addition, he provided a general description of military intelligence and counter-intelligence missions, complexities and activities.
CWO4 Clark related how as a young enlisted soldier he entered the intelligence field really by accident, initially by learning a foreign language, being assigned as a translator and briefly an interrogator, attending Army intelligence schools, and ultimately promoted to warrant officer. Over a period of time he served as an instructor, field operative working both in CONUS and abroad, as well as special projects related to national security. Upon retirement he entered the federal service and today conducts background checks; he is knowledgeable about local counter-intelligence matters.
According to Clark, a number of recent background investigation failures should be a basis for a reexamination of policy.
Navy veteran Aaron Alexis, who killed 12 people at a Navy building in Washington, D.C., had been suffering from mental illness, including paranoia and a sleep disorder. The former Navy reservist had a string of misconduct problems during active duty service, had difficulties with prior employment, and had an arrest record. A clearance was likely issued in part because his mental problems were seen as related to grief counseling.
Edward Joseph Snowden is an American computer specialist, a former CIA employee, and former NSA contractor who disclosed up to 200,000 classified documents to the press. He is considered a fugitive by American authorities who have charged him with espionage and theft of government property. The disclosures have fueled debates over the balance between national security and information privacy. The background investigation clearly was not careful enough.
Bradley Edward Manning, now known as Chelsea Elizabeth Manning, is a U.S. soldier who was convicted in July 2013 of the Espionage Act after releasing the largest set of classified documents ever leaked to the public, and has been sentenced to 35 years in prison. As an intelligence analyst in Iraq, he had access to classified databases. Investigators failed to “look for hidden stuff” which may have demonstrated mental instability.
Of particular interest to members was CWO4 Clark’s very general conceptual briefing about counter-intelligence activities in and around the San Francisco Bay and Monterey Bay areas, particularly in the context of industrial espionage and technical intelligence, specifically how people unfriendly to the United States gain information about weapons and equipment used by the armed forces. Computer hackers can pose a real problem.
During the question and answer session, members wanted to know more about the need to shield academic and military installations from unauthorized access and provide physical protection to key business, industry, government, and especially senior military personnel.
SOURCE: Luncheon Speaker
Price – $20.00 per person
Mail reservation form to COL Art Knopf 1758 Harte Drive, San Jose, CA 95124-1727 to arrive two (2) days before the event.
For late reservations, call Col Knopf at 408-269-7060 or Capt Kromrey at 408-749-8718.