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Training Boosts U.S. Response Capabilities in the Americas

first_imgBy Story by U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Osvaldo Equite, Special Operations Command South March 20, 2018 Within minutes, an elite multinational security force team managed to close with and overwhelm armed groups hiding along Panama’s Caribbean shores and remote jungle locations. The team’s mission success however, would depend on the next 100 or so split-second decisions made – under fire and stress – between team members that had only met weeks before. Still, the team freed all simulated hostages, while successfully culminating a month-long training exchange between U.S. Special Operations Forces and Panamanian security counterparts held January 5-February 6, 2018, throughout Panama. “The Joint Combined Exchange Training improved the readiness of assigned quick reaction forces with Special Operations Command South by developing capabilities needed when responding to a crisis alongside partner nation security forces,” said U.S. Army Lieutenant Colonel Marcus Hunter, Special Operations liaison officer with U.S. Special Operations Command, in Panama City, Panama. Participating U.S. SOF units improved their overall competencies in marksmanship, small unit tactics training, air and maritime operations, communications, and sustained interoperability with counterparts by exchanging techniques, tactics, and procedures, while enhancing service members’ language proficiency in Spanish. SOCSOUTH integrated U.S. SOF units from the Air Force, Army, and Navy to train alongside elite Panamanian counterterrorism units in coordination with the U.S. Embassy in Panama City and Panamanian security forces. Nothing like back home Although U.S. SOF train regularly at their home station units in preparation for contingencies in the Americas, JCETs provide training opportunities not easily replicated stateside. “Every day was about learning something new, even if it was just a small interaction with our counterparts in Spanish,” said U.S. Air Force Technical Sergeant Gordon Boyer, a radio frequency transmission specialist with the 6th Special Operations Squadron, Hurlburt Field, Florida. For weeks, Tech. Sgt. Boyer, a Michigan native responsible for the maintenance and repair of communications equipment, relied on his working proficiency in Spanish to work side-by-side with his counterparts on a daily basis. “We dove into the manuals for hours, figuring things out together,” he said, recalling an instance where he enabled communications between Panamanian air support, U.S. and partner nation ground forces. “We figured out the best way for us to accomplish our missions every day, using what we had and speaking with the little we both knew,” he added. Tech Sgt. Boyer noted that the interactions really tested his Spanish and his counterpart’s English. Like Tech Sgt. Boyer, Spanish is a second language for the majority of the American exercise participants. Only a third of the service members who took part in the training were fluent, with the rest having a minimal working proficiency in the language. “That’s why training like this is so important. We get a full language and cultural immersion we wouldn’t get back home,” said Matt, a senior Special Forces weapons sergeant with the 7th Special Forces Group (Airborne), out of Eglin Air Force Base, Florida, who for security reasons spoke on condition of anonymity. The first time many junior service members gain valuable experiences in leadership, mentorship, instruction, and advisory roles is also during joint combined training. “The first opportunity I had being a team leader was during a previous JCET, where I was responsible for leading a group of partner nation members as we conducted training,” said the Special Forces sergeant, who has deployed eight times, with this trip being his first to Panama. “It was during a prior JCET that I was also put in charge as a ground convoy commander for the first time,” he added. “With little prior experience in such a position I put together a plan, thought of all the obstacles we might come across, and began to develop contingencies for a two-hour movement. The contingencies included coordination with an air element.” Additionally, U.S. SOF tackle logistics, communications, and transportation hurdles on a daily basis during joint combined training that begins as soon as they arrive in country. “That’s another benefit to this training, working through and finding solutions to the day-to-day real-world problems that you do not encounter back home,” said the Special Forces sergeant. Beyond the training Aside from boosting U.S. force’s response capabilities in the Americas, this exchange training also strengthened working relationships and built trust between the elite forces. This not only saves valuable time in being able to make split-second decisions during training, but also when working together in the event of a crisis. “These relationships and trust can help reduce the scope and duration of a crisis and increase the likelihood our partners can respond to crises on their own,” said U.S. Navy Admiral Kurt W. Tidd, U.S. Southern Command commander, before a Senate Armed Services Committee in 2017. Similarly, the most rewarding aspect of the training for many of the exchange participants was building professional relationships needed if they are one day called to work alongside each other. “Our mission is to execute high-risk operations in urban areas and to intervene against sabotage against the canal,” said Captain Javier Bethancourt, deputy operations officer with the Panamanian National Police (PNP) Special Forces Counterterrorism Unit. Without these working relationships and training, it would be difficult for the multinational forces to work together, said the operations officer. “So building these relationships is important, especially if it comes to protecting the canal.” “We build a relationship with these guys because they are the best, and they might stay in the same unit for years,” said the U.S. SOF weapons sergeant. “This makes integration easier, knowing that we speak the same language when it comes to tactics and techniques. At the end of the day, the ultimate outcome for us is to build and maintain steady relationships that prepare us for any type of crisis we are tasked to respond to.” Other participating units included PNP Rural and Maritime Anti-Drug Unit and elements of Panama’s National Air and Naval Service.last_img read more

UK roundup: PPF 7800 Index, Partnership, medically underwritten buy-ins

first_imgThe deficit among UK pension funds has increased by one-third after a significant fall in yields over the month of November, research from the Pension Protection Fund (PPF) has shown.The lifeboat fund’s monthly 7800 Index update, which calculates the ability of UK pension funds to provide PPF-level benefits, found a shortfall among the 6,057 schemes of £221.bn (€280.5bn) at the end of November.This was a 34% increase from the £164.9bn figure a month earlier.The fund said the chief reason for the sudden increase was a 31 basis point drop in the yield of 15-year UK Gilts. It also pointed out that the increase in liabilities came despite a 2.9% rise in the value of assets after positive stock market movements.Over the month, assets rose to £1.23bn from £1.2bn, but the increase was offset by a 6.6% rise in liabilities going from £1.36bn to £1.46bn.The PPF said funding ratios, over the year to the end of November, deteriorated by more than 13 percentage points, falling from 97.5% in 2013 to 84.8%.In other news, Partnership, the medically underwritten annuity provider, has announced a record-breaking £206m buy-in with an undisclosed UK pension fund.The multi-billion pound pension fund requested to remain anonymous until all affected members had been informed.The latest transaction, in a growing market of medically underwritten transactions, was won by Partnership after an open tender among four providers.Partnership insured the pension scheme’s highest valued members in a process known as ‘top-slicing’, which sees the members with the greatest individual liabilities insured.The first medically underwritten bulk annuity was insured by Partnership only in March 2013, but the combined market now accounts for more than £600m of liabilities.Hymans Robertson, a consultancy, said it expected the market to reach £1bn by the first half of 2015, given the pipeline of deals.Partner James Mullins said the most popular transaction type remained the ‘top-slice’.“This allows the pension scheme to remove a significant concentration of risk at a highly competitive price,” he said.The record-breaking medically underwritten deal in 2014 adds to fellow record deals for buyouts and traditional buy-ins also seen this year.Last month, the TRW scheme broke the buyout record in a £2.5bn deal with L&G, which followed on from the insurer’s £3bn record buy-in with the ICI Pension Fund.Fore more on bulk annuities from IPE, click herelast_img read more

La Liga: Felix double sends Atletico to top four

first_img Costa’s claims for a penalty where ignored despite the former Chelsea striker complaining he had been held back in attempting to reach Lodi’s effort. Felix opened the scoring 20 minutes later after Lodi found space again down the left flank. Lodi played the ball back to Saul Niguez in the box, his shot was deflected to Felix’s path who smashed the ball to the top corner. The hosts’ best chance of an equaliser came six minutes before the break but David Garcia’s long-range shot could only hit the advertising boards. Felix doubled his account 10 minutes into the second half. Costa was fed the ball in the area and he squared it to Felix who side-footed home with ease for his eighth goal of the campaign in all competitions. Felix was substituted on the 69-minute mark as Simeone sent on holding midfielder Thomas Partey, who has been linked with a move to Arsenal. Despite Felix leaving the field his side made sure of three points as Marcos Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco scored in the final 11 minutes. Promoted Content18 Cities With Neverending Tourist-FlowTop 10 Most Romantic Nations In The World10 Risky Jobs Some Women DoThe 10 Best Secondary Education Systems In The World2020 Tattoo Trends: Here’s What You’ll See This Year8 Things To Expect If An Asteroid Hits Our PlanetBirds Enjoy Living In A Gallery Space Created For ThemThis Guy Photoshopped Himself Into Celeb Pics And It’s HystericalBest & Worst Celebrity Endorsed Games Ever MadeTop 7 Best Car Manufacturers Of All Time9 Facts You Should Know Before Getting A TattooEver Thought Of Sleeping Next To Celebs? This Guy Will Show You Read Also: Guardiola embarrassed by treatment of black peopleThe away side’s Slovenia goalkeeper Jan Oblak became the first non-Spaniard to reach 100 La Liga clean sheets with his performance.Atleti host Real Valladolid on Saturday and Osasuna travel to Valencia on Sunday.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmail分享 Loading… Portugal youngster Joao Felix scored twice as Atletico Madrid moved into the Champions League places with a 5-0 La Liga thrashing of Osasuna on Wednesday. Joao Felix took his goal tally to eight for the season with the double at Osasuna Felix, 20, was making his first appearance since the Spanish top-flight returned from its coronavirus hiatus having been suspended for the weekend’s draw at Athletic Bilbao and had been suffering from an ankle sprain since May. “I felt good, coming back from injury after three months without playing and scoring two goals is very good for me,” Felix told broadcaster Movistar. The northerners remain in 11th after the defeat with an outside chance of making the Europa League but are also 10 points away from the relegation zone. The hosts’ coach Jagoba Arrasate was without captain Oier and Adrian Lopez who scored the equaliser at high-flying Real Sociedad, who can go back above Atltetico on Thursday with a win at Alaves. The visitors’ coach Diego Simeone made four changes from Sunday’s match in Bilbao including handing Felix, who joined the side from Benfica for 126 million euros ($141 million) last summer, a start alongside Diego Costa in attack. Felix will return to the Portugese capital in August as UEFA announced the Champions League will be completed in Lisbon with a ‘final eight’ format after Atleti knocked holders Liverpool out of the competition in March. Left-back Renan Lodi had the best of the early chances as his whipped effort in the eighth minute was straight at goalkeeper Ruben Martinez.last_img read more

Hope Comes for Domestic Sports Content through 6th NBC Code

first_imgShehu Dikko…new deal for domestic league Duro Ikhazuagbe“Advertisement of products and services during prime foreign sports contents shall not be broadcast unless the advertiser equally sponsors, and or advertises such products and services in the broadcast of prime local sports content in the same category, where such local contents produced in Nigeria are available.”- Section 6.2.12 of the 6th National Broadcast CodeThe above is an excerpt from Nigeria’s 6th National Broadcast Codes released on July 4, 2019 which presents an interesting outlook for ownership of international sports broadcast rights and domestic sports content in Nigeria in the seasons ahead. In what can be considered a radical move to protect domestic sports and promote patronage for domestic sports content, the Nigeria Broadcast Commission (NBC) encoded provisions that compels corporations commissioning advertisements in or outright broadcast sponsorship of foreign sports contents on local television and radio as well as broadcast organisations acquiring broadcast rights to also acquire rights to the broadcast of premium domestic sports.Obviously, free market advocates would be up in arms to contest the seeming imposition of business decisions on broadcast organisations and their corporate partners. Then, protectionism in business have never received more fillip than we are currently experiencing in America where President Donald Trump is unabashedly pushing the international markets for patronage of American products and services. If the world capital of capitalism and free market can insist on deals to promote trade in favour of America, who are we here to shout?It’s worth repeating here that deploying resources made from domestic consumption for funding of foreign broadcast contents is not only inimical to the economy which suffers from capital flight, but is killing the domestic sports industry, piling up unemployment and creating social distress as youths who otherwise would have been gainfully engaged in sports are left to wallow in social vices. Such spends on international sports contents creates jobs in the countries where the rights are bought from and provides much needed revenue for the industry in those countries to lure the best talents from all corners of the globe, making their industry a more elegant and attractive proposition.There has been the counter argument that our sports have not developed into the quality of product that can compete with its international counterparts, hence the preference by rights consumers to patronise the more attractive foreign content. This is a clever by half proposition and it negates the realities of the third world and the advanced western economies.Director General of the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) Is’haq Modibbo Kawu was unknowingly responding to this when he noted in his forward on the Codes that “a final point of interest is the manner the 6th edition of the National Broadcasting Code has also reflected the conviction that our sports in general ought to get advertising funding support that matches a reasonable percentage of the huge amount of advertising spend that supports foreign sporting activities”.There are obvious initial challenges that the policy will throw up such as the difficulty Advertisers, Company Marketing Executives and Media Buyers will face in making business decisions on allocating hitherto unbudgeted funds for investment in domestic sports either through sponsorship or purchase of broadcast rights to domestic sports content. This is natural at the outset of every new policy but the long term gains outweigh the short term rough edges.The Government may also encourage a buy-in for corporate investment by offering sweeteners by way of incentives that may include some form tax exemption or holiday for organisations that comply with the code. There may be other waivers that could be offered such as duty waivers for import of equipment associated with broadcast. Significantly, the recent Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) Bill passed by the 8th National Assembly made specific provisions providing for tax exemption and other concessions to companies sponsoring football and this can be extended across all sports.It is patently devious to mop up cash from domestic consumption and use same to create unemployment here and enrich economies of other nations. A thriving domestic sports industry will in the long run create jobs and expertise in allied industries such as media, legal, merchandising, technology, infrastructure, Finance, Insurance and the health sector to list just a few.There can be no future for the domestic sports industry if we keep blind eyes and sealed lips to the shameless dumping of international sports content on our media space while blacking out the domestic activities. Broadcast right remains the premium revenue source for sports funding and the NBC Code is on point in seeking to compel even if trickles to the sector. We may need to get familiar with practices in some European countries such as Britain, Italy, Germany and Spain where different forms of regulations are embedded in their broadcast codes and with additional laws in place to protect and support their domestic sports competitions.Actor and movie producer, Desmond Elliot recently called for outright ban of foreign contents in movies aired in the country and while he has been met with stringent criticisms by persons that readily compare domestic movies with the more established Hollywood, the germane point in his call is that Nollywood cannot compete with Hollywood. The American movie industry is supported by advanced infrastructure, technology and big finance that is already available in the country unlike Nigeria that is far behind in all indices. Same applies to our sports industry that also lacks the infrastructure, technology, finance and history behind European sports.The rules have now been laid down for existing and interested broadcast organisations on acquisition of international sports content rights and no organisation can subvert such a binding regulation. Section 5.2.11 was very clear on this and states that “foreign sports content can no longer be transmitted in the Nigerian territory except the owner of such content has acquired a Prime Local Sports Content of the same category with at least 30 percent of the cost of acquiring the foreign sports content”.An obvious challenge to the domestic sports industry is that those at the helm must initiate steps to float broadcast production companies either wholly owned or in partnership with companies with relevance competence and business capacity to produce events that can compete with established foreign contents. Over the years, there has been a sloppy relationship that sees television and radio outlets produce events and own the contents. Some of the negative effects of such partnership has been the warehousing of the content, inability to extract maximum rights fee and also loss of revenue from international sales of the contents to interested broadcast channels in other continents. Obviously, the production costs also affect the bottom line of the broadcast rights buyer given the huge cost in equipment and logistics.This has been the difference between Sports Content rights owners in places such as the United States of America, Europe, South America, Asia and nearer home, South Africa. Independent production of sports events will ensure national exposure as rights would be sold across terrestrial and direct to Home Services as well as to live streaming and mobile platforms.As noted by a former Chairman of the Lagos State chapter of the Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Fred Edoreh, this is a move to arrest the closing down of domestic sports. “The codes couldn’t have come at a better time than now when we have been subjected to unabashed promotion of foreign sports content, especially football by broadcast organisations and their corporate partners that exploit the economy, make huge kill in selling to domestic consumers but shift the profits to promote foreign football and create jobs in those countries”.In closing this piece, it is worth mentioning that credit must be ascribed to the Federal Government for getting this code approved as it has real potentials to elevate domestic sports to the next level and former Minister for Information and Communication, Alhaji Lai Mohammed also deserves applause for driving the process with the support of Alhaji Kawu, the NCC Director General. It is hoped that government will put measures in place to ensure the enforcement of the regulations.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

What a brand storyteller does

first_imgThis is a post from a member of the Freelancers Union community. If you’re interested in sharing your expertise, your story, or some advice you think will help a fellow freelancer out, feel free to send your blog post to us here.I’m tempted to answer the question above with an obvious, not completely untrue but certainly impartial answer — that a brand storyteller simply tells stories on behalf of brands. But you need to think of stories as a series of choices made through the filter of the storyteller’s experience and craft.It helps to know what stories are. They are “carefully constructed narratives,” or as I like to tell my clients, “stories are designed objects made for a specific purpose to connect with a particular audience.” I craft stories to make people feel something, an emotion.Humans Yearn for StoriesWhen we sit around a campfire at night, we want to be scared by some tale of a headless horseman roaming the countryside. When we’re in turmoil, maybe because we’ve been fired or lost someone we loved, we want to be soothed and maybe helped with sage advice from someone with relevant experience. As children, stories spark our imaginations and help us inhabit dreamscapes of our own constructing. Humans yearn for great stories because they serve our emotional needs in so many ways, big and small.I ask all my clients, whenever they ask me to write a story for them, to explain clearly WHO the story is for and WHAT the story is intended to do? How do you want the reader of this story to feel and what do you hope they’ll do as a result of those feelings? I approach stories from an emotional standpoint first, and then fill in the facts and data.Humans are different from animals because of our innate impulse to craft meaning from whatever happens in the world. We walk around all day in a narrative fugue state, seeking to fit people, events and data into our ongoing internal narratives. We do this until the moment we die, including as we’re sleeping. “What does this mean?” That’s the most human question ever, and the reason that storytelling exists. We never stop seeking answers, and we’re constantly challenged by the seeming randomness of events. And now brands are helping some of us find the meaning and the answers we seek every day.Like you, dear reader, I craft stories all day inside my brain. But unlike you, perhaps, I also craft stories for my clients who pay me to do so. And the process begins the same way your storytelling begins, with a profound urge to make meaning from chaos and apparently disconnected events. Stories connect. When we’re offered data in a story, we remember it. When we’re offered random data, we forget it fast. Why? Stories organize data into meaning, offering our minds scaffolding upon which to put (and recall) data.What a Storyteller Needs to KnowWhen I first meet with a prospective client, I am filled with questions, some of which the client has never considered before. Who is your customer? Why do they reach out and choose you rather than your competitor? What keeps your customer’s up at night, or, where do they hurt the most? How do you bring positive change to your customer’s life? What do your customers like and dislike about you?All of these questions, and many more, help me make meaning of the client’s business and enable me to understand how they interact with their customers. I demand that my clients view their customer as a human with a problem to be solved, and then ask my client to help me understand how they solve customer problems. If a business isn’t solving customer problems, it’s not a business at all.Data and product specifications and software demos are great (I access them constantly in my work), but they don’t create emotional responses in anyone. Customers make decisions through their emotions first, and then confirm those decisions by marshaling facts and data and “rational arguments” around what they’ve already decided. Scientists call it “confirmation bias,” and it’s a powerful force. “People are such rational beings,” said no storyteller ever.Storytellers go to the pain and the conflict and the uncertainty of human life, because that’s where stories live, in the gray areas that unsettle us. The narratives that I craft seek to deliver meaning to people searching for meaning and connection.I don’t have a template where I insert names and products and services. Every story is unique. Assembling a bunch of data isn’t a story. Clients can hire robots to aggregate data, not me. Every storyteller is different; every reader is different. We are all simply trying to find meaning in our own ways, and I’m trying to get the reader to trust me and to follow me on the story’s journey until I’ve written my last word. That’s what a brand storyteller does.Boston-based Chuck Leddy is a business writer and brand storyteller for B2B brands such as General Electric, ADP, Office Depot, Cintas, the National Center for the Middle Market, and many more. He’s also been published in print publications such as the Boston Globe and San Francisco Chronicle.last_img read more