Military News

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Naval Base San Diego Conducts Multiagency Security Training Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Stephen Votaw, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Security officials from Naval Base San Diego (NBSD) took the lead in conducting a multiagency training exercise at the Pacific Beacon bachelor housing complex in San Diego Oct. 28.

The exercise was used to help prepare the base officials for a hostage scenario and to help integrate the base master-at-arms (MAs) with other professional
units.

Units from the Commander, Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW) Police Department, San Diego Police Department, as well as hostage negotiators and a Special Weapons and Tactics unit from the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), participated in the training exercise.

"It is important that we perform these types of exercises so that everyone knows how to respond," said Lt. David Deree, assistant security officer and force protection training team leader. "It is important to practice safety precautions for our Sailors and to help build communications with other agencies and departments."

Deree said that training advisers were on hand to answer any questions and give direction for those participating in the exercise.

According to Deree, NBSD conducts large-scale training exercises quarterly to help keep the highest level of readiness possible.

"We do these kinds of exercises for safety," said Deree. "Safety of both our security teams and our Sailors nearby the incident is always our highest priority, and we do everything possible to ensure the highest level of safety possible."

Base MAs and CNRSW police were the first to arrive and secure the scene until the San Diego Police Department and FBI officials arrived to take charge.

As part of the exercise, residents were cleared from the building prior to the scenario taking place to ensure the safest and most controllable training environment possible.

FBI agents played the role of the suspect and hostages barricaded inside of a room on the seventh floor of the Pacific Beacon bachelor housing complex.

Guantanamo Bay Media Invitation Announced

The Department of Defense and the Office of Military Commissions will provide seats for news media aboard military aircraft for travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on November 8, 2010, for a military commissions hearing in the case of United States vs. Noor Uthman.  Return travel is planned for November 11, 2010.

Media reservation requests should be e-mailed to Tanya.bradsher@osd.mil.  All requests must be received by , November 2, 2010.  Due to a limited number of seats aboard the flight and limited accommodations at Guantanamo Bay, media travel is not guaranteed.

NORAD Dispatches Fighters to Escort Suspicious Aircraft

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – The North American Aerospace Defense Command ordered four fighter jets today to escort a civilian aircraft with suspicious cargo.

NORAD diverted two Canadian CF-18s to track the aircraft as it flew into and over Canadian airspace, NORAD officials said in a statement. The civilian aircraft was passed to two U.S. F-15s as it transited into U.S. airspace and its ultimate destination at John F. Kennedy International Airport, they added.

NORAD dispatched the fighters “out of an abundance of caution,” the statement said.

Family Matters: Halloween Opens Doors to Community

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – I went for a long walk the other night and found my new neighborhood had been transformed into an otherworldly lair. Ghosts hovered from branches and skeletons from rooftops. Toothless pumpkins, faces frozen in eerie smirks, leered at me from nearly every porch as I passed by. But rather than feel the onset of fear, I felt a sense of satisfaction. I've got a sneaking suspicion I moved into my new neighborhood just in the nick of time.

I moved to Maryland about a month ago, a journey I've been blogging about over the past several months, detailing my challenges with everything from house hunting to picking the right school for my kids. But now it's time for the final stage of my move: meeting the neighbors.

In my last community, I must admit I didn't spend much time on social endeavors. I had a newborn, two elementary-age children and a husband to balance with work, which kept me busy. But people didn't seem to gather for street-side chats each evening there, something I sorely miss from my military days.

I remember gathering in my cul-de-sac in Turkey with other military families just about every evening, watching the kids from folding chairs on the sidewalk until it grew too dark to see each other.

I'm always amazed at how military families create such strong bonds and a sense of community in such a short time, and while juggling very difficult demands. They are always willing to pitch in to help another military family in need, whether it’s with child care, a last-minute ride home or just a shoulder to cry on. I know I was the recipient of much of that support when I was a single mom on active duty.

Military families have an amazing gift of empathy and adaptability. And I hope I can put some of those social skills to work here, since I plan to establish roots and settle in for the long haul.

Hence the walk. I not only wanted to get the lay of the land, but also to see if I could meet and greet some neighbors. I ended up seeing more creepy crawlers and spider webs than humans, but Halloween is just a few days away.

As I escort my bear cub, woodland fairy and Darth Vader down the street this weekend, I hope to make some connections that will last over the long term. The holiday, after all, is the perfect excuse to knock every neighbor's door. I'm looking at the holiday this year as a chance to gather new acquaintances, as much as an opportunity to score some candy from my kids.

I may meet a few ghosts and goblins along the way -- and, I'm sure, a few Lady Gagas and Justin Biebers this year– but I also hope to meet a few great people.

Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, November 01, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen speaks at at the BENS Eisenhower Award Dinner honoring Mary and David Boies in the Grand Ballroom Gotham Hall, New York City, N.Y.  Media interested in attending should contact Jennie Moonis, jmoonis@bens.org 202-296-2125, ext. 1124 of JCS Public Affairs at 703-697-4272.

Today in the Department of Defense, Sunday, October 31, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

A National Capital Region Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery in support of the Marine Corps Marathon, occurs at 7:35 a.m. EDT and 7:41 a.m. with two CH 53E's and two F/A-18's.

Today in the Department of Defense, Saturday, October 30, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

This Day in Naval History - Oct. 29

From the Navy News Service

1814 - Launching of Fulton I, first American steam powered warship, at New York City. The ship was designed by Robert Fulton.
1955 - Ships of the 6th Fleet join U.S. military aircraft in evacuating American citizens from Egypt, Israel and Syria when war breaks out in the Middle East.
1980 - USS Parsons (DDG 33) rescues 110 Vietnamese refugees 330 miles south of Saigon.
1989 - A pilot making his 1st carrier landing and four others are killed when his plane crashes on the flight deck of of the training carrier Lexington (AVT 16) off the coast of Pensacola, Fla.

Boat Forces Tour – RB-M Program

Written by: Dan Bender

The Response Boat-Medium is the Coast Guard’s replacement for the aging fleet of 41-foot Utility Boats, a venerable platform that was known as the workhorse of the Coast Guard for most of it’s 25-year-long service life.  Making that transition, from planning to delivery, is the business of the RB-M Program in Kent, Wash.

The team here have a broad mandate to ensure the quality of the boats being delivered to the fleet.  This involves directly monitoring assembly, observing test trials, engineering and supporting the operators who use these boats.

“It’s definitely a multifaceted program,” said Lt. Andrew Hoag who handles warranty issues and tracking reliability and maintenance of the platform.  “Our mission is ensuring quality control of the RB-Ms being constructed.  The feedback I’ve heard has been mostly positive but with any new acquisition there’s always going to be design elements that can be improved.”

Learning what to improve comes from vigorous testing.  Much of that testing is done before the boats ever leave Washington but the ultimate shakedown comes when these highly capable boats are put into service.  Feedback from the fleet is an important source of information.

Input from operators has been an integral part of the design process from the outset.  While the program was still in the planning stages, 22 highly experienced Coasties were brought in to lend their experience.

A welder pieces together an aluminum RB-M keel. Photo by PA2 Dan Bender
“Input from real operators is priceless,” said David Shepard, a boat project specialist from the Office of Boat Forces.

From the comfortable air-conditioned cabin, to the safety of its self-righting capabilities this boat far exceeds the capabilities of the UTBs it is replacing.  That couldn’t happen without the crew of the program who work behind the scenes to ensure their shipmates in the fleet have the best platform possible.

Secretary of State Visits Service Members on Guam

By Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

Yigo, GUAM (NNS) -- More than 1,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines attended a speech given by Secretary of State of the United States Hillary Rodham Clinton at Andersen Air Force Base Oct. 29.

Clinton visited the base as part of her trip to the Asia-Pacific Region. She began her speech by thanking local military leaders along with the governor of Guam and other officials.

She reaffirmed Guam's importance to the nation, and her gratitude to the service members for their dedication and sacrifice.

"This (Asia-Pacific) region is the center of much change, and many challenges of the 21st Century," Clinton said. "We are engaging even more actively in the region with our allies, our partners, with emerging powers, and with institutions that are being built in order to keep peace and advance prosperity and stability."

The secretary added that service members continuously prove themselves indispensable. She highlighted the importance of the role our troops stationed in Guam have in our Asia/Pacific strategy.

"As we step up our engagements, we will depend more than ever on each of you. The men and women of our armed forces are one of the most important assets we have for engaging the world," she said. "Your mission is evolving for the 21st Century and no one understands this better than you. You are called on to perform a wide variety of services, in a wide variety of places. For instance, earlier this year, Sailors from Guam were part of a five-month humanitarian deployment of the USNS Mercy, delivering medical and dental care to Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia, Timor-Leste, Papua New Guinea and Palau. And after the devastating earthquake in Haiti last January, the Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle, like the one now based here, was used to survey the damage and identify safe landing places for aircraft carrying relief supplies."

Clinton stated that more and more, service members are also called on to cooperate with forces from other countries. She recognized these efforts that strengthen our joint security and show our allies that we remain deeply committed to them.

"I know that today, the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 is hosting members of the South Korean military for joint training on identifying and eliminating Improvised Explosive Devices. This is the kind of collaboration that saves lives and leaves both countries better off," she said.

Brig. Gen. John Doucette, 36th Wing commander was appreciative of the positive message Clinton relayed.

"I would like to thank Secretary Clinton for taking time out of her schedule to address the service members here," said Doucette. "It is through the efforts of all the service members that our Nations mission is accomplished. The visit has served as a reminder of what we are fighting for: the safety of not only those we love, but the country we took an oath to protect."

At the conclusion of the event, Clinton came off the stage and entered the crowd to take photos and shake hands with service members in attendance.

Coast Guard Heroes: Robert J. Yered

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
This Compass series chronicles the first 14 heroes the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters have been named for. These men and women, who stood the watch before us, lived extraordinary lives as they lit the way for sailors in times past, braved gunfire in times of war and rescued those in peril at sea. As Coast Guard heroes, their stories are a constant reminder of our service’s legacy. As the namesake of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol boats, they will inspire the next generation of Coast Guard heroes.

Engineman Robert J. Yered’s fearless actions set him apart as he stood duty in the explosive loading detail at the United States Army Terminal, Cat Lai, Vietnam, on February 18, 1968.

In the early morning hours the terminal at Cat Lai was attacked by enemy rocket, mortar and small arms fire. As the heavy rounds beat into the terminal, one of the rockets struck a barge carrying several hundred tons of mortar ammunition. The barge was quickly engulfed in flames, and threatened to destroy three nearby ammunition ships carrying more than fifteen thousand tons of explosives.

Engineman Yered courageously exposed himself to enemy gunfire as he helped extinguish fires on the burning barge. His bold act averted not only the destruction of his own ship but also that of the entire terminal.

Yered’s valorous character shone through many times throughout his career and he is one of 12 Coast Guardsmen awarded the Silver Star. Among his other awards are the Vietnam Service Medal with four bronze stars and a Purple Heart Medal.

A special place in the Coast Guard’s history

Some 8,000 Coast Guardsmen served in various roles during the Vietnam War and during the course of the conflict 59 were wounded and seven lives were lost.

Coast Guard 82-foot cutters were a perfect fit for the shallow waters required for operations in Vietnam. The cutters spent 70 percent of their time underway as they inspected vessels for contraband, intercepted and destroyed North Vietnamese and Viet Cong craft and provided fire support for friendly forces.

As the 82-foot cutters patrolled inshore, larger cutters helped in forming an offshore barrier against infiltration. A total of 30 high endurance cutters served with Squadron Three, which consisted of 10-month deployments from 1967 and 1971.

Retired Senior Chief Kennith Spoor had duties in the explosive loading detail, much like Yered, when he served in Vietnam from July 1969 to July 1970. Spoor vividly recalls the very real dangers of standing the watch at the Army Terminals.

“Our job with the Coast Guard was to supervise the off loading of explosives because they were having too many accidents,” said Spoor. “One of our biggest worries was a swimmer attack that would put explosives under a ship, which did happen in Qui Nhon.”

The manifestation of their biggest fears came true that day in Cat Lai, but despite this persistent threat, Yered exhibited gallantry at the highest level, as he put his life on the line for others- he truly is a Coast Guard hero.
With contributions from LTJG Ryan White

This Day in Naval History - Oct. 28

From the Navy News Service

1864 - Steamer General Thomas and gunboat Stone River destroy Confederate batteries on Tennessee River near Decatur, Ala.
1882 - Orders issued for first naval attache (Lt. Cmdr. French Chadwick sent to London).
1933 - The development of the PBY Catalina flying boat is begun by awarding the contract to the Consolidated Aircraft Company.

Air Force School Focuses on Cybersecurity

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Oct. 29, 2010 – “The wars of the future will be fought in the cyber domain” sounds like a bad movie tagline from 20 years ago, but it’s becoming truer by the day, and the Air Force is readying troops for that battle.

During an Oct. 27 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable, Air Force Brig. Gen. Walter D. Givhan, commandant of the Air Force Institute of Technology at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, discussed the importance of cybersecurity and the newest class of students graduating from the AFIT Center for Cyberspace Research.

AFIT itself has been in existence since 1919, researching and expanding the technology available to the U.S. military, beginning with flight.

“Even at that time, there was a new technology -- flight, the ability to fly,” Givhan said. “Part of what had to be core to us in dealing with this new technology was education -- education and research -- and that we couldn't just depend upon others, but it had to be part of what we were doing, directly connected to us.”

Now, Givhan said, AFIT has added graduate-level cybersecurity education and research to its academic offerings. Some training and research has been going on already, since the advent of computer networking on a large scale, but now AFIT offers master’s degrees and doctorates in cyber fields.

“What we are doing is truly continuing education -- it's not training,” he said. “We're educating [students] on the capabilities, with a little bit of hands-on work as well on particular technology and capabilities within that technology. But it's not like we're giving them a specific cyberweapon and teaching them how to fire or use that specific cyberweapon.”

The two main courses, Cyber 200 and Cyber 300, give students two slightly different looks at cyber operations, but cover the same main topics: the technology, the policy, the doctrine and the law as they relate to the cyber domain.

Cyber 200 is intended for field grade officers and some noncommissioned officers with six to eight years of service and some experience in the cyber domain. In the three-week course, Givhan said, students focus on tactical and operational issues relevant to what they may face in their line of work.

The more advanced two-week 300 course, designed for higher-ranking officers with 12 or more years of total service with at least six of those years working with cyber issues, focuses on broader concepts, the general said.

“These are the folks who are actually going to be helping make this happen in terms of what the joint force commander needs and how to integrate our cyber capabilities into his plan and to accomplish his objectives,” Givhan said.

The first class of Cyber 200 and Cyber 300 students graduated yesterday.

The venture is exciting, Givhan said, because it involves new technology. They’re testing limits, he added, rather than working within “safe” parameters. Thanks to the growth of computer networking jobs in the private sector, he noted, the Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard can be involved closely as well.

“They're actually involved in this on the outside, in civilian jobs having to do with cyber,” he said.

The field’s growth in the private sector also helps to bring in recruits who have worked for civilian companies in network administration or security. AFIT has begun some programs for ROTC cadets, Givhan said, adding that he hopes those will expand as people learn more about the importance of cybersecurity and as the Air Force can teach more about it.

“This is a conversation. … This is not a one-way sort of delivering lectures and things, and people are just soaking it up,” the general said. “This is all so new and exciting and rapidly changing.

“We depend upon the participation of everyone who's part of the class and the instructors,” he continued, “and we all learn from each other in this. And it's changing so fast that the iterative process that we use to reinforce what we're doing … is going to change every time we give it.”

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, October 29, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at the Joint Forces Command Assumption of Command by Gen. Ray Odierno at at the JFCOM Headquarters in Suffolk, Va.  Media interested in attending should contact JFCOM Public Affairs Kathleen Jabs at 757-836-6553 or JCS PA Jennifer Harrington at 703-697-4272.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Guyanese Iwo Jima Sailors Reunite with Relatives During Continuing Promise 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jennifer Hunt, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

GEORGETOWN, Guyana (NNS) -- The humanitarian assistance mission Continuing Promise 2010 presented four service members of Guyanese descent currently embarked aboard the multi-purpose amphibious assault ship USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), an opportunity to reunite with their relatives in Georgetown, Guyana, Oct. 22.

Army Capt. Devicka Sahedeo, Machinist's Mate 1st Class Kurt Powdar, Aviation Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Daniel Singh, and Cpl. John Eversley, gathered at a local school and spent the day catching up with their respective family members after years of separation.

"When I heard we were coming to Guyana, I was really excited," said Singh. "I'm glad there was someone out there who cared about reconnecting me with my family. It was a great surprise."

Powdar, who left the country at the age of 13, was thrilled to meet his wife's father for the first time.

"I know he was shocked when he saw me; we've only seen pictures of each other until now. He's pretty proud of me," he said.

Sahedeo was also able to meet with new relatives and reconnect with others she had not seen since she left more than 20 years ago.

"It was a little overwhelming," said Sahedeo. "I met a lot of people who knew me from before, and they told me stories of how I was as a child. It was just amazing."

Family member after family member ventured into the engineering site designated for the Continuing Promise reunion; however, one last service member anxiously awaited the arrival of his maternal grandmother and great aunt. Upon spotting them, Singh's anxiety was immediately replaced with exhilaration.

"They went through a lot to get here, but that just made it even better," said Singh. "We talked about everything from what the military is doing out here to our other family members around the world."

In addition to a warm reception from relatives, service members felt a fresh welcoming from their developing home country.

"When I was here it was scooters and go-karts, now its bicycles, cars and cell phones," said Powdar. "Imagine it in five or ten years."

Iwo Jima is currently off the coast of Guyana and will move on to Suriname for the final phase of Continuing Promise 2010, a humanitarian assistance mission in which the assigned medical and engineering staff embarked aboard Iwo Jima are working with partner nation teams to provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering assistance in eight nations.

General Officer Announcements

The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignments:

Brig. Gen. Clarence K. K. Chinn to, commanding general, Joint Readiness Training Center and Fort Polk, Fort Polk, La..  He most recently served as deputy commanding general (support), 82d Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.

Brig. Gen. John W. Nicholson Jr., director, Pakistan/Afghanistan Coordination Cell, The Joint Staff, Washington, D.C., to deputy chief of staff for Operations, International Security Assistance Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

George H.W. Bush Strike Group Sinks Ex-USNS Saturn

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandi Grimnes, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- Sea and air assets assigned to the George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) successfully sunk the former U.S. Navy re-supply ship USNS Saturn (T-AFS 100) in a sinking exercise (SINKEX) in the Atlantic Ocean, Oct. 27.

Ships from Destroyer Squadron 22 and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, along with Patrol Squadron (VP) 10 and VP 45, participated in the real-world tactical training exercise with surface-to-surface, air-to-surface and surface-to-air live fire, said Commander, Destroyer Squadron 22 Capt. Jeffrey Wolstenholme, who was responsible for the coordination, planning and execution of the two-day SINKEX.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Mitscher (DDG 57) and the guided-missile cruisers USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) and USS Gettysburg (CG 64) launched missiles, 5-inch guns, Close-In Weapons System (CIWS) and 25-mm and .50-cal weapons. In addition, aircraft and helicopters from CVW 8 launched from Bush and employed bombs and air-to-surface missiles during the exercise.

The sinking exercise focused on integrated strike group operations, command and control procedures, pre-planned responses to maritime threats and surface action group operations. As the strike group prepares for a combat deployment in spring 2011, the sinking exercise provided a unique opportunity to practice combat scenarios, to include tactics and procedures. The exercise was planned to scale up the attacks during the course of the two days, Wolstenholme said.

The first day's attacks were aimed at Saturn's superstructure to prevent hull integrity breaches. The attacks designed to sink the ship occurred on the second day. Every watertight door and hatch was closed on Saturn to ensure the maximum watertight integrity of the ship, so it would stay afloat until the final event where it was sunk with 5-inch rounds, said Wolstenholme.

Using a decommissioned ship as a training platform allows the U.S. Navy to improve the warfighting skills of those who currently serve. Real world training, such as this sinking exercise, enhances force readiness in a way that is unmatched by any simulated scenario.

This exercise demonstrated the strike group's ability to plan and execute warfare competencies such as maritime security, sea control, power projection and deterrence, said Capt. Patrick R. Cleary, commander, CVW 8.

"Everyone in the strike group is very excited to have the opportunity to conduct this exercise because it is rare to be involved in this," Wolstenholme said. "You have an actual life-size ship out there that you can attack with aircraft coming in, ships driving in close proximity and ships launching missiles from long-range getting targeting information from aircraft. It's really hard to replicate this without a hull to shoot at."

Saturn was prepared for the exercise in accordance with all U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requirements, Wolstenholme said. All the fuel oil tanks and piping were cleaned and flushed of petroleum products, and all readily detachable material capable of creating debris or contributing to chemical pollution was removed from the ship.

"We are very sensitive to the environment," Wolstenholme said. "We take great strides to ensure that we are monitoring the environment. We have dropped sonobuoys around the hull to listen for any marine mammals that may be vocalizing and we are surveying the area for marine mammals, sea turtles and concentrations of jelly fish by flying aircraft over the hull and surrounding area.

"Until we have that absolute verification, we do not give permission to launch any weapons," said Wolstenholme. "We have to have that assurance that we will not be putting marine mammals and sea turtles in danger before we begin firing at the former USNS Saturn."

The Navy has put a moratorium on the sinking exercise after 2010 to conduct a comprehensive review of the requirements, costs, benefits and environmental impacts of the current process, said Wolstenholme. Even with the moratorium, the Navy will continue to get the training it needs, just not in the totality that it gets in the sinking exercise.

Saturn was transferred from the British Fleet Auxiliary to Military Sealift Command Dec. 13, 1983. Saturn was in service for more than 25 years and was deactivated April 6, 2009. Towing and salvage specialists at Inactive Ship Maintenance Facility in Philadelphia verified that the 523-foot ship was seaworthy before it was towed about 250 miles off the coast of North Carolina.

Tracks

Clyde Hoch is a self publisher and would be happy to answer any questions. His book is available on Amazon or may be purchased directly from him.  He can be reached via email at hochclyde@yahoo.com or by phone at (215) 679 9580.

Perform-to-Serve Responds to Fleet Feedback

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (AW) LaTunya Howard, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- The Navy announced Oct. 27 the merger of Perform-to-Serve (PTS) with the Fleet Rating Identification Engine (RIDE) program was a direct result of the fleet's request for changes to the current PTS system.

"We asked the fleet Navy counselor, 'What can we do here to make the Navy counselors' job easier?'" said Lt. Mark Reid, deputy enlisted community manager, Bureau of Naval Personnel. "This merger offers the features they need to effectively take care of their Sailors."

The new program is a career counselor's single system for identifying eligibility requirements, managing reenlistment applications and reporting results.

NAVADMIN 352/10 describes the initial implementation of the system, specific policy changes, PTS algorithm changes, procedures for application submission and point of contact information for addressing questions or concerns.

The new system allows commands to view in-rate and conversion quotas on a monthly basis. Additionally, the enhanced, performance-driven algorithms

U.S.-India Exercise Exemplifies Growing Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 27, 2010 – U.S. Army elements in Alaska are preparing to host India’s army for the next in a series of annual field engagements that aim to improve bilateral readiness and cooperation while demonstrating U.S. commitment to South Asia and the broader Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. Army Pacific commander told American Forces Press Service.

U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Benjamin R. Mixon called the Yudh Abhyas exercise to be held next month on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson an example of the growing theater security cooperation program under way throughout the region that’s extending far beyond historical alliances.

Last year alone, U.S. Army Pacific conducted 214 of these events in 29 countries – ranging from the Army’s largest multinational exercise, involving 12,000 participants, to small staff-officer exchanges.

While reinforcing military-to-military relationships with longtime partners in the region such as South Korea, Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Australia, Mixon said the command is increasingly engaging with other strategically significant nations. These include Indonesia and Malaysia, important moderate Muslim nations, as well as India.

During Yudh Abhyas 2010, the 25th Infantry Division’s 4th Brigade Combat Team “Spartans” will join their Indian counterparts in airborne and weapons exchanges and a brigade-level command post exercise.

“It’s going to be a great exercise,” Mixon said.

The training will build on last year’s Yudh Abhyas exercise, the U.S. and Indian armies’ largest joint military exercise ever, which also included the largest deployment of Stryker armored vehicles outside a combat zone. About 300 U.S. soldiers from the 25th Infantry Division’s 2nd Squadron, 14th Cavalry Regiment, deployed from Hawaii with 18 Strykers to train with the Indian army’s 7th Mechanized Infantry Battalion at one of India’s premier military training sites.

These and similar engagements, Mixon said, are key building blocks in supporting a regional security framework.

“The importance of the Asia-Pacific region is obvious to everybody,” he said. “So across the board, having a U.S. presence on the ground in the Asia-Pacific region enhances peace and stability in the area.”

It also prepares the U.S. and partner militaries that could be called on with little notice to cooperatively support missions ranging from humanitarian assistance and disaster relief to peacekeeping.

“It prepares us if there are contingencies,” Mixon said. “We have already built some very, very important relationships that make operations go a lot better when they first begin.”

Mixon has presented Army leaders with a long-range plan to improve training areas within U.S. Army Pacific. The plan, if approved, will enhance capabilities and save dollars spent deploying Pacific-based U.S. units elsewhere for training, he said. But it will also offer U.S. Army Pacific new opportunities to host regional partners for military-to-military training such as Yudh Abhyas 2010.

Meanwhile, Mixon is emphasizing the importance of cultural “astuteness” among his troops.

Recognizing the “hundreds and hundreds of languages and dialects and cultures” within Asia and the Pacific, he recognizes it’s all but impossible for his soldiers to master the linguistic challenges the region presents. What he wants is for his soldiers to be willing to learn enough of a given language to show respect for the cultures of the people they engage with, and the curiosity to take that learning to the next level.

“By doing that, they become astute in how to operate in that particular country,” he said.

Mixon noted how many of his soldiers easily adapted as they shifted from one culture to another during exercises last year in Thailand and the Philippines. “That is what we want our soldiers to be able to do,” he said.

As these efforts continue, U.S. Army Pacific is undergoing an internal reorganization that will improve its ability to support a operations in one of its key focus areas, the Korean peninsula. That initiative, called Pacific Integration, involves folding 8th U.S. Army in Korea into U.S. Army Pacific by next year. Eighth Army already has reorganized as the Army’s only field army, poised on the Korean peninsula to fight alongside its South Korean counterparts, if required.

U.S. Army Pacific will provide enabling capabilities for 8th Army, along with other Army units throughout the region.

Establishing a single Army service component in the Pacific will eliminate redundancies and provide a more efficient, more capable force, Mixon said.

Coast Guard Heroes: William Ray Flores

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
With contributions from LTJG Ryan White

This Compass series chronicles the first 14 heroes the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters have been named for. These men and women, who stood the watch before us, lived extraordinary lives as they lit the way for sailors in times past, braved gunfire in times of war and rescued those in peril at sea. As Coast Guard heroes, their stories are a constant reminder of our service’s legacy. As the namesake of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol boats, they will inspire the next generation of Coast Guard heroes.

Seaman Apprentice William Ray “Billy” Flores gave his life to save his shipmates in the frenzied moments after the collision between Coast Guard Cutter Blackthorn and the 605-foot oil tanker Capricorn on January 28, 1980.

Flores, 19, was less than a year out of boot camp and was newly reported to Blackthorn when the 180-foot buoy tender capsized near the entrance to Tampa Bay, Fla.

As the boat became submerged, inexperience gave way to bravery as Flores and another crewmember stayed aboard to throw life jackets to some of his shipmates who had jumped into the water.

Flores remained behind and used his own belt to strap open the lifejacket locker door, which allowed additional lifejackets to float to the surface.

“I was on the bridge and when the ship rolled onto beams end I knew we were past the point of no return and would surely capsize,” said retired Lcdr. John Ryan, a member of Blackthorn’s crew. “I went into the water from the bridge wing and by the time I surfaced the ship had capsized over me. I was injured with a sprained back and injured shoulder. As I struggled, suddenly a life jacket from the locker that was on the main deck came floating up to me.”

Due in no small part to Flores’ fearless actions and sacrifice, 27 of Flores’ shipmates escaped the submerged Blackthorn, but tragically 22 other Coast Guardsmen perished aboard Blackthorn.

A special place in the Coast Guard’s history

Flores was posthumously awarded the Coast Guard Medal, the service’s highest award for heroism not involving combat, on September 16, 2000. Flores’ family accepted the award and selected the date because it is a day of honor for many Hispanics that celebrates Mexico’s fight for independence from Spain.

The Coast Guard’s recognition of Flores’ heroism came after many of his surviving shipmates reviewed the records of the collision and realized that Flores’ actions had not been formally honored. His shipmates poured through transcripts from the surviving crew, administrative records and newspaper clippings to ensure Flores would receive the honor he so profoundly deserved.

“I am convinced that William Flores saved my life by his selfless act that night,” said Ryan. “That quiet young man that I was impressed with from the first time I met him will forever be a hero in my eyes. I have never forgotten him and never will. It is a fitting tribute to his heroism that a cutter will bear his name.”

Coast Guard Heroes: Richard Etheridge

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
With contributions from LTJG Ryan White

This Compass series chronicles the first 14 heroes the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters have been named for. These men and women, who stood the watch before us, lived extraordinary lives as they lit the way for sailors in times past, braved gunfire in times of war and rescued those in peril at sea. As Coast Guard heroes, their stories are a constant reminder of our service’s legacy. As the namesake of the Coast Guard’s newest patrol boats, they will inspire the next generation of Coast Guard heroes.

Captain Richard Etheridge was the first African-American to command a Life-Saving station when he was appointed as keeper of the Pea Island Life-Saving Station on January 24, 1880. First Lieutenant Charles Shoemaker, a Revenue Cutter Service officer who recommended his appointment as keeper, noted Etheridge was “one of the best surfmen on this part of the coast of North Carolina,” and on October 11, 1896, Etheridge led his crew on a daring rescue that serves as a testament to his exemplary skills as a leader and a surfman.

The three-masted schooner, E.S. Newman, was caught in a powerful storm off the eastern coast of the United States. The storm, so severe that Etheridge had suspended beach patrols that day, blew E.S. Newman 100 miles off course and grounded the schooner two miles south of the Pea Island station.

After a distress flare was sighted, Etheridge launched a surfboat into the forceful waves and currents. The crew struggled to make their way to the schooner, and when they finally arrived they found they could not reach the vessel because it was not on dry land. Etheridge, seeing no room for failure, tied two of his strongest surfmen together and connected them to shore by a long line. The surfmen fought their way through the breaking waves as they went from the schooner to dry land ten times and rescued the entire crew of the E.S. Newman.

For the rescue of all souls aboard E.S. Newman the Coast Guard awarded the Gold Lifesaving Medal to the Pea Island crew. Countless other heroic acts were performed by Etheridge and his men and his dedication to being a lifesaver was unyielding as he served for more than 20 years until his death on May 8, 1900.

A special place in the Coast Guard’s history

The Pea Island Lifesaving Station, or “Station 17,” was the site of many dramatic rescues. Together, the African American crew at Station 17, including Benjamin Bowser, Louis Wescott, William Irving, George Pruden, Maxie Berry and Herbert Collins, under the leadership of Etheridge, rescued sailors in the tumultuous waters along the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Allan Smith, producer of “Rescue Men: The Story of the Pea Island Surfmen” described the work ethic of these men: “In researching for the film, the one thing that stood out is that no matter what, you have a job to do. The job you have is probably important or it wouldn’t exist. And they did, what they did, to the best of their ability and this is something that we can all learn from.”

The station was “disestablished” on March 18, 1947 after nearly 70 years under an all African American crew and is credited as one of the earliest drivers of diversity across the naval services.

“Etheridge was the ideal of what we mean when we use the word, ‘American.’ He had honor and a sense of right,” said Smith.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

This Day in Naval History - Oct. 27

From the Navy News Service

1864 - Lt. William Cushing sinks Confederate ram Albemarle with a spar torpedo attached to the bow of his launch.
1922 - Navy League of the United States sponsors first annual celebration of Navy Day to focus public attention on the importance of the U.S. Navy. That date was selected because it was Theodore Roosevelt's birthday.
1943 - First women Marines report for duty on the West Coast, Camp Pendleton, Calif.
1944 - Fast Carrier Task Forces attack Japanese shipping and installations in Visayas and northern Luzon.
1967 - Operation Coronado VIII begins in Rung Sat Zone.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, October 28, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has no public or media events on his schedule.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn is traveling.

British Army Maj. Gen. Nick Carter, commanding general for Regional Command South, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

The Department of Defense announced today that the premiere of the HBO documentary WARTORN 1861-2010 will take place from to in the Pentagon Auditorium.

Ward: Guard, Reserve Make Vital Contributions in Africa

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – The National Guard and Reserves are making a vital contribution in Africa, the commander of U.S. Africa Command said here yesterday.

On any given day, 3,500 U.S. servicemembers serve on the continent, and 90 percent of those are Guard and Reserve members, Army Gen. William E. “Kip” Ward said at the 2010 Association of the U.S. Army Annual Meeting and Exposition.

Ward highlighted the almost 20-year-old, 62-nation, National Guard State Partnership Program that pairs Guard states with foreign countries. And he challenged Guard and Reserve leaders attending the exposition to sustain transformation of the Guard and Reserve.

“Ladies and gentlemen, that’s what you have to make sure we do not lose” -- momentum in transformation of the reserve component force, Ward said, noting today’s active and reserve components work in tandem with active-duty forces in operations around the world.

“In today’s environment, the Army does not do what it does without the full, comprehensive and complete participation of our Guard and Reserve force,” Ward said.

The reserve components’ work in Africa, including participation in major exercises and other operations, he said, benefits the United States by promoting stability, assists African nations and enriches the professional and personal lives of the servicemembers involved.

By land area, Africa could swallow the continental United States three and a half times, Ward said. One billion people live in Africa, he added, a population that’s predicted to double in 50 years. Some raw materials used to make parts found in every cell phone are only available in Africa, Ward said. The continent’s 53 nations offer growing economic markets.

U.S. awareness of Africa’s importance and significance in the world will increase, Ward predicted. “We have not paid the type of attention [to Africa] that we ought to,” he said.

In his former role as deputy commander of U.S. European Command and in other capacities, Ward witnessed the important role played by the National Guard’s State Partnership Program after the collapse of the former Soviet Union.

“I saw [SPP] work so well in Eastern Europe after the fall of the Iron Curtain,” he said. “That model also works in Africa: sustained security engagement being conducted by young men and women who are combat-tested, proven veterans with energy, enthusiasm, wanting to contribute, making a difference and doing it on a continent where those who are the recipients of that association are thankful for it.”

Ward highlighted the work performed by National Guard members from California, New York, North Dakota and Vermont in Africa. Meanwhile, he said, a 900-strong Kansas Guard battalion based in Djibouti is “working in a brilliant and magnificent way.”

Ward said Kansas’ citizen-soldiers tell him they feel appreciated and express their personal satisfaction with a 97-percent reenlistment rate.

“We appreciate what our National Guard and Reserves do,” Ward said. “What you are doing … is important and it matters.”

Guard members and Reservists are integrated into Africom’s staff and are part of a seamless total force, Ward said. “I am proud to serve with them,” he added.

And, when African troops meet and train with U.S. troops “they just see the best in America, and the role that the National Guard and Reserves play … is absolutely critical,” Ward said.

“They see first and foremost an American that’s helping,” he said.

Face of Defense: Airman Conquers Sahara Race

By Air Force Senior Airman Steve Bauer
30th Space Wing

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif., Oct. 27, 2010 – A 533rd Training Squadron instructor here completed the 2010 Sahara Race in Egypt this month.

Air Force Capt. Carrie Zederkof, a space-based infrared system mission instructor, competed against more than 150 competitors from 36 countries Oct. 9 in a race Time magazine named as one of the top 10 endurance competitions in the world.

Zederkof's brother, Matt Lowe, found out about the competition online and suggested that she compete.

"He mentioned that he wanted to do it last year, three weeks before the start of the competition," Zederkof said. "My dad and I tried to talk him out of it, because it was a little insane to do something like that without training for it, but we told him that we might do it with him if he waited a year -- and the idea just went on from there."

A year later, on Oct. 3, Zederkof found herself hauling a 20-pound backpack filled with just enough gear, food and clothing to last seven days through a six-stage, 155-mile footrace over sand and sand dunes in the world's hottest desert. The only assistance provided was water and tents, which she didn't have to tote.

"The hardest part for me was the heat," Zederkof said. "I had trained, but hadn't been able to train in heat, because it is not very warm here. It got up to about 118 degrees Fahrenheit nearly every day there. That was the hardest part."

To overcome the heat of the desert, the captain said, she continuously consumed water and electrolytes. But that posed its own difficulty, she noted.

"It is hard to run on that much water," Zederkof explained. "I definitely drank more water than I would normally drink on a run, and I ending up crashing, or 'bonked' as they say, towards the end of the first day. I had to walk the last three kilometers very slowly, because my body couldn't handle it anymore."

At the close of the first day, Zederkof said, she was exhausted and began to doubt her ability to finish the race. But those thoughts didn't last long, she said.

"It is all about the people who help you get through the race," she said. "That is what's neat about this. Although it is a competitive race, people are not out to get each other. We all want to finish, we all want to do well, and we all are in pain. It doesn't matter how good of shape you're in. Everyone hurts, but the people were really supportive."

Veterans of the race mentored Zederkof, showing her how to balance electrolytes with water and passing along helpful tips, such as the need to snack often to make it through the day.

"I told a couple people about this race, and I didn't want to disappoint them," she said. "I don't like quitting."

There was no quit in Zederkof as she pushed through the remainder of the race, ambitiously crossing the Valley of Whales, where 40-million-year-old whale fossils protrude in what once was an ancient shallow sea, and then on to the finish line at the Great Pyramids of Giza.

Zederkof not only completed the seven-day race, but also placed well in the competition. Out of 156 competitors, 75 percent of whom were men, only 107 people finished the race. Zederkof was the seventh woman and the 39th person overall to cross the finish line.

The captain's father, Ted Lowe, and her brother were waiting for her at the finish line and shared in the celebration of the accomplishment of her two goals: to finish the race and to finish the race without injury.

"It felt awesome that I had finished, and I was relieved that I made it," Zederkof said.

Zederkof said she now is contemplating taking part in another part of a series of endurance events called 4 Deserts that includes The Last Desert in Antarctica, the Gobi March in China, and the Atacama Crossing in Chile.

U.S.-South Korea Exercises Will Resume, Commander Says

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 26, 2010 – The top U.S. commander in South Korea yesterday expressed confidence that the next in a series of U.S.-South Korean military exercises designed to improve readiness and send a deterrent message to North Korea will proceed soon.

Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp said he expects the next exercise, which was temporarily postponed due to scheduling problems, will be rescheduled in the not-too-distant future.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Tae-young agreed this summer to conduct the “Invincible Spirit” exercise series after North Korea sank the South Korean navy ship Cheonan in March, killing 47 South Korean sailors.

“Over the remainder of this year and into the future, we are going to continue with a series of exercises that looks very directly at how we can strengthen the alliance based on what we see going on in North Korea,” Sharp told a Pentagon Channel reporter yesterday.

So far, two Invincible Spirit exercises have been conducted. The first, in July, focused on naval and air readiness. Earlier this month, the U.S. and South Korean navies wrapped up five days of anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Korean peninsula.

The third exercise, which tentatively had been slated for late October, was to include the USS George Washington aircraft carrier in operations in international waters off the western coast of Korea.

As the United States and South Korea chart the alliance’s way ahead for the next several years through a plan called the “Strategic Alliance 2015,” Sharp said big emphasis is going into making the exercise program more realistic and reflective of the North Korean threat.

Gates and Kim discussed these plans and other aspects of the far-ranging Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement earlier this month during the 42nd annual Security Consultative Meeting here.

“All countries of the region are concerned with what is going on in North Korea,” Sharp said, citing ballistic missile shoots, nuclear tests and other threatening acts such as the Cheonan sinking.

The United States and South Korea are “constantly watching what North Korea is doing,” Sharp said.

Meanwhile, the general said it’s not too late for North Korea to make amends.

“As we go into the future, North Korea has an opportunity here to be able to change their ways and to become much more responsible -- to denuclearize, to [address]… human rights within the country and to stop the provocations that they have been doing,” he said.

Sharp said North Korea also has the opportunity to officially apologize for sinking the Cheonan -- an act it continues to deny.

In response to a North Korean apology, the general said, the world community could help impoverished North Korea improve conditions for its people.

“Whether North Korea takes advantage of that opportunity is yet to be seen,” he said. “But I think all the countries of the region are clearly saying, ‘This is the time to do it.’”

Meanwhile, Sharp said the Strategic Alliance 2015 plan will be instrumental in taking the U.S.-South Korea alliance to the next level in preparation for 2015, when South Korea is to assume wartime operational control of its forces. The timeline was delayed from 2012, at South Korea’s request.

While posturing both countries’ militaries for operational control, or “opcon,” transfer in five years and bolstering their existing exercise program, the plan also covers a broad range of other initiatives, including developing new war plans, reviewing military organizational structures and timing the movement of U.S. forces south of Seoul.

Strategic Alliance 2015 will allow these initiatives to proceed in a synchronized way that will further strengthen an already-robust alliance, Sharp said.

“The Republic of Korea military is very, very strong and very capable and has great leaders,” he said. “But this move to do ‘opcon’ transfer in 2015 will allow us, not only to continue to work to strengthen militarily the Republic of Korea and U.S. [forces], but also to be able to strengthen our posture and organizations and units we have.”

When the transition takes place in 2015, “we will be even stronger than what we would have been if we had changed it in 2012,” Sharp said.