Military News

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Voices Concern with Military Suicide Rate

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - Suicide is a growing problem in the military community, and its leaders must be committed to reversing that trend, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said here today. In an address to an audience of more than 1,000 military and other government agency health-care workers and officials gathered for the 2nd Annual Suicide Prevention Conference sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments, Mullen and his wife, Deborah, shared their thoughts and concerns on the issue.

Mullen said that while he recognizes the challenge the armed services have had in combating suicide while waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, it's a challenge that can't be overlooked.

"The subject of suicide is one of tremendous difficulty and challenge and understanding, and there have been a lot of people who have worked on this diligently for many, many years," the chairman said. "Certainly, ... with the rise in the numbers in all the services since these wars, [Defense Department officials have] started to really look at the causes and get to a point where we can prevent this and understand this."

Despite a lack of a clear link between repeated deployment cycles and servicemember suicides, the admiral urged the audience not to count that factor out. "Dwell time" at home between deployments over the next couple of years, he said, will begin to increase for the Marine Corps, but not for the Army. So health-care professionals need to be mindful of that and continue learning, he said.

"I know at this point in time, there does not appear to be any scientific correlation between the number of deployments and those that are at risk, but I'm just hard-pressed to believe that's not the case," Mullen said. "I know we are and hope to continue to look [at deployments] first to peel back the causes to get to the root of this."

Sustaining Marine Corps dwell time will alleviate "a lot of pressure and stress," the admiral said. But the armed forces must carry on their missions as the United States draws down forces in Iraq and increases its military footprint in Afghanistan, he added.

The suicide rate in all four services was higher than the national average, with 52 Marines and 48 sailors taking their own lives in 2009, according to the individual services' annual reports. As of November, 147 soldiers had fallen to suicide. The final 2009 figures for the Army are expected to be released tomorrow. Air Force totals for 2009 also were not yet available.

Mullen stressed that in addition to the high rate of suicides among the ground forces, the increasing rate is evident among the entire military.

"As I look at the numbers for each service, the rates have gone up per capita at about the same rate over the past four or five years for every service," he said. "This isn't just a ground-force problem."

Suicide is a growing problem that leaders have to commit to, and experts who study suicide prevention must help those leaders understand the causes, Mullen said. The military's leaders are eager to implement programs and better prevention measures, he added.

Mullen advocated for better overall training for servicemembers, noting that the military has a tendency to focus on training, whether it's field or mental fitness, during the deployment-readiness cycle. Training for troops and their family members must start from the day they swear in, he said.

"We have a tendency to cycle [training] to get you ready before you deploy, but I would argue that with where we are right now, we have to have a continuum of readiness that starts to educate families from Day One about the challenges the lie ahead, the information that is available [and] the networks that are out there in these challenging times, so that we can hopefully avoid crisis," he said.

Suicide among military family members also is a growing concern for the military. Deborah Mullen said that although much focus has been given to suicide prevention for servicemembers and assistance for survivors of suicide victims, more must be done for the families. Family members also need training to build resilience and learn how to deal with the stress of deployments, she said.

"There's another side to this, and that's family members who've committed suicide," she said. "It's our responsibility. These are our family members."

Families are under great stress, too, she said, noting that watching their loved ones deploy repeatedly can be equally as strenuous on families at it is on the deploying servicemembers.

"I think we need to realize that we have families that are under such great stress," the chairman's wife said. "This stress is only going to continue. We need to be able to give tools to family members who are left behind.

"I hope the families are something you will look at as you work through these really challenging problems," she told the audience. "We do have family members that we need to be aware of, and we need to get our arms around the number of suicide attempts and actual suicides and the impact on the family."

The conference began Jan. 11 to give health-care professionals insight to each organization's programs and best practices in suicide prevention. Nearly 100 veterans who have experienced suicidal thoughts were expected to share their stories of survival by the time the conference ends tomorrow.

Military Preps for Broader Haiti Relief Mission

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is headed toward earthquake-devastated Haiti and is scheduled to arrive tomorrow to provide airlift support for the disaster-response mission, the commander of U.S. Southern Command reported today. Meanwhile, Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser said, Southcom is "seriously looking" at deploying a large-deck amphibious ship with a 2,000-member Marine expeditionary unit to provide disaster response and, if required, to help maintain security.

Several other Defense Department ships and Coast Guard vessels – from small ships to destroyers to cutters -- also are headed toward Haiti, some with limited humanitarian assistance supplies and helicopters aboard.

In addition, an 82nd Airborne Division brigade and "various forces around the armed forces" have been put on alert, ready to deploy if needed to support the effort, the general said.

The actions are part of a "very robust effort" under way to ensure the military is ready to respond to requirements identified through ongoing assessments, Fraser explained during news briefings today at the Pentagon and the State Department.

"We don't know precisely what the situation is on the ground," he said, "so we are leaning forward to provide as much capability as quickly as we can to respond to whatever the need is when we get there."

Meanwhile, the military is taking accountability of its own 64 troops assigned to Haiti. Most are part of the military liaison group there or support the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, Fraser said.

Fraser is leading military support to the disaster response mission, being coordinated through the U.S. Agency for International Development and State Department's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance.

His deputy military commander, Air Force Lt. Gen. P.K. "Ken" Keen, was on the ground in Haiti when the earthquake struck, and is providing the initial on-the-ground military command.

The initial thrust in the operation, Fraser said, is on assessing the situation on the ground to determine what's needed and where, and to provide communications and command-and-control equipment needed to support relief efforts.

Toward that end, Southcom is deploying a 30-person team to Haiti this afternoon to support U.S. relief efforts.

Two Puerto Rico Air National Guard C-130 Hercules aircraft will deliver the team, made up of U.S. military engineers, operational planners, a command-and-control group and communication specialists. Once on the ground, they will work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, U.N. and international officials to assess the situation and facilitate follow-on U.S. military support.

"From practice, we've found that the assessments are critical to making sure we get the right equipment in there and make the recovery efforts and the life-supporting efforts as efficient as possible," Fraser explained.

Meanwhile, the C-130s are transporting civilian search-and-rescue teams to Haiti, he said.

Southcom officials reported other immediate response activities:

-- A U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, hospital for further treatment earlier today;

-- Elements of the Air Force's 1st Special Operations Wing will arrive in Haiti this afternoon to provide air traffic control capability and airfield operations at the Port-au-Prince airport; and

-- A Navy P-3 Orion aircraft took off from Comalapa, El Salvador, early this morning to conduct an aerial reconnaissance of the area affected by the earthquake.

An important initial thrust is on getting communications and command-and-control assets into Haiti to support relief operations, Fraser told reporters. He noted that the U.N. Mission's headquarters was severely damaged during the earthquake, with much of its communications equipment lost.

As communications and other support goes to Port-au-Prince airport to restore it to full functioning, assessment teams will also evaluate the port facilities to determine if they are operational to receive incoming aid.

The USS Carl Vinson was on a training mission when it was ordered to Haiti to support the effort. It will transit through Mayport, Fla., to take on additional humanitarian support supplies and helicopters before arriving in Haiti later tomorrow, Fraser said.

The arrival of a yet-underdetermined amphibious ship, probably a couple of days after the Vinson, will provide a broader range of capability to move supplies around and provide lift capability to support the effort, he said.

While not ruling out a deployment of the hospital ship USS Comfort, Fraser said the amphibious ship could provide much of the same medical capability.

In the meantime, all available military assets remain on the table as a clearer picture begins to emerge about what's needed, the general said.

"We're focused on the life-saving measures that we need to do there -- the assessment, the emergency response -- and then looking at what the humanitarian and disaster relief requirements are and providing international support to Haiti, to help them through this significant disaster," he said.

Africa, Partners Work for Maritime Security

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - The international community is taking focused, collaborative action to remove maritime insecurities in Africa, the deputy commander of U.S. Naval Forces Africa said yesterday. Navy Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. spoke to international reporters in a roundtable discussion at the State Department's Foreign Press Center here. He talked about the complex situation in Africa and the multinational partnership committed to providing security there.

Maritime insecurities -- such as illegal, unregulated and unreported fishing, oil theft, piracy, illicit trade, narcotics trafficking, human trafficking, illegal immigration and environmental degradation -- put African development in jeopardy and affect the global community, Harris said.

"These conditions foster easy avenues for transnational threats to travel within and outside of Africa, opening new routes and bases of support for criminals and extremists of every type," he said. "These problems are complex and have deep historical roots, but these are not insurmountable problems.

"To African coastal states and the U.S. and European partners, this situation is intolerable, and the time has come to take action together, with African nations in the lead."

The Africa Partnership Station is improving security and safety, Harris said, calling its efforts a "true international partnership." This is possible because African nations, particularly the 11 Gulf of Guinea nations, asked for the partnership. The United States and Europe are not imposing their ships and Africa Partnership Station on the continent, he explained.

"We got the clear message from our African partners that they wanted our help to develop their capacity to provide for their own maritime security and safety," he said. "[Africa Partnership Station] is inspired by the belief that effective maritime security and safety will contribute to the development, economic prosperity and security ashore."

The Africa Partnership Station will see even more support from the United States and other nations through joint-training endeavors, Harris said, as more ships, equipment, people and time will be given to train willing nations. A "hub concept" the partnership will establish this year will allow ships to port longer and bring regional partners on board for classroom training, followed by hands-on training at sea, he said.

"This puts what the students have learned into practice for several days underway immediately after we've done the classroom phase," the admiral added.

The current Africa Partnership Station mission off Africa's eastern coast is the largest to date. Though it's smaller than the west coast's mission, the international staff includes sailors from Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Mauritius, and two ships dedicated to the mission.

The west coast African Partnership Station mission has a Nigerian naval officer as its deputy commander, Harris noted.

The international effort in Africa hopes to build trust and long-lasting partnerships at the national, subregional and regional levels, Harris said. The effort is designed to bring maritime safety and security to Africa and reflects African nations' desire to improve their capacity.

"We float on trust," Harris said. "Our African partners have told us they want our help to develop their capacity to provide for their own maritime security and safety. Africa Partnership Station is taking these partnerships into action in a concerted, interagency, multinational effort to promote maritime governance around Africa.

"And from a global community perspective, ladies and gentlemen, that's good for everyone, and it's good for us in America," he said.

December Recruiting Successes Wrap Up Banner 2009

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - The Defense Department rang out 2009 as a successful recruiting year with solid recruiting successes in all four active components in December, Pentagon officials announced today. The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all met or exceeded their active-duty accession goals for December, with five of the six reserve components meeting or exceeding their monthly goals.

The Air Force recruited the most active-duty members, achieving its 2,834-airman goal. The Navy also met its goal, with 2,384 accessions. The Marine Corps signed on 2,221 Marines, 102 percent of its goal.

The Army, with 487 accessions, topped its December goal by 21 percent.

Among the reserve components, the Army National Guard signed up the most new members, recruiting 4,175 new soldiers for 97 percent of its goal. The Army Reserve reported 2,253 new members, 110 percent of its goal. The Air National Guard, with 692 accessions, topped its December goal by 54 percent.

The Navy Reserve and Air Force Reserve both met their December goals, recruiting 496 and 917 new members, respectively.

Attrition throughout the reserve components remained at acceptable numbers, officials reported. Meanwhile, all four services reported strong active-duty retention during the first three months of fiscal 2010.

U.S. Seeks Positive Military Relationship with China

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - The United States seeks to maintain a positive, cooperative and comprehensive military relationship with China, senior Defense Department officials told the House Armed Services Committee today. Wallace "Chip" Gregson, assistant secretary of defense for Asian and Pacific security, acknowledged that the U.S. relationship with the largest nation in the world is complicated. China is a partner in some respects, but a competitor in others, he explained, and the United States must engage constantly with China and seek to lessen uncertainty.

Uncertainty is the major stumbling block to Sino-American relations, Navy Adm. Robert Willard, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the committee.

Willard noted inconsistency between Chinese security statements and reality on the ground. China insists its military program is defensive only, and that it seeks a peaceful and harmonious environment in which its economy can grow and prosper, the admiral said. But the Chinese military has increased its capabilities in power projection and in asymmetric and conventional forces.

"That ambiguity that currently exists, and our attempts to reconcile that, are the security issue that we hope to tackle in a military-to-military dialogue with our [Chinese] counterparts," Willard said.

Gregson said the department is particularly concerned about Chinese developments in the nuclear arena, cyberspace and space.

The military-to-military relationship with China is important and must be nourished, the admiral said, and a good dialogue between the United States and China will help spread security throughout Asia.

"It's the reason for our emphasis to the Chinese on the need for continuity, some constancy in terms of that dialogue," he said. "We think that it's lagging behind the other engagements between our nation and the People's Republic of China." The Defense Department must speed up its engagement to match corresponding U.S. efforts on the economic and political levels, he added.

The United States will maintain its presence in the Asia-Pacific region "as robustly as we have in the past as we continue to engage the Chinese in dialogue and, hopefully, foster an improved relationship and get to some of the ambiguities," the admiral said.

Gregson said U.S. engagement with China and U.S. engagement with the region are inseparable.

"Our consistent and increased engagement with the region, our enhancements of our alliances and partnerships there -- not only in the East Asian region but, increasingly, through the Indian Ocean area -- will be essential to us shaping the environment that will allow us to also shape or develop cooperative, comprehensive relationships with the Chinese," he said.

Former ANG director passes away at 88

By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke

National Guard Bureau

(1/13/10) – Retired Maj. Gen. John J. Pesch, a former director of the Air National Guard, passed away at his home in Sterling, Va., Jan. 10. He was 88. Pesch, who was a member of the Maine National Guard, was the oldest living senior officer of the National Guard Bureau. He served as director from 1974-77.

“I'd like to recognize his great work to include service in the Second World War, his great leadership in Maine and his innovative leadership of the Air National Guard,” said Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Pesch was born in Maspeth, N.Y., in 1921. Before he joined the National Guard, he was a pilot in the Army Air Corps.

"He was the last of the Greatest Generation of combat fighter pilots,” said retired Gen. John B. Conaway, former chief of the National Guard Bureau. “He reset the Air National Guard after the Vietnam War with new fighter force structure and established active duty rotational missions for the Air National Guard.

“He was innovative, creative, and worked well with both the Air Force and the units in the field."

He told Air Forces Times in 2005 that he flew A-24 Dauntless divebombers and A-20 Havoc attack planes at stateside bases before becoming a founding member of the 452nd Bombardment Group. He was sent to England as a pilot in the group’s 731st Bombardment Squadron.

He was a captain on March 23, 1944, when German fighters shot out two engines on the left side of his B-17 during a bombing raid. Eight members of the crew bailed out, leaving Pesch and his co-pilot alone with the aircraft.

Pesch told the Air Force Times that he never gave the order to bail out. “Years later,” he said. “my navigator told me that when the aircraft passed through 11,000 feet almost upside down and at an air speed of 325 miles per hour, he knew in his heart that we two pilots were dead and the rest of the crew would soon be dead too.”

The navigator opened the nose hatch and bailed out. When the engineer saw this, he opened the bomb bay doors and the rest of the crew jumped. They were prisoners of war for the rest of the conflict.

Meanwhile, Pesch and his co-pilot were bracing their knees against the control column to regain control of the B-17.

“Ground fire would have destroyed our aircraft except for the appearance of a lone P-51 (Mustang),” Pesch told Air Force Times. “The pilot of the P-51 came alongside, few our left wing and gave us a thumbs-up. He strafed the sites of the ground fire and effectively escorted us to the English Channel. (We) owe our lives to that P-51 pilot. We tried to locate the pilot later, but were not successful. Whoever he is, he is our hero.”

Pesch said he joined the Maine Air Guard after World War II, because he enjoyed flying.

“I liked the flying and here was an opportunity to continue flying and continue an association with the military establishment, to be with people who shared common interests,” he said.

In 1949, Pesch became commander of the 132nd Fighter Interceptor Squadron, one of the first ANG jet fighter squadrons.

He was ordered to active duty during the Korean Conflict in 1951 as chief of the fighter branch for 12th Air Force in Germany. He returned to Maine the following year.

Pesch returned to active duty in 1959 and was assigned to the Air Force’s directorate of operations. In 1963, he transferred to the Air Defense command in Colorado Springs, Colo., as the assistant director of operations.

He reported to the National Guard Bureau as the deputy director of the Air National Guard in 1966. He served for 35 years retiring in 1977.

Pesch was a command pilot with 6,000 hours of military flying time. His combat and service awards include the Legion of Merit, Distinguished Flying Cross with one Oak Leaf Cluster, the Meritorious Service Medal and the Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters.

A memorial service for Pesch will be held at 2 p.m., Jan. 18 at the Falcon’s Landing Chapel in Sterling, Va. His burial is scheduled for 10:45 a.m., March 8 at Arlington Cemetery.

North Dakota county thanks Guard for flood help



Story courtesy of the North Dakota National Guard

(1/13/10) -- Soldiers and Airmen of the North Dakota National Guard recently received recognition for spring 2009 flood operations here during Cass County Commission meeting.

Cass County Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson presented Maj. Gen. David Sprynczynatyk, adjutant general of the North Dakota National Guard, with an award on behalf of the sheriff’s office and all of Cass County government to recognize the Guard’s contributions to the spring 2009 flood effort.

“The many agencies, personnel, volunteers and leaders that directed the flood fight are to be commended. Perhaps the most important to the flood fight were the members of the North Dakota Guard. … Equipment and Guard members were instrumental in saving a number of people as well as a large amount of property in our communities,” Thoreson said before he presented the award.

Maj. Greg McDonald and Capt. Grant Larson, who worked closely with Cass County authorities throughout flood operations, attended the meeting, as did Col. Rick Gibney, 119th Wing commander, and Lt. Col. Todd Branden, air operations officer for the Guard’s flood operations in eastern North Dakota.

“One of the things that I think most impressed me, in addition to how well our Soldiers and Airmen did, was the relationships and partnerships with the counties, the cities, the sheriffs’ offices — that really was heartwarming. What I saw our young men and women do over that nearly 100-day period was really tremendous in terms of building that relationship with the public, with the entities, and, of course, with the people of North Dakota,” Sprynczynatyk said before presenting a special flood coin to each of the commissioners.

“It was really amazing all the work of the men and women in the Guard and what service they provided to Cass County,” Commissioner Darrell Vanyo said after shaking Sprynczynatyk’s hand.

Sprynczynatyk closed by saying that even with about 800 Guardsmen deployed overseas, the North Dakota National Guard, which has a total strength of about 4,400, remains ready to help here at home.

“We’ll be ready, we’ll be there, and we’ll do whatever is asked of us,” he said. “And I guarantee we’ll succeed.”

During the three months of spring 2009 flood operations, more than 2,000 Soldiers and Airmen in the North Dakota National Guard performed a wide range of missions, including dike construction, traffic control points, quick-reaction teams, sandbagging, rescue operations and aerial 1-ton sandbag placement.

Two ARNG units named 'best of best' in food service

Story courtesy of Fort Lee Public Affairs

(1/7/10) -- The Department of the Army G-4 and the chairman of the board, International Food Service Executives Association, have announced the winners of the 2010 Philip A. Connelly Awards Program for Excellence in Army Food Service:

• Small Garrison Winner: Headquarters, HHC USASOC, Fort Bragg, N.C.
• Small Garrison Runner-up: 501st Military Intelligence, Korea
• Large Garrison Winner: 82nd Airborne Division, Fort Bragg, N.C.
• Large Garrison Runner-up: 45th Sustainment Brigade, Hawaii
• Active Army Field Kitchen Winner: 11th Armored Calvary Regiment, Fort Irwin, Calif.
• Active Army Field Kitchen Runner-up: 69th Air Defense Artillery, Fort Hood, Texas
• U.S. Army Reserve Winner: 397th Engineer Battalion, Fort McCoy, Wis.
• U.S. Army National Guard Winner: 1201st FSC, Morgantown, W.Va.
• U.S. Army National Guard Runner-up: 840th Maintenance Co., San Juan, Puerto Rico

From providing nutritional meals to creating morale-boosting environments, food- service professionals keep the Army rolling along, Connelly officials said. They said the Connelly Awards program honors those professionals - Soldiers and Department of the Army Civilians - who rise above the standard and continually demonstrate excellence in food service.

The program is managed by the Quartermaster Center and School's Joint Culinary Center of Excellence and co-sponsored by the International Food Service Executives Association and the Department of the Army.

It is named in honor of the late Philip A. Connelly, past president of IFSEA, highly regarded as the driving force behind obtaining IFSEA sponsorship of the Department of the Army's recognition of excellence in Army food service.

The JCCoE and IFSEA evaluators traveled the globe over the last few months to obtain first-hand knowledge of how Army food-service personnel perform their jobs.

Evaluators judged finalists in five dining facility categories - Small Garrison, Large Garrison, and Field Kitchens in the Active Army, U.S. Army Reserve and U.S. Army National Guard. The food-service staff and their facilities were evaluated in a number of areas including preparation, food taste, nutrition, service and sanitation.

More than 750 32nd Brigade Soldiers on next wave of arrivals

January 13, 2010: Three more flights of Soldiers deployed with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team will be arriving in Wisconsin soon. Two flights are scheduled to arrive late Thursday. The first flight includes Soldiers mostly from Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Green Bay; Company B (Support Maintenance), 257th Brigade Support Battalion, Kenosha; and some members of Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry, Madison and Troop C, Reedsburg.

The second flight includes Soldiers mostly from Company C, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Fond du Lac; and some member of Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Appleton and Clintonville.

One additional flight is scheduled to arrive early Friday morning and includes mostly from the 829th Engineer Company, Chippewa Falls, Richland Center and Ashland; Soldiers from the Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion, Portage; and some members of Company A , 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, Onalaska and Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry, Appleton and Clintonville.

The entire brigade is returning to Wisconsin in stages throughout January. All are scheduled to return to Volk Field where they will be met by senior National Guard officials, a military band and family members - homecomings are not open to the general public. Following an initial reunion with their families and a brief official "welcome home" ceremony, Soldiers will travel to nearby Fort McCoy to begin about five days of demobilization processing before being released from active duty.

During training and while in Iraq, the brigade was organized into 27 company-sized units. Rather than operating as a brigade, the 32nd was tasked with a variety of missions throughout Iraq. These missions included forward operating base administration, base defense, area security, quick reaction forces, freedom of movement security support, detainee guard force operations at theater internment facilities, closing the largest internment facility in Iraq, transferring detainees, operating an academy to train Iraqi corrections officers, inspecting detention facilities, securing and administering the International Zone in Baghdad, and turning over U.S.-controlled properties to the government of Iraq. The brigade's Soldiers operated around the clock, most of them working at least 12 hours a day - day after day, week after week, for eight full months in Iraq.

Having accomplished their mission, each company began transferring responsibilities to units from the Texas National Guard's 72nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team at the end of December and will continue to do so as they prepare to return to Wisconsin in January. ( (For a detailed account of the 32nd Brigade's deployment see: http://dma.wi.gov/deployment )

Returning Soldiers deployed with the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team Thursday and early Friday may come from units in the following Wisconsin communities:

Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team - Camp Douglas
2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry

Headquarters and Headquarters Company (-), 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry - Appleton
Detachment 1, Headquarters Company, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry - Clintonville
Company B, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry - Green Bay
Company C, 2nd Battalion, 127th Infantry - Fond du Lac
257th Brigade Support Battalion
Company B (Support Maintenance), 257th Brigade Support Battalion - Kenosha
1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry (Reconnaissance, Surveillance, Target Acquisition)

Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry - Madison
Troop C, 1st Squadron, 105th Cavalry - Reedsburg
829th Engineer Company (-) (Vertical - Chippewa Falls
Detachment 1, 829th Engineer Company - Richland Center
Detachment 2, 829th Engineer Company - Ashland

132nd Brigade Support Battalion
Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 132nd Brigade Support Battalion - Portage

32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion
Company A (Engineer), 32nd Brigade Special Troops Battalion - Onalaska

Airmen show off 'Project Liberty' for ANG director

By Air Force Master Sgt. Mike R. Smith

National Guard Bureau

(1/12/10) – Mississippi Air National Guardsmen showcased a new intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) platform training facility here Jan. 9 for the director of the Air National Guard. "Project Liberty is the Air Force's new ISR platform," said Lt. Col. Rick Berryhill, the facility's spokesman at the 186th Air Refueling Wing. "It provides tactical ISR to the warfighter forward."

Liberty Project includes four aircrew members flying a twin-turbo prop MC-12W aircraft – a modified King Air 350 – as well as a ground crew intelligence and an ISR exploitation cell.

Officials said this setup provides valuable full-motion video and other intelligence data, similar to what MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper ISR platforms provide through combat air patrols (CAPs) in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"They are working together to bring tactical intelligence and tactical ISR straight to the warfighter, straight to the boots-on-the-ground," said Berryhill.

Lt. Gen. Harry Wyatt talked with Project Liberty members and toured the classrooms, operations center and aircraft to better understand its mission and systems.

Berryhill said the Air Guard provides mission qualification training here for the program. It has trained and deployed more than 124 active duty crew members since Project Liberty's initial training began last March.

The wing is scheduled to conduct MC-12 mission training for more than 600 active duty Airmen this fiscal year.

During a town hall-style meeting, Wyatt called the training mission "vitally important to the U.S. Air Force."

"It is one that this country needs," he said.

Berryhill said crewmembers go through initial qualification training before arriving at Key Field to "get integrated as one in the mission."

The 9th Reconnaissance Wing out of Beale Air Force Base, Calif., serves as the project's interim parent wing.

Berryhill said Key Field already possessed manned ISR experts through its existing RC-26 ISR mission, who were used as instructors. Other dual-qualified instructors and support staff here were allocated through the unit's KC-135 missions. They provide day-to-day training for the crews as well as other support.

"All of the RC-26 guys have extensive combat experience in various theaters," he said.

Berryhill said the students come together here from backgrounds "as various as you can imagine" to form one team.

They are "all lumped together, all at one time, to learn a new mission and then deploy within about 30 days of starting their training," he said, adding that the program has been very successful in a very short time.

The mission overseas in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom surpassed 1,000 sorties in less than six months, said Berryhill. The unit that is standing up in Operation Enduring Freedom took possession of their aircraft in less than a year.

Navy to Commission Littoral Combat Ship Independence

The Navy will commission Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Independence, Saturday, Jan. 16, 2010, during an 11 a.m. CST ceremony at Cooper Riverside Park in Mobile, Ala.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver the ceremony's principal address. Doreen Scott, wife of the former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Terry Scott, will serve as ship's sponsor. In the time-honored Navy tradition, she will give the first order to "man our ship and bring her to life!"

Five previous ships have been named Independence, which recognizes the cornerstone of our nation's foundation that many Americans have sacrificed to ensure. The first Independence was a 10-gun sloop that served during the War of Independence. The second Independence, the first ship of the line in the Navy, was launched in 1814 as a 74-gun ship, but later refitted to a 54-gun frigate. The third Independence served with the Naval Overseas Transportation Service following the end of World War I. The fourth Independence (CVL 22), a small aircraft carrier commissioned in 1943, earned eight battle stars during World War II. The fifth Independence (CV 62) was an aircraft carrier commissioned in 1959 and decommissioned in 1998.

The Navy officially accepted delivery of the future USS Independence (LCS 2) Dec. 18, 2009, in Mobile. Independence is the second of two sea frames being produced, and the first LCS of the General Dynamics variant. USS Freedom (LCS 1), the Lockheed Martin variant, was commissioned Nov. 8, 2008.

A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Independence will be a platform for launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. To meet increased demand for mission-tailored forces packages, its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine warfare, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of days, adapting as the tactical situation demands. These ships will also feature advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

Independence is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast surface craft. The LCS is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep.

Independence will be manned by one of two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. The crews will be augmented by one of three mission package crews during focused mission assignments. The prospective commanding officer of the Blue Crew is Cmdr. Curt Renshaw, who was born in Louisville, Ky., and raised in New Albany, Ind. The prospective commanding officer of the Gold Crew is Cmdr. Michael Riley, a native of Phoenix, Ariz. Independence will be homeported in San Diego as a part of the Pacific Fleet.

In September 2009, the Navy announced that in an effort to introduce more effective competition to control costs, it will down select between the two LCS designs in fiscal 2010. At down select, a single prime contractor and shipyard will be awarded a fixed price incentive contract for up to ten ships with two ships in fiscal 2010 and options through fiscal 2014. This decision was reached after careful review of the industry bids, consideration of total program costs, and ongoing discussions with the Congress.

Media may direct queries to Naval Surface Forces public affairs at 410-271-5227. More information on the LCS can be found at: http://peoships.crane.navy.mil/lcs.

Guard Provides Water in Four States

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

Va., Jan. 13, 2010 - National Guardsmen in four states are providing drinking water to communities with broken or damaged water systems caused by recent freezing temperatures.

Louisiana, Alabama, Kentucky and Arkansas have deployed the personnel and equipment needed to produce water until local communities are able to make the necessary repairs to restore sufficient water supply to their citizens. In Louisiana, four soldiers have provided the LaSalle, Tensas and Madison parishes with one 5,000-gallon water tanker each to support their damaged water systems. The tankers likely will remain in place for the next 24 to 72 hours until repairs are made to the water systems, officials said.

Since May, the Louisiana Guard has delivered water to distribution points throughout Ferriday, La., to ensure that residents have an adequate supply of drinking water due to problems with water wells in Concordia Parish.

In Alabama, four soldiers and two 6,000-gallon water trailers are expected to be on state active duty for about seven days in response to water shortages in Clarke County caused by freezing temperatures.

In Kentucky, 18 soldiers and two tactical water-purification systems from the 103rd Brigade Support Battalion have provided water into the Buckhorn water system since Jan. 6. State officials also reported that the Hazard municipal water system, which serves Perry County, was forced to shut off service to repair a large leak. Service is gradually being restored, Guard officials said, but frigid weather, ice, and air in the pipes have complicated efforts to restore service.

Finally, the Arkansas Guard has deployed six soldiers provide water to the cities of Casa, Adona, Marshall and Leslie with three 400-gallon "water buffaloes" and a 5,000-gallon water tanker. The main water lines in these cities have been damaged by the recent frigid temperatures.

(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau. Army Sgt. Michael Owens of the Louisiana National Guard contributed to this report.)

MILITARY CONTRACTS January 13, 2010

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Shamrock Foods, Commerce City, Colo., is being awarded a maximum $9,457,010 firm fixed price, indefinite quantity contract for full line food distributor. There are no other locations of performance. Using services are Army, Air Force and Marine Corps. There were originally eight proposals solicited with five responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract is exercising the third of four one-year option periods. The date of performance completion is Jan. 15, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM300-08-D-3219).

National Guard Stands Ready to Help in Haiti

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
Special to American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - The Army and Air National Guard are prepared to help in the humanitarian relief effort in Haiti, the chief of the National Guard Bureau said today. "Our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people, who have been devastated by this earthquake," said Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley. "The National Guard stands ready to work with the Army and the Air

Force to provide humanitarian assistance to Haiti when called upon."

Specifically, the Puerto Rico National Guard, which is one of the closest U.S. territories in the area, has personnel and equipment on standby if they are needed.

The Puerto Rico Army Guard has alerted three UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters from the 1/111th Aviation Company along with 12 crew members, and the Puerto Rico Air Guard has called up two C-130 aircraft from the 156th Airlift Wing with 21 support personnel, said Army Capt. Paul Dahlen, the Puerto Rico Guard's public affairs officer.

He said the aircraft have anticipated deployment times, but officials are waiting for final approvals.

U.S. Southern Command is coordinating with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to assess the situation after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake left perhaps thousands of people dead and many more trapped beneath collapsed buildings, officials reported.

"If we are asked by the Department of State and the Department of Defense to provide assistance, we would do so in a supporting role," Southcom officials said in a written statement. The USAI D's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is the lead U.S. government agency for U.S. disaster relief efforts, the statement noted.

Command officials said they will deploy a team of 30 people to Haiti today, including military engineers, operational planners and a command and control group and communication specialists on the two C-130 Hercules aircraft from the Puerto Rico Air National Guard. The team will work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, United Nations and other officials to assess the situation to provide follow-on support.

The last time the National Guard supported relief efforts in Haiti was 2008, when eight Air National Guard medical personnel were onboard the USS Kearsarge when it was diverted from its Continuing Promise mission to Haiti, which was devastated by Hurricane Ike.

"With nearly 450,000 people throughout 54 states and territories, the

National Guard can deploy and respond to any disaster as needed, anywhere," said Walt Debany, a spokesman for the National Guard Bureau.

According to news reports, the quake was felt in the Dominican Republic as well as Guantanamo Bay.

Arkansas and Rhode Island Guardsmen currently deployed to Joint Task Force Guantanamo felt the tremors from yesterday's earthquake in Haiti. Air Force Lt. Col. Denise Boyer, commander of the 474th Expeditionary Combat Engineering Squadron, which is made up of about 50 Air National Guard members, said she was in her tent when the earthquake hit yesterday after duty hours.

"The tent shook, the floor shook, everything kind of rumbled around," she said. "Honestly, it felt like a big 18-wheeler rolled by outside."

Boyer had experienced seismic activity before at Guantanamo, but "this was definitely bigger than what we had in the past."

The Navy engineers there are dealing with some water breaks, but Boyer said her engineers are not responsible for any hard structures on the base.

"Tents fare a lot better in an earthquake," she said.

(Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke serves at the National Guard Bureau.)

SOUTHCOM Deploys Assessment Team to Haiti

U.S. Southern Command will deploy a team of 30 people to Haiti to support U.S. relief efforts in the aftermath of yesterday’s devastating earthquake. The team, which includes U.S. military engineers, operational planners, and a command and control group and communication specialists, will arrive in Haiti today on two C-130 Hercules aircraft. The team will work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, United Nations and international officials to assess the situation and facilitate follow on U.S. military support.

Other immediate response activities include;

- At first light today, a U.S. Coast Guard helicopter evacuated four critically injured U.S. Embassy staff to the Naval Station Guantanamo, Cuba, hospital for further treatment.

- Elements of the U.S. Air Force 1st Special Operations Wing are deploying today to the international airport at Port au Prince, Haiti, to provide air traffic control capability and airfield operations. They are expected to arrive in Haiti this afternoon. - A U.S. Navy P-3 Orion aircraft from the Forward Operating Location at Comalapa, El Salvador, took off early this morning to conduct an aerial reconnaissance of the area affected by the earthquake.

- The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, USS Carl Vinson, is underway and expected to arrive off the coast of Haiti Thursday. Additional U.S. Navy ships are underway to Haiti.

SOUTHCOM is closely monitoring the situation and is working with the U.S. State Department, United States Agency for International Development and the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance and other national and international agencies to determine how to best respond to this crisis.

SOUTHCOM is well versed at providing humanitarian assistance in the region. Since 2005, the command has led U.S. military support to 14 major relief missions, including assistance to Haiti in September 2008. During that mission, U.S. military forces from USS Kearsarge and other units airlifted 3.3 million pounds of aid to communities that were devastated by a succession of major storms.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the Haitian people and all those affected by this devastating earthquake,” said U.S. Army Col. James Marshall, command spokesman for SOUTHCOM.

New York Guardsmen test bobsled track with auto racing pros

By Lt Col Bob Bullock

New York Air National Guard

(1/12/10) - Several members of the New York Army National Guard teamed up with 10 of the fastest race car drivers in the world for the fifth annual Lucas Oil Geoff Bodine Bobsled Challenge this past weekend. “I decided it was an excellent way to meet NASCAR drivers and go bobsledding, said Spc. Kristopher Fetter. “It shows people some of the excellent opportunities you have when you sign up for the Guard.”

Fetter and 19 other members of Company B 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, headquartered in Morrisonville, N.Y., served as brakemen on bobsleds driven by NASCAR and National Hot Rod Association drivers.

The Soldiers helped start the sleds and are then responsible for engaging the brake that stops them at the end of the almost one-mile run down the Mt. Van Hoevenberg track.

“It is awesome knowing you can trust these guys to be on their A-game back there,” said NASCAR driver Joey Logano, two-time winner of the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown. “To have someone like that behind you gives you more confidence going down the hill.”

Since the New York Army National Guard Soldiers began racing in the Bodine Challenge three years ago, the state Recruiting and Retention Command has been using the unique partnership as an opportunity to showcase a different dimension of the Guard.

“For the potential candidates, who might want to think about the National Guard, this is an opportunity to see a different side of what we do,” said Staff Sgt. Dwayne White, one of the Guard organizers. “They get to see that we’re not all about going into combat. We are also about taking care of our communities.”

But participating is also a retention tool, said Command Sgt. Major Robert Van Pelt, the most senior enlisted member of the New York Army National Guard.

“It is just another opportunity that a soldier has to do something that they will never do the rest of their lives,” Van Pelt said.

The Bodine Bobsled Challenge was created by NASCAR legend Geoff Bodine to promote awareness and raise funds for the Bo-Dyn Bobsled Project, Inc., a corporation dedicated to pioneering the fastest bobsled technology for World Cup and Olympic competition.

During the multi-day event, drivers from NASCAR and the National Hot Rod Association drive identical sleds down a bobsled track reputed to be one of the fastest and most challenging in the world.

While an Olympic venue might not be the most likely place in the world to see Soldiers in ACUs, for Bodine, who is a former New York Army National Guardsman, the fit was a natural.

“We needed someone to ride with these race car drivers and someone said, ‘Let’s get the military involved.’ I said that I used to be a National Guard guy right here in New York and it just went from there,” he said.

In 2006, Bodine contacted U.S. Bobsled National Team Coach Bill Tavares, a 26-year veteran of the Army National Guard assigned to the World Class Athlete Program.

From there, the request was routed through military channels. Within a short time, the approval was received and the partnership underway.

As a recruiting tool, there are few more effective, with news reports of the unique competition prominently focusing on the Guardsmen’s participation, appearing throughout the nation and extensive coverage of the event appearing on both the SPEED Channel and NASCAR.com, White said.

The Guard Soldiers are also encouraged to bring their families to watch the competition and attend receptions and dinners after the day’s racing are done.

“They (The National Guard Soldiers) do so much for the country and for all of us. I think it is a great tribute to give something back to them,” said Melanie Troxell, the first woman driver to participate in the Bodine Challenge. The rookie slider would ultimately emerge as winner of the Bo-Dyn Challenge Race.

After fast times and a few flips, would the Guardsmen do it again?

“You get to ride on a bobsled, be a brakeman for the drivers and have a good time for the weekend,” said Spc. Michael Graham. “They said I would have a lot of fun, and I have so far.”

Army Guard grows while modernizing medevac fleet

By Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke

National Guard Bureau

(1/11/10) - The Army announced last week that nine additional medevac companies would be added to the reserve component. Army Lt. Gen. James D. Thurman, the G-3/5/7, told an audience at the annual Association of the U.S. Army Aviation Symposium and Exhibition here that no force-wide transformational change to the aviation force was more important or consequential than this decision.

“The Army will aggressively grow this strategic capability in order to improve air medical evacuation in combat,” he said. “The priority will be Afghanistan with the first transformed, 15-ship company arriving late spring 2010.”

Of these nine additional medevac companies, six will come to the Army National Guard.

Col. Garrett Jensen, the chief of the Army Guard’s aviation and safety division, said four current companies would be modernized with UH-60 Black Hawks replacing the recently retired UH-1 Hueys.

“This is a very positive event for the Guard,” he said. “I think we have lived up to our commitment to HQDA to perform .… . It also shows Big Army’s confidence in us to perform and do the mission.”

These aircraft will be dispersed between five states with each state getting three- or six-ship detachments, he said. The two new units would go to Mississippi and Texas.

Jensen added that the new aircraft have already started to arrive in some of the states.

“They will provide additional medevac capability across the states,” he said. “It is a dual-use capability. It adds value to both the state governor and the adjutants general in homeland defense and allows us to make a greater contribution in overseas contingency operations.”

About 65 percent of the Army’s medevac capability currently resides in the Army Guard. Of 37 total Army medevac companies, the Army Guard has 21.

“It’s a two-edge sword,” Jensen said. “If [the Army] provides us with the capability and relies on us that heavily, we have to man, train and sustain as we have been doing.”

Currently, the Army Guard has two medevac companies deployed to Afghanistan and one deployed to Iraq.

In April 2009, the Secretary of the Army announced that all 12-ship companies would be increased to 15 aircraft across the Army between FY2011-17.

For the Army Guard, with a total of 21 companies, that would equal 63 additional aircraft.

Jensen said priority would be given to units deploying in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. “Units coming up in the ARFORGEN (Army Force Generation) would be ‘plus-ed up’ with three-ship detachments,” he said.

Other medevac units in the Guard are scheduled to receive the brand new HH-60M Medevac helicopter. The first unit equipped with these helicopters, which is based in Vermont and Massachusetts, will deploy to Afghanistan later this year.

“It will be the first modern medevac company in theatre,” Jensen said.

The UH-60M Black Hawk, which is another brand new aircraft headed for the Guard, will be deployed by an assault battalion based in Wisconsin and Michigan this year.

Jensen said the Guard will also continue to get more UH-72A Lakota helicopters. Fifty out of 210 of these aircraft have been fielded so far. The fielding is scheduled to be complete by 2015.

The Alabama Guard received its first Lakota this past weekend. The state plans to use this light utility helicopter to support military and civilian authorities, including local law enforcement agencies, through the Alabama Guard’s counterdrug program.

Training for both active duty and Guard pilots of this helicopter is also being conducted by the Guard at the Eastern Aviation Training Site at Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.

DOD Announces New Defense Business Board Membership

The DOD announced today the appointment of its 2010 Defense Business Board members. Michael J. Bayer will continue to serve as the Board's Chairman, with John B. Goodman serving as Vice Chairman.

The Defense Business Board, a federal advisory board, conducts studies and provides the secretary and deputy secretary of defense, advice on best business practices as they pertain to the DOD.

The board is comprised of members selected from large-enterprise businesses with expertise in governing large, complex, private sector corporations or entities. They are recognized for their top-level, global business experience in the areas of executive management, corporate governance, audit and finance, human resources and compensation, economics, technology, and health care.

The Defense Business Board was established in 2002 as a Federal Advisory Committee and operates under the provisions of the Federal Advisory Committee Act of 1972 (5 U.S.C., Appendix, as amended), the Government in the Sunshine Act of 1976 (5 U.S.C. § 552b, as amended), and 41 CFR § 102-3.150.

More information on the Defense Business Board and its membership can be found at http://dbb.defense.gov/.

DOD Announces Recruiting and Retention Numbers for December 2009

The Department of Defense announced today its recruiting and retention statistics for the active and reserve components for the month of December 2009.

Active Component.
Recruiting
All four active services met or exceeded their accession goals for December 2009.

• Army – 487 accessions with a goal of 403; 121 percent
• Navy – 2,384 accessions with a goal of 2,384; 100 percent
• Marine Corps – 2,221 accessions with a goal of 2,180; 102 percent
• Air Force – 2,834 accessions with a goal of 2,834; 100 percent

Retention. All four active services retained near or above mission goals through the first three months of fiscal 2010.

Reserve Component.
Recruiting.
Five of the six reserve components met or exceeded their accession goals for December 2009. The Army National Guard is on track to meet its year-end recruiting goal.

• Army National Guard – 4,175 accessions with a goal of 4,319; 97 percent
• Army Reserve – 2,253 accessions with a goal of 2,050; 110 percent
• Navy Reserve – 496 accessions with a goal of 496; 100 percent
• Marine Corps Reserve – 767 accessions with a goal of 592; 130 percent
• Air National Guard - 692 accessions with a goal of 450; 154 percent
• Air Force Reserve – 917 accessions with a goal of 917; 100 percent

Attrition.
Losses in all reserve components are within acceptable limits.

Detailed information on specific recruiting data can be obtained by contacting the individual military recruiting commands at (502) 626-0164 for Army, (210) 565-4678 for Air Force, (703) 784-9454 for Marine Corps and (901) 874-9049 for Navy. The reserve components can be reached at the following numbers: National Guard Bureau (703) 607-2586; Army Reserve (404) 464-8490; Air Force Reserve (703) 697-1761; Navy Reserve (757) 322-5652; and Marine Corps Reserve (504) 678-6535.

Military Assesses Haiti Disaster, Readies for Response

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Jan. 13, 2010 - Defense Department officials are coordinating with their State Department counterparts to provide life-saving assistance in Haiti as quickly as possible after a devastating earthquake struck near the capital of Port-au-Prince yesterday afternoon. U.S. Southern Command is coordinating with the State Department and U.S. Agency for International Development to assess the situation after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake left perhaps thousands of people dead and many more trapped beneath collapsed buildings, officials reported.

Command officials said they will deploy a team of 30 people to Haiti today including military engineers, operational planners, and a command and control group and communication specialists, on two C-130 Hercules aircraft. The team will work with U.S. Embassy personnel as well as Haitian, United Nations and other officials to assess the situation to provide follow on support.

The Navy's P-3 Orions made initial overflight assessments of damage on the ground, President Barack Obama announced this morning, and U.S. and rescue teams arriving in Haiti will use the information to plan their response.

DoD is looking at all ground, air and naval assets available to support the mission, if needed, pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

USAID's Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance is leading U.S. disaster relief efforts, and Southcom will serve a supporting role to its efforts, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Heidi Lenzini, a Southcom public affairs officer, explained.

Obama expressed condolences to those lost or affected by the tragedy, and promised unwavering U.S. support.

"I have directed my administration to respond with a swift, coordinated and aggressive effort to save lives," the president said this morning. "The people of Haiti will have the full support of the United States in the urgent effort to rescue those trapped beneath the rubble and to deliver the humanitarian relief – the food, water and medicine – that Haitians will need in the coming days."

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, expressed similar sentiments today during a suicide-prevention conference sponsored by the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments.

"The United States is going to do all we can to help, and we've worked throughout the night to figure out how we can do that and do it as rapidly as possible," Mullen said. "We have an awful lot of people working in that direction right now."

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton offered assurance of full U.S. support yesterday while visiting the East-West Center in Honolulu.

"The United States is offering our full assistance to Haiti and to others in the region," she said. "We will be providing both civilian and military disaster relief and humanitarian assistance. And our prayers are with the people who have suffered, their families and their loved ones."

The military last rallied to help Haiti in September 2008 after a series of hurricanes left flooding and mudslides in their wake, Lenzini noted. The USS Kearsarge, an amphibious ship on a humanitarian mission in Colombia at the time, diverted to Haiti in response. Its crew remained in Haiti for 19 days, using helicopters and amphibious landing craft to deliver 3.3 million pounds of internationally donated aid to communities isolated by flooding, and mudslides and damaged roads.

USNS Comfort, a hospital ship home-ported in Baltimore, visited Haiti in April, the first stop during its four-month Continuing Promise 2009 humanitarian assistance mission through Latin America and the Caribbean.

Comfort's crew of medical professionals from the Navy, Army, Air Force, Coast Guard and U.S. Public Health Service, as well as about a dozen nongovernmental organizations and international partners, provided a full range of medical care to Haitian citizens.