Military News

Monday, April 05, 2010

US Navy Ends Search For Missing Aviator

From U.S. 5th Fleet Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- After an extensive search by military units, the Navy suspended search and rescue efforts at 6 p.m. (Zulu +4) April 2 for the fourth crew member from the E-2C Hawkeye that crashed March 31.

The missing pilot has been declared deceased.

Lt. Steven Zilberman, 31, was born in Ukraine and considered Columbus, Ohio, his hometown. He served in the Navy for nearly eight years.

"This is a heart-wrenching loss for the Zilberman family and the 'Bluetail' family," said Cmdr. Joseph F. Finn, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 121's commanding officer. "It is our exceptional people that are the strength of our community and our Navy. Steven was one such individual. He bravely and willingly accepted the risks of an inherently dangerous job. He was a fine aviator, and we are better people for having him in our lives. I extend my deepest sympathy to Steven's family and friends. He will not be forgotten."

The E-2C Hawkeye from VAW 121, the "Bluetails," stationed aboard USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), impacted the water approximately five miles from the ship.

Several ships and aircraft, including Dwight D. Eisenhower, USS Carney (DDG 64), USNS Supply (T-AOE 6) and other U.S. Central Command Navy and Air Force aircraft searched more than 5,300 square miles for the missing aviator.

"Lt. Zilberman was an exceptional naval officer and pilot, who embodied the best of what America represents," said Capt. Roy Kelley, commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 7. "We are deeply saddened by this tremendous loss of a fellow aviator and shipmate. He will be truly missed, and our heart goes out to the Zilberman family during this very difficult time."

Three of the four crew members were recovered shortly after the crash and are in good condition without significant injuries.

The E-2C Hawkeye was returning from conducting operations in support of Operation Enduring Freedom when the aircraft experienced mechanical malfunctions and the crew performed a controlled bailout.

VAW 121, homeported in Norfolk, is part CVW 7, assigned to the Dwight D. Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group.

The cause of the accident is under investigation.

Blood Drive

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Nardelito Gervacio, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Whidbey Island

April 5, 2010 - OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Armed Services Blood Bank Center (ASBBC) Pacific Northwest conducted a blood drive on Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island March 29-31.

The blood drive was held in support of the Armed Services Blood Program (ASBP) at Fleet Readiness Center Northwest, the NAS Whidbey Island Gym and Fitness Center and Center for Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit Whidbey Island.

ASBBC is part of Madigan Army Medical Center in Fort Lewis, Wash., and travels to military bases throughout the northwestern United States collecting blood donations for military members.

The ASBP offers a front-line supply of blood to military members in need. The program relies on Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines to take care of their own through blood donation and collection efforts.

According to Victor L. Shermer, blood donor recruiter, the majority of the donations go to members serving overseas in locations like Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I try to give something, and I know someone out there will need blood," said Engineman 1st Class (SW) Edison Ramos, of Guam, 3M assistant assigned to Operations Ground Electronics Maintenance Division at Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. "I also feel that when I'm donating blood I'm helping someone out there, so I try to do this as often as I can."

The donation process starts with Sailors filling out personal information forms and medical history to ensure they are eligible to donate. Factors such as low red blood cell count, travel in known malaria areas and certain prescription medications can disqualify service members.

Next, vitals are taken to make sure the member is healthy enough to donate, and finally comes the donating.

Donors said it is important to give blood to ensure a continuous supply is available.

"I came today because I felt it was time to give blood because I have not given blood since 2005," said Aviation Electronics Technician Airman Jerry Byrne, of Temecula, Calif. "I feel this serves a bigger purpose than when I gave blood before. This supply goes directly to soldiers and Sailors like me. I hope someone else [would] give blood if I was hurt as well or needed it."

Because blood can be separated into three parts: platelets, plasma and red blood cells, it is possible for a pint of donated blood to save up to three lives.

Platelets can be stored for only five days, so the need for platelet donations is vast and continuous.

"It's nice seeing services come together and support the Armed Services Blood Program because by supporting the blood program they're actually helping their fellow service members that are put in harm's way," said Army 1st Lt. Paul R. Ambross, officer-in-charge of Mobile Blood Operations. "It's important that they recognize that anytime they support this, it's needed because if we do not get the support, we either have to buy blood products off the market or sometimes there may not be blood products for surgeries or other needs a doctor may see, so I'm happy with the turn-out."

Shermer said buying blood from civilian agencies can range up to $200 to $400, so service members donating blood is vital. "If we don't have blood downrange for our deployed personnel, someone is not going to make it, so it's very important to donate"

The ASBP was formed more than 50 years ago to provide blood for the military during peacetime and war. The program works to collect, process, distribute and transfuse blood worldwide.

The ASBBC collected 145 pints of blood from FRC NW and 45 pints from NAS Whidbey Island Gym and Fitness Center and 85 pints from Naval Aviation Technical Training Unit, totaling 275 pints.

Military Children Experience Deployment

From Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Northwest

April 5, 2010 - SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Military families throughout the Northwest region gathered April 1 to experience a "deployment" during their spring break.

Children from Naval Base Kitsap (NBK), Naval Air Station Whidbey Island (NASWI) and Naval Station Everett (NSE), participated in the third annual Kids Camp Deployment, a free, day-long event, where they had a small taste of military life away from their loved ones.

According to Chris Kasparek, Child and Youth Programs (CYP) administrator for NBK, the event for the more than 400 families in attendance, was in partnership with CYP and Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC), where they simulated, for the children, what their parent(s) goes through when they deploy.

"The children experienced meeting and working with people they've never met; they ate together, did physical fitness and a mini-boot camp, and they got to see what other people do in the military," said Kasparek.

The children experienced physical fitness, static displays, and demonstrations from military working dogs and security personnel. Children from Naval Station Everett had the opportunity to tour the USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), where they also ate lunch in the wardroom. On NASWI, the children had a condensed mock PRT, toured various aircraft on the flightline, viewed various flight crew safety equipment, and had lunch at the galley. Children from NBK were able to experience a deployment atmosphere by being "deployed" to a secret location, which was Miracle Ranch in Port Orchard.

For the military volunteers, the event was an opportunity to show the children what they go through, and hope the children have a greater appreciation for what their parents experience during their careers.

"The event provides good insight into what we do," said Master-At-Arms 2nd Class Fabian Salazar, a military working dog handler with NSE Security. "They see how we're always emphasizing safety. That way, when they come on base and see the dogs, they know the dogs are here to protect them." "It gives the kids a good idea of what their parents go through and they learn the things they have to do on deployment. Plus, they get to have that feeling of the homecoming with everyone waiting for them, cheering for them and waving flags and all that good stuff. I think it's just a good deal all together," added Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class (AW) Christopher Perez, of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 132.

Kathy Selves, FFSC work and family life supervisor, said she feels that a deployment like this is very important for both the military member and their children.

"I think this is a really great opportunity for kids to get an idea as to what their parents go through. I think it's important for the parents to have their kids experience a homecoming, so they can show some appreciation back to their kids. This is a good way for them to look into each others' eyes and to walk in each others' shoes. It's also important for us working in FFSC and CYP to do something for our families too. The one thing the parents like about this is that the kids come back and they're very excited, and they ask questions about their military careers," said Selves.

At the end of the deployment, parents treated their children to a homecoming with balloons, flags and refreshments.

"I now know why my dad is always tired," Denise, whose father, Boatswain's Mate 2nd Class Bernardo Corona, serves aboard USS Ingraham (FFG 61). "He's always busy working, and he has to take care of a lot of stuff and make sure certain things get done."

"I liked it. My favorite part was when we came back because everyone was there waving," said Ashleigh, daughter of Cmdr. Mark Rudesill, Patrol Squadron (VP) 1 commanding officer.

USS Lake Erie Returns from Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico, Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The Pearl Harbor based guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Erie (CG 70) returned from a four-month deployment in the Western Pacific April 1.

Family members waited patiently as the ship and crew of approximately 340 officers and enlisted personnel, commanded by Capt. Ronald Boxall arrived at the pier.

"It hasn't been extremely too long," said Ashleigh Whitecotton, wife of Ensign Robert Whitecotton and mother of a 17-month-old daughter. "It's just having a little one that's the hardest thing, just her not seeing her daddy."

Francie Sturgeon, a new mother and wife of Gas Turbine System Technician Mechanical 3rd Class David Sturgeon, also carried her three-month-old daughter during the homecoming while waiting for her Sailor. She said the deployment wasn't very hard on her because of email.

"We have been sending email and pictures to each other," said Francie. "David probably has more than 300 pictures of our daughter. We are excited. Our family is home now."

Lake Erie Command Master Chief (SW) Brian Ortega said that the main mission of the ship is to interact, train and build relations with several partner nations.

"It was a good experience," said Ortega. "The Sailors learned a lot when we engaged with the foreign countries, strengthening our partnerships throughout the world."

Lake Erie Sailors volunteered for a Habitat for Humanity community relations project in Thailand, where Sailors assisted in constructing new homes for families in need.

Continuing their volunteer efforts throughout the deployment, Lake Erie Sailors again helped bring vital supplies to the Banglamung Hospital in Thailand, unloading a pallet full of medical and hygiene supplies.

Ortega said his Sailors were able to interact and play with the children at the pediatric ward of the hospital.

"That was a good experience for our Sailors," said Ortega. He also said that the ship participated in several exercises involving, Thai, Philippine, Korean and Malaysian militaries.

Later in the deployment, Lake Erie hosted senior enlisted military service members from the Republic of the Philippines navy, marines and the air force during a port visit to Manila, Philippines, March 11.

"We were able to see a lot of ports, and that's good," sad Ortega. "The Sailors joined the Navy to see the world. We hosted a luncheon in Manila, where not many U.S. Navy ships go to anymore. We hosted a luncheon for the host nation's senior leadership. We had senior members from the Philippine air force, navy and marines aboard our ship for lunch."

U.S. Navy guided-missile cruisers perform primarily in a battle force role. These ships are multi-mission air warfare, undersea warfare, naval surface fire support and surface warfare surface combatants capable of supporting carrier strike groups, amphibious forces, or of operating independently and as flagships of surface action groups.

"The highlight of the deployment was getting out Sailors qualified, improving the professional development of all shipmates that were aboard," said Ortega. "We qualified over 70 enlisted warfare specialists and enlisted aviation warfare specialist."

Blue Ridge Pulls into Kota Kinabalu

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Melvin F. Orr III, USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia (NNS) -- USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) and embarked 7th Fleet staff Sailors arrived in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia, April 3 for a port visit during a scheduled spring deployment.

Sailors aboard Blue Ridge will visit the local cultural sites of Tun Mustapha Tower, Sabah State Mosque and Mount Kinabalu, Southeast Asia's tallest mountain, during tours offered by Blue Ridge's Morale, Welfare and Recreation Department.

"I can't wait for our visit to Malaysia, because I've never been to this area of Asia before," said Seaman Brandon Frasier.

The crew will mow grass and maintain gardens at the Holy Family Senior Citizen Home and play together with children at the Bukit Harapan-Therapeutic Community and Hospital Likas' Children Ward as part of community outreach projects offered during the ship's visit.

"The crew is excited to visit with our neighbors and have the chance to interact with the community in the upcoming service projects," said Capt. Rudy Lupton, Blue Ridge's commanding officer.

Blue Ridge serves under Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 7/Task Force 76, the Navy's only forward-deployed amphibious force. Blue Ridge is the flagship for Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet. Task Force 76 is headquartered at White Beach Naval Facility, Okinawa, Japan, with an operating detachment in Sasebo, Japan.

USS George H.W. Bush Celebrates First Easter at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman J. Scott St. Clair, USS George H.W. Bush Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH, At Sea (NNS) -- USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Sailors celebrated the aircraft carrier's first Easter holiday underway with an Easter Sunrise Service on the flight deck April 4.

The service, which was sponsored by the Command Religious Ministries Department (CRMD), began moments before sunrise and featured Scripture readings, songs performed by the ship's choir, a sermon by Lt. Sunny Mitchell, a chaplain, a communion service and refreshments at the conclusion.

While it can be difficult for Sailors to be separated from their families and friends, especially during a holiday, many of those present for the service expressed extreme gratitude for the opportunity to celebrate the holiday.

"It's really hard to be away from my family, but this was a really great experience, it eases the transition, gives you time to relax and think about things, and it makes you more comfortable with your environment," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Edward I. Ramos.

"It was an outstanding service," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman (AW) Luis M. Diaz, "it was a really good opportunity to celebrate while being underway, which is great because it makes me feel closer to home."

Cmdr. Patrick J. McLaughlin, command chaplain, noted that celebrating Easter together as a crew helped to put things into perspective.

"It makes it easier out here, when we gather as a group," he said. "It helps us realize that we're all in it together. It's the people and the stories about friends that we'll remember. Today was a chance to gather together and make our crew a little tighter."

Although McLaughlin acknowledged the difficulty of being out to sea for the holidays, he also encouraged Sailors to recognize the significance of the situation.

"It's times like these that I realize the seriousness of what we do," he said. "Other ships are forward-deployed in war zones, and that's what we're preparing to do. We will be the ones deployed next Easter and we're lucky to have that role, even if it means making the sacrifice of being away from our families," he said.

McLaughlin also pointed out the tradition that goes along with being out to sea for Easter.



"It's one of those traditions that connects you to every Sailor that has stood on the deck of a ship on Easter for more than 230 years," he said. "When this aircraft carrier is still out to sea for Easter 50 years from now, we'll be able to look back and say we were here for the first one."

McLaughlin said that providing the celebration for the command was an endeavor that CRMD was happy to take on.

"CRMD exists and works for the Sailors," he said. "We serve the crew, that should be our hallmark," he said.

He also recognized that the service could not have been a success without the constant support of the command.

"We're dependent on other departments," he said. "I'm so thankful to the Navigation, Supply, and Air departments for providing us a position with perfect wind, the food and drinks, and allowing us to use the flight deck."

Airmen rescue injured sailor in Pacific Ocean


4/5/2010 - MOFFETT FEDERAL AIRFIELD, Calif. (AFNS) -- Air National Guardsmen from the 129th Rescue Wing here completed a four-day rescue mission April 4 for a sailor injured at sea.

Officials from the 129th RQW sent two HH-60G Pave Hawk rescue helicopters and one MC-130P Combat Shadow aircraft, accompanied by one Marine Corps KC-130J Super Hercules tanker from Marine Corps Air Station Miramar, to pick up Michael Kalahar, a 56-year-old sailor from Port Angeles, Wash., who had suffered life-threatening head and neck injuries aboard his sailing vessel WIND CHILD. The 129th rescue aircraft also recovered the four-man pararescue team, also based here with the 129th, that had responded to the original call.

Responding to a call from U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center in Alameda, Calif., April 1, the four pararescuemen, or PJs, were picked up here by a Coast Guard HC-130 Hercules and flown to the WIND CHILD 1,400 miles southwest of La Paz, Mexico. With limited aircraft fuel and no other means to recover the victim, the PJs parachuted from the HC-130 into the ocean with a Zodiac boat and enough medical supplies to sustain the injured sailor's life for several days.

April 2, controllers at the Eleventh Coast Guard District Rescue Coordination Center used their Automated Mutual Assistance Vessel Rescue system to divert a Liberian registered merchant vessel, the CAP PALMERSTON, enroute to Ensenada, Mexico, to rendezvous with the sailing vessel and pick-up the PJs and their patient. The AMVER program is sponsored by the U.S. Coast Guard and is a voluntary global ship reporting system used worldwide by search and rescue authorities to arrange for assistance to persons in distress at sea.

Because of the distance from shore, strong winds and high seas, officials decided to wait until the vessel was closer to the coast before sending additional rescue aircraft to retrieve the PJs and transport the patient to a ground-based medical treatment facility.

Following the transfer of the patient and PJs from the small sailboat to the large container vessel, the ship set course to San Diego.

Aircraft and personnel from the 129th RQW formed a Search and Rescue Task Force and prepositioned themselves at Naval Air Station North Island April 3. The following afternoon, the rescue team of two HH-60Gs, one MC-130P and one Marine KC-130J tanker made contact with the crew of the CAP PALMERSTON. The HH-60 crew hoisted the patient and PJs from the ship to the helicopter, while the MC-130P and KC-130 served as refueling platforms and command and control for the Search and Rescue Task Force.

The PJs provided life-saving medical aid while awaiting the arrival of the 129th rescue aircraft and during the flight to San Diego, where the patient was transferred to a hospital in La Jolla, Calif. All task force aircraft successfully returned to Naval Air Station North Island and MCAS Miramar late in the evening April 4.

"With the Air Guard, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard working together over the course of four days, this was truly a joint-forces life saving effort," said Col. Amos Bagdasarian, 129th Rescue Wing commander. "From the mountains of Afghanistan to the high seas of the Pacific, 129th rescuers never cease to live up to their creed, 'That Others May Live.'"

This rescue brings the total number of people saved by members of the 129th RQW to 909.

Air Force, Army officials partner to improve interoperability

by Army Spc. Jason Mayes
I-Corps Air and Missile Defense Detachment

4/5/2010 - JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD, Wash. (AFNS) -- Officials from the Army's I-Corps Air and Missile Defense Detachment moved into 5th Air Support Operations Squadron facilities here in late March and now Soldiers and Airmen will work side-by-side strengthening the joint teamwork that will be critical in combat.

This is the first time a Corps-level air and missile defense detachment has been fully integrated with an air support operations squadron in garrison, according to base officials.

The merger is the outgrowth of the units' numerous joint accomplishments while deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and will build upon the close relationships forged during the yearlong combat deployment.

"It was critical that we joined forces to better train and prepare our deploying tactical air control parties and brigade combat teams, leveraging the experience these Soldiers and Airmen gained while working together in Iraq," said Col. Rob Evans, the I-Corps air liaison officer and 1st Air Support Operations Group commander. "This merger only made sense and was the right thing to do."

Members of the 1st ASOG and I-Corps Air Missile Defense Detachment worked together at Camp Victory, Iraq, achieving the first single integrated air picture for Iraq in six years, officials said. This SIAP was critical to improving close-air-support allocation and airspace deconfliction, which gave Air Force joint terminal attack controllers high and low-level situational awareness of the battlefield.

Brig. Gen. Heidi Brown, the I-Corps deputy commanding general for sustainment and the senior air defense officer, visited the 1st ASOG and the 5th ASOS and said she was thrilled with the joint integration and team work.

"I am excited about the unlimited potential and possibilities that this joint teaming will bring to the theater," General Brown said. "The day-to-day integration now taking place at Joint Base Lewis-McChord will be a model for other Air Force units and Corps AMDs across the country and overseas to mirror."

Colonel Evans gave a detailed mission brief and explained some of the complexities and challenges that this new arrangement will help address. For example, the Army datalink systems will provide new opportunities for the group's JTACs to train in digitally-aided, close-air-support techniques.

Lt. Col. Bruce Beyerly, the 5th ASOS commander, showed General Brown the training and support facility and emphasized how the newly integrated team will bring great capabilities not only to the Army and Air Force but also for sister services as well.

The 1st ASOG staff already trains routinely with Navy and Marine aircraft and controllers and the capabilities provided by this new joint team will enable the next level of training, linking digital systems from each of the services.

"Integrated training like this, in the highly complex digital battlespace, is crucial for success in joint warfare," Colonel Evans said.

Exercise key to Hawaiian air support center upgrade

by Capt. Genieve David
13th Air Force Public Affairs

4/5/2010 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- The Hawaii Air Support Operations Center staff here achieved initial operational capability after proving its ability to deploy and perform its mission during Exercise Balikatan 2010 in March.

The unit, under the under the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, deployed 34 Airmen and more than 16 short tons of equipment to the former Clark Air Base in the Philippines via a C-17 Globemaster III to participate in the bilateral field training exercise March 9 through 22.

Balikatan is an annual exercise designed to increase interoperability between the Philippine air force and U.S. military and exercises the two nations' ability to operate together when responding to natural disasters.

"Balikatan was a key exercise for the ASOC because it provided a crucial step towards becoming fully combat mission capable," said Lt. Col. John Schaefer III, the 25th ASOS commander. "We proved we were able to field a self-sustained command and control hub which retained accountability for fixed and rotary winged aircraft while executing requests for close air support and support land maneuver forces."

As part of their team, the 25th ASOS deployed joint terminal attack controllers, communication specialists and logisticians.

JTACs, a specialized subset of the tactical air control party career field, are qualified members who, from a forward position, direct the actions of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other air operations. The JTACs, along with communication specialists and logisticians, directly support the ASOC's main mission to coordinate and direct air support for joint force land component operations.

The new ASOC has a standard wartime mission and a new employment capability that can be tasked with supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"The same air control capability used during wartime can be used to help control civilian aircraft after a major disaster when an airport may have been affected and cannot handle the influx of response personnel and supplies," said 1st Lt. Anita B. Clark, the 25th ASOS communications flight commander. "The ASOC has the capability to take control and deconflict aircraft altitudes and ensure a steady and clear flow of air traffic."

Registration Opens For 2010 All-Military Wilderness Challenge

By Mark O. Piggott, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- Registration opened April 1 for Navy Region Mid-Atlantic's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department's 10th annual all-military Wilderness Challenge. The Wilderness Challenge is scheduled for Oct. 7–9 in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains.

The event is hosted and co-organized by ACE Adventure Resort, West Virginia's largest outdoor outfitter.

More than 300 military people, representing teams from around the world, are expected to compete. Only the first 60 teams will compete, so teams interested are encouraged to register early.

"The MWR Wilderness Challenge continues to bring together the best athletes in the armed forces and puts them to the test," said Michael Bond, event coordinator. "The competition gets tougher and tougher every year."

Bond encourages teams to register early to reserve their space in the competition.

The Wilderness Challenge contains a series of six outdoor adventure races in a team format designed to bring camaraderie, competition and team spirit between all the branches of the armed forces. Teams participating in this year's challenge will compete in an 8K mountain run, a 14-mile mountain bike race, a 14-mile forced hike through the mountains, a 13-mile whitewater raft race on the Gauley River and a 7-mile kayak race on the New River.

Wilderness Challenge 2009's winner was the "Dale Milton Racing" team from the 24th Marine Expeditionary Unit, Camp Lejune, N.C.

"The Army and the Navy have yet to win the Wilderness Challenge," stated Bond. "This is a great opportunity for a team from one of these services to step up and win big."

"It is not an easy competition and only the strong survive, so the winning team will be the best of the best in outdoor recreation and physical endurance," said Bond.

Joint Region Marianas Hosts Change of Command

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Peter Lewis, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - AGANA HEIGHTS, Guam (NNS) -- Joint Region Marianas held a change of command ceremony at Guam High School's gymnasium on board U.S. Naval Hospital Guam in Agana Heights, Guam, March 27.

Rear Adm. Paul J. Bushong relieved Rear Adm. Douglass T. Biesel as commander, Joint Region Marianas; U.S. Defense Representative Guam, Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Federated States of Micronesia, Republic of Palau; and commander, U.S. Naval Forces Marianas.

Guest speaker, Vice Adm. Michael C. Vitale, commander, Navy Installations Command, praised Joint Region Marianas, saying that the command has continued to fulfill its unique military mission.

"I come away from my visits here very energized and with a lasting impression that you have set a standard for all our bases by providing the right programs and services to our many customers, both inside and outside our fences," said Vitale.

He praised Biesel for his commitment to Guam, the Marianas and the military, and his ability to accomplish any task set before him.

"Doug Biesel has led team Marianas to get the job done, no matter what the task," said Vitale. "Thank you for all the marvelous work you have done here in Guam and in region Marianas. The Navy, the Air Force, the Marine Corps and the Department of Defense are much better off because of your efforts."

Vitale went on to explain that the job of finding Biesel's replacement was no easy task, and that Bushong was chosen because of his superior leadership and abilities.

"Choosing a perspective commanding officer is no easy task because command doesn't come automatically. You get it by a proven record of excellence, not seniority," said Vitale, to Bushong. "We know that you too are prepared for this challenge and have the capabilities, skill and leadership required."

With a heartfelt good-bye, Biesel thanked all the people of Guam and the Marianas that supported him during his tour.

"Military bases of today depend greatly on the communities in which they reside and support," said Biesel. "I cannot easily express my deep gratitude to all those that support our military. You have all been wonderful. I just can't thank you enough."

Biesel spoke to the Joint Region Marianas crew about striving to continue their history of excellence under their new leadership.

"I must challenge my crew, both military and civilian, to exceed the goals I had set for you and to reach new standards of performance as Admiral Paul Bushong assumes command," said Biesel. "I have no doubt you will excel."

After the reading of the official orders, Bushong said that he was honored and humbled, but also thrilled to be assigned to his new position. He spoke about Guam's uniqueness and the opportunities it presents.

"Guam is a special place in many ways," said Bushong. "Its strategic position in the Western Pacific; its seaport and airport capabilities; its territorial relationship to the United States; its culture; its biodiversity; and its joint region structure along with other items present challenges, but also offer tremendous opportunities. I look forward to working with each of you as we work together to address these challenges in order to unlock the opportunities."

The mission of Joint Region Marianas is to provide executive level installation management support to all Department of Defense components and tenants through assigned regional installations on Guam and the Northern Mariana Islands in support of training in the Marianas; to act as the interface between the Navy and the civilian community; to ensure compliance with all environmental laws and regulations, safety procedures and equal opportunity policy; and perform other functions and tasks as may be assigned.

Gunston Hall Completes First Phase of APS Mission

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Gary Keen, USS Gunston Hall Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - SEKONDI, Ghana (NNS) -- Africa Partnership Station (APS) West platform USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) completed the first APS phase of its mission in Ghana March 30.

The ship and its embarked international staff graduated 65 embarked African partners from Benin, Ghana, Togo and Nigeria at Sekondi Naval Base following 20 days of in-port and at-sea training in and around the Sekondi, Ghana area. Sailors completed a rigorous program of training courses designed to enhance their knowledge of maritime safety and security.

"The international aspect of the program is important," said APS West Commander, Capt. Cindy Thebaud, during the graduation ceremony. "Maritime security is a partnership; it is not something that one nation or one group of people from one organization can do alone. The maritime security challenges transcend national and sub-regional boundaries, and so must the response."

Gunston Hall embarked the African sailors March 8-10. For 20 days, the sailors experienced classroom and hands-on training in areas including small-boat operations, fisheries management, oil platform security, basic first aid, force protection, and search-and-rescue tactics from training teams from Italy and the United States.

"The instructors were able to break down the training material so we could better understand it," said Nigerian navy Petty Officer Obalaja Ademola, from Lagos, Nigeria, who did the small-boat operations training. "I very much appreciate the training APS has provided me."

"The students I help teach are really enjoying the training that the team is providing. I just hope they will take it back with them to help with training their navy," said Operations Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Chirstelle Byll, a force protection instructor assigned to the Security Force Assistance Detachment of the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Assistance Training Command.

While some students were engaged in classroom instruction, other sailors were paired up with U.S. Navy "running mates" in similar career fields to further develop their skills in that field.

"Our colleagues were very receptive and eager to learn," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Michauli Martin, a Gunston Hall Sailor who served as a running mate for a Ghanaian sailor who specializes in logistics. "We spent a lot of time talking and comparing the ways each of our navies operate. I showed them how we order and inventory parts, using our supply system, and I compared that to the way they operated."

Martin also added that she learned a lot about the Ghanaian navy from this experience and that she thought it was important to interface with African partners because it helps improve the maritime safety and security in West Africa.

"The training I received here was fantastic," said Ghanaian Navy Leading Seaman Godfred Darkwah. "My trainer was excellent, and I have never had an experience like this before. The quality of the training, how friendly the people were really helped me improve my knowledge of maritime safety and security. I learned a lot about logistics, and I will take that training with me to my navy to train others as I have been trained here."

While the ship and embarked APS instructors and staff worked with African navies aboard the ship, U.S, Spanish, Portuguese and British Marines assigned to the embarked Security Cooperation Marine Air-Ground Task Force (SC-MAGTF) and Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7 provided disaster-relief training to the Ghana Armed Forces (GAF) in Tema to the east.

"During the exercise we worked with the GAF on patrolling, squad level tactics, and enlisted leadership," said Marine 2nd Lt. Nicole Teat, of the SC-MAGTF. "We hope to further hone the Ghana Armed Forces' capabilities and to increase their interactions with the U.S. military."

Also in Tema, a joint Navy and Air Force medical team worked alongside local staffs at the Manhean and Pram-Pram health centers to provide medical and dental care to an average of more than 300 patients a day.

"It really felt great helping out all those people," said Air Force Capt. Eirleen Hyun, a dentist from the medical outreach program. "It wasn't just seeing people who needed a tooth pulled. A lot of our patients had not eaten for days because they needed a full mouth extraction. We were able to alleviate some of their pain so they could eat and work."

The APS/Gunston Hall team also conducted three community outreach projects. These projects included refurbishing St. Theresa's Early Childhood Development Centre, the Sekondi School for the Deaf, and the Sekondi Naval Base medical clinic.

A Gunston Hall Sailor, Hospital Corpsman 1st Class (SW) Darren Maxwell, from Staten Island, N.Y., said working at the school for the deaf enabled him to give back to something that he said was very personal to him.

"My son is hearing impaired," he said. "Someday he's going to see or read about what we're doing here, and I want him to know that his dad was a part of it. I want him to be proud of his dad."

With the help of Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2 and Beach Master Unit (BMU) 2, the team delivered nutritional meals, books, pharmaceuticals, and medical supplies to eight different schools, hospitals and medical clinics throughout Ghana as part of Project Handclasp. This also included a visit to Sao Tome and Principe to deliver 27 pallets of computers and wheelchairs. Seabees with NMCB 7 also assisted with some projects, including restoring a playground at St. Theresa's.

"We enjoyed being able to make our mark in Ghana," said Senior Chief Utilitiesman (SCW) Leslie Doyle of NMCB-7. "The partnerships we build today are going a long way for the future."

Gunston Hall and her international staff now move into the final phase of the APS deployment. Their last round of activities will be based in Dakar, Senegal, where they expect to train with maritime personnel from Togo, Liberia, Cape Verde, Equatorial Guinea, Sierra Leone, The Gambia and Senegal.

Gunston Hall is on a scheduled deployment in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility in support of APS West, an international initiative developed by Naval Forces Europe and Naval Forces Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in West and Central Africa.

NAS Whidbey Island Hosts Regional Culinary Arts Competition

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Tucker M. Yates, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest

April 5, 2010 - OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Military food service personnel from installations around Puget Sound competed in a culinary arts competition in the Admiral Nimitz Dining Facility on Naval Air Station (NAS) Whidbey Island April 2.

Six teams comprised of service members from Air Force, Army and Navy competed in three categories; centerpiece display, cake decoration and an hour-long, cook-off competition.

Judges for the competition included Chef Scott Fraser, owner of Fraser's Gourmet Hideaway in Oak Harbor, John Auburn, a professional cake decorator and competitor from Clinton, Wash., and Anne David, wife of NAS Whidbey Island commanding officer, Capt. Gerral David.

"I am pleasantly surprised; it's very hard to do a [judging] like this when all the food comes out extremely well executed," said Fraser. "We enjoyed this day immensely, both the quality of food and, of course, the people competing. They were knowledgeable, but they also want to know more and, hopefully, I can help out by just letting them know a couple little tricks."

The cakes and centerpieces were to include the theme of "spring" in their presentation. Judging criteria included use of the theme as well as taste, presentation, originality and color coordination.

"It gives us an experience. This is the type of real-world event, and it gives us the feel of what we're good at and what we can accomplish," said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Brianne Macaskill, of NAS Whidbey Island Supply. "It's an exhilarating intimidation. You get nervous because [the judge] has a lot of stuff under his belt, but, at the same time, it's like, 'oh, help me, I need a routine; I need to know how I'm doing.'"

The cook-off featured a secret ingredient, cheese, which was not revealed until the start of the competition. Each team was required to produce three dishes, one of which had to contain the secret ingredient. Teams were judged on knife skills, use of equipment, organization, cleanliness, execution, originality, taste and seasoning.

The winners in each category were Naval Base Kitsap for centerpiece display, NAS Whidbey Island for cake decoration and Naval Station Everett for the culinary cook-off. The overall winner for the competition was the Army team representing Joint Base Lewis-McChord for having placed in the top three in all categories.

"The caliber [of these teams] was outstanding; their ability to get the menus together once they knew the secret ingredient and execute them in an hour and present them was just like you see on television," said David. "I had a great time. I love food, and I love food prepared and presented well."

"I would say in all categories from the presentation of centerpieces, to your cakes, to the hot food, it all exceeded my expectations," said Fraser.

Staff Sgt. Guy Jackson, of the Army team, from Denver, said he was proud of the way his team pulled together even though his three teammates had no experience in competitive cooking and the members were decided on short notice.

"We spent most of our time on the centerpieces and the cake; it took seven days," said Jackson. "It feels great. It shows the Army has its head back in the game as far as culinary arts goes, and we're just trying to show our support for the culinary world in the Northwest region."

According to Norman Tabing, the Navy Region Northwest Galley programs analyst, the results of the competition will be reviewed by food service officers from the region Navy installations to determine a team to represent them in the Commander Navy Installations Command culinary arts competition for ashore galleys. The team selected will be sending two individuals to Washington, D.C., for the competition in June.

"I think the event went really well. I'm very happy with how everything went," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class (SW) Matthew McFarlane, the event coordinator of the NAS Whidbey Island galley, from Melbourne, Fla. "This morning I was scared to death about how this day was going to go down, but it turned out well. I had support from all of my people that work here; I couldn't have asked for a better team. I had a good time doing it."

Seabees Improve Conditions for Displaced Haitians

NMCB 7 Air Detachment Seabees Improve Conditions in Petionville for Displaced Haitians


By Chief Mass Communication Specialist James G. Pinsky

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 7's Air Detachment are improving roads and installing engineering controls to improve living conditions for the more than 40,000 residents of Camp Petionville, an internally displaced persons (IDP) camp in Port-au-Prince.

The engineering work is part of a larger IDP camp improvement program involving eight other camps identified by Joint Task Force (JTF) Haiti J7 engineers as needing road and engineering control improvements to mitigate the effects of the pending rainy season that historically begins in mid-April.

"The natural terrain mixed with the numerous impermeable living structures created a situation that needed immediate action," said Camp Petionville project supervisor, Navy Lt. Jason Killian, a Civil Engineer Corps officer deployed to JTF-Haiti via Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington.

"The engineering mitigations will save lives and reduce the overall number of people that need to be relocated by over 17,000."

According to relief workers running Camp Petionville, the Seabees are exactly what the earthquake survivors need to prepare for the rain.

"The Seabees are the wheels, horsepower and expertise needed to save lives here," said Sean Penn, head of J/P Haitian Relief Organization (HRO), the group running Camp Petionville.

Camp Petionville is situated on the base of steep terrain common throughout Petionville, a suburb of Port-au-Prince where the Petionville Club, a nine-hole golf and resort club, resides.

The improvement suggestions come from assessments made by JTF-Haiti engineering experts comprised of NAVFAC, Army Corps of Engineers, Air Fore civil engineers, and the Seabees themselves. JTF-Haiti, along with USAID , non-governmental organizations (NGOs), with the cooperation of the Haitian government, are working feverishly to improve the contours of the land to better handle the impact that Haiti's rainy season will have on Camp Petionville.

"The Seabees are actualizing the foundation [of camp improvements] laid forth by the U.S. military to improve this camp," said Penn.

One of the assets the Seabees, who serve primarily as advisors and mentors to other engineering assets at Camp Petionville, is an all-Haitian labor force generated by NGO-run "cash-for-work" program enabling local Haitians to perform more detailed engineering work like digging drainage ditches and marking paths for road improvements throughout the campsite.

"We're glad to be able to contribute on multiple levels of this project," said Builder 2nd Class Thomas Camara, project crew leader for NMCB 7's Petionville group. "And, that includes mentoring the crews of Haitians to ensure they are doing the work properly and to engineer design."

By utilizing the empowering cash-for-work program, local Haitians are not only helping their fellow countrymen prepare for the upcoming rainy season, they are also helping to stimulate their own economy.

Throughout the camp, residents have grown to embrace the Seabees when they see them make tangible improvements to their new, temporary homes every day. They work side-by-side validating the Seabee motto of "With compassion for others, we build, we fight, for peace with freedom."

Penn, for one, believes in the Seabees. "[They] are investing in prevention instead of responding to death," said Penn, "and right now, down in our camp the Seabees are the dream of what a humanitarian mission is."

The Seabees' work ethic is something noticed by more than just J/P HRO and the Haitians.

"The Seabees are having a huge impact here," said Maj. Gen. Simeon Trombitas, deputy commanding general, JTF-Haiti. "They're the face of America here, and they're saving lives every day."

CNP Releases Podcast on Navy's Education Opportunities

April 5, 2010 - WASHINGTON (NNS) -- In a podcast released April 5, the chief of naval personnel (CNP) explained the impact of education on today's Sailor and described a few of the voluntary education opportunities available to Sailors — both enlisted and officers.

"Education is our asymmetric advantage; no other nation brings in over 40,000 people a year and the first stop is the school house," said Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, CNP. "For us, as a service, it's the most important strategic investment we make — an investment in our people to operate the Navy of the future."

Recently the Navy issued NAVADMIN 105/10 outlining changes to eligibility and policy requirements to receive education benefits through Tuition Assistance and the Navy College Program for Afloat College Education.

Policy changes include the requirement of Sailors to complete an education plan before beginning courses and for new accessions to satisfy a minimum service requirement at their first permanent duty station.

Changes were put in place to appropriately balance the personal and professional demands of Sailors, maximize acceptance of college courses between institutions, improve course completion rates and ensure the Navy remains a good steward of education funding.

EODOSU 10 Deploys to Middle East

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SCW) Paul D. Williams

April 5, 2010 - VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Fifteen Sailors with Explosive Ordnance Disposal Operational Support Unit (EODOSU) 10 deployed April 1 for six month deployments to the U.S. 5th Fleet Area of Operations.

The three five-man platoons, comprised almost entirely of Reservists, are tasked with providing EOD ground support to military installations and conducting ordnance clearance dives of harbors and waterways in the region.

"Our primary mission on this deployment is going to be searching piers and tug boats where U.S. Navy ships will come along side," said Hull Technician 1st Class Joseph Butasek. "And if we spot anything that looks suspicious or is an explosive, then we call an EOD platoon."

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technician 1st Class Michael Rondinone, along with his platoon, is charged with providing EOD response for the general facilities at U.S. military installations. This will include disarming bombs and neutralizing improvised explosive devises (IED).

According to Rondinone the fact that he is serving with Reservists during this deployment provides a high level of experience in the EOD platoon to which he is attached.

"We have a lot of diversity in our backgrounds and civilian jobs," said Rondinone. "As far as the maturity factor goes, everyone on the team is an E-6 or above, and everyone has been in the military for quite some time."

Sailors from these three platoons will be stationed throughout the Middle East and provide security against conventional ordnance, and neutralize IEDs, landmines, and weapons of mass destruction, as well as conduct force protection diving and underwater mine countermeasures.

Child and Youth 24/7 Center Opens at JEB Little Creek-Fort Story

April 5, 2010 - JEB LITTLE CREEK-FORT STORY, Va. (NNS) -- Military members from Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story gathered April 5 to unveil the new Child and Youth 24/7 Center to the Hampton Roads area.

The center will provide care to children of single and dual military shift working parents along with those working extended hours in support of overseas contingency operations.

"This 24/7 care center will provide much needed services to military parents and their families," said Capt. Charles Stuppard, Commanding Officer, JEB Little Creek-Fort Story. "With the opening of this center, we raise the level of care provided to our men and women in uniform."

Child and Youth 24/7 Centers are unique projects which combine the strengths of both in-home care and traditional daycare centers, which will help provide a structured home away from home for children involved with the program.

"This endeavor demonstrates the Navy's commitment to taking care of our families, and today we add a new capability to our joint base," said Stuppard. "Around the clock care will be given and will also give more flexibility to our military personnel."

A maximum of 20 children are supported per shift, with a total of three shifts and will support the enrollment of 60 children.

"Our military families and especially children endure many challenges in support of their parent's missions," said The Honorable Glenn Nye, Congressman, Second District of Virginia. "From frequent moves to school changes, to extended time away from their parents, our military children understand their families' dedication to our country, and they must know our country is dedicated to them."

Obama Throws Pitch, Greets Military Children at Nationals Game



By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Elliott Fabrizio
Defense Media Activity-San Antonio

April 5, 2010 - President Barack Obama threw the ceremonial opening pitch today at the Washington Nationals' home opener here, which also featured a special event in honor of the Month of the Military Child. President Barack Obama throws out the ceremonial first pitch to start the baseball season for the Washington Nationals at Nationals Ball Park in Washington D.C., April 5, 2010. The Washington Nationals honored military children, inviting nine children whose parents are deployed to step onto the infield with the starting players to see the president throw out the first pitch. DoD photo by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class William Selby

(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.

As Obama left the field, he shook the hands of nine military children, chosen to join the Nationals' starting nine players on the field. The Nationals gave the children and their parents tickets to the opener and brought them down to meet the players prior to the game in honor of Month of the Military Child, celebrated every April.

"To be out here was absolutely fantastic," said Air Force Maj. Richard Johnson, father of Spencer Johnson, a military child honoree. "Anytime you're away from your family for six months or a year at a time, it puts a lot of strain on your family and especially your kids, so it was really nice to get to come out here to the game and really bond again."

"Being on the field was just amazing," Spencer added. "It's really good to be here with my dad."

The Nationals said they were proud to give back to military children, who endure challenges such as long separations and multiple relocations.

"We're thrilled to take part in the Month of the Military Child," said Israel Negrón, director of community relations for the Nationals. "It's just another way to say thank you to our men and women serving overseas to have their kids out here to have a good time. We can't make up for all the sacrifices and all the heartache that comes with having a loved one overseas, but we hope that while they're here they can have a good time."

According to statistics, 1.7 million American children and youth under age 18 have a parent serving in the military.

Bataan Arrives Home After 10 Weeks in Haiti

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Christina M. Shaw, USS Bataan Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - NORFOLK (NNS) -- Nearly 1,100 Sailors and Marines attached to the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD5) returned to Norfolk April 3 following 10 weeks supporting Operation Unified Response in Haiti.

The ship surged from Norfolk Jan. 14, just 48 hours after a 7.0 magnitude earthquake caused severe damage to Haiti's capital city of Port-au-Prince and surrounding areas. The ship arrived off the coast Jan. 18, and immediately began providing disaster relief to the people of Haiti.

"I can't imagine a crew doing it any better," said Capt. Steve Koehler, Bataan's commanding officer. "We flexed the ship's capabilities at every opportunity and were fortune to witness first-hand the difference we made in the lives of the Haitian people." A unique complement of Navy and Marine helicopters as well as air cushion landing craft (LCAC) operating from Bataan transported nearly 1,000 pallets of relief supplies, medically evacuated 97 patients to Bataan and provided transport for another 524 Haitian patients to and from the Navy hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH-20), the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and hospitals throughout Port-au-Prince.

Bataan's medical team also provided triage services ashore for approximately 2,000 patients, delivered the ship's first baby, 8 pounds. 3 ounces Theo Joe, and in coordination with the U.S. Public Health Service, immunized nearly 10,000 as part of a preventive medicine campaign.

"Many of the patients that came to Bataan talked about how grateful they are for the U.S. Navy," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Stacie Coursey. "Being there, seeing the devastation, hearing their stories and knowing the help we brought will change their lives forever makes for an extremely humbling experience. I'm so proud to be a Sailor on board this ship and to have been part of such a historic mission."

Bataan operated primarily off the coast of Grand Goave, Haiti, and conducted "22 Sailors Ashore Missions" (SAM), ultimately removing 150 tons of rubble, building 65 shelters for 130 families and distributing more than 500,000 meals.

"I was honored that I was given the chance to go to shore and help out first-hand with relief, said Air Traffic Controller 3rd Class (AW/SW) Jennifer Huber, a native of Floyds Knobs, Ind. "Everyone participated in any way they could. It was rough to go out and see the devastation, but it was also nice to see how the military and Haitians came together to start rebuilding their home."

Bataan eventually turned over their mission in Grand Goave, to Lifeline Christian Ministries, a non-governmental organization that had been assisting in the town prior to the earthquake. Throughout the relief effort, the Navy and Marine Corps team worked with various U.S. and partner government organizations, independent aid organizations and local Haitian leaders to deliver aid and allow the organizations to return to their pre-earthquake capacities.

"Turning over relief efforts to the United Nations, government of Haiti and non-governmental organizations was an important part of the mission," said Koehler. "Their continued efforts will ensure the people of Haiti recover from this tragedy."

Bataan is scheduled to begin a planned maintenance availability at Norfolk's British Defense, Security, and Aerospace Company (BAE) Shipyard in mid-April.

Bataan served as the flagship for the Bataan Amphibious Relief Mission/22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, which consisted of Bataan and the MEU, the amphibious dock landing ships USS Carter Hall (LSD 50), USS Fort McHenry (LSD 43), USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) and detachments from Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 22, HSC-26, HSC-9, Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 14, Fleet Surgical Team 8, Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU 4, Beachmaster Unit, Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron 6 and Maritime Civil Affairs Team 207.

Multiple Drug Seizures Highlight Freedom's 4th Fleet Deployment

By Lt. Ed Early, USS Freedom (LCS 1) Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - USS FREEDOM, At Sea (NNS) -- The Navy's first littoral combat ship (LCS), USS Freedom (LCS 1), completed its operational deployment April 4 for U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (NAVSO)/U.S. 4th Fleet (C4F) in the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) Area of Responsibility (AOR).

During its 47 days operating in the region, Freedom conducted counter-illicit trafficking patrols in the Caribbean Sea and off the coasts of Central and South America, in support of Joint Interagency Task Force-South, USSOUTHCOM and U.S. Coast Guard.

In a considerably short time in the AOR, Freedom and its embarked units successfully made four major drug interdictions, seizing more than five and a quarter tons of cocaine and capturing 13 suspected drug smugglers and two "go-fast" small boats.

In addition, Freedom made its first two theater security cooperation (TSC) port visits, stopping in Cartagena, Colombia and Panama City, Panama, to engage with partner nation civil and maritime forces and build upon already strong relationships in the region.

"Freedom completed all operational tasking in superb fashion, its inherent design capabilities of sprint speed, shallow draft and modularity were key enablers in accomplishing the counter-illicit trafficking mission," said Rear Adm. Vic Guillory, commander, NAVSO/C4F. "Every Sailor on the ship should be proud of what they've accomplished – they helped move our 21st century Navy forward."

The LCS class sprint speed is significantly higher than that of any other surface combatant. As such, LCS is specifically designed to defeat such "anti-access" threats, which include fast surface craft.Its maneuverability and networked modularity compliment the U.S. Navy's multimission platforms with warfighting capabilities from littoral irregular warfare to mine, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare. Freedom is an agile, mission-focused ship that demonstrates the latest in naval technology.

Freedom is scheduled to continue its deployment in the U.S. 3rd Fleet AOR and make an additional TSC port visit in Mexico before finally arriving at its homeport of San Diego in spring 2010.

From Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems Command Public Affairs

April 5, 2010 - ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Sea Warrior Program (Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems PMW 240) implemented Navy Career Tool enhancements that strengthen privacy and support individual readiness requirements April 5.

Capt. Michael S. Murphy, Sea Warrior Program manager, authorized the release after successful operational testing and teamwork with the chief of naval personnel, Navy Personnel Command and other stakeholders. "The latest release implements changes in the Navy's individual readiness policy," Murphy said.

The release, known as Maintenance Upgrade (MU) 1B-4, will be visible to users of Career Management System/Interactive Detailing (CMS/ID). In addition, several behind-the-scenes changes affect Navy Career Tools (NCT) Assistant online job aids and Navy Training Management and Planning System (NTMPS).

Sailors will notice changes in CMS/ID, such as the Consecutive Overseas Tours approval status displayed on their Sailor Personnel Detail page.

Another important change in CMS/ID is the masking of the Social Security Number on the computer screen for most users. "Sailor data is stored on a secure server on a secure network, only accessible to the individual with the proper CAC (Common Access Card) and PIN (Personal Identification Number)," said Kathryn A. Bailey, CMS/ID Project Director assigned to Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic New Orleans Office. "So it makes good sense to mask out Social Security Numbers to prevent others from accidently seeing it displayed."

In addition, CMS/ID now takes individual Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) data into account. Sailors missing results from the last PFA cycle will receive an alert to contact their command fitness leader to verify they are properly updated in Physical Readiness Information Management System (PRIMS).

Sailors who failed their last PFA will receive a system "flag" warning they are in danger of becoming ineligible for special assignments such as overseas billets, pre-commissioning billets, instructor billets, special programs and Global Support Assignments.

Those who failed the last PFA plus another in the past three years will receive a flag warning they are ineligible for special assignments and may not be selected for their requested job. Sailors failing three PFAs in the past four years will receive a system "gate" indicating they are no longer eligible to negotiate for orders.

To prevent career-impacting problems, it's important that members verify their PRIMS data and that their PFA results are properly documented in performance evaluations or fitness reports.

For more details on the MU1B-4 changes to CMS/ID and other Navy Career Tools, members should visit their Command Career Counselors. A summary of MU1B-4 enhancements is also available on Navy Knowledge Online under the Career Management tab, Navy Career Tools, What's New in Navy Career Tools?

Navy Career Tools, including CMS/ID, NCT Assistant and NTMPS, are built and maintained by the PEO-EIS Sea Warrior Program. Sea Warrior is the Navy's single information technology (IT) acquisition agent for business operations addressing manpower, personnel, training and education, legacy systems and Distance Support. Sea Warrior is part of the Program Executive Office for Enterprise Information Systems, which develops, acquires and deploys seamless enterprise-wide IT systems with lifecycle support for the warfighter and business enterprise.

MILITARY CONTRACTS April 5, 2010

ARMY

General Dynamics C4 Systems, Inc., Taunton, Mass., was awarded on March 24 a $164,000,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for Warfighter Information Network (WIN) Tactical Increment 2 (T INC2) low-rate production, urgent first order, for the procurement of equipment for three brigade combat teams, one division headquarters, four regional hub nodes, and one base equipment complement to support the initial operational test and evaluation for WIN-T INC2 for program manager, WIN-T. Work is to be performed in Taunton, Mass., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2010. One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received. CECOM Acquisition Center, Fort Monmouth, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15PT-10-D-C007).

BAE Systems, LLC, U.S. Combat Systems, York, Pa., was awarded on March 31 a $145,170,882 firm-fixed-price contract for the reset of 551 Bradley Fighting Vehicle Systems. Work is to be performed in York, Pa. (42 percent); Aiken, S.C. (8 percent); Fayette, Pa. (12 percent); and Texarkana, Texas (38 percent), with an estimated completion date of Aug. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army, TACOM Contracting Center, CCTA-AHL-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-05-G-0005).

Archer-Western Contractor, Ltd., Arlington, Texas, was awarded on March 30 an $112,247,806 firm-fixed-price construction contract. This contract is for Lake Pontchartrain and vicinity, levee enlargement for South Point to CSX railroad, and US 11 and US 90 highway crossing, Reach LPV 109.02, Orleans Parish, Louisiana. Work is to be performed in Orleans Parish, La., with an estimated completion date of June 6, 2011. Bids were solicited via the the Federal Business Opportunities and Army Single Face to Industry Web sites, with seven bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Hurricane Protection Office., New Orleans, La., is the contracting activity (W912P8-10-C-0059).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on March 29 a $10,036,560 firm-fixed-price contract for the procurement of 31 field service representatives, equal to 372 months, for the Mine Resistant Ambush Protected All Terrain Vehicle in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. Five bids were solicited with five bids received. TACOM, CCTA-ADC-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0111).

AAI Corp., Hunt Valley, Md., was awarded on March 26 a $9,800,000 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for over-and-above efforts for government-owned, contractor-operated Units 1 and 2 in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and overseas contingency operations. Work is to be performed in Hunt Valley, Md., with an estimated completion date of Oct. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, CCAM-AR-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0016).

Great Lakes Dredge a Dock Co., LLC, Oak Road, Ill., was awarded on March 26 a $9,663,200 firm-fixed-price contract for the dredging of the Mississippi River harbors. Work is to be determined with each task order, with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with two bids received. U.S. Army Engineer District Memphis, Memphis, Tenn., is the contracting activity (W912EQ-10-D-0011).

Lockheed Martin Missiles and Fire Control, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on March 26 a $9,464,423 firm-fixed-price contract. This procurement is for issuance of an undefinitized contract action for the purchase of AH-64 Apache modernized target acquisition designation sight/pilot night vision sensors visible near infrared sight kits and associated spares for the United States government and the United Arab Emirates government. The March 26 obligation of $9,464,423 is 49 percent of the undefinitized contract action not-to-exceed amount of $19,315,150. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla., with an estimated completion date of May 31, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. Army Contracting Command, AMCOM Contracting Center, CCAM-AP-B, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-06-C-0169).

Science Applications International Corp., McLean, Va., was awarded on March 26 a $5,759,507 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency program that will develop and demonstrate an innovative multi-physics coupling software environment to enable rapid and accurate multidisciplinary performance design and analysis simulations for lightweight, multi-material Navy submarine rotors. Work is to be performed in Bowie, Md., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 18, 2011. Bids were solicited via Broad Agency Announcement with nine bids received. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (HR0011-10-C-0082).

The Ross Group Construction Corp., Inc., Tulsa, Okla., was awarded on March 26 a $5,726,551 firm-fixed-price contract. The intent of the project is for the repair and renovation of approximately 5,610 square feet of existing building space which comprises the second floor of Building 700, known as Knox Hall. Renovation will create new functional areas with offices. The renovation and repair will allow the facility to properly support its current mission. Building 700 is located on the southeast corner of the intersection of Randolph Road and McNair Avenue on Fort Sill, Okla. The contractor is to purchase required materials and provide design, equipment, labor, and management to perform all the required work to design and construct this project to provide a complete and useable facility. Contractors are to coordinate with a submitted and approved construction schedule, work plan, and approved designs. Features of work include demolition and renovation of the existing second floor space, including wall layout, communications, electrical distribution system, fire arm and suppression system, lighting, mechanical duct work ,systems, and plumbing. Additional feature include renovation of elevator cab and operating systems, and stair wells. Work is to be performed in Fort Sill, Okla., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 30, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineer Tulsa Distinct, Tulsa, Okla., is the contracting activity (W912BV-09-D-2024).

Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., Stratford, Conn., was awarded on March 29 a $9,223,633 firm-fixed-price contract for incorporating the recurring production of Engineering Change Proposal 628 (AV 10063R1), UH-HH-60M Black Hawk upturned exhaust systems. Work is to be performed in Stratford, Conn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Contracting Command, CCAM-BH-A, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W58RGZ-08-C-0003).

I.L. Fleming, Inc., Midway, Ga., was awarded on March 29 a $7,811,000 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of Chapel Complex PN 61035, Fort Bragg, N.C. Work is to be performed in Fort Bragg, N.C., with an estimated completion date of July 15, 2011. Bids were solicited on the World Wide Web with ten bids received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Omaha District, Omaha, Neb., is the contracting activity (W9128F-10-C-0012).

AM General, LLC, South Bend, Ind., was awarded on March 29 a $7,717,067 firm-fixed-price contract to add 50 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles to contract. Work is to be performed in Mishawaka, Ind., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 31, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM Warren, CCTA-ATA-A, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (DAAE07-01-C-S001)

Gulf Power Co., Pensacola, Fla., was awarded on March 26 a $5,586,210 firm-fixed-price contract for the construction of Freedom Way substation and transmission line extension, Hurlburt Air Force Base, Fla. Work is to be performed in Hurlburt Field, Fla., with an estimated completion date of March 1, 2010. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, Mobile, Ala., is the contracting activity (W91278-10-F-0035).

NAVY

M.C. Dean, Inc., Dulles, Va., is being awarded a $75,000,000 indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-incentive-fee modification to a previously awarded contract (N65236-07-D-5884) for command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance initiatives and programs supported by the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, European Office. The cumulative value of this contract, including this modification, is $239,013,981. Work will be performed in Europe (80 percent) and Southwest Asia (20 percent), and is expected to be completed by April 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured through the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command E-commerce Web site, with five offers received. Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Atlantic, Charleston, S.C., is the contracting activity.

VSE Corp., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $42,510,858 cost-plus-fixed-fee, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract (N00174-10-D-0011) for decontamination and demolition support services for the industrial revitalization program. The government requires analytical, technical, and management support services for industrial revitalization efforts to include caretaking assistance, modernization, explosives/energetics decontamination, demilitarization, demolition, and divestiture support for the Navy and other Department of Defense (DoD) customers, and non-DoD customers. Work will be performed at Naval Surface Warfare Centers in Indian Head, Md., Crane, Ind., and Dahlgren, Va.; Naval Weapons Stations in Yorktown, Va., Seal Beach, Calif., Concord, Calif., and Earle, N.J.; and the Naval Air Systems Command, Naval Weapons Industrial Reserve Plants in Texas, New York, Connecticut and Ohio. Work is expected to be completed by April 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Federal Business Opportunities Web site, with one offer received. The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Indian Head Division, Indian Head, Md., is the contracting activity.

EDO Communications and Countermeasures Systems, Inc., wholly owned by ITT Force Protection Systems, Thousand Oaks, Calif., is being awarded a $31,269,829 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus award fee, cost-only, firm-fixed-price modification to previously awarded contract (N0024-09-C-6316) to exercise options for all material and services to support the system development and demonstration phase through critical design review for the three capabilities (dismounted, mounted, and fixed-site) of the joint counter radio-controlled improvised explosive device electronic warfare (JCREW) 3.3 system of systems, 71°C ambient temperature. JCREW systems provide combat troops protection against radio-controlled improvised explosive devices. Work will be performed at Clifton, N.J. (41 percent), Annapolis Junction, Md. (30 percent), and Thousand Oaks, Calif. (29 percent), and is expected to be complete by June 2010. Contract funds in the amount $8,500,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $13,632,188 cost-plus-fixed-fee delivery order against a previously issued Basic Ordering Agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) to complete the AESA waveform generator DDS II die parts obsolescence redesign engineering change proposal for the F/A-18E/F aircraft. Work will be performed in El Segundo, Calif. (87.7 percent), and St. Louis, Mo. (12.3 percent), and is expected to be completed in March 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md. is the contracting activity.

Souza Construction, Inc.*, Farmersville, Calif., is being awarded $10,221,050 for firm-fixed-price task order #0002 under a previously awarded multiple-award construction contract (N62473-09-D-1652) for facility energy improvements at Heat Plant 5 (HP-5) at Marine Corps Logistics Base, Barstow. Work will be performed in Barstow, Calif., and is expected to be completed by September 2011. Funds for this project are provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Seven proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded a $6,123,474 not-to-exceed modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery, indefinite-quantity contract (N00019-08-D-0013) to provide 300 hours of persistent unmanned aerial vehicle intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance services in support of naval maritime missions. Work will be performed in Bingen, Wash. (96 percent), and St. Louis, Mo. (4 percent), and is expected to be completed in January 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $3,980,257 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

BAE Systems, Land and Armaments L.P., Minneapolis, Minn., is being awarded a $6,049,979 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-08-C-5407) to exercise an option for engineering services to support operation and capabilities of the MK 45 Naval Gun System, including system engineering and ammunition integration. The MK 45 Naval Gun System is designed to provide surface fire support for multiple ship platforms of the U.S. Navy and various Foreign Military Sales customers. These engineering services will provide design, development, production, logistics, testing, operational, and life-cycle support for the gun system. Work will be performed in Minneapolis, Minn. (87 percent), and Louisville, Ky. (13 percent), and is expected to be complete by September 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity.

AIR FORCE

Northrop Grumman Guidance and Electronic Co., Woodland Hills, Calif., was awarded a $14,109,480 contract which provides for 252 embedded GPS inertial navigation system production units for the USAF F-16. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 647 AESS/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting activity. (FA8626-06-C-2066).

Boeing Co., Boeing Integrated Defense Systems, Wichita, Kan., was awarded a $9,348,867 contract which provides additional funding on option period one for a contract to provide contractor logistics support for the VC-25A aircraft. At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 727 ACSG/PKB, Tinker Air Force Base, Okla., is the contracting activity (FA8106-09-C-005).

Choctaw Professional Resources Enterprise, Durant, Okla., was awarded a $20,000,000 contract which provides action to support the Family Advocacy Program, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, outside the contiguous United States. At this time, $2,998,319 has been obligated. AFDW/A7KM-S, Brooks City-Base, Texas, is the contracting activity (FA7014-10-D-0001).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Mercury Air Centers Inc. dba Atlantic Aviation, Los Angeles, Calif., is being awarded a maximum $8,376,373 fixed-price with economic price adjustment contract for jet fuel. Other locations of performance include Los Angeles International Airport, Los Angeles, Calif. Using services are the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and other federal civilian agencies. There were originally three proposals solicited with three responses. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2014. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va. (SP0600-10-D-0048), is the contracting activity.

Exercise key to Hawaiian air support center upgrade

By Capt. Genieve David
13th Air Force Public Affairs

4/5/2010 - JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (AFNS) -- The Hawaii Air Support Operations Center staff here achieved initial operational capability after proving its ability to deploy and perform its mission during Exercise Balikatan 2010 in March.

The unit, under the under the 25th Air Support Operations Squadron based at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, deployed 34 Airmen and more than 16 short tons of equipment to the former Clark Air Base in the Philippines via a C-17 Globemaster III to participate in the bilateral field training exercise March 9 through 22.

Balikatan is an annual exercise designed to increase interoperability between the Philippine air force and U.S. military and exercises the two nations' ability to operate together when responding to natural disasters.

"Balikatan was a key exercise for the ASOC because it provided a crucial step towards becoming fully combat mission capable," said Lt. Col. John Schaefer III, the 25th ASOS commander. "We proved we were able to field a self-sustained command and control hub which retained accountability for fixed and rotary winged aircraft while executing requests for close air support and support land maneuver forces."

As part of their team, the 25th ASOS deployed joint terminal attack controllers, communication specialists and logisticians.

JTACs, a specialized subset of the tactical air control party career field, are qualified members who, from a forward position, direct the actions of combat aircraft engaged in close air support and other air operations. The JTACs, along with communication specialists and logisticians, directly support the ASOC's main mission to coordinate and direct air support for joint force land component operations.

The new ASOC has a standard wartime mission and a new employment capability that can be tasked with supporting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief.

"The same air control capability used during wartime can be used to help control civilian aircraft after a major disaster when an airport may have been affected and cannot handle the influx of response personnel and supplies," said 1st Lt. Anita B. Clark, the 25th ASOS communications flight commander. "The ASOC has the capability to take control and deconflict aircraft altitudes and ensure a steady and clear flow of air traffic."

(1st Lt. Anita B. Clark contributed to this article.)