Tuesday, April 13, 2010

DOD Announces Winners of the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards

April 13, 2010 - The Department of Defense has announced the winners of the 2010 Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards. A panel of judges representing federal and state agencies, academia, and the public has selected the following installations, teams and individuals as the winners of this year's awards:

Fort Custer Training Center, Michigan Army National Guard

Natural Resources Conservation - Small Installation

Camp Guernsey, Wyoming Army National Guard

Cultural Resources Management - Installation

Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Hawaii

Environmental Quality - Non-industrial Installation

Fleet Readiness Center Southwest, Calif.

Sustainability - Industrial Installation

Hill Air Force Base, Utah

Environmental Restoration - Installation

Stephen M. Sieber, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Natural Resources Conservation - Individual/Team

Awni M.Almasri, Naval Support Activity Bahrain, Bahrain

Environmental Quality - Individual/Team

Regina Dixon Butler, 45 SW restoration project manager, Patrick Air Force Base, Fla.

Environmental Restoration - Individual/Team

Aeronautical Systems Center, 77th AESW, Acquisition Environmental and Occupational

Health Risk Management Branch (ASC/ENVV), Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio

Each year since 1962 the secretary of defense has honored individuals, teams, and installations for their outstanding achievements to conserve and sustain the natural and cultural resources entrusted to the Department of Defense. The under secretary of defense for acquisition, technology and logistics will officiate at the ceremony honoring the winners on June 2, 2010, at 11 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Center Courtyard.

For more information on the Secretary of Defense Environmental Awards and highlights of this year's winners and honorable mentions, please visit http://www.denix.osd.mil/portal/page/portal/Awards.

Warrior Games Seek to Inspire Disabled Warriors

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

April 13, 2010 - The goal of the inaugural Warrior Games, scheduled for May 11-14, is to build confidence and provide rehabilitation for disabled servicemembers and veterans, the commander of U.S. Army Warrior Transition Command said yesterday.

"We want to inspire [disabled] soldiers to get out there and prove that there are a lot of things that they really can do," Army Brig. Gen. Gary Cheek said in an interview with American Forces Press Service and the Pentagon Channel. "It sort of reinforces the notion that all the services have: [The Warrior Games] is about your abilities, not your disabilities. Yes, your life may be changed, but it's not over."

The games in Colorado Springs, Colo., will feature some 200 of the most athletic wounded active-duty members and military veterans in Paralympic-style competition. The U.S. Olympic Committee will host the games, and events will include shooting, swimming, archery, track, discus, shot put, cycling, sitting volleyball and wheelchair basketball.

The opening ceremony is expected to bring more than 1,000 people, including the athletes, coaches and spectators. Rolling Thunder, a Vietnam War veterans advocacy group known for its patriotic motorcycle rides across the country, will escort an American flag from the site of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks in New York City to Colorado Springs. Roger Staubach and Rocky Bleier -- former National Football League greats and military veterans --also are expected to be part of the ceremony, along with a parachute team.

Cheek, who helped to come up with the idea for the games, praised his partners in the U.S. Olympic Committee's Paralympic division, calling their support "spectacular" in helping to facilitate and organize the games. Along with hosting the games at their training site, the committee has allotted Paralympic coaches to hone the competitors' skills in the days leading up to the competition. Competitors also will be staying in lodging and using the dining facilities at the Olympic training site.

"The enthusiasm from [the Olympic Committee], their desire to support this, has been very gratifying," the general said. "The amount of cooperation between the services has been really spectacular as well. We've been working on [the Warrior Games] for the past eight months pretty hard, with recurring meetings and milestones and things to meet. It's been quite a team effort."

All of the athletes have been selected and identified for the games. The Army will be represented by 100 soldiers chosen out of a pool of almost 9,000 wounded warriors. The Marine Corps will send 50 competitors, the Air Force will send 25, and the Coast Guard and Navy will combine to send 25 more.

The competition is open to military members and veterans with bodily injuries as well as mental wounds of war, such as post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury. The Defense Department is paying for the coaches and also is picking up the tab for competitors' room and board and travel expenses.

The department also will fund one person -- whether it's a medical professional, a friend or a family member -- to accompany athletes with special needs or in-home care. Military and Olympic physicians also will be on hand at the games.

For the past several weeks, Cheek has been visiting with Army competitors, their families and warrior transition units across the services to get an understanding of how they feel about the games. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive from troops looking to compete, but overall, the response has been somewhat varied, he acknowledged.

Some troops want to participate in the games immediately, Cheek explained, while others are a little wary and just not mentally or physically ready for this level of competition. Also, some wounded warriors are concerned about how the games would interfere with their rehabilitation regimens and their progress.

"The response from [wounded warriors] is somewhat mixed, but those for whom the timing is right and the desire is there, the feedback is very, very positive," Cheek said. "Just the fact that we've had over twice as many applicants as we have for the number of slots is a good indication of the level of desire the soldiers have to get into this."

Cheek also has learned from his visits with troops that setting goals can make a tremendous impact on recovery. Goal-oriented troops seem to have a much faster recovery rate, another positive aspect the games may have, he said.

This is the type of foundation and mindset Cheek hopes the Warrior Games and adaptive sports will help to instill in all disabled servicemembers and veterans, he said.

"Every soldier is unique, but it is interesting to note that those with their own personal will and desire can really accelerate their healing process and get back into life," he said. "The fact that we're pushing them in a physical venture to push themselves hard and to go out and compete ... is a big part of that."

Although there are some mental and emotional advantages to the games, Cheek said, he sees the games for what they are -- an athletic competition. He looks forward to the troops challenging each other, "talking trash" and being really motivated to win, he said.

"I really see the Warrior Games as a great and challenging athletic event, and may the best athletes win," the general said. "Will there be some therapeutic benefits? I think there will be. [But] I'm looking forward to a little bit of the trash talking that'll be going on among those soldiers and letting them try to get back into a new normal for them -- let them get into an environment where they can knock heads and mess with each other and have some fun."

But mostly, Cheek said, he is looking forward to sitting down and chat with the competitors after the games to get their feedback and find out what could have been done better.

"Let the games begin," he said. "I'm ready to get out there and see what happens. I really want our soldiers to realize that it's all about your abilities, not your disabilities."

Risk of Nuclear Attack Has Grown, Obama Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 13, 2010 - While the risk of nuclear war between countries has dropped, the risk of a nuclear attack has risen, President Barack Obama said today.

Obama officially opened the Nuclear Security Summit here, where leaders of 47 nations are meeting to address the problems of nuclear materials and the threats that rogue nations and terrorist groups pose.

Dozens of nations have nuclear materials that could be sold or stolen and fashioned into nuclear weapons, Obama said. "Just the smallest amount of plutonium, about the size of an apple, could kill and injure hundreds of thousands of innocent people," the president said.

Terror groups would use the weapon if they could get their hands on one, Obama told the group, specifically citing al-Qaida's efforts to acquire nuclear materials. "If they ever succeeded, they would surely use it," he said. "Were they to do so, it would be a catastrophe for the world, causing extraordinary loss of life and striking a major blow to global peace and stability." Nuclear terrorism is the greatest threat to the world today, and the world needs to take action, he added.

The meeting is an outgrowth of the president's call for an international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear materials in four years.

"This is one part of a broader comprehensive agenda that the United States is pursuing, including reducing our nuclear arsenal and stopping the spread of nuclear weapons – an agenda that will bring us closer to our ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons," he said.

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1887 endorses this agenda.

White House officials said progress already has been made, with Ukraine agreeing to get rid of its weapons-grade nuclear materials by 2012.

Obama detailed the conference's agenda, noting that the morning session would look at ways to secure nuclear materials, and to prevent illicit trafficking and smuggling. The lunch session will look at ways to strengthen the International Atomic Energy Agency. The afternoon session will look at strengthening cooperation and to form partnerships among nations to prevent nuclear materials from ever falling into the hands of terrorists.

South Korea has agreed to host the next Nuclear Security Summit in 2012.

"For the sake of our common security, for the sake of our survival, we cannot drift," Obama said. "We need a new manner of thinking and action. That is the challenge before us."

USS Crommelin Attends Merrie Monarch Festival

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Eric J. Cutright

April 13, 2010 - HILO, Hawaii (NNS) -- Sailors from the Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided-missile frigate USS Crommelin (FFG 37) took part in the annual Merrie Monarch Festival on the "Big Island" of Hawaii April 8-10.

The Merrie Monarch Festival is a weeklong event that celebrates the perpetuation, preservation and promotion of Hawaiian culture through education and the art of the hula.

Crommelin arrived at Hilo Pier on April 8, for a three-day port visit, where the crew had an opportunity to enjoy nightly hula competitions and to take part in the culturally-driven Hawaiian event.

"This is now the 47th year that the Navy has been represented here in Hilo for the Merrie Monarch Festival, and it's a tremendous honor for the Sailors of USS Crommelin to have been invited to participate in the ceremony," said Cmdr. Joseph M. Keenan Jr., the commanding officer of USS Crommelin.

Crommelin Sailors were able to enjoy liberty call soon after arriving at Hilo and some took the opportunity to participate in a community relations project at a Girl Scout Service Center.

"I'm just trying to help the community in any way I can while we're here for the Merrie Monarch," said Logistics Specialist 2nd class (SW/AW) Derrick Denmark.

The volunteers painted the entire outside of the service center, which provides the island's girl scouts with their supplies as well as a place for the scout troops to hold meetings.

At night, the Crommelin Sailors were invited to attend the Merrie Monarch hula competitions at the Edith Kanaka'ole Tennis Stadium.

"The fact that these Sailors were able to witness hula firsthand; I think that's really what's touched them the most. They really got to see what the aloha spirit is all about," said Command Senior Chief (SW) Matthew Danforth.

Rear Adm. Dixon Smith, commander of Navy Region Hawaii and Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific, joined Crommelin on its second day in Hilo, where he participated in the official pierside welcome ceremony. Smith, along with Keenan, presented plaques signifying the Navy's appreciation to the associate director of Merrie Monarch Festival, Hilo Council of the Navy League and the King and Queen of the Merrie Monarch Festival.

After the ceremony, Crommelin hosted a luncheon on the flight deck for its honored guests.

"It's a wonderful experience for me," said Lisa Akana-Baltero, the Mo'i Wahine, or Queen of the Merrie Monarch Festival Royal Court. "I enjoyed seeing the ship and having conversations with the crew on board. It was just a wonderful event."

On radio station KMXX FM 94.7 Hilo, radio personality Kaohu James had an opportunity to chat with Smith and Navy League Hilo Council President David DeLuz, Jr. about the Navy's participation in the popular festival and shared the importance of the Navy's presence in Hawaii.

On the third and final day of the Crommelin's involvement, Keenan, along with his executive officer and command senior chief, led his crew as they marched in the Merrie Monarch Royal Parade through downtown Hilo. Smith, joined by his wife, Kiki, walked beside the Crommelin Sailors while waving and shaking hands with people along the way.

"We are thrilled to be here," said Keenan. "The Navy and Hilo have roots that go back many, many years, and we are proud to represent the Navy at the 2010 Merrie Monarch Festival."

Before leaving Hilo, Crommelin welcomed 14 cadets from Waiakea High School Navy JROTC in Hilo to embark the ship on its return trip to Pearl Harbor.

Chief Boatswain's Mate Scott Fraser, Waiakea High School NJROTC Naval science instructor, thanked the commanding officer and crew of Crommelin for all they have done for the young cadets.

"They made us feel like real shipmates while on board. All the accommodations and tours that they gave us were fantastic," he said. The cadets thoroughly enjoyed the steel-beach picnic and flight deck movie. "I couldn't have asked for a better event," he added.

While in Pearl Harbor, the cadets toured Pacific Aviation Museum, USS Arizona Memorial and World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument.