Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Face of Defense: Sailor Interprets for African Counterparts

By Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class John Stratton
USS Guston Hall

April 27, 2010 - A U.S. sailor born and raised in Togo has found herself back in Africa on a unique mission aboard USS Gunston Hall supporting Africa Partnership Station West. Navy Petty Officer 3rd Class Chirstelle Byll, an operations specialist, moved to Baltimore from her native Togo at age 19 and joined the Navy in December 2005. Currently assigned to USS Stout, she was selected to assist instructors from the Security Force Assistance Detachment of the Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Assistance Training Command, using her native French-speaking skills to interpret the course material for sailors from various French-speaking African nations.

"A friend recommended me," Byll said. "I jumped right on it, knowing it would be a great opportunity to come back to Africa and help out. I went through an instructor school before joining the team. I then had to familiarize myself with the course material that we would be teaching to the African sailors."

Byll interpreted for the port-security and train-the-trainer classes taught by Navy Chief Petty Officer Jerry Mosley that included sailors and coast guardsmen from Senegal, Liberia, Sierra Leone, Gambia and Equatorial Guinea.

"Byll is a great asset to the team," Mosley said. "She brings with her an understanding of the African culture and can also relate to being a U.S. sailor."

Byll agreed that her background is an asset. "I believe the African sailors relate to me a little more than the other instructors," she said. "They feel more comfortable asking me questions if they need help."

Byll added that she hopes the students can take the training and apply it when they return home.

Chief Petty Officer Joseph Ndiaye of the Senegalese navy said he was thrilled to have the African-born U.S. sailor interpret for him.

"I was unaware at first that she was from Togo," he said. "This was a big surprise and a great opportunity, because she knows both cultures."

Byll said she plans to make a career in the Navy, noting she eventually wants to obtain an officer's commission.

The training being conducted through Africa Partnership Station West is part of an international initiative developed by U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa that aims to improve maritime safety and security in Africa. It's designed to enhance professional development and provide a valuable motivational and instructional experience to increase the awareness of maritime safety and security, officials said.

Pentagon NORAD Corridor Dedication

April 27, 2010 - The ribbon-cutting of the North American Aerospace Defense Command's Pentagon corridor exhibit will take place April 28 at 12:15 p.m. EDT on the third floor, A-Ring, between Corridors 1 and 10.

Displays in the corridor commemorate the 52-year partnership between Canada and the United States in the collective defense of our homelands.

U.S. Air Force Gen. Gene Renuart, commander of NORAD and U.S. Northern Command, will preside over the dedication ceremony of the permanent exhibit. Ambassador Gary Doer, ambassador of Canada to the United States, and Michèle Flournoy, under secretary of defense for policy, are also scheduled to attend and provide comments.

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only. Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please call (703) 697-5131 for escort into the building.

Mongolian emergency managers observe Vigilant Guard exercise

Sgt. Karima Turner
Alaska National Guard

(4/26/10) -- Vigilant Guard is playing an important role in the National Guard’s State Partnership Program. In addition to increasing interoperability between state, federal and volunteer agencies, this full-scale exercise is providing a unique learning opportunity for the Mongolian delegates.

Since 2003, the Alaska National Guard and Mongolia have been forming a relationship through the program. Mongolia was partnered with Alaska in part because the two regions so closely resemble each other in size, terrain and many natural disasters, to include earthquakes.

Mongolia, has sent nine representatives from four different organizations ranging from the municipal to the national government to observe the full scale earthquake-based exercise in hopes of bringing back the new found knowledge to their country.

Since 2006, Mongolia and Alaska have participated in Khaan Quest , a combined joint training exercise designed to strengthen the capabilities of U.S. and Mongolian Armed forces in international peace support operations worldwide.

“For Khaan Quest next year, I plan on implementing and practicing what we learn here at Vigilant Guard with the training we will be doing during Khaan Quest,” said Uuganbayar Batmunkh, head of training division for the National Emergency Management Agency in Ulan Bataar, Mongolia. “We will train our people in the classroom on what we learned here then we will put it into play with hands-on field training.” The representatives will have the chance to study and learn about nearly every aspect of emergency and disaster response through Vigilant Guard.

“The delegation will have the opportunity to visit several of the disaster venues during Vigilant Guard and will take away their observations and the lessons that we learn as a state in how to conduct an exercise,” said Lt. Col. Stephen Wilson, Alaska-Mongolia State Partnership Program coordinator. “They will be able to use that information to help prepare their own organization for response to a disaster and prepare for exercising that response.”

“Mongolia is very concerned with earthquake disasters,” said Wilson. “In January, they felt a 5.5- magnitude earthquake, and shortly thereafter larger earthquakes hit Haiti, Chile and a little over 800 miles away from their homeland a 6.9-magnitude earthquake struck in the northwest China Qinghai province, so it is very important that they are able to observe this kind of large scale training.”

USS Hopper Returns from Seven-Month Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

April 27, 2010 - PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- More than 250 Sailors aboard the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) arrived at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH) April 23, to a crowded pier of family and friends following a scheduled seven-month deployment.

Hopper departed JBPHH Sep. 14, 2009, for an independent deployment to the 5th and 7th Fleet Areas of Responsibilities (AOR).

Lt. Cmdr. Al Lopez, Hopper's executive officer, noted the great teamwork that the crew displayed throughout the deployment.

"Hopper's success during this last deployment belongs completely to the Sailors," said Lopez. "In all that they were called to do, the crew approached their missions with a professionalism and competence that cannot help but make America proud."

While on deployment, Hopper conducted baseline operations for Coalition Task Force (CTF) 152, including maritime patrols, bridge queries and visit, board, search and seizure approach operations while in the 5th Fleet AOR.

Hopper Sailors also volunteered their time during several community relations projects while in the 7th Fleet AOR.

"Overall, we had a very successful deployment as Hopper supported the mission of the Navy and the United States," said Hopper Command Master Chief Jay Stuckey. "Hopper's performance was nothing short of outstanding."

Friends and families of Hopper Sailors were enthused to see the crew return home.

Guided-missile destroyers provide multimission offensive and defensive capabilities and can operate independently or as part of carrier battle groups, surface action groups or amphibious ready groups.

VCNO "Listen and Learn" Tour Visits Hawaii

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul D. Honnick, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Hawaii

April 27, 2010 - PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii (NNS) -- The vice chief of naval operations (VCNO) made a stop on his family readiness "listen and learn" tour at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam April 23.

In the midst of touring facilities at area bases, Adm. Jonathan W. Greenert, VCNO, along with his wife Darleen, hosted a roundtable discussion with regional command individual augmentee (IA) coordinators and staff at Navy Region Hawaii's Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) to discuss current family readiness issues and programs available to support Sailors and their families.

"We're looking at family readiness programs, we're looking at child care, we're looking at the family service centers to speak to those that work at these sites and their requisite fleet representation to see how things are going," said Greenert.

Greenert said that since the Navy's involvement with overseas contingency operations and with Operation Iraqi and Enduring Freedom, there has been an increased demand on the Sailors, which has and an effect on family readiness.

"Over the last eight years, we've been in these campaigns, we've migrated toward increased deployments and the time between deployments is getting less. It's more stress on the force, and so we are reaching to the support of these programs for our families so they can become better informed, so that they can be better prepared and so that they can be more resilient," said Greenert.

A challenge that the Navy faces today is the effects that an IA deployment has on family readiness. The group discussed what they are doing to assist Sailors with the process of going IA.

"We discussed the ability of our command IA coordinators to do their job. Do they have the right support, processes in place, policy clear, tasking clear and do they have the right tools to do they job. I think overall they said yes we do," said Greenert. "There are tweaks here and there, there are some things that are a little more inefficient, but I'm pleased and I'm encouraged by how our command IA coordinator program is moving."

Greenert dispelled a rumor that seeking out help is a sign of weakness.

"We discussed the stigma that regrettably exists in the fleet that coming over to use the programs at the family service centers indicates that there is something wrong," explained Greenert. "In fact, what we have over here are not just programs to help somebody who may be in trouble, but programs to help somebody become a better person overall from financial management to job placement, to getting a spouse job placement and to transitioning which is important for all of us."

Greenert stressed that there are many programs available to Navy families and all they need to do is seek assistance from the FFSC.

"Avoid self denial, if something isn't going right, go look and see if there is some way to fix that, to change that course that you're on, no matter what it is," said Greenert.

Greenert recently visited Navy installations in Southern California as part of his tour, including Naval Base San Diego and Naval Base Ventura County. Hawaii is his last stop on this trip, but he said he plans on visiting more regions in the future.

"I just want to thank to Sailors for the work that they do," said Greenert. "They're amazing folks that just take on the challenge and work on something that is bigger then themselves, but when you see the support element they have and how proud the folks that work at Fleet and Family Support Center are to support the Sailors; they're the wind under their wings in a way and they're proud to do that."

Military Teens Cope With Wartime Challenges

Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - With a cocky grin and larger-than-life presence, Cornelius Madison commands attention when he walks down the high school hall here, always with a hint of a swagger.

Bumping fists and cracking jokes, Cornelius seems impervious to stress or worry. It’s only when discussing his deployed mother in an interview does he reveal a small chink in his otherwise impenetrable bravado.

“As long I know she’s alive, then, I’m good. But if I ever get that call ….” His words drift off and he looks away, unwilling to share his potential pain.

His mother, Army Staff Sgt. Asia Lowe, and stepfather, Army Sgt. 1st Class Shawn Lowe, deployed to Afghanistan for a year about a month ago, their second deployment in three years. Cornelius and his two younger siblings are staying with a family friend.

At 16, Cornelius has assumed the role of man of the house in a home that isn’t even his own.

“It’s not easy, but I was brought up to keep going, no matter what,” he said. “I have to do it for my Mom. I’m really proud of her.”

Cornelius is one of the nearly 2 million American military children and youth growing up in a decade marked by war. He’s also one of the some 900,000 military children whose parents have deployed multiple times. These children endure long separations from a parent who may be in harm’s way, frequent moves, and multiple new schools. They mark major milestones, including graduations, prom nights and sports events, either alone or without one or both of their parents.

The challenges and stressors they endure would knock most well-functioning adults to their knees, said Nancy Beale, school psychologist for the Fort Campbell High School here.

“Yet these kids get up and come to school and maintain their grades and do the best they can,” she said. “It blows me out of the water. And it gives me faith in that concept we call resiliency.”

The ongoing Afghanistan and Iraq wars have taken their toll on the post here. About two-thirds of the active-duty soldiers assigned to Fort Campbell are slated to deploy by fall, noted Bob Jenkins, a post spokesman. That’s a big hit to a post with a total soldier population of roughly 30,000.

While some of his peers take the deployments harder, Cornelius takes the separations and moves – this is his fifth so far -- in stride, shrugging them off as an inevitable part of military life. “Other people have it worse,” he said.

Cornelius’ laid-back attitude may seem surprising to some, but actually is the new norm for adolescents growing up in the military, Beale noted.

“Adolescence is such a time of independence and breaking away from their parents and being on their own,” she said. “Taking on that adult role is what they’re supposed to be doing. They take pride in doing that, in holding it together.”

That unflappable attitude among most adolescents, Beale noted, is a marked difference from the reactions of younger children. Younger children may exhibit deployment-induced stress with sleep disturbances and regression, she said. But for the majority of adolescents, she added, separations can be empowering.

Still, becoming the “man of the house” can have its drawbacks. Families with high-level needs, such as a special-needs child or money issues, can grow too dependent on a teen’s assistance. “Then it goes from being, ‘I’m going to take a role and help my family’ to overburdening,” Beale noted.

Separated from peers and unable to enjoy free time, resentment can grow, she explained.

High school junior Chelsea Jarvis pitches in heavily at home. Her father, Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 Adam Jarvis, is deployed with a Special Forces unit, and she often is called on to help with her special-needs brother, Jacob. At 13, Jacob already has undergone seven brain surgeries and is unable to talk.

Since her Dad’s departure, the 17-year-old has taken on tasks from bathing to changing diapers to babysitting her brother.

“My mother can’t do it all by herself,” she said, quickly adding that she doesn’t mind pitching in. “We pick up the pieces when he’s gone. It’s just something we do.”

Chelsea was born after her father enlisted, and, like Cornelius, has grown accustomed to her father’s deployments, which are briefer but more frequent than those experienced by soldiers in other military occupational specialties.

“My Dad’s missed a lot of milestones, but I’m not going to blame him,” she said. “It’s something you just have to get used to, or you’ll probably be a blubbering mess.”

While she admits to some concerns about her father’s safety, particularly in his line of work, it’s unproductive to focus on the death count and the statistics, she said.

“If you focus on that all the time, it’s harder to keep going,” she said. “I focus on what I’m doing here. I try to stay busy.”

Beale said the school invests a significant amount of time and energy to ensure students like Chelsea have a plethora of activities to keep them occupied, from sports to academic clubs to social outlets. The small school of more than 700 students offers a jam-packed slate of activities, she added. Students can pursue the typical sports teams; participate in organizations such as Teens, Crime and Community or Future Educators of America; satisfy their academic goals in Homework Club or National Honor Society; and their more creative outlets in the drama club, chorus or band.

Teens find strength in the activities as well as in the camaraderie they foster, Beale noted. “We spend a lot more of our efforts trying to build relationships with our students through those avenues,” she said.

The one type of group parents won’t find at the high school is a deployment support group. Beale said she’s found they’re more effective for elementary-age children. Younger children enjoy the support a formal group may provide, while older children benefit more from an active lifestyle, she noted.

A recent Army study validated the school’s efforts. The study found that the No. 1 factor in mitigating deployment stress for Army adolescents was their participation in activities, such as sports, followed by a strong family foundation.

Peer groups, such as those formed through sports and clubs, are vital for adolescents, Beale noted. “It’s often a peer group that alerts me to problems,” she said. “A friend brings them to me much more often than a student comes to me for help.”

In any case, parents and teachers should be on the lookout for significant changes in behavior, such as a drastic drop in grades or withdrawal from family and friends, and then engage the teen or seek help, Beale advised.

Darien Crank leans heavily on his football team, looking to his buddies for support while his father, Army Sgt. Arthur Carter, is deployed to Afghanistan. It’s the father’s third deployment since he joined the Army six years ago.

“They know what it’s like to be new and move around, and so they’re really welcoming and warm,” Darien said of the military families here.

Unlike many children who grew up in the military, Darien is well aware of a major shift in lifestyle; his father joined when he was 12.

“At first it was weird with him being home every night and then just leaving and being gone for two or three months at a time,” the 18-year-old senior said. “That’s the first time he’d left for that long.”

On his first deployment to Iraq, Darien’s father asked his son to be the man of the house. Wanting to appear strong, Darien didn’t cry until his father left. The second time his father deployed, he didn’t cry at all.

“Now he’s always gone,” Darien said. His father will miss his prom, graduation and his sendoff to college this fall. Darien plans to attend Tusculum College in neighboring Tennessee on a football scholarship.

He relies on friends, he said, and has matured in his father’s absence.

“My dad understands he’s gone a lot,” Darien said. When he comes home, he added, his father gives him space and allows him to continue his role as “man of the house” in some capacity, a consideration he appreciates.

But the frequent separations take their toll on their relationship, Darien admitted. He recalls his father teaching him to ride bikes and play games, but his memories stop short with his earlier childhood.

“He’s been gone for so long, I can’t even imagine our relationship being really close,” he said.

Darien’s concerns are common in a military society that, over the past decade, has been confronted with frequent and lengthy family absences, Beale said.

“The logistics of it get easier, and the idea,” she said. “What I don’t think is easier is the resentment of their parent missing so many years.

“They know they can handle it, they know what they need to do, and they know they’ll be fine,” she continued. “But then it becomes, ‘But, I’m tired. I’m tired of Dad missing another soccer season. I’m tired of Mom not being here for all the major holidays.’”

The lasting impact of the separations on military families concerns Beale.

“I am worried more about the families themselves,” she said. “I see a lot more splintering apart of husbands and wives, which of course is absolutely the worst curveball you can throw our students amongst all this other stuff they’re going through. That’s what concerns me the most.”

However, Beale said she’s also reassured by the adaptability of military children and their ability to form deep friendships quickly due to a fast-paced military life.

“There’s an acceptance of a reality: ‘This is the Army way,’ or ‘It’s Dad’s job or Mom’s job’” in the military, she said. “Their ability to accept war and the role that their parent plays for our country is very mature.”

It remains to be seen what the long-term effects of a decade of war will have on military children, Beale said. But whatever the future holds, they should be proud of what they’ve already achieved.

“Some of that initiation by fire, that ‘I can do anything,’ I don’t think they realize what they’ve done,” she said.

USNS Mercy to Set Sail for Pacific Partnership 2010

April 27, 2010 - SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- The Naval hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) will deploy from San Diego May 1, kicking off Pacific Partnership 2010.

The fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian and civic assistance endeavors, Pacific Partnership 2010 is aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host nations and partner nations.

Pacific Partnership 2010's Mission Commander is Capt. Lisa Franchetti, who will ensure the collaboration and teamwork of the many government and non-governmental agencies who make up the mission this year.

"This deployment offers an incredible opportunity to continue to build the relationships and capabilities that will be essential in responding to a real-world disaster in the region," said Franchetti. "My team is truly looking forward to working with our host nation, partner nations, State Department, other services and our non-governmental organization (NGO) partners to create a mission that effectively brings people together and provides many opportunities to share knowledge and experiences."

The deployment, which is scheduled to take place through late September, is designed to enhance relationships through medical, dental and engineering outreach projects that reinforce the mutually supporting roles between participants.

"When we take our Navy Medicine capabilities and combine them with the capabilities and knowledge of our host nations, partner nations and NGO partners, we exponentially increase our ability to provide high caliber services to the communities we visit," said Capt. Jeffery Paulson, commanding officer of Mercy's shipboard hospital. "Ultimately, we will augment the host nation medical services already in place and engage in subject matter expert exchanges, sharing both experience and training."

Mercy, as the lead vessel, is scheduled to visit Vietnam, Cambodia, Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The medical treatment facility or hospital includes multiple operating rooms, sophisticated X-ray capabilities and more than 500 volunteer and military staff.

Two additional visits will be made in Palau and Papua New Guinea by other Navy and partner nation ships as part of Pacific Partnership 2010.

"In this last week before departure our days are incredibly fast paced as we're conducting major onloads of stores and medical supplies and also running through training and fire drills to ensure that we're safe for sailing," said Military Sealift Command Capt. David Bradshaw, Mercy's civil service master who has overall responsibility for the ship and the safety of all of its passengers. "But despite the intense workload, energy levels are high. Everyone on the crew I have talked to is really looking forward to this mission."

Mercy is one of two U.S. Navy hospital ships and is crewed by 66 civil service mariners led by Bradshaw working for the U.S. Navy's Military Sealift Command who navigate the ship to each mission stop, run the ship's engineering plant and transport patients and mission personnel between ship and shore in small boats.

"We've been preparing and planning for this mission since last fall," said Franchetti. "It's a great feeling to know that within a few days we will be embarking on this exciting deployment, bringing us one day closer to our first host nation visit."

Pacific Partnership conducts humanitarian and civic assistance by working with and through host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies, many whose representatives will be departing with Mercy. In addition to providing humanitarian assistance, Pacific Partnership also provides valuable experiences to learn from host nation military and civilian experts. This experience helps ensure the U.S. military is able to rapidly respond in support of emergency relief efforts in the future.

Deployed Airmen memorialize air mobility legend through mural

by Capt. Cathleen Snow
380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

4/27/2010 - SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Retired Master Sgt. Roy Hooe died April 18, 1973, but in a way he came back to life some 37 years later to the day in the form of art.

Airmen deployed to the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing put the finishing touches on a mural April 18 highlighting Sergeant Hooe's legacy, in Roy's Flight Kitchen, a dining facility named after Sergeant Hooe run by the 380th Expeditionary Force Support Squadron.

Sergeant Hooe, a 2001 inductee to the Airlift/Tanker Association Hall of Fame, is most widely known for his work as an "airborne mechanic" on the famed "Question Mark" flight, according to Air Mobility Command history. Sergeant's Hooe's famed flight was for 151 hours beginning on Jan. 1, 1929.

Then Staff Sgt. Hooe was responsible for keeping the "Question Mark" aloft during a record-setting endurance flight that at one point required him to go outside the aircraft on a catwalk to make engine repairs, his biography states.

In addition to serving as airborne mechanic, Sergeant Hooe operated the pump that transferred fuel from the cabin tanks to the wings. Along with the rest of the "Question Mark" crew that included Maj. Carl Spaatz, Capt. Ira Eaker, 1st Lt. Harry Halverson and 2nd Lt. Elwood Quesada, Sergeant Hooe received the Distinguished Service Cross for his participation in the flight.

"The idea to do the mural was brought up by the rotation of Airmen before us; we just made it happen," said Tech. Sgt. Johnette Chun, the NCO in charge of the flight kitchen. "I wanted all of us to be able to work on a project together but wasn't sure what. Since this is a first time deployment for some of my crew, I wanted them to be able to leave something behind for others after us to enjoy. When this idea came up I knew that this was it."

After crafting a rough draft of a design, Sergeant Chun and other Airmen from the dining facility staff enlisted the help of Master Sgt. Scott Sturkol, the superintendent of 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs office. Sergeant Sturkol, has an associate's degree in commercial art and regularly donates paintings to AMC and other Air Force units.

"Two of my deployed roommates work at Roy's (Diner) and one day they asked me about aiding in the design of their mural," Sergeant Sturkol said. "We took a concept, improved on it and today it's a lasting memory of an air mobility hero. Now people can relate the facility's name with an image. I was happy to make him come to life."

Senior Airman Levar Kinard, a services journeyman with the 380th EFSS who also works at Roy's Flight Kitchen, also helped with the mural.

"I believe because of our ability to work well together and our structure which allows for group opinion allowed this mural to come forth as it stands today," Airman Kinard said. "I don't think most even knew who the man was before, or what he looked like before we created the mural, Airman Kinard said. "I believe now people can put a name to a face and a point in time, and understand what he meant and what he did for the Air Force during his era.

"I had a lot of fun on this mural," he said. "I didn't think I would enjoy it at first until some friends and my roommate (Sergeant Sturkol) came to participate and join in on the creation of a work of art. I think by doing it by hand it means more to me and it makes this mural stand out as something special that all can appreciate for years to come."

"I'm not much of an artist so I admit I was a little worried in the beginning but with help from friends, we made it happen and had fun in the process," Sergeant Chun said. "I am honored to have been able to participate in this project."

During his aviation career, Sergeant Hooe also served as a crew chief for other aviation pioneers including Ameila Earhart, his biography states. He retired from the Air Force after 30 years of service in April 1950.

Sergeant Sturkol said now every time he goes to Roy's Flight Kitchen it'll be nice to see the history of Sergeant Hooe being represented through the mural.

"The fact that he was enlisted, alone, is a perfect reason to honor him, but also because his career represents so much about the people who frequently stop at the flight kitchen, Sergeant Sturkol said. He was an aircraft maintainer and had a hand in the success of the very first air refueling mission.

"In the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing, with the KC-10 Extenders and their air refueling support for today's war effort as well as hundreds of maintainers who keep planes flying in the wing every day, it shows Sergeant Hooe had a direct affect on today's Air Force," Sergeant Sturkol said. "My part in this mural was as a member of a team of Airmen who are so proud to remember an enlisted Airman who is a treasured part of our Air Force heritage."

Air Force recruiters debut 'augmented reality' mobile tour

4/27/2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- The U.S. Air Force's newest mobile marketing tour, "Command Center Alpha," was unveiled April 22 at the Suwannee River Jam in Live Oak, Fla.

Command Center Alpha is a first-of-its-kind augmented reality mobile tour experience that immerses visitors in the "sci-fi" world of the U.S. Air Force. The interactive tour includes 3-D computer graphics, videos, educational kiosks, digital downloads and a full-size F-16 Thunderbird display.

Augmented reality is an interactive experience where virtual components are dynamically merged into a live video stream in real-time. Visitors use handheld devices, which, when placed on triggers located throughout the exhibit, let them experience augmented reality in the form of 3-D animations and video.

"We are excited to be using this new form of technology to inspire and educate the American public about the United States Air Force," said Col. Michael Tillema, Air Force Recruiting Service's Strategic Marketing and Communications Division chief. "Technology changes the way we fly, fight and win, and by using cutting-edge technology like augmented reality, the Command Center Alpha tour is able to illustrate the high-tech nature of the Air Force."

The mobile marketing tour is an extension of the Air Force's sci-fi advertising campaign. The ad campaign is geared toward demonstrating technology that was once thought to be science fiction is actually being employed by the Air Force today. Command Center Alpha offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the variety of job opportunities the Air Force offers.

Command Center Alpha will be visiting the Indianapolis 500, Ocean City Air Show and the Country Music Association Music Festival this summer.

Officials Report on Oil Spill Response

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

April 27, 2010 - Though oil still continues to leak into the Gulf of Mexico after an oil rig off the Louisiana coast exploded April 20, officials in charge of clean-up operations say they're doing the best they can to contain the spill.

Coast Guard Rear Adm. Mary E. Landry, commander of the 8th Coast Guard District based in New Orleans, said on a conference call yesterday that all possible measures are being taken to stop the leak and contain the oil that has spilled so far.

Though the spill has not reached the shoreline, Landry said, she has coordinated with Gulf Coast states so they're prepared should the slick head their way.

The Deepwater Horizon, leased to British Petroleum by Transocean, an oil mining contractor, caught fire after an explosion and sank last week. Eleven workers still are missing. The rig, with a platform bigger than a football field, was one of the most modern and was drilling in 5,000 feet of water about 40 miles from Venice, La.

Landry cautioned people not to be overly concerned with the area covered by the spill – about 3,200 square miles. Though the area is large, she said, the spill is not continuous or consistent across that area. Some parts merely have a rainbow sheen that indicates some oil emulsified in the water, she explained, while some areas have more-dense pockets of oil and gas. Some areas have little or no oil at all, she added.

Crude oil is emptying into the Gulf at a rate of about 1,000 barrels a day. Doug Suttles, BP's chief operating officer, said it should take two to four weeks to clean the spill.

Suttles said clean-up crews are "at pace" to control the leak and to gather oil that has spilled into the Gulf. More than 1,100 barrels -- nearly 50,000 gallons -- of oily water have been collected so far.

Efforts also are under way to bring oil at depth in the Gulf to the surface, so it, too, can be collected. BP is attempting to drill two "relief" wells that will divert oil flow to new pipes and storage equipment. Suttles added that work is ongoing to build a dome to cover the leak area and gather leaking oil into a new pipe. The dome technique has been used in shallower water, but never at this depth, he said.

Lars Herbst, director for the Gulf of Mexico Region of Minerals Management Service, said BP and Transocean both have clean safety and maintenance records. Finding the cause of the explosion and leak and then taking preventive steps during future deep-sea drilling operations, he said, are priorities in the investigation.

"We want to leave no stone unturned in ensuring nothing like this ever occurs again," he added.

Charlie Henry, lead science coordinator for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said three sperm whales had been observed swimming near the spill, but that there was no indication they had been affected.

Gates Satisfied with U.S. Planning to Counter Iran

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates today expressed satisfaction with the level of planning by the Defense Department and other elements of the U.S. government to counter threats from Iran.

"I'm very satisfied with the planning process both within this building and in the interagency," Gates told Pentagon reporters. "We spend a lot of time on Iran, and we'll continue to do so."

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, appearing alongside Gates after a meeting at the Pentagon, endorsed diplomatic efforts and sanctions to steer Iran away from its nuclear ambitions.

"We think that they should be blocked," Barak said of Iran. "And I think that the time is clearly, at this stage, time for sanctions and diplomacy."

Barak backed international economic sanctions in efforts to curb Iran's nuclear ambitions, saying he expects sanctions to be "effective and to be limited in time so we will be able to judge to whether -- what kind of results stem from the sanctions regime." But he added that "only time will tell to what extent they are really effective."

The administration of President Barack Obama and U.S. allies are working to build a consensus for pressuring Iran through economic sanctions. Iran contends its nuclear pursuit is for peaceful purposes, while many believe the country seeks to obtain a nuclear weapon.

Speaking about the Obama administration's stance on Iran's nuclear pursuit, National Security Advisor Jim Jones last week said Iran failed to show that its program was for peaceful purposes when given the opportunity before an international audience.

"To date, we have seen no indication that Iran's leaders want to resolve these issues constructively," Jones said at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy here. "Iran's government must face real consequences for its continued defiance of the international community."

Iran's defiance of its international obligations on its nuclear program and the country's support of terrorism represent "a significant regional and global threat," said Jones, emphasizing that the U.S. is determined to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons.

Barak today used similar tones to express his views on threats facing Israel, among them being the potential of a nuclear-armed Iran.

"These threats have broad implications," he said, "not only to Israeli security, but to the entire region's security and any conceivable world order."

Defense officials have described the security threats posed by Iranian proxies operating in the Middle East -- Hamas in Gaza and Hezbollah in Lebanon -- which the United States and Israel consider terrorist organizations.

The defense secretary today lashed out at Syria and Iran for providing Hezbollah with rockets and missiles "of ever- increasing capability."

"We are at a point now where Hezbollah has far more rockets and missiles than most governments in the world," he said. "And this is obviously destabilizing for the whole region, and so we're watching it very carefully."

Mullen Appeals to Philanthropists to Assist Veterans

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - The military's top officer yesterday turned to American's philanthropic community to help military veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan avoid the devastation of substance abuse, mental illness and homelessness.

Community non-profit groups are the answer to meeting veterans' needs after they've left the federal system, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told The Council on Foundations, a membership organization that supports the management of grant makers, during a visit to troops in Colorado.

Reminders of the need to do more for veterans, Mullen said, are visible from his home here.

"Outside my window at night, I can look out on the streets of Washington and see my peers from Vietnam who are homeless and who are sleeping on the streets at night," Mullen said. "We did not do a good job of addressing the problems of those veterans from Vietnam."

Community organizations are in the best position to identify veterans in need and to use agility and innovation to help them, Mullen said.

Mullen said he is happy that the American public supports today's war veterans in ways they didn't during Vietnam.

Calling today's veterans "an American treasure," the admiral said they go off to war without questioning the decision, yet "come back as changed people." And, their families, he said, also are "changed in ways they could not have imagined." Military leaders are just beginning to understand today's veterans' common-signature injuries, such as post-traumatic stress, traumatic brain injuries, and amputations, he said.

"Yet to these families, their dreams haven't changed one bit," Mullen said. "They want to raise their families, they want to go to school; they want to own a piece of the rock."

More than a million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have returned to communities across America, and they need help with education, training, medical care, substance abuse and mental health, the admiral said.

"I'm asking that you reach out to them; first understanding what our challenges are," Mullen said.

"Time is of the essence," he said.



Baldi Bros., Inc.*, Beaumont, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5479); Dynalectric Co., San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5480); NEI Contracting and Engineering, Inc.*, San Diego, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5481); RQ-Berg, JV, Carlsbad, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5482); Stronghold Engineering, Inc., Riverside, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5483); Syska Hennessey Group Construction, Inc., Los Angeles, Calif. (N62473-10-D-5484); and Watts Constructors, LLC, Honolulu, Hawaii (N62473-10-D-5485), are each being awarded a firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity multiple award construction contract for new construction and repair of dry utilities construction at various locations within the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest area of responsibility (AOR). The maximum dollar value for all seven contracts combined is $300,000,000. The work to be performed provides for new construction, addition, repair, or upgrade of electrical distributions, lighting systems, cable television lines, airfield lighting, and communication transmission lines. Work will be performed at various federal sites within the NAVFAC Southwest AOR, including but not limited to: California (83 percent), Arizona (12 percent), Nevada (2 percent), Utah (1 percent), Colorado (1 percent), and New Mexico (1 percent). The terms of the contracts are not to exceed 60 months, with an expected completion date of April 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site with 26 proposals received. These seven contractors may compete for task orders under the terms and conditions of the awarded contract. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southwest, San Diego, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Orbital Sciences Corp., Greenbelt, Md., is being awarded a $94,713,285 cost-plus-fixed-fee level of effort contract for spacecraft and airborne systems research analysis and prototype development. This includes the analysis, design, development, test, operation demonstration, and transition of these prototype systems and subsystems. Work will be performed in Washington, D.C. (87 percent), and Greenbelt, Md. (13 percent), and will be completed April 2015. Contract funds in the amount of $100,000 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was competitively procured under Request for Proposal Number N000173-00-R-KS03 for which one offer was received. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting facility (N000173-10-C-2026).

Satterfield & Pontikes Construction, Inc., Houston, Texas, is being awarded a $22,540,000 firm-fixed-price contract for construction of a 202-room combat systems officer bachelor housing at Naval Air Station Pensacola. Work will be performed in Pensacola, Fla., and is expected to be completed by June 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 21 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-10-C-0754).

Capstone Corp., Alexandria, Va., is being awarded a $17,362,431 modification under previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract (N00189-07-D-Z006) for studies, analyses, logistics support, and specialized program support for the U.S. Joint Forces Command. Work will be performed in Norfolk, Va., and is expected to be completed by January 2011. Contract funds will not expire by the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Norfolk, Philadelphia Division, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity.

Ocean Systems Engineering Corp., Oceanside, Calif., is being awarded $10,373,686 for task order #0073 under previously awarded firm-fixed-price contract (M67854-02-A-9020). The scope of this effort is to provide Marine Corps Systems Command Systems engineering, interoperable, architectures and technology staff the detailed technical and analytical support required to define, integrate, certify, plan, and oversee the development and delivery of Marine Air-Ground Task Force (MAGTF) systems. This effort consists of four domain areas: MAGTF systems engineering and integration; systems engineering and technology; joint certification; and architecture design and development. Work will be performed in Quantico, Va., and is expected to be completed in April 2011. Contract funds in the amount of $9,373,686 will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Marine Corps System Command, Quantico, Va., is the contracting activity.

L-3 Communications Vertex Aerospace, LLC, Madison, Miss., is being awarded a $10,300,000 modification to a previously awarded indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity delivery order contract (N68936-06-D-0024) to provide specialized technical services in support of depot level maintenance work (DLM) performed at the Fleet Readiness Center, Southwest (FRC-SW) on aircraft and rework of associated components and materials. Services to be provided include modifications, in-service repairs, and all other categories of service associated with aircraft DLM and its planning. The estimated level of effort for this modification is 260,100 man-hours. Work will be performed at FRC-SW, San Diego, Calif. (78 percent); the Marine Corps Air Station (MCAS), Camp Pendleton, Calif. (9 percent); the Naval Air Station (NAS), Lemoore, Calif. (4 percent); the Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, Point Mugu, Calif. (2 percent); NAS Whidbey Island, Bremerton, Wash. (2 percent); MCAS Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii (2 percent); MCAS Yuma, Ariz. (2 percent); and MCAS Miramar, Calif. (1 percent), and is expected to be completed in July 2010. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Warfare Center Weapons Division, China Lake, Calif., is the contracting activity.

Suffolk Construction Co., Inc., Sarasota, Fla., is being awarded a $9,498,000 firm-fixed-price contract for design and construction of a data center at Naval Weapons Station Charleston. Work will be performed in Charleston, S.C., and is expected to be completed by June 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured via the Navy Electronic Commerce Online Web site, with 28 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-10-C-1762).


Husky Marketing and Supply Co., Dublin, Ohio, is being awarded a maximum $84,737,520 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation fuel. Other location of performance is in Lima, Ohio. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 27 responses. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0477).

AGE Refining, Inc.*, San Antonio, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $84,635,512 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation fuel. Other location of performance is in Lima, Ohio. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 27 responses. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0462).

Alon USA, LP, Dallas, Texas, is being awarded a maximum $70,772,090 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for aviation fuel. Other location of performance is in Big Spring, Texas. Using service is Defense Energy Support Center. The original proposal was Web solicited with 27 responses. The date of performance completion is April 30, 2011. The Defense Energy Support Center, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-D-0461).

Metals USA, dba I-Solutions Group, Fort Washington, Pa., is being awarded a maximum $48,000,000 fixed-price with economic price adjustment, prime-vendor contract supporting customer direct deliveries to locations within the central United States region. Other location of performance is in Pennsylvania. Using services are Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and federal civilian agencies. There were originally five proposals solicited with four responses. The date of performance completion is April 23, 2012. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPM8EG-10-D-0002).
Naval Base Guam Petty Officers Celebrate Month of the Military Child

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

April 27, 2010 - SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- The U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) First Class Petty Officer Association (FCPOA) hosted a Month of the Military Child celebration on base April 24.

More than 1.7 million American children under the age of 18 have at least one parent serving in the military and about 900,000 with one or both parents deployed multiple times. This month offers the opportunity to focus on military children, recognize their sacrifice, and applaud their courage and continued resilience.

According to Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Orlando McLeod, of NBG Security, one of the event's coordinators, the FCPOA feels it is important to let military dependents know that their sacrifices are appreciated.

"It's important to hold an event like this to let the kids know that we recognize the sacrifices they deal with when their parents go off on deployment in support of our country," McLeod said. "We are also showing them some career options because these kids will be our future leaders."

The celebration featured child-friendly displays from several NBG units, including Fire and Emergency Services, Harbor Security, Dive Locker, Security's Special Response Team, as well as military working dog demonstrations. NBG tenant command Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 also had a display.

The event was well-received and many parents brought their children out to learn and have a good time.

"It's great that the Navy does things like this in recognition of what our kids go through when their parents deploy," said Michelle Paxton, wife of Hull Maintenance Technician 1st Class (SW) Joshua Paxton of USS Frank Cable (AS 40). "My two girls are really enjoying the festivities — especially the fire trucks!"

Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Keith Deliteris, of Submarine Squadron 15, added that the event would have a positive effect on the lives of the children by helping them understand the jobs in the Navy that save lives.

"My dad was a cop; grandpa a fireman. I really want my son to be familiar with those jobs, and it's great that the Navy has events like this to familiarize kids with those fields," Deliteris said.

The mission of the FCPOA is to foster improved morale and esprit de corps, and to put forth a positive image of the United States Navy, the command, and the association.

20th Anniversary Fleet Port Everglades Week Begins

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sunday Williams, Fleet Week Port Everglades Media Center

April 27, 2010 - PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 2,500 American Sailors, Marines, Coast Guardsmen and German Sailors arrived in Port Everglades April 26 to participate in the 20th Anniversary Fleet Week Port Everglades, Fla.

Guided-missile destroyer USS Porter (DDG 78) led USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Independence (LCS 2), USS Newport News (SSN 750), USS Halyburton (FFG 40), USCGC Key Biscayne (WPB 1339) and German multipurpose frigate FGS Hessen (F 221) into the port.

Marine Staff Sgt. Michael Bower stood by as the ships moored and said he gets excited about seeing the military interact with communities.

"This is my third fleet week, but it is my first in the Fort Lauderdale area; so I am really excited to get out in the community and represent the Marine Corps," said Bower. "We have a way of impacting people, and that's a cool feeling."

Weather was not the typical sunny Florida day, but a sudden deluge of wind and rain didn't keep Sailors like Cryptologic Technician Technical 1st Class (SW/AW) Mavis Milligan from Porter from being excited about being in the area which is also her home.

"It feels awesome to be here at home where my family can see what I do," said Milligan. "I can't wait to take my family aboard my ship to show them around and introduce them to my friends and coworkers."

The weather was a hard hit to the day but Sailors said the "All Hands on Deck Welcoming Party" at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino more than made up for it.

At the Welcoming Ceremony, Sailors were formally welcomed to the city by the Mayor of Ft. Lauderdale John P. Seiler .

"On behalf of the city of Ft. Lauderdale let me welcome you," said Seiler.

The opening ceremony was not only the official kick off for Fleet Week Port Everglades but also a time to welcome and recognize everyone involved.

"It's fantastic, I mean it's a chance to hear from Admiral Howard, Admiral Alexander, some of the other folks here. Obviously a huge number of supporters here and organizations that put forth a lot of effort to make sure that this port visit is going to be a success and that our Sailors are really going to enjoy themselves," said Cmdr. Kent Coleman, commanding officer of Independence.

More than 2,500 American service members and German sailors, will participate in a number of community outreach activities and enjoy the hospitality and tourism of South Florida for a full week.

Admiral Kicks Off Kansas City Navy Week, Touts New Submarine

By Lt. Patrick Evans, Submarine Group Two Public Affairs Officer

April 27, 2010 - KANSAS CITY, Mo. (NNS) -- The Commander of Submarine Group 2 officially kicked off Kansas City Navy Week April 26 beginning a celebration that gives area residents an opportunity to meet Sailors and learn about the Navy's critical mission and broad-ranging capabilities.

Rear Adm. Michael McLaughlin serves as leading spokesperson for the event, which runs through May 2.

"There are actually 7,000 Sailors from Missouri serving the nation as we speak, and there are about 7,000 retirees in Missouri. So, even though Kansas City and the state are landlocked, there still is a deep tie to the Navy," said McLaughlin.

The Navy conducts about 20 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy. The Navy's precision flight demonstration team, The Blue Angels, will headline Kansas City Navy Week, performing at the Sound of Speed Air Show May 1 - 2.

As part of Navy Week events, McLaughlin will participate in a "Caps for Kids" visit at Children's Mercy Hospital and a presentation to the Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

While in Missouri, McLaughlin also worked to raise awareness about Pre-Commissioning Unit (PCU) Missouri (SSN 780), the newest Virginia-class attack submarine. According to McLaughlin, it is important to establish a bond between the state and the submarine, which is scheduled to be commissioned July 31 during a ceremony at Naval Submarine Base New London in Groton, Conn.

"The ship's crew absolutely loves feeling that pride of ownership that the people of Missouri have, and I think it really motivates the crew to do their job the very best that they can," added McLaughlin.

During his visit, McLaughlin has visited different parts of Missouri to discuss Navy Week and the submarine. In Jefferson City, he met with Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, who recounted that submarine Missouri is the fifth Navy vessel to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last one was the legendary battleship USS Missouri, which was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II on Sept. 2, 1945.

"There are few ships that have served in World War II that are as well known as the Battleship Missouri - the Mighty Mo," Nixon beamed during a news conference in Jefferson City. "Now, the people in our state proudly anticipate the day when another ship christened the USS Missouri becomes part of the most-advanced, best-trained Navy in the world's history."

Prior to meeting with Gov. Nixon, McLaughlin spoke with submarine veterans, other veterans groups and the Navy League in Springfield. He also spoke to local business leaders during a luncheon, providing them with an update of the submarine force and thanking them "on behalf of our Sailors and their families for your continued support for all of us who wear the uniform. The conditions under which we live and serve is made better by your support and dedication to us."

In addition, McLaughlin met with members of the USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity created to raise at least $300,000 to fund events surrounding Missouri's commissioning.

McLaughlin was also the guest speaker at the University of Missouri's Joint Reserve Officers Training Corps Awards Parade in Columbia.

When commissioned in July, Missouri will become the seventh Virginia-class submarine to join the fleet. Missouri is built to excel in anti-submarine warfare; anti-ship warfare; strike warfare; special operations; intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance; irregular warfare; and mine warfare missions. Adept at operating in both the world's shallow littoral regions and deep waters, Missouri will directly enable five of the six Navy maritime strategy core capabilities - sea control, power projection, forward presence, maritime security, and deterrence.

U.S. Forces Stay Near Haiti Through Hurricane Season

By John J. Kruzel
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - The American military's role in Haiti will decrease substantially after May, but the United States will maintain a scaled-down presence in the area through hurricane season, a top military commander said today.

Some 500 soldiers will begin a five-month exercise in Haiti starting in June, and the USS Iwo Jima will be available to provide aid should disaster again strike the island nation, Air Force Gen. Douglas Fraser told reporters.

"I think we are very well postured to address whatever situation comes," said Fraser, commander of U.S. Southern Command.

About 1,000 U.S. troops will operate in and around Haiti through May, after which some 500 soldiers with the Louisiana National Guard will deploy to Haiti for an exercise focused on helping to rebuild a country recovering from the devastating earthquake that struck in January.

Haiti has been the focus of expansive international relief efforts in the wake of what is considered one of the greatest humanitarian emergencies in the history of the Americas. A crippling Jan. 12 earthquake killed an estimated 250,000 people and displaced more than a million inhabitants.

At the height of the U.S. military effort there, some 22,000 forces were deployed in or around Haiti, including 7,000 land-based troops, with the remainder operating aboard 58 aircraft and 15 nearby vessels.

Fraser said this response represented an ad hoc effort, not the result of contingency planning crafted before the earthquake -- the first to strike Haiti since 1860. "We did not have a plan on [the] shelf," he said.

But from June through November -- regarded as the Atlantic hurricane season -- the USS Iwo Jima, a large-deck amphibious ship, will provide medical support at locales around the Caribbean – venturing no farther than a two-day sail from Haiti.

"We've started that practice of having a large ship in the region to be able to respond to a concern in hurricane season during that time period," Fraser said, "allowing us to be able to respond accordingly."

As the number of U.S. forces in Haiti reduces in June, Southcom will transition to a more "traditional role" in its support to Haiti, Fraser said.

The Louisiana National Guard exercise, known as "New Horizons," will entail a $2 million series of projects to construct or rebuild Haitian schools and other infrastructure and to help Haitians prepare for possible future natural disasters, officials said.

Utah Guard special forces soldiers learn mountain rescue in Morocco

By Army Lt. Col. Hank McIntire
Utah National Guard

(4/26/10) -- As part of its ongoing State Partnership Program with Morocco, a Utah National Guard command visit coincided with a unit-level exchange between the 19th Special Forces Group and the 1st Ski Battalion of the Royal Moroccan Armed Forces in March.

Army Maj. Gen. Brian Tarbet, the adjutant general of the Utah National Guard, was joined by leaders from the 151st Air Refueling Wing, 19th Special Forces Group and members of his staff.

Tarbet travels to Morocco several times a year to maintain a regular dialog with his senior colleagues in the Moroccan military and often invites Soldiers and Airmen to join him in order to familiarize them with the Utah Guard’s partnership with Morocco, which has been in place since 2003.

Eleven Soldiers of the Utah National Guard, nearly all of whom are from the 19th Special Forces Group, spent two weeks in Oukaimeden, one of only a handful of ski resorts in the entire continent of Africa.

At 10,000 feet, the altitude of the training location, the focus of the exercise was on disaster preparedness, snow movement and mountain-rescue techniques.

“We’re covering medical and mountaineering skills in a downed-aircraft scenario,” said Chief Warrant Officer 3 Rodney Holliday.

In small groups and one on one, Soldiers of the 19th conducted classes with their Moroccan counterparts on first aid and land navigation.

“We’ve been exchanging techniques back and forth,” said Holliday. “We show them our equipment, they show us theirs. We’re working together toward those goals.”

Tarbet and other Utah Guard leaders observed the training up close and were very impressed.

“As always, when our troops are involved with the Moroccans, I think they are our very best ambassadors,” said Tarbet.

Army Maj. Reece Roberts, officer in charge of the Utah contingent, said the Moroccan battalion is very experienced in high-altitude, cold-weather operations.

“They have shared with us their field-expedient methods, because they don’t have the deep pockets and resources that we have,” he said. “We have been able to pick up ways of doing things and medical treatment and mountaineering techniques when you don’t have all the nice gear that you could pick up at REI.”

A unique capability of the Moroccan army in this environment is their experience in working with pack animals for mountain rescues.

“We have a lot of difficulties transporting equipment and materials here, so we showed them how to use mules in mountains,” said Sr. Lt. Mohammed, a company commander in the 1st Ski Battalion.

“Mules are one of their primary methods of transport,” said Roberts. “What they don’t carry on their backs, they pack onto their mules. We had them teach us some packing and operations with mules because our Special Forces Soldiers have had some experience with mules in Afghanistan.”

While at At Oukaimeden, Senior Utah Guard leaders were also treated to an impressive demonstration of rappelling and climbing techniques by the young, but very experienced Moroccan soldiers. The event was narrated by a 20-something Moroccan officer, who in flawless English explained each phase of the operation.

“In this combined exercise we exchange a lot of things: training, ways of thinking and ways of behaving,” said Mohammed. “We have learned a lot from the Americans, and they have learned a lot from us.”

At the base of the cliff where the climbing exhibition took place, the commander of the 4th Ski Battalion exchanged gifts with Tarbet, and Tarbet inscribed a book for his colleague in a token of friendship.

“These partnerships pay off,” he said. “They have been one of the very successful things the Guard has done for nearly two decades, and the Morocco-Utah relationship has been one of those success stories. We love to work with them.”

Holliday said one of the unit’s core missions is training and working with foreign troops. “All of us have done that previously, so we’re able to build on and improve the skills we’ve been learning in the past,” he said. “We’re using language skills, we’re working together. We see their ways of doing things, which will prepare us to work better with other troops in the future. This experience will help us when we go back to the combat environment.”

“I have been very impressed with the Moroccan soldiers and NCOs here,” said Roberts. “They are very willing to learn, they are asking good questions, they are engaging and they have a good knowledge base. It’s been very beneficial for us to work with them. We’ve really had a good opportunity to build some what I hope to be long-term relationships.”

Combat photographer to compete in Warrior Games

by Maj. Belinda Petersen
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

Not once, but twice. Twice, in 2004 and 2007, a combat photographer who was assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., was wounded in Iraq.

It was her combat wounds in 2007 that caused retired Staff Sgt. Stacy Pearsall to give up her dream as a combat photographer to portray the extraordinary lives of Airmen.

Sergeant Pearsall suffered from partial hearing loss and neurological problems that triggers severe arm and neck pain, and numbness across the upper right side of her body.

Since her injury in 2007, Sergeant Pearsall has been to more than 150 physical therapy appointments, 30 Prolotherapy procedures, six vertigo treatments, five right-ear evaluations, four cat scans, two MRI’s and countless other medical appointments.

Even though she still suffers from pain, her doctors recently cleared her to participate in the Warrior Games scheduled May 10 to 14 in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Wounded, ill and injured active duty, Guard and Reserve members, as well as retired personnel and veterans, from the Army, Marine Corps, Navy, Air Force, and Coast Guard will compete in Warrior Games hosted by the U.S. Olympic Committee’s Paralympic Military Program at the Olympic Training Center.

As a combat photographer, Sergeant Pearsall did three tours in Iraq. Not once, but twice, Sergeant Pearsall was recognized for her heroic actions under fire. She earned the Bronze Star Medal and Commendation with Valor.

Sergeant Pearsall recalls the night of her last injury. Her convoy was traveling when the vehicle in front of her exploded due to an improvised explosive device.

While Sergeant Pearsall manned the 2.40 machine gun at the Stryker, members in her vehicle ran out to recover the wounded and dead when they were ambushed and struck by a rocket propelled grenade.

Instinctively, Sergeant Pearsall ran out to retrieve the wounded when all of a sudden she was knocked off her feet.

The Stryker helmet she was wearing to communicate with the rest of the convoy had a communications cord attached to the vehicle. When she ran towards the wounded, the cord tightened and she fell back on her head and neck.

“That is when I tore all of the muscles and tendons in my neck,” said Sergeant Pearsall. “My neck was already messed up because of previous IED explosions.”

“Thank God for adrenaline. I only felt a burning sensation, so I ripped off the helmet and carried the guy back to my vehicle,” she said.

While Sergeant Pearsall is no longer a combat photographer, she is still using her talents to raise awareness for disabled Airmen’s and veterans’ issues.

After spending a tremendous amount of time at the VA hospital, retirement home, and homeless shelter in her home of Charleston, she started bringing along her camera and creating portraits of veterans she met.

She has amassed a collection of 350 portraits, which will go on display next month at the Charleston Veterans Administration as part of a fundraiser.

She has also gotten involved with veterans’ advocacy efforts including the Wounded Warrior Project.

Her work with disabled veterans will no doubt be top notch as Sergeant Pearsall has not once, but twice won Military Photographer of the Year. She is one of only two women to have won this DOD-wide competition and the only woman to have earned it twice.

At Warrior Games, Sergeant Pearsall will participate in the shooting and track events.

Even though running is physically painful for Sergeant Pearsall, she is inspired to run for those who died or were wounded and can no longer run themselves.

“I run for Specialist Trussel, Corporal Nguyen, Specialist Russell, Specialist Camacho, Sergeant Ross, Sergeant Shaw, Captain Belser, and Sergeant Robinson,” she said.

For information on the Air Force Wounded Warrior program, go to http://www.woundedwarrior.af.mil. For information on Warrior Games, go to http://usparalympics.org/pages/8330.

USS Louisville Departs for Western Pacific Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ronald Gutridge, Commander Submarine Force Public Affairs

April 27, 2010 - PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Los Angeles-class submarine USS Louisville (SSN 724) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled six-month deployment to the western Pacific region to complete several missions in support of national defense April 26.

"The submarine is in excellent material condition and the crew has done an outstanding job in completing all of the required maintenance to get us certified to deploy," said Cmdr. Lee Sisco, USS Louisville Commanding Officer. "We are all looking forward to getting underway and doing a lot of the missions and operations that we train for. I am very proud of each and every one of the crew."

USS Louisville is the fourth United States ship to bear the name in honor of the city of Louisville, Kentucky.

Lynn Visits Simulation Center, Marines at Pendleton

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

April 27, 2010 - The rocket-propelled grenade that exploded over his head served as an effective attention-getting device during Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III's visit to the 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's battle simulation center here yesterday. The deputy secretary had a walk-through of the simulation center before going through it for real. Thomas Buscemi, chief of the center, demonstrated what an RPG sounds like for Lynn.

"The first time they hear this, the Marines say, 'What a neat pyrotechnic.' The second time they hear this, they are on the deck, which is where we want them," Buscemi said.

The simulation center is where fire teams and squads go to get a taste of what they will face when they deploy to Afghanistan. Scenarios include not only kinetic encounters that simulate combat engagement, but also situations that require dealing with local tribal and religious leaders.

"They do not know what scenario they will face when they enter the center," Buscemi said, "just as they won't know what's confronting them in Afghanistan."

The center is in an old tomato packing plant on this sprawling base, and Marines have tried to make it as realistic as possible. The smell – a mixture of sewage, rotted flesh and animals – is straight out of parts of Baghdad or Kabul.

"Some of the veterans have flashbacks as soon as they catch the smell," Buscemi told Lynn. "We need them to tell the younger Marines that the last time they caught this smell, someone was shooting at them."

Squads and fire teams run through a series of scenarios as they prepare to deploy. "We want them to see the things they will face in combat here, long before there are actual bullets flying," said Marine Sgt. Samuel Walton of 2nd Battalion, 1st Marines, a combat veteran who now works at the center. The young sergeant has deployed to Iraq four times, and soon will deploy to Afghanistan. The center was up and running for his last deployment to Iraq, and it was "extremely helpful," he said.

The cadre ran Lynn through the center. Lynn and his party wore special masks to protect themselves as they got a taste of what young Marines go through.

The deputy secretary came away impressed with the center.

"We spend the vast majority of our simulation funds on airplanes and tanks and such, but 85 percent of our casualties are in small-unit actions," Lynn said. "This is certainly something we should be looking at."

The simulation center is only part of the training that Marine units go through before deploying. Company- and battalion-level exercises are part of Mojave Viper – a larger exercise at Twentynine Palms, a Marine base near Palm Springs.

In addition to going through the simulation center, Lynn also visited with members of the 1st Marine Division and stopped in at the wounded warrior battalion's new barracks.

The deputy secretary continues his California trip today with a visit to Vandenberg Air Force Base and a speech to the World Affairs Council in Los Angeles.