Saturday, May 29, 2010

Navy Band Rocks Times Square During Fleet Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Dominique Watts, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- Road Island Sound, a division of Navy Band Northeast, based out of Newport, R.I., performed a live rock concert in Times Square, May 28, during the celebration of Fleet Week New York 2010.

"This is my second time performing in Times Square during Fleet Week and each year has been amazing," said Musician 3rd Class Rebecca Gonzalez, vocalist for Road Island Sound.

As thousands of New Yorkers and vacationers descended upon Times Square for the event, they were met with a variety of pop and rock hits.

"The show was amazing," said Maria Cranston, who was visiting the city with her family. "I had no idea that Sailors performed concerts like this."

The variety of songs appealed to every demographic of the audience.

"Every part of the show was really great," said Tina Grohowski, who was helping her mother celebrate her birthday during Fleet Week. "They played a little bit of everything and that made it really good."

The impact of performing in New York was not lost on the band.

"To have the opportunity to play in New York is phenomenal," said Gonzalez. "This city, with all it has been through, has embraced our troops and been an inspiration to all of us."

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York.

"The crowd was amazing," explained Musician 3rd Class Tommy Stanley, guitarist and vocalist for Road Island Sound. "They had so much energy. It was inspiring to play for such an amazing crowd."

USS Iwo Jima Embraces New York with Open Arms

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Mavis Tillman, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) welcomed aboard the local New York community to visit and learn about the ship's mission and capabilities while observing displays and demonstrations from Sailors and embarked Marines May 28.

A number of visitors, including residents from the New York area, tourists, retired veterans and members of the American Legion Post 471 of New Jersey, came aboard to interact with service members in their environment.

Ron Cuff of Queens, N.Y., a 48-year-old veteran, was impressed with how far the military has come with technology and the type of equipment housed on board.

"I have been on a few ships, but not one this big. It seems endless," said Cuff.

Some of the featured items were Marine armored vehicles and weapons and Navy shipboard and air operations fire fighting equipment.

Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 6 displayed equipment used for air, surface and underwater missions, to include the Talon robot used in retrieving improvised explosive devices.

"This type of interaction allows us to show the general public our gear up close, so they can better understand what we do, how we do it and why we do it," said Explosive Ordinance Disposal 3rd Class (DV) Matt Heber of Cincinnati. "When people think of the Navy, they think of water, but our capabilities are on land, air and sea, so this opportunity puts everything into perspective."

Seabees from Under Water Construction Team One also displayed their underwater gear.

"This is an awesome educational experience because we get to display our gear, talk about it and let the viewing public try on our gear as well," said Utilitiesman 1st Class (SCW/DV/SW) Paul Sarniak of Warren, Mich. "It's important for the general public to see just some of the other capabilities the Navy has to offer."

Yumiko Nishikawa, visiting his family in Queens N.Y., was just one of many visitors who skillfully planned his vacation to visit Iwo Jima and see the diving display.

"I have read about them and seen them in movies, but trying the diving gear on is by far the highlight of my vacation," said Nishikawa.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 - June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Iwo Jima Hosts Fleet Week New York Blood Drive

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Travis J. Kuykendall, USS Iwo Jima Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- The New York Blood Center conducted its 6th Annual Fleet Week New York Blood Drive aboard USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) May 28.

Sailors, Marines and the general public were given a unique opportunity to donate blood in the hangar bay while the ship was open for tours.

"To be able to donate blood on a Navy ship is a cool thing most people often wouldn't get the chance to do," said Alex Brown, assistant director of corporate public relations for New York Blood Center.

Each donor donated one pint of blood, which can now be used to save up to three lives. For most donors, it was the most rewarding 30-minute break in a chair they've ever taken.

"I like the cause and I want to help people, so for me this is a good way of doing just that," said Aviation Electronics Technician 2nd Class (AW) Cory R. Clark.

"This is my seventeenth time and I plan to keep donating until I'm no longer able to do so."

This year, New York Blood Center partnered with the Navy Marine Corps Relief Society pledging to donate $10 for every donor, giving back to the Sailors and Marines for their help.

New York Blood Center processes approximately 570,000 donors a year and produces over 1 million blood-and-blood products. For a blood center that serves more than 150 hospitals in the New York Metro-area which includes Upstate, New York City, Long Island and New Jersey.

"We are constantly collecting, processing and distributing blood and there are certain times we may fall into shortage and need people to come in and donate more often," said Brown. "It's a constant need and sometimes it's a little more difficult but we get by with the help of organizations such as the military."

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 - June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Chairman's Corner: Honoring the Nation's Fallen Warriors

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

May 28, 2010 - Not long after the Civil War, Americans pledged to honor those who, as Abraham Lincoln put it, gave the last full measure of devotion.

Be they from Lexington and Concord; Gettysburg and Antietam; the Argonne Forest or the beaches of Normandy; Chosin and Inchon; Saigon and the Mekong Delta; Baghdad or Kandahar, we have kept that pledge every Memorial Day, and rightfully so.

Today, a new generation of American heroes is fighting for freedom all across the globe. Some of them have given that last full measure, losing their lives to make a better life for all of us. It is the hardest currency of all, once spent never to be recouped, a debt we can never truly, fully repay.

This weekend is marked by events, large and small, across our nation to honor their memory and recognize the sacrifices of those family members and children they left behind. Please join me this Memorial Day in remembering, on behalf of present and coming generations, the deep and abiding debt we owe to our fallen and to their loved ones.

Nippon Zenkokai Association Honors Sailors, DoD Civilians in Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Mike Mulcare, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

May 29, 2010 - TOKYO (NNS) -- The Nippon Zenkokai Association honored U.S. Sailors and DoD civilians for outstanding public service in the Japanese community at the Meiji-Jingu Shrine in Tokyo May 22.

The ceremony recognized nine Sailors, a DoD civilian and five groups from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY), Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo, Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi and NAF Misawa.

"These types of ceremonies are good for the relationship between America and Japan," said Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class (SW) Derrick Williams, an award winner assigned to CFAY port operations. "We often hear about the negative aspects of U.S. forces, but this really shines the spotlight on all the positives."

The Nippon Zenkokai Association, a non-profit organization under the control of the cabinet office of the Japanese government, was founded in 1951. In 1955, award nominations opened up to foreigners, including U.S. service members and civilians.

"President Kawamura Kohsho [of the Zenkokai Awards Association] and I are very grateful for the contributions of the United States forces," said Tsutomu Kojima, administrative director of the Zenkokai Awards Association. "The president is always telling me how thankful he is from the bottom of his heart for everything the United States forces do for the Japanese community."

This year's award recipients were recognized for volunteer work with homeless and handicapped citizens, foster childcare, preserving the environment, community service projects and other deeds that stood out in the public eye.

"I was put in for this award for saving a lady in Yamato," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class Michael Nixon, assigned to security at NAF Atsugi. "She collapsed of a seizure and went into cardiac arrest, and I conducted CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) and successfully resuscitated her."

The award is broken down into four categories including juvenile, emergency and international contributions, as well as a special foreigner's category.

"Ten individuals and five groups have received the award today, and I've been told that this is the largest number to receive the award," said Capt. Peter B. Rush, chief of staff of U.S. Naval Forces Japan. "It may not be widely known to the public, but there are quite a few Americans who spend many hours engaging in community relations efforts, including supporting orphanages, clean-up efforts and caring for the elderly."

Winners from this year's awards ceremony include Interior Communications Electrician 1st Class Derrick L. Williams, Electronics Technician 2nd Class Randy L. Brown, Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuels) 3rd Class Gilberto Escobar, Culinary Specialist 1st Class Dennis V. Adams, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Leah Bongbonga, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Michael E. Nixon, Legalman 1st Class John McBroom, Gunner's Mate 2nd Class Tanya A. Lovejoy, Master-at-Arms 2nd Class William Warren Peoples and Mr. William Driscoll. "I am very proud and honored to have been awarded by the Japanese nation as a whole for the simple act of helping out one of my neighbors," said Nixon.

U.S., Japan Agree to Relocate Air Base on Okinawa

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - The United States and Japan agreed yesterday to relocate a controversial U.S. air base to a less densely populated area on the Japanese island of Okinawa.

The future of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma had been a subject of intense political debate in Japan that led to the possibility of the base being moved off the island entirely, despite a 2006 agreement to relocate it on Okinawa.

Talks between Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates for the United States and Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada and Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa for Japan addressed a range of security concerns and yielded substantial agreement, officials said.

For years, Okinawans have said they carry the majority of the burden of hosting American forces in Japan, and the agreement vows "to reduce the impact on local communities, including in Okinawa, thereby preserving a sustainable U.S. military presence in Japan," according to a joint statement issued by the security and consultative committee.

"The [committee] members expressed their shared commitments to relocate Marine Corps Air Station Futenma and return the base to Japan as part of the alliance transformation and realignment process," the statement said.

Other realignment initiatives -- including the relocation of about 8,000 Marines and 9,000 family members from Okinawa to Guam -- depend on completion of the Futenma replacement facility. The relocation to Guam will return of most of the U.S. facilities south of Kadena Air Base to Japan.

"Bearing this in mind, the two sides intend to verify and validate that this Futenma relocation plan appropriately considers factors such as safety, operational requirements, noise impact, environmental concerns and effects on the local community," according to the statement.

The agreement confirms that the replacement facility will be at the Camp Schwab Henoko-saki area and adjacent waters. The ministers put an end-of-August deadline for completion of a study of the replacement facility's location, configuration and construction method. Verification and validation will be completed by the time of the next security consultative conference, officials said.

The committee also looked at ways to mitigate the burden that Okinawans bear. The two sides committed to expand the relocation of U.S. forces training activities off the island. Japanese military facilities and areas in mainland Japan may also be used. "Both sides also committed to examine the relocation of training outside of Japan, such as to Guam," the statement said.

The committee's statement recognizes that the alliance remains indispensable not only to the defense of Japan, but also to the peace, security, and prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region. The talks were conducted in the shadow of North Korea sinking a South Korean warship in March. The tensions in the region have increased, officials noted, and also reaffirmed the need for the Mutual Security and Cooperation Treaty between the United States and Japan.

In light of the uncertainty of the situation in Korea, the talks reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to Japan's security.

"Japan reconfirmed its commitment to playing a positive role in contributing to the peace and stability of the region," the statement said. "Furthermore, the [committee] members recognized that a robust forward presence of U.S. military forces in Japan, including in Okinawa, provides the deterrence and capabilities necessary for the defense of Japan and for the maintenance of regional stability."

The ministers also pledged a "Green Alliance" between the nations on bases, and said both nations would be good environmental stewards. The two sides intend to study opportunities to expand the shared use of facilities between U.S. and Japanese forces, which would contribute to closer bilateral operational coordination, improved interoperability and stronger relations with local communities, officials said.

The ministers also affirmed their intention "to intensify communication with communities in Okinawa on issues of concern related to the presence of U.S. forces." The two sides committed to explore cooperation in such areas as information technology initiatives, cultural exchanges, education programs and research partnerships.

The ministers agreed to intensify their ongoing bilateral security dialogue. "This security dialogue will address traditional security threats, as well as focus on new areas for cooperation," the statement said.

AFPC officials seek public service award nominations

Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas - Awards and decorations officials at the Air Force Personnel Center are seeking nominations for the 2010

Government Employees Insurance Company's Public Service Awards.

The GEICO Public Service Awards were established in 1980 to recognize the contributions of hard working and talented government employees.

This year, GEICO added additional categories to include all young federal employees and retired civilian federal employees. In all, six awards are presented to federal employees based on four categories:substance abuse prevention and treatment; fire prevention and safety; physical rehabilitation; and traffic safety and accident prevention.

Nominees are judged principally on the impact of their work- and non-work related contributions and the extent they have served as an inspiration to others and brought credit to the federal service.

Organizations and base-level personnel must contact their major command, field operating agency, direct reporting unit or MAJCOM equivalent for applicable suspense dates and additional information regarding nomination procedures.

Each MAJCOM, FOA or DRU may submit one individual in each of the four categories. Completed nomination packages must be sent to AFPC by Oct. 31, 2010.

For more information about the GEICO Military Service Awards, visit the AFPC personnel services website or call the Total Force Service Center at (800) 525-0102.

USS Iwo Jima Hosts United Nations Reception

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

May 29, 2010 - NEW YORK (NNS) -- USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) welcomed aboard foreign military officers and foreign officials for a reception during Fleet Week New York 2010 May 27.

The event was a prelude to International Peacekeeper's Day celebrated May 29.

Before the reception, Iwo Jima Commanding Officer Capt. Jeffrey Amick showed a few officials a portion of the ship that has a mural of more than 45 flags from different countries, representing the ethnicity of each Sailor who has served aboard Iwo Jima.

"On board this ship we have Sailors who are from different countries throughout the world. We are very proud of that diversity because it breeds strength for us and the entire U.S. Navy," said Amick.

As Susan Rice, U.S. representative to the United Nations, spoke, she highlighted President Barack Obama's new security strategy, which uses the effort of each country to help create a more just and secure world.

"All nations have their rights and responsibilities, and no nation can meet those challenges alone. We'll work together to tackle the challenges of our inter-connected age. We will strengthen old alliances, build up mutually beneficial relationships with emerging powers in every region and support institutions such as the United Nations and its peace keeping forces," said Rice.

The partnership among services was also underlined.

"I appreciate the great partnership we enjoyed throughout our time in response to Haiti, and in the time we have planned for how we will respond if there is another situation," said Commander, U.S. Southern Command Gen. Douglas Fraser.

The ceremony ended with Rice reminding those in attendance about the main goal of United Nations peacekeepers.

"Let us remember again that peacekeeping is a noble undertaking, and it can succeed only if we all work together," said Rice.

Approximately 3,000 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are participating in the 23rd Fleet Week New York, which will take place May 26 to June 2. Fleet Week has been New York City's celebration of the sea services since 1984. It is an unparalleled opportunity for citizens of New York and the surrounding tri-state area to meet Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen, as well as see, first-hand, the latest capabilities of today's maritime services.

Navy Revises Exercise Instruction for Civilian Employees

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) is promoting the modified Navy instruction that promotes civilian staff to schedule exercise into their working hours.

Navy instruction 12700.1B was revised April 21 and no longer requires civilian staff to obtain permission from a physician before they can schedule exercise into their work hours.

"We found it was making it more difficult for people if they had to call their doctor, make an appointment and find out if they were healthy enough to exercise," said Lauren Thomas, department head of Health Promotions at NNMC.

The instruction's wording was also somewhat confusing, she said. Therefore, it was rephrased to help clarify how often and when staff can work out during the day. Per the instruction, staff can exercise up to three hours each week; however, they are still required to first check in and out for the day with their supervisor.

Staff members can spread out their exercise time to best fit their schedule, she added, be it an hour, three days a week or 45 minutes four times a week.

"We are trying to promote the instruction, helping staff members see that they can go on a walk or go to the gym on a regular basis as a way of reducing stress," said Thomas.

NNMC's is focused on raising awareness about the revised instruction to help meet the command's readiness goals and reduce stress in the workplace, said Thomas, who is also a co-chairperson for the team. The team, established as part of the Annual Plan for Fiscal Year 2010, will discuss the instruction at board meetings and make sure department heads pass the information on to their staff members.

NNMC's Health Promotions displayed a booth near Main Street for National Employee Health and Fitness Day May 19. Thomas handed out copies of the revised instruction along with pedometers and information about healthy eating and the benefits of working out.

Studies have shown that exercise reduces stress and improves job productivity, said Lt. Cmdr. Mary Parker, Objective 2.2 Goal Team chairperson and NNMC's surgical nursing department head. It can also help raise an individual's metabolic rate.

Parker added that health care providers need to make sure they take care of themselves in order to better care for others.

"It's an opportunity to walk the talk," Parker said. "It's our opportunity to demonstrate the importance and the emphasis on exercise for our patients and beneficiaries."

Ellen Lyons, who works in Immunizations at NNMC, is one of many staff members who has reaped the benefits of exercise. In the last two years, she lost nearly 90 pounds, a success she attributes largely to walking for an hour each day.

Lyons has seen family members struggle with diabetes and other health issues because of their weight. She did not want the same fate.

"I was determined not to be like that," Lyons said. "My main goal was to become healthy."

She believes the Navy's revised instruction is a great way to help people get the exercise they need. She said that once she started walking, it made her feel so enthused and empowered to keep at it.

"You can really energize yourself just by getting out there … it gives you a whole lot of energy, vigor. You can just breeze through the day," Lyons said. "Thanks to my walking, it has made such a difference. I know it pays off."

Health Promotions offers a walking group that meets in the lobby of Building 10 every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 11 a.m. for a 30-minute walk.

"You get to meet other people, you talk and have a good time, and you get your exercise in," Thomas said. "Try to take advantage of the opportunity that you have at work … It's a great benefit, it really is."

Thomas added that exercise can also help with weight management, lowering blood pressure, managing diabetes, maintaining good cholesterol levels and getting a good night's sleep.

NNMC's Health Promotions also offers a stress reduction class and a weight management class. For more information, call Health Promotions at 301-295-6649.

Yokosuka Safety Fair Prepares Community for Safe Summer

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West Det. Japan

May 29, 2010 - YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) and Commander U.S. Naval Forces Japan's Safety offices worked together to host a Safety, Health and Environmental Fair in front of the base Commissary May 27.

"The whole purpose of the fair was to let people know what things they should keep in mind when doing anything," said Kordeen Kor, the base director of safety. "People can come out in a casual environment and get information on how to be safe while at work and when they're off duty."

Of the subjects covered at the event, both car and motorcycle safety received the most attention. The car safety booth had an airbag simulator, showing patrons what it was like to be seated at the wheel when an airbag deploys. Kor explained that there is no exception to safety when driving, especially when overseas.

"Automobile and motorcycle safety are very important because we live in a different country," said Kor. "Not only do the Japanese drive on the left side of the road, but Japan has different laws when it comes to traffic, so it's important that people learn what these differences are before they hit the road."

The event also highlighted industrial safety. According to Kor, Sailors need to keep proper personal protective equipment (PPE) and situational awareness in mind with industrial hazards being commonplace on ships and in the shipyard environment.

"A big thing for Sailors is making sure they have the proper PPE and knowing what's going on around them when at work," said Hull Technician 2nd Class Christopher Lovrien, a Dallas native. "I've learned that a lot of accidents that can happen on ships or even on shore can prevented by wearing PPE. Other accidents can be avoided just by knowing what's around you, whether it be a low overhead, sharp object, or accidentally exposed wire. If people can remember the proper equipment and what's going on around them, they avoid almost any accident."

With the summer season just around the corner, more people will be enjoying the warmer weather and doing more outdoor recreational activities.

"Summer is a great time for Sailors to take advantage of living in Japan," said Capt. Daniel Weed, CFAY commanding officer. "They need to keep in mind that when they are out taking in the sights or having fun, that they need to think about what kind of effect this activity can have and if there is any hazard in taking part. This is even more important if they decide to consume alcohol before or during the activity. If every Sailor can keep that in mind they should be able to enjoy their summer safe and sound."

Enterprise Completes 1,000th Trap

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristin Baker, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

May 29, 2010 - USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- During flight operations the crew of USS Enterprise (CVN 65) briefly celebrated as the 1,000th landing or "trap" since the ship got underway for flight deck certification and carrier qualifications was successfully completed May 27.

The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is one of the most dangerous places on earth. Safety is paramount, and the key to safe operations is training.

The crew of Enterprise executed the precision ballet that is orchestrated daily on the busy flight deck, proving that their training is effective when it counts.

As Knighthawk 310, an F/A-18F, piloted by Lt. j.g. Chris Salliotte, assigned to Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 136, came down the glide slope towards the pitching deck, the training of hundreds of people was a vital part of the precision that marked the 1,000 trap. The trap was completed just weeks since the 48-year-old carrier departed from the shipyard and commenced at-sea operations for the first time in more than two years.

"Safety is paramount on the flight deck," said Lt. Cmdr. Larry R. Spradlin, the ship's aircraft handling officer. "One misstep can mean disaster, so everyone has to stay focused."

The 1,000th trap marks another milestone in an underway full of them. In every successful event completed during this underway period, safety has played a vital role.

From proper protective equipment to operational risk management, the crew of Enterprise has done it right, and done it safely.

Enterprise has rapidly stretched her sea legs which became stiff in the shipyards, and has emerged as the mighty, combat-ready warship that she has been for the last five decades.

"Rest assured, Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing One are back and ready for action," said Spradlin.

Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are currently underway conducting operations and training for the ship's 21st deployment.

Gates Addresses Troops on 'Don't Ask, Don't Tell' Repeal

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

May 28, 2010 - Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates told troops worldwide today that any repeal of the so-called "don't ask don't tell" law will be delayed until the ongoing Defense Department high-level review is completed, and only after he, the president and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff all can certify that the department is ready to make the change without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention.

Gates recorded a special message that will be broadcast on the American Forces Radio and Television Service and the Pentagon Channel to speak directly to servicemembers and their families about the moves toward repeal of the law that bars gay men and lesbians from serving openly in the military.

"There's been a lot of political posturing and maneuvering on this issue this week, and the secretary wanted to communicate directly to the troops about what this all means to them," Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said. "He wanted to make it clear that the department's review of how to smartly implement a change in the law is more important than ever, and their participation in it is absolutely critical to its success."

The House of Representatives passed an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Bill yesterday that would allow gay men and lesbians to serve openly. The Senate Armed Services Committee passed a similar amendment last night.

President Barack Obama said he is pleased with the congressional actions. He has long favored repealing the law, in which has been in effect since 1994.

"Key to successful repeal will be the ongoing Defense Department review, and as such, I am grateful that the amendments ... will ensure that the Department of Defense can complete that comprehensive review that will allow our military and their families the opportunity to inform and shape the implementation process," he said in a written statement released by the White House last night.

Obama said being the commander in chief is his greatest honor. "This legislation will help make our armed forces even stronger and more inclusive by allowing gay and lesbian soldiers to serve honestly and with integrity," he said.

Any change in the law will take time, Gates said in his recorded message. "The legislative process is long and complex," he said. "While it appears likely that Congress will eventually change the 'don't ask, don't tell' law, we do not expect the legislation that would do this to be presented to the president for months – perhaps not until the end of the year."

The amendment is the result of a compromise worked out between the administration and Congress. It allows the military to revoke the "don't ask, don't tell" provisions 60 days after a military study group chaired by Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department's general counsel, and Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, commander of U.S. Army Europe, presents its report in December.

The legislation is a deferred repeal, Gates stressed. "It would repeal 'don't ask, don't tell,' but only after -- I repeat, after -- the ongoing Department of Defense high-level review is completed, and only after the president, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and I all can certify that we are ready to make this change without hurting unit cohesion, military readiness, military effectiveness, and recruiting and retention," Gates said.

As the legislative process continues, nothing will change in current policies and practices, the secretary said. "Current law, policies and regulations remain in place, and we are obligated to abide by them as before," he said.

The vote in the House and at the Senate committee makes the results of the Defense Department study even more important, Gates said. The panel will conduct a thorough and fact-based assessment of the impact of the potential law change and will develop "an implementation plan that minimizes any possible disruption to the department's mission and on-going operations," he added.

Gates urged servicemembers to participate in the review. "We need to hear from you, and your families, so that we can make these judgments in the most informed and effective manner," the secretary said. "So please let us know how to do this right."

He asked all servicemembers to stay informed on this issue, but to not let it distract them from the "critical mission to defend our country and our duty to uphold the values represented by the uniform you wear," he said.

The message will play on AFRTS broadcast outlets overseas and on the Pentagon Channel in the United States.

Far East CPOs Conduct 117 Hour Treadmill Marathon for Millington Flood Victims

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Andrew Ryan Smith, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det Japan

May 29, 2010 - YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- At the stroke of noon May 26, Senior Chief Navy Counselor (SW/AW) Johannes Gonzalez took the first steps in a 117 consecutive hour treadmill marathon aimed at raising money for the Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society.

"This benefits both promoting a culture of fitness as well as raising money for the Navy Marine Corps relief society to help the victims of the Millington flood," said Chief Personnel Specialist (AW) Louis Saldana, an organizer of the event.

Johannes is not doing this by himself either. He and over 100 other members of the Far East Chief Petty Officer's (CPO) association at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) are sharing in the aches, pains, blisters and sweat that accompany this marathon, which will continue over the Memorial Day weekend. The marathon is being conducted on two treadmills, and each hour as one chief completes his or her race against the clock, another "relieves the watch" for the next hour. The 117 time-frame of the event represents the number of years U.S. navy chief petty officers have been walking the deckplates and leading Sailors.

Holding this event over the Memorial Day weekend was by design. Besides showcasing ideals such as the Culture of Fitness, CPO Pride and charity, the run is also a way to honor those who served and gave their lives in defense of the United States

"It starts with us; it's good for the junior Sailors to see their chief petty officers leading the way and promoting the Navy's culture of fitness," said Gonzalez. "I have gotten e-mails from chief's currently underway saying they will run underway and wishing they were here to joins us."

The fundraising event is being held at CFAY's main taxi stand near the base gates. Gonzales says this location allows the entire community so see the pride of the Far East CPOA in action from dusk to dawn.

Proceeds are based on "per mile" pledges, but passers by can also support the runners by donating on the spot. Area commands were encouraged to pledge based on the assumption that runners will average of five miles an hour.

"Every Chief's Mess in the Yokosuka area was involved. If you look at our list of participants, we have representatives from every command on base from shore commands to ships in port." said Saldana. "The response to this event was quick; as soon as we announced this event a number of chiefs came forward and volunteered to fill slots."

Once the run is complete at 10:00 a.m. on Memorial Day, participants will assemble and run in formation to the site of CFAY's Memorial Day services. The Far East CPOA will present NMCRS with the donation in a presentation ceremony on June 2.

Marine Corps Tests New Fighting Vehicle

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

May 28, 2010 - The Marine Corps is conducting reliability tests on its latest expeditionary fighting vehicle prototypes, the service's program manager for the effort said yesterday during a "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable.

"[For] the last couple of years, we've been going through a redesign for reliability for the basic system," Marine Corps Col. Keith Moore said.

The EFV, as it's known, is meant to serve as a vehicle bridge for Marines, carrying them from Navy ships through the surf and sand and miles deep into enemy terrain. It will replace the assault amphibious vehicle that was procured in 1972 and will be more than 40 years old when the EFV is fielded.

The new vehicle can launch far from shore, beyond the range of most guns and missiles, and can skim across the water at high speed, allowing Marines to achieve surprise, avoid enemy strengths, and "generate never-before-realized operational tempo across warfighting functions," Moore said.

The first prototype made its debut at the National Museum of the Marine Corps on May 4, on its way to the Marine Corps Amphibious Vehicle Test Branch at Camp Pendleton, Calif. Three EFVs are at Camp Pendleton, and one is at the Aberdeen Test Center in Maryland. The prototypes will undergo more than 500 hours of rigorous testing to ensure that the vehicles are on an expected reliability growth path, Moore explained.

The vehicle at Aberdeen is undergoing testing for safety, human factors, basic automotive functions and firepower, Moore said. Only one of the three vehicles at Camp Pendleton is currently undergoing testing, but in the next few weeks all three will undergo water- and land-performance tests, he added.

Moore said his team has a set of older prototypes at Camp Pendleton that were outfitted with design changes in the electronics and firepower systems. They'll participate in a combined developmental environmental test this summer to see how they function in hot weather.

"This is the most capable infantry fighting vehicle that will exist in the U.S. inventory at the time it will get fielded," Moore said. "It is a very robust, survivable infantry fighting vehicle that has to meet the Marines' unique requirements."

Looking back and finding mistakes in the process was a key part of the prototypes' development, the colonel said.

"At some point, we didn't have a process in place that would have given us early indicators that we were on the wrong track or going awry," he said. Coming up with an orderly process after reviewing the previous design, manufacturing processes and initial component and subsystem testing allowed the team to create a better set of prototypes, he added.

"We are starting to see the fruit now of having put those good processes into place," he said.

New security strategy touts partnership efforts

by Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau

5/28/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- Military-to-military contacts are a "critical component" of global engagement and support the nation's security, according to the new National Security Strategy presented to Congress May 27.

"Our ability to sustain these alliances, and to build coalitions of support toward common objectives, depends in part on the capabilities of America's armed forces," the strategy states.

The National Guard's State Partnership Program facilitates many of these military-to-military activities. Currently, there are 62 partnerships around the world with the most recent being added in Africa.

"We have to have the vision to engage those countries that can, or may be, influenced by those looking to exert control over them," Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau told SPP workshop participants earlier this year. "Through state partnerships we can reach out and assist those nations in averting that influence."

President Barack Obama's national security advisor, James L. Jones Jr., said May 27 during a news conference at the Foreign Press Center here that engaging with allies is key to the strategy.

He added that President Obama has stressed that no one nation can solve the problems of the world.

"We will pursue comprehensive engagement around the world," Mr. Jones said. "We will strengthen old alliances, we will build new partnerships with emerging centers of influence in every region and we will push for institutions that are more capable of responding to the challenges of our time."

To prevent attacks on the homeland, the strategy calls for the combined efforts of intelligence, law enforcement and homeland security capabilities.

"We will continue to integrate and leverage state and major urban area fusion centers that have the capability to share classified information, establish a nationwide framework for reporting suspicious activity and implement an integrated approach to our counterterrorism information systems," the strategy states.

This approach, according to the strategy will "ensure that the analysts, agents and officers who protect us have access to all relevant intelligence throughout the government."

The strategy also suggests that information sharing is improving across local, state and federal channels.

Coordination is also improving with the help of foreign partners "to identify, track, limit access to funding and prevent terrorist travel," the strategy states.

To keep Americans safe and secure at home, the U.S. government wants to reduce vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure and at the borders, ports and airports and to enhance transportation and space and cyber security.

"Building on this foundation, we recognize that the global systems that carry people, goods and data around the globe also facilitate the movement of dangerous people, goods, and data," the strategy states.

The U.S. government also is building on its capability to prepare for disasters.

"To improve our preparedness, we are integrating domestic all hazards planning at all levels of government and building key capabilities to respond to emergencies," the strategy states adding that communication systems must be improved for first responders.

The strategy also calls for more "realistic" exercises that will continually test and improve disaster plans.

Finally, President Obama said in his foreword, the strategy is based on American beliefs and values.

"Our long-term security will come not from our ability to instill fear in other peoples, but through our capacity to speak to their hopes," he said. "And that work will best be done through the power of the decency and dignity of the American people -- our troops and diplomats, but also our private sector, nongovernmental organizations and citizens. All of us have a role to play."

(Jim Garamone of Army Forces Press Service contributed to this report.)