Military News

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Nearly 290 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers to report for active duty

June 15, 2010 - The Madison-based 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation Regiment of the Wisconsin Army National Guard will report for active duty Thursday [June 17] in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.

Nearly 290 Soldiers have spent the past several months training in Wisconsin to prepare for this deployment. A formal send-off ceremony will be held Friday [June 18] at 2 p.m. in Halls C and D at the Alliant Energy Center in Madison. Doors open at 1 p.m. Family members and their guests are invited. Food and beverages will be available for purchase during the event.

Soldiers will report to Fort Hood early next week for several weeks of mobilization training, and are expected to spend the remainder of their 12-month deployment in Iraq.

This will be the third tour of duty in the Middle East for the 147th, a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter regiment which first deployed a portion of the battalion to Iraq in March 2003. The unit also deployed to Kuwait from July 2001 to August 2002 in support of Operation Desert Spring.

A portion of the 147th also deployed in support of Task Force Eagle, the NATO peacekeeping operation in Kosovo, in July 2006 for a one-year mission. The 147th has played an important role in stateside responses, such as the historic mobilization of National Guard units across the country to respond to Hurricane Katrina on the Gulf coast, and the Wisconsin floods of 2008. In 1998 the 147th deployed to Guatemala for several months following Hurricane Mitch.

Approximately 100 Michigan Army National Guard Soldiers are also part of the 1st Battalion, 147th Aviation and will deploy with the Wisconsin Guard Soldiers.

Teacher, Entrepreneur Chooses Marines

By Marine Corps Pfc. Katalynn Thomas
Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego

June 15, 2010 - Marine Corps Pfc. Patrick Collman, assigned to Platoon 2109, Company E here, could have gone to Officer Candidate School, because he has a bachelor's degree.

But the entrepreneur and former teacher said he chose to enlist instead, for the challenge.

Collman said he wanted to start from the bottom and work his way up, as he has demonstrated in virtually every aspect of his life leading to boot camp. "That way, if you do get into a higher position, you know what the lower positions are going through," he explained.

Having grown up in the mountains of Colorado, Collman loved the outdoors. He became a Boy Scout, attaining the rank of Eagle Scout during his senior year of high school. But before he could lead scouts, he had to start somewhere. Just as Marines start as recruits, Boy Scouts must go through the ranks and start as Cub Scouts.

"I was never satisfied with stopping halfway," he said. Earning Eagle Scout rank was just another challenge for him, he added.

Just as in scouting, Collman was not satisfied with just being a high school student in his teenage years. During high school, he worked for three years designing databases for a telecommunications firm. It made him realize that he didn't like "suit-and-tie jobs," he said, but it had its own merits.

Collman also was active in search and rescue, and he became a certified wilderness first responder. He participated in search and rescue operations, was responsible for saving the lives of many people, performed CPR and organized helicopter evacuations, he said.

After graduating from high school, Collman went to college at the University of Colorado in Boulder. He operated his own contracting and construction company and worked in the retail business during college to pay for tuition, books and his cost of living. He started his business on a whim during his sophomore year in college, he said, because job opportunities weren't abundant. He performed tasks such as staining, painting and building decks.

"It was easy to do, and I like working with my hands," Collman said. "There's a craftsman's pride to that line of work. When you paint a house and walk by it a year later and it's not peeling, you can think, 'I did that.' It pays well, so I raided [a home-improvement store] to get myself started."

He took out ads and walked around neighborhoods putting out flyers, and said he always had very competitive pricing. The business was mostly a "one-man band," he said.

He graduated from the college with a bachelor's degree in history and a secondary social sciences teaching license. He got a job teaching high school sophomore- and junior-level history and government classes in Erie, Colo., prior to joining the Marine Corps.

Collman said he hadn't planned on becoming a teacher; he had started out studying engineering.

"With teaching, the success is measurable," he explained. "When students go from C's to A's, you can see the change right in front of your eyes. A teacher educates his students not only on the subject, but on life. They teach ethics, morals and decision-making."

Teachers can have a direct influence on their students' lives, he said. Teaching history, he said, showed him he could turn something dreaded into something fun.

"I'd hear my fellow students saying, 'History sucks,'" Collman said, looking befuddled and disgusted at the notion. "I loved history. I was tired of people bashing on history. It was like a little extra salt in my wound."

Although he'd established himself as a teacher, Collman said, he had always planned on enlisting in the Marine Corps. In high school, he said, he initially looked into all the military branches because he wanted to serve his country.

"There's just something [Marines] have that the other branches don't," he said. "They are different from the other branches. Part of it is in the way they carry themselves."

The difference was obvious to him, he added, when he met his first Marine recruiter.

"I walked in, and there he stood," Collman said. "He said to me, 'So you want to join my Marine Corps?' The way he said it was like, 'What the hell are you doing here?'" Collman said he took it as a challenge.

Collman talked to his first recruiter when he was 16, and signed up when he was 22. He still remembers that first recruiter throwing that challenge at him.

That challenge was to become a Marine, and to defend his country, just as his grandfathers did before him, he said.

"I've always been a die-hard patriot," Collman said. He was a freshman in high school during the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, so that was even more motivation for him to join, he added.

"There is a threat and someone has to stand against it," he explained.

Though he has been trained to be a teacher, an Eagle Scout, a contractor and a wilderness first responder, Collman said, he is a Marine first, and now that he has completed boot camp, he plans to continue to challenge himself.

Petraeus Blames Dehydration for Temporary Illness

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 15, 2010 - Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. Central Command, blamed dehydration for causing him to take ill this morning during a Senate hearing.

Petraeus and Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, were testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee about military operations in Afghanistan when he suddenly became lightheaded and had to be ushered from the hearing room.

Petraeus returned about a half hour later, telling the senators he felt better after drinking several glasses of water and eating a banana. "I was just dehydrated," he said, joking that his temporary illness had nothing to do with the senators' questioning.

Although Petraeus offered to continue the session, the hearing was cancelled for the day and rescheduled for tomorrow.

Army Releases May Suicide Data

June 15, 2010 - The Army released suicide data today for the month of May. Among active-duty soldiers, there were nine potential suicides, and all remain under investigation. For April, the Army reported 10 potential suicides among active-duty soldiers. Since the release of that report, four have been confirmed as suicides, and six remain under investigation.

During May 2010, among reserve component soldiers who were not on active duty, there were 12 potential suicides: two have been confirmed and 10 remain under investigation. For April, among that same group, there were seven total suicides. Of those, two were confirmed as suicides and five are pending determination of the manner of death.

"The summer season traditionally represents the Army's peak transition timeframe as soldiers, families and Department of the Army civilians relocate between commands and installations," said Col. Chris Philbrick, director, Army Suicide Prevention Task Force. "This turbulent period often compounds the amount of stress faced by our Army and members of the Army family. Everyone needs to know that despite an increase of anxiety or pressure, help is readily available, especially during these transition periods."

"We are making every effort to maintain contact with soldiers, families and civilians and sustain the Army's efforts to provide comprehensive behavioral health resources and support," Philbrick said. "We simply cannot afford to have any member of the Army family fall through the cracks when dealing with the additional stress transition."

The Army has identified additional crisis intervention resources available to the Army community. Soldiers and families in need of crisis assistance are strongly encouraged to contact Military OneSource or the Defense Center of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury Outreach Center (DCoE). Trained consultants are available from both organizations 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.

The Military OneSource toll-free number for those residing in the continental United States is 1-800-342-9647, the Military One Source Web site can be found at http://www.militaryonesource.com . Overseas personnel should refer to the Military OneSource Web site for dialing instructions for their specific location

The Defense Center for Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury (DCoE) Outreach Center can be contacted at 1-866-966-1020, and at http://www.dcoe.health.mil.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). For more information see: http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ .

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention site is http://www.afsp.org/, and the Suicide Prevention Resource Council site is http://www.sprc.org/index.asp .

Information about the Army's Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program is located at http://www.army.mil/csf/ .

The Army's most current suicide prevention information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/ .

The Army's comprehensive list of Suicide Prevention Program information is located at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/default.asp .

Suicide prevention training resources for Army families can be accessed at http://www.armyg1.army.mil/hr/suicide/training_sub.asp?sub_cat=20 (requires Army Knowledge Online access to download materials)

Save a Life Tour Returns to Norfolk

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) John Stratton, Navy Public Affairs Support Element

June 15, 2010 - NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- The national Save a Life Tour (SALT) returned to Naval Station Norfolk June 15 to highlight the dangers of drinking and driving.

An open casket prepped for the next victim of an alcohol-related traffic accident and life-size posters bearing grave messages about the dangers of drunk driving were on display at Naval Computer and Telecommunications Area Master Station Atlantic (NCTAMS LANT). The high impact alcohol awareness program, with its multi-million dollar simulator and big screen TVs projecting images of real-life tragedies drove home the message that it's not okay to drink and drive.

"If I can impact just one Sailor's life today about the dangers of drinking and driving then I will have succeeded," said Andrew Tipton, senior manager of SALT.

"I was involved in an alcohol-related accident with two of my closest friends," he added. "Although I wasn't behind the wheel, I was the only survivor and it totally changed my life forever."

A simulator offered attendees an opportunity to see and feel what it's like to drive under the influence.

"The simulator is as close as it gets without truly being intoxicated," said Information Systems Technician Seaman Joseph Hill, from Indianapolis and assigned to NCTAMS LANT.

"This program is extremely important and I'm glad to be here in support," he added. "When I was 11 years old, my best friend and his family were all killed when they were hit by a drunk driver, so this definitely hits home."

According to statistics, drinking and driving causes more than 25,000 deaths each year. Young drinkers, ages 21 to 34, are responsible for more alcohol-related fatal crashes than any other age group, according to dui.lifetips.com.

The Save a Life Tour has been operating for 10 years and has begun to travel overseas, taking its message to thousands of military families throughout Europe.

Mullen Accepts Work Life Balance Award for Servicemembers

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

June 15, 2010 - To maintain the U.S. position of having the strongest military in the world, leaders must ensure that servicemembers and their families always "are the center of gravity," the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said last night. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen made the comments in New York City as he accepted the Families and Work Institute's 2010 Work Life Legacy Award on behalf of the nation's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families.

"I'm incredibly appreciative of this recognition," he said. "It really goes to the men and women who serve and their families, who are doing exactly what their leaders are asking of them. Their sacrifices have been great. Too many of them have not come home. They are the center of gravity for our military and our future."

The challenge, Mullen said, is how to change the paradigm so that servicemembers, rather than the institutions they serve, are at the forefront.

As the top uniformed officer, Mullen said, people ask him about the military's future. "My bet on the future of the military is on its people," he said. "If we get it right with the people and meet their needs, they will more than meet ours, no matter what the mission or where it is."

Too often, the chairman acknowledged, the military is not meeting its people's needs. He spoke of his recent trips to Fort Bragg, N.C., and Fort Benning, Ga., where he met with junior officers who have deployed two or three times in the four to six years they've been in the Army.

"The message I got from them is, essentially, 'I need a life,'" Mullen said. "They love what they do. They're incredibly good at it. But it's balance they seek in so many ways."

After nine years of war and multiple deployments, work-life balance is at the forefront of military challenges, the chairman said. "We are very much out of balance, and we need to get back into balance as rapidly as we can."

There have been improvements in that time, Mullen said, including in medical care, spousal employment programs and service programs such as Navy sabbaticals for which sailors can take up to two years off without penalty.

It was those types of successes that the institute cited in presenting Mullen with the award. Ted Childs, the Work Life Legacy Awards chairman, spoke of Mullen's intellectual courage in speaking out for gays to serve openly in the military, his strategic insight in connecting economics with national security, and his work to improve diversity, particularly at his alma mater, the Naval Academy, which is graduating record numbers of women and minorities.

"[Mullen is] committed to his mission, loves his people, and [is] anchored in principle," Childs said in presenting the award.

Mullen advised other leaders in very-senior positions to surround themselves with likeminded people.

"You've got to put a cadre of leaders together who believe like you do to make things happen," he said, "because when you don't, the system pushes back against you very hard."

On his work for increased diversity, Mullen said increasing opportunities for women and minorities in uniform reaches beyond individuals and that is good for the whole country.

"Fundamentally, I believe that we have to represent the fullness of our country," he said. "To the extent that we do, it will strengthen us; to the degree that we don't, we drift away and will wake up one day and see how detached we are from the rest of the country, and that would be a disaster."

Speaking of challenges that lie ahead in the military, Mullen said it is his responsibility to raise awareness of problems and work toward solutions. Families have never been more integral to military successes than they are today, he said, and many are paying the price.

"We see spouses at home very, very pressed," Mullen said, "and many as stressed as those [servicemembers] in theater."

That should improve, he said, with longer dwell times at home between deployments, as U.S. forces draw down from Iraq.

Leaders should continue to work for families, but improved work-life balance also takes personal responsibility, Mullen said, noting his own challenge in putting away his BlackBerry after hours.

"We live in a time of technology where you could work every waking moment," he said. "Too many of us do that. But we need to grab that phrase of 'emotional availability' for our family."

Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic Provides Lifesaving Training

By Lt. Cmdr. Michael Widmann, Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic Public Affairs

June 15, 2010 - NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Expeditionary Warfare Training Group Atlantic (EWTGL) offers training designed to prepare Marines and Sailors in the joint tactics used for controlling fire support and air power provided to the Amphibious Ready Group, Marine Air Ground Task Force (MAGTF) or Joint Task Force Commander.

The training, provided by EWTGL, convenes about six times per year. It is an intensive four-week course that begins with classroom and simulator training at EWTGL and ends with real world, practical instruction at Camp Lejeune, N.C.

The last week of the course at Camp Lejeune is the culmination of the training. Approximately 200 Marines and Sailors are utilized to support the training. Live-fire from air assets, as well as, artillery, guns and mortars are employed. Aircraft, to include F-18s and AH-1 Cobra helicopters, provide support to the training from bases all over the Atlantic coast. Upon successful completion of the course students meet certification requirements as joint terminal attack controllers (JTACs). Their commanding officer's designate them as JTACs.

The classroom and simulator training provides the students the correct terminology to communicate with both US and coalition pilots. This training is put to the test during the last week of training when the students train with live ordnance and aircraft. They are evaluated in situations simulating real world operations similar to what they face while deployed.

The JTAC's learn to communicate using a standard format called a 9-line to request close air support (CAS). Standardization is extremely important when communicating the release of weapons.

"The way pilots speak is totally different from the way ground guys speak," said Staff Sgt. John Finney, a Marine with Second Force Reconnaissance Battalion. The 9-line also provides the pilot the position of friendly forces as well was enemy forces and gives direction to the pilots to avoid other aircraft and obstacles. The 9-line format is used by all NATO forces.

CAS is the use of air platforms to engage nearby enemy forces with guns, rockets or missiles in support of friendly forces. It is a highly complex evolution that involves close communication between ground forces and aircraft to prevent fratricide and to ensure that collateral damage is minimized. It is an effective tactic utilized on the front lines of Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Our goal is to ensure our students understand CAS as a tactic. CAS may not always be the answer when taking enemy fire but we want to ensure our students go into battle with a sound understanding of the fundamentals of CAS," said Gunnery Sgt. Bishop, a JTAC instructor at EWTGL.

Potential JTAC's receive training on the ordinance carried by all air platforms to include the weapon's blast radius and its potential for collateral damage. They are put in realistic scenarios during their training in which they must decide if CAS is the best solution to take out enemy forces. Students must take into consideration the effect of ordinance to surrounding buildings to include hospitals and schools.

"The training is effective for deciding when to restrict fire. It helps us decide the appropriate ordinance to use for a given situation and the timeline in which I need to make a decision. The training has helped us develop overall situational awareness," said Capt. Sean Jones, a Marine Corps CH53D pilot.

New Firearms Policy Released

By April Phillips, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

June 15, 2010 - NORFOLK (NNS) -- The Navy announced a policy change regarding personal firearms to consolidate and clarify the requirements for those who own these weapons.

The NAVADMIN detailing the new policy is available at http://www.persnet.navy.mil/NR/rdonlyres/BCB24012-BC52-4E88-B20F-A509B1C744B7/0/NAV10196.txt. The change to OPNAVINST 5530.14E came after a review of existing policy indicated that there were inconsistencies in the way personal firearm regulations were enacted across the fleet, according to Rear Adm. Arthur J. Johnson, Commander, Naval Safety Center.

However, he emphasized that the policy change should not make life more difficult for those who choose to own weapons.

"This policy is more of a clarification than a change," said Johnson. "It's not meant to make owning a personal firearm more restrictive for Sailors. Instead, it aligns policy across the enterprise so Sailors know what's expected of them if they do own a firearm."

One highlight of the new policy is the ability for all Sailors to store their personal firearms in base housing or armories (when space is available), so long as they receive prior written approval from the installation commanding officer. Weapons must be stored in a locked container, a locked gun rack, or secured with approved trigger locks to keep the weapon from firing.

Weapons are still prohibited in other on-base locations, such as bachelor enlisted or bachelor officer quarters, work centers, and vehicles.

The policy also clarifies that Sailors must comply with all federal, state, and local laws, and that concealed weapons are never allowed on Navy installations, regardless of local law.

While the policy change co-locates and clarifies firearms policy, Johnson said there's one thing that hasn't changed.

"The decision to own a personal firearm carries with it personal responsibility," said Johnson. "If you do own a weapon, you must understand the basic rules of gun safety and make sure you follow those rules at all times."

The primary rules of gun safety are: Treat every weapon as if it were loaded; never point a weapon at anything you don't intend to shoot; and, keep your finger off the trigger until you're ready to fire.

Johnson adds two other rules that are important to remember.

"Keep weapons out of untrained or underage hands, and remember that guns and alcohol don't mix," he said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS June 15, 2010

AIR FORCE

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc., Poway, Calif., was awarded a $24,044,533 contract which will provide for a quantity of four MQ-9 Reaper aircraft (two production aircraft and two ground maintenance trainers). At this time, the entire amount has been obligated. 703 ASG/PK, Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio,is the contracting activity(FA8620-05-G-3028).

TASC, San Bernardino, Calif., was awarded a $20,000,000 contract modification to the contract ceiling for an existing contract (FA8818-06-D-0020) for continued performance of the incumbents highly specialized launch integration and mission assurance services. The original award was for a five year ordering period. At this time, no money has been obligated. SMC/SDTW/PKN, Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M., isthe contracting activity (FA8818-06-D-0020).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

EA Industries, Inc.*, San Lorenzo, Puerto Rico, is being awarded a maximum $13,610,305 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-quantity contract for Marine Corps combat utility uniform. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Marine Corps. The original proposal was Web solicited with 10 responses. The date of performance completion is June 18, 2011. The Defense Supply Center Philadelphia, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SP0100-06-D-0361).

NAVY

Converteam, Inc., Pittsburgh, Pa., is being awarded a $9,900,000 modification to previously awarded contract (N00024-09-C-4203) for long-lead materials for the DDG 1002 integrated power system high voltage subsystem including the baseline tactical advanced induction motor and its associated VDM25000 motor drive, and the main turbine-generator and auxiliary turbine-generator harmonic filters. Work will be performed in Pittsburgh, Pa., and is expected to be completed by December 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity.

ARMY

Alliant Techsystems, Inc., Plymouth, Minn., was awarded on June 11, a $ 8,967,000 firm-fixed-price contract. This contract is for the production of the 120mm accelerated precision mortar initiative (APMI). The goal of the APMI is to field a 120mm precision guided mortar cartridge in order to satisfy operational needs statement (ONS-09-7722). The APMI cartridge shall be designed to meet the requirement specified in the performance specification for the cartridge, 120mm APMI XM395 mortar cartridge. This effort will encompass all activities necessary to produce approximately 1,310 APMI cartridges, at an estimated value of $18.3M, using fiscal 09 through fiscal 11 funding. The period of performance will be 10 months, from the anticipated date of contract award. The contract type contemplated is firm-fixed-price. The government will utilize PAA funding to support this effort. Work is to be performed in Plymouth, Minn., with an estimated completion date of Dec. 1, 2010. One sole-source bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Contracting Command, Joint Munitions and Lethality Contracting Center, Picatinny, N.J., is the contracting activity (W15QKN-10-C-0059).

BAE Systems Land & Armaments, Ground Systems Division, York, Pa., was awarded on June 11 an $8,700,584 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract. This contract is for the scope line replaceable units for the Paladin integrated management program. Work is to be performed in York, Pa., with an estimated completion date of June 30, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-0550).

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on June 11 a $6,175,370 firm-fixed-price contract. This delivery order is being awarded to add additional vehicle and carwell to the contract. The vehicles and carwell being added to the contract and procured on the DO are as follows: five Heavy Expanded Mobility Tactical Truck (HEMTT) M984A4 wrecker without winch, five Carwell Rust proofing for the (HEMTT) M984A4 wrecker without winch, 15 HEMTT M983A4 tractor with winch, and 15 Carwell Rust proofing for the HEMTT M983A4 tractor with winch. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of Jan. 31, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-09-D-0024).

USS Constitution Sailors March in Bunker Hill Day Parade

By Seaman Apprentice Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

June 15, 2010 - CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors marched in the Bunker Hill Day parade in Charlestown June 13.

The parade honors the 235th anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, June 17, 1775, which was one of the first major engagements of the Revolutionary War.

"Marching in the parade makes me realize how proud I am to serve the same country my grandfather and uncle proudly served," said Seaman Apprentice Tori Escamilla, Constitution. "It gives me the courage to never give up."

The parade began at 12:30 p.m. on Chelsea Street. Sailors marched for two miles, ending approximately at 3 p.m. on Common Street.

"Having the USS Constitution Sailors here ties to our military heritage, representing our strength as a nation," said Marine Corps Maj. Ralph J. Rizzo, Jr, parade grand marshal. "They truly are a positive influence in the parade."

The Bunker Hill Day parade began in 1825 by members of the Bunker Hill Monument Association. Members established the association to purchase the Bunker Hill battlegrounds and construct a memorial on the site. The parade soon followed and became a military tradition.

"It is crucial to have the Sailors present, because they are the heart and soul of the United States Navy, and the Battle of Bunker Hill is the heart and soul of the United States of America," said retired Cmdr. Bob Gillen, 59th in command, Constitution.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard of Boston Harbor. She is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

Guard Responds to Flooding in Three States

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

June 15, 2010 - More than 400 National Guard members from three states have been called up for flood duty after heavy rains and snow run-off caused cresting rivers this week, officials said. The governors of Wyoming, Nebraska and West Virginia have declared states of emergency and called in the Guard to help in protecting people and their property.

In Wyoming, the number of Army and Air Guard members on state active duty increased from 250 to 400 today.

"The main concern continues to be the Freemont County area," said Diedre Forster, public affairs officer for the Wyoming National Guard. "There is other flooding going on in various other areas of the state, and we're keeping our eye on them, but Freemont County has been the only place we have been called on to assist."

Christian Vanhuizen, incident command public information officer for Wyoming, said several rivers are expected to crest by June 18 and that floodwaters likely will continue for some time. "Personnel are providing flood mitigation efforts, such as filling and stacking sand bags, as well as helping [civilians] leave their homes in times of instability," he said. "We are also working with local law enforcement agencies, providing security in flood-damaged areas and restricted areas."

He added that precipitation is expected to continue in the form of more thunderstorms and snow in the higher elevations.

"Last week's flooding was caused by a large melting snowpack up in the mountains," Vanhuizen said. "A cold front that passed through the mountains late last week stopped the run-off from the melting snowpack, but also brought with it about two more feet of snow. That's what we are bracing for right now, and some of the rivers are showing slight increases and we expect those to continue throughout the day."

In Nebraska, the Guard responded to requests from the Nebraska Emergency Management Agency to assist with damage assessments after recent statewide flooding.

"The flooding in our state covers a large geographic area and varies in severity," said Army Lt. Col. Bob Vrana, public affairs officer. "There are about 60 counties that have been impacted in one way or another, and 44 of those have requested assistance from the state at this point."

He said about 10 soldiers are assisting the Nebraska EMA with damage assessment and mission analysis.

"Some of those 10 are staffing the emergency operations center, acting as liaisons between the Nebraska National Guard and the emergency management agency," Vrana said. "We're working in conjunction with a number of state [and federal] agencies, and we have the resources to provide more assistance if the conditions worsen."

Vrana said that the damage has been to county roads, bridges, homes and ranches.

In West Virginia, Guard officials said soldiers were called in to help with debris removal that resulted from the severe storms.

Obama Pledges Support to Servicemembers, Families

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 15, 2010 - President Barack Obama opened his talk today at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla., praising the military for its role in the oil spill response in the Gulf of Mexico, then launched into a rousing address, promising to be judicious in how he uses military power and to provide the military what it needs to succeed.

Obama, visiting Pensacola after assessing progress in the oil response, made an important promise to an assembly of sailors, airmen, soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

"I will not hesitate to use force to protect the American people or our vital interests," he said. "But I will also never risk your lives unless it's absolutely necessary. And if it is necessary, we are going to back you up to the hilt with the strategy and the clear mission and the equipment and the support that you need to get the job done right."

That includes ensuring the proper strategy and support for the missions in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama said. He noted that the combat mission in Iraq is on schedule to end this summer, as U.S. forces press forward in Afghanistan.

"We're working to break the momentum of the Taliban insurgency and train Afghan security forces, strengthen the capacity of the Afghan government and protect the Afghan people," he said.

"We will disrupt and dismantle and ultimately defeat al-Qaida and its terrorist affiliates," he continued. "And we will support the aspirations of people around the world as they seek progress and opportunity and prosperity, because that's what we do as Americans."

Obama pledged that the U.S. military will have the training and equipment it needs to succeed in missions it's asked to carry out. "We're going to keep you the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped military that the world has ever known," he said.

That's why the military has halted personnel reductions in the Navy and increased the size of the Marine Corps, and why it continues investing in new capabilities and technologies for the future, he said.

"But the most important thing in our military is our people," the president said, pledging support for wounded warriors, particularly those suffering from post-traumatic stress and traumatic brain injury, and to keep faith with military families.

"When a loved one goes to war, that family goes to war," Obama said. "That's why we're working to improve family readiness and increase pay and benefits, working to give you more time between deployments, increasing support to help spouses and families deal with the stresses and the separation of war."

The president reiterated First Lady Michelle Obama's challenge to every sector of American society to support military families.

"This can't be the work of government alone," he said. "As Michelle's been saying, 1 percent of Americans may be fighting our wars, but 100 percent of Americans need to be supporting our men and women and their families in uniform. You guys shouldn't be carrying the entire burden."

Obama praised the men and women in uniform who willingly agreed to carry this burden for their country. "Our nation is at war," he said. "And all of you have stepped forward. You volunteered. You took an oath. You stood tall and you said, 'I will serve.'"

The president said he's proud of the resolve, determination and resilience the nation is demonstrating in the face of the Gulf oil spill disaster – qualities he said the military has demonstrated throughout U.S. history.

"That's the same spirit we see in all of you – the men and women in uniform – the spirit we'll need to meet other challenges of our time," he said.

Libraries Offer Children's Summer Reading Program

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

June 14, 2010 - Defense Department libraries have embarked on their first departmentwide summer reading program in hopes of encouraging military children to keep their reading skills sharp during the summer.

More than 250 base libraries soon will set off on "Voyage to Book Island," an activity-packed reading program in which children are asked to complete four to six books over the course of the summer, said Nilya Carrato, program assistant for the Navy General Library Program.

While service and installation libraries have sponsored their own programs in the past, "Voyage to Book Island" marks the first departmentwide summer reading program, Carrato noted. This consistency pools resources and enables military children who move this summer to pick up the program where they left off at their new installation, she added.

"Especially with all the movement, we want to make sure kids get as much of an advantage as everyone else," Carrato said. "Plus it's fun."

Most programs will run for eight weeks with open enrollment throughout the summer, according to a program news release. Activities will range by location and include everything from a tropical pool party to the SS Sigonella Storytime. Incentive prizes include bookmarks, T-shirts, stickers and puzzles.

Children who participate are asked to complete the books on their own or, for younger children, with the help of a parent, Carrato said. Book choice is left to the reader's discretion, she added, noting that they can read a variety of fiction and nonfiction or even the same book several times if they'd like.

Some libraries will offer an online log to track reading progress, while others will use a handwritten log. The libraries with online tracking capabilities offer an added bonus: reserve-component access, Carrato noted. No matter the distance, Reserve and Guard families can participate in the program by e-mailing dodsumread@navy.mil, and they'll be put in touch with a base with online program capabilities, she added.

The program is worth pursuing, Carrato emphasized, especially since reading practice is vital to young learners. Studies show that children who don't practice reading over the course of the summer may be two to three months behind at the start of the school year, she said. And this effect can be cumulative.

"By the time you leave sixth grade, you could be up to a year behind in reading," she said. "If you keep engaged, you'll be ready to move forward instead of playing catch up."

And for young children, being read to can be just as helpful as practicing reading themselves, she noted.

For installations without a library, Carrato suggested parents check with their local child and youth program or local summer camp to see if they're participating in the program.

Carrato also pointed out a few of the other programs military libraries have to offer this summer, including reading groups, story times, reading program parties, online books, downloadable audio books for car rides, online study guides for summer school attendees and access to Tutor.com, a site that offers free tutoring services 24/7 to military members and their families.

Senior Executive Service Appointments and Reassignments

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced the following Department of Defense Senior Executive Service, appointments and reassignments:

Appointment

Koby J. Langley has been appointed to the Senior Executive Service and is assigned as special assistant and senior advisor to the under secretary/principal deputy under secretary of defense (personnel & readiness), Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness), Washington, D.C. Langley previously served as special assistant, Department of Veterans Affairs, Washington, D.C.

Obama Praises Military Support in Gulf

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 15, 2010 - President Barack Obama today praised the role the military is playing as part of oil spill response efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, and told military members at Pensacola Naval Air Station, Fla., they exemplify the resolve, determination and resilience the nation is demonstrating in the face of the disaster.

"That's the same spirit we see in all of you – the men and women in uniform – the spirit we'll need to meet other challenges of our time," Obama told an assembly of sailors, airmen, soldiers, Marines and Coast Guardsmen.

He applauded their contributions as part of the national response to an unprecedented environmental disaster in the Gulf.

"This is an assault on our shores, and we're going to fight back with everything that we've got," he said. "And that includes mobilizing the resources of the greatest military in the world."

In addition to serving as a major staging area for the response effort, Naval Air Station Pensacola is contributing manpower as part of the broad military response to the disaster, the president noted.

"All along the Gulf Coast, our men and women in uniform - active, Guard and reserve, from across the country - are stepping up and helping out," Obama said.

"There are soldiers on the beaches putting out sandbags and building barriers and cleaning up the oil, and helping people process their claims for compensation from BP," he said. "There are sailors and Marines offering their ships and their skimmers and their helicopters and miles of boom.

"There are airmen overhead, flying in equipment and spraying dispersant," he continued. "And of course, there are Coast Guardsmen and women on the cutters, in the air, working around the clock."

In addition, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has authorized the deployment of 17,500 National Guardsmen to respond to the crisis, Obama noted.

Although only 1,600 have been activated so far, "that leaves a lot of Guardsmen ready to help," the president said. "And if our governors call on them, I know they'll be ready, because they're always ready."

Obama pointed to the Gulf disaster as one of many challenges facing the United States: the worst economic crisis since the depression, high unemployment and two wars against adversaries "who will stop at nothing to strike our homeland and would kill innocent people, women and children, with no compunction."

"Any one of these challenges alone would test our country," he said. "Confronting them all at once might overwhelm a lesser nation."

But the president vowed that the United States will weather these challenges and prevail, pointing to the example set throughout history by its men and women in uniform.

"All of you represent the same spirit of service and sacrifice as those who've gone before, who defeated fascism, defeated tyranny, prevailed in a long Cold War over communism," he said. "And now, in our time, you've toppled regimes based on terror and dictatorship, and you've given new hope to millions of people. You've earned your place among the greatest of generations."

USS Emory S. Land Departs Pacific Northwest for New Homeport of Diego Garcia

By Lt. Cmdr. Kevin Barnett, Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

June 15, 2010 - BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- USS Emory S. Land (AS 39), one of only two submarine tenders in the Navy's ship inventory, departed Bremerton June 14, bound for its new forward-deployed homeport of Diego Garcia.

The submarine tender will provide an expeditionary maintenance capability to the fast-attack submarines and guided missile submarines, particularly those operating in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

Forward-deploying USS Emory S. Land to Diego Garcia will dramatically reduce transit time for submarines operating in 5th Fleet that require intermediate level maintenance, emergent repair, or logistics support.

Emory S. Land recently completed an extensive series of shipyard availabilities, the majority performed at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, WA.

In addition to modernization and hull restoration work, Emory S. Land became the first submarine tender to complete conversion to a hybrid U.S. Navy and Military Sealift Command vessel. The conversion creates an integrated crew, teaming the professionalism and expertise of both Sailors and civilian mariners.

However, unlike most ships manned and operated by the Military Sealift Command, Emory S. Land will remain designated as a United States Ship under the command of a U.S. Navy captain.

Near the end of the ship's availability, Emory S. Land completed repairs to several propulsion train elements during a dry dock period in Cascade General Shipyard, Portland, Ore.

"The ship is in the best material condition it has been in a very long time," said Capt. Ed Seal, commanding officer. "The work performed by the different public and private shipyards over these past two years will allow the ship to operate forward deployed for many years to come. The crew is ready and eager to set sail for Diego Garcia, and to get back to its primary mission of tending submarines and surface ships, this time operating in the 5th Fleet area. I am proud of what the crew has accomplished during this extensive shipyard period, and the teamwork that continues to grow on board between civilian mariner and Sailor shipmates. The ship is ready for sea."

Following completion of sea trials, the ship hosted over 100 family members and guests for a Family Day cruise during its short transit from Indian Island, Wash. to Bremerton.

"It seemed like everyone who brought their families had a good time," said Logistics Specialist Seaman Jose' Rios.

Young guests were given an opportunity to learn about the ship's construction and operation by completing a junior enlisted surface warfare qualification. Those completing the qualifications were awarded certificates signed by the commanding officer and command master chief.

Diego Garcia is a coral atoll and the largest island in terms of land area of the Chagos Archipelago. Diego Garcia is located in the Indian Ocean approximately 1,000 miles south of the southern coast of India and is part of the British Indian Ocean Territory.

Emory S. Land is assigned to Commander, U.S. Submarine Force Pacific in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. The ship's forward-deployed change of homeport to Diego Garcia is part of the Global Posture Defense Realignment.

Services Meet or Exceed May's Active-Duty Recruiting Goals

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

June 15, 2010 - The military services reported across-the-board active-duty recruiting successes in May, a traditionally slow recruiting month just before high school graduations.

The Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps all met or exceeded their May accessions goals while achieving year-to-date retention goals, defense officials reported.

Five of the six reserve components also exceeded their May accessions goals. The Army National Guard intentionally slowed recruiting because it already has exceeded its fiscal year-to-date goals, officials said.

Recruiting during May, by service, was as follows:

-- Army: 104 percent of its active-duty goal, with 6,296 recruits; Army Reserve, 110 percent of its goal, with 1,957 recruits; and Army National Guard, 87 percent of its goal, with 4,429 recruits.

-- Navy: 100 percent of its active-duty goal, with 2,534 recruits; Navy Reserve, 108 percent of its goal, with 468 recruits.

-- Air Force: 100 percent of its active-duty goal, with 2,227 recruits; Air National Guard, 115 percent of its goal, with 546 recruits; and Air Force Reserve, 111 percent of its goal, with 774 recruits.

-- Marine Corps: 100 percent of its active-duty goal, with 912 recruits; and Marine Corps Reserve, 122 percent of its goal, with 920 recruits.

Defense officials called the May recruiting results particularly encouraging leading up to the traditionally busy summer recruiting season.