Military News

Monday, July 26, 2010

"Don't Ask, Don't Tell" survey a must to let Airmen viewpoints be known

by Tech. Sgt. Phyllis Hanson
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

7/26/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- "Your opinion matters" is the view of Air Force officials on the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" survey released July 7 to more than 98,000 randomly selected active-duty Air Force, Air National Guard and Air Force Reserve members.

Selected Airmen have received an e-mail with the survey from Westat, a third-party contractor, on behalf of the Department of Defense. Westat is a professional, independent pollster collecting and analyzing the data.

The confidential survey is not a referendum on whether or not to repeal the law, said Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel.

"Rather, it's designed to assist leadership in assessing the impacts, if any, that the repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" might have on military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention," he said.

Airmen who receive the survey are encouraged to complete it because their inputs are critical for enabling DOD officials, and ultimately Air Force officials, to effectively implement policy changes, should Congress decide to repeal "Don't Ask, Don't Tell." Officials hope to have most of the responses back within 45 days of receipt.

The survey, consisting of 103 questions, should take no more than 30 minutes to complete, and personally identifiable information will not be linked or attached to an individual's answers. The survey does not ask questions about sexual orientation.

Some Airmen who receive the survey link by e-mail may mistakenly view it as "spam" since it originates from an e-mail address with a ".org" extension instead of a ".mil" or ".gov" extension.

"We want to assure Airmen who are randomly selected to complete the survey, that it's a legitimate request, and shouldn't be deleted," General Newton said. Reminder notices with instructions on accessing the survey will be periodically sent throughout the survey period.

Airmen who do not receive the survey can still share their thoughts concerning potential repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" through the online inbox at www.defense.gov/dadt, an Internet site accessible to common access card holders through www.af.mil or the Air Force Portal.

The online inbox allows servicemembers and their families to submit issues anonymously to the intra-department, inter-service working group, led by Army Gen. Carter F. Ham, the commander of U.S. Army Europe, and Jeh Johnson, the Pentagon's top lawyer.

If Airmen wish to engage in more frank and candid discussions regarding their personal experiences in the military and how they might be affected by repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell," a confidential communication mechanism has been developed to facilitate confidential online dialogue with trained moderators from Westat. This mechanism can be accessed in two ways: through a link at the end of the survey or at the end of the online inbox submission.

In total, almost 400,000 servicemembers have been asked to complete the survey. Their responses, along with feedback from the online inbox and confidential communication mechanism, will give the working group a baseline of information that best represents the military's 2.2 million servicemembers and their families.

The DOD working group will provide a report to the secretary of Defense no later than Dec. 1 addressing issues, impacts and an implementation plan associated with a repeal of the law, should it occur.

Wounded warriors complete 'Sea to Shining Sea' journey

by Senior Airman Jarrod R. Chavana
633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

7/26/2010 - LANGLEY AIR FORCE BASE, Va. (AFNS) -- A group of wounded veterans amassed at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco May 22 for a two-month cross country ride that ended July 24 in Virginia Beach, Va.

The nearly 4,000-mile trek was called Sea to Shining Sea, and it showed 17 veterans who've overcome life-changing injuries such as amputation, paralyzation or traumatic brain injuries that they can still accomplish extraordinary feats.

"Everyone had to be physically able to ride the ride and mentally set to push themselves past their normal limits," said Marine Corps Maj. Van Brinson, a Sea to Shining Sea ride director. "The Sea to Shining Sea ride is a graphic example to people around this country that (even if) you have an ailment, illness or malady, that if you have the right people or team around you ... people can achieve what they thought were unachievable goals."

During the 63-day ride, the riders battled 100-degree heat, raced pass thunderstorms and hail, traveled through deserts, and cycled over mountain passes to complete their goal. They pressed each situation as they had done to overcome their injuries.

"The doctors told me I would never walk again," said retired Navy Petty Officer 2nd Class Nicolette Maroulis, a Sea to Shining Sea wounded warrior. "During the initial assessment, I was overwhelmed. Once I realized where I was physically, I started reading up on kinesiology ... even though I didn't have much use of my legs. It gave me a better understanding of what was going on with my body. Due to a lot of hard work and great doctors, I was able to walk again.

"The 'want to do it' has to come from within you," she said. "Your ability isn't determined by other people's expectation. You have to push outside of your comfort zone, outside of your limits in order to accomplish the goals that you set out for yourself."

On an average day, the riders would wake up at 5 a.m. and be prepared for a ride that may not end until 4 p.m. During the longest day of the ride, they traveled 120 miles.

"We started out as 17 individuals with 17 different goals -- some to finish the race, some to promote recovery," said Air Force Staff Sgt. Marc Esposito, a Sea to Shining Sea wounded warrior. "But the greatest part of the ride was 17 individuals transformed into 17 teammates."

Sergeant Esposito's vehicle detonated an improvised explosive device in Afghanistan in May 2009, and he was told he would never walk again, or at best, walk with a limp.

"As a combat controller, you are taught that exceeding the standard is the standard," said Sergeant Esposito, who is stationed at Pope Air Force Base, N.C. "Everyone on this ride is exceeding the standard, and they are breaking their medical expectations. This is the message we want to send to other wounded warriors: that it's ok ... you will have to go through some hard times if you get injured. It may hurt, but you can get back to the life you love."

Newer F-15s enhance maintenance training

by Tech. Sgt. Vernon Cunningham
82nd Training Wing Public Affairs

7/26/2010 - SHEPPARD AIR FORCE BASE, Texas (AFNS) -- Months of coordination, several temporary deployments, and a large parking space define only a few of the factors that fell into place to bring 13 newer-model F-15 Eagles to update the F-15 aircraft maintenance course here.

The course currently utilizes A and B model aircraft to train today's F-15 aircraft maintenance students on how to properly maintain mission capability for C and D models, currently used on operational flightlines.

Recently, Sheppard AFB officials submitted a package to Air Education and Training Command, requesting replacements for the F-15A and F-15B. The newer F-15C and F-15D models were acquired from Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., and then altered for use as trainer aircraft.

Before they could place them into use as trainers, the aircraft had to have all explosives removed to make them safe, said Ed Crenshaw, a 982nd Maintenance Squadron logistics program manager.

"We negotiated with Tyndall (AFB) to send egress, electro-environmental, aircrew flight equipment and weapons technicians TDY (here) to remove the explosive components," he said. "We worked out a series of three TDYs to accomplish this effort, which ran from April through June."

The explosives removed from the newer F-15s included various incendiary lines and components, squibs used to activate the engine fire bottles, incendiaries in the personal parachutes, survival kits and explosive cartridges used to eject external pylons, Mr. Crenshaw said.

The newer model F-15 trainers were a welcome addition for Sheppard's F-15 aircraft maintenance course, an instructor said.

The F-15C and F-15D trainers will help instructors give the students the type of training they actually need when they get to a flightline, said Tech. Sgt. Gerry Sasser, a 362nd Training Squadron F-15 aircraft maintenance instructor.

He said instructors currently train students on the F-15B models and then explain the differences between what they are working on and what's in the field.

Sergeant Sasser said a lot of things are similar, but there are also many differences.

"The older models don't have all the pieces and parts that the newer models have in them," he said. "For example, the F-15C and F-15D have a multiple purpose color display in the cockpit that is not on the F-15B. Some of the controls are in different spots. Also, the launchers on the side are different from the new launchers. They will never see F-15B launchers again in their career. The launchers on the newer F-15 models are what they will actually see on a flightline."

In addition, having newer F-15 trainers will benefit the students when they graduate and become active duty F-15 aircraft maintainers, he said.

"When working on (F-15A) models, it's really hard to teach these guys skills that they will remember when they get to their next duty station," Sergeant Sasser said. "Whenever they get to their (F-15C) and (F-15D) models, it's hard for them to remember what they were told, because we didn't show it to them."

The 362nd TRS will receive eight F-15 trainers to train crew chiefs. The 363rd TRS will receive two trainers to teach armament students. The 365th TRS will receive three trainers for avionics training.

Mission to Africa – This is a Drill!

Monday, July 26, 2010
Written by: Victoria Bonk

This week we took time out for the engineers to do some training. The engineers spent a whole day focused on doing basic engineering casualty control exercises (BECCEs) to help crewmembers become trained to respond to machinery casualties in the engine room.

BECCEs are drills in the engine room used to train the watch sections to respond to a casualty on the main diesel engines, generators, reduction gears and the electrical switchboards. The engineering training team (ETT) simulates different types of problems that may happen during an underway watch. The engineers are taught to identify the problem, take initial action and maintain the rest of the engineering plant. They learn when to shut down the machinery or keep it going to maintain propulsion and electrical power. The casualties that they are trained to respond to include loss of lube oil pressure, major fuel leaks, fires and several other possible issues that may come up on a routine underway watch.

“This was my first BECCE experience as an engineer. I feel a lot more confident and prepared as a qualified machinery watch stander because of the experience,” said EM3 Francisco Fano, an electrician aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk. “The engineering training team is very knowledgeable in casualty control procedures so they were great shipmates to learn from. They made it seem a lot more like a training environment than a chaotic one, so that really helped make the learning experience go very smoothly.”

“The training was the final step in five of our shipmates’ quest to earn their machinery watch qualifications. This proved that they have the knowledge to post their watch on their own and can be trusted to respond to any type of engineering problem that may arise,” said Chief Warrant Officer Thomas Green, the main propulsion assistant aboard the Mohawk. “Both the training team and the watchstanders stepped up to achieve this milestone in our shipmates’ careers.”

Even in the heat of the engine room and stress of the drills everyone qualified Wednesday. They completed every drill successfully and will be ready just in case something goes wrong in the engine room while we are underway.

Fort Jackson Club Boss Puts Soldiers First

By Kris Gonzalez
Fort Jackson Leader

July 26, 2010, July 26, 2010 - Providing soldiers a home away from home has been Carole Coveney's mission for more than two decades. And Coveney will continue to take care of soldiers in her new position as the general manager of Fort Jackson's NCO Club.

"Soldiers are defending our country, they're putting their necks out for us," said Coveney, who for 23 years has helped serve soldiers as part of Army Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation Command-sponsored services.

Fort Jackson, a major Army basic training post, is home to thousands of soldiers and trainees.

"So I want to make sure that while they are here training - or if this is their permanent duty station - that they enjoy themselves, that their families enjoy themselves, and we have nice activities for them that make them feel at home," Coveney said.

Coveney said she plans to make changes to some of the catering menus for the many events that take place at the NCO club and Magruder's Club and Pub, an all-ranks annex to the NCO club, as well as drumming up more nightly entertainment for both clubs.

Improving the clubs' overall product quality and customer service are other missions that Coveney said she looks forward to achieving.

"She is very customer service focused," said Rose Ann Turner, chief of Fort Jackson's Family and MWR's business operations division.

Turner said Coveney was selected for the club manager's position because of her proven leadership skills and her vast experience in Army club management.

Coveney's career in hospitality began in 1987, when, as a Florida State University student, she was recruited by Army MWR to become a club management intern.

She headed to Germany, where she worked as the general manager for a community club at an installation in Nuremberg. Two years later, after graduating with a bachelor's degree in hotel and restaurant management, she was asked if she would like to keep her position in Germany.

She loved her job so much, she said, she decided to stay for awhile. Two years later, she was offered a job at Fort Jackson to become the assistant general manager of the Officers' Club. She accepted and worked in that position for only six months before she was promoted to general manager.

During the next nine years, she remained at Fort Jackson, married a soldier and began a family of her own.

In 2000, Coveney traveled back to Germany with her husband and daughter to their next duty station in Kaiserslautern.

There, the new mom, with another baby on the way, continued her career as yet again a club general manager.

In 2004, her husband received orders to Fort Drum, N.Y. Realizing that he was going to deploy to Iraq in the near future, Coveney decided to move back to Fort Jackson with her daughters. She has been the assistant general manager of the NCO Club ever since, until her promotion.

Turner said she envisions many positive changes within the clubs as Coveney takes over, because the patrons will see what she sees - that Coveney "sets high standards and challenges her staff to do the same ... she is creative and willing to try new ideas."

Coveney also "is positive, professional and a pleasure to work with," Turner said.

Pentagon Assesses 'Leaked' Documents

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

July 26, 2010 - The Pentagon today condemned the actions of the group Wikileaks.org, which released thousands of classified U.S. military documents on its website last night.

"The leaking of classified information is something we take very seriously," Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today. "We are in the process right now of assessing the documents," Lapan added.

The documents, reportedly given to several U.S. and international media weeks ago, are said to detail field reports from Afghanistan, as well as Pakistan relationships with the Taliban. The more than 90,000 documents cover the period from January 2004 through December 2009, according to news reports.

The Pentagon has yet to confirm the impact of the reports, as it's still early in the assessment process, Lapan said.

"As they are made available, we will be looking at them to try to determine potential damage to lives of our servicemembers and our coalition partners; whether they reveal sources in methods and any potential damage to national security," he said. "Since this was just released last night, we're still in the process going through that assessment."

Of the reports the Pentagon has seen, they fall into a category of basic, unit-level reporting, Lapan said.

"We've only seen a fraction of the documents that are reported to be out there, so until we get a look at all of them, we can't know exactly what the extent of the damage may be," he said.

It could take the Pentagon weeks to make such determinations, Lapan said. But much of what the Pentagon has discovered early in the investigation is that the documents are classified at a "secret" level, and not "top-secret," which is reserved for more sensitive material, he said.

The disclosed documents reveal "the type of reporting that goes on at the tactical level on a routine basis," the colonel said, noting examples such as roadside bomb incidences, civilian and military casualty reports and intelligence and information gathering.

"There's nothing we've seen so far that is particularly relevant," Lapan added.

At this point, he said, the Pentagon is concentrating on the information that's been made public, and is not investigating the source of the leak. Lapan explained that any number of military and civilian defense employees have access to such documents.

Also, the Pentagon is not looking to limit the number of people with access to "secret" material, he said.

"We have lots of systems in place," Lapan said. "And at the very top of that is the responsibility that those who are entrusted with access to that type of information protect that from unauthorized disclosure."

The Pentagon, however, will eventually attempt to narrow down the source of the leak, he said. However, Lapan could not disclose whether a formal investigation on the matter would take place.

"As we've said, we put a great deal of trust and confidence in individuals not to betray their oath to their country," Lapan said.

MILITARY CONTRACTS July 26, 2010

ARMY

Oshkosh Corp., Oshkosh, Wis., was awarded on July 22 a $41,422,390 firm-fixed-price contract. This undefinitized contract action will be for 60 Iraqi heavy equipment transporter systems (HETS) and associated ancillary items. The Iraqi HETS are comprised of the M1070A0 tractor and the Fontaine 635NL trailer. The associated ancillary items include 6,240 spare tires; Iraqi HETS spare parts; non-standard trailer manuals; and IHETS operator training. Work is to be performed in Oshkosh, Wis., with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2011. One bid was solicited with one bid received. TACOM, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (W56HZV-07-C-0594).

Longbow, LLC, Orlando, Fla., was awarded on July 22 a $39,509,964 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for the award of engineering services for the Hellfire and Longbow missile requirements. Work is to be performed in Orlando, Fla. (50 percent); Baltimore, Md. (25 percent); United Arab Emirates (10 percent); and Taiwan (15 percent), with an estimated completion date of Sept. 30, 2012. One bid was solicited with one bid received. U.S. Army Aviation and Missile Command, AMSAM-AC-TM-H, Redstone Arsenal, Ala., is the contracting activity (W31P4Q-10-C-0256).

NAVY

Sauer, Inc., Jacksonville, Fla., is being awarded a $15,350,000 firm-fixed-price task order #0006 under a previously awarded multiple award construction contract (N69450-05-D-0181) for renovation of Building 5345, a historic three-story administration facility at Barksdale Air Force Base. The project scope includes structural upgrades, site improvements and anti-terrorism force protection. Work will be performed in Shreveport, La., and is expected to be completed by February 2012. Contract funds will expire at the end of the current fiscal year. Five proposals were received for this task order. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity.

ASSETT, Inc.*, Manassas, Va., is being awarded a $14,588,350 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for a Phase III Small Business Innovative Research program under Topic N05-149, entitled "Combat System of the Future," to perform research, development and engineering services. This contract includes options which, if exercised, would bring the total value of the contract to $59,093,867. Work will be performed in Manassas, Va., and is expected to be completed by July 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was not competitively procured. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington Navy Yard, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00024-10-C-6259).

Anderson Drace, JV*, Gulfport, Miss., is being awarded a $14,380,420 firm-fixed-price contract which provides for the design and construction of a bachelor enlisted quarters for the Corry "A" School students training at Naval Air Station Pensacola. The work to be performed provides 80 2-plus-2 modules for 320 Corry "A" School students training at the Center for Information Dominance. The contract contains one unexercised option which, if exercised, would increase cumulative contract value to $14,391,620. Work will be performed in Pensacola, Fla., and is expected to be completed by August 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 website, with 34 proposals received. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Southeast, Jacksonville, Fla., is the contracting activity (N69450-10-C-0755).

Bell-Boeing Joint Project Office, Amarillo, Texas, is being awarded a $13,803,372 firm-fixed-price modification to exercise an option to a previously awarded delivery order placed against basic ordering agreement N00019-07-G-0008 for the procurement of 107 swashplate actuators and 137 flaperon actuators for the MV-22 and CV-22 aircraft. Work will be performed in New York, N.Y., and is expected to be completed in January 2012. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

The Boeing Co., St. Louis, Mo., is being awarded an $11,475,605 firm-fixed-price order against a previously issued basic ordering agreement (N00019-05-G-0026) for the procurement of 889 Rover data link kits, 837 for the Navy and 52 for the Royal Australian Air Force, in support of engineering change proposal #6342 for the F/A-18E/F advanced targeting forward-looking infrared upgrade. Work will be performed in St. Louis, Mo. (70.5 percent); Spring Valley, Calif. (17.5 percent); Wallingford, Conn. (6.5 percent); Murphy, N.C. (3.5 percent); and Van Nuys, Calif. (2 percent). Work is expected to be completed in July 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract combines purchases for the U.S. Navy ($9,764,386; 85 percent) and the government of Australia ($1,711,219; 15 percent) under the Foreign Military Sales program. The Naval Air Systems Command, Patuxent River, Md., is the contracting activity.

Caddell Construction Co., Inc., Montgomery, Ala., is being awarded a $6,511,288 firm-fixed-price modification to increase the maximum dollar value of a design-build construction contract for the purchase of furniture, fixtures and equipment for the Command and Control Facility at the U. S. Army Central Command headquarters complex at Shaw Air Force Base. The work to be performed provides for the base realignment and closure project to relocate Army Central Command personnel from Fort Gillem and Fort McPherson, Ga., to Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. After award of this modification, the total cumulative contract value will be $98,406,251. Work will be performed in Sumter, S.C., and is expected to be completed by February 2011. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Facilities Engineering Command Southeast, Resident Officer in Charge of Construction-Shaw, is the contracting activity (N69450-09-C-1756).

Daylight Defense, LLC, Poway, Calif., is being awarded a $5,681,229 cost-plus-fixed-fee completion type research and development contract. The contractor will perform efforts associated with research into and development of quantium cascade laser demonstrator units for emerging directional infrared countermeasure systems for use against terrorist attacks. Work will be performed in Poway, Calif., and is expected to be completed July 2012. Contract funds will not expire at end of current fiscal year. The contract was procured under Naval Research Laboratory Broad Agency Announcement N00173-01, Topic 56-00-05, with one offer received. The Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C., is the contracting activity (N00173-10-C-6021).

AIR FORCE

Boeing Co., Integrated Defense Systems, Seattle, Wash., was awarded a $6,025,528 contract to procure the mission navigation systems upgrade for the Japan Air Self-Defense Force airborne warning and control system fleet of four aircraft. At this time, $6,025,528 has been obligated. ESC/HBSKI at Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (F19628-01-D-0016; Delivery Order 0065).

Recruit Special Programs Division Eases Transition into Navy

By Brian Walsh, Recruit Training Command Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Recruit Training Command (RTC) Great Lakes, Ill., the Navy's only boot camp, is responsible for helping recruits transition from civilian to military life during eight week program.

Upon arrival at RTC, recruits send home civilian items, such as clothing, get haircuts, and receive uniforms and gear. They also receive hands-on training and computer-based classes as part of their curriculum. Physical training consists of push-ups, sit-ups and running that culmilate into a series of standardized tests required to graduate basic training.

For various reasons, some recruits may need specialized attention. For example, those who are unable to pass the Physical Fitness Assessment (PFA) or swimming test in the alloted timeframe are placed in Fitness Improvement Training (FIT). This remedial training prepares these recruits to meet the test requirements.

"While at FIT, the recruit is provided with mentors to help them meet their physical fitness requirements," said Senior Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Steve Crisp, leading chief petty officer for RTC's Special Programs Division. "Recruit Division Commanders (RDCs) run side-by-side with the recruits, encouraging them in their runs, while swim coaches are present at the pool to teach them how to swim."

About 15 RDCs mentor recruits in the FIT program. Though RDCs work to equip recruits with the abilities to pass their PFA, there is a broader focus to the program.

"We don't just focus on passing the run in FIT," said Chief Culinary Specialist (SS) Simeon Yeboah, a staff member with the Special Programs Division. "We educate recruits on leading a healthy lifestyle. Good nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical exercise."

About 2,200 recruits are annually placed in FIT. The success rate is 93 percent for PFA completion. Less than 10 recruits (.5 percent of total recruits in training) each year do not pass the swim test.

The Recruit Convalescent Unit (RCU) is for recruits who are injured or become ill during training. While in RCU, recruits participate in physical therapy at RTC's health facility, USS Tranquility, Freedom Hall Physical Training Facility or the USS Indianapolis Combat Training Pool. RCU recruits maintain their academic requirements while under medical care in their barracks.

The Fundamental Applied Skills Training (FAST) program is for recruits with limited literacy or verbal skills. FAST focuses on two areas: verbal skills and literacy. These programs are designed to help recruits understand technical manuals and speak English as a second language. About 15 recruits are enrolled in FAST at any time during training, with the average duration in the program for two to four weeks. Of those placed in FAST, 98 percent complete boot camp.

"These recruits are typically very motivated," Crisp said. "They have a strong desire to become Sailors and do very well. They are often selected for recruit leadership positions."

The Personal Applied Skills Streaming (PASS) program trains and mentors recruits with social skill deficiencies. Staff members teach recruits how to manage, anger, stress and low self-esteem while emphasising gender, racial and cultural diversities.

"Most RDCs don't have the time or the expertise to address deep-rooted issues that are affecting recruits," said Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW/SW) Joseph Hartel, Special Programs Division staff.

The PASS facilitators provide mentorship and counseling assistance to the recruits in the program. The program has a 95 percent success rate.

RTC continues to implement an array of innovative programs to aid recruits with any sociological, educational and physiological dilemmas that may challenge their lives.

In 2009, more than 3,500 recruits were enrolled in one of the programs offered. Staff members in the Special Programs Division and RTC leadership are confident the high success rates of each program indicates RTC will continue to turn civilians into successful 21st century Sailors.

Act Locally to Improve Schools, Education Leader Says

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

July 26, 2010, July 26, 2010 - Progress is being made at the national and state levels for broad improvements in the public education of military children, but parents still should be involved at the local level to affect change the most, the head of the Military Child Education Coalition said.

"With great relationships, positive connections, and enthusiasm for working in the local community, when parents are engaged and involved, then you're sure the voice of the military child is heard," Mary Keller said in an interview with American Forces Press Service today.

Keller, who holds a doctorate in education, detailed initiatives outlined by James H. Shelton III, an assistant deputy secretary at the Education Department, who spoke at the coalition's 12th annual conference held July 23 in National Harbor, Md. Those initiatives include the department's push for all states to adopt common standards in core subjects, and improving how states measure the education data of military children.

Shelton, who grew up with a Marine Corps father, said military children especially would benefit from common standards so they know what is expected from year-to-year, and so that all their credits are accepted when they move into new school districts. So far, 35 states have signed onto the Common Core Standards compact, he said.

Improving data collection and tracking also is important, Shelton said, because officials currently can track only the progress of military children at the district level, rather than by schools or individuals.

The coalition has endorsed both initiatives, Keller said, noting that more than 80 percent of military children attend public schools in the United States. The initiatives are part of the Education Department's annual reauthorization of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act [known as No Child Left Behind in the Bush administration], but also are included in the Common Core Standards compact, she said.

Defense Department Education Activity schools do a good job of tracking students, but this accounts for fewer than 8 percent of military children, mostly at the elementary level, Keller said. Under new tracking initiatives, states are being asked to include military as a data-point area on school questionnaires, she said, along with gender, age, race, special education, gifted, and other areas.

While the federal initiatives and state responses are encouraging, Keller said, the public education system has become increasingly complex with layers of approvals needed before change trickles down to students.

"Signing onto the compact is just the start," she said. "We've crossed a huge hurdle. But a gazillion other things need to happen. People have to be a little patient on this."

Meanwhile, Keller said, the best thing parents can do to improve their children's education is to be active in their local schools. "It makes a difference going to school board meetings, it makes a difference to go to PTA meetings," she said. "You don't have to wait around for dramatic actions to make a difference at the local level."

Like others who spoke at last week's conference, Keller highlighted what may be the most-important factor for educating military children – and all children for that matter – is for parents to take an interest in their children's schools and education. And that, she said, is an area where military children come out ahead.

Seeing their parents volunteer and developing an understanding for how goals are met through collaboration set the stage for future success, she added.

"We know that military children are from families who care deeply about education," Keller said. The first predictor of a person's future readiness for work or college, she noted, is having a parent communicate that vision.

"The military community, overall, is wildly ahead on those core values," Keller said.

Enterprise Sailors Anticipate Enlisted Warfare Pin Requirement

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Jared M. King, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65) were underway conducting fleet replacement squadron carrier qualifications July 20, and had the opportunity to work toward their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) and Enlisted Aviation Warfare Specialist (EAWS) pins.

Sailors who earn their warfare pins are more knowledgeable and competitive for advancement than those who do not.

Completing the personnel qualification standard book and gaining firsthand experience with all aspects of the ship provides the Sailor with the "big picture" of how all departments work together to accomplish the mission.

Every Sailor who has the opportunity to qualify in a warfare at a command, should have a warfare qualification, according to Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) (SS/SW) Rick West.

West served most of his career in the Submarine Force which requires all Sailors, regardless of pay grade, to have a warfare pin. West said the intent is to make it mandatory for all Sailors to acquire their primary warfare pin.

"I see no reason why a seaman or airman apprentice, once they've completed their basic shipboard qualifications, can't start moving toward getting their pin," West said in a previous statement.

Sailors spend many hours attaining professional skills, knowledge and military experience before earning their pins.

After enrolling in the ESWS/EAWS programs, Sailors have no more than 18 months to complete the qualifications before they are removed from the program.

Senior Chief Aviation Electronics Technician (AW) Bryan A. Elkins, Enterprise's EAWS program coordinator, said the warfare pin signifies dedication and a general knowledge of all aspects of shipboard and strike group operations.

"Earning a warfare pin shows that the Sailor is competent in his/her rating and they have acquired additional knowledge that enhances their understanding of warfighting, mission effectiveness and ship survivability," said Elkins.

Enterprise is at sea preparing for work-ups leading to its 21st deployment.

NEX Introduces Military Star Card Uniform Payment Plan for CPO Selects

by Kristine M. Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (NNS) -- Navy Exchange (NEX) announced the establishment of a Chief Petty Officer (CPO) (Select) Uniform Payment Plan through the Military Star® Card to allow CPO selectees to charge their new uniforms to their Military Star Card July 21.

CPO selectees will have an additional deferred payment plan option when purchasing new uniforms at their NEX. NEX created the plan so CPO selectees could charge new uniforms to their Military Star® Card. The payment plan can only be used at NEX Uniform Stores.

"We were looking for a way to make purchasing new chief uniforms easier for our CPO selectees," said Capt. Ed Spillman, Navy Exchange Service Command deputy commander, Military Services.

"With the creation of the Military Star® Card CPO (Select) Uniform Payment Plan, CPO selectees can walk up to the cash register with their uniform purchases and charge them just like they would anything else in the NEX," Spillman said. "It's quick and easy and eliminates the need for the CPO selectee to fill out paperwork."

The new plan provides zero percent interest for 12 months with no minimum purchase amount. Minimum monthly payments are required. Customers who open a Military Star® Card account will receive 10 percent off their first day's purchases, including a uniform purchase. The discount is applied to the customer's card statement.

Sailors and Marines Participate in Whaling Days Parade

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (AW) Maebel Tinoko, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Det., Northwest

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines stationed at commands around Kitsap County participated in the 38th annual Whaling Days summer parade in Silverdale, Wash., July 24.

Festivities included a "Whale of a Run" four-mile race, Dandy Lions Grand Parade, performances from local entertainers, the Great Kitsap Duck Race and much more.

Service members teamed up with Veterans of Foreign Wars Post No. 4992 and displayed the banners of fallen service members from Washington State. Some Sailors marched with the Bremerton Submarine Veterans association to show their community support.

"These banners of fallen troops mean so much to the families who lost a loved one, and it means so much more when service members are out there carrying these banners," said Alice Dandeneau, president of VFW and Ladies Auxiliary Henry Bryner Post 4992. "It is important to show the community the price of freedom, and I would like to thank all the Sailors, Marines and Soldiers who came out to support us with this event."

Whaling Days is a not-for-profit festival run by volunteers. The proceeds collected each year are donated to the local community through charitable contributions and scholarships.

"I love being part of this parade, and it's important to show our support to the community and honor those who have passed," said Electrician's Mate 1st Class (SS) Joseph Shaffner, USS Seawolf (SSN 21) electrical division leading petty officer.

"I've been working closely with the Bremerton Sub vets for a while now, and it's an honor to meet the veterans and hear their stories about history and what the Navy was like back then," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SS) Rocky Park, USS Nevada (SSBN-733) (Blue). "The parade is a great opportunity to show the community we respect them and the crowds are always warm and welcoming."

Swift Delivers Project Handclasp Aid to Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Rachael Leslie, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

PUERTO QUETZAL, Guatemala (NNS) -- High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV) 2 delivered much-needed supplies to the Guatemala defense forces for local relief organizations in and around Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, July 22.

Swift delivered the supplies as part of the Navy's Project Handclasp program, designed to transport educational, humanitarian and goodwill material on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

"Project Handclasp is a coordinated effort between the Navy and individual donors in the United States to bring supplies and donated items to places in need," said Capt. Kurt Hedberg, mission commander, Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

The Swift crew loaded nine pallets of school kits, health kits, sunflower seeds, honey-roasted nuts, sanitary products and 33 boxes from Kids Against Hunger.

"It's nice knowing that in addition to our military subject matter exchanges, we can also bring these types of humanitarian goods to the people who need them most," said Hedberg. "SPS is about information sharing and relationship building, and our Project Handclasp deliveries go a long way toward showing these nations we're dedicated, and we care about the people who live there.

Swift is currently deployed in Support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010, an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Central America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

At 321 feet, Swift is faster than most ships, with a top speed of almost 50 knots. The catamaran hulls draw only about 11 feet of water, making the ship ideal for missions in shallow coastal waters.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Departs Ternate

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Bill Larned, Pacific Partnership 2010 Public Affairs

TERNATE, Indonesia (NNS) -- Pacific Partnership 2010 departed Ternate July 24 after completing seven days of operations alongside the people of Indonesia, providing humanitarian and civic assistance programs ashore and surgical treatment aboard USNS Mercy (T-AH 19).

Upon completion of the closing ceremony held at Ternate's City Hall, Mission Commander, Pacific Partnership 2010, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti immediately headed back to Mercy in order to get underway to Maluku province to continue Pacific Partnership 2010's participation in Sail Banda 2010.

"During our time in Ternate, we worked hard to reach out across the region, visiting sites on Ternate Island, Halmahera Island, Tidore Island, and even the two villages located on opposite sides of the rugged Mare Island," said Franchetti. "This visit, as well as our previous stop in Tobelo and Morotai, gave us a great opportunity to learn more about the way of life in a province made up of 805 islands. Everywhere we went, we were welcomed with open arms, and we are all looking forward to the warm reception our advance team personnel have already been enjoying in Ambon – our third and final stop in Indonesia."

In fact, the mutual sentiment of appreciation and support goes both ways for Pacific Partnership 2010.

At the opening ceremony in Ternate, days earlier, the Governor of North Maluku Province, Dr. H. Thaib Armaiyn, expressed his feelings about Pacific Partnership's visit.

"I think this mission is such an honorable mission because this mission doesn't care about the borders, doesn't care about the race, ethnicity, religion or anything," said Armaiyn. "We have heard so many good things about this mission. We heard that a lot of people were treated well and that this is such an honorable mission."

While in Ternate, more than 10,800 patients were treated at nine different primary medical and dental health care clinics and 81 surgeries were conducted aboard Mercy. Medical professionals distributed 6,200 pairs of glasses and sunglasses. Subject matter expert exchanges engaged participants in forums concerning veterinary care, preventive medicine, nursing, cardiology, pediatrics, orthopedics, dental care, and women's health. Veterinarians were also able to evaluate and treat more than 200 animals during Mercy's visit. The Biomedical Equipment Repair team was able to conduct over $170,000 worth of repairs to broken or malfunctioning equipment.

U.S. Navy Seabees and Australian Combat Engineers completed two construction projects, including one at Sulamadaha Malaria Clinic and the second at Puskesmas Kalumpang.

While medical civic action programs throughout the region offered medical care opportunities for locals, the events were equally beneficial for Pacific Partnership 2010 medical professionals, such as U.S. Army Spc. Maria Alia Ponciano, a Reservist from Blackfoot, Idaho. Ponciano said she never imagined her first deployment in the Army taking place on a hospital ship.

"Being part of Pacific Partnership 2010 has been a completely different experience, but in a good way. Pacific Partnership is the first time I've ever been involved in any sort of disaster relief exercise. Regardless of what organization we belong to, or what country we represent, it is a real honor to take part in this exercise," Ponciano said.

Community service (COMSERV) projects included a soccer game with the Tentara Nasional Indonesia (TNI), which the Pacific Partnership 2010 team lost, and basketball games with fellow sports enthusiasts. For Yeoman 2nd Class Ceroromo Bragg, the basketball games he played in delivered a realization.

"I looked forward to playing basketball in a foreign country to see what people from another part of the world knew about the sport. The game was about having fun and coming together, but even more importantly, it was fulfilling for us to realize this was not about winning a game, but building relationships," Bragg said.

Having completed medical, dental, surgical, engineering, and community service events in the Tobelo and Morotai areas and now the Ternate area, the hospital ship is transiting to Ambon for the final phase of the Indonesian visit. Mercy will continue participating in the exercise in Ambon through Aug. 4.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors conducted in Indonesia as a disaster relief exercise aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host and partner nations in Southeast Asia and Oceania.

“Hall of Honor” Distinctive Feature of Ohio VA Clinic

When Veterans visit the VA Community Based Outpatient Clinic in Youngstown, Ohio, they look forward to taking a stroll down the “Hall of Honor” and locating a medal they received while in uniform.

Hundreds of military medals and badges in framed shadow boxes line the main hall, one of the most unique displays of military memorabilia among VA clinics in the country.

Veterans relive their personal memories when viewing the 17 large frames filled with hundreds of medals and badges, ranging from the Civil War to the present.

The impressive display of American military awards is the handiwork of Robert Brienik, volunteer liaison at the Youngstown clinic.

When staff refer to them as “Bob’s Medals,” he is quick to point out they are not his.

“They are a tribute to the Veterans who served and earned those medals and badges”

—Veteran Robert Brienik

“They are a tribute to the Veterans who served and earned those medals and badges,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed every second of putting the display together.”

Brienik started the unique project in 2002 when some patients suggested there should be more military pictures in the clinic, instead of farms and fruit. That triggered an idea Bob had about starting a collection of medals and framing them for display at the clinic.

Brienik contacted friends who were involved in collecting medals and wrote the Army Awards Headquarters for guidance.

When people and organizations began donating various medals and badges, Brienik “worked a deal” with William Montague, then director of the VA for Northeast Ohio.

“I said I’d collect and donate the medals if the VA would finance the framing,” he said.

Brienik wrote to the various branches of the U.S. military asking for medal donations. The Coast Guard sent a complete set of its medals and badges, and the Merchant Marine and Department of Defense each sent a number of their medals, he said.

Maribeth Eckenrode, an employee at the Youngstown clinic, and her husband, Troy, donated a large number of Air Force badges. Bob also gives special recognition and thanks to Lee Graves, Dr. Charles McDowell and Lonny Borts for their contributions to the large collection.

“I often see Veterans with their children or grandchildren pointing out the medals that they have. I always point out the display to visitors from other VA facilities when I conduct tours,” Maribeth adds.

“It has been a labor of love. To see people looking and pointing at the medals is very satisfying,” Brienik added.

Brienik has logged 29,748 volunteer hours since he began with the VA in 1992 after a 37-year career with General Motors.

“Volunteering at the VA lets me serve my brother veterans,” said Brienik, who served in the Army Medical Corps from 1956 to 1958.

Illinois Airmen train with the Polish Air Force in Peoria

For two weeks, the Illinois Air National Guard’s 182nd Airlift Wing based in Peoria trained with Polish Air Force C-130 Hercules squadron personnel.

On July 6, Army Maj. Gen. William Enyart, the adjutant general for the Illinois National Guard, visited the air wing to observe the training. The Polish Airmen became more familiar with the aircraft for an upcoming deployment to Afghanistan in support of Polish military contingent operations.

The Illinois National Guard maintains a state partnership with Poland. The purpose of the State Partnership Program (SPP) is to link National Guard states and territories with partner countries for the purpose of fostering mutual interests and establishing long-term relationships.

Through the SPP, Illinois Air and Army National Guard servicemembers participate in annual, joint training exercises with military forces of the Republic of Poland.

Flag Officer Assignments

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the following assignments:

Capt. Bryan P. Cutchen, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as deputy chief of Navy Reserve, N095, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Cutchen is currently serving as deputy commander, Navy Air Force Reserve, San Diego, Calif.

Rear Adm. William H. Hilarides will be assigned as director, Deep Submergence Branch, N873, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Hilarides is currently assigned as program executive officer for submarines, Washington, D.C.