Military News

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Air Force Personnel Center stands up new Operating Location

By Kenny Pruitt
Air Force Personnel Center Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – The recent establishment of an operating location at the Air Force District of Washington represents the next step in centralizing civilian staffing by the Air Force Personnel Center.

The transition ensures reach-back capability for on-site personnel specialists who fill positions located at Headquarters Air Force, AFDW, Bolling Air Force Base and tenants assigned to the National Capital Region.

"This operating location will fill civilian vacancies for their serviced customers but will have better insight into the local mission and be able to forecast surges in workload for the National Capital Region," said Ryan Ferrell, AFDW’s Manpower, Personnel and Services director. "Managers and customers at the National Capital Region will receive direct hiring assistance and on-site support from the AFPC operating location."

Many of the existing AFDW civilian staff members have transitioned into the operating location to become new members of AFPC. These personnelists understand the processes and mission for their respective location and bring their unique expertise to AFPC, further enhancing the effectiveness of the civilian personnel hiring process.

"With an on-site AFPC presence at AFDW, AFPC will be able to meet the unique challenges and the needs of senior clientele located at the Pentagon and National Capital Region,” said Ms. Michelle LoweSolis, AFPC's Civilian Force Integration director. "Our expectation is to provide the high quality staffing services required by our senior leaders and ensure the hiring process is customer focused."

With the activation of the new operating location, the role of the team is to seamlessly continue to produce job referral lists, extend job offers, perform in-processing for new civilian employees and provide hiring advice to managers. The transition process should be transparent to customers.

"AFPC continues to search for innovative ways to meet the needs of our customers," said Ms. LoweSolis. “Our primary goal is to ensure we deliver capability to commanders so together we can meet Air Force missions."

Kearsarge ARG Wraps up COMPTUEX

By Mass Communication 1st Class Phil Beaufort, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) successfully completed its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) July 27

The three-week exercise is designed to test the interoperability and command and control capabilities of the Kearsarge ARG.

The in-depth, scenario-driven exercise focused on simultaneous mission sets and enhanced realism to stress the capabilities of the amphibious assault ship Kearsarge ARG, 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 4.

"The planners at Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic really put together an intensive training package," said USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Commanding Officer Capt. Baxter Goodly. "They designed scenarios that required Sailors, Marines and PHIBRON staff to work together in order to overcome each of the obstacles they placed before us to meet numerous objectives."

The obstacles included small boat attacks, mines, enemy aircraft and natural disasters.

According to Operations Specialist 2nd Class Thomas Weber, the operational tempo in Kearsarge's Combat Control Center was dynamic.

"Once you started working the scenarios, it could get pretty intense. At times you'd get so wrapped up that you'd forget that none of it was real, and it was just an exercise," said Weber. "But I think this was exactly the type of training we needed prior to deployment, especially for our younger Sailors who haven't gone on deployment yet."

According to Kearsarge Command Master Chief Ken Schmidt, integrating the Sailors, Marines and staff members into a cohesive fighting unit prior to deployment is one of the keys to a successful cruise.

"In addition to all the training everyone is getting, this underway really gives the Sailors and Marines an opportunity to get to know each other and learn to work together," said Schmidt. "Knowing who to go to in order to get things done is half the battle on any deployment."

Rear Adm. Dennis E. FitzPatrick, commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic, who embarked Kearsarge to monitor the progress of the exercise, said the Kearsarge ARG exceeded his expectations.

"I think Kearsarge, 26 MEU and the PHIBRON staff did an outstanding job responding to each of the scenarios we provided them," said Fitzpatrick. "We incorporated a large number of independent deployers role playing throughout the exercise."

Fitzpatrick said another addition to this COMPTUEX was the involvement of the Royal Navy.

"This COMPTUEX is unusual in that we had the participation of the British Navy," said Fitzpatrick. "Their participation will pay off on deployment when the ARG begins working with our coalitions partners."

Fitzpatrick said the importance of exercises like COMPTUEX can't be overstated.

"The Sailors and Marines who deploy overseas are representing the Navy and United States. We have to get this right, and everything I've seen out here tells me we will," said Fitzpatrick.

New Pearl Harbor Fitness Center Under Construction

By Thomas Obungen, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Construction of a new, modern, centralized fitness center that will feature amenities of a modern sports club began July 26 as ground was broken on Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for the new facility.

The new fitness center will ultimately become the main gymnasium for the Pearl Harbor side of the joint base and serve as many as 18,000 monthly patrons from more than 200 commands in the area.

"Fitness center facilities and the delivery of fitness programs are essential tools for Navy and Air Force personnel to meet their physical readiness requirement," said Tom Moriarty, Navy Region Hawaii's Morale, Welfare and Recreation director.

"By building these new, state-of-the-art facilities with the latest in fitness equipment, it will make it easier for Sailors, airman and their families to improve their physical readiness and boost morale."

NAVFAC Hawaii awarded the design-build contract to Kiewit Building Group, Inc., in July 2009 for $24.3 million. Planning and design from Honolulu architectural firm Next Design LLC took just under a year, and the project has a scheduled completion date of November 2011.

The contract calls for construction of a two-story, environmentally-sustainable, 63,636 sq. ft. fitness center to be built with numerous recycled construction materials, photovoltaic arrays, and drought-tolerant landscaping.

The facility will also receive a new parking lot with plenty of bicycle racks that will support patrons of both the fitness center and Club Pearl. In addition, the contractor will also demolish four buildings in the area.

"In accordance with federal mandates, the new fitness center will be Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified and have all the amenities of a modern sports club," said Ryan Go, NAVFAC Hawaii project manager. "The centralized and open air design allows patrons to easily choose from a wide-range of fitness activities and equipment without having to go to separate facilities."

Some of the amenities personnel will be able to take advantage of are two combination basketball/volleyball courts, a large workout area with weight training equipment, cardiovascular machinery, and two racquetball courts capable of hosting wallyball games (volleyball played on a racquetball court).

Medical Team Proves Crew is in Good Hands

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Mike Lenart, USS Kearsarge Public Affairs

USS KEARSARGE, At Sea (NNS) -- The amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) Medical Department, Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 6, and medical personnel with the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) tested their capabilities during a mass casualty drill July 25.

A simulated explosion in an urban environment set a scene similar to the one Marines from the 26th MEU could experience during deployment. The event began three hours of controlled chaos for the combined medical team aboard Kearsarge. A wave of 14 casualties, with injuries varying in severity, began arriving by helicopter to Kearsarge for urgent medical attention.

"We received patients with everything from broken bones, compromised airways, compound fractures in legs and arms, as well as amputations," said Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Harwood Garland, a Primary Triage corpsman. "Once we received and determined the severity of the injury, we moved them on to Secondary Triage, Intensive Care Unit (ICU), or the Operating Room (OR) for surgery."

Patients were quickly received, tracked and moved to the appropriate care area effectively, which impressed event the most senior medical officers.

"I thought this team performed really well during the previous mass casualty drill, but this one was absolutely spectacular," said Cmdr. Tracy Thompson, FST 6 officer in charge. "I'm really proud of everyone's performance during this hectic evolution."

With three different medical assets aboard Kearsarge, integration is key to the success of the drill and more importantly, the care of injured service members in a real life scenario.

"From Primary Triage, to the stretcher bearers, to Secondary Triage, everything ran smooth," said Garland. "We train everyday in different areas that all play a roll in a mass casualty scenario. On top of it all, we work hand-in-hand with a very professional and knowledgeable Fleet Surgical Team that is a model example of team players."

Along with training, the mass casualty drill was used to evaluate on board medical response capabilities.

"Commander, Strike Force Training Atlantic (CSFTL) is ensuring Kearsarge is ready to deploy in all areas and I had the pleasure to witness the medical portion of the assessment," said Navy Capt. John Burgess, fleet surgeon for 2nd Fleet and CSFTL medical assessor.

"The hair on the back of my neck stood as I watched this well-oiled machine perform at such a high level. I'm very proud to be here with great medical professionals and leaders. I know the Marines and crew will be in great hands during deployment."

The drill was performed in support of the medical assessment phase of Composite Training Unit Exercise, ensuring Kearsarge is capable and prepared to to go to sea for a scheduled deployment this fall.

USS Michigan Leads the Way by Kicking the Habit Early

By Electronics Technician 1st Class Gary Heppen, Commander Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

USS MICHIGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- In preparation for the upcoming Submarine Force smoking ban beginning Dec. 31, USS Michigan (SSGN 727) (Blue) put the smoking lamp out almost six months early, July 27, at exactly 7:27 a.m.

The date and time were was chosen in honor of the ship's hull number. July 27, is known as Tuebor Day on board the Mighty Michigan, currently on her second SSGN deployment to the Western Pacific. Tuebor is Latin for 'I will defend,' and appears on both the ship's crest and the state of Michigan seal.

The crew has been preparing for this major change to shipboard life. Of the 54 smokers on board, 18 personnel enrolled in a Tobacco Cessation Program (TCP) run by the ship's independent duty corpsman, Chief Hospital Corpsman Robert Ripps.

Ripps said that the program consisted of weekly meetings and nicotine replacement therapy and was successful for 17 of the smokers enrolled.

"The TCP helped me to get over the hump of needing a routine after-watch cigarette," said Sonar Technician 2nd Class Joseph Camerlin, a smoker of 12 years. "I feel really good about not smoking. I haven't had a cigarette in over a month."

The crew supports starting the smoking ban nearly six months before the rest of the submarine fleet.

"Like everything else, we are ahead of the curve. What better day than 727 day, personally, I think it was a great choice, especially since it is my 32nd birthday," said Camerlin.

Chief Machinist's Mate Timothy Flansaas, Machinery division leading chief petty officer, is one of the 36 smokers who did not enroll in the TCP. He successfully quit 'cold turkey' on his own, and hasn't smoked since the ban was first announced.

Flansaas said he had to wrap his mind around the fact that he really didn't want to smoke anymore. "I calculated how much money the next cigarette pack would cost me," said Flansaas.

Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Adam Vogel noticed that quitting smoking has increased his lung capacity and allowed him to run farther during his workout. To help encourage working out as an available stress relief instead of smoking, fitness options on board have improved, including an upgraded flat screen television under the Missile Compartment Logistics and Escape Trunk, so Sailors can work out using video-based fitness programs.

"As a former smoker for more than 10 years, I understand the challenges of quitting smoking. It is extremely hard to stop when you are at sea. We want our Sailors to be successful, so we decided to put the smoking lamp out during this mission cycle," said Command Master Chief Victor Smith. By putting the smoking lamp out at the now, toward the end of the mission cycle, the command's plan is for the Sailors to quit on board the boat, and then go into the homeport training period with a fresh start and plenty of support from their family and friends, said Smith.

"The day we extinguish the smoking lamp on board is a significant event in the lives of our Sailors. I cannot think of a more appropriate day to start a new and healthier life than 727 day," said Smith.

Overseas Screening Discrepancies Cost Time, Money

by Wm. Cullen James, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Navy leadership is asking commands to sharpen their focus when screening Sailors for overseas service, according to NAVADMIN 209/10.

The message states that the Navy Overseas Screening Program is a key component guaranteeing that proper support is available to the Sailors and families stationed overseas. Discrepancies in the process cost the Navy nearly $1 million in fiscal year 2009. According to Cmdr. Carl Chaffin, Distribution Management and Procedures branch head, medical issues account for about 50 percent of the discrepancies.

"The transferring medical facility must request a waiver for any condition that will be ongoing after transfer," he explained. "Any medications required overseas must be cleared with the overseas medical treatment facility to ensure the medications are available. Some military medical facilities overseas have had their services reduced and the local medical services have not been certified by TRICARE for reimbursement."

Other issues cited in the NAVADMIN include legal issues, indebtedness and general administrative errors.

"Commands need to focus on every aspect of the screening form, NAVPERS 1300/16," said Chaffin. Specific non-medical areas that require focus are "ongoing legal [criminal and civil] cases and pre-service moral waivers. Also, the spouse's income should not be included in the overseas financial plan unless the spouse has been assured employment upon arrival."

In the case of a discrepancy where a Sailor reports to an overseas command, "The family can be uprooted on short notice. In the case where a dependent is unqualified – the family is returned to the U.S. and the Sailor continues the tour. If a Sailor is unqualified or must be present for the care of a family member, then the Sailor is usually sent to a U.S.-based command," Chaffin said.

The total number of discrepancies against the number of overseas orders written is relatively low, but Chaffin said commands can do better.

"Sometimes these discrepancies are the fault of the Sailor, but in most cases it is either the command not checking with Family Advocacy, legal, etc., or the medical screener not requesting waivers from the overseas medical provider prior to marking Sailors/family members qualified for overseas assignment."

Makin Island Holds First Shipboard College Fair

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kellie Arakawa, USS Makin Island Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Makin Island (LHD 8) held the command's first shipboard college fair with nearly 20 colleges, universities and educational organizations in attendence July 26.

The purpose of the fair was to help Sailors understand their education benefits and give them an opportunity to meet directly with college representatives.

The fair was also preceded by an educational "power week," where navy counselors conducted briefs on tuition assistance benefits, Navy College and other training opportunities.

"We want the young Sailors to know that this fair is an incentive to help them with their future both in and outside the Navy," said Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW/AW) Debbie Hamlin. "So we made it easy for the Sailors. They don't have to go out to Navy College; we're bringing Navy College to them."

Yeoman Seaman Tiara Rials said she appreciated the convenience of the college fair and found it beneficial to speak with college representatives in person. She also said attending the fair helped motivate her to start taking college classes.

"I have an appointment already with some of the representatives to establish a degree plan and get my ball rolling," Rials said. "Why and start later? You can do it now and be in a better place to do what you want to do when you get out of the military, if that's what you choose."

Navy Counselor 1st Class (SW) Jason Duque said he encourages Sailors to take advantage of as many educational opportunities as they can. "Since we're doing a lot of in-port time between now and deployment, it's a good time for them to go ahead and start taking classes," he said.

Whether or not a Sailor has just graduated boot camp or served for several years, Hamlin said all Sailors should utilize their time in the Navy to pursue an education. "The hardest thing is to start," she said. "But once they start, I'm sure they're going to get that drive."

Carrier Strike Group 2 to Hold Change of Command Ceremony

From USS George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 will hold a change of command ceremony on board USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) July 29 at 3:30 pm.

Rear Adm. Nora Tyson will assume command of CSG 2 from Capt. Jeffrey Hesterman, acting strike group commander.

The chief of naval operations announced Jan. 28 that Tyson would be assigned as commander, CSG 2. The assignment marked the first time a woman has been assigned command of a CSG. The chief of naval operations will be in attendance at the ceremony July 29 to mark this significant occasion.

CSG 2 is to be embarked on board Bush, America's newest aircraft carrier, homeported in Norfolk.

Bush is the 10th and final Nimitz-class carrier. It was commissioned Jan. 10, 2009, at Naval Station Norfolk.

Marines to Get Environmentally Friendly Reserve Center in Maine

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Mid-Atlantic awarded an $8 million firm-fixed price contract July 23 to Nutmeg Companies, Inc. of Norwich, Conn., for design and construction of the Marine Corps Reserve Center for A Company, 1st Battalion, 25th Marine (1/25) 4th Marine Division.

The project includes the design and construction of a specialty constructed weapon's storage area, assembly hall, classrooms, locker and shower rooms, workshops, and electrical and mechanical utilities.

The Reserve Center will be built on land that originally belonged to Naval Air Station Brunswick but has since transferred to the Depart of the Army for use by the Maine Army National Guard and Marine Forces Reserves.

"This project allows the Marines to remain in the state of Maine in their current district," said Project Manager Ansley Marr, NAVFAC Mid-Atlantic Northeast Integrated Project Team. Marr adds that the Marines will be able to partner with the Maine Army National Guard for exercises and drills, enhancing the mission of both organizations.

While the original Reserve Center was an older facility adjacent to a local public school and residential neighborhood that did limited force protection measures, the new construction will comply with all applicable Anti-Terrorism/Force Protection (ATFP) guidance for a primary gathering facility. It will include security lighting, paved tactical vehicle parking with perimeter fencing, paved privately owned vehicle parking, and security lighting systems.

Sustainable design will also be integrated into the design, development, and construction of the project.

This includes the use of low/no volatile organic compounds (VOC) emitting materials within the building; a geothermal heating and cooling system; and low impact development-eliminating stormwater runoff to other properties—treating the runoff before it works its way back into the water cycle.

The project will also be designed with high-efficiency lighting features that will reduce electrical demand."This project was a joint effort with the Maine Army National Guard to get the appropriate state of Maine environmental permitting assessments completed," said Marr. "They have truly been a joint partner."

1st Battalion, 25th Marines is a Reserve infantry battalion located throughout New England, consisting of approximately 750 Marines and Sailors. They fall under the 25th Marine Regiment in the 4th Marine Division. The mission of 1/25 4th Marine Division is to provide trained combat and combat support personnel and units to augment and reinforce the active component in time of war, national emergency, and at other times as national security requires.

NAVFAC manages the planning, design, construction, contingency engineering, real estate, environmental, and public works support for U.S. Navy shore facilities around the world, providing the Navy's forces with the operating, expeditionary, support and training bases they need.

Work will be performed in Brunswick, Maine, and is expected to be completed by July 2011.

Submarine Commissioning to be Streamed Live Online

From Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The Navy will commission the newest Virginia-class attack submarine Missouri (SSN 780) during an 11 a.m. EDT ceremony on July 31 at Naval Submarine Base New London.

The event will be streamed live online on

Missouri arrived at Naval Submarine Base New London July 22 in preparation for commissioning following a material readiness inspection by the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey (INSURV) team. INSURV is a survey team established by Congress to assess Navy surface ships, aircraft carriers and submarines and ensure they are properly equipped for prompt, reliable and sustained mission readiness at sea.

Cmdr. Timothy Rexrode is the commanding officer of Missouri, the seventh ship of the Virginia-class.

Missouri completed sea trials earlier this month.

There are five Missouri natives among the submarine's crew. They are Electronics Technician 1st Class John M. Tyhurst, a Joplin, Mo., native; Sonar Technician Seaman Benjamin A. Bowers, a Green Ridge native; Lt. Patrick Donovan, a Springfield, Mo. native; Machinist's Mate 2nd Class Nicholas C. Koblick, a St. Louis native; and, Fire Control Technician 2nd Class Ryan J. Thruston, a Jefferson City, Mo. native.

Construction on Missouri began in December 2004; the submarine's keel was authenticated during a ceremony on Sept. 27, 2008 at the Electric Boat facility in North Kingstown, R.I.; and, she was christened during a late morning ceremony at Electric Boat Dec. 5, 2009.

Another milestone occurred April 16 during "In Service Day," when crew members moved aboard the submarine, bringing her systems to life, beginning general day-to-day operations and preparing for sea-trials, work-ups and commissioning.

Rexrode leads a crew of about 134 officers and enlisted personnel. A native of Spencer, W.Va., Rexrode graduated with honors in 1990 from West Virginia University, receiving a Bachelor of Science degree in Aerospace Engineering. In addition, Rexrode is a distinguished graduate of the United States Marine Corps Command and Staff College, holding as Master's in Military Studies. He also received a Master's of Arts degree in Administration from Central Michigan University.

Becky Gates, wife of U.S. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, serves as the submarine's sponsor. She broke the traditional champagne bottle against the boat's sail during the christening ceremony last December. Her initials were welded into a plaque inside the boat during last year's keel laying ceremony.

Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State." The last USS Missouri, the legendary battleship, was the site where Fleet Adm. Chester Nimitz, Gen. Douglas MacArthur, and many other U.S. and Allied officers accepted the unconditional surrender of the Japanese at the end of World War II Sept. 2, 1945.

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

The 7,800-ton submarine Missouri is being built under a teaming arrangement between General Dynamics Electric Boat and Northrop Grumman Shipbuilding-Newport News. At 377-feet long, Missouri is slightly longer than a football field. She has a 34-foot beam, will be able to dive to depths greater than 800 feet and will operate at speeds in excess of 25 knots submerged. Missouri is designed with a nuclear reactor plant that will not require refueling during the planned life of the ship, reducing lifecycle costs and increasing underway time.

The USS Missouri Commissioning Committee, an IRS-designated 501(c)3 nonprofit charity, was created to increase awareness of the submarine's commissioning. The Commissioning Committee offers information about the development of the submarine, as well as history on former Navy ships named for the "Show Me State."

Navy Golf Course Hosts Blind Youth

By Ensign Greg Campbell, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs

CYPRESS, Calif. (NNS) -- A tradition of community service continued at the Navy Golf Course in Cypress July 20, as nearly 30 blind youths received lessons from volunteers and experienced the joy of a day on the links.

The 10th Annual Golf Clinic for the Junior Blind hosted 26 youngsters from Camp Bloomfield, a local summer camp for the visually impaired, as well as a blind local junior and an adult golfer.

"This year we had five stations: putting, chipping, driving range, the ever-popular guide dog petting station and the golf ball toss." said Joe Grohman, head PGA professional at the course. "We had nine guide dogs and one puppy at the petting station. At the golf ball toss the kids were able to throw golf balls into an adjacent pond and hear the ball splash into the water."

Those in attendance included Navy chief petty officers from Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach, as well as golf instructors and other volunteers from organizations including the Tiger Woods Learning Center, First Tee of South Los Angeles, Johnson Junior Golf, US Blind Golfers' Association, and the Navy Golf Course Men's and Ladies' Clubs, along with officials from the Southern California Professional Golf Association Section Office and a number of local veterans, volunteers and PGA professionals.

Eight-year-old Kyle Lograsso, a nationally known golfing prodigy and cancer survivor, instructed one of the blind children in a wonderful show of character, said Grohman. "Kyle did an excellent job working with his blind student, ten-yer-old David, and proudly reported that David had hit a ball 150 yards on the driving range."

Kyle's father, Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeff Lograsso, drove him to the clinic from their home in Miramar and was happy to see his son volunteering at such a positive event, Grohman added.

Each of the students from Camp Bloomfield received a trophy and the students treated their hosts to the Camp Bloomfield cheer. "It was a wonderful ending to a wonderful day," said Grohman.

Multinational Force Responds During Natural Disaster Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Sylvia Nealy, USS Mount Whitney Public Affairs

DEVONPORT PLYMOUTH, England (NNS) -- Joint civil service mariners from four different nations aided dozens of civilians stranded at a village in a realistic scenario during the France, Russia, United Kingdom and United States (FRUKUS) exercise 2010 July 21.

"I wanted to combine the nations and put them in a position to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief effectively, while observing coordination between nations as they assist causalities using their techniques to overcome the situation," said Royal Navy Lt. Cmdr. John Bull, staff executive officer to Flag Officer Sea Training.

Bull Point Village was a full size training ground, complete with traumatic mock-ups expected during a natural disaster. FRUKUS teams worked together to fight fires, extract trapped victims and provide first aid and survival supplies.

"This has been a new experience for me," said Information Systems Technician 3rd Class Jared Chase, U.S. Medical Team Member, USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20). "It forced me to react in a fast efficient manner based on how realistic the scene was with multiple distractions going on at once."

The village had 150 residents prior to the hurricane. The simulated four-hour hurricane left 11 dead, 51 injured and 19 survivors.

The multinational team's quick response surprised the survivors, who were in a state of shock.

"I was frightened when the responders approached me because they were strangers, then I had reassurance when I realized they were here to help and take care of me," Geraldine Dennis, a survivor from the Village, said.

Royal Navy Rear Adm. Christopher Snow, Flag Officer Sea Training, arrived at the village half-way through the exercise. He commented on the collaborative efforts and learning taking place during the event.

"This exercise is a great way to unite different nations, but underneath the surface it's about confidence, building trust, and understanding each other during FRUKUS exercise 2010," said Snow. "Today, we received a bit of experience of what life would be like in a real life situation and during this experience everyone can get a sense of what different navies can do together."

FRUKUS is an annual naval exercise with the maritime forces of France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States. It formulates joint activities within a multinational operational formation while improving interoperability between the nations.

Mount Whitney is currently on its scheduled deployment in support of FRUKUS exercise 2010. She is the U.S. Sixth Fleet flagship homeported in Gaeta, Italy and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Fleet Support Command civil service mariners.

Pacific Partnership 2010 Kicks off in Palau

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Latrice Ames, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

KOROR, Palau (NNS) -- U.S. 7th Fleet command ship USS Blue Ridge (LCC 19) kicked off Pacific Partnership 2010 at the Ngarachemayong Community Center in Koror, Palau with an opening ceremony July 26.

"Pacific Partnership is a mission that I am particularly excited about, and proud to be a part of," said Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, Vice Adm. John M. Bird. "Unlike most missions the Navy does which are military in nature, this mission works by, with and through host and partner nations, non-governmental organizations and other U.S. government agencies to provide humanitarian and civic assistance. It is a chance for our men and women in uniform to give something back to the people of this region."

The Republic of Palau President Johnson Toribiong attended the opening ceremony and spoke about the special relationship Palau has with the U.S.

"Your visit today is outstanding. It will provide many forms of assistance through humanitarian projects and programs including medical care, clean-up, and painting of some of the schools here in Palau," Toribiong said. "We are most grateful for that expression of goodwill and friendship to our people."

At the end of the ceremony Capt. Rudy Lupton, commanding officer of Blue Ridge and Capt. Salvador Aguilera, chaplain of U.S. 7th Fleet, presented Project Handclasp materials, which are educational, humanitarian and goodwill goods, to Bilung Gloria Gibbons Salii.

Faustina Rehuher-Nargg, Minister of Community Country Affairs, who was also in attendance at the opening ceremony, said she was glad to see Pacific Partnership 2010 in Palau because humanitarian exercises help different cultures come together as one for a good cause.

"We need to understand each other. We need to understand each other's cultures. So if I understand you and you understand me then communication is for you open and we're not saying I'm better then you you're better then me, we're equal partners," Rehuher said.

During the five day visit Sailors and Marines from the Blue Ridge and Commander U.S. 7th Fleet will participate in several community service projects around the country. The renovation projects will take place at the following facilities: Ngchesar Elementary School, Melekeok Elementary School, Aimeliik Elementary School, Palau High School, Peleliu Elementary School, Angaur Elementary School and the Bloody Nose Ridge World War II Monument.

Blue Ridge and 7th Fleet medical and dental teams will also visit the Belau National Hospital in Koror, the Southern Community Health Center in Peleliu, and the Angaur Medical Clinic in Angaur, and provide free primary care and prescriptions.

Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet endeavors aimed at strengthening regional relationships with host nations and partner nations. The visit marks the first time Pacific Partnership has come to Palau.

Elliptical marathon: Airman achieves fitness best, earns award

by Tech. Sgt. Francesca Popp
U.S. Air Forces in Europe Public Affairs

7/27/2010 - RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany (AFNS) -- His peers and his wife said he was crazy, but that didn't stop Col. Joseph Mastrianna from achieving a personal workout best and earning a top fitness award.

Colonel Mastrianna, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Manpower, Personnel, and Services deputy director, completed 37.5 miles in five hours on an elliptical machine at the fitness center here June 4. With that, the colonel also hit the 1 million point milestone to earn the elite platinum status in the President's Fitness Challenge.

"He is setting a great example for our kids that being healthy is important," said Sharon Mastrianna, his wife. "Even though they don't have a workout routine like (their) dad, the seed has been planted that physical activity is something they need to do in life."

He began this journey more than three years ago while assigned to the Air Force Services Agency in Texas. He finished just a few weeks shy of his 50th birthday.

"The commander started a fitness program for the entire agency and wanted everyone to participate in the President's Fitness Challenge," Colonel Mastrianna said. "I planned to complete the program within three years. As it turns out, I completed this goal in three years and three months."

The President's Challenge is part of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports' signature, long-standing initiative to keep America fit. It's a series of programs designed to take fitness beyond the gym, and make it a lifestyle, according to the website.

He earned the bronze and silver awards - 40,000 and 90,000 points, respectively - in four months. He was then reassigned to be the group commander at Royal Air Force Menwith Hill, United Kingdom. By August 2007, the Norwalk, Conn., native racked up 160,000 points - the gold award. When he reached gold, the next level was revealed.

"I had no idea there was anything beyond gold, because on all of the stuff I saw there is no mention of a higher level. I didn't know there was a platinum award until I got the gold award," Colonel Mastrianna said. "On the day I entered my workout information and the computer program calculated my scores for the gold award, was when I learned about the next level. It read, 'Congratulations, you are 16 percent on the way to platinum.'

"It was really depressing and disheartening," he said. "I thought gold was the highest, but the next level, platinum, was 1 million points. All of a sudden I went from being 99.9 percent complete for the gold award to being 16 percent of the way along."

For the next few years, the colonel stayed true to his routine while working his way to platinum status.

He's out of bed by 2:15 a.m. and on the elliptical cross-trainer in his home by 2:30 a.m. during the week. He's at work by 6:15 a.m. and leaves about 6:30 p.m. He rests on Saturdays. On Sundays, he'll work out 2.5 to three hours (on the machine). He gets to bed by 10 p.m. almost nightly.

"I am impressed at what he is able to do. I wish I had a quarter of the discipline that he has," Mrs. Mastrianna said. "If you understand how the Presidential Challenge works, achieving 1 million points in such a short amount of time is amazing."

He said worked out longer on Sundays in the weeks leading up to the June 4 achievement.

"I had planned to do five hours and knew I could do it. I felt really good at four hours; I thought I could go for six. But, I let my electrolytes run out. When I reached 4:30, I hit the wall really hard," said Colonel Mastrianna, who has been in the Air Force for nearly 26 years. "The last 30 minutes was a brutal struggle. I had no intention at that point to go over five hours.

"Thankfully, my wife was there. She kept me from quitting," he said.

His co-workers stopped by and offered moral support throughout his journey. Mrs. Mastrianna walked into the fitness center just as her husband was about to give up.

"I looked over and saw him with his head down and not looking too good. He said, 'I can't make it - I have to stop!' " she said. "Being the kind of loving wife that I am, I said, 'Are you crazy?' I told him he'd invested all this time and only had (at this point) 20 minutes left.

"Go to your happy place," she said.

"I can't, I tried. I can't make it," he told her.

"Slow your pace down a notch," she said.

Mrs. Mastrianna kept reminding her husband that he could do it and gave him a constant count down.

"I basically nagged him to the end," she said.

By noon, the colonel had reached his goal and said emotionally he was feeling good about himself. Physically, however, he said he was "pretty bad," especially when his hands and legs began cramping toward the end.

"I was worried I wasn't going to make it," he said.

In addition to reaching his all-time personal fitness best, the colonel raised about $1,000 for Ramstein AB's Air Force Aid Fund.

When the colonel surpassed the 1 million mark in points, he received the Presidential Champions Platinum Award and this note, "On behalf of the PCPFS and PC administrators, we are proud to include you in an exclusive list of committed individuals nationwide who strive to be and stay active as part of their lifestyle!! ... We hope that you will continue on this fit and healthy path and serve as a role model to family and friends! Congratulations!"

"I was very much expecting, when I put my final results in for platinum, to be revealed the next level would be double platinum," he said with a smile. "But, I was even more disheartened that it went right back to the beginning again."

When asked what's next, Colonel Mastrianna said he is working toward bronze again and is making steady progress. He hopes to complete 12,500 miles, which is more than half the circumference of the earth, before he retires.

The challenge offers programs for people of all ages and abilities. Each program helps identify realistic goals to encourage fitness for a lifetime. A personal activity log records activities online. There are also special Presidential awards for completing each program.

Improved physical training uniform sized for both sexes

by Brad Jessmer
Air Force Uniform Office

7/27/2010 - WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFNS) -- The new, improved physical training uniform, or IPTU, has seen many improvements from the current PTU and sizing also has improved for both sexes.

"We have received much feedback from the field," said Maj. Eric Habersberger, the deputy chief of the Air Force Uniform Office. "We have made a strong effort to meet needs and ensure our Airmen have a comfortable, durable and well-fitting uniform. Sizing is aligned closer to commercial, off-the-shelf sizing, unlike the current PTU."

To accommodate both men and women, new sizes of PTU shorts range from extra small to extra, extra large. They are made in a boxer style out of 100 percent polyester with a full-fitting anti-odor treated liner. The trunk inseam has been lengthened approximately one inch and side seam pockets have been added with closures. The waist elastic has been relaxed and also fitted with a barrel-lock drawstring for adjustable comfort.

The T-shirt is now available in a 100 percent polyester long sleeve and poly/cotton blend short sleeve. Both shirts contain a moisture management system that disperses moisture. The new polyester/cotton T-shirt also includes an anti-odor coating.

The running suit now has a "loose fit" for both men and women that allows more comfort and flexibility, while avoiding a baggy appearance. Both the pants and jacket contain a white 100 percent polyester mini-mesh anti-odor liner that disperses moisture and minimizes odor.

Sizes now available for the running pants range from XX-Small to XX-Large, with different lengths available in X-Short, Short, Regular, Long and X-Long for each size. The pants retain an elastic waistband that is relaxed for a comfortable fit with a barrel lock waist drawstring for adjustable tension. Pant pockets now have a Velcro closure. Each pant leg has a more relaxed elastic band and side zipper at the ankle to make it easier to dress over shoes.

The running jacket is available in sizes from XX-Small to XX-Large, with length variants of X-Short, Short, Regular and Long for each size. The hood has been removed as well as the arm vents, due to the breathability of the fabric. The two-inch reflective "V" has been upgraded to aid in greater visibility

According to AFUO officials, by following label care instructions, each IPTU item is designed to retain its moisture management and reflectivity capabilities when laundered at home.

The complete IPTU is an optional uniform authorized for wear. According to a policy letter issued Oct. 28, 2009, by officials at Headquarters Air Force Manpower and Personnel (A1), even though the IPTU is made to be identical to the current PTU, components of the running suits are not to be mixed.

IPTU availability is based on several factors including duty location. Shipments to deployed locations will take priority, followed by Pacific and European theaters. Worldwide rollout of the IPTU trunks will be available through Army Air Force Exchange Service starting in late August, while the running suit will be available sometime late September. The IPTU T-shirt release date is still to be determined. According to AAFES officials, the IPTU will be in short supply at first. But once all military clothing stores have received shipments, the IPTU will be available via Internet purchase worldwide around October.

The current PTU, not the IPTU, is being issued to Airmen at basic military training.

For locations receiving Air Force clothing from Army stores, availability will be limited. However, IPTUs will be available through special order at the servicing military clothing store.

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

July 27, 2010 - The realignment of forces on Guam is key to maintaining an effective U.S. presence in the Asia-Pacific region, the deputy defense secretary said here today.

"We need the right mix of forces to address the increasing set of security missions across the region," William J. Lynn III told an audience of local officials and community leaders while taking part in the University of Guam's Presidential Lecture Series.

Lynn made his first visit to Guam today to speak with government leaders and residents about the upcoming troop realignment and to see firsthand the status of the island's infrastructure.

About 8,500 Marines are slated to move here from Okinawa in accordance with a 2006 agreement between the United States and Japan. The deputy defense secretary's visit also underscores Guam's importance to the stability and security of the Asia-Pacific region.

As the westernmost U.S. territory in the Pacific, Guam is centrally positioned in a region of increasing global importance, Lynn noted. The island offers access to U.S. allies and potential hot spots throughout the region – Guam is two-to-five hours by air and two days by ship from Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Philippines, Indonesia and other key western Pacific locations.

"From bases here, our forces can ensure the security of our allies, quickly respond to disaster and humanitarian needs, safeguard the sea lanes that are so vital to the world economy and address any military provocation that may occur," Lynn said.

The realignment on Guam is part of a larger U.S. posture shift in Asia, Lynn explained, as forces become more "geographically dispersed, operationally resilient and politically sustainable."

Geography alone guarantees Asia a key role in world affairs since Asia and the Pacific take up more than half of the Earth's surface, with 43 countries and 60 percent of the world's population, Lynn said.

"Reflecting its importance, five of the seven bilateral defense agreements the U.S. has are with nations in Asia," he said. "Without question, the rise of Asia in economic and military terms is the most significant change in the strategic environment for the United States."

Asia's increasingly important role in world affairs offers the United States an opportunity, Lynn noted. The United States' security interests and economic well-being "are integrally tied to this part of the world," he said.

"As President [Barack] Obama has said, 'Asia and the United States are not separated by this great ocean, we are bound by it,'" Lynn said.

Although focused on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Defense Department still is looking ahead, and Guam is a central part of the nation's future, the deputy defense secretary said.

"We must commit our forces carefully to ensure they are effective across the widest possible range," Lynn said. "And Guam is the linchpin in our force structure strategy in this region.

"Sustaining our presence here will help realize the brighter, more prosperous future that is within reach," he added.

Lynn acknowledged that reconfiguring the U.S. military presence on Guam will be a long-term process. First, the infrastructure must be built up to support the incoming Marines and family members. The nation then must manage the construction effort and be able to ready Guam for a "long, successful future" upon conclusion of the build-up, he said.

"If done effectively," Lynn said, "our work will help safeguard our fellow citizens, ensure the long-term health of Guam and bring continued stability to the entire Pacific region. And these are things we all have a stake in."

Lynn Praises Guam's Contributions to U.S. Military

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

July 27, 2010 - The people of Guam are making an "incredible contribution" to the U.S. military, the deputy defense secretary said here today.

"Your sons and daughters wear the uniform of the United States at a higher per capita rate than nearly anywhere else," William J. Lynn III said in a speech at the University of Guam. "We are grateful for their service."

While Lynn's speech mostly centered on the realignment of about 8,500 Marines from Okinawa to Guam, he also took time to acknowledge the importance of the island's military contributions. Many Chamorros have given their lives in service to their nation, he said, referring to Guam's indigenous people.

"Today I honor all the sons and daughters of Guam who have fallen, particularly those in Iraq and Afghanistan, [and] the one on his way home today," he said.

Lynn also thanked members of the Gold Star Families of Guam, an organization of families with fallen military loved ones, for the sacrifices they have made on behalf of their nation's security.

"These families, like those who came before them in years past, are enduring so much to help preserve our freedom," he said.

The U.S. military and the people of Guam share a long history that dates back for more than a century, Lynn noted. Guam just celebrated its Liberation Day on July 21, marking the day in 1944 when Marines and Chamorros stormed the beaches together to liberate the island from Japanese occupation during World War II.

The anniversary is a time "to remember Guam's families who suffered and endured the hardships of that war," Lynn said. Also, "It's hard when traveling in this part of the world not to reflect on the young soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines who fought so valiantly in this region, and especially on this island, more than a half-century ago," he said.

Marines once again will return to Guam, but in a different role, Lynn noted. Members of the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force soon will make their home on Guam, continuing their legacy there. About 8,500 Marines and some 9,000 family members will move from Okinawa to Guam in accordance with an agreement between the United States and Japan.

U.S. officials are working to ensure the move is a smooth one, both for the military and the people of Guam.

"Guam may be far from Washington, but within the Department of Defense, the people of Guam are always close at hand," Lynn said.

Marine Recalls Top-Tier Soccer Career

By Marine Corps Sgt. Jeremy Ross
2nd Marine Logistics Group Public Affairs

July 27, 2010 - Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jose Pena, a warehouse chief with 2nd Maintenance Battalion, 2nd Marine Logistics Group here, has been playing soccer at the highest levels for the Corps almost since the day he enlisted nearly 13 years ago. Originally from the eastern Mexican state of Tamaulipas, Pena and his family moved to McAllen, Texas, when he was six. Even at that early age he had begun forming a bond with the ball.

"My uncle was watching the world cup in 1986," Pena recalled. "I remember seeing [former Argentina men's national team great] Maradonna. The amazing things he could do with a soccer ball ... I always wanted to be that guy."

After moving to Texas it didn't take long for Pena to start playing in local youth leagues. He found that he had the talent and desire to compete with older players.

"Let's say I was 8 years old," Pena recalled. "I was playing with kids who were 11. When I was 11, I was playing against 14 year olds.

"Apparently they saw something in me, back then," he added.

Pena played throughout his teens. After he graduated from high school the ball bounced in a different direction; a friend and teammate convinced him to see a Marine Corps recruiter.

"He was like, 'Hey man, I talked to the recruiter and he said [the Marine Corps] will get you in good shape and they'll even let you play soccer,'" Pena recalled.

Pena joined the Marines, and soon after he reported to his first duty station at Camp Pendleton, Calif., where he began his military soccer career.

High-level soccer in the Marine Corps is a tiered system. The lower levels consist of intramural and unit teams. Once a year squads representing large commands from the West Coast, East Coast and Pacific get together to play regional championship tournaments.

The best military players from these competitions play for regional teams. Selected players among this group are invited to attend the annual All-Marine Soccer Camp, where they'll have a chance to earn a spot on an ultra-elite, 18-player roster, a group known as, "The Few and the Proud." This is the squad that represents the Marine Corps against the other services at the annual Armed Forces Soccer Championships.

The level of play and skill at this level is comparable to that found on some of the nation's best university and college soccer teams, Pena said. And, many of these more experienced players, he recalled, served as great role models.

"That was a great way to get my career started," Pena explained. "Right away, I had these great Marines showing me the right way to do things. Soccer led me to that."

Pena has played central midfielder for most of his military soccer career. A central midfielder is responsible for dictating the pace of the game, jump-starting his or her team's offense, and disrupting the opposing squad.

Pena's participation in high-level military soccer has made him exceptionally fit; a useful trait for any Marine. Now, at age 31, Pena said he often finds younger Marines looking up to him for his athletic abilities.

"You come back [from soccer camp] and you're a good role model," he said. "Your Marines look at you and say, 'I want to be able to keep up with him.'"

Pena was a member of the All-Marine team that represented the Corps at the 2009 Armed Forces Soccer Championship at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, N.C. That tournament, he said, proved to be his finale as an active top-tier military player.

Today, Pena plays on intramural and club teams in the Camp Lejeune area. His time on the All-Marine soccer circuit, he said, is finished.

"It's time to let the younger players have their 'go,'" Pena explained. "I don't want to be the 'old guy' taking a spot from one of the younger guys."

Obama Proclaims Korean War Armistice Day

American Forces Press Service

July 27, 2010 - President Barack Obama has issued a proclamation declaring July 27 National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day, to mark the signing of the Military Armistice Agreement at Panmunjom.

"As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War and the eventual conclusion of hostilities at Panmunjom, let us raise our flags high to honor the service and valor of our veterans, to reflect on the principles for which they fought, and to reaffirm the unshakeable bond between South Korea and our Nation," Obama said.

The entire proclamation appears below:

"Today we celebrate the signing of the Military Armistice Agreement at Panmunjom and we honor our servicemembers who fought and died for freedom and democracy in the Korean War. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War and the birth of an enduring friendship between the United States and the Republic of Korea that is stronger today than ever before. Our alliance is rooted in shared sacrifice, common values, mutual interest, and respect, and this partnership is vital to peace and stability in Asia and the world.

"Since our Nation's founding, the United States has relied on our Armed Forces to ensure our safety and security at home, and to protect lives and liberties around the globe. When Communist armies poured across the 38th parallel, threatening the very survival of South Korea, American troops braved unforgiving conditions and rallied to the young republic's defense. Tens of thousands of our Nation's servicemembers lost their lives, and many more were wounded, declared missing in action, or taken as prisoners of war. The courageous service and ultimate sacrifices of these patriots and our allied combatants safeguarded a free government and vibrant economy in South Korea, forging a bond between our people that stands strong today.

"As we commemorate the 60th anniversary of the outbreak of the Korean War and the eventual conclusion of hostilities at Panmunjom, let us raise our flags high to honor the service and valor of our veterans, to reflect on the principles for which they fought, and to reaffirm the unshakeable bond between South Korea and our Nation.

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim July 27, 2010, as National Korean War Veterans Armistice Day. I call upon all Americans to observe this day with appropriate ceremonies and activities that honor our distinguished Korean War veterans.

"IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this twenty-sixth day of July, in the year of our Lord two thousand ten, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-fifth.