Military News

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

Guard Leaders Urge Family Readiness Support

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

Aug. 3, 2010 - If National Guard members continue to deploy in support of overseas missions, their family readiness groups will need to be supported at the same pace, Guard leaders told unit volunteers here yesterday. "If we allow these rotations and what we do to become common, accepted and routine, then we need to give the families the focus that we should and that they deserve," Air Force Lt. Gen. Harry M. "Bud" Wyatt III, director of the Air National Guard, told an audience at the 2010 National Guard Volunteer Workshop.

In a panel discussion, Guard leaders also answered questions from the audience about how to ensure that critical family support programs remain in place and provide the support they should.

"I think it's important to take the resources that we have and spend them responsibly," Wyatt said, "so that when people question our family support programs, we can show with pride and dignity that the funds and the people that we have in these programs are the highest priority. These should be the last programs the military looks at to cut back."

Wyatt said the pressures on the economy are obvious, and possible family program cuts are a concern.

"Your immediate response is why anyone would cut back on the most important part of combat readiness, but it's not easy," he said, adding that the services also are cutting back on equipment accounts.

Army Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter, acting director of the Army National Guard, said family readiness groups have developed a "partnership" with their soldiers.

"For as much as the servicemember took an oath to serve, ... many of you might as well have signed the same oath, because you are just as committed as that soldier," he said.

Carpenter credited the Army Guard's recruiting and retention success to family programs. "The story from the inside of the Army National Guard is that every soldier has either re-enlisted or volunteered to be a part of the Army National Guard since 9/11," he said. "We are nine years into two wars and we have an excess of soldiers, and that's a great story about the Army National Guard and its family programs."

Carpenter said the Army is looking at the programs available to the families of unmarried soldiers. "And I am confident that at the end of the process, the right support will go to the right people.

"For us here in the Army National Guard," he continued, "people are our No. 1 priority, and taking care of people is absolutely part of that process."

Wisconsin Soldier competes among Army Guard's best warriors

Date: August 3, 2010
By Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

FORT BENNING, Ga. - A Wisconsin Soldier was among 14 of the Army National Guard's top Soldiers and non-commissioned officers to compete in the annual Best Warrior competition here at the Warrior Training Center last week.

Pfc. Randy Fendryk of Waukesha vied for the chance to represent the Army Guard in the Department of the Army's competition, which will be held at Fort Lee, Va., in September.

"All these guys are on top of their game," said Spc. Matt Ryan, from Maryland's 291st Army Liaison Team.

"It's a little bit intimidating honestly. All these guys are so good with all they do."

For many competitors, that level of skill and expertise was motivating.

Fendryk, a member of Battery C, 1st Battalion, 121st Field Artillery, reportedly scored the fastest time on the obstacle course and was doing well heading into the appearance boards.

"That's the nice thing about the position we're all in right now," said Spc. Ryan Teter, from Colorado's D Company, 5th Battalion, 19th Special Forces Group. "We all know that the guys around us are squared away and they are hard workers and they all want to be here. It's nice to have good dudes around you, and you don't have to worry about anyone not being squared away."

Despite that, the competition - which many competitors described as part Expert Infantry Badge test and part Best Ranger Competition - proved for many to be a challenging one.

The competitors pushed through ruck-sack marches, casualty evacuation, urban operations scenarios as well as having to engage targets while on the run after a simulated improvised explosive device strike, all while having little sleep and little rest between events.

"Everything is coming at you at once," Ryan said. "It's just non-stop, no sleep, just grind it out. I think when we're all tired and hurting everything is going to be just that much harder."

That constant grind of events is what many competitors said was the most challenging aspect of the competition.

"The physical events [are] all back to back," said Staff Sgt. Kevin McMackin, from Headquarters Company, 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Georgia National Guard. "PT test, followed by Combat Water Survival Test followed shortly by the ruck march and the land [navigation] course, it's going to be tough even for those that are in superb physical condition. Any of us that are kind of lacking in that department [are] going to be struggling."

Despite the fact that this is a competition, participants still helped each other prepare for the different events and passed on techniques and tricks for negotiating many of the events.

"People that are struggling in certain things, other guys are helping them out and giving them pointers," McMackin said. "We're here as competitors, but we're all Soldiers first."

Prior to arriving at this level, each competitor won a similar competition at the unit, state and then regional level, which meant months of preparation and training to make it to Fort Benning.

"It was a long road," said Ryan. "I started in December last year and won the brigade Best Warrior Competition and moved on to the state, then regional and here I am."

Though, for Ryan, a combat medic, events like evaluating a casualty required little training on because of prior knowledge.

"That's the one thing I'm not worried about compared to everything else," he said.

Still, competitors stressed the importance of preparing for the competition, even while it seems daunting.

"Maintain a positive attitude about everything," McMakin said. "Other than that, just keep your head up and do a lot of physical training. As you progress through the different boards the physical events get a lot tougher so as soon as you start physical training the better off you'll be."

Despite the challenges, McMackin said taking part in the competition was worth the effort required.

"Each region sent the best they had," he said. "I just feel honored to be here competing with them."

The results of the completion, including the winners, will be announced at the annual conference of the Enlisted Association of the National Guard of the United States Aug. 7-12.

Airmen treat children from local orphanage to day of fun

by Master Sgt. Claudette Hutchinson
8th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/3/2010 - KUNSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea (AFNS) -- Airmen here invited children from the local orphanage to the base and treated them to a day of fun and activities July 24.

More than 64 children from the Il Mag Won Orphanage were treated to activities such as Humvee and fire truck static displays, a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog, swimming in the pool, a barbecue and ice cream sundaes to top it all off.

"We go to the orphanage weekly and we try to do something special twice a year," said Tech. Sgt. Gaylord Winge, from the 8th Civil Engineer Squadron. "This is the first weekend of their summer vacation. We wanted them to start it off right."

The orphanage is sponsored by the base chapel and Kunsan Air Base volunteers visit every Wednesday to spend time with the children. Their weekly visits usually include English lessons and outdoor activities.

"When we visit the orphanage, we read and teach English to the children. The children also help us with our Korean," said Tech. Sgt. Peter Rollins, from the 8th Fighter Wing equal employment office. "We also play catch, basketball; basically hang out with the kids. The more you go the better rapport you gain."

More than 21 Wolf Pack members volunteered to make this day a success for the children. Giving back by volunteering is immensely rewarding and is part of his core beliefs, Sergeant Rollins said.

"As a Christian and a father, I feel it is important for children to have good role models," he said. "What the Kunsan AB) Chapel (staff have) built with the orphanage is outstanding. We have been blessed with a job, job security, and a means to support our family. Why not support those who are without?"

The mission of the orphanage is to foster children who don't have parents or can't be raised by their parents, said Kim Kuk-Jin, the Il Mag Won Orphanage director.

For most of the children, this was their first visit to the base. At the beginning, the children were unfamiliar with their surroundings. However, they enjoyed the programs offered by the volunteers before long, Mr. Kim said.

"My children loved the barbecue," he said. "It was a great opportunity for the kids to understand the U.S., and its people. It was the first time that half of the kids visited the base."

The volunteers worked hard to plan and organize the event and to ensure it was successful. In the end, volunteers and staff members said they were pleased with the outcome of the day. They were especially pleased with the smiles on the children's faces.

"The kids seemed to enjoy themselves," Sergeant Winge said. "I tried to keep the tempo up to keep them engaged. They seemed to enjoy the activities from start to finish."

"I was really impressed," Mr. Kim said. "I didn't expect such great programs to be provided by the volunteers. The volunteers were full of devotion to the event."

However, this day was not only rewarding for the children, but for the volunteers as well. They said they felt they received just as much in return and encouraged other members to volunteer.

"I love children and I try to get involved as long as work permits," said Tech. Sgt. Robin Bridges, from the 8th Aircraft Maintenance Squadron. "I guess I (volunteer) because I'm an only child and always wanted siblings. I recommend this to everyone on base, it's not only a bullet on their (enlisted performance report) but it shows that we give back to the community. The morale is fantastic, not only for the kids but for adults too, especially if you like kids."

There are three orphanages that base organizations sponsor. The fighter squadrons, public affairs office, security forces squadron and chapel staff also have several volunteer activities to choose from, such as orphanage visits, English Camps and community outreach with The Little Sisters of the Poor and Elderly care home in Damyang, South Korea.

"There is a lot to see and do in (South) Korea, and volunteering helps time pass by faster," Sergeant Winge said. "I miss my kids. I miss them a little less by volunteering at the orphanage. It's almost like being home, but not."

"I am a representative of this orphanage. My role is to be a good father for 76 kids here," Mr. Kim said. "I hope my kids will have one-on-one sisterhood with volunteers from Kunsan (Air Base), which will last a long time."

Honor, dignity and grace: USAF honor guard trains Tyndall Airmen

by Senior Airman Kirsten Wicker
325th Fighter Wing Public Affairs

8/3/2010 - TYNDALL AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. (AFNS) -- A slow procession of Airmen dressed in immaculate blue uniforms carries a large wooden box with a flag draped over the top. A trumpet sounds. Shots ring out. Carefully, the Airmen fold the flag, salute it and present it.

For nearly 29 Airmen serving in the Tyndall Air Force Base Honor Guard, this is a funeral ceremony they perform will many times.

Each year, members from the United States Air Force Honor Guard at Bolling Air Force Base, Washington, D.C., are selected as instructors to travel to various bases and provide training in an intense, week-long course.

"It is important to maintain standards across every base so everyone remains consistent," said Airman 1st Class Justin Baker, a visiting honor guard instructor. "We come to teach Airmen how to do a full-honors, active-duty funeral to enhance their skills and also give them the ability to teach others those same skills."

The training lasts five days, and each day begins at 7 a.m. The Airmen are separated into working groups and each group learns how to perform and perfect an element of the ceremony. They also have a chance to practice the ceremony while the instructors look on.

"The training is really helpful because they go over the movements in detail," said Airman 1st Class Christopher Allen, a Tyndall AFB Honor Guard member who is assigned to the 325th Force Support Squadrn. "We have a chance to really add to our abilities."

"We want to ensure they perform the movements correctly, so we are very detailed," Airman Baker said.

The course drilled Airmen in elements of color guard, pall bearing, and rifle handling. Airmen also learn to communicate and work as a team.

"Learning to work as a team is the best part because everyone gets on the same page every time," said Senior Airman Kyle Larson, a Tyndall AFB Honor Guard member who is assigned to the 325th Maintenance Squadron. "The ceremony would look sloppy if everyone on the team wasn't moving together as one."

At the conclusion of the training, the Airmen have a chance to demonstrate what they learned by performing an active-duty funeral service. They also receive certificates noting the successful completion of the course.

"This is an Air Education and Training Command accredited course, but Airmen don't receive any college credit for it," said Airman Baker. "They do become certified trainers and can teach other Airmen (who are) new to the honor guard."

NAF HR issues addressed during conference

by Erin Tindell
Air Force Services Agency Public Affairs

SOUTHBRIDGE, Mass. – Nearly 100 Air Force human resources professionals recently met here for the 2010 Non-appropriated Fund Human Resources worldwide conference.

This was the first time the conference has been held since 2003 and included topics on NAF employee recruiting, labor relations, retention methods and new technology.

"It was awesome to see the excitement in the attendees faces as we discussed the initiatives for our 25,000 Air Force NAF employees,” said Jo Anne Dimitriou, Air Force Services Agency Director of Plans and Force Management.

Air Force NAF employees are paid by money generated by NAF activities, such as Air Force clubs, bowling centers, child and youth programs, outdoor recreation and golf courses. These facilities provide a community environment for Air Force families to live, work and play.

The worldwide conference provides Force Support Squadron flight chiefs, human resources officers and other leadership the opportunity to discuss ways to best manage and resolve personnel issues for their NAF employees, Ms. Dimitriou said.

The conference also addressed creative ways to recruit and retain NAF employees at all levels. The Air Force Services Agency Human Resources staff unveiled a newly designed mobile recruitment display and marketing brochure. These tools will allow installation level human resources offices to present a unified corporate image, which will enhance their ability to attract, develop and retain high performing employees.

“We want to emphasize how NAF employees may receive similar benefits as other federal employees such as 401k plans, insurance, premium pays and access to Force Support Squadron activities,” Ms. Dimitriou said.

Another topic was the Air Force Drug Reduction program and how routine testing of civilians and military members for illegal substances is a key deterrent to maintain the integrity of the force. Attendees also received a briefing on electronic questionnaires for investigative processing, or e-QIP, which allows job applicants to electronically submit personal investigative data during the hiring process.

“Feedback from attendees showed excellent response and we’re eagerly awaiting the next conference scheduled for 2012,” Ms. Dimitriou said.

For more information about NAF careers visit www.NAFjobs.org. For more information about the Air Force Services Agency visit http://www.usafservices.com.

U.S. Military in Afghanistan Responds to Pakistan Floods

From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan News Release

Aug. 3, 2010 - The U.S. military in Afghanistan is responding rapidly to the disastrous flooding that reportedly killed more than 1,200 people in Pakistan and 60 in Afghanistan and has affected millions of others.

U.S. forces have delivered more than 189,000 packaged meals that conform with Islamic law and are preparing to deliver more than 200,000 more meals in the next 24 hours, officials said.

In addition, U.S. military experts in medicine, logistics, aviation, engineering and other fields are on the ground in Pakistan, and more are on the way to assist the Pakistani government.

"U.S. Forces Afghanistan [is] actively engaged with our Pakistan friends and partners in the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance during this critical time," said Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "It is vitally important we try to help those who have been tragically affected by the massive flooding.

"There are some tasks that the U.S. military is uniquely able to perform," Petraeus continued. "We are in the process of performing some of those tasks, and we're deploying additional elements to perform more of them. We will continue to support this humanitarian effort, and we stand by to assist the Pakistani government any way we can."

A group of six CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with about 100 U.S. military personnel from the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan is expected to depart tomorrow for Ghazi Air Base, which is serving as the main logistics hub in Pakistan for the humanitarian response.

In an effort to provide U.S. and Pakistan commanders with real-time video surveillance over disaster-stricken areas, the U.S. military also is supplying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

The aircraft and personnel from Afghanistan will serve as an early response support element to Pakistan relief efforts as U.S. Central Command prepares to deploy more personnel, aviation assets and equipment from outside Afghanistan.

U.S. helicopters working under Squadron 50 of the Afghan interior ministry since July 30 have rescued 733 people and transported 11,873 pounds of provisions to flood victims. Four Zodiac inflatable rescue boats with power motors and two water filtration units are at work in the affected area, and 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges have been made available as temporary replacements for highway bridges damaged by flooding.

The flooding, which began June 29, resulted from a monsoon rainfall. It has washed away more than 100 bridges and significant stretches of road, and is reported to have isolated more than 600,000 people between upper Swat and Kalam in northern Pakistan.

Renter's Insurance Important for Base Residents

By Wm. Cullen James, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Hurricanes, earthquakes, floods and wild fires have all recently impacted the lives of Sailors and their families.

Navy leaders are reminding Sailors about the importance of being prepared by having renter's insurance.

"We have learned a number of very valuable lessons from both Hurricane Katrina and our flood here in Millington," said Rear Adm. Don Quinn, commander, Navy Personnel Command. "One important lesson is that our Navy families own more things than either the government or our PPV Housing partners are prepared to replace. Renter's insurance is cheap and great for peace of mind. I strongly encourage all our Navy families who are renting or in base housing to invest in this very important safety net."

Sailors renting homes off-base generally purchase the amount of coverage they require to cover the potential loss of personal effects. Some residents of base housing mistakenly believe that they are provided full insurance coverage from the government. That is not the case.

Residents of public/private venture housing are generally provided limited insurance coverage under the terms of the rental agreement.

"Residents should check their leasing agreement to determine the extent of that coverage because it is location dependent," said Virginia Eilmus, head, Personnel Claims Unit Norfolk. "In addition, residents of base housing may be entitled to compensation for damage or loss under the Military Personnel and Civilian Employees Claims Act (Personnel Claims Act). The Personnel Claims Act (PCA) allows for limited compensation for active duty service members and DoD civilian employees whose personal property is lost, damaged or destroyed because of their military service. Members who desire to submit a claim are required to first file a claim with their insurance carrier."

The maximum value of a claim filed under the PCA is limited to $40,000 and service members who file claims will only receive a depreciated value on their lost or damaged property.

"Renter's insurance is important, it is the best way to protect your personal property," said Navy Personnel Command Force Master Chief (AW/SW/NAC) Jon Port. "And when you're busy dealing with all the various issues that happen during and after a disaster, having one less thing to worry about is a blessing."

Just like other insurance policies, there are limits to what renter's insurance will cover, what kind of deductibles may be required and policy costs.

For advice about renter's insurance, Port suggests Sailors visit www.cnrc.navy.mil/insurance.htm.

Some basic tips from the site include:

• Take an inventory: Before purchasing insurance itemize your belongings with price estimates, serial numbers, receipts (if possible) and purchase dates.
• Make an informed decision: Ask your insurance company about theft limits, cash or replacement value, deductible options and discounts.
• Shop around: Call a variety of insurance agents, and keep track of the coverage and costs.
• Read the policy: It's a contract; ensure you understand the obligations spelled out.

MILITARY CONTRACTS August 3, 2010

SPECIAL OPERATIONS COMMAND

Lifeport Interiors, Inc., Woodland, Wash., is being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract with a maximum value of $47,000,000 for production of an aircraft occupant ballistic protection system in support of the U.S. Special Operations Command (USSOCOM), Technology Applications Program Office. The work will be performed in Woodland, Wash., and the contract period of performance will expire on July 29, 2015. The minimum order amount of $20,971,424 will be obligated with the basic contract as Delivery Order 0001. USSOCOM is the contracting activity (H92241-10-D-0009).

DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY

Maytag Aircraft Corp., Colorado Springs, Colo., is being awarded a minimum $13,689,360 firm-fixed-price contract for operation, maintenance, security and safety services of government aviation and ground fuel facilities. Other locations of performance are Army installations in Germany. Using service is Army. The original proposal was electronically solicited with three responses. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2015. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-C-5038).

Maytag Aircraft/TK&K, LLC*, Colorado Springs, Colo., is being awarded a minimum $10,049,700 firm-fixed-price, cost reimbursement items contract for operation, maintenance, security and safety services of government aviation and ground fuel facilities. Other locations of performance are Army installations in Germany. Using service is Army. The original proposal was electronically solicited with four responses. The date of performance completion is Sept. 30, 2015. The Defense Logistics Agency Energy, Fort Belvoir, Va., is the contracting activity (SP0600-10-C-5039).

NAVY

Lockheed Martin, Mission Systems & Sensors, Mitchel Field, N.Y., is being awarded an $11,884,450 cost-plus-incentive-fee, cost-plus-fixed-fee contract to provide Trident II (D5) strategic systems programs shipboard systems integration; strategic weapon system navigation subsystem; systems design and development; and electrostatically supported gyro navigator refresh. This contract contains options which, if exercised, will bring the total contract value to $230,156,983. Work will be performed in Mitchel Field, N.Y. (35.4 percent); Huntington Beach, Calif. (27.9 percent); Oldsmar, Fla. (14.8 percent); Phoenix, Ariz. (14.2 percent); Cambridge, Mass. (7.2 percent); and Eagan, Minn. (0.5 percent). Work is expected to be completed July 30, 2015. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. This contract was competitively procured, with two offers received. The Strategic Systems Programs, Arlington, Va., is the contracting activity (N00030-10-C-0018)

Peleliu Launches Liberty at Sea Program

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) R. David Valdez, USS Peleliu Public Affairs

USS PELELIU, At Sea (NNS) -- USS Peleliu (LHA 5) introduced the first session of the Liberty at Sea program aboard the amphibious assault ship Aug. 2 to reward Sailors for their exceptional work.

Liberty at Sea is a program designed to allow Sailors, E-5 and below, an opportunity to take a day off from their duties, wear appropriate civilian attire and enjoy some personal time.

Peleliu Command Master Chief Brent Williams credited Peleliu's sister ship, amphibious assault ship USS Nassau (LHA 4), with the development of the program.

"The Nassau seemed to do pretty well with this program, and I thought our Sailors could use the benefit," Williams said.

Information Systems Technician 1st Class Anthony Nixon, president of Peleliu's First Class Petty Officers' Association, introduced the idea to his fellow leaders.

"This is a new idea for a lot of us," Nixon said. "Some of us came up in the Navy when liberty wasn't as important to our leadership as it is today, and it's a challenge for any leader to allow a valuable member of the team to take time off while there's work to be done."

According to Nixon, part of the challenge stems from giving time off to Sailors who have proven to be vital to their respective shops.

"Leaders have to depend on their people to get the job done," Nixon said. "However, if you depend on that junior Sailor, why not show it by giving him or her the day off? It might mean a little more work for everyone else in the shop, but I think that people don't mind working a little extra, especially if they know they're going to get the same benefit."

The program selected 20 Sailors to participate in the program with another 20 to follow in the coming days. The goal is to identify two days per week to allow a different group of 20 deserving Sailors a chance to take a day off.

In addition to having the day off, participants get head of the line privileges for meals, the ship's store and barbershop. They will also have brunch with Peleliu's commanding officer, Capt. David Schnell, and have special hours dedicated for them at the ship's library and self-serve laundry.

"Right now, we're not in a position where we can send our Sailors ashore," Nixon said. "This is the next best thing we can do for them, and as we get feedback from participating Sailors we can tailor the program to them a little better."

Peleliu Amphibious Ready Group and the embarked 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit serve as the theater reserve force for U.S. Central Command.

MSRON 7 Improves Readiness through Monster Mash on Guam

By Jesse Leon Guerrero, Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Maritime Expeditionary Security Squadron (MSRON) 7 held its quarterly Monster Mash exercise to test its Sailors physically and mentally at U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) July 30.

More than 70 Sailors separated into groups of eight to tackle the exercises at training stations spread over the nine-mile course, which started at the command's compound. Each of the six stations challenged participants with specific tasks focused on combat skills and other training required of MSRON 7's personnel.

"It's a little more high speed than I thought it would be, and we haven't even made it halfway through," Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Jabril Muhammad said after hiking from Dadi Beach to near the Orote Airfield. "We're actually going over skills that we do in the field and that we do on missions."

Muhammad and his teammates on Team 1 took several minutes at the Orote station to write out answers to questions dealing with rules of engagement, justifications for the use of deadly force, radio communications, and other subjects.

Other stations required navigating with map coordinates, utilizing tactical movements to secure routes, applying first aid and transporting a simulated victim with injuries, assembling and using a multiband radio, and disassembling and assembling different firearms. All of the teams' performances were based on how fast they could complete the tasks and without errors, which would add penalty minutes to their overall time.

Master-at-Arms 2nd Class Maurice Speaks said it was his fourth time to participate in a Monster Mash.

"We get to show off our physical skills along with what we've been learning in training," Speaks said. "It's a collaboration, putting it all together. It works out and it's a good test."

Chief Master-at-Arms (EXW/FMF) Glen Golden said the Monster Mash will help prepare the command for Unit Level Training Readiness Assessment certification tests in October. The teams have to prove they can properly clear a road, go on patrol, and safely conduct other tasks that rely on their individual combat skills.

"Individual combat skills are basic unit skills that are required for any environment we work in," Golden said.

MSRON 7, which was commissioned in May 2004, provides rapidly deployable forces to conduct or support anti-terrorism and force protection missions. It promotes the Maritime Strategy by providing security for American citizens, through the application of sea power, and by strengthening partnerships with allied nations.

Navy Surgeon General Visits Naval Hospital Oak Harbor

From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

OAK HARBOR, Wash. (NNS) -- The Navy surgeon general visited Naval Hospital Oak Harbor (NHOH) located on Naval Air Station Whidbey Island Aug. 3 as part of his tour of Navy medical facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

While visiting the hospital, Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr. toured the facilities, met with hospital leadership and hosted an admiral's call with civilian and military hospital staff.

"I'm here to say thanks for your superior work caring for the base and the community here, as well as, your support of global operations," Robinson told the hospital staff. "I want to let you know I appreciate you and appreciate all your hard work."

According to hospital commanding officer, Capt. Susan Lichtenstein, her staff of 445 provide medical support to 36 tenant commands including Naval Air Station Whidbey Island; Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing 10; Electronic Attack Wing; Naval Air Reserves and Marine Aviation Training Support Group 53. These five major commands are known as Team Whidbey.

The hospital provides garrison healthcare services to Team Whidbey and their family members, in addition to routinely deploying Navy medical personnel in support of the warfighter and humanitarian assistance missions worldwide.

"We currently have 22 members of our team deployed in support of a variety of missions including medical support roles in Iraq and Afghanistan, in addition to participating in the Pacific Partnership 2010 mission onboard USNS Mercy in the Pacific," said Lichtenstein.

Robinson said Navy Medicine is more involved around the world than ever before and is making a lasting positive difference in three key roles including garrison care of military personnel and families in the United States and overseas, support to the forward deployed operational forces and being a linchpin in humanitarian assistance and disaster response missions

"The work you do here and around the world epitomizes the notion of the Navy as a global force for good," said Robinson. "You represent the best of what America has to offer."

Robinson and Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Force Master Chief Laura Martinez met with NHOH enlisted Sailors at the galley to share a meal and get to listen to their thoughts on the Navy Medicine mission before speaking to the entire staff in the Mount Olympus auditorium during an all hand's call.

"The quality of care and ethos of service present here at Oak Harbor represents the best in patient and family-centered care," Robinson said. "I'm humbled to be your surgeon general."

Robinson's Pacific Northwest tour also included a visit to Naval Hospital Bremerton.

Woodson Pledges to Advance Military Medical System

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 3, 2010 - President Barack Obama's nominee as assistant secretary of defense for health affairs told Congress today he'll strive to improve the medical system that serves military members and their families while putting special emphasis on care for wounded warriors.

Dr. Jonathan Woodson pledged during his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee to draw on his vast experience as a military medical officer and leader, health care administrator, teacher, researcher and physician to tackle the challenges confronting the military health system.

If confirmed as Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates' top medical advisor, Woodson said he will work collaboratively with other Defense Department components, federal agencies and civilian organizations while striving to advance military health, its mission and its benefits to its beneficiaries.

An Army Reserve brigadier general with more than 20 years of service, Woodson said he looks forward to the opportunity to enhance medical readiness and provide the level of care military members and their families deserve.

"I have always been personally inspired by the commitment and dedication of those soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen," he told the Senate panel.

With deployments to Saudi Arabia, Kosovo and the U.S. Central Command area of operations under his belt, Woodson said he will give particular emphasis to improving care for wounded troops.

"The highlight of my career as a surgeon has been caring for the wounded warrior on the battlefield," he said. "These talented young men and women who have been asked to shoulder the responsibilities of defending this nation and have suffered the consequences of nearly a decade of war deserve the best medical care, both at home and abroad."

Woodson said he will work with Congress and other agencies to find the most effective strategies for preventing suicide and preventing and treating post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injuries.

He said he also looks forward to working with Veteran Affairs Secretary Eric K. Shinseki to streamline the medical evaluation board disability evaluation system and provide smoother transitions when troops transfer from the Defense Department to VA systems.

Woodson paid tribute to the medical professionals "at the heart and soul" of the military health system.

"These true professionals have soldiered alongside their combat-arms colleagues and acted as force multipliers," he said. "They deserve not only accolades, but real assistance in helping them perform their jobs better and more efficiently."

Toward that end, Woodson said, he'll expedite the introduction of electronic health records that enhance health care providers' ability to deliver quality care.

Woodson expressed confidence that the Defense Department medical system can establish new models that the civilian sector will want to emulate in the delivery of quality care – which he defined as "the right care, at the right time, in the right amount, at the right cost that is safe and patient-centered."

Woodson currently serves as associate dean for diversity and multicultural affairs and associate professor of surgery at the Boston University School of Medicine and senior attending vascular surgeon at the Boston Medical Center.

In his military capacity, he serves as assistant surgeon general for reserve affairs, force structure and mobilization in the office of the surgeon general, and as deputy commander of the Army Reserve Medical Command.

NORAD Plans Exercise With Russian Air Force

From a North American Aerospace Defense Command News Release

Aug. 3, 2010 - The Russian air force and the North American Aerospace Defense Command will conduct their first cooperative air defense exercise, NORAD officials announced.

Russia's Federal Air Navigational Service and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration also will be involved in the exercise, officials said, along with the military air operations centers at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, and Khabarovsk, Russia.

The exercise, named Vigilant Eagle, will take place next week, and it involves Russian, Canadian and U.S. personnel operating from command centers in Russia and the United States. It's authorized under a cooperative military agreement that tasks NORAD -- a binational U.S. and Canadian command -- and the Russian air force to conduct a "live-fly" exercise for up to five days, officials said.

It will consist of two international flights: one originating in Alaska and traveling to the Far East, followed by one originating in the Far East and traveling to Alaska. Both flights will follow the same route, officials said.

In the exercise scenario, a U.S.-flagged commercial air carrier on an international flight has been taken over by terrorists, and the crew will not respond to communications. The scenario creates a situation that requires both the Russian air force and NORAD to launch or divert fighter aircraft to investigate and follow the airliner.

The exercise will focus on shadowing and the cooperative hand-off of the monitored aircraft between fighters of the participating nations, officials explained.

Airborne warning and control aircraft from Russia and the United States will be involved, along with fighter-interceptor aircraft and refueling aircraft from both countries.

U.S. Military in Afghanistan Responds to Pakistan Floods

From a U.S. Forces Afghanistan News Release

Aug. 3, 2010 - The U.S. military in Afghanistan is responding rapidly to the disastrous flooding that reportedly killed more than 1,200 people in Pakistan and 60 in Afghanistan and has affected millions of others.

U.S. forces have delivered more than 189,000 packaged meals that conform with Islamic law and are preparing to deliver more than 200,000 more meals in the next 24 hours, officials said.

In addition, U.S. military experts in medicine, logistics, aviation, engineering and other fields are on the ground in Pakistan, and more are on the way to assist the Pakistani government.

"U.S. Forces Afghanistan [is] actively engaged with our Pakistan friends and partners in the coordination and delivery of humanitarian assistance during this critical time," said Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of international and U.S. forces in Afghanistan. "It is vitally important we try to help those who have been tragically affected by the massive flooding.

"There are some tasks that the U.S. military is uniquely able to perform," Petraeus continued. "We are in the process of performing some of those tasks, and we're deploying additional elements to perform more of them. We will continue to support this humanitarian effort, and we stand by to assist the Pakistani government any way we can."

A group of six CH-47 Chinook and UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters with about 100 U.S. military personnel from the 101st Airborne Division in Afghanistan is expected to depart tomorrow for Ghazi Air Base, which is serving as the main logistics hub in Pakistan for the humanitarian response.

In an effort to provide U.S. and Pakistan commanders with real-time video surveillance over disaster-stricken areas, the U.S. military also is supplying intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft.

The aircraft and personnel from Afghanistan will serve as an early response support element to Pakistan relief efforts as U.S. Central Command prepares to deploy more personnel, aviation assets and equipment from outside Afghanistan.

U.S. helicopters working under Squadron 50 of the Afghan interior ministry since July 30 have rescued 733 people and transported 11,873 pounds of provisions to flood victims. Four Zodiac inflatable rescue boats with power motors and two water filtration units are at work in the affected area, and 12 pre-fabricated steel bridges have been made available as temporary replacements for highway bridges damaged by flooding.

The flooding, which began June 29, resulted from a monsoon rainfall. It has washed away more than 100 bridges and significant stretches of road, and is reported to have isolated more than 600,000 people between upper Swat and Kalam in northern Pakistan.

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nomination:

Air Force Col. Christopher J. Bence has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general. Bence is currently serving as the deputy director, operations and plans, J-3, Headquarters U.S. Transportation Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill.

Halsey's Boarding Teams Prepare for Action

By Ensign Andrew Long, USS Halsey Public Affairs

USS HALSEY, At Sea (NNS) -- Visit, board, search and seizure teams from USS Halsey (DDG 97) completed numerous exercises July 28-30 to prepare for potential maritime security operations during their 2010 deployment schedule.

Nearly immediately following the guide-missile destroyer's departure for pre-deployment exercises July 23, boarding teams accelerated into action and began rigorous events designed to assess the effectiveness of the maritime interdiction mission area.

"The training in boarding suspect vessels at sea offered a degree of realism unavailable during earlier training phases," said Lt. Andrew Lingg, a lead boarding officer from Hillsborough, N.J. "The boarding team feels confident following this training."

The integrated, multiship maritime security exercises began immediately following Halsey's departure from San Diego Bay. The boarding teams leapt into action, preparing to deploy at any moment.

"This kind of readiness will be essential if we actually conduct this mission during our deployment," said Lingg. "We could be called on to board a suspect ship at any time with very little notice."

Boarding Officers Ensign David Youker of Randolph, N.J., and Chief Cryptologic Technician (Collection) Andrew Krueger of Marientte, Wis., also led teams during boarding evolutions.

Cryptologic Technician (Collection) 2nd Class Reece Bell from 29 Palms, Calif., was the point man while one team boarded a vessel during a high freeboard event.

"He had to climb more than 50 feet up the ladder of a moving ship," said Lingg. "This is not an easy feat, and the most vulnerable point of a boarding, but Bell and the team performed excellently."

The boarding teams completed three boarding exercises during several days of high-alert readiness. During two intercept events, the teams boarded non-compliant vessels, which represented the highest degree of resistance Halsey's boarding teams will encounter.

"A vessel is non-compliant when it does not follow the directions of the boarding team, adding a level of complexity and uncertainty to the operation," said Lingg.

"Our boarding teams performed superbly," said Cmdr. Jordy Harrison, Halsey's commanding officer. "We may be called upon to conduct maritime security operations during our deployment, and I am confident our boarding teams will be able to successfully carry out any requirement. This is a critical tool we have to protect maritime commerce and contribute to the overall capabilities and effectiveness of the Abraham Lincoln Strike Group."

Halsey is homeported in San Diego and is currently operating with the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group in preparation for deployment.

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group consists of flagship USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), embarked Carrier Air Wing 2, embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9 and the guided-missile cruiser USS Cape St. George (CG 71).

Ships assigned to DESRON 9 include destroyers Halsey, USS Momsen (DDG 92), USS Shoup (DDG 86) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

Guardsman Helps Afghan Farmers

By Army Capt. Peter Shinn
Iowa National Guard

Aug. 3, 2010 - For Army Sgt. John Larsen of the Missouri National Guard, going to Afghanistan for a year to improve that nation's ability to feed its people is a calling. Larsen, a hydrologist, is deploying as part of the Missouri Guard's fourth agribusiness development team. He also deployed with Missouri's second rotation in the program, in which Guard members with civilian farming experience deploy to help in advancing Afghanistan's agricultural economy.

"He does like Afghanistan," said Army Master Sgt. Stephen Bradley, noncommissioned officer in charge of the team's agricultural section. More importantly, Bradley pointed out, Larsen's experience in Afghanistan already has proven invaluable as the team prepares here for its upcoming deployment.

"He knows the area," Bradley said. "He knows the people. He knows their attitude, their wants. So, yeah, he's been very, very helpful."

In his civilian career, Larsen has worked with U.S. farmers on irrigation issues, and he's done the same during his military career with Afghan farmers. But working with Afghan farmers, he said, presents special challenges.

"There's no tractors," he said. "The best they can do is maybe oxen if they have a little bit of money. Everything is done by hand."

Every Missouri agribusiness development team has gone to Nangahar province in east-central Afghanistan. Agricultural production there includes wheat, corn, vegetables and citrus fruits, all water-intensive crops. On his previous tour, Larsen spent most of his time building check-dams to capture some of the water that runs through Nangahar, and he intends to do more of the same in the year ahead.

"If it works, stick with it," Larsen said. "The more water we can get these people, the more prosperous they're going to be. They're an agricultural province, and the more I can get them, the better they'll be on that."

The Missouri team is expected to deploy this month.