Military News

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mission to Africa – Class is in session

Wednesday, August 11, 2010
LTJG Stephanie Young

As we enter our eighth week of our West African deployment the crew continues to do different types of training. Throughout this deployment the most frequent training the crew has been doing is law enforcement (LE).

Qualified boarding officers (BO) and boarding team members (BTM) aboard Mohawk led training sessions covering everything from properly wearing LE gear to the use of deadly force.

“I have been a part of the LE team for about a year now and I still go to every training as a BTM and learn something new at every training session,” said Seaman Chloe Hicks, a crewmember and boarding team member aboard the Mohawk. “It has placed me on a path that I will follow through with for the rest of my time in the Coast Guard.”

One of the first things the crewmembers worked on was learning about conducting a boarding, how to carry themselves during a boarding, or your “officer presence.” This becomes part of every interaction members have in an LE setting and includes things like the way they stand, speak, walk and so on.

Instructors then taught members what to do with noncompliant persons during a boarding as well as learning the proper verbal commands and task direction when they don’t comply. The classroom training also includes more physical endeavors, such as how to properly handcuff someone.

“The Mohawk’s focus on law enforcement training is centered on the base values of the Coast Guard; training individuals,” said Petty Officer 1st Class Timothy Tolliver, the Law Enforcement Officer aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Mohawk. “We are giving our junior enlisted as well as junior officers the tools needed for success in the Coast Guard.”

“During my time here on Mohawk, I have attended many sessions of LE training; from learning the legal jurisdiction and authority we have, to the application of techniques we use in order to maintain our control of any situation we may be engaged in,” said Seaman Justin Morgan, a crewmember and boarding team member aboard the Mohawk. “Learning all the information and skills was no easy task, it took dedication to the training and absolute attention to those instructing me.”

One of those qualifications, probably the most dreaded, is the certification to carry Oleoresin Capsicum (OC), or pepper spray, as part of the standard LE equipment. Pepper spray is a non-lethal tool used for a multitude of Coast Guard operations including routine safety inspections aboard commercial vessels to more tactical law enforcement missions. In order to carry OC, members get sprayed with the chemical so they understand the implications of exposure in the event that they have to use it in a real life scenario.

As we continue our deployment, the BOs and BTMs will continue to reinforce the LE skills and qualifications so that every member can be ready for whatever may arise on the rest of this deployment and future patrols.

NORAD, Russia Wrap up 'Vigilant Eagle'

From a North American Aerospace Defense Command News Release

ANCHORAGE, Alaska, Aug. 11, 2010 - The storyline seemed to come straight from a Cold War suspense thriller, as North American Aerospace Defense Command forces working with their Russian counterparts tracked a "hijacked" aircraft across the Pacific Ocean, but this was no movie.

NORAD and the Russia completed the first joint exercise designed to establish clear communication processes that would allow the two forces to work together during a real crisis.

The three-day exercise, called "Vigilant Eagle," was an international air terrorism scenario conducted over the Pacific Ocean consisting of forces from the United States and Russia responding to the simulated hijacking of a B-757 en route to the Far East. NORAD's planning and exercise directorate sprearheaded the exercise.

Elements of the Transportation Security Administration's operations center, the Federal Aviation Administration, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, the 611th Air and Space Operations Group, the 176th Air Control Squadron and the Alaska NORAD Region made up the U.S. half of the exercise, while the air force navigation service's communications and radiotech directorate, office of special translation and interpretation operations directorate and the national antiterrorism office made up the Russian half.

"What we are practicing today is the communication procedures between NORAD, plus U.S. civilian air traffic control agencies and our Russian counterparts so that we can pass on information to them about air terrorism events to allow them to posture their forces to respond in kind," said Canadian Forces Col. Todd Balfe, Alaska NORAD Region deputy commander.

In the scenario presented by the exercise, a B-757 jetliner, simulated by a Gulfstream 4 jet, signaled to authorities on the ground that it has been hijacked. NORAD F-22s and an E-3 Sentry airborne warning and control aircraft scrambled in response and followed the track of interest across the Pacific, handing it off to Russian fighters as it approached Russian territory. On the second day of the exercise, it was done in reverse, with SU-27 fighters making the hand-off to F-22s as the "hijacked" aircraft approached Alaska.

Air Force Lt. Col. John Oberst, 176th ACS operations officer, said the very fact that NORAD and Russian forces were working together in this exercise made it a success.

"This exercise is one milestone in working together in other future efforts," he said. "Our folks are proud to be a part of such an important event and are passionate about partaking in efforts to protect our borders."

Russian air force Col. Alexander Vasilyev, deputy director of security and safety, said that despite the friction the two countries have had in years past, it is important for them to work together to combat the dangers of air terrorism.

"Terrorism is something that affects all our countries," he said. "So it is very important that we work together to develop procedures and bring the relationship between our countries closer together to unite our countries in the fight against terrorism."

Mount Whitney Sailors Leave a Lasting Impression

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

LISBON, Portugal (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) volunteered and participated in a community relations (COMREL) project at an orphanage in Lisbon, Portugal, Aug. 6.

The Center for Temporary Accommodation Tercena Orphanage, ran by the Santa Casa Misericordia Cascasis (SCMC), has the capacity to accommodate 48 youth at risk.

The orphanage provides the basic needs, to include clothing, food, shelter, water and medical treatment, for the orphans, from age four to 18. The orphans came from broken homes and have been physically and/or sexually abused as a child.

"The COMREL was definitely a morale booster. I enjoy giving Sailors the opportunity to lend a helping hand by making a difference while giving back to the community," said Electronics Technician 1st Class (SW/AW) Robert Navarra, Mount Whitney's COMREL coordinator.

During the five-hour event, Sailors worked on landscaping to include raking and removing leaves, pulling weeds from the roots and using a leaf blower and weed trimmer to clean the outside back yard.

"It's wasn't just an opportunity to help a less fortunate group of people; it's also making a difference in their local community by taking care of each other," said Yeoman 1st Class (SW/AW) Eric Wasescha, a Mount Whitney Sailor.

"I enjoyed making the orphanage a better place for the children. I thought it was really cool when one child came up to me and offered to help cut off different branches from trees for several minutes," said Wasescha.

Lunch was provided by the orphanage for the appreciation of the Sailors who volunteered.

"My first thought of the military was they are supposed to fight wars. When the Sailors came to volunteer, I thought it was a beautiful thing because there are still good people in the world willing to help others in need," said Dr. Joao Pedro Monjardino, the psychologist at the orphanage who has worked there for 11 years. "The children were very appreciative and grateful for their help. Just the small things make a huge difference in the world."

Monjardino gave the Sailors a guided-tour of the orphanage. Following the tour, Navarra presented Monjardino with a command coin and a photo of the ship in appreciation of having the Sailors at the orphanage.

Mount Whitney is U.S. 6th Fleet's flagship homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

NSA Naples Prepares for Flu Season

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kristopher Regan, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East. Det. Europe

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples, Italy, medical staff is providing local military families and service members with many tips to stay healthy to prepare for the upcoming flu season, from October 2010 to May 2011.

The peak months of the flu season are from December 2010 to March 2011.

"Influenza (the flu) is a contagious respiratory illness caused by influenza viruses. It can cause mild to severe illness, and at times can lead to death. Some people, such as older people, young children and people with certain health conditions, are at high risk for serious flu complications. The best way to prevent the flu is by getting vaccinated each year," said Lt. John Gardner, environmental health officer, Naval Hospital Naples.

Vaccinations play a very important role in staying healthy and preventing illness.

"Vaccinations are one of the best ways to put an end to spread of infectious diseases. The health and well-being of the Navy's total force and our beneficiaries is one of our top priorities. The best way to help keep our personnel and their families healthy and ready is to ensure we are prepared to provide our total force with the seasonal flu immunization in a timely fashion as it is the primary method of reducing seasonal flu illness," said Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr., the surgeon general of the Navy.

The flu vaccine will be arriving to Naples within the next few months and will be given out in stages.

"Currently our first shipment of flu vaccine is scheduled to arrive in late September (2010). The vaccine will be distributed in the order directed by Navy policy - military and civilian personnel ordered to deploy in support of an operational requirement or assigned to a ship regardless of location or deployment status; medically high risk people and health care workers in direct patient care and Navy emergency essential civilian personnel; basic and advanced trainees, officer trainees, midshipmen and the training cadre of these personnel; all other military personnel; all other mission essential or mission critical DoD civilian and contract employees and all other beneficiaries," said Gardner.

There are other steps in addition to the vaccine that can be taken to prevent becoming ill. Stopping the spread of germs is a key factor in reducing the amount of illness in the area.

"Take preventative measures to stop the spread of germs, such as covering your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, wash your hands often with soap and water and avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way. Try to avoid close contact with sick people," said Gardner.

Jacksonville Jaguars Host Salute the Troops Night

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Jacob Sippel, Navy Public Affairs Support Element East Det. Southeast

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Hundreds of retired and active duty service members, along with friends and family, attended the Jacksonville Jaguars "Salute the Troops Night" at the Florida Blue Health and Wellness Practice Fields in Jacksonville, Fla., Aug. 5.

The practice event was the last public training camp practice for the Jaguars before the start of their season Sept. 12.

"I know they are doing this because they appreciate the things we do for them, and we are showing the Jaguars today that we'll support them this season," said Patrol Squadron (VP) 62 Command Master Chief (SW) Phil Rogers. "The support the Jaguars have shown us really means a lot and it is exciting to be here."

During the festivities, the crowd was treated to a live performance by the Albany, Georgia, Marine Corps Band and many of the local Sailors of the Year were recognized for their dedication to the United States. Shortly after the performance of the band and tribute to the service members, Jaguars tight end Mercedes Lewis spoke to the crowd.

"On behalf of the Jacksonville Jaguars organization, we want to give you a special thanks and really want to say that we appreciate everyone coming out here today," said Lewis. "We work hard, but you guys work even harder. We honestly can't thank you enough."

After the heart-felt speech, Jaguars General Manager Gene Smith also had a message to service members in attendance.

"Today is a special day and a day that I am proud to be a Jaguar," stated Smith. "For me, living in a military city and raising my family here, I have great respect for what the military does for us on a daily basis."

The ceremonies concluded with a flyover by a SH-60B helicopter from Naval Station Mayport's Helicopter Antisubmarine Squadron Light 60, just as the Jacksonville Jaguars took the field for practice.

National Guard, Coast Guard Rescue Plane Crash Victims

By Air Force Maj. Guy Hayes
Alaska National Guard

Aug. 11, 2010 - The Alaska Air National Guard and the Coast Guard rescued four people from a crash of a single-engine float plane 17-miles north of Dillingham, Alaska, the night of Aug. 9.

The plane, a de Havilland Otter, was carrying former U.S. Sen. Ted Stevens and eight others when it crashed into a mountainside en route to the Nushagak River for a fishing trip. Stevens was killed in the crash.

The Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were contacted and deployed to the scene, but were unable to make it to the crash site because of inclement weather. The survivors spent the night at the wreckage, but were assisted by four medical personnel who were flown to the site by local helicopter pilots before the weather made it impossible for Guard assets to get to the scene.

Yesterday morning, the weather cleared enough for an Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter carrying Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen Senior Master Sgt. Jonathan Davis and Tech. Sgt. Kristofer Abel to the crash site to administer medical assistance.

A Coast Guard C-130 was provided overhead communication support and was available to take victims in need of further medical treatment to Anchorage once they were transported to Dillingham.

Poor weather remained a factor, with less than a quarter-mile visibility at the crash site and less than a 100-foot ceiling in the area, but the Alaska National Guard and Coast Guard were able to transport the four survivors -- Sean O'Keefe, Kevin O'Keefe, Jim Morhard and William "Willy" Phillips Jr. -- to Dillingham.

The Alaska Air National Guard arrived in Dillingham first, with two critical patients onboard, and was met by medical personnel from the Dillingham Hospital.

The Coast Guard HH-60 Jay Hawk brought the two other patients to Dillingham. Three of the survivors were transloaded onto a Coast Guard C-130 and brought to Anchorage, while the fourth survivor was brought to Anchorage on a civilian air ambulance flight. "I have tremendous respect for our service men and women, the emergency first responders and their ability to perform heroically in the most trying of times," said Army Maj. Gen. Thomas H. Katkus, adjutant general of the Alaska National Guard. "The Alaska National Guard in a joint effort with the U.S. Coast Guard and the Alaska Department of Public Safety were extremely resilient and professional in their efforts to rescue the remaining survivors of the plane crash and getting them to medical attention as quickly as possible."

The Alaska Air National Guard and Coast Guard were credited with four saves for this mission.

Meanwhile, the Alaska Air National Guard is transporting the remaining two individuals involved in an Aug. 8 aircraft accident on Knik Glacier to Mat-Su Regional Hospital. Three others were evacuated to a hospital yesterday.

Officials at the 11th Rescue Coordination Center said an Alaska Air National Guard HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter was able to land on the glacier and rescue the final two plane crash victims and the three Alaska Army National Guardsmen who were involved in a Black Hawk helicopter accident during a rescue effort yesterday.

An Alaska Air National Guard combat rescue officer and three Alaska Air National Guard pararescuemen remain on the glacier.

Soldiers Missing in Action from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two U.S. servicemen, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and will be returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army 1st Lt. Paul G. Magers of Sidney, Neb., will be buried on Aug. 27 in Laurel, Mont., and Army Chief Warrant Officer Donald L. Wann of Shawnee, Okla., will be buried on Aug. 21 in Fort Gibson, Okla.

On June 1, 1971, both men were flying aboard an AH-1 Cobra gunship in support of an emergency extraction of an Army ranger team in Quang Tri Province, South Vietnam. After the rangers were extracted, helicopters were ordered to destroy claymore mines which had been left behind in the landing zone. During this mission their helicopter was hit by ground fire, crashed and exploded. Pilots who witnessed the explosions concluded that no one could have survived the crash and explosions. Enemy activity in the area precluded a ground search.

In 1990, analysts from DPMO, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) and their predecessor organizations interviewed both American and Vietnamese witnesses and produced leads for field investigations. In 1993 and 1998, two U.S.-Socialist Republic of Vietnam teams, led by JPAC, surveyed the suspected crash site and found artifacts and debris consistent with a Cobra gunship. In mid-1999, another joint team excavated the site, but it stopped for safety reasons when the weather deteriorated. No remains were recovered, but the team did find wreckage associated with the specific crash they were investigating.

The Vietnamese government subsequently declared the region within Quang Tri Province where the aircraft crashed as off-limits to U.S. personnel, citing national security concerns. As part of an agreement with JPAC, a Vietnamese team unilaterally excavated the site and recovered human remains and other artifacts in 2008. The Vietnamese returned to the site in 2009, expanded the excavation area and discovered more remains and additional evidence.

Forensic analysis, circumstantial evidence and the mitochondrial DNA match to the Magers and Wann families by the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory confirmed the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department's mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO Web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

Guard Aircraft Damaged During Alaska Glacier Rescue

By Army Maj. Guy Hayes
Alaska National Guard

Aug. 11, 2010 - An Alaska Army National Guard UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter was reported to be heavily damaged when it slid and rolled over on Knik Glacier during a rescue mission.

The Black Hawk's three crewmembers were reported to be uninjured.

The soldiers were attempting to rescue five people involved in an Aug. 8 aircraft accident.

The 11th Rescue Coordination Center dispatched an HH-60 Pave Hawk helicopter and HC-130 Hercules transport plane from the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons to the scene to assist in recovery efforts. The aircraft accident is under investigation.

Rescue center officials originally contacted the Air Guard squadrons Aug. 8 after a personal locator beacon signaled a possible accident at about 1 p.m. The beacon identified a plane belonging to a Palmer, Alaska, resident. The pilot was on a one-hour sightseeing trip with four friends from out of state.

"The pilot had taken his father's plane on a sightseeing trip from Palmer over the Knik Glacier," said Air Force Tech. Sgt. Kenneth Bellamy, rescue coordination center controller for the Alaska Air National Guard. "They were scheduled to return to Palmer, but the ... beacon gave us coordinates that the plane was on Knik Glacier."

Weekend alert crews with the Alaska Air National Guard were contacted and immediately reported to base and launched an HH-60 Pave Hawk and HC-130 Hercules with pararescuemen onboard to the coordinates at about the 8,500 foot level of Knik Glacier.

"Weather at those high altitudes and the cloud deck prevented us from getting to the aircraft," Bellamy said. "With it getting late and the weather not improving, we started to look at alternative means of getting help to the people up there."

To add to the urgency of the situation, the people involved in the aircraft accident do not have survival gear, and family members said they were wearing light clothing when they departed.

At about 10 p.m., a Guardian Angel team --consisting of combat rescue officer Maj. Jesse Peterson and pararescuemen Master Sgt. Al Lankford and Tech. Sgts. Chris Uriarte and Angel Santana -- was inserted at a lower elevation to hike to coordinates of the locator beacon. "The Guardian Angel team was inserted about four miles away from the aircraft site with shelter, food and gear," said 1st. Lt John Romspert, a combat rescue officer with the Alaska Air Guard's 212th Rescue Squadron.

Using mountaineering skis and towing sleds full of gear, the Guardian Angel team was the best bet to provide survival gear to the people at the plane.

"We continue to have good communication between the Guardian Angel team and the aircraft, so even though it's slow going with the weather conditions they're facing, hopefully they'll reach them soon," Romspert said.

"We're focused on getting our survival experts, the Guardian Angel team, to the distressed crew as quickly as possible," Air Force Brig. Gen. Charles E. "Chuck" Foster, commander of the Alaska Air Guard's 176th Wing, said Aug. 9. "I'm confident if they get the gear to them, that their ability to sustain them in these weather conditions is greatly improved."

Weather conditions on Aug. 8 and Aug. 9, which included blizzard like conditions, cloud cover from the ground to 13,000 feet and 70 mph winds, delayed the team's ability to get to the people, and attempts from the air to get to the distressed crew haven't worked either, Bellamy said.

"We attempted to drop survival gear from the HC-130 and HH-60, but were unable to get the equipment to the people because of the conditions," he said. "We currently still have crews out there circling the area in the HC-130 and HH-60, waiting for a break in the weather, but the conditions haven't improved."

Yesterday, the Army Guard Black Hawk was sent to the scene, when it slid and rolled on the glacier.

The HH-60 Pave Hawk and HC-130 Hercules from the Alaska Air National Guard's 210th, 211th and 212th Rescue Squadrons were then sent in to recover all 12 personnel, including the three-man Alaska Army Guard crew, the four Air Guard pararescuemen from the Guardian Angel team and the five PA32 crash victims.

Guard officials said the HH-60 recovered three of the crash victims and transported them to Matanuska Regional Hospital in Palmer, Alaska. A second sortie was launched to rescue the remaining personnel, but it was unable to reach the crash site due to inclement weather. The HH-60 will remain in Palmer to wait for better weather conditions.

The passengers of the civilian aircraft were reported to have suffered only minor bruises in the crash.

Deputy Commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command Visits TSC Great Lakes

By James F. Antonucci, Training Support Center Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- The deputy commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command (USFF) observed the training techniques employed at Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes and learning sites to train students Aug. 6.

USFF supports both the chief of naval operations (CNO) and combatant commanders worldwide by providing responsive, relevant, sustainable naval forces ready-for-tasking. The command provides operational and planning support to combatant commanders and integrated warfighter capability requirements to the CNO.

Additionally, USFF serves as the CNO's designated executive agent for anti-terrorism/force protection (ATFP), individual augmentees (IA), and sea basing.

Vice Adm. Peter H. Daly, a native of Chicago, has completed sea duty assignments including USS Roark (FF-1053); USS Stump (DD 978); USS Hercules (PHM-2) and USS Yorktown (CG-48); USS Russell (DDG-59). He has commanded Destroyer Squadron 31 in support of the Abraham Lincoln Battle Group and commanded Carrier Strike Group 11.

In a tour hosted by TSC Commanding Officer Capt. Caroline M. Olinger, Daly observed TSC learning sites such as the Center for Naval Engineering (CNE) Great Lakes and the Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU); examining the process that trains Sailors on their path to the fleet.

"Having Vice Adm. Daly tour facilities at TSC and the learning sites has given him tremendous insight into the various training programs, the quality of the staff and the apprenticeship level of skills that students will take to the fleet," said Olinger. Visiting CNE Great Lakes and the Mentor Associated Basic Engineering Common Core (BECC) labs and computer-based training (CBT) classrooms, Daly observed the course features in detail. BECC balances CBT training with hands-on training labs, instructor-led classroom training, and the study of fleet equipment in extremely realistic simulations creating an Integrated Learning Environment (ILE) or "blended" training atmosphere.

Daly was briefed on the equipment students run through during their training, which include troubleshooting techniques and other operational issues utilizing the mock-up generators. At the Engineman "C" or advanced school, the massive Diesel Front Panel Simulator was demonstrated along with other curriculum trainers.

"My tour of the Center for Surface Combat Systems and the Center for Naval Engineering was a great experience," Daly said. "Schools of instruction provide an opportunity for young Sailors to establish the foundation and skill sets required to arrive in the fleet and be immediately useful to their work centers and divisions."

Officer in Charge of Center for Naval Engineering, Cmdr. Michael R. Curtis said "Vice Adm. Daly's visit exemplified the need for the Navy's fleet leaders to better understand and see firsthand the efforts that go into training new Sailors. Being better acquainted with our current training philosophy and methodology, he will be prepared to provide direct input from the front lines to make sure our training is meeting the needs of the fleet."

Following the visit to the different strands at CNE, Daly proceeded to experience the learning environment at the Center for Surface Combat Systems Unit (CSCSU).

With a tour of the Gunner's Mate (GM) "A" School at the facility, again utilizing CBT and ILE concepts, Daly was shown just what materials are in the curriculum and how students interact with computers and simulators.

"The 'blended' teaching environment appears to create an atmosphere for these Sailors to get the best of CBT, while remaining coupled with hands-on instructor-based labs and instruction," Daly said.

"This setting is a great way to lay the groundwork required for a successful naval career in the Fleet."

It was very clear that these methodologies are key in all cases to the presentation of the curriculum of this phase of learning for weapons training, and all advanced electronics and computer fields.

Lastly the Firearms Training Simulator or FATS was demonstrated to give the Daly a true sense of training simulations at the GM school. Daly took the opportunity test out a few of the simulated weapons himself, and came away with a smile as all of the school's visitors do.

About the presentations, Daly commented that it was impressive to see TSC's training environment tied to the training Sailors receive as recruits by incorporating watchstanding, physical training, and other GMT into their curriculum.

"In all, TSC is achieving the needs of the Fleet and producing outstanding Sailors," he stated.

Speaking of the training environments provided by TSC and learning sites, Olinger finished up with, "Touring a facility such as ours will provide him with the first-hand data to assist in him in informing the CNO of TSC's needs that we may continue to support the Fleet."

TSC Great Lakes is the only training command located within the same vicinity as Boot Camp and is the home of six learning sites operated independently. The command supports 90 percent of the Surface Navy schools and averages 16,000 student throughputs per year.