Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Airman Missing In Action From WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a U.S. serviceman, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. Ray F. Fletcher, of Westborough, Mass., will be buried Aug. 20 in Burlington, Vt.

On May 10, 1944, he and four others aboard a B-25C Mitchell bomber took off from Ajaccio, Corsica, on a routine courier mission to Ghisonaccia, Corsica. They failed to reach the destination and were officially reported missing on May 13, 1944. Two days later, French police reported finding aircraft wreckage on the island's Mount Cagna.

The U.S. Army's Graves Registration Command visited the crash site in 1944 and reported remains were not recoverable. It was not until May 1989 that Corsican authorities notified U.S. Army Memorial Affairs Activity-Europe that they had found wreckage of an American WWII-era aircraft and turned over human remains collected at the mountainous location. They sent a survey team to the site and determined the terrain was too rugged to support a recovery effort. In 2003 and 2004, two French nationals provided U.S. authorities with crew-related equipment recovered from the crash site.

A Joint Prisoners of War, Missing in Action Accounting Command (JPAC) team excavated the location in September 2005 and recovered additional human remains as well as more crew-related equipment.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Fletcher's remains.

This month marks the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II. More than 400,000 of the 16 million Americans who served during the war died. At the end of the conflict, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 as known persons. Today, more than 72,000 World War II Americans remain unaccounted-for.

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 703-699-1420.

General Calls Layers Key to Missile Defense Strategy

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2010 - The key to a successful missile defense strategy is layers, the director of the Missile Defense Agency said today.

"Different missiles systems [are needed] so that if one fails or one can be tricked, you have a completely different missile system going after the second shot," Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O'Reilly said. It's "very challenging to get through two systems."

O'Reilly covered everything from U.S. missile defense priorities to cooperative efforts with Russia during a Defense Writers Group breakfast here.

The Missile Defense Agency is in the midst of developing the implementation for the Ballistic Missile Defense Review, which was released in February, O'Reilly said. This review set several priorities based on a 10-year outlook.

The No. 1 priority is the defense of the United States, the general said, followed by enhancing regional defenses. Next is the development of a testing program that establishes which missile defense systems work, and gaining a sense of their capabilities and limitations before making a purchase.

By doing so, "we develop a fiscally sustainable missile defense, and we also develop one that hedges against future threats," O'Reilly said.

The final priority is to expand international capacity, he said.

"In other words, have not only capability, but have the capacity in this defense area to work closely and rely and leverage on the contributions from our allies," O'Reilly said. These priorities are what "drive our budget development, our technology priorities and so forth," he added.

On the technology front, O'Reilly noted that long-range targets pose the greatest challenge for the United States. Intelligence experts work to predict whether countries can build a long-range missile, such as an intermediate-range ballistic missile or intercontinental ballistic missile, on their own.

O'Reilly said his agency works closely with the entire intelligence community "constantly judging this." The challenges are determining how an adversary will build and develop a missile and determining information in a generally "clandestine business," the general said.

"We do see a growth of underground factories," O'Reilly said, as well as missiles being built in caves and launcher vehicles being camouflaged as civilian vehicles. None of this is new, he noted, but it does indicate the difficulties in trying to judge how much progress has been made.

He pointed out a proliferation of Scud missiles that originate from the old Soviet Union. According to intelligence, he said, more than 6,000 missiles are in countries other than NATO, the United States, China and Russia, as well as more than 1,000 launchers.

The United States has witnessed many failures in the development and testing of these systems. However, O'Reilly cautioned against complacency in the face of other countries' efforts. The United States experienced failures as well in the 1960s and in missile defense in the 1990s, he noted.

"History shows that if they are persistent, they will be successful," he said. "But history also shows that it is extremely challenging to be precise on when they will be successful."

On a potential missile threat from Iran, O'Reilly noted, "If we're looking at one or two or even five Iranian missiles. ... we have a large ability to respond to that." To pose a significant threat, the country not only would have to be successful in development, but in numbers, he said.

"In my estimation, it would have to be more than 10," he said. "And they would have to be able to successfully launch 10." That would pose a challenge for the U.S. program, let alone a program in a different stage of development, he added.

Iran has shown a space-launch capability, he acknowledged, based on a test in February. And there's no indication they won't attempt another, he said.

"Space launch does give you some of the capability you need to develop an offensive missile," he said. However, the general underscored the difficulty of designing a missile to re-enter the atmosphere and be somewhat accurate, let alone survive re-entry. This ability level would require sophisticated science and testing, "and we don't see evidence of that testing," he added.

O'Reilly said the United States and Russia have been working together on joint threat assessments.

"We've also had a lot of interaction from a technical point of view of opening the access so they can better understand our missile defense," he said. "We have had now, for a couple of years, a standing open invitation for the Russians to visit our missile defense assets and go to our missile defense fields."

Despite the lack of response to that blanket invitation, he said, Russia recently accepted an invitation to attend a test of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense system.

"There is more engagement than we've seen before, but it is still at the preliminary steps," he said.

On the road ahead, O'Reilly predicted remotely piloted vehicles will figure prominently and said the Missile Defense Agency is working closely with the Air Force to maximize their potential. The goal, he said, is to "have an aircraft at the right place at the right time in order to intercept."

An advantage of remotely piloted vehicles is that they're persistent -- they can get into a region and stay there for long durations of time, O'Reilly explained. The other advantage is their sensor capability.

"We literally were shocked when we found out the capability for missile defense," he said. "You can be well over 1,000 kilometers away, and you have a very good track of a missile."

Predators now fly in many of the agency's tests, he said. Predators and future versions of the sensor system on board are "fantastic" at tracking missile clusters, he added.

A possible future development is attachment pods that can go on a wing, enabling any remotely piloted vehicle to have a missile defense capability as a sensor, he said.

Seabees Rebuild, Renovate in Colombia Cities in Support of CP '10

By Lt. Jacqui Barker, Continuing Promise 2010 Public Affairs

COVENAS, Colombia (NNS) -- Sixty Seabees from Construction Battalion Maintenance Unit (CBMU) 202 and Naval Mobile Construction Battalions (NMCB) 7 and 25 completed building and renovation projects in support of Continuing Promise and Partnership of the Americas 2010 near Covenas, Colombia Aug. 16.

The Seabees, who are attached to USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), repaired a school and constructed a playground in Salitral. They also constructed a storage shed and large pavilion for a school in Don Gabriel.

"We are thrilled we could get in there and begin to work," said Lt. j.g. Kelly Stevens, CBMU 202 officer in charge. "We were worried the road conditions would prevent our construction materials from arriving on site, but the Seabee 'Can Do' spirit made it all work. These are truly meaningful projects and they are symbolic of this (Continuing Promise 2010) humanitarian mission overall."

USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7) is embarked with command element, Amphibious Squadron Six and includes U.S. Special Marine Air Ground Task Force (SPMAGTF) as a support element. The mission is deployed to the United States Southern Command's area of responsibility until November.

Approximately 1,600 military and civilian non-governmental organization personnel are traveling on this mission to provide Humanitarian Civic Assistance, subject matter exchanges, medical, dental, veterinary, engineering and humanitarian support throughout Central and South Americas.

"These projects will definitely improve the lives of the people in this area and send the strong message of America's commitment and partnership with the people of the Caribbean, and Central and South Americas," said Capt. Thomas Negus, Continuing Promise 2010, commodore. "The Seabees built a centralized pavilion, storage shed, playground, and a pavilion to house the school kitchen that will improve the quality of life for these Columbians.

"These construction projects and the medical support our military, civilian and Non-Governmental Agency professionals provided make a difference on the ground and in the lives of these communities."

The Continuing Promise and Partnership of the Americas 2010 closing Friendship Ceremony was held in Covenas Aug. 16. The ship will provide medical and humanitarian assistance to host countries to include Costa Rica, Guatemala, Guyana, Nicaragua, Panama and Suriname.

Ground, air crews keep goods moving in polar mission

by Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

8/16/2010 - KANGERLUSSUAQ, Greenland (AFNS) -- It takes more than a skilled pilot, experienced in flying in polar conditions, to deliver millions of tons of fuel, food, people and cargo to the remote science outposts both here and in Antarctica.

The Airmen of the New York Air National Guard's 109th Airlift Wing deliver that annually as they support the National Science Foundation's research efforts in both polar regions.

The polar pilots face some of the harshest weather conditions on Earth as they travel to places where no other pilots have gone, taking off and landing in planes equipped with skis instead of wheels. But they acknowledge that while they guide the nose of the plane, it takes a team to deliver the goods. It's up to the crews to get the cargo on, off and keep the planes flying.

It's a mission that nearly always puts the plane at maximum load, and the weather conditions place a heavy strain on its components. Crew chiefs, avionics specialists, electricians, engine and hydraulic mechanics, loadmasters and engineers, to name just a few, all work in sync to keep the planes flying.

Many of the skills are passed down from the older crewmembers who have decades of experience. Some have spent more than 25 years working on the same aircraft.

"It's a constant passing down of experience and knowledge," said Senior Master Sgt. Brian Bik, the supervisor of maintenance on a recent rotation to Greenland.

The crews learn each aircraft's personalities, Sergeant Bik said. They know what to look for based on their years of experience with the craft.

Sergeant Bik has been going on rotations to Greenland since the early 1990s, and said he can't remember how many trips he's actually made to the Arctic Circle.

On a two-week rotation, there are more than 20 maintenance troops on the ground, working two shifts to accommodate the planes coming and going. They bring all of their own parts, and are sometimes forced to fix the planes in the harshest conditions. There are no heated hangars to work out of. All work is done outdoors, sometimes in temperatures that drop well below zero. They are taught how to survive on the ice sheet if they have to recover a stranded plane.

The cold weather strains the planes' components, Sergeant Bik said, and the open snow landings beat up the skis' hydraulics. The unit keeps desk-sized heaters to warm the plane's parts to allow crews to work on them.

The crews don't put special emphasis on the planes because of the dangerous mission; they do it because of their routine high standards, resulting in their impeccable safety record, Sergeant Bik said.

"It's just the norm; it's just the way we do it," Sergeant Bik said. "I never want it on my conscience that my lack of doing my job correctly caused the airplane to go down or the loss of a crewmember."

In the air, the loadmasters and crew members provide extra eyes to help in talking the pilot down when visibility is poor.

"It's almost kind of like an orchestra when you hear our approach to landings," said Senior Master Sgt. Shad Gray, a flight engineer who has been flying here with the unit since 1985.

On approach, everyone in the crew is scanning for signs of the runway and chiming in on altitude, glide path and wing level, he said.

Sergeant Gray compared working in the icy environment to the "wild west."

"We're up here on our own, so everything we do, we have to do with what we have in our backpack, what we have on the airplane," he said. "There are times when we're out on the ice cap and something goes wrong and we have to fix it. You don't call in a specialized team to come in and take care of it."

On the ground, almost all loading and unloading is done with the plane's engines running. This makes a dangerous job a little more chaotic. Because of the deafening roar of the engines, all communication is through hand signals.

Leaders attribute the unit's experience to the ability to get the job done safely and quickly.

"After time, you know what needs to be done," said Master Sgt. Carmelo Modesto, a loadmaster who has been flying missions to Greenland since 1998.

On the ice, at thousands of feet above sea level, hypoxia becomes the enemy. The crew exerts energy just to stay warm, and when loading the planes, the problem is exacerbated. Before the servicemembers know it, they are turning gray because of the lack of oxygen flowing through their veins.

"You're in the moment, so there's a lot of adrenaline," Sergeant Modesto said. "Sometimes you have to tap your buddy on the shoulder and say, 'Your lips are purple, you're gray, go get some oxygen.' You just don't realize it. You start to gray out."

Sergeant Modesto said the crews enjoy the freedom of their job, traveling to places where they have only their skills to rely on.

"Normally, you're in the 'system' (and) there's support everywhere," he said. "Things are just a radio call away. When we come up here, we come up with everything we need."

Because of their experience, the crews know what things they need to bring to them through a mission. For example, they keep kits on the planes with nearly every size of hydraulic line that fit the plane. But sometimes, they have to create fixes.

Tin cans stripped of the top and bottom can be used to seal damaged ductwork, Sergeant Modesto said.

"You're only relying on yourself," Sergeant Modesto said. "It's very infectious. You don't see a lot of people leaving here and going to other missions. It's part of our life."

A good day on the job ends "sleeping in your own bed -- not on the ice cap in a tent in a bag somewhere," Sergeant Modesto said.

But that speaks more to the crew's desire to see each mission through. Nothing is more disappointing for them than going through all of the efforts to drop supplies and fuel at a remote outpost and having to turn back because of weather.

"That's definitely one of the bummers," he said. "If we go out to do a mission and we can't do it, they're not calling somebody else. It's us or it's nobody."
Air Force Office of Special Investigations agents instrumental in B-2 Spirit spy conviction

8/17/2010 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- A federal jury in U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii found Noshir S. Gowadia, age 66, of Maui, guilty of five criminal offenses Aug. 9 relating to his design for the Chinese government of a low signature cruise missile exhaust system capable of rendering a Chinese cruise missile resistant to detection by infrared missiles.

The jury also convicted Mr. Gowadia of illegally communicating classified information on three other occasions and unlawfully exporting technical information on those three occasions, illegally retaining defense information and filing false tax returns for the years 2001 and 2002. The jury acquitted Mr. Gowadia of three other offenses alleging illegal communication of information to the Chinese government.

The verdict was announced by David Kris, the Assistant Attorney General for National Security, and Florence T. Nakakuni, the U.S. Attorney for the District of Hawaii. The verdict followed six days of deliberation and a 40-day trial.

"Mr. Gowadia provided some of our country's most sensitive weapons-related designs to the Chinese government for money," Assistant Attorney General Kris said. "Today, he is being held accountable for his actions. This prosecution should serve as a warning to others who would compromise our nation's military secrets for profit. I commend the many prosecutors, analysts, and agents, including those from the FBI and the Air Force, who were responsible for this investigation and prosecution."

"The United States entrusts people with important and sensitive information critical to our nation's defense," U.S. Attorney Nakakuni said. "Today's verdict demonstrates that there is a serious consequence to betraying that trust."

"The FBI will continue to pursue anyone who treats America's national security as a commodity to be sold for personal enrichment," said Charlene Thornton, the Special Agent in charge of the Honolulu Field Office of the FBI.

"This case is a superb example of interagency cooperation with one single goal in mind: to protect Americans from harm," said Colonel Keith Givens, the vice commander of Headquarters U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations. "The successful prosecution of Mr. Gowadia for espionage and other crimes highlights the many contributions of AFOSI personnel and our partner organizations worldwide."

Mr. Gowadia was first arrested in October 2005 on a criminal complaint alleging that he willfully communicated national defense information to a person not entitled to receive it. He was charged with additional violations in a 2005 indictment, a 2006 superseding indictment and a 2007 second superseding indictment.

According to information produced during the trial, Mr. Gowadia was an engineer with Northrop Grumman Corporation from approximately 1968 to 1986, during which time he contributed to the development of the unique propulsion system and low observable capabilities of the B-2 Spirit bomber. Mr. Gowadia also continued to work on classified matters as a contractor with the with the U.S. government until 1997, when his security clearance was terminated.

Evidence at the trial revealed that from July 2003 to June 2005, Mr. Gowadia took six trips to China to provide defense services in the form of design, test support and test data analysis of technologies for the purpose of assisting the Chinese government with its cruise missile system by developing a stealthy exhaust nozzle and was paid at least $110,000 by the Chinese government. The jury convicted Mr. Gowadia of two specific transmissions of classified information: a presentation concerning the exhaust nozzle of a Chinese cruise missile project and an evaluation of the effectiveness of a redesigned nozzle, and a computer file providing his signature prediction of a Chinese cruise missile outfitted with his modified exhaust nozzle and associated predictions in relation to a U.S. air-to-air missile.

The prosecution also produced evidence which documented Mr. Gowadia's use of three foreign entities he controlled, including a Liechtenstein charity purportedly for the benefit of children, to disguise the income he received from foreign countries. In addition to demonstrating that Mr. Gowadia under reported his income and falsely denied having control over foreign bank accounts for the two tax years involved in his convictions, the evidence at trial revealed that Mr. Gowadia hadn't paid any income tax since from at least 1997 until 2005 when he was arrested.

Chief U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway set sentencing for Nov. 22, 2010. At that time, Mr. Gowadia faces the following maximum terms of imprisonment:

-- Life imprisonment for each of two counts of willfully communicating classified national defense information to the Chinese government with the intent that it be used to the advantage of the Chinese government or to the injury of the U.S.

-- Ten years imprisonment for each of three counts of willfully communicating classified national defense information to persons not entitled to receive it in the Chinese government and elsewhere, and one count of illegally retaining defense systems information at his Maui residence.

-- Ten years imprisonment for each of four counts of exporting technical data related to a defense article without an export license (in violation of the Arms Export Control Act).

-- Five years imprisonment for one count of conspiracy to violate the Arms Export Control Act.

-- Ten years imprisonment for one money laundering charge based on proceeds from the Arms Export Control Act violations.

-- Three years imprisonment for each of two counts of filing false tax returns for the years 2001 and 2002.

This case was investigated by members of the FBI, the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations, the Internal Revenue Service's Criminal Investigation Division, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement and the State Department's Directorate of Defense Trade Controls.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Kenneth M. Sorenson of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Hawaii and Senior Trial Attorney Robert E. Wallace Jr., of the Counterespionage Section of the Justice Department's National Security Division.

USS George H.W. Bush Sailors Help Hampton Roads Community

From USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Nearly 2,000 Sailors from the Navy's newest aircraft carrier, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), participated in a seven-city community service project entitled "1,000 Points of Light" in the Hampton Roads, Va., area Aug. 17.

Bush Sailors participated in almost 95 projects across the area.

The day began at 6 a.m. with an event kick-off at Naval Station Norfolk's Pier 14. Lt. Sunny Mitchell, one of the event coordinators and a chaplain aboard the ship, spoke to the Sailors about serving as a global force for good in the local community and exemplifying former President George H.W. Bush's dedication to service.

"All across the word our Navy is engaged in helping people," said Mitchell, mentioning Sailors who responded to the earthquake in Haiti. "It's part of who we are as a service, and it's just as important that we carry that message to our neighbors right here in the Hampton Roads area."

From there, the crew spread out across the Tidewater region. The individual projects were coordinated by the ship's Command Religious Ministries Department. The ship's crew, coordinating with local government and non-governmental volunteer agencies, volunteered their time helping out Virginia Beach Parks and Recreation, Newport News Recreation and Tourism, Portsmouth Parks, the Norfolk Zoo and other organizations such as Habitat for Humanity and the Hampton Clean City Commission.

Members of the crew also volunteered with the Hampton Public School system to read to children.

Crews of volunteers ranging from 10 to more than 100 spread out to a wide variety of projects. While 20 Sailors cleaned up a cemetery in Virginia Beach, another 50 Sailors cleaned the goat shed and bison yard at the Norfolk Zoo. Nearly 150 Sailors installed surfacing at five different elementary schools in Newport News, and 60 Sailors assisted with various projects for Habitat for Humanity. More than 100 Sailors stripped and waxed the floors of nine schools in Portsmouth.

"As the crew of USS George H.W. Bush, we are also members of the Tidewater community," said Mitchell. "We live in Norfolk, Suffolk, Portsmouth, Hampton, Newport News, Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. Our children go to school here. We take our families to the beaches and parks here. It's important to show our neighbors that we're not just stationed here, we live here too."

Twenty Sailors went to Red Wing Park in Virginia Beach, where park supervisor, Jim Kucenski, said the George H.W. Bush Sailors completed more than 100 hours of work that would have taken weeks to complete otherwise, ranging from digging ditches and trimming shrubs to painting and pressure washing picnic areas.

"This is one of the best groups I've seen," said Kucenski. "Great enthusiasm and great attitudes, and they're getting a lot of work done."

"We live around here, and we all use this park. It's great to be able to give back," said Senior Chief Cryptologic Technician (Technical) (SW/AW) Craig Bar.

"It feels good to be outside in the fresh air working hard and making a difference," said Logistics Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Jilienne Commerford.

This is the second "1,000 Points of Light" community relations project conducted by Bush's Sailors. More than 1,000 Sailors participated in the inaugural project in June 2009, assisting the community in more than 20 volunteer projects.

Bush, homeported in Norfolk, is the 10th and final Nimitz-class aircraft carrier. It was commissioned Jan. 10, 2009, and is preparing for its maiden deployment in spring 2011.

SECNAV, CNO Announce Flag Officer Assignments

From the Department of Defense

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced Aug. 17 the following assignments:

Capt. Victor M. Beck, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as director, Public Affairs Office, International Security Assistance Force, Afghanistan. Beck is currently serving as director, Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Patrick Driscoll, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral, will be assigned as deputy chief of staff for global force management and joint operations, concept development, and experimentation, N3/N5/N9, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, Norfolk. Driscoll is currently serving as commander, Carrier Strike Group 10, Norfolk.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Sinclair M. Harris will be assigned as director, Navy Irregular Warfare Office, N3/N5, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Harris is currently serving as commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 5/commander, Task Force 51/158, Bahrain.

Capt. Philip G. Howe, who has been selected for promotion to rear admiral (lower half), will be assigned as deputy commander, Joint Special Operations Command, U.S. Special Operations Command, Fort Bragg, N.C. Howe is currently serving as director of legislative affairs, U.S. Special Operations Command, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Margaret D. Klein will be assigned as commander, Expeditionary Strike Group 5/commander, Task Force 51/158, Bahrain. Klein is currently serving director of global operations, Naval Network Warfare Command, Norfolk.

Command Sergeant Major Wraps Up Tour

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Matthew Chlosta
International Security Assistance Force

Aug. 17, 2010 - The International Security Assistance Force's senior enlisted leader completed his 100th and final battlefield circulation Aug. 13. Since Aug. 4, 2009, Army Command Sgt. Maj. Michael T. Hall has traveled more than 265 days to various combat outposts, forward operating bases, camps and bases scattered throughout Afghanistan. He's also made 12 overseas trips to NATO units in Europe and the United States to brief them on counterinsurgency strategy before they deploy to Afghanistan.

Most importantly, Hall goes to the front lines to listen to troops, see what they see and do what they do for few days and nights. Then he takes back their comments and suggestions, along with his observations, to the ISAF commander.

Last year, Army Gen. Stanley A. McChrystal, then the ISAF commander, asked Hall to come out of retirement to serve as the ISAF and U.S. Forces Afghanistan command sergeant major. He has continued in that role during the transition period since Army Gen. David H. Petraeus took the ISAF reins July 4.

"I was tasked by the commander of ISAF to help change the mindset of ISAF forces," Hall said. "You can write things, and the chain of command can pass [the intent down]. But the commander wanted to ensure the troops at the lowest leader level, that first-line supervisor, understood his intent. What was being asked of troops was hard, and they had to believe in it.

"By being out there with them," he continued, "I could explain the intent and also get feedback so we could modify our strategy based on what was working and what wasn't. This is a battle of perception of the Afghan people, and the forces at the lowest level will be the ones to win this, not the people in [the Afghan capital of] Kabul."

In addition to traveling three to five days a week for his own battlefield circulations, Hall also would accompany the ISAF commander twice a week on trips around the country to gather troop feedback.

"I tried to spend time with every brigade and separate battalion-sized element, covering all the services' combat, combat support and combat service support units, all the contributing nations, all the separate entities like special operations forces, provincial reconstruction teams, agricultural development teams, route-clearing units, engineers building things, training organizations, etc., trying to show that everybody was important to the fight," Hall said. "[The] goal was to spend time with them during predeployment, within a few months of them arriving, and near the end of their deployment."

Hall spent most of his 32 years in uniform serving in special operations. This included a two-year stint in the 1990s in which he served under McChrystal at the 75th Ranger Regiment. He also served as the command sergeant major for Joint Special Operations Command, where he helped to lead the initial U.S. invasion into Afghanistan after Sept. 11, 2001.

Hall has observed significant changes and implemented some as well during his year as the senior enlisted leader for ISAF.

"I have been able to establish a wide-ranging Internet network that regularly passed best practices," Hall said. "[I] was also able to use this 'flat' network to quickly get feedback on hot issues that needed opinions from the field in a timely manner. I think the most significant contribution has been that units coming over have been hitting the ground running as a result of providing timely information to prepare them for deployment. I have been able to explain why we do things and make folks understand the urgency and importance of what we are trying to do, to ensure we don't repeat mistakes of the past.

"The benefit, I hope, was to be able to show [the ISAF coalition forces] the progress they have made," Hall continued. "Soldiers are at it day after tough day; they lost friends and family. They often question, are we really making progress? Is this worth it? I can never answer that hard question on whether it is worth it. Each individual must answer that, but I am able to point out the changes I observed since the last time I was there and let them know that every decision we make, we make with the soldier in mind."

Hall said he has many memories of his deployment to Afghanistan and was proud to contribute to the counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan, a place he's been involved with since initial U.S. forces, including Rangers he led, entered the country in late 2001.

On his final battlefield circulation, Hall visited four units in Regional Command South, including Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232, a unit that flies F-18 jets out of Kandahar Airfield.

"I think it was great to see the high command come in the area," said Marine Corps Gunnery Sgt. George Foster, the squadron's maintenance administration chief. "It gets eyes on what the men are going through."

Marine Corps Cpl. Juan Alas, powerline mechanic with the squadron, said he and Hall had a good discussion about his duties. "We talked about engines and ordnance," he said. "His visit was pretty motivating."

Hall also visited Task Force Destiny here, led by the 101st Combat Aviation Brigade from Fort Campbell, Ky.

"It's a tremendous morale boost for the soldiers," said Army Command Sgt. Maj. Trevor Beharie, the unit's senior enlisted soldier. "He's definitely a soldier's leader.

"We're lucky to have someone of his caliber at the ISAF headquarters," Beharie continued. "He cares about the soldiers. He cares about the mission. It's evident from the moment you meet him. He understands the commander's guidance and he takes that to the field."

Army Spc. Ryan Egnor noted Hall's genuine concern. "He's not sugarcoating it," he said. "He's trying to find out if there are reasonable things he can fix."

Prior to the Kandahar trip, Hall also made it up to Regional Command North to visit 10th Mountain Division soldiers and to accompany a foot patrol to the village of Aliabad with one of his former soldiers.

"He's had a huge impact," Army Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis Defreese of the division's 1st Brigade Combat Team. Defreese served as a platoon sergeant under Hall in the 101st Airborne Division.

"I don't have enough adjectives to describe what he's done," Defreese said. "He's a national asset."

Hall said spending time with troops has made it all worthwhile.

"What I'll miss the most is the honesty and candor that you get from troops - the sense from these folks that they really understand what things in life are really important," Hall said.

"Physically it beats you up," Hall said of his travels. "My schedule is so erratic that my body never gets to recover or get into a routine. At my age that can be a problem, but the strength and motivation I get from being around people keeps me going. Mentally, it's tough also. You spend time with people that just lost someone, or you get back and read the reports of folks you were just with. It makes you stop."

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, who most recently served as U.S. Army Central Command's command sergeant major, will assume the ISAF senior enlisted leader position Sept. 1. Hall will retire again and will return to his wife and son in Tennessee. Then he'll go back to work for the defense contractor Lockheed Martin.

As he headed into the final weeks of his tour, Hall reflected on the many positive changes he's seen over the past 13 months in Afghanistan.

"Every organization, no matter what type or country, that has come over since about last November truly understands and believes in the counterinsurgency strategy and what we are trying to accomplish," he said.

C-130s Deliver Firefighting Supplies to Russia

From a U.S. Air Forces in Europe News Release

Aug. 17, 2010 - Two C-130J Super Hercules transport aircraft flew missions from here into Russia on Aug. 13, delivering firefighting supplies promised by President Barack Obama to aid in the battle against rampant wildfires. Members of the 37th Airlift Squadron delivered equipment from Army, Air Force, Marine Corps and Navy units throughout U.S. European Command.

Eucom officials began brainstorming about a week before the operation on how the command could help after the Russian government forwarded a list of equipment they needed to officials at the U.S. embassy in Moscow.

"Our smart planners worked with all of our components in Europe to rapidly determine what we could supply," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Harold Moulton, Eucom's operations director. "We identified supplies like Pioneer Equipment, large-diameter hoses, mobile pumping stations, personal protective equipment and medical kits, and then packaged them for delivery.

"We reached out to our bases as far west as Rota, Spain, and as far south as Sigonella, Italy," he continued. "Additional materials were identified from our stocks in Norway and at our air base at Ramstein. We asked our air component, U.S. Air Forces in Europe, to lead, and they did a great job. Our C-130 aircrews demonstrated their flexibility and 'get it done' attitude."

The U.S. response to the Russian wildfires was a quickly pushed mission, and crews were ready to spring into action, said Air Force Lt. Col. Tobias Sernel, 37th Airlift Squadron and mission commander.

"Support from the embassy in Moscow made it possible to get our crews and equipment up in the air in incredible time," Sernel said.

"It was a tiring mission with two roundtrip flights, more than 17 hours of flight time, and hours of loading and offloading equipment," he added. "But when you consider the lifesaving equipment delivered and the bilateral relationship that was bolstered, doing all this was worth the effort."

The mission was "incredible" from all perspectives, said Air Force Master Sgt. Keith Houin, USAFE public affairs documentation team leader. "It was impressive to see the orchestration of hundreds of airmen, two nations and so much equipment on such short notice. Anyone who touched even the smallest piece of this mission should be proud of what they did. We showed the world that the United States is a great partner."


Lots of talk the last few days about Iran's nuclear plant at Bushehr. To make a long story short, its getting loaded with nulcear fuel on 21 August, meaning any strike on the site after that date risks leaking radioactive material into the air.

Lot's of dramatic talk here and here.

If the Israelis were to attack the blow might not be struck from the air at all. Israel has three Dolphin Class submarines capable of launching missiles from its torpedo tubes, probably four a piece. These would be the Popeye AGM/142 Have Nap.

Not a bad bit of punch and not a bad option.

U.S. Wants Renewed Military Contacts with China

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

Aug. 17, 2010 - Resumption of military-to-military contacts between the United States and China is in both countries' best interests, senior defense officials said yesterday.

The officials, speaking on background about a new report delivered to Congress yesterday, also said the Chinese have not been as transparent as they could be about their military transformation program, leaving the Sino-U.S. dialogue open to misunderstanding and miscommunications that could lead to miscalculations.

The congressionally mandated annual report, titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2010," was released on a day when officials announced China has surpassed Japan as the world's second-largest economy. China should have a gross domestic product of just over $5 trillion this year. The United States has the world's largest economy, with just over $15 trillion.

The booming Chinese economy is a good thing for the world, the report says, noting that the Chinese middle class is growing by leaps and bounds. The economic expansion has given the Chinese government the money needed to transform its military.

"We welcome a strong, prosperous and successful China," a senior defense official said, noting that a strong China has played an increasingly important role on the international stage.

"At the same time," the official added, "the Chinese government has embarked on a mission to transform its military into a modern force capable of conducting a growing range of military missions."

A decade ago, China's army issued a new roles and missions statement that goes beyond the country's immediate territorial interests. Some of the growth is good: China is participating in humanitarian relief, peacekeeping, search and rescue and counterpiracy missions. At the same time, "the lack of transparency around China's growing capabilities and its intentions have raised questions about Chinese investments in the military and security sphere," the official said.

This worries planners and strategists in the Pentagon. The Chinese have not been open about anti-access capabilities they are developing, about cyber attacks, or even about the cost of their military effort, officials said.

In March, Chinese army leaders announced a 7.5 percent increase in the country's military budget to about $78.6 billion. "The [Defense Department] estimate of China's total military-related spending for 2009 stands at some $150 billion," the senior defense official said.

"The complexity of the regional and global security environment, as well as the advances in China's military capabilities and its expanding military operations and mission, call for a stable, reliable and continuous dialogue between the armed forces of the United States and China to expand practical cooperation where our national interests converge and to discuss candidly those areas where we have disagreement," the senior defense official said. "Such dialogue is especially important, we believe, during periods when there is friction and turbulence."

The Chinese ended the military-to-military dialogue with the United States after the United States sold $6.4 billion in defensive weapons to Taiwan in accordance with the Taiwan Relations Act of 1979. It was the second such halt in recent years.

Last year -- the year covered by the new report -- Sino-U.S. military-to-military relations were good. But the on-again, off-again nature of China's engagement with the U.S. military ended the period of civility and progress in the military-to-military relationship.

The stop-and-go cycle limits the areas the two militaries can discuss. Even more troubling given China's increasing military capabilities, this cycle increases the risk that miscommunication and misperception could lead to miscalculation, the official said.

"Moreover, we believe that it is in our mutual interests ... that we have a balanced and reciprocal dialogue allowing us to build mutual trust, cooperative capacity, institutional understanding, and develop common views, all of those things on our normal checklist, and that there is a real cost to the absence of military-military relations," the official said.

The United States has tried to restart the contacts. It is now up to China to make the next move and "demonstrate that it is in their interest to stay in that relationship and that they desire to sustain these engagements through periods of turbulence," the official said.

In the near term, the Chinese are preparing for a Taiwan contingency. China also is developing the capability to attack at long range military forces operating in the Western Pacific. The capability still is limited, but it can grow in numbers and accuracy, the official said.

China has the most active ballistic and cruise missile development program in the world. The Chinese are developing new classes of missiles, upgrading others and working on countering ballistic missile defenses.

At sea, China's navy has the largest force of principal combatant submarines and amphibious warfare ships in Asia. China continues to invest heavily in nuclear-powered submarines and diesel electric boats. It's also building an aircraft carrier and other combatant surface ships.

The Chinese are also developing space and cyber capabilities, pursuing the ability to dominate across the spectrum of information in all its dimensions on modern battle space, the official said.

"China's investment in advanced electronic warfare systems, counterspace weapons and computer network operations reflect the emphasis and priority China's leaders place on building capability in these areas," the senior defense official said.

U.S. Relief Continues in Pakistan

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

Aug. 17, 2010 - U.S. military forces rescued 375 displaced Pakistanis yesterday, Pentagon officials said today, continuing their humanitarian assistance in wake of the monsoon floods that have isolated much of the Swat Valley and Peshawar regions in northwestern Pakistan.

Since Aug. 5, U.S. military aviation assets and personnel have rescued 3,978 flood victims and transported more than 500,000 pounds of food and relief supplies, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said.

"Everything that we're doing is at the request of the Pakistani government," he said. "So everything that we're providing, where we're taking it to, who we're delivering it to, ... anything we're providing is specifically at the request of the Pakistani government."

The Defense Department has spent about $300,000 a day on flight operations. The total operational cost so far is around $2.5 million, Whitman said, noting that number is only a "small part of the federal government expenditure."

The State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development, as well as the United Nations, are actively engaged in relief efforts there, he explained.

"The president has obviously committed a robust government effort here, and that translates into helicopters for [the military], rescue operations, as well as flying in humanitarian relief supplies," Whitman said.

U.S. aviation assets include 11 helicopters and three cargo planes, he said. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates last week ordered a contingent of 19 U.S. helicopters to Pakistan. Whitman could not say when the remaining helicopters would arrive.

More U.S. military support may be needed, Whitman said.

"I don't believe we've gotten to the point where we can estimate the totality of the support that's needed," he said. "It's obviously a very devastating flood. The U.N., as well as Pakistani authorities, have called in a broad international assistance.

"It doesn't look like the situation is getting any better," he continued. "It's a dire situation, and just by the number of rescues the U.S. military has done with the limited aviation assets on the ground with 11 helicopters, you can see people's lives are being saved every day by having some of these capabilities there."

Whitman said the Pentagon is addressing the situation "one day at a time."

"It's a dynamic situation with respect to the support being provided to Pakistan," Whitman said. "The U.S. is a good ally and friend to Pakistan and wants to be supportive, and that's why we have the resources we do there."

Singaporean Residents Tour USS George Washington

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Charles Oki, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Sailors from USS George Washington (CVN 73) welcomed aboard Singapore residents for public tours of the aircraft carrier Aug. 14 as part of the ship's port visit to Singapore.

The tours provided people a chance to experience a small portion of life aboard an aircraft carrier.

Among the visitors were local families and students, youths from the Jamiya Children's Home and members of the Navy League, the Singapore military and other various organizations.

"It's definitely been a great experience," said Cmdr. Paul Haycock, a British Royal Navy liaison officer living in Singapore. "The entire tour has been extremely well organized, and we learned a lot from the Sailors giving the tours."

"I really enjoyed seeing all the jets and learning about how they shoot off the ship," said Haycock's son, Matthew.

Of the tour groups visiting the ship, the deepest impression might have been for the children of the Jamiyah Children's Home. The home hosts children, age 2-19, who have lost their parents or are from unstable families.

"I think that this is a great experience for the kids," said Md Irwan Masop, senior welfare officer of the Jamiyah Children's Home. "I feel that this is a great learning experience, and it gives them a great chance to see what the U.S. military is like. We were invited to visit an aircraft carrier six years ago, and we were happy to give the children the opportunity again."

The tour groups visited several spaces on the ship, including the hangar bay, flight deck and navigation bridge where children got the chance to sit in the captain's chair.

"I really enjoyed being able to see and learn how the jets take off and land on the ship," said 15-year-old Muhammed Farhan. "I think this might be a once in a lifetime experience, and I've enjoyed seeing things in real life that I'd only seen on TV. I hope I get the chance to see a ship like this again."

The tours also provided Sailors the opportunity to meet with the citizens of Singapore.

"First and foremost we're Sailors, but a close second is that we are ambassadors," said Boatswain's Mate Seaman (SW) Latoya Towns, from Orlando, Fla. and a member of George Washington's Deck Department. "I really enjoyed showing the people what we do because not a lot people in the United States even get to see what we do so showing someone who knows nothing about us really made it a great time."

George Washington is the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier and operates from Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. It is currently on its summer patrol ensuring security and stability in the western Pacific.

Tops In Blue completes successful AOR tour

by Erin Tindell
Air Force Services Agency Public Affairs

RANDOLPH AIR FORCE BASE, Texas – Deployed U.S. and coalition forces supporting the war on terror downrange received a chance to pause from their duties recently during the Tops In Blue month-long performance tour.

Tops In Blue is the Air Force’s premier entertainment unit for Airmen, other military personnel and international audiences worldwide at home and deployed locations. The team is comprised of 35 vocalists, musicians and audio-visual technicians who promote community relations, support recruiting efforts and serve as ambassadors for the U.S.

The theme for this year’s tour is “We Believe” and includes more than 25 songs including R&B, country, rock ‘n’ roll, and pop. Each year, the team spends a month performing downrange to help maintain a high level of morale for those working in dangerous and austere conditions.

The team said its goal was to not only entertain the troops, but give them a chance to clear their minds and motivate them for their missions.

“Performing in the AOR has been a truly humbling experience,” said Tech. Sgt. Katie Badowski, a vocalist on the 2010 team who is a reservist with the 446th Services Flight at McChord Air Force Base, Wash. “I've had the privilege to perform for those that need it the most: the men and women who step beyond ‘the wire’ risking their lives for others and the support personnel who continually provide services to keep our armed forces safe and happy. It’s been amazing.”

According to the team, performing for joint and international audiences broadened their scope of how forces from all over the world band together to help fight the war on terror.

“It was a lot of work to set up the shows at bare bones locations, but it was very meaningful to know we’re all fighting the same fight,” said Staff Sgt. Rodney Mays, the team’s bass player and a cyber transport craftsman with the Air Education and Training Command at Randolph AFB, Texas.

Comments left by deployed personnel on the team’s Facebook page expressed enthusiasm for having the team perform for them and how team members displayed nothing but positive attitudes.

“It’s such a huge morale boost to go to entertainment shows like the Tops In Blue while you’re deployed,” said Staff Sgt. Matthew Dechant, a guardsman from the 111th Fighter Wing recently deployed to Joint Base Balad, Iraq, as a small computers technician. “Having those songs stuck in my head for weeks after the performance always made me smile; especially those that reminded me of friends or family back home.”

According to Airman 1st Class Megan Harvey, a vocalist and maintainer at Barksdale AFB, La., the team wanted to give deployed Airmen a quick pause so they could enjoy good music and laugh a little.

“Knowing that we could possibly help their mission by allowing them to take a breath, go back in and fight harder was a true honor,” she said.

Upon returning to the U.S. after its tour of the AOR, the team continued to showcase its joint spirit during their performance at Lackland AFB, Texas. To close out the show, the team invited members of the U.S. Army’s Soldier Show on stage with them to sing Lee Greenwood’s God Bless the USA.

“It was a goose bump kind of moment,” said Gina Velasquez, an audience member at the show.

For more information about Tops In Blue and a complete schedule of 2010 performances, visit www.topsinblue.com.