Friday, August 20, 2010
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs
8/20/2010 - ATLANTA (AFNS) -- At the Air Force Sergeant's Association Professional Airmen's Conference here Aug. 18, the Air Force secretary emphasized his commitment to Airmen and their families, and a focus on strategic balance to best support current and future operations.
Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley addressed hundreds of Airmen, other service members, civilians and six former chief master sergeants of the Air Force to share his vision of building a greater sense of community related to service, Department of Defense and national priorities.
"Simply put, this is an expeditionary Air Force, and deployments are part of our culture," Secretary Donley said. "This year, you'll see a tremendous transition from operations in Iraq to surge operations in Afghanistan. We must continue to refine our efforts and recognize that an Airman's deployment is really a family's deployment."
Secretary Donley said the number of Airmen deployed to Iraq has dropped from about 9,800 to 7,300, with nearly 10,000 Airmen on the ground in Afghanistan, up from 7,600 since this time last year.
To assist Airmen returning from these deployments and others, the secretary said redeployers in certain career fields will see the reintegration process eased through a new deployment transition center at Ramstein Air Base, Germany.
Though the Year of the Air Force Family ended in July 2010, Secretary Donley used the opportunity to highlight the significant and ongoing progress the service has made in enhancing support to families.
To gain a better understanding of where gaps in services might exist, about 250 helping professionals supported the 2009 and 2010 Caring for People forums, creating 62 base-level focus groups. Through these groups, Airmen voiced concerns about health and wellness, childcare, spouse education and employment, housing, dining facilities, and single Airmen issues.
"These forums helped us paint a valid picture of our needs and helped (guide) our next steps," Secretary Donley said. "Our truest core asset remains you, our Airmen; and now, more than ever, we need to keep our eyes on that target."
The secretary noted that military children and spouses face challenges that few civilian counterparts will ever know or experience, to include moves and deployments which can result in family separations and the inability to pursue careers.
In addition to a standardized key spouse program at each base, service initiatives include spouse educational and employment assistance, as well as transitional support for Air Force children.
The Air Force has also allotted about $2 million in the next fiscal year for programs such as marriage care retreats and enhanced social connections that provide balance and support for families, the secretary said.
An estimated $140 million will go to improved fitness centers with longer operating hours. Other initiatives include zero- or reduced-cost youth sports and childcare programs.
"We've already extended childcare through several programs, and we'll continue to reduce our childcare space deficit through new construction and additional personnel which will help us eliminate that deficit by the end of fiscal year 2012," Secretary Donley said.
For the 16,000 Airmen who comprise the exceptional family member program, Airmen and their families will receive timely and accurate information, streamlined assignment coordination, and adequate care through the newly established Air Force-wide standards, Secretary Donley said.
Noting a 40 percent population of single Airmen, the secretary added that "significant funding" has been allotted for the single Airman working group to help bridge gaps in communications and technology support, social and recreational opportunities, and single Airmen development.
Secretary Donley said Airmen have asked for, and will receive, better dining facilities and safe, contemporary and affordable housing.
"We have built or renovated 23,000 privatized homes by the end of this fiscal year," the secretary said. "There are many dorms worthy of updating, and we've programmed more than $250 million over the next two years toward improvements."
Secretary Donley lauded Airmen for their commitment to today's fight.
"Whether discussing air, space or cyber operations, our Airmen are engaged in today's conflicts," Secretary Donley said. "They're also engaged in shaping the perspectives of others and preventing conflicts through deterrence."
The secretary pledged to continue to prepare for tomorrow's fight across the full spectrum of conflict.
He related the criticality of organizing, training, equipping and posturing the Air Force, while enabling the capabilities on which the entire joint force depends.
In addition to mobility, air refueling, and intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance, Secretary Donley said counter-insurgency capabilities and the Joint Strike Fighter program were but one part of the service's strategic balance blueprint.
"While working on command and control for missile defense, we're pursuing light attack/armed reconnaissance light air support aircraft to more effectively train (up-and -coming) air forces who seek assistance from us," Secretary Donley said. "While planning for the recapitalization of the tanker fleet, we're strengthening space situational awareness and cyber defense."
The secretary added that while building the language and cultural competency program, the Air Force will continue to advance research on directed energy weapons and other future capabilities.
"This balanced approach provides a path for modernization in each of our Air Force core functions," Secretary Donley said. "It ensures the Air Force will have the capabilities we need to address potential threats across the spectrum of conflict and will enable joint and coalition forces to rapidly collect and move information at any time and place."
The secretary said Airmen perform to their highest potential if they are unencumbered by home-front or family issues, and highlighted the importance of base-level, grass-roots participation and feedback reflecting Airmen's needs.
"The Air Force has long been recognized as the service for its exceptional commitment to people and to families," Secretary Donley said. "Base-level leadership often has the best visibility into local needs and can most efficiently and effectively respond to and meet those needs."
"We are strongly urging mortgage companies to extend every possible forbearance to veterans whose livelihoods have been affected by the oil spill crisis," said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.
Secretary Shinseki noted that several mortgage companies already have announced plans to waive late payment charges and suspend negative reporting to credit bureaus on affected borrowers. VA officials are asking all mortgage companies to follow this example.
"Through no fault of their own, many of our veterans are out of work and are struggling to earn an income," the secretary said. "We must assist these veterans in this difficult time, just as they have supported us in their sacrifice to the nation."
There is information available on the VA website, www.homeloans.va.gov, that provides basic guidance for veterans affected by a major disaster. Veterans in need of mortgage counseling also may contact their nearest VA regional loan center at 1-877-827-3702 for help and information, regardless of whether or not they have a VA home loan.
USS NEW ORLEANS, At Sea (NNS) -- USS New Orleans (LPD 18), Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 5 and other embarked units arrived in Balboa, Panama, Aug. 20 as the final stop in support of Amphibious-Southern Partnership Station (A-SPS) 2010.
A-SPS is the amphibious portion of Southern Partnership Station, which is a deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility in Latin America and the Caribbean.
A-SPS's primary goal is mission-focused information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region in order to enhance regional maritime capabilities and security.
The port visit to Panama marks the end of a three-month deployment in support of USSOUTHCOM's goals of ensuring theater security, enhancing regional stability and strengthening relationships among regional partners. The ship and embarked units visited Manzanillo, Mexico; Lima, Peru; and Bahia Malaga, Colombia.
The visit is scheduled as a liberty port, and the ship's Morale, Welfare and Recreation team has scheduled tours including scuba diving, deep sea fishing, cultural outings and an opportunity to transit a small part of the Panama Canal.
PHIBRON 5 Commodore, Capt. Peter J. Brennan, A-SPS mission commander, will fly home to San Diego for a change of command ceremony Aug. 22. Brennan will be relieved by Capt. Humberto L. Quintanilla at the ceremony.
"This deployment has been very rewarding," said Brennan. "We've worked closely with Sailors and Marines from Mexico, Central America and South America, and we've learned a lot from each other. This interaction through subject matter exchanges, community relations projects and social functions, have provided the opportunity to strengthen our relationships and in turn, strengthen the stability of the region. I am very happy to be ending my tour of duty with PHIBRON 5 on such a positive note."
Throughout the deployment, New Orleans has been conducting exercises and multinational exchanges with Mexico, Peru and Colombia to build on relationships built through previous Southern Partnership Station deployments. In addition to subject matter exchanges, the ship conducted humanitarian and civic assistance through community relations projects and Project Handclasp deliveries throughout the region.
Service members from Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Mexico, Peru and Uruguay deployed with New Orleans in order to facilitate interaction between their navies and the U.S. Navy through subject matter exchanges and interaction. This has been accomplished through presentations, personal interaction and hands-on, joint exercises. They boarded the ship in San Diego June 10, with most departing in Peru. Those from Colombia remained on board until after the ship departed its recent port visit to Bahia Malaga, Colombia.
"I think this is one of the best ideas our commanders have had," said Colombian navy Lt. Cmdr. Luis Pulgarin. "It is so important that the U.S. and South American navies work together because it is one region...America...and we need to be able to share experiences and work together, because it will help us all to stay secure. At this moment, the United States and Colombia are both combating terrorism, and we need to work together. It is very important."
During the final two weeks in Colombia, New Orleans conducted counter illicit-trafficking operations. The ship and embarked units patrolled off the coast with a Colombian liaison naval officer on board. The ship was prepared to work in concert with Colombian and Panamanian forces in the event any illegal traffickers were found.
Subject matter exchanges, including damage control, firefighting, engineering and medical processes, took place aboard New Orleans and on shore in each country. In addition, New Orleans, along with partner nations and Special Purpose Marine Air Ground Task Force 24 participated in both Partnership of the Americas 2010 and Southern Exchange 2010 in support of A-SPS, conducting joint amphibious operations in Salinas and Ancon, Peru.
USS New Orleans will return to its homeport of San Diego after leaving Panama.
SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Fleet Activities Sasebo (CFAS) hosted three Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) fighters Aug. 18-19 in Sasebo, Japan.
Rich Franklin, Dustin Hazelett and Joe Stevenson toured ships, signed autographs and taught amateur mixed martial artists during a visit organized by the CFAS Morale, Welfare and Recreation team.
"It feels great to come out and spend some time with the Navy," said Stevenson. "I got a chance to see how the ships operate and what these guys are doing for our country. There are a lot of hard workers in Sasebo."
The fighters toured USS Essex (LHD 2), USS Denver (LPD 9), USS Harpers Ferry (LSD 49) and USS Patriot (MCM 7). While aboard, they took time to pose for photographs and talk with crew members of each ship.
"It says a lot about them that they left their families and busy lives to fly around the world to visit us," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Eric Reed, a Denver crew member. "I think the UFC is so popular, partly because a lot of the fighters are very normal guys."
The fighters conducted a grappling seminar for more than 80 Sailors and family members at the Fleet Fitness Center Aug. 19. Participants were able to hit the mat and take ground-game advice from some of the best mixed martial artists in the UFC. After the training, attendees got a one-on-one shot at the fighters.
"I've been into mixed martial arts for a long time, and tonight I got to spar with a middleweight UFC champion," said Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Jose Cerca. "I'm going to be hurting tomorrow."
Before the seminar ended, the fighters fielded questions from participants, signed autographs and posed for photographs with fans.
"Rich Franklin won one of the first UFC fights I ever saw," Personnel Specialist Seaman Brandon Civello. "He is an amazing athlete and is a big part of why I got into the sport."
Franklin is a former middleweight champion who recently knocked out former light heavyweight champion Chuck Liddell at UFC June 12. He holds a professional record of 28 wins and 5 losses and is the co-creator of The Keep It in the Ring Foundation, a group that advocates non-violence and character building for American youth.
"I hear the guys off the ships saying that they appreciate us coming here, but it's really us who are thankful," said Franklin. "I appreciate what everyone in the military is doing for our country."
DILI, Timor-Leste (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet's deputy chief of staff for plans, policies and requirements visited several Pacific Partnership 2010 mission sites in Dili, Timor-Leste, including the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) Aug. 19.
Rear Adm. Thomas F. Carney toured Nu Laran School, where several projects are being conducted by host and partner nation Seabees and engineers alike in support of the engineering civic action program (ENCAP), including painting, renovations and installing a new septic system.
"We are really fortunate to have this many organizations participating in this mission," said Carney. "Not only U.S. military, also foreign military and foreign non-governmental organizations, which work with us to make Pacific Partnership a success."
Carney said the mission is about much more than planned operations.
"It is not just the good medical, dental or engineering works that are being conducted, but also the relations we build to facilitate the host nation countries, teach them and learn from them, so in the event of an actual natural disaster, we would know who to work with during recovery operations," said Carney. "This mission is a tremendous success in building a team effort."
Carney, accompanied by Commander, Pacific Partnership 2010, Capt. Lisa M. Franchetti, next visited a soccer stadium, where more than 20 Mercy crew members, led by Chaplain Lt. Derrick Horne, were preparing the field for an upcoming game for Timorese Ministry of Youth and Sports and Pacific Partnership 2010 participants.
Carney toured the hospital ship and ate lunch before taking a helicopter to a medical/dental civic action program (MED/DENCAP) at Saint Maria School Suai in a remote region of Timor-Leste. Hundreds of Timorese citizens were at the MED/DENCAP to receive a variety of medical services.
"I am very impressed with the quality of care we have been able to provide, we try to work as hard as we can to treat as many patients as possible," said Cmdr. Bharat Patel, officer-in-charge of the Suai MECAP. "Today is our final day of operations here. Not only is it important for us to see as many patients as we can, we have to provide a high level of care because many people may not have access to these types of care."
Pacific Partnership 2010 is the fifth in a series of annual U.S. Pacific Fleet humanitarian assistance and disaster relief endeavors aimed at strengthening regional partnerships. Having already completed operations in Vietnam, Cambodia and Indonesia, Mercy will conclude operations in Timor-Leste in several days, marking the final country where Mercy will conduct operations in support of Pacific Partnership 2010. Pacific Partnership 2010 will continue to Papua New Guinea aboard the Australian Navy's HMAS Tobruk (LSH-50).
Harlan Lee & Associates, LLC, Falls Church, Va. (HQ0147-10-D-0030); PeopleTec, Inc., Huntsville, Ala. (HQ0147-10-D-0031); and Total Solutions, Inc., Huntsville, Ala. (HQ0147-10-D-0032) are each being awarded an indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract to provide advisory and assistance services to the Chief of Staff Directorate, Human Resources Directorate, and Public Affairs at the Missile Defense Agency (MDA). The contractors will assist in providing support services in support of the Ballistic Missile Defense System. Each contract has a not to exceed ordering ceiling of $195,700,000. The companies will have the opportunity to bid on each individual task order. Work under these contracts will be performed in Alaska, Alabama, California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Virginia. The performance period is through August 2015. These contracts are being competitively awarded under the Small Business Set-Aside Request for Proposal HQ0147-09-R-0001. Obligations will be made by task orders using research, development, test and evaluation funds. This procurement is managed by the MDA Engineering and Support Services Program Office.
Lockheed Martin Corp., Fort Worth, Texas, was awarded a $111,386,931 contract modification to provide sustainment for the F-22 program for calendar year 2010. At this time, $241,645,563 has been obligated. ASC/WWUK,Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, is the contracting agency (FA8611-08-C-2897 P00049) .
Jacobs Technology, Inc., Tullahoma, Tenn., was awarded a $103,319,031 contract modification which will provide technical, engineering and acquisition support at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and its other tenant units. At this time, no money has been obligated. AAC/PKES, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., is the contracting activity (FA9200-07-C-0006; P00042).
Northrop Grumman Systems Corp., Electronic Systems, Baltimore, Md., was awarded a $9,759,108 contract which will replace narrow band klystron power amplifiers with wide band klystron power amplifiers for the Saudi Arabia and French Airborne Warning and Control System fleets. At this time, the total amount has been obligated. ESC/HBSKI, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass., is the contracting activity (FA8704-10-C-0007).
Booz Allen Hamilton, Inc., Herndon, Va., was awarded a $9,411,140 contract to provide development planning for aeronautical systems for survivable and lethal capabilities. At this time, $2,496,992 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-03-D-1830).
Battelle Memorial Institute , Columbus, Ohio, was awarded an estimated $6,338,396 contract to enhance, expand and assess selected components of the Pentagon Shield System to include the high fidelity Pentagon model and staff emergency egress models. At this time, $1,893,300 has been obligated. 55 CONS/LGCD, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb., is the contracting activity (SP0700-00-D-3180; Delivery Order 0662) .
DEFENSE LOGISTICS AGENCY
Raytheon Integrated Defense Systems, Portsmouth, R.I., is being awarded a maximum $56,000,000 firm-fixed-price, sole-source contract for sonar equipment. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Navy. There was originally one proposal solicited with one response. The date of performance completion is March 31, 2014. The Defense Logistics Agency Aviation, Philadelphia, Pa., is the contracting activity (SPRPA1-09-G-001Y-5008).
Sea Box, Inc.*, Riverton, N.J., is being awarded a maximum $15,977,058 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for shipping and storage containers. Other location of performance is New Jersey. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. The date of performance completion is Aug. 19, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency Land, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-10-D-0043).
Charleston Marine Containers, Inc., Charleston, S.C. is being awarded a maximum $15,977,058 firm-fixed-price, indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity contract for shipping and storage containers. There are no other locations of performance. Using service is Army. There were originally two proposals solicited with two responses. The date of performance completion is Aug. 19, 2011. The Defense Logistics Agency Land, Warren, Mich., is the contracting activity (SPRDL1-10-D-0044).
NORFOLK (NNS) -- More than 2,000 runners participated in the sixth annual, five-kilometer "Run with the Chiefs" at Naval Station Norfolk (NAVSTA) Aug. 20 to celebrate chief petty officers' and selectees' pride and camaraderie.
Former Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Duane R. Bushey; Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command; and Fleet Master Chief Michael D. Stevens were among those leading the pack and expressing their support to the chief's mess.
"It was an honor to be with my chief petty officers," said Stevens.
The Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) office organized the run.
The run has been an annual success, said Duffy Drum, NAVSTA Norfolk's MWR assistant athletic director.
"Every year the numbers seem to grow more and more," said Duffy.
Runners lined up on Gilbert Street in front of the NAVSTA galley and ran to the waterfront, along the piers of the naval base and back through the heart of the base.
Mass Communication Specialist 3rd class (SW/AW) William Jamieson, of the Navy Public Affairs Support Element- East, was the top finisher with 19 minutes 29 seconds for the 3.1-mile run.
"I really enjoy running," said Jamieson, "If there is a chance to do it with my command and support the new chief selectees, then that is even better."
Senior Chief Information Systems Technician Bradley Schaab, with the Surface Combat Systems Center in Wallops Island, Va., was among the first group of chiefs and chief selectees to finish the run together.
"It's great. It shows that my guys are starting to get the PT (physical training) portion down; they seem to be doing a great job. I am proud of them," said Schaab.
After the race, the chief selectees returned to the parade field to get into a formation with all the selectee groups.
The following command selectee groups were named winners of specific competition areas: USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), Most Original Design; Assault Craft Unit 2, Most Chief Petty Officer Heritage; USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) - MCPON's Favorite; and Commander, Sumbarine Force - Overall Best Guidon.
Stevens concluded the event with some encouragement for the chief petty officer selectees.
"You're going to hear a lot over the next few weeks of what being a chief is all about," said Stevens. "All I'm going to say is, you come along side, and you lead. You come along side, and you help out. You come along side, and you lead, nobody is left behind. We all finished, and we all finished together. We are the United States Navy."
American Forces Press Service
Aug. 20, 2010 - As the U.S. defense representative's office in Pakistan coordinates U.S. military support for the humanitarian assistance mission there, it's getting help from a U.S. Joint Forces Command team well-versed in dealing with crises.
Twenty-eight members of the Joint Enabling Capabilities Command are on the ground in Pakistan, augmenting the defense representative's office with critical capabilities needed to support the crisis response, explained Army Col. Carl Giles, chief of the JECC's operations division.
The office of the defense representative is well-respected in Pakistan, operating under the command of Navy Vice Adm. Michael A. LeFever, who also commanded the disaster assistance center in Pakistan to coordinate the U.S. military response to a 2005 earthquake, Giles noted.
"He has an organization in place that can do a lot of the planning and coordination," Giles said. "The thing that we bring to this mission is the architecture to extend his reach and scope as the mission grows in response to this disaster." JECC is staffed with communications, operations, planning, logistics, information management and public affairs experts – all prepared to deploy on short notice to support requirements on the ground.
"This is an important mission for us, especially because of our ability to deliver a tailored team of experts that can move quickly and responsibly to provide the skill sets that are in high demand during these types of disaster relief operations," Navy Rear Adm. Walter E. Carter Jr., the JECC commander, said of the Pakistan support mission.
One of Joint Forces Command's key tasks is to be the joint force provider to combatant commanders worldwide, Giles explained. So it's the go-to command they look to when they need unique skills and capability on short notice.
"That's where the [Joint Enabling Capabilities Command] comes in," Giles said. "We are the [Joint Forces Command] commander's operational arm, and we have the capability to deploy our people and our unique skill sets and capabilities to solve these emerging problems or emerging crises, in the case of Pakistan."
The command's four subordinate elements are no strangers to crises and contingency missions. They supported Operation Unified Response in Haiti, helping to stand up Joint Task Force Haiti to provide disaster relief and humanitarian assistance following a devastating earthquake in January.
JECC's Joint Communications Support Element had a team on the ground in Haiti at the Port-au-Prince airport the next day, equipped with a communications package that enabled the State Department to communicate with the Haitian government, Giles said. They also were able to extend that communication back to national command authorities in Washington so they could grasp the scope of the situation.
Another team, based at the embassy, helped to establish communication and coordination between Joint Task Force Haiti staff as they arrived on the ground, the Joint Staff, U.S. Embassy officials and other organizations in the area to support incoming relief supplies.
The joint deployable team brought planners, logisticians and operators to fill critical billets in the task force headquarters as it formed. Meanwhile, the joint public affairs support element supported the public affairs mission.
This past spring, JECC was called into action again to support Operation Deepwater Horizon, the disaster relief effort following a massive oil spill along the Gulf Coast.
Not all the command's missions revolve around humanitarian or environmental crises. The command was called on earlier this year to help fill key positions while standing up Joint Task Force 435, which manages detainee operations in Afghanistan. In November, it also helped to establish the International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, commanded by Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, to oversee day-to-day coalition operations in Afghanistan.
Lessons learned through these and a broad range of other JECC missions give team members the adaptability that makes them invaluable in responding to crises – in Pakistan or anywhere else in the world, Giles said.
"Every disaster relief effort is different," he said. "That is the common thing, that they are uncommon in their response."
National Guard Bureau
Aug. 20, 2010 - The Air National Guard has been working since the beginning of the operation in late July to provide relief supplies to areas in Pakistan affected by flooding. Air Force Col. Greg Nelson, deputy director of mobility forces for U.S. Air Forces Central Command, is a member of the Kentucky Air National Guard's 123rd Airlift Wing. He is now at Chaklala Air Base in Islamabad, Pakistan, one of the main air hubs for the flood relief effort. "We are working in concert with the Pakistani air force and the government of Pakistan to try to bring air relief in here and then dispatch it throughout the nation where it is needed," Nelson told a military reporter Aug. 18.
The 10,000-square-foot warehouse where he works can fill up in a day, Nelson said, depending on how many aircraft arrive from the supporting countries.
"This is a large airfield, so larger aircraft can come in and bring shipments of medications or supplies," Nelson said. "We will break it down into smaller loads on tactical airlift aircraft like the C-130 to go into flood-affected areas."
Air Force Capt. Robert Dodson, a C-130 Hercules pilot deployed from the 182nd Airlift Wing of the Illinois Air National Guard, was the aircraft commander on the first mission into Pakistan.
"We had a quick response from the time we were notified to the time the pallets were on the airplane," he said. "The whole reason why we're here is to help others when we can, and the whole crew is happy to do it."
Dodson and his crew are currently assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing's 774th Expeditionary Airlift Squadron at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. On July 31, Dodson's crew in a C-130 from the 133rd Airlift Wing of the Minnesota Air National Guard delivered nearly 8,000 packaged meals that conform with Islamic law to Pakistan.
Nelson said the U.S. and Pakistani air forces, along with several government and nongovernment agencies, are working together to provide relief to the devastated areas.
Aug. 20, 2010 - U.S. military aircraft supporting Pakistan's flood relief efforts achieved a significant milestone today, exceeding 1 million pounds of relief supplies delivered since Aug. 5, when U.S. military relief flight operations in Pakistan began.
To date, U.S. military helicopters and C-130 aircraft have transported 1,164,470 pounds of relief supplies in partnership with the Pakistani military throughout flood-affected areas, delivering much-needed aid and providing transport to people who urgently need emergency assistance.
"We're honored to partner together, side by side with the Pakistan military and government, helping Pakistanis in their time of need," said Navy Vice Adm. Michael A. LeFever, U.S. defense representative to Pakistan. "The courage and discipline displayed by the Pakistani military during this crisis has been truly impressive."
Within hours of receiving the Pakistani government's urgent request, U.S. military helicopters began conducting relief flights Aug. 5 and have since transported 849,170 pounds of aid and rescued 5,372 people. Meanwhile, U.S. military C-130 cargo aircraft based in Afghanistan began providing airlift support to Pakistan on Aug. 16 and have since delivered 315,300 pounds of relief supplies to multiple locations throughout the country.
In addition to airlift support, within 36 hours of the initial flooding on July 29, the U.S. military began delivering thousands of packaged meals that conform with Islamic law to Pakistan from U.S. stocks in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the region. In all, 436,944 meals were provided to civilian and military officials in Pakistan for distribution to Pakistanis in need.
"The ability of the U.S. government to respond so quickly to this disaster at the request of the government of Pakistan is a testament to the unique capabilities of the U.S. military and the U.S. commitment to helping the Pakistani people," LeFever said. "Pakistanis are our friends and partners, and we will continue to support them during this challenging time."
Flood relief support to Pakistan from the United States is being provided through a whole-of-U.S. government, interagency response. Relief efforts are being coordinated through the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad, in full consultation with the Pakistan government, including Pakistan's National Disaster Management Authority and other agencies.
The latest information on U.S. government support to Pakistan's flood relief is available on the U.S. Embassy Islamabad website.
Aug. 20, 2010 - As of yesterday, military commissaries are not affected by the massive Wright County Egg voluntary recall, Defense Commissary Agency food safety officials reported.
Although the commissaries may carry some of the brands such as Hillandale and Sunshine that were mentioned in the Aug. 13 recall action, the cartons of eggs sold in military stores are not part of those linked to salmonella contamination, officials said. Commissary customers can check the status of their eggs at home by looking for the Julian date and plant code stamped on the end of each egg carton. The plant number begins with the letter P, followed by a number. The Julian date follows the plant number. Example: P-1946 223.
The initial Wright County Egg recall announcement involved more than 228 million shell eggs. On Aug. 18, the recall expanded to more than 380 million eggs sold in cartons of six, 12 or 18 eggs.
The Aug. 13 recall applied to the following brand names, plant codes and Julian dates:
-- Lucerne, Albertson, Mountain Dairy, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Hillandale, Trafficanda, Farm Fresh, Shoreland, Lund, Dutch Farms and Kemps; plant numbers 1026, 1413 and 1946; Julian dates of 136 to 225.
The Aug. 18 recall of cartons of six, 12 and 18 eggs applied to the following brand names, plant codes and Julian dates:
-- Albertson's, Mountain Dairy, Glenview, Ralph's, Boomsma's, Sunshine, Pacific Coast, Farm Fresh, Lund and Kemps; plant numbers 1720 and 1942; Julian dates of 136 to 229.
To date, the recalled eggs are known to have been distributed to stores nationwide, according to the Food and Drug Administration's recall alert sent Aug. 13. Illnesses relating to the shell eggs have been confirmed, and traceback investigations are ongoing, the FDA statement said.
The salmonella organism can cause serious and sometimes fatal infections in young children, frail or elderly people, and others with weakened immune systems. Healthy people infected with salmonella often experience fever, diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal pain. In rare circumstances, infection with salmonella can result in the organism getting into the bloodstream and producing more severe illnesses such as arterial infections, endocarditis or arthritis.
Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
Position? Nature of distress? Description of the vessel? Number of people on board? Are people wearing their life jackets?
These are the first five things a Coast Guard watchstander will ask when you make a distress call. Watchstanders call this data, “the big 5,” as they are vital pieces of information needed during a search and rescue case.
A vessel’s position is the most crucial piece of information but sometimes the hardest to determine. Yesterday, ending a two year phase-in period, Coast Guard Sector Baltimore formally accepted Rescue 21, a new tool to help watchstanders determine a distressed mariner’s position.
Rescue 21 is already covering more than 35,000 miles of coastline in the United States and, as of yesterday, officially includes the coasts of Maryland, Virginia, Washington, D.C., and the upper Chesapeake Bay.
Rescue 21 put to the test
Recent search and rescue cases in the area exhibit how valuable Rescue 21’s advanced capabilities can be.
On July 25, watchstanders at Sector Baltimore put Rescue 21 to the test as they responsed to 37 distinct distress calls, resulting in more than 77 people assisted or rescued – all in only a two-hour period.
An unexpected powerful storm suddenly erupted in Chesapeake Bay on a calm summer day, producing wind gusts and volatile sea conditions and catching mariners off guard. Mayday calls began pouring in to the Sector Baltimore command center. Using information gained from Rescue 21, watchstanders were able to determine locations of the distressed mariners and launch Coast Guard assets from six different small boat stations to respond to the calls for help.
Chief Lawrence Beatty, an Operations Specialist at Sector Baltimore, was first introduced to Rescue 21 eight years ago as part of a test bed, when the technology initially launched. Beatty is very familiar with the benefits Rescue 21 provides command center watchstanders.
“Right off the bat, a watchstander has a visual display so you are not only hearing the transmission but you are also seeing which towers are picking it up and in which direction,” said Beatty. “The towers are strategically placed so multiple towers can pick up and triangulate to where that mariner is.”
In a sense, Rescue 21s direction-finding capabilities, as well as its increased range, allows command centers to better “hear” the call.
For a mariner in a dire situation, reaching for a handheld radio and calling “Mayday” over marine radio channel 16 may be their only chance for getting help. Even with just that single call over the radio, Rescue 21 can help watchstanders piece together the information they need, specifically a position, to send response resources to the mariner’s aid.
Radio or cell phone?
At a time when boaters have become over reliant on cell phones, Rescue 21 drives home the value of carrying a radio on your boat.
“Mariners who are reliant on their cell phones because they have a signal get that false sense of security,” said Beatty. “While we can get a rough area of where you are with your cell, we can find a more specific triangulated position with a marine radio.”
Incompatibility with Rescue 21 is not the only limitation of cell phone communications on the water. Inconsistent cellular coverage, limited battery life and no direct link to Coast Guard rescuers are a few others.
VHF channel 16, the International hailing and distress frequency, is the best and quickest way to reach emergency resources. Not only are Coast Guard rescuers listening to channel 16, but so are most other mariners. Instead of a one-to-one call on a cell phone, the VHF radio provides a one-to-many call… because sometimes the closest assistance is another boater nearby. Boaters and others who recreate on or near the water should always carry a VHF marine band radio and use channel 16 – no exceptions!
Battle-tested: From soldier to business leaderBy Brian O'Keefe, senior editorMarch 8, 2010: 10:50 AM ET
(Fortune Magazine) -- In the spring of 2008, Wal-Mart threw an annual shareholders meeting befitting its stature as the world's mightiest retailer. It was a gala event hosted by rapper and actress Queen Latifah and featuring performances by American Idol winners David Cook and Carrie Underwood, teen sensation Taylor Swift, '80s rockers Journey, and country stars Keith Urban and Tim McGraw.
Away from the festivities, though, senior Wal-Mart (WMT, Fortune 500) executives met to confront a potential crisis: a looming shortage of young talent in the store management ranks. The company was so big, and growing so fast, that it was exploring the outer limits of manageable expansion. Its revenue was on track to grow by $30 billion that year -- roughly equivalent to adding a company the size of Coca-Cola (KO, Fortune 500) to its operations. Wal-Mart's usual strategy of promoting from within and poaching from other retailers just couldn't keep up. The executives needed a plan to address the junior-leadership void.
Bill Simon, the chief operating officer of Wal-Mart U.S. and a 25-year veteran of the Navy and Naval Reserves, had a suggestion. What the company should do, he argued at the time, was create a program to recruit junior military officers, or JMOs -- the lieutenants and captains who had recently led soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen.
"The thinking was that we could bring in world-class leadership talent that was already trained and ready to go," says Jennifer Seidner, a senior recruiting manager at Wal- Mart. "And then we could teach them retail, because we know that pretty well."
The company sent recruiters to job fairs and headhunters with links to the military. Over the next four months it hired some 150 JMOs and paired them with store manager mentors to learn on the job. By that fall Wal-Mart realized it had tapped into a gold mine of talent.
In October the company hired a retired Army brigadier general, Gary Profit, to expand military recruiting to all levels and divisions of the business. Less than two years since the JMO program was launched, according to Seidner, the focus on veterans is ingrained in the recruiting strategy. "It's been a fairly dramatic change," she says.
Wal-Mart is an enthusiastic member of the large and growing group of companies that have begun to discover -- or rediscover -- the benefits of recruiting military talent. For the first time in more than a generation, business is absorbing substantial numbers of combat veterans, young men and women tempered by the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The annual Military Friendly Employers list published by G.I. Jobs magazine has swelled from a Top 10, when it was first published in 2003, to a Top 50 in 2006, to a Top 100 this year. And it's not just populated by the defense contractors. The survey includes big-box retailers like Home Depot (HD, Fortune 500) and Lowe's (LOW, Fortune 500), State Farm Insurance, AT&T (T, Fortune 500), Bank of America (BAC, Fortune 500), and Merck. (MRK, Fortune 500)
Headhunting firm RecruitMilitary reports that it has worked with more than half the companies in the Fortune 100 in the past three years. And the competition for the best candidates is getting increasingly fierce, according to RecruitMilitary senior vice president Larry Slagel. "It's sort of blood in the water," he says. "Companies really want these folks."
Of course, the relationship between the business world and the military is long and rich. (Sam Walton himself, after all, was an Army man.) Ambitious executives have long studied Sun Tzu for tips on defeating the competition. The Marines have dispatched officers to the New York City commodities-trading pits to learn split-second decision-making. And plenty of ex-soldiers, such as Ross Perot at EDS and Fred Smith at FedEx (FDX, Fortune 500), have had great success over the years as entrepreneurs and CEOs.
Certainly many soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan have a hard time readjusting to civilian life. Some remain profoundly affected by injuries suffered on the battlefield that once might have been fatal. Many find the prospect of job hunting to be daunting and struggle to translate their military experience to prospective employers. The unemployment rate for young enlisted soldiers returning from the war zones is unusually high.
But there is a flip side: Veterans reentering the civilian workforce are increasingly finding a warm welcome. That's especially true for young officers who have led combat units on the front lines. According to headhunters, human resources executives, and business school admissions officers, these candidates -- most in their late 20s or early 30s, with a college degree and leadership experience far beyond that of their civilian peers -- are stars waiting to happen.
Whatever one may think of the wars they have been sent to fight, there's no question that these people can lead. And they are products of a military that has now learned, in response to unconventional warfare, to value independent and adaptive thinking.
We'll let Gen. David Petraeus, the man in charge of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan, explain their appeal. "Tell me anywhere in the business world where a 22- or 23-year-old is responsible for 35 or 40 other individuals on missions that involve life and death," he tells Fortune. "Their tactical actions can have strategic implications for the overall mission. And they're under enormous scrutiny, on top of everything else. These are pretty formative experiences. It's a bit of a crucible-like experience that they go through."
That sentiment is echoed by Noel Tichy, director of the Global Business Partnership at the University of Michigan and one-time head of GE's famed Crotonville leadership center. "There's a big pool of these officers who have had the kind of under-fire judgment experience that makes them really valuable," he says. "Whoever has the best screening and development is going to get some great leaders."
Steve Mumm never used to think of himself as a future business leader, or even as a businessman at all. "Until the day I left the Army, I planned on being in the military for my career," he says, gazing up at a four-story, 750,000-pound hunk of metal. The $35 million drilling safety system, known as a "stack," is designed to prevent gas blowouts during deepwater exploration. And it's his baby.
Today Mumm, 30, is a project manager for GE Oil & Gas in Houston, and just the sort of rising star that GE (GE, Fortune 500) is known for grooming. A little under 6 feet tall, with brown hair, blue eyes, and a modest demeanor, the former Army captain doesn't come across as anything close to a drill sergeant type. But for the past six months he's been pushing a team of about 50 people to finish building the stack ahead of schedule and under budget. If all goes well, later this year the drilling system will be installed on a deepwater drill rig bound for the Black Sea.
When asked about his role in the project, the soft-spoken Mumm isn't shy in responding. "Leader, absolutely," he says. "To get the pieces where they need to be at the right time takes someone out there motivating, directing, organizing. It takes a leader to do it."
Mumm grew up on a 1,200-acre farm in northeastern Nebraska and followed his brother to the United States Military Academy at West Point, where he studied economics and mechanical engineering. After graduating in 2002, he was assigned to lead an engineering platoon and deployed to Tikrit in early 2004 as part of the first wave of replacements after the initial invasion.
During his year in Iraq, Mumm and his men did everything from blowing holes in walls during routine foot patrols to leading the 7th Iraqi Army into Samarra during an all-out assault. When Iraq held its historic elections in 2005, Mumm was put in charge of security across the Salahuddin province and designed fortifications to protect the voting sites.
Mumm often found that the mission involved going beyond his assigned duties. When he observed that the local Iraqi police were easy targets for insurgents at checkpoints, Mumm designed a simple concrete barricade system for the Iraqis called Checkpoint in a Box that was adopted by the rest of his division.
And when he noticed that insurgents had begun to use unexploded ordnance to build improvised explosive devices (IEDs), he organized a program that hired local Iraqi workers, with security from his men, to find and destroy the bombs. At the end of each day they would pile up the weapons they had gathered and explode them. "There was no manual for how to place C-4 on the pile when we got there," he says wryly. "We wrote that." (He recently saw the celebrated movie The Hurt Locker, which follows a bomb squad in Iraq. "It was pretty good," he says. "There were some situations that I felt were very real.")
Mumm was in Houston in 2007 serving a stateside deployment when, on a whim, he tagged along with some friends to a military job fair and found himself being recruited by a GE Oil & Gas executive to be a founding member of its Junior Officer Leadership Program (JOLP). (Information about hiring veterans can be found at a Department of Labor website, hirevetsfirst.dol.gov.)
The JOLP idea came out of GE Energy in the late 1990s and has been spreading throughout the company. Each year 15 to 25 junior officers are hired fresh out of the military, and they each spend two years rotating through different jobs in a particular division of the company. It's an easy fit with the culture, because GE has long been recruiting ex-military talent, from enlisted soldiers all the way up to retired generals. The company employs over 10,000 veterans, or more than one in 14 employees.
JMOs are heavily represented in elite management-development programs at other companies. A good example is PepsiCo (PEP, Fortune 500), where seven of the 25 coveted positions in its Leadership Development Program currently happen to be filled by junior officers. One of them is Donovan Campbell, a Princeton-educated former Marine who published a bestselling memoir last year called Joker One about his experience as a platoon leader in Iraq.
In 2008, Campbell was midway through his final year at Harvard Business School and had already accepted an offer from Pepsi when he was recalled from the reserves to deploy to Afghanistan. When he phoned his contact at Pepsi to explain, the company was more than supportive. Within a few hours the head of human resources had called to tell him that Pepsi planned to hire him early so he would earn the equivalent of a full salary while he was on active duty. He got an e-mail of support from CEO Indra Nooyi later that same day.
Now in his first assignment in the leadership program, Campbell is running a 167-person organization in a $100 million Frito-Lay sales zone in Dallas. He says that his job commanding a platoon has given him valuable perspective.
"Combat experience was very humbling, because mistakes happen," says Campbell, who in Joker One details the anguish he experienced when several of his men were wounded and one was killed during his platoon's deployment to Ramadi in 2004. "In school you're rewarded for not making mistakes. And then you get out and get a job, and a lot of times you get promoted because you make very few mistakes. And so what you do is you develop a mindset that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs. What you learn in the military is that it doesn't matter how hard you try or how good you are. One, you will make mistakes; and two, sometimes events or the enemy or a changing situation will mean that you do not succeed, and in fact you fail. And you become comfortable with the idea of, I do not have to have zero defects to be successful."
That's the kind of maturity that corporate recruiters covet, says headhunter René Brooks, who with her husband, Roger Cameron, runs a firm, Cameron-Brooks, that specializes in placing junior military officers. Brooks says that her clients noticed a difference right away when she began sending them veterans of the conflict in Iraq. "There's definitely a difference in the breadth of experiences of the officers who are coming out of combat," she says. "They're able to go from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C without missing a beat."
While officers such as Mumm and Campbell have leadership experience that their peers can rarely match, they are typically lacking in skills like financial modeling. So business school has become a popular way station on the road to the executive track. And the MBA programs are clamoring to have them.
Schools like MIT, New York University, and the University of Virginia have created special programs to market to junior officers. Harvard doesn't market specifically to veterans, but the current class of MBA students is about 3% ex-military. "I would be happy to have that number go up," says admissions director Deirdre Leopold.
And on a campus where ROTC hasn't been welcome since the turbulent days of Vietnam, vets get a warm reception. Maura Sullivan, a former Marine logistics officer who, like Campbell, went to HBS and is now in Pepsi's leadership program, was stunned when she first visited a class and the students stood and applauded for her. "I had chills," she says. "That really drew me in to the school."
Mumm of GE is close to completing an executive MBA with the University of Texas. He realized that the degree would allow him to take on bigger roles with the company, and he's eager for the challenge. "I have no doubt that leadership is my core competency," he says. "And I have the Army to thank for that."
On a recent Wednesday GE CEO Jeff Immelt traveled from the company's headquarters in Fairfield, Conn., to West Point, 45 miles up the Hudson River from New York City. Several hundred cadets wearing casual green camouflage uniforms filed into a lecture hall to hear Immelt give a speech he called "Renewing American Leadership."
Immelt began by citing a recent Gallup poll in which Americans were asked to rank their confidence in various institutions. The military received the highest marks, with an 82% approval rating, whereas less than 20% of Americans expressed confidence in big business or Congress. "People have lost faith in many big institutions," he said.
The CEO told the cadets that GE had been doing its own soul-searching. In view of the economic turmoil of the past couple of years, he and his team had been studying what attributes of leadership would be important for the future. Twenty-first-century leaders, Immelt said, need to be better listeners. They need to be comfortable with complexity. And they must be willing to delegate so that the organization can move quickly.
GE has cultivated a close relationship with the academy, bringing in the head of West Point's leadership program, Col. Tom Kolditz, to teach at Crotonville. After Immelt was done speaking, I asked him what intrigued him about military leadership. "Dealing with ambiguity," he replied. "That's something that I think the military is quite good at. Tom and his team here are willing to be incredibly introspective, to challenge paradigms. And I find that to be quite compelling."
Not so long ago, America's elite companies probably wouldn't have gone shopping for out-of-the-box thinkers from the military. A logistics expert to make your railroad run more efficiently? Sure. A retired admiral with sway inside the Pentagon to help you land the next weapons contract? Absolutely. But the new generation of officers is a product of a revolution in thinking about leadership in the military that anticipated GE's.
In 2000 the Army convened something called the Army Training and Leader Development Panel to study what qualities officers would need in the post-Cold War world. Since World War II, the military had focused on giant weapons systems and large force-on-force conflict. The system favored specialization and top-down control. But the Army knew that the world had changed, and in the spring of 2001 the panel issued its report and concluded that it needed officers with two basic qualities: self-awareness and adaptability.
Knowing and doing are two different things, though. The Army didn't meaningfully change its ways until it reached Baghdad three weeks after the 2003 invasion of Iraq, says Leonard Wong, a 1980 West Point grad and retired Army lieutenant colonel who is now a research professor at the Army's Strategic Studies Institute. "Suddenly we looked around and said, 'What are we supposed to do now?' and no one knew," says Wong. "We didn't have the doctrine and we didn't have the guidance for that scenario. Suddenly it was, 'You, leader on the ground, make it up. You're a college graduate. You're a leader supposedly. We're not sure what's going to happen. Just make it up.' And so at that point all the 20-page orders, the 500-page manuals, all the substitutes for leadership were lifted off. It was a serendipitous, unplanned experience that has now gone on for eight years."
Wong says that the result has been liberating. "The Army has accepted that the future is uncertain and learned to embrace risk," he says. "And the impact of that on developing leaders is cascading through the Army, and it's a good thing."
Still, the business world has been changing at a rapid clip too, and one has to wonder: Can a former officer who's used to issuing orders feel comfortable "leading" an eccentric computer programmer who does his best work at 3 a.m. while scarfing down Cheetos and may be more important to the company's bottom line than his boss?
There's no reason why not, argues Doug Raymond, 37, a former Army captain who is now the head of monetization for Google (GOOG, Fortune 500) in China. "I don't think it's empirically true that it's difficult," he says. But in his experience Silicon Valley is dubious about any sort of leadership paradigm and skeptical of structure. In his four years at Google, Raymond has never had any direct reports. To get people working on a project, he has to get them excited about an idea and lure them to meetings. "Pretty soon they start asking for work, and all of a sudden you've got 35 people on it," he says.
That environment may sound as un-military as possible, but Raymond says it's not really so different. "I think the people who are doing interesting stuff in the military are very much entrepreneurial in mindset," he says. "And they don't look up for approval and permission to do stuff. They just are doing it, and then after a while, the chain of command recognizes that what they're doing has value, and they kind of put a veneer of respectability around it. And that's exactly how a tech company works."
Outside the reflexively iconoclastic tech sector, modern military attributes serve 21st-century business models in many other ways. On Wall Street the long hours, ability to work on little or no sleep, and adrenalin buzz when things get tense are comfortingly familiar to combat veterans like Croft Young, 37, a first-year investment banker at Morgan Stanley (MS, Fortune 500). When Young, a one-time women's college soccer coach, led a Marine reconnaissance platoon near Fallujah in 2005, he found himself in charge of a group of enlisted men who in many cases had many more years of experience than he did. Like most young officers, he learned to lean on his squad leaders. "I'd say nine times out of 10 I listened to what they thought I should do," he says. "But the order always came from me."
That, he has found, is not so different from the role of an associate in investment banking. "The officer comes in, and everyone in the platoon has more expertise than he does," he says. "You come in as an investment banker, and the analysts are infinitely better versed than you are on the companies and industries involved."
Officer experience can even stand out at a defense company. Consider John Whang, 30, now a financial analyst at Northrop Grumman (NOC, Fortune 500). Whang is a Naval Academy grad and former Marine captain who served three tours in Iraq and, like Young, led a recon platoon, a job that often involved being away from the base and on the move for weeks at a time. He says that experience scored extra points in his interviews with recruiters. But relatively few of his new colleagues can relate. "A lot of people here, despite working at a defense contractor, know very little about the military," he says.
Firsthand knowledge of combat has faded from the corner office as well in recent years. For the World War II generation, military experience was almost a necessary line on the résumé for a CEO. That is less and less true today, despite the generally high regard for military leadership. According to a forthcoming study called "Military CEOs" by a pair of economists at Harvard and MIT, in 1980 59% of chief executives of large, publicly traded U.S. companies had military experience. By 2006 the figure was 8%.
Might the new generation of junior officers reverse that trend? They're off to a fast start at companies like Wal-Mart. Consider Tracey Lloyd, one of Wal-Mart's JMO recruits. Lloyd, 30, added a double major in French and Spanish to her engineering degree at West Point and trained as a communications officer. She deployed to Iraq in April 2007 and was put in charge of a network serving almost 4,000 troops across seven operating bases. "Think about how often something goes wrong with the computer in your office," she says. "Now imagine that it's 120 degrees and you're getting bombed all the time."
In her final weeks in Iraq, Lloyd was given a mission to build a fiber-optic ring around Baghdad. She had to negotiate with Iraqis for the frequency space, but her counterpart wouldn't deal with her because she was a woman. "I had to focus on not being prideful," she says, "and find a man to stand in my place to get the job done."
Six months ago Wal-Mart gave Lloyd her own supercenter to run in Palm Coast, Fla. It's a long way up the chain of command from manager to CEO, and Lloyd says she still has a lot to learn about merchandising. But leadership? "Oh, I've got that covered," she says. Just give her time.
PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- The master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) visited with Sailors assigned to various commands in the Pearl Harbor area Aug. 16-17.
While at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam (JBPHH), MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West toured USS Chafee (DDG 90), USS Chosin (CG 65) USS Pasadena (SSN 752), and held an all-hands call at Sharkey Theater.
"It feels great to be out here in Hawaii and having the opportunity to talk to all of you," West said. "I'm not here to talk to you for an hour and answer one question. I'm here to answer your questions and let you voice your concerns about what is currently going on in today's Navy."
One of the more popular questions that West received was about the new Navy Working Uniform (NWU) Type III.
"Right now the Navy is currently conducting a conformance test phase with the NWU Type III," West said. "So far, we have received nothing but positive comments about this uniform. If all goes according to plan, we should expect to see this uniform in the Fleet late next year."
West also talked about allowing women to serve aboard submarines.
"The first women to enter the submarine force are currently in the pipeline making preparations to serve on ballistic-missile and guided-missile submarines," said West."We will start with having women officers aboard the submarines and then see how we can expand it to enlisted women."
Another hot topic for West was about Sailors earning qualifications for their warfare pins.
"Warfare qualifications are about ship, shipmate and self," West said. "Whenever I see a warfare pin on a Sailor's chest, I automatically know that Sailor knows what they're doing."
"These qualifications are becoming ever more important, especially with our new-class ships like the littoral combat ship. Sailors need to achieve their warfare pins and have that knowledge in order for these ships to be manned."
At the conclusion of the all-hands call, West thanked the Sailors in attendance for their commitment and service to the Navy.
"I want to thank each and every one of you for the job that you do," West said. "You are the reason why our country's Navy is successful."
NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) returned to their homeport of Naval Station Norfolk Aug. 18 following the successful completion of a four-month maintenance availability and sea trials.
Bataan arrived at BAE Systems Norfolk Ship Repair April 12 to complete necessary repairs and new equipment installations.
The three-day sea trials provided the ship with a series of tests and validations on that equipment.
"We pride ourselves in being on time ready for tasking, and after four months in the shipyard, finishing all of our work and departing as scheduled is certainly a step in the right direction," said Capt. Steve Koehler, USS Bataan commanding officer. "After the long shipyard period, it was good to get the ship and crew back out to sea and put them to the test. I couldn't be happier with the way they performed."
Major equipment tested included the aircraft approach radars, the ship's propulsion system and the countermeasure wash down system which is designed to defend the ship against chemical, biological and radiological attack.
"Getting out of the yards shows we did our part and that we finished all our tasks in a timely manner," said Machinist's Mate Fireman Danielle Weyeneth. "This has been a great accomplishment for us, showing that we were capable of doing such a strenuous task."
Weyeneth and her engineering shipmates had plenty of reason to be proud as the crew conducted high speed runs and rudder swing checks to measure how the ship would react under the stressors of steaming at increased speeds for extended periods of time.
"The plant performed outstanding," said Chief Warrant Officer Christopher Ragland, USS Bataan electrical officer. "We completed all testing that we planned to complete, and all tests were satisfactory. We kept the lights on, kept the ship cool, and we provided 400 hertz, which enabled combat systems to complete their required tests."
Throughout the course of the availability more than 1,600 jobs were completed by Sailors and civilian contractors.
The necessary system checks and work by the crew during sea trials made certain Bataan would be ready to rejoin the fleet.
"Last year this was the best LHD on the waterfront, proving it by winning the Battle "E" (Effectiveness)," said Master Chief Machinist's Mate Jim Thomas, USS Bataan engineering department, leading chief petty officer. "Beginning with our availability and now sea trials, we are taking the right steps to do it again."
Bataan now begins a scheduled four-week continuous maintenance availability where a series of additional upgrades and repairs will be completed before the ship returns to sea to begin a certification cycle designed to prepare the crew for their next deployment.