Military News

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Republic of Philippines Citizens Tour USS George Washington in Manila

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Justin E. Yarborough, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

MANILA, Philippines (NNS) -- USS George Washington's (CVN 73) crew gave local residents a glimpse of life aboard the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed nuclear aircraft carrier Sept. 5-7 through tours open to the public as part of the ship's four-day port visit to Manila, Philippines.

The tours helped to strengthen and continue the robust partnership that the U.S. Navy and the Philippines share.

Among the visitors were members of the Republic of the Philippines Navy, representatives from several non-profit organizations, children's groups, officials from the U.S. Embassy and relatives of George Washington crew members who are native to the Philippines.

"It was a great opportunity for both the citizens of Manila to see what we do and for our own Sailors to showcase our pride in this warship," said Master-at-Arms Chief (SW/AW) Raymond Wendt, one of the tour guides. "It helps you appreciate the ship even more by seeing the excitement in the tourist's faces."

For many of those touring the ship, the opportunity was a first and one they will always remember.

"It was great," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Equipment) 3rd Class Jesus Gonzalez. "They learned about how the ship works and were amazed by the functionality of the flight deck and the crew."

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

"It was impressive," said Carlos Mejias, one of the ship's visitors. "I think the greatest part was the flight deck and seeing the way that they launch the fighter planes. I'll definitely be back."

While in the port of Manila, George Washington Sailors will also host a reception for more than 600 distinguished members of the community and volunteer their time to participate in nearly a dozen community service projects.

George Washington operates from Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, Japan. It is currently on its summer patrol ensuring security and stability in the Western Pacific.

Safest Summer On Record Concludes for Sailors, Marines

By April Phillips, Naval Safety Center Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Labor Day marked the traditional end of summer for Sailors and Marines and also the end of the Naval Safety Center's (NSC) annual summer safety campaign, "Live to Play, Play to Live."

Although mishap reports for the long weekend are not complete, it appears that both the Navy and Marine Corps enjoyed the safest summer since NSC started keeping these statistics.

However, that still means that 14 Sailors and 14 Marines lost their lives between Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends. Nonetheless, this is a considerable improvement from 2009, when 39 Sailors and Marines lost their lives during the same period.

While that is an achievement to be proud of, NSC is not declaring victory, especially in light of the fact that one Sailor and one Marine died during Labor Day weekend. Mishap reports indicate that both deaths may be related to alcohol.

"There have been a lot fewer cases of DUI (drinking under the influence)," said NSC Command Master Chief (AW/SW) Dominick Torchia. "However, there may be some complacency about the dangers of over-consumption in general. We're seeing cases of Sailors and Marines basically drinking themselves to death."

While most people seem to be getting the message about designated drivers and safe ride programs, leaders need to continue educating their Sailors and Marines about the health risks of alcohol, including alcohol poisoning and reduced inhibitions that may lead to risky behavior, said Torchia.

Although the summer 2010 has ended, Torchia urged renewed focus on risk management, so the positive mishap trends of the summer will continue into the cooler seasons.

"Many of the risks are actually the same," said Torchia. "There are just different conditions. We think of people traveling for their summer vacations, but they are also on the road for Thanksgiving and Christmas. The folks who are out there participating in summer sports will probably also take part in winter sports. We ask them to take the same risk management mentality and adapt it to the new conditions."

To that end, Torchia recommends "winterizing" homes and vehicles now, rather than waiting until weather conditions deteriorate. He also encourages everyone to get in shape now for winter sporting activities such as skiing, snowboarding or even football.

"Prepare and train before you go out and try something like that. If you haven't skied before, take a course before you hit the slopes," said Torchia.

While many risks remain consistent through all four seasons, fire dangers do escalate in fall and winter, due to faulty heating systems, unsupervised fireplaces and dangerous space heaters.

"Now is the time to prepare your home. Weatherproof your house and have annual maintenance performed on your fireplaces and heating systems," Torchia said. "Doing this now will keep you ahead of the game."

While Sailors and Marines prepare for fall and winter, he also warned them to continue being vigilant about hurricanes. The East Coast of the United States was recently spared when Hurricane Earl remained off the coast, but the season runs through November 2010, and Torchia encouraged everyone to stay on guard against these dangerous storms.

He also pointed out that a new school year is underway and drivers should pay special attention for kids who might dart out into the street.

Rhode Island Sailors Connect in United Through Reading Program

By Mass Communication Specialist Erica R. Gardner, Commander Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS Rhode Island (SSBN 740) Gold crew members participated in the United Through Reading (UTR) program, supported by the Kings Bay Fleet and Family Support Center by reading stories to their children via video Sept. 2.

"I love reading to my children," said Chief Logistics Specialist Virgil Radford, USS Rhode Island Gold crew. "I think this is a great program for us to connect with our children while we are away."

Sailors chose from the many books lined on the table, selecting the ones that will be of interest to their children. The rooms designated for reading are decorated to make the Sailors feel comfortable, giving them an opportunity to make their little one smile by reading books aloud. A copy of the video will be available for each family to take with them immediately after the reading is complete.

"This program was originally started to help literacy," said Lisa Mastone, Fleet and Family Support Center Work and Family Life consultant. "The Navy jumped on the program and offered it to deploying vessels, allowing a piece of the Sailor to remain at home with the family."

Children are often shown pictures, which are considered one dimensional, to help them acclimate to the deployed parent. Showing children videos of the deployed parent allow children to see movement, hear their voice and not be afraid of the parent upon their return.

"I chose The Little Red Caboose to read for my nine-year old son," said Radford. "This book is special to me because it is a book I enjoyed reading when I was a child."

Mastone supports anyone interested in the UTR program. The process is very simple and private. This allows parents to be in their comfort zone, making silly faces or reading in various voices which help bond with their children.

"I love, love, love this program," said Mastone. "The looks on the faces of the parents when they complete the reading of the books is priceless."

Marine Helicopters Join Flood-relief Efforts in Pakistan

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 7, 2010 – As part of the ongoing U.S. aid to Pakistan, two Marine Corps CH-53E Super Stallion helicopters arrived today at Pano Aqil Air Base near Sukkur, Pakistan, bringing the total number of U.S. helicopters in that area to six.

The aircraft are part of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit based at Camp Lejeune, N.C., said Air Force Lt. Col. Patrick Ryder, a spokesman for the office of the U.S. defense representative in Pakistan. They were delivered via Air Force cargo aircraft to a U.S. base in Afghanistan, reassembled, and then flown to Pano Aqil.

The helicopters will support flood-relief efforts alongside 17 other Navy and Marine Corps helicopters already in country, Ryder said. Two additional CH-53Es are due to arrive soon, he added.

To date, U.S. military aircraft have transported more than 3.9 million pounds of humanitarian assistance supplies and rescued more than 12,000 people within Pakistan.

“The flood waters are still causing a significant issue in south Pakistan,” Ryder said. “We are in close contact with [Pakistani] leadership and their national disaster management authority so we can be responsive to their needs and quickly provide what they ask for.”

These efforts are part of the United States’ overall efforts to assist Pakistan with the flooding disaster. Over the past two days, the U.S. government has airlifted additional emergency relief supplies into Pakistan, officials said. The most recent flights contained more than 85,850 blankets and 46,800 10-liter water containers.

To date, the United States has provided more than $216 million in emergency humanitarian assistance to Pakistan, as well as religiously appropriate meals, prefabricated steel bridges and other infrastructure support.

Officials estimate that between 15 million and 20 million Pakistanis have been affected by the flooding, and about 1,500 have been killed.

Flag Officer Assignments

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus and Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead announced today the following assignments:

Rear Adm. David H. Buss will be assigned as director, Naval Warfare Integration Group, N00X, Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Buss is currently assigned as commander, Carrier Strike Group Twelve, Norfolk, Va.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Bruce A. Doll will be assigned as medical advisor to supreme allied commander transformation/command surgeon, U.S. Joint Forces Command, Norfolk, Va. Doll is currently serving as deputy commander, Navy Medicine East/deputy chief, Navy Dental Corps, Portsmouth, Va.

Rear Adm. (lower half) Joseph W. Rixey will be assigned as director, Navy International Programs Office, Office of the Secretary of the Navy, Washington, D.C. Rixey is currently serving as the vice commander, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command, Washington, D.C.

Rear Adm. (lower half) David G. Simpson will be assigned as corporate director, N2/N6C, Office to the Chief of Naval Operations, Washington, D.C. Simpson is currently serving as director, CJ6, U.S. Forces - Iraq.

NWU Mandatory Wear Date Approaches

By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- With the mandatory wear date of Dec. 31 approaching, the chief of naval personnel (CNP) reminded commanding officers and Sailors in NAVADMIN 299/10 of the importance for all hands to maintain a full complement of Navy Working Uniforms (NWU) in their sea bags.

"The NWU facilitates Navy leadership's intent to standardize the professional appearance of Sailors when wearing a working uniform ashore," said CNP Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson.

Pointing to current NWU inventory levels showing Sailors own an average of 1.3 sets, Ferguson went on to explain that the fleet has not purchased enough uniforms to meet this goal.

Whether through initial gear issue at recruit training or the uniform allowances provided during the past two fiscal years, the vast majority of the fleet has received allowances to purchase and maintain four sets of the NWU by Dec. 31. Sailors who started recruit training between Oct. 1, 2007, and April 26, 2009, did not receive their full issue of uniforms or the allotted clothing replacement allowances, which means they will not be expected to meet the four uniform standard until June 30, 2013.

CNP is stressing the importance for leadership to re-engage with Sailors now to ensure they comply with uniform requirements by the mandatory wear date. With the majority of Sailors having already received the required allowances or uniform issue, commanding officers should verify their personnel have all required uniform components in their sea bag. For commands with Sailors who fall within the previously mentioned timeframe, leadership will need to allow for a reduced number of uniforms.

A complete sea bag will include the following items:

-Four NWU blouses and trousers

-One pair of NWU boots

-Two eight-point utility caps

-Five pairs of blue, 100 percent cotton T-shirts

-Five pairs of boot socks

-One mock turtleneck sweater

-One fleece liner

-One Gore-Tex parka

Navy Exchanges have sales associates available to help with proper sizing and fit, as well as ample supplies of the NWU to meet demand. If a local exchange does not have a particular item, or if a Sailor is not stationed near an exchange, uniform items can be ordered by calling the Uniform Support Center's toll-free number, 1-800-368-4088, or by going to https://www.navy-nex.com/command/about_us/p-uniformsupport.html.

More Army Helicopters Arrive in Pakistan

From a Joint Public Affairs Support Element Ghazi News Release

GHAZI AVIATION BASE, Pakistan, Sept. 7, 2010 – Four Army UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters and more than 60 soldiers arrived here today as part of the expansion of U.S. military flood relief efforts in Pakistan.

The arrival marks the beginning of a transition of the northern relief mission to the Army’s 1st Battalion, 52nd Aviation Regiment, 16th Combat Aviation Brigade. The current Ghazi-based forces -- Marine Heavy Helicopter Squadron 165, the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit and Detachment 2 of the Navy’s Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron -- will move south in the coming weeks to operate from Pano Aqil airfield near Sukkur, where flooding is widespread.

Marine Corps Lt. Col. Todd Oneto, commander of HMM-165, said the Army will begin relief operations in the Swat valley almost immediately. His unit already has begun the transition by sharing pictures and information on the flight area and landing zones. Marine and Navy aviators also will work to familiarize Army aircrews through joint flights pairing Army and Marine helicopters or by accompanying Army crews on initial flights as observers, Oneto said.

Although flooding has largely subsided in northern Pakistan, the damage to bridges and infrastructure along the Swat Valley floor has left it largely cut off and in need of support.

Additional Army helicopters, including 10 heavy lift CH-47 Chinook helicopters, are scheduled to arrive at Ghazi in the coming week. The UH-60s were transported by cargo plane from their home base in Alaska to Chakala, Pakistan, then reassembled and flown to Ghazi.

As the Army helicopters arrive, Oneto said, he is confident the transition will be a smooth one as his unit prepares to move south.

“I’m excited. We look forward to it. It’s going to be a whole different ball game,” he said. Oneto noted that the environment in the south would be similar to tsunami relief missions that the unit has completed in the past, but that he anticipates the heat and flooding will make the environment challenging.

Two Marine Corps CH-46 Sea Knight helicopters already have relocated to Pano Aqil and are flying relief operations, with two more scheduled to depart soon. The MH-53 and CH-53 heavy lift helicopters remaining at Ghazi eventually will transition south to operate directly off of the USS Peleliu after the Chinooks replace them here.

The transition of helicopters should allow for more effective operations, officials said, as Navy and Marine helicopters operating in the south will have better access to logistics and repair facilities on the Peleliu. Additionally, the Army helicopters are better suited to the elevations of northern Pakistan and the Swat Valley.

U.S. forces are operating in close coordination with the Pakistani government and military to assess and determine relief distribution locations.

Navy and Marine Corps helicopters arrived here in mid-August, following an initial response by the Army 3rd Combat Aviation Brigade, which deployed here for several weeks in early August directly from Regional Command East in Afghanistan.

As of yesterday, U.S. military helicopters alone had delivered more than 2.4 million pounds of relief supplies and transported more than 12,000 people.

Oneto said he is proud of what his unit has accomplished in only a few weeks. “They have exceeded all expectations, and I have high expectations to begin with,” he said.

USS Cole Returns to Norfolk Following Successful Deployment

From Naval Surface Force, Atlantic Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Cole (DDG 67) returned to Naval Station Norfolk Sept. 1, two days earlier than planned due to Hurricane Earl, after completing a seven-month deployment.

Cole deployed in support of Standing NATO Maritime Group 2, conducting counter-piracy operations and maritime interdiction operations along the Internationally Recognized Transit Corridor in the Gulf of Aden and Somali Basin.

"This was a critical mission and Cole executed it superbly," said Cmdr. Andrew Ehlers, Cole's commanding officer. "I could not be more proud of this ship and her crew."

Cole worked with naval units from more than 17 countries to ensure security and awareness in the maritime domain.

"This was truly an international effort requiring unprecedented cooperation among nations supporting the counter-piracy effort," said Ehlers.

Cole, with a crew of 270 Sailors, also served as a primary force protection platform during choke point and strait transits in the 5th Fleet Area of Responsibility.

Guantanamo Bay Media Invitation Announced

The Department of Defense and the Office of Military Commissions will provide seats for news media aboard military aircraft for travel to Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, on Sept. 20, 2010, for a military commissions hearing in the case of United States vs. Noor Uthman. Return travel is planned for Sept. 24, 2010.

Media reservation requests should be e-mailed to Tanya.bradsher@osd.mil. All requests must be received by 5 p.m. EDT, Sept. 10, 2010. Due to a limited number of seats aboard the flight and limited accommodations at Guantanamo Bay, media travel is not guaranteed.

Navy Showcases Maritime Strategy, Sailors During Cleveland Navy Week

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist Steve Johnson, Navy Office of Community Outreach Public Affairs

CLEVELAND (NNS) -- Cleveland Navy Week brings Sailors, along with new understanding of the Navy's mission, to the people of Ohio, Aug. 30 - Sept. 6.

Cleveland Navy Week is just one of 19 Navy Weeks held across America in 2010. The purpose of Navy Week is to help Americans see first-hand the investment they have made in their Navy, and increase awareness in areas that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Dozens of events helped shape the week, including a 'Navy Night' celebration with the Cleveland Indians; personal visits with children at a local children's hospital; free music concerts by the U.S. Fleet Forces Band, 'Four Star Edition'; Sailor visits to youth centers and non-profits in an effort to give back to the local community; and site visits to industries and universities located throughout the Cleveland metro area.

Cleveland Navy Week proved to be a successful event that offered area residents many opportunities to meet Sailors, and learn about the Navy's critical mission and broad capabilities.

Rear Adm. Julius S. Caesar, Vice Director of Joint Concept Development & Experimentation at U.S. Joint Forces Command, and Rear Adm. Wendi B. Carpenter, Commander of Navy Warfare Development Command, served as the Navy's senior representatives for Cleveland Navy Week. Each made multiple appearances at civic clubs, corporate headquarters, local hospitals and universities, describing what makes the U.S. Navy a global force for good.

Rear Adm. Caesar received the city's Navy Week proclamation, naming the first week of September "Cleveland Navy Week." Capt. Dixon Hicks, commanding officer of the guided-missile submarine USS Ohio (SSGN 726), presented a flag that was flown over Ohio to Airport Commissioner Fred Szabo during the proclamation ceremony aboard the museum ship USS Cod, which is permanently moored along the waterfront in downtown Cleveland.

Cleveland Navy Week offered several venues for the public to meet Sailors and learn more about the Navy. Throughout the week Navy Sailors met with various local organizations and participated in numerous community relations events.

Navy officers summed up Cleveland Navy Week as a way to reach deep into the local community to tell the Navy's story.

"Cleveland Navy Week is a good time for us to build awareness about the Navy, and to let folks know that we're here and we're available," said Cmdr. Edward Rankin, commanding officer of Navy Recruiting District (NRD) Ohio.

Namesake Sailors agreed. "I think it's important to be here because communities often don't understand what we do. We can show them what the Navy is about, what we're doing for our nation and what their tax dollars are doing to support the armed forces," said Capt. Hicks, "I think it's critical that we come back and show what we do for them."

"This is bringing the Navy to a part of the country where there's not a lot of Navy," said NRD Ohio Command Master Chief Aaron Shipley. "When you see Sailors walking around Cleveland, it draws attention. It adds the community aspect. It brings the community and the Navy together. It's not only a great recruiting tool, but a great tool to bring a presence to what the Navy does around the world."

Shipley hopes Cleveland Navy Week leaves a lasting mark on the local community. "I hope the takeaway is that the Navy is doing great things. That people in the Navy are doing great things, not just in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they're doing great things throughout the world, throughout the country," he said. "And, that the Navy is a great place for young men and women to start or finish a career."

Rear Adm. Caesar believes bringing the Navy to Cleveland helps inform local citizens that the Navy truly is a global force for good. But, in the end, he said it's all about showing them that this is America's Navy.

"I think it's important to honor a lot of our citizens and to show them that the Navy really cares," he said. "It's important to tell our story. In the Navy, we operate on our coasts, so it's so important for us to go into the heartland. And, finally, we are here to encourage students and encourage our future recruits to study hard in school, and to aspire to become a part of something bigger than themselves, and the Navy provides that."

As Cleveland Navy Week wrapped up, the annual Cleveland National Air Show showcased the Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team, which delighted the crowds with its precision high-flying maneuvers.

The Navy Blue Angels F/A-18 Flight Simulator gave hundreds of show attendees the virtual experience of being in the cockpit of a Navy jet.

Navy recruiters from NRD Ohio visited with a steady stream of people eager to learn more about career opportunities in the Navy.