Friday, September 17, 2010

McKinley: National Guard is a national treasure

By Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

OXON HILL, Md., (9/14/10) - The National Guard is a national treasure that we need to preserve and protect, the Guard’s senior officer told attendees here at the 2010 Air Force Association Air and Space Conference today.

“The dual mission of the National Guard, and its ability to combine and work with local, state and federal governments, makes us a force that I think is arguably a force that this nation cannot do without,” said Air Force Gen. Craig McKinley, the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

The National Guard has always had a dual mission at home and abroad, but it is now also considered an operational reserve providing forces for missions in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Sinai, Haiti, the Horn of Africa and Kosovo.

“The citizens of the United States expect the full might of the armed forces to come to their aide in the event of a natural disaster, and the National Guard has been there every time,” McKinley said.

Since Hurricane Andrew in 1992 and then Katrina in 2005, the Guard has made rapid improvements to its response with local, state and federal governments.

“Our domestic mission is a piece of our fabric, it’s a piece of our culture,” he said.

McKinley also described the overseas missions the Guard has been a part of since the attacks in New York City on Sept. 11, 2001.

“The Army Guard has been involved in operations for the last nine years, while the Air Guard is going on nearly two decades,” he said. “The Air Guard has been supporting the Air Force, and has been fully integrated into operations, such as Northern Watch and Southern Watch.

“Under great leadership, the Air Guard has been able to achieve this full integration with the active force and perform its missions in a very professional manner.”

Currently, about 44,000 Soldiers and 10,000 Airmen are deployed in support of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Over the last 20 years, we’ve made some dramatic changes in the National Guard, changing from what the Guard use to be, to what it is today,” McKinley said.

NAVSEA Promotes Fleet Readiness at Symposium

From Naval Sea Systems Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) participated in the Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium (FMMS) 2010 in Virginia Beach, Va., Sept. 14.

Organized by the Tidewater Section of the American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE), FMMS featured technical presentations and paneled discussions on Navy ship maintenance advances and challenges, along with exhibits by military and industry representatives showcasing their initiatives and products.

"Life cycle support, including technical rigor imbedded in well-defined class maintenance plans, and effectively executed maintenance processes are key focal points across NAVSEA. These are the key enablers to ensuring our ships remain effective war fighting platforms and achieve their full design service lives. This is Job No. 1 for all of us at NAVSEA - we are the team that must deliver material readiness for the fleet," said Vice Adm. Kevin McCoy, NAVSEA commander. "We are responsible, and we are accountable. We want to be not only responsive, but more importantly proactive, as we work to ensure every ship is ready to respond to the Navy's missions."

Scheduled speakers for the event included Assistant Secretary of the Navy Sean J. Stackley; Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead; Adm. John C. Harvey Jr., commander, U.S. Fleet Forces Command; and Rear Adm. John Clarke Orzalli, NAVSEA vice commander.

NAVSEA exhibits at the event included the Fleet Readiness Engineering Office (FREO); a collaborative Naval Surface Warfare Center booth representing Divisions Carderock, Dahlgren, Corona and Dam Neck; and NAVSEA 21, the dedicated life-cycle management organization for the Navy's in-service surface ships.

"The Fleet Maintenance and Modernization Symposium is a good venue for us to showcase some of the maintenance- and fuel-saving technologies we bring to the fleet," said FREO Director Doyle Kitchin. "There's usually a good mix of Navy maintenance professionals, Sailors and vendors who stop by our booth."

The annual symposium, which drew more than 1,100 participants and exhibitors, alternates venues between the East and West coasts. FMMS 2011 is scheduled to be held in San Diego.

MCPON Visit Inspires Patriotism, Professionalism, Pride

By H. Sam Samuelson, U.S. Fleet and Industrial Supply Center Yokosuka Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Master chief petty officer of the Navy (MCPON) met and discussed Navy issues with Sailors from Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) Yokosuka, Japan, Aug. 31.

MCPON (SS/SW) Rick D. West's 18-day trip included all hands calls, tours and visits with enlisted members in Hawaii, Guam, Japan and Korea, discussing topics such as manning, rate mergers, education, uniforms and the future of the Navy.

FISC Yokosuka's Western Pacific enterprise includes 20 sites, detachments and fuel terminals spanning 19 countries. While on his visit, MCPON met with a number of FISC's Sailors, including Chief Logistics Specialist Ulysses Lor, from FISC Atsugi, and Logistics Specialist 1st Class LaShawna Calloway, from FISC Korea.

"The MCPON was very friendly, very positive and is genuinely interested and concerned about enlisted issues," said Calloway. "And, he also talked about family issues and how important they are in our military lives."

"He inspires. You can tell by his dedication to his role as the Navy MCPON that he is devoted to ensuring success in Sailors' professionalism and personal lives as well," said Lor.

It was during his final wrap-up visit to Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka that FISC Yokosuka Command Master Chief (CMDCM) (SW/AW) Juan Morales engaged the MCPON on various enlisted issues.

"It was an informal but very enlightening talk," said Morales. "He had just delivered a pep talk to chief petty officer (CPO) selectees, providing them some very inspirational words about patriotism, leadership, pride and professionalism. He hasn't changed in the 10 years I've known him," said Morales.

Morales and West were acquaintances when West was force master chief for Commander, Submarine Forces, U.S. Pacific Fleet in 2001.

"He was and remains one of the most energetic people I know; he's definitely one of the most energetic MCPONs I've known," said Morales.

Morales said it is that energy that helps the MCPON connect with younger Sailors.

"For his age, he is very connected with our younger Sailors," said Morales. "He knows how to communicate with them. He has presence on both Facebook and Twitter. The MCPON and younger Sailors may be from a different generations, but he shares with them a common understanding of the basic values of pride and professionalism."

Morales said he discussed the MCPON's priorities.

"His priorities include professionalism, physical fitness and being professionally competitive," said Morales.

Morales said the MCPON was proud that the Navy boasts the highest retention rate among the services and very low attrition.

"He told our CPO selectees that the next two to five years are going to be the most challenging in today's competitive Navy; performance will be more competitive than ever," said Morales.

Morales said the MCPON inspired what he communicates to his enlisted Sailors.

"Stay competitive, get your education, follow your sea-shore rotation schedule and performance, performance, performance," said Morales.

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, September 20, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Ecuador’s Minister of Defense Javier Ponce Cevallos to the Pentagon today at 1:30 p.m. EDT.  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

Secretary Gates also hosts an honor cordon to welcome Israeli Minister of Defense Ehud Barak to the Pentagon today at 3 p.m. EDT.  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn hosts DoD’s Combined Federal Campaign Kick-Off at 11:30 a.m. EDT the Pentagon Conference Center.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, along with Charlie Huebner, chief of U.S. Paralympics and USO President Sloan Gibson, will give brief remarks during the Warrior Game press event in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  Media should contact Erich Langer, Army Warrior Transition Command, at 703-201-7638 for more information.

USS West Virginia Combines Crews

By Commander Submarine Group 10 Public Affairs

KINGS BAY, Ga. (NNS) -- USS West Virginia (SSBN 736) conducted a crew combination ceremony aboard Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Sept. 17.

Cmdr. Mike Katahara, commanding officer of the blue crew, was relieved by Cmdr. Steve Hall, commanding officer of the gold crew. Hall will remain in command of the submarine and the combined "green" crew.

The approximate 300 Sailors assigned to the two crews that alternate patrols on the West Virginia merge into one crew of about 110 sailors during the overhaul and refueling, which will be done at the Norfolk Navy Shipyard (NNSY) in Norfolk, Va., beginning in early 2011.

Katahara, who has led the blue crew since Oct. 2008, commanded his crew through three strategic deterrent patrols, a myriad of inspections, and three refit periods.

Under his tutelage, Katahara continuously raised the level of performance at each operational milestone. He routinely ensured his ship was at maximum operational and material readiness, supplying local and fleet commanders with a strategic asset capable of executing national tasking at a moments' notice.

Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, Commander Submarine Group 10, served as guest speaker at the ceremony.

"The measure of a good ship is not if it has issues, all ships have issues," said Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, commander Submarine Group 10. "The measure of a good ship is how you recover from your issues. Mike has done a phenomenal job and is leaving the boat better than when he gained it."

Katahara personal involvement with each crew member resulted in the boat receiving the Fleet Retention Excellence Award in 2008 and 2009, establishing a persistent culture of ownership, accountability and pride in service throughout the crew.

"Many Hawaiian sports teams take on the motto 'IMUA' which means the act of moving forward in a proactive and positive way despite barriers that exist," said Katahara. "This small, yet powerful Hawaiian word truly captures the essence of these West Virginian warriors. They are the heroes."

Katahara's next assignment is with Commander Strategic Systems Programs in Washington, D.C.

The Mighty West Virginia will now prepare for the approximate two-year refueling overhaul at NNSY, a vital part of the lifecycle of a SSBN. Ballistic missile submarines conduct a major overhaul near the mid-point of the submarine's service life, approximately 20 years, to recapitalize the vessel, and extend the useful life to maintain the required SSBN force level.

"West Virginia, there is no doubt we have a difficult road ahead," said Hall. "I think all of us would rather continue performing the strategic mission but the mission that confronts us now is equally important. I am confident we will get past all the obstacles and am looking forward to many great things from our green crew."

USS West Virginia is the third U.S. Navy ship to be named for the State of West Virginia and the 11th of 18 Ohio-class submarines. USS West Virginia was commissioned Oct. 14, 1990.

NAVSUP Volunteers Participate in Day of Caring

By Tim Christmann, Naval Supply Systems Command Public Affairs

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- Approximately 230 military and government civilian personnel from Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) participated in the United Way Day of Caring event in Harrisburg, Pa., Sept. 16.

Day of Caring is the largest, one-day mobilization of volunteers in the central Pennsylvania capital region.

The event brings together volunteers from local companies and non-profits that need help to complete projects which would otherwise go unfinished.

NAVSUP personnel joined more than 1,600 volunteers to do a variety of jobs including painting and simple repairs, landscaping, cleaning projects, sorting and organizing donations at non-profit organizations like shelters, missions, community centers and libraries, said Donna Lattanzio, campaign manager,
United Way
of the [Central Pennsylvania] Capital Region (UWCR).

"Some volunteers also helped clean and restore Civil War markers at Union Cemetery in Carlisle, Pa.," said Lattanzio. "NAVSUP personnel provided the extra hands and assistance for projects the agencies need to get done but don't have the time to do."

"We're grateful to the employees of NAVSUP for making a difference in our community through our Day of Caring," said Joseph Capita, UWCR president and chief executive officer. "This year our friends at NAVSUP supplied more Day of Caring volunteers than any other employer in the region. This shows that NAVSUP employees are committed to making the capital region a better place to live."

"Today is the first day in an annual effort to help local people in need, and there is an ambitious plan this year to accomplish just that. Today shows that helping people is what this community is all about and I am happy and proud to be a part of it." said NAVSUP Deputy Commander Rear Adm. Sean Crean, during the Day of Caring kick-off event at the Radisson hotel in Camp Hill, Pa.

NAVSUP volunteers agreed.

"I am glad to have an opportunity to give back to the community that I work in," said Janet Tice, NAVSUP Headquarters Funds Management Branch volunteer. "It's important to give a helping hand to those in need if you are able to do so."

"It feels good to give and to work with an organization that makes a difference in people's lives," said Kevin McCarthy, from NAVSUP's Navy Supply Information Systems Activity.

Duck Hunt – Taking stock

Written by: Dan Bender

Reflecting on National POW/MIA Recognition Day, it seems a fitting time to take stock of the search for Lt. John Pritchard and Petty Officer First Class Benjamin Bottoms who have been missing in action since World War II.  For more than 2 years the Office of Aviation Forces has been hunting for clues to the whereabouts of these heroes and their downed Grumman J2F Duck.

The search began as Master Chief Petty Officer John Long, Aircrew Program Manager, was tasked with sifting through mountains of historical records.  Eyewitness accounts, radio transcripts and message traffic clearly put the plane in the vicinity of Koge Bay on the Southeast Coast of Greenland.

In the fall of 2008 a plane equipped with sensors capable of penetrating the thick ice in the area uncovered several potential targets.  One in particular stood out against the surrounding ice and a small team was assembled in Sept. 2009 to travel to the location and confirm the anomaly.

Equipped with ground-penetrating radar, the team indeed confirmed an anomaly in the same place revealed by the previous over-flight. Whether this was the missing crew and their plane could only be discovered by getting down into the ice and seeing what was actually there.

Fast forward to this year, another team was dispatched to do just that.  After re-locating the anomaly multiple holes were melted into the ice around the target and their contents were viewed remotely by video camera.  Unfortunately the anomaly did not turn out to be the nearly 70-year-old wreckage.

Undaunted, the team expanded its search outward to other targets while they were still on the ice cap.  The GPR team crisscrossed the ice looking for any trace of the plane.  GPS beacons were implanted in the ice to learn about its movement.  And in the evenings the 10-person team poured over historical documents for more context to their search.

One clue in particular, a map drawn by Col. Bernt Balchen who overflew the Duck wreckage shortly after the crash, points to a search area where the team was unable to reach with sensor equipment during this trip.  The Office of Aviation Forces hopes to arrange an over-flight of this area and others with a sensorized aircraft as the search continues.

As this case unfolds, one thing is certain: this country remains committed to bringing all of its heroes home and they won’t stop the search until every one of them is returned.

Family Member Cites Father’s Recovery at Ceremony

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – A small crowd gathered in the shadow of the Pentagon today to honor the nation’s missing servicemembers and to reaffirm America’s commitment to bringing them home.

Seated among the servicemembers, dressed in colorful dress uniforms, was a group of family members who had traveled here to attend the National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony. Some wore hats bearing the names of their POW/MIA organizations, and others proudly displayed the names of their missing loved ones on white badges.

Colleen Shine’s black dress stood out in the sea of color, but her attitude was anything but mournful. She brought a message of hope to the ceremony.

Shine was 8 years old when she was told her dad, an Air Force pilot, was gone. Lt. Col. Anthony Shine was flying an A-7D reconnaissance jet over the border of Laos and Vietnam on Dec. 2, 1972, when he vanished, she later found out. He was just two months into his second tour in Vietnam.

Her mother, Bonnie, was left with three children and countless unanswered questions. Over time, three generations of the Shine family came together to bring light to the POW/MIA issue.

“I remember being a kid on the playground handing out POW/MIA flyers,” Shine recalled.

The family lived with the uncertainty of Anthony Shine’s fate for 14 years. Finally, in 1987, Shine was told of a crash site that was possibly linked to her father, and a helmet that may have belonged to him.

Shine said she made three trips to Vietnam to find answers. Villagers had scavenged the site, and remains had either been washed away or eaten by animals, she said. But she was able to find pieces of an aircraft and, in a nearby village, a helmet bearing her father’s name.

Her efforts prompted government experts to conduct a more extensive investigation, and in 1996, Shine finally got the answers she’d been wanting for more than two decades. Remains matching her father’s DNA had been found.

His burial at Arlington National Cemetery, 24 years after he’d gone missing, brought much-needed closure to the Shine family.

And his recovery demonstrated to all families of missing servicemembers that “answers are possible,” she said.

Over the years, the technology to locate and recover missing troops has advanced greatly in scope and sophistication, and 600 people now labor to achieve a full accounting of every missing servicemember.

At today’s ceremony, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates noted that in the past year, Defense Department teams have accounted for 66 formerly missing Americans, including 15 from the Vietnam War, 16 from the Korean War, 34 from World War II and one from World War I.

The nation’s ongoing commitment to this issue is due, in part, to family members and other citizens banding together to establish advocacy groups, Gates said. “They help ensure that the U.S. government does everything it can to find MIAs and help POWs during their captivity,” he added.

Shine joined the National League of POW/MIA Families years ago to ensure the issue stays prominently in the public eye. The organization works toward a full accounting of the more than 1,700 Americans still listed as missing and unaccounted for from the Vietnam War.

“I feel proud to be a part of this organization,” she said. “My commitment and my family’s commitment to this issue will be lifelong. And I’m proud to promote days like today so our servicemembers know we have their back when they go to war.”

Statement of Army Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick

The Department of the Army released today a response by Lt. Gen. Thomas Bostick concerning an editorial entitled, “New Gay Army,” that appeared in the Sept. 16 edition of the Washington Times:

“The statements attributed to me are inaccurate.  I simply did not make those statements.  Moreover, as a member of the Department of Defense Comprehensive Review Working Group, I have been extremely careful not to express any views that might influence the integrity of the comprehensive review.  I therefore have not expressed any opinions that might suppress the opinions of anyone participating in our discussions.  I find the statements falsely attributed to me to be personally reprehensible.”

Air Force Leaders Call People Greatest Asset

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – Air Force leaders are working on ways to improve relationships and continue their commitment to airmen and their families, the service’s top personnel officer said this week.

“We recognize our people are our greatest asset, including our family members,” Lt. Gen. Richard Y. Newton III, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for manpower and personnel, said during a Sept. 14 "DoD Live" bloggers roundtable.

“When we think in terms of how we're striving to meet the requirements of our people,” he said, “it's our men and women in uniform, it's our civilian work force, [and] it's our family members as well.”

Over the past year, Newton said, leaders focused on their commitment to families through “The Year of the Air Force Family.” Air Force leaders at all levels used this year to focus on their continuing commitment to communicate information that affects those who serve -- airmen and family members alike -- on the variety and scope of programs offered by the Air Force.

The observance also has highlighted the many successful programs already in place and informed airmen and their families of the development of new programs established throughout the year, he added.

Newton said one of the biggest things the Year of The Air Force Family has taught him is that focus must be directed toward single airmen, as well as families. It also provided insight on the challenges that today’s Air Force family faces and where the service as a whole needs to provide resources and fill in gaps.

“We had the first-ever Single Airmen's Summit to address the challenges that single airmen face day in and day out,” he said.
The summit focused on areas such as, financial responsibility, suicide prevention, base support systems, personal growth and relationships.

Newton said another program that received in-depth attention was the exceptional family member program, which provides for families with special needs. “We've identified some gaps,” he said, “and what we're acting on now is shoring up the family support aspect of this.”

The Air Force is providing 35 coordinators to help special-needs families navigate through some of the challenges they’ve associated with moving from base to base. Officials also are coordinating medical care at the installation level and connecting with school liaison officers to ensure family members with special needs are accommodated.

The general added that Air Force officials also are working on providing support to family members with school liaison officers to help children adjust in their transition, moving from school to school while having a parent on active duty.

Newton said the next area to focus on is how to move forward with what has been learned from the Year of the Air Force Family.

“Our focus and attention of our senior leaders throughout the ranks is indeed helping our families move forward from beyond 2010, so the spirit, intent of what we learned in the Year of the Air Force Family doesn't end,” he said. “We want to make sure that we continue to meet the spirit and intent of what we learned the last 12 months.”

General Officer Announcements

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

Army Reserve Col. Daniel J. Dire has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general and assignment as deputy commander, mission support element, 807th Medical Deployment Support Command, Salt Lake City, Utah.  Dire is currently serving as commander, (troop program unit), 330th Medical Brigade, Fort Sheridan, Ill.

Army Reserve Col. Ronald E. Dziedzicki has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general and assignment as deputy commander, mission support element, 3d Medical Deployment Support Command, Forest Park, Ga..  Dziedzicki is currently serving as commander, (troop program unit), 307th Medical Group, Columbus, Ohio.

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has nominated Army Maj. Gen. John D. Johnson for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general and assignment as commanding general, Eighth U.S. Army/chief of staff, U.N. Command/Combined Forces Command/U.S. Forces Korea.  Johnson is currently serving as deputy commanding general, I Corps and Fort Lewis, Fort Lewis, Wash.

Gates: Nation Will Bring Home Missing Troops

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – Standing in front of rows of sharply dressed troops today, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates underscored the Defense Department’s commitment to bringing every missing servicemember home.

“For our nation’s missing, we must close the gap,” the secretary said. “We must find the fallen. Your love for them will never die, and their country’s efforts to get them home will never cease.”

Gates joined a group of military and civilian leaders, veterans and families on the east side of the Pentagon for a National POW/MIA Recognition Day ceremony. A sea of family members and supporters filled several rows; their badges prominently displaying a missing or recovered loved one’s name.

The nation is sparing no effort to locate and identify the remains of those servicemembers who have not returned home, Gates said. Every day, he said, American service personnel and civilian experts around the world are working toward this end. These activities have intensified in scope and sophistication throughout the years, he added.

Since last year’s ceremony, Defense Department teams have accounted for 66 formerly missing Americans, Gates said, including 15 from the Vietnam War, 16 from the Korean War, 34 from World War II and one from World War I.

“This is slow and painstaking work,” he said. “We pursue it doggedly. The missing and their families deserve no less.”

Gates also underscored his commitment to today’s servicemembers, who he said are selflessly choosing to serve in a time of war.

“We must never grow complacent when it comes to protecting and accounting for our men and women on the front lines, given the nature of the conflicts we are in and the enemy we face, one not known for taking or keeping prisoners,” Gates said. “Our adversaries are on notice.”

Just as the United States is committed to upholding the laws of armed conflict and the nation’s laws and values in the treatment of prisoners, “so too will we hold them fully and completely responsible for how they deal with any U.S. troops that may come under their control,” Gates pledged.

And the nation, he added, will never cease its efforts to locate and bring these troops home if they fall into harm’s way.

“Our concern for their welfare is unremitting,” he said, “and if they are missing or captured, we will not rest until we find them, even as the conflicts recede into history.”

That same commitment extends to those missing from past wars, Gates noted. “This department’s commitment to prisoners of war, the missing and their families is deep and abiding, a reflection of the incalculable debt that shall always be owed to them by the people of the United States of America,” he said.

While today is set aside for a formal tribute, Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told the audience that the nation remembers missing loved ones all year, every year.

The nation has memorials, ships and buildings named after lost loved ones from past wars, Cartwright noted, and the Pentagon just dedicated a new corridor to U.S. prisoners of war and troops listed as missing in action. The hallway is lined with information, artifacts and photographs underscoring the service and sacrifice of more than 80,000 MIAs and POWs from the present conflict in Afghanistan and dating back to World War II.

But while these displays and memorials serve as powerful reminders and tributes, the general said, they don’t represent the complete legacy of those left behind.

“You, the families are the true legacy,” Cartwright said. “You are what they are most proud of. You are the living reminder of their sacrifice. You are their legacy.”

Top Airman Works to Build Resilient Force

By Christen N. McCluney
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – Air Force leaders are working on ways to prepare airmen to be ready for the joint and coalition fight and build resilience among themselves and their families, the service’s top enlisted airman said this week.

During a Sept. 15 “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable, Chief Master Sgt. of the Air Force James A. Roy said one way to do that is to have deliberate development using experience, education and training that will help to create better airmen in the joint force.

For example, he said, students who receive joint medical training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, establish relationships across the services early in their careers. “From my view,” he said, “I think that's kind of where we should go in the future.”

Roy added that the way Air Force officials communicate not only with airmen, but also with spouses, significant others and close family members, is key to a sense of community. He said he and other leaders review programs the Air Force offers and their efficiency, while continuously seeking to instill a sense of community within the Air Force family.

He said programs such as the Air Force’s “key spouse” program offer an official communications network designed to enhance readiness and establish a sense of community among unit leaders, airmen and their families.

Another program Roy discussed is the new Air Force fitness program, which, he said, has changed the culture of fitness within the force.

“If you receive an ‘excellent’ [rating] on your [physical training], you only have to test once a year,” he said. “That was not in the original plan, but we reviewed it, took the feedback from the field, and 43 percent have scored a 90 or above, meaning they only have to test once a year.”

This change in the rules has made airmen take their fitness very seriously, he said.

The chief also addressed the military suicide issue, noting that building resilience within airmen and their families is an important focus for Air Force leaders.

“Any time you have one suicide, it's too many,” he said. The Air Force, he added, is continuing to develop programs that help airmen and their families deal with the suicide issue and other concerns.

Army Hosts Indian Delegation to Discuss Future R&D Collaboration

Representatives from the U.S. Army, Navy and Air Force met with an Indian delegation at Fort Monmouth, NJ, to discuss potential collaboration efforts in emerging information and command and control technologies, Aug 31 – Sept. 3. The event was hosted by the US Army Communications-Electronics Research, Development, and Engineering Center (CERDEC).

Government, industry and academia representatives from both countries presented research and discussed projects in the areas of service-oriented architecture, intelligent agents, language translation and artificial intelligence technologies.

“We see India as a key, strategic ally that has growing influence in the region, as well as worldwide. We’re getting a lot of guidance from administration and from our senior officials in DoD to build this relationship and to look at opportunities where we can cooperate. This workshop creates the right venue to do so by bringing the right people together to have those discussions,” said Matthew Warren, director for the Pacific Armaments Cooperation Office of the Under Secretary of Defense Acquisition, Technology and Logistics.

As part of the workshop, CERDEC hosted a technical interchange meeting and panel discussion with industry representatives from both countries. The discussion focused on trends in information technology research to enhance coalition operations.

Workshop participants also visited CERDEC labs and traveled to Ft. Dix, N.J. to attend a coalition partners’ session at the Command, Control, Communications, Computers, Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance On-The-Move Event 2010 – or C4ISR OTM E10 – to learn more about CERDEC efforts to support systems-of-systems integration.

Professionalism Key to Congo Medical Exercise

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – Humanitarian assistance -- especially medical and dental care -- is in high demand in Africa. And, that’s a big part of the reason the U.S. military is involved on the continent, the commander of U.S. Army Africa said yesterday.

During a Sept. 15 “DoD Live” bloggers roundtable, Army Maj. Gen. David R. Hogg discussed Medflag 10, an ongoing humanitarian assistance exercise in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’s capital of Kinshasa.

The exercise helps to improve the readiness of both countries’ medical personnel and includes classroom instruction, a mass casualty exercise and civic assistance activities in specific areas in Kinshasa, Hogg said.

“Throughout this exercise we’ve worked on some pretty basic achievements,” he said. “Soldiers on both sides received classes on triage, emergency treatment [and] evacuation techniques, and later on we conducted a medical humanitarian mission, where we treated over 1,700 people from the Kinshasa community on the medical and dental sides.”

The Congolese emergency responders, called UMIR, also rescued a number of injured passengers after a bus accident. There were about 300 total participants in the exercise, Hogg said, 100 of them U.S. military personnel.

The joint venture came about at the request of the Congolese government, by way of the State Department. Medflag began in 1988 and has taken U.S. military units across the continent to assist and partner with different nations’ medical teams.

“We’re working hand-in-hand with the Congolese military to professionalize their force. It comes down to leader development, when you get down to it,” Hogg said.

There also is a humanitarian aspect to each Medflag mission that not only provides care to local residents, but also helps to give those residents confidence that their government’s military is there to help them.

Hogg said it’s too soon to say whether measures need to be taken as a result of Medflag, but he said one lesson he learned is not to underestimate any unit’s capabilities.

“The medical units we worked with here knew their business. They were professionals,” he said. “They have a system to support their soldiers when they’re in the jungle fighting. They have a system to support their civilian forces.

“When you get down to it,” the general continued, “professionalization of a force does, in fact, make a difference. These exercises have an effect on how these groups will continue their operations.”

Chairman’s Corner: Happy Birthday, Air Force!

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, Sept. 17, 2010 – Gen. Billy Mitchell believed that “in the development of airpower, one needs to look ahead” – a fitting charge as we celebrate the United States Air Force’s 63rd birthday tomorrow.

Born in an era of incredible innovation and change following World War II, the United States Air Force has lived up to its promise, changing how our armed forces have both protected the peace and secured victory.

From the Berlin Airlift during some of the toughest days of the Cold War to Operation Everest outside Bagram, Afghanistan, this year, from embracing new technologies to supporting counterinsurgency efforts in two wars, the men and women of the United States Air Force represent one of the fastest and most flexible ways we exercise our national will.

And there is every reason to believe Airmen – and the families who support them as they soar to great heights – will be ready to deter aggression … fight and win when necessary … and rapidly deliver aid to those in need as we press ahead well into the 21st century.

That’s because Airmen are always looking ahead. It is in their DNA. It is who they are.

The Joint Chiefs and I salute America’s Airmen and wish you Happy Birthday. Fly, fight and win!

Sharp: Korea Plan Synchronizes Capabilities

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 17, 2010 – Though all systems were “go” toward transferring wartime operational control of forces here to South Korea in 2012, delaying that transition at the South Korean government’s request will enable a broad range of initiatives to unfold in a more synchronized way, the top U.S. commander said.

These initiatives, embodied in the new Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement announced last week, provide “a much more comprehensive, complete package” to shape the U.S.-South Korean alliance for the future, Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command, told American Forces Press Service.

The new plan covers transferring wartime “opcon” –- operational control -- to South Korea, developing new war plans, introducing broader and more realistic exercises, reviewing both countries’ military organizational structures and timing the movement of U.S. forces south of Seoul and ensuring South Korean forces are ready, he explained.

The plan, Sharp said, also will help to identify military capabilities South Korean forces will need in 2015, and to ensure that South Korean acquisition, training and organizational efforts are geared toward achieving them.

In addition, he said, the plan will establish “bridging capabilities” the U.S. military will continue to provide after initial opcon transfer, and what both countries will contribute for the long term.

“In the past, ‘opcon’ transfer was completely focused on just Republic of Korea taking over on 17 April 2012,” Sharp said. “Now, we are trying to take and synchronize all of these things in order to be able to make it that by 2015.””

Sharp said he had been confident that everything was on track to transfer wartime operational control to South Korea as planned on April 17, 2012. He praised the South Korean military’s performance after the annual Key Resolve exercise in March, outlining to Congress the final steps needed to prepare for opcon transfer: completion of a new bilateral war plan and refinements to the command-and-control system and other processes.

That was before definitive proof that North Korea was responsible for sinking the South Korean naval ship Cheonan on March 26, killing 46 sailors.

As tensions mounted on the Korean peninsula, South Korean President Lee Myung-bak asked President Barack Obama in early June to delay the transition.

“President Obama reinforced that militarily we are ready to do it in 2012, but on behalf of the alliance, he agreed that we would delay it to late 2015,” Sharp said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who subsequently met with South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-young, decided to take advantage of the additional time to move forward on a broad scope of other initiatives, all aimed at strengthening the alliance, Sharp said.

Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and their South Korean counterparts agreed to the overarching concepts in the Strategic Alliance 2015 plan during their “2 plus 2” talks here in July, Sharp said.

The plan, announced last week, lays out the framework for these efforts, he said.

“It’s really a synchronization of many of the initiatives that we were going to work on in series, but now we can work on them in parallel and make them synchronized with the Republic of Korea gaining enough capability to truly be in control of the warfight by 2015,” the general said.

The plan includes a new mission analysis of war plans, Sharp said, to ensure they’re reflective of emerging conditions on the Korean peninsula.

“We are re-looking the full range of op plans and making sure they are very realistic for what we see North Korea doing over the next five years or so,” Sharp said. “We are looking at what North Korea has done recently, in the past, and what they are saying they are going to do.”

The plan also will reflect growing capabilities within the U.S.-South Korean alliance during the next five years, he said.

Strategic Alliance 2015 also ushers in more realistic exercise scenarios. In addition to focusing on an all-out attack by North Korea, they’ll incorporate scenarios of involving lower-level provocations, and the crisis management processes needed to deal with them, Sharp said.

And building on lessons learned in Iraq and Afghanistan, the exercises will reinforce noncombat as well as combat skills, he added.

“We are incorporating as part of the exercises the full range of what soldiers and all servicemembers will have to be able to do in the future, from the full kinetic to stabilization and reconstruction,” Sharp said.

Meanwhile, both the South Korean and U.S. militaries are reviewing their organizational structures to ensure they’re fully prepared to reverse the current supporting-supported construct in 2015. At the same time, U.S. Forces Korea is working to ensure a smooth movement of its troops south of the South Korean capital of Seoul on a timetable that supports other initiatives under way.

“We are taking a look to determine the synchronization of our move from [U.S. Army Garrison] Yongsan and the 2nd Infantry Division down to Camp Humphreys,” Sharp said. “We want to synchronize the move for when it makes sense, for when we are going through the organizational changes to be prepared after 2015, when [the South Korean joint chiefs of staff become] the leader in the warfight.”

Sharp acknowledged that the United States will continue to provide “bridging capabilities” for a limited period after initial opcon transfer, but said the Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement also will look longer-term.

“What capabilities do we maintain here for a period of time past opcon transfer?” he said. “And then, what do both countries look at for the enduring capabilities we will always bring to the alliance as long as there is a North Korean threat?”

The next step in the process will take place at the U.S.-Korea Security Consultative Meeting scheduled Oct. 7 and 8. During that session, participants will work through “a much more detailed plan for each of the different components,” laying out tasks and setting milestones to get the various initiatives synchronized and on schedule for 2015, Sharp said.

Testifying earlier this week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, the general expressed deep confidence in the Strategic Alliance 2015 plan.

“Strategic Alliance 2015 will enable the Republic of Korea and U.S. forces to successfully confront future security challenges and set the conditions for lasting peace in the Korean peninsula and the region,” Sharp told the committee. “The Republic of Korea and the United States are more strongly united than ever before to deter North Korean provocations and aggression, and to defeat them if necessary.”

War Vets Return to Transformed South Korea

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Sept. 17, 2010 – When Korean War veteran Fred Brady, now age 84, had last set foot in South Korea, the country was in the throes of a brutal conflict that left devastation at every turn.

A combat medic serving with the Army’s 3rd Field Hospital, Brady saw the extent of the destruction first-hand as he followed the fight from the Pusan Perimeter to Taegu, tending to the wounded.

This week, Brady and 139 other Korean War veterans got an eye-opening experience as they returned here -- almost all for the first time since the war -- to participate in ceremonies marking the conflict’s 60th anniversary and to see the fruits of their efforts.

They’re guests of the South Korean government, which launched the Korea Revisit Program in 1975 to thank Korean War veterans for their sacrifices.

Participants pay half of their airfare here, with South Korea’s ministry of patriots and veterans affairs picking up the rest of the tab, along with the costs of lodging, meals, tours and entertainment.

In addition to increasing the scope of the program to correspond with 60th anniversary commemorations over the next three years, the South Korean government has announced that it will now pay 30 percent of the airfare and all other costs for veterans’ spouses or companions.

“[This is] the Republic of Korea saying, ‘Thank you for all that you did 60 years ago in order for our country to get where it is today,’” said Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, commander of U.S. Forces Korea, Combined Forces Command and United Nations Command.

Brady said he’d planned to bring his wife along for the trip, and admitted his children had to talk him into coming after she died in the spring.

But as Brady and his fellow veterans attended a lavish banquet earlier this week, where they were showered with thanks by South Korean government and military leaders as well as Sharp, those reservations had long since been forgotten.

“This is an absolutely wonderful experience,” said Brady, now a resident of Grand Isle, La. “I feel so many emotions; it’s hard to choose just one to describe it all.”

Like Brady, Ben Jaffray, who’d served as an Air Force first lieutenant with the 336th Fighter Interceptor Wing during the war, marveled at South Korea’s transformation since he left here 57 years ago.

“The devastation was total,” recalled 80-year-old Jaffray. “What you see here is a miracle.”

Jaffray credited the Korean people, whose spirit and drive have built their war-devastated country into the world’s 10th-largest economy with a gross domestic product approaching $1 trillion. “It’s the attitude of the Koreans that’s made it possible. I saw it then and I see it now,” he said. “There’s a level of enthusiasm and joy here.”

“I can’t believe what these people have done,” echoed Bob Ellenz of Tipton, Kan., who is making his first visit here since 1951. “I’m dumbfounded,” said the former 8th U.S. Army’s 17th Field Artillery Division soldier.

For Charles Gagnon of Port Angeles, Wash., a Navy quartermaster during the war serving under 7th Fleet commander Vice Adm. Alfred Pride, a highlight of the Korea Revisit Program has been the opportunity to reconnect with the Korean people. In addition to visiting the demilitarized zone and South Korean cultural sites this week, Gagnon spent a full day meeting with young South Korean students and sharing stories of his wartime experience here.

“It’s absolutely awesome being here,” he said, admitting that he, like Brady, initially had “a lot of reservations” about making the trip.

“This is a whole new nation,” he said. “Being able to see it and recognizing that we helped play a part in building it makes me proud.”

The veterans reveled at the reception they’ve received throughout their visit.

“I’m having a fantastic time,” said Stan Levin of San Diego, a Navy veteran who served on an amphibious assault ship during the war. “They’re treating us like royalty. It’s almost embarrassing.”

“This is a wonderful trip,” Ellenz agreed. “I’ve enjoyed it so much; I wouldn’t be surprised if I end up coming back again someday.”

As they swapped war stories and explored the transformed South Korea, the veterans also took time to remember their buddies who never made it home from the Land of the Morning Calm.

“We all lost friends in the war,” Jaffray said. “Being here and thinking about it, you get a little teary.”

“This is all part of a healing process, being here and getting to see this beautiful country,” said Brady.

James “Jamie” Wiedhahn, son of a Korean War veteran who helps to coordinate the U.S. Korea Revisit Program, called that emotional reckoning an important part of the experience.

“This is an opportunity for the veterans to see that what they went through made a difference,” he said. “It’s closing that chapter of the conflict they live with every night when they close their eyes.”

Meanwhile, he said, the program helps to ensure that the lessons learned during Korean War get passed on to future generations.

“If we don’t continue to learn and study history, it is going to happen all over again,” he said. “A big part of this is to show that freedom isn’t free.”

Sharp, whose father was fighting in Korea when he was born in Morgantown, W.Va., said he grew up with that recognition, noting that he carries it with him every day as the top U.S. military officer in South Korea.

When Sharp had learned that he had been selected for the top U.S. commander’s job in South Korea, he said, he dug through a cedar chest at his mother’s house to find old pictures of his father in Korea, and later shared them with his Korean counterparts.

“I am honored to be able to follow in his footsteps,” Sharp said of his father’s Korean War service, “and to be able to continue to see the progress of Korea as we move forward from what it was back then to today, to the future with so many changes going on.”

Earlier this week, Sharp thanked the visiting veterans for laying the groundwork for South Korea’s modern-day success.

“The sacrifices that you and your fallen comrades made are the real reason the people of the Republic of Korea enjoy the freedom that we all share today,” he said. “Thank you for all the sacrifices you made. You will always be remembered and honored for what we did here.”

Guard Presence on Border Deters Threats

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Jon Soucy
National Guard Bureau

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 17, 2010 – The presence of National Guard troops along the Southwest border has provided U.S. Customs and Border Protection agents with an additional resource to counter drug smuggling, human trafficking and other threats along the border, senior Guard officials said this week.

“With every place we’ve visited, our colleagues at Customs and Border Patrol couldn’t praise them enough with stepping up and really providing an incredible capability that gives them the operational flexibility they need, said Army Maj. Gen. Peter Aylward, special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Additional flexibility also gives border patrol agents a greater ability to focus on specific areas within their sectors.

“It helps us alleviate high-traffic areas,” said Mario Escalante, a Customs and Border Patrol supervisory agent. “More than anything else, they will be working as additional eyes and ears. They will be working in … [entry identification sites] giving not just situational awareness of what is going on, but also acting as a [deterrent].”

The deterrence factor readily can be seen in the number of arrests made by Customs and Border Patrol agents. In the Tucson sector, daily arrests have been on a steady decline, said U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officials, who attributed the drop in numbers to the Guard troops on duty in the area.

The decrease has been steady for the past few years, officials said, adding that Operation Jump Start, initiated in 2006, provided a much-needed boost.

Because of that, the mission along the border isn’t quite what some troops imagined it would be like.

“When I volunteered for this mission, I expected it to be actually mass amounts of people always crossing over,” said Army Spc. Joseph Syed of the Arizona National Guard. “I really didn’t know what to expect to see, but in my mind I expected to see people just hopping [over the border] and running.”

Still, Syed said, illegal activity along the border still remains constant, with smugglers searching for new ways to cross people and illicit substances across the border.

“We mostly see folks during the day,” he said. “We haven’t seen too many people at night. It started out with one or two scouts a day, and now we have more along the ridge. Now they are actually bringing groups with them.”

Aylward said those smuggling operations often fund larger enterprises, such asnarcoterrorism and transnational threats..

Many have compared the current rotation of Guard troops along the border to Operation Jump Start. The geographical areas may be the same, but that is where the similarity ends.

“This is really totally different than Operation Jump Start,” Aylward said. “It is another phase, another chapter to make sure we’re doing everything we can to maintain the sovereignty of our borders.”

One of the biggest differences is the ramp-up of troops. On average, Guardsmen will go through four weeks of additional training prior to working on the border. They began to arrive along the border in late August and early September, and, as of yesterday, slightly more than 1,200 Guardsmen were in training or already deployed to the border.

The additional time allowed the states to ensure that things ran smoothly, said Air Force Brig. Gen. Jose Salinas, commander of the Arizona joint task force, Operation Copper Cactus.

“With the ramp-up, it’s given us the time to train people, make sure our orders are in place, make sure we get our chain of command up to speed,” he said. “[The troops] feel like they’ve been properly prepared for the situations they might see.”

The training was based on scenarios that ranged from border crossers just needing water to encountering more aggressive, hostile groups.

“They are also getting training in a lot of the technology that we have,” Salinas said. “I feel very confident our troops are getting what they need to perform the mission properly.”

In all of these missions, Guard troops are strictly in support of the Customs and Border Patrol or Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials.

“We see something, and we call it in to Border Patrol,” Syed said. “They’ll go check it out.” This helps Customs and Border Patrol to better focus on specific security issues, he added.

“The augmentation that we’re providing gives them the operational flexibility so they can pool their resources and cover down on those vulnerabilities that have previously existed,” said Aylward, who added that the Guard is part of lessening those vulnerabilities, while the Customs and Border Patrol recruits and trains additional agents.

Aylward, who’d toured all four border states this week, said he has been impressed with what he has seen.

“The motivation, the professionalism and the attitude across the board has been superb,” he said. “It really makes you feel proud to be a part of the team, and it really has been a great experience to come out and visit with the leaders and the soldiers that are performing this mission.”