Military News

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Lithuanian President Visits Mount Whitney

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sylvia Nealy, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/ Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- The President of Lithuania and the U.S. ambassador to Lithuania arrived aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) for a short visit Sep. 21.

President Dalia Grybauskaite and Ambassador Anne E. Derse were greeted by Capt. Jeffrey Ruth, Mount Whitney's commanding officer.

"It truly was an honor and a privilege to host [Grybauskaite] aboard Mount Whitney," said Ruth. "She not only showed a genuine interest in the ship and its mission, but was especially interested in meeting the crew and talking about what they do on a daily basis."

A guided tour was arranged for the guests in order for them to have a general understanding of Mount Whitney's mission. The tour included the joint operation center, network operation center and the bridge.

During the tour, Ruth escorted Grybauskaite and Derse to the ship's wardroom to mingle and discussed building partnership and lasting friendship between Lithuania and the United States.

After the tour, Ruth presented a plaque to Grybauskaite in remembrance of the visit.

"I believe this short visit will go a long way toward helping build the partnerships needed to guarantee maritime security in the Baltic region," said Ruth.

Mount Whitney is currently operating in the Baltic region to strengthen the partnership and friendships between the U.S. and Baltic nations. Mount Whitney, the flagship for 6th Fleet, is homeported in Gaeta, Italy, and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

NMCSD Awarded Accreditation from Joint Commission

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Anastasia Puscian, Naval Medical Center San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center San Diego (NMCSD) and its Branch Health Clinics (BHC) demonstrated compliance with the Joint Commission's national standards for health care quality and safety by receiving the Gold Seal of Approval Sept. 15.

NMCSD completed the Medical Inspector General (MEDIG) July 8-16 and an unannounced, on-site evaluation by the Joint Commission July 12-16, resulting in full accreditation for another three years.

"We continually evaluate our processes to provide the best possible patient centered care through education, innovation and training," said Rear Adm. C. Forrest Faison III, commander, Naval Medical Center San Diego "This accreditation is reflective of the high quality of medical care NMCSD provides daily."

The survey evaluated NMCSD's standards of performance and assessed its ability to provide safe, high quality care. The survey focused on NMCSD's level of performance in key functional areas, such as patient rights, patient care, infection control and medication safety.

The Joint Commission identified nine best practices during their survey of NMCSD, recognizing the mental health ward's redesign with innovative and new technology to ensure the safety of patients, including the "Angry Onion" and "Sweet Potato", which provide a rapid feedback process for staff on daily hassles that effect patient care and productivity, and the pain management clinics' thorough psychosocial evaluations to name a few.

In addition, the MEDIG identified six additional best practices, to include NMCSD's Research Integrity Program and the Operational Forces Medical Liaison Program.

The accreditation award recognizes NMCSD's dedication to compliance with the Joint Commission's national standard for health care quality and safety on a continuous basis.

NMCSD has maintained the Joint Commission's rigorous national standards through continuous review and improvement of education, training programs, and actual delivery of critical services to more than 90,000 enrolled beneficiaries.

Founded in 1951, the Joint Commission seeks to continuously improve health care for the public, in collaboration with other stakeholders, by evaluating health care organizations and inspiring them to excel in providing safe and effective care of the highest quality and value. The Joint Commission evaluates and accredits approximately 18,000 health care organizations and programs in the United States, according to their website.

For more information, visit http://www.qualitycheck.org/qualityreport.aspx?hcoid=10073 to view the Joint Commission's summary report on NMCSD's accreditation.

VADM Currier Visits Bay Area Units

By DCMS Log

VADM John Currier visited Coast Guard Island in Alameda, CA to meet with San Francisco Bay Area mission support leadership over breakfast.

Following the discussion, VADM Currier and CMC Isherwood filmed short mission support video segments in front of CGC WAECHE.

Upon completion of the events on Coast Guard Island, VADM Currier traveled to Coast Guard TRACEN Petaluma, CA where he held an all hands with the sitting Chief Petty Officer's Academy and all "A" School classes.

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, September 24, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Chilean Minister of National Defense Jaime Ravinet to the Pentagon today at 9:15 a.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 Pentagon River Parking 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 has no public or media events on his schedule.

Biden: U.S., U.K. Commit to Continued Aid for Pakistan

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2010 – Citing the “enormous scale of the devastation” caused by flooding in Pakistan, Vice President Joe Biden and Deputy British Prime Minister Nicholas P. Clegg today affirmed their nations’ commitment to helping the country recover.

In a joint statement issued after their meeting, said they recognize Pakistan’s continuing humanitarian and recovery needs.

The statement noted that the United Kingdom has contributed about $209 million to the effort, and the Unikted States has contributed about $345 million.

“We welcome the international contributions that have been made so far, … and we recognize also the generosity of individual citizens in these and other countries,” the statement said. “However, there is more to be done.” They encouraged the international community to respond “fully, rapidly and with effective coordination and leadership,” and encouraged partners to meet in full pledges made at the 2009 Tokyo donors meeting in addition to new pledges related to the floods.

“The U.S. and the U.K. affirm their commitment to sustained long-term post-flood reconstruction in Pakistan, beyond the immediate humanitarian needs,” the statement continued. “We encourage other members of the international community to remain engaged as well. Stability in Pakistan, underpinned by economic and democratic development, is vital for the stability of the region and for security in the wider world.”

Pledging “unshakeable support for the people of Pakistan” in the wake of this natural disaster, the two leaders also reaffirmed their nations’ commitment to enhancing their strategic partnerships with Pakistan, “on the basis of shared interests and mutual respect.”

“We recognize also the role that the international community has in helping Pakistan to address a range of challenges across development, security, and governance,” they added. “We look to the Friends of Democratic Pakistan Ministerial meeting in October to mobilize further political support on these agendas.”

General Officer Announcements

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

Air Force Maj. Gen. Charles R. Davis has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as commander, Electronic Systems Center, Air Force Materiel Command, Hanscom Air Force Base, Mass.  Davis is currently serving as the commander, Air Armament Center, and the Air Force program executive officer for weapons, Air Force Materiel Command, Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Susan J. Helms has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), Air Force Space Command, and commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.  Helms is currently serving as director, plans and policy, J5, Headquarters U.S. Strategic Command, Offutt Air Force Base, Neb.

Air Force Lt. Gen. Larry D. James has been nominated for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as deputy chief of staff, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Washington D.C.  James is currently serving as commander, 14th Air Force (Air Forces Strategic-Space), Air Force Space Command, and commander, Joint Functional Component Command for Space, U.S. Strategic Command, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif.

Air Force Maj. Gen. Darrell D. Jones for appointment to the rank of lieutenant general with assignment as deputy chief of staff, manpower, personnel and services, Headquarters U.S. Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.  Jones is currently serving as commander, Air Force District of Washington, Andrews Air Force Base, Md.

General Officer Announcement

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

Army Col. Joseph A. Brendler has been nominated for appointment to the rank of brigadier general.  Brendler is currently serving as chief of staff, Defense Information Systems Agency, Arlington, Va.

Missing WWII Soldier is Identified in Germany

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

Army Sgt. Edward T. Jones, of West Pawlet, Vt., will be buried on Sept. 25 in Saratoga, N.Y.  In November 1944, the 112th Infantry Regiment, 28th Infantry Division was traveling east through the Hürtgen Forest in an attempt to capture the German towns of Vossenack and Schmidt.  On Nov. 6, Jones and five other members of A Company, 112th Infantry Regiment, were killed in the town of Kommerscheidt when a German tank fired point-blank on their position.

In 2008, a German explosive ordnance disposal team, working at a construction site in the town of Kommerscheidt, found fragments of a World War II-era U.S. military boot. The team notified the German War Graves Commission who recovered remains of two individuals at the site and military equipment including two identification tags.  The items were turned over to a Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command team in the area for further analysis.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the JPAC used dental comparisons in the identification of the remains.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1420 or visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

Defense Leaders Check Progress on Efficiencies Initiatives

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with top civilian and military leaders here yesterday to discuss progress on the Defense Department's efforts to reduce overhead costs and promote efficiencies. The group included the ten combatant commanders who lead the nation's operational military.

“It is absolutely critical in our view that the [combatant commanders] be involved in shaping all aspects of these initiatives, especially those that affect military capabilities, missions and their organizations,” Gates said today at a Pentagon news conference. “Their contributions yesterday reflect their important role in our efforts.”

The secretary said he wants to ensure that those responsible for executing these changes and reforms “be involved in developing both options and recommendations.”

The efficiencies initiatives are a team effort, Gates said, designed to instill a culture of savings and restraint. Military and civilian leaders, he added, must buy into the program for it to be successful.

“These leaders recognize the need to shift resources from overhead to real military capabilities,” he said. “They believe in the specific measures we have announced and are committed to implementing them and further developing our plan. We must all make every dollar count to ensure that our military has the forces and capabilities needed in a dangerous world.”

Gates cited efficiencies for the fourth lot of the F-35 joint strike fighters built by Lockheed-Martin as an example of what he’s trying to do. “After extensive negotiations, the department has reached an agreement to use a fixed-price incentive fee contract for the purchase of 30 F-35s for the U.S. military,” the secretary said. The contract also includes an aircraft for the United Kingdom and another for the Netherlands.

The contract, Gates added, shares the cost of overruns between the government and industry up to a fixed ceiling. It also shares the rewards when the programs come in under cost. “The per-unit price we’ve negotiated for this new contract is 15 to 20 percent below the independent cost estimate for the F-35 prepared earlier this year,” the secretary said.

The contract as structured will enhance the productivity of the joint strike fighter program to reduce overall costs, Gates said, adding that he would like to see similar efforts for other procurements.

Gates said he has made it clear to the department's industry partners and defense contracting professionals that defense officials "need to see more of these types of contracts in order to provide more value and better programs for the American taxpayers and provide good business opportunities for our industrial partners."

Wisconsin Guard responding to Arcadia flooding

The Wisconsin National Guard has deployed vehicles and personnel to assist local authorities due to flooding in Trempealeau County this morning.

Gov. Jim Doyle declared a state of emergency for Trempealeau County following strong storms that drenched the area with six inches of rain, resulting in flooding. The flooding prompted the evacuation of downtown Arcadia, which was under as much as three feet of water earlier today, and also washed out roads and bridges, downed power lines and damaged infrastructure in Trempealeau County.

Heavy rains are expected to continue throughout the day and possibly overnight. At noon Thursday the Trempealeau River was nearly six inches past flood stage and is expected to continue rising for the next 24 to 48 hours. However, water levels have subsided as much as nine inches in areas where the rain has diminished.

Gov. Doyle directed state agencies to assist local authorities in recovering from this natural disaster.

"State Emergency Management and DNR officials are already on the ground, working with the National Guard to assist in recovery efforts," Doyle said. "The state will continue to do everything we can to help the people and communities affected by last night's storms make a quick recovery."

Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, said the Wisconsin National Guard is ready to assist state and local authorities as long as needed.

"This is the core of our mission - taking care of Wisconsin citizens in times of need," Dunbar said. "Our Guardsmen are at the ready."

The Wisconsin National Guard sent two 5-ton trucks, one Light Medium Tactical Vehicle, one Humvee and a heavy equipment wrecker along with 12 personnel, four cases of MREs and 120 gallons of potable water to Arcadia. Guard members were assisting local law enforcement operate three traffic checkpoints and escort families to their homes if needed. Most of the Soldiers were sent from an Army National Guard field maintenance shop in Eau Claire.

Additional Guard members are preparing to relieve those already on site, should assistance operations continue into the evening.

The Eau Claire chapter of the American Red Cross has established an emergency shelter at the National Guard armory in Arcadia, with approximately 10 volunteers to care for up to 40 evacuees. Earlier today, 50 people were being sheltered at Holy Family Church in Arcadia.

The State Emergency Operations Center in Madison has been activated, and the Wisconsin National Guard's Joint Operations Center is monitoring the situation and coordinating assistance with the incident commander. The Joint Staff liaison team arrived on the scene just before noon.

Recapitalization of the fleet

Written by: CDR Glynn Smith

During Haiti relief operations this past January, 10 of the 12 assigned Coast Guard cutters, or 83 percent, suffered significant mechanical problems that impeded their ability to respond to the catastrophic aftermath of the earthquake. Three had to suspend relief activities and leave the area to perform extensive repairs, including drydocking one ship.

The Coast Guard’s response to the earthquake in Haiti earlier this year illustrates the challenges the service faces with the declining condition of its fleet. Coast Guard Commandant Adm. Bob Papp spoke about the Coast Guard’s efforts to replace its aging surface assets at the Congressional Shipbuilding Caucus Breakfast at the U.S. Capitol today.

“My number one budget priority is recapitalization of our agile and versatile fleet,” said Papp.

The United States is a maritime nation and is dependent on the sea and our internal waters for commerce, sustenance and recreation. Our nation requires a robust Coast Guard fleet to protect the Nation’s more than 300 ports, 50,000 miles of navigable waterways and 95,000 miles of coastline.

The increasing number of major cutter system failures and declining reliability are a significant concern for the Coast Guard and Department of Homeland Security. Our cutter forces are a critical component to preserving the maritime safety and security of the United States.

Our cutters conduct rescues, enforce laws and promote security. They also work closely with other government departments and agencies to protect our nation. And when disaster strikes, like it did in Haiti, our cutters are able to redeploy by sea and help when other responders are still days away.

“The age of our ships is the primary factor leading to the increase in unexpected equipment failures,” said Papp, adding, “The average age of our high endurance cutters is over 41 years, compared to 14 years for a U.S. Navy ship.”

The Coast Guard’s current ship acquisition projects include:

• National Security Cutter (NSC) – The NSC will be the new flagship of our surface fleet, replacing our long-serving 378-foot High Endurance Cutters. Two of eight planned NSCs have been commissioned (Bertholf and Waesche) and are on the seas executing Coast Guard missions. The third, Stratton, was recently christened and is scheduled for delivery next year. The Coast Guard is currently negotiating contracts for cutters four and five.

• Offshore Patrol Cutter (OPC) –The Coast Guard is continuing its market research and pre-acquisition activities for the eventual successor to our 210-foot and 270-foot Medium Endurance Cutters, and is engaging with multiple U.S. shipyards as part of its research efforts. A request for initial design proposals is notionally scheduled for release in early 2011, and current plans call for a total of 25 OPCs.

• Fast Response Cutter (FRC) –Four of these new, advanced patrol boats are now under construction at Bollinger Shipyards in Lockport, La. The lead cutter, Bernard C. Webber, is on schedule for delivery in the spring of 2011, with deliveries of the next three cutters not far behind. Earlier this month, a contract option for four more FRCs was awarded to Bollinger, bringing the total number of cutters under contract to eight. The first 12 cutters (of 58 planned) will be homeported in Miami and Key West, serving critical law enforcement and migrant interdiction missions in areas such as the Florida Straits and the Caribbean.

“Without these new ships, we cannot continue to be Semper Paratus – Always Ready,” said Papp.

Navy Leadership Outlines 2010 Combined Federal Campaign Goals

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Shannon Burns, Defense Media Activity - Anacostia Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- Senior Navy leadership outlined individual Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) goals for Navy organizations across the fleet during a Sept. 23 ceremony at the Pentagon Center Courtyard in Arlington, Va.

Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work described CFC donation goals to Navy leaders from 16 organizations, including Naval Information Operations Command, Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center and United States Marine Corps Headquarters.

He presented representatives from each organization with a small board denoting Department of the Navy (DoN) CFC goals during the ceremony. Work also explained how funds raised through CFC have a nationwide impact.

"This is worth doing," said Work. "It impacts Sailors, Wounded Warriors and communities throughout the United States."

Work added that although there are numerous reasons the CFC has remained integral in the DoN, the thousands of sea service members and Department of Defense (DoD) employees choosing to participate in the program are who ensure the program's continuing legacy.

"One reason why we're successful is because of our Sailors, Marines and civilians," said Work. "They have already dedicated their lives to providing a service to the country. They understand what it means to give and what it means to sacrifice."

Of the more than 4,000 charities eligible for participation in the 2010 CFC, numerous charities maintain close military ties, including Puppies Behind Bars, an organization which trains and donates aide dogs to Wounded Warriors.

"The CFC is an incredibly important donor to us not only because of the amount of funds generated as a whole but also because when we get private individuals who want to give us money from their paychecks it tells us that the work we are doing is important," said Gloria Gilbert Stoga, Puppies Behind Bars president.

DoN CFC expectations during 2009 were set at 3.82 million dollars, but more than 4 million dollars were collected. DoN CFC organizers established a goal of 3.9 million dollars for this year's campaign.

The CFC, officially formed in 1964 as a test project in six cities, consolidated numerous charity drives into one annual combined campaign resulting in a substantial increase in contributions ranging from 20 percent to 125 percent. In 1971, former President Richard Nixon announced that the CFC would be the uniform fundraising method for the federal service.

Enhanced FOCUS World Website Offers More Robust Support To Navy Families

From Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED) redesigned the website for Project FOCUS (Families OverComing Under Stress) Sept. 17 to better serve military families by building resiliency and coping mechanisms to deal with stress associated with multiple overseas deployments.

The FOCUS website now includes both a public section with open access, and a new "FOCUS World," which is a secure section, accessible only to military families.

According to Kirsten Woodward, BUMED Family Programs Division director, FOCUS World is an interactive website that teaches families resiliency training skills.

"In FOCUS World, parents will be able to create a family account that allows all members of their family to share memories, create family goals and chat in their own private chat room," said Woodward. "In addition, there are a variety of downloadable handouts that provide helpful education and activities for military families, and brief videos that demonstrate helpful techniques used to talk about common family challenges."

FOCUS World provides parents and children with training in key resiliency skills, including communication, emotional regulation, problem solving, goal setting, and managing deployment reminders. Such skills are taught through a number of interactive features, including the Family Narrative Timeline, Future Family, and the Feeling Thermometer, all of which are designed to provide instruction and practice in the key FOCUS skills.

Family members are able to upload photos in order to share important events, and in order to help families maintain cohesion during deployments. An 'i-chat' feature has been developed to allow service members to remain involved in parenting at a distance and to facilitate effective co-parenting. Modeling videos have also been created to provide guidance for parents around common challenges faced by military families experiencing multiple deployments.

"It is through technology and innovation that allows Navy Medicine to continue to serve the needs of families, both at the installation level, and the most geographically isolated locations," said Navy Surgeon General Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson Jr.

VT-7 Recognized with Secretary of Navy Safety Award

By Penny Randall, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs

NAVAL AIR STATION, Miss. (NNS) -- Fixed Wing Training Squadron Seven (VT-7) was awarded the Secretary of the Navy 2010 Safety Excellence Award in the Aviation, Training category in ALNAV 060/10, released Sept. 8 to all Navy and Marine Corps personnel.

Afloat and ashore command winners in all 21 categories will be formally recognized during a ceremony at the U.S. Navy Memorial and Naval Heritage Center Theatre in Washington, D.C. Oct. 4.

"We're honored to be recognized for our hard work in safety," said Cmdr. William Doster, VT-7 commanding officer. "It's an award to the entire squadron."

Doster said he believes it was not just one thing that the squadron accomplished.

"It's a command culture that we believe rather than a task; it's something we work continually to maintain," he said. "This award is special for the safety officer and his team. He is the one who works hard when it comes to submitting hazards and recommendations."

VT-7's Safety Officer Lt. Cmdr. Matthew Plaisier said it is the hard work of his previous safety officers that helped the squadron to earn three prestigious safety awards in one year.

"It's a team effort," Plaisier said. "We can dictate policy, but it's up to instructors and students to implement all the guidelines we put out. Using common sense on a daily basis has helped with the great safety record of more than 100,000 hours since our last mishap - something that is practically unheard of."

In his message announcing the winners, Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said, "My congratulations to all Secretary of the Navy Safety Excellence recipients. Safety and risk management are intrinsic to effectively prepare for and complete our mission, whether at home or deployed in harm's way. What you have accomplished in the last year is proof-positive of your commitment to a 'mission first, safety always' command culture, each other, safety excellence, the nation, and the advent of the Department of the Navy as a world class safety organization. You have justly earned the right to fly my SECNAV safety flag for the next year."

This year, VT-7 also received the Admiral John H. Towers Flight Safety Award and the Chief of Naval Operations Safety Award.

VT-7's Safety department achieved the highest grade possible of "outstanding" on both the Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization Program Unit Evaluation in August 2009, and the Chief of Naval Air Training Safety (CNATRA)/Standardization Evaluation in October 2009.

CNATRA evaluators lauded VT-7 programs as the "best in the last 12 inspections," and "well above average." The squadron was noted for having the best Aviation Safety Awareness Program (ASAP) utilization in CNATRA."

ASAP helps to address and eliminate safety issues. Students and instructors make comments on what happened during a flight, whether it is an error, something that the approach controllers did, or a weather related event. VT-7 led all of CNATRA in ASAP reporting for 2009.

"This is where we get real-time feedback," Doster said. "The ASAP program creates a good line of communication."

In 2009, 13 VT-7 detachments, including nine carrier qualification detachments, were successful with various types of training. Seventy-five student aviators earned their wings in the T-45C Goshawk, flying more than 90 sorties per day, one of the largest daily flight schedules in the Navy. The squadron's production record for 2009 was 21,169 flight hours, 18,288 sorties, and 1,312 carrier arrested landings.

"It takes more work to stay on top of the game," he said. "I believe we are on the right track in VT-7."

Embarked Marines Share Leadership Tactics with Southern Partners

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Kim Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs

SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (NNS) -- U.S. Marines embarked aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) completed their final subject matter expert exchange in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic for Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2010.

The Marines spent five months exchanging leadership and mission planning techniques with partner nation defense and military forces.

A team of five instructors, based out of Marine Corps Training Advisory Group (MCTAG) in Virginia Beach, Va., conducted information exchange sessions with service members and civilians from Barbados, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Guatemala, Guyana, Jamaica, Nicaragua, and Panama. Upon completing the exchanges, participants in each country added many new vital skills to their tool belts.

"Many of the countries requested land navigation sessions as part of the exchange package," said Sgt. Edan Valkner, MCTAG SPS 2010 subject matter expert. "It is the basis of patrolling. If you can't find your location or where you are going to, you can't find your patrol route or do your job as an infantryman. Using the terrain available, we choose points of relevancy and give participants information and skills to navigate from point to point using a compass, map and protractor to identify map locations along a course."

MCTAG's global mission is to build partner nation capacity in support of combatant commanders' theater security force assistance and security cooperation objectives designated by Marine force component commands. MCTAG is a subordinate unit under United States Marine Corps Forces Command.

The organization has participated in several SPS mission since its inception in 2007.

Sgt. Georman Elder, MCTAG SPS 2010 subject matter expert, has participated in the two most recent, focusing his efforts on the martial arts exchanges as an embarked Marine on board Swift.

"Being able to defend yourself is the foundation of being able to defend your country," said Elder. "Additionally, the leadership and character principles taught, along with the tan belt portion of the (Marine Corps Martial Arts Program), [are] paramount to any military or defense force."

Elder said the MCMAP sessions are based on the Marine Corps values of mental discipline, physical discipline and character, and the program strengthens participants in all of these areas.

"The 32 hours of tan belt training that I exchanged with participants during SPS is the same training that a basically trained Marine out of boot camp would receive," said Elder.

Participants, in addition to completing the 32 hours of training, were also required to have a sparring match and pass a final technique test.

Several teams are embarked aboard to conduct subject matter expert exchanges including Marine Corps Training and Advisory Group, Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Team and Navy Criminal Investigative Service.

The Swift is deployed supporting Southern Partnership Station 2010, an annual deployment of various specialty platforms to the U.S. Southern Command (USSOUTHCOM) area of responsibility (AOR) in the Caribbean and Central America. The mission's primary goal is information sharing with navies, coast guards, and civilian services throughout the region.

Cybercom Chief Details Cyberspace Defense

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 23, 2010 – U.S. Cyber Command stands ready to defend Defense Department networks, but laws and policies must be updated to protect the nation, the organization’s commander said yesterday.

Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander is the first commander of Cybercom, which stood up under U.S. Strategic Command in May, merging DOD’s defensive and offensive cyber arms into one command.

The command operates in a new domain for the military – the man-made domain of cyberspace. The domain is just as important for military operations as land, sea, air and space, defense officials said. Cybercom directs military operations in cyberspace and is responsible for defense of crucial military networks.

The threat is real and continuing, Alexander said.

“The more you learn, the more you say we have to come together to protect this,” the general said during a roundtable with reporters at the National Cryptologic Museum. Noting that Defense Department networks are scanned or probed 250,000 times an hour, Alexander said, “we have to do a better job defending it.”

The networks are the lifeblood of commerce, power, finance and many other aspects of life today. There are 1.9 billion Internet users in the world today, Alexander said, and 4.6 billion cellular phone subscribers. The number of e-mails each day this year is around 247 billion, with 90 trillion e-mails sent in 2009. The Internet is a tremendous capability, Alexander said, but it also is an enormous vulnerability.

“Our intellectual property here is about $5 trillion,” he said. “Of that, approximately $300 billion is stolen over the networks per year.”

Cybercom’s three main missions are to defend the defense information grid, launch the full spectrum of cyber operations on command, and to stand prepared to defend the nation’s freedom of action in cyberspace, Alexander said.

The command has a budget of $120 million for this year and has about 1,000 military and civilian employees. Included in this is a 24/7 joint operations center that monitors the grid, detects attacks and neutralizes them. The command works with the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps cyber commands to parcel out how to defend the networks and who has responsibility for the specific nets.

Assigning responsibility needs to happen throughout the government, the general said, noting that technology has outpaced policy and law. The government, he added, still is dealing with laws that came out when the nation relied on rotary phones.

“The laws we did 35, 40 years ago are what we have to update,” he said.

Alexander put two issues on the table. “First, we can protect civil liberties and privacy and still do our mission,” he said. “There can be mistakes, but we can protect the First Amendment.”

The second issue, he said, is that Cyber Command is defending the DOD networks now, and as directed, can help the Homeland Security Department defend its networks.

There is confusion over who does what, the general acknowledged, so White House officials are leading an effort to sort through the needs of cybersecurity and update the policies and issues. “They are looking at the policies and authorities that need [re-]doing, and what’s the right way to approach it,” he said.

Once the review is finished, he explained, the president must determine how the federal government will be organized to handle this.

Congress is also looking at the problems. “From my perspective,” Alexander said, “I would like to war-game it and hypothesize what could happen and ensure the policies, laws and authorities allow us to do what people expect us to do. I don’t want to fail in meeting the expectations of the American people, the White House and Congress.”

Changing the policy is complex, and will take time and several tries to do it right, Alexander said. The general said he envisions a team handling things in cyberspace. The DHS, the FBI, other government agencies and private stakeholders – along with Cybercom – all have a role, he said, and getting the disparate agencies and entities to work together will be a priority for cyber defense.

Some questions still need to be answered, and policy makers need to take them into consideration, Alexander said.

They include:

-- What constitutes a cyber attack?

-- How do the laws of war pertain to operations in cyberspace?

-- What does deterrence look like in the cyber world, where it can take months to determine attack perpetrators and the cyber defense group may have nothing to strike back at?

These questions are valid, the general emphasized. In 2007, Estonia was hit by a cyber attack that crippled that nation’s grid for weeks, he said, and a foreign intelligence agency compromised a classified U.S. military system in 2008.

The attacks can be disruptive, like the Estonia attack, or destructive, with lives lost and equipment and networks destroyed, Alexander said.

“Those are the kind of rules that have to be weighed and discussed,” he added. “It’s good to have that debate, and from my perspective, it is important that it is clear who has the responsibility to defend in that kind of requirement.”

USNS Safeguard Showcases Submarine Rescue

By Lt. Lara Bollinger, Commander Submarine Group 7 Public Affairs

USNS SAFEGUARD, At Sea (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy along with navies from Australia, Japan, the Republic of Korea and the Republic of Singapore conducted the submarine escape and rescue (SMER) exercise "Pacific Reach" Aug. 17-25 in the South China Sea.

Military Sealift Command's rescue and salvage ship USNS Safeguard (T-ARS 50) and the San Diego-based Deep Submergence Unit (DSU) participated in a variety of submarine rescue drills, including multiple deployments of the U.S. submarine rescue chamber, demonstrating a highly sophisticated level of international interoperability to conduct humanitarian submarine rescue missions.

"This exercise shows that our systems can work with international navies' submarine systems, and that our procedures are similar and we can cross over," said Cmdr. David Lemly, DSU commanding officer. "In an actual rescue, multiple nations would respond, and we may end up using several different systems; whichever can get there first. So it's important that we not only know how we can operate together, but that we are communicating and have confidence that we can operate together."

Pacific Reach is the largest and most sophisticated submarine rescue exercise conducted in the Asia Pacific region. Senior military officials from 13 countries participated as observers, including Canada, China, France, India, Indonesia, Italy, Malaysia, Pakistan, South Africa, Sweden, Thailand, Vietnam, and the United Kingdom.

"In Southeast Asia our job is to provide rescue, salvage, towing and diving services for any asset for any of the countries here if it's been requested," said Senior Chief Master Diver Ted Walker, Mobile Diver Salvage Unit 1. "Our mobile diver unit is very versatile, and we can provide a ready rescue cell anywhere in the world. Right now we're providing a platform for DSU, and we're helping them to do this exercise."

Safeguard was one of two submarine rescue support vessels, including the Singaporean MV Swift Rescue, that served as the focal point for a series of submarine rescue events. The DSU deployed the SRC from Safeguard using a large crane to lift the massive capsule over the side. Using this submarine rescue chamber (SRC), the DSU conducted successful open-hatch matings with JDS Arashio (SS 586) and RSS Chieftain, submarines from Japan and the Republic of Singapore that bottomed for this simulated rescue scenario.

During one event, four countries were represented in a single, simulated rescue and chamber mating. Naval officers from the U.S., China, and Republic of Singapore were sealed together inside the U.S. SRC for more than three hours as they were lowered via tether to mate with Arashio. At a depth of nearly 200 feet, the SRC connected with the submarine, and a U.S. Navy diver inside the SRC opened Arashio's hatch to shake hands with Japanese crew members from the bottomed submarine.

This year's exercise, the fifth in the series, was hosted by the RSN for the second time and consisted of a shore phase conducted at the Changi Command and Control Center, and a sea phase held in the South China Sea. The exercise also comprised a medical symposium as well as simulated evacuation and treatment of personnel from submarines in distress.

"The medical portion of this exercise is essential," said Lt. Cmdr. Jeffrey Gertner, MV Swift Rescue deep submergence medical officer. "We rescue submariners and not submarines, so just getting the guys to the surface isn't necessarily enough. One of the biggest challenges is that things get really chaotic with many patients. You can't bring a hospital out here, so you have to do the best with what you have, which means you usually have limited manpower and lots of injuries all at once."

Medical teams from the U.S. were among the countries participating in medical symposiums and drills to share ideas and practices with each other, with the goal of overall improving the survival rates of submariners who may be rescued from high-pressure underwater environments.

"It's important worldwide to be able to support the submarine force," said Gertner. "We're sending them out into harm's way, and it's crucial to be able to have a plan and resources to save them if necessary."

Exercise Pacific Reach aims to develop regional submarine escape and rescue capabilities and strengthen interoperability in submarine rescue operations among participating navies.

RSN Fleet Commander, Rear Adm. Joseph Leong, spoke during the opening of the exercise.

"Exercise Pacific Reach serves as a platform to foster cooperation on submarine escape and rescue, as well as to enhance multilateral relations among the submarine operating countries," said Leong. "As more countries acquire or enhance their submarine capabilities in the region, it is also important that we build and maintain a strong network for multilateral submarine rescue collaboration."

This year, the RSN contributed a landing ship tank, RSS Endeavour, submarine RSS Chieftain, MV Swift Rescue and submersible rescue vehicle, Deep Search and Rescue Six. With hyperbaric facilities such as recompression chambers and a high dependency unit, MV Swift Rescue provides immediate and specialized medical treatment to injured personnel who are evacuated from distressed submarines. In 2000, the RSN hosted the first Exercise Pacific Reach, involving navies from Japan, the Republic of Korea and the United States.

The “Legacy Bird”

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young

On a beautiful Southern California day, beachgoers and boaters will see several aircraft fly over the water. News helicopters, planes pulling advertisement banners and even the occasional seaplane.

Despite the busy skies, the distinctive tone of a tail rotor draws your attention. As you see a speck off in the distance grow closer and closer, the distinguishing hum and familiar orange coloring of the Coast Guard’s MH-65C Dolphin Helicopter comes alive.

But, this Dolphin helicopter looks a little different – it’s white.

Of the 102 Dolphin helicopters in the Coast Guard fleet, the 6584, flown out of Air Station Los Angeles, is the only MH-65C to have the unique white paint scheme and has become known as the “Legacy Bird.”

The idea for the rare paint scheme came on the advent of the 25th anniversary of the Coast Guard’s use of the H-65.

The H-65, a short-range recovery (SRR) helicopter, began its operational use in November of 1984 as the HH-65A model. The HH-65A was all white and was first flown at Air Station New Orleans in Louisiana. It wasn’t until around 1990 that the H-65 transitioned to an all orange paint scheme.

As the 25th anniversary neared, CDR James Seeman, the SRR Product Line Manager, wanted to do something special in recognition of the milestone. Seeman, who earned his wings in May of 1986, started flying the H-65 when it was painted its original color of white. To pay tribute to the crews who have worked on and flown the aircraft through the years, he thought it would only be fitting to take it back to its legacy colors.

Because the H-65 airframe had undergone changes over the years, crews at the Aviation Logistics Center studied drawings and images of the older airframe and adopted the legacy paint scheme onto the newer “C” model.

Once the new paint design was perfected, the specific helicopter had to be chosen. Because Coast Guard 65s are sent to Aviations Logistic Center (ALC) Elizabeth City in North Carolina to be inspected and upgraded every four years, Seeman and his team had the perfect place to look.

At ALC, the 65s undergo engine replacements as well as a series of renovations that further update the airframe. Since 2007, H-65’s have been modernized to evolve the airframe into a multi-mission cutter helicopter. The modernization includes being converted from an HH-65C to an MH-65C, providing the aircraft with upgraded communications, sensors and other equipment to perform the airborne use of force mission.

According to ALC records, the 6584 was due for maintenance, and because the aircraft was first flown in ’84 – it was fate.

After the careful and attentive crew at ALC finished painting and overhauling the 6584, it was delivered to Air Station Los Angeles. Seeman was one of the lucky crewmembers that had the privilege to fly the helicopter across the country back to its home in California. For him, it was a way of sharing the legacy of the aircraft.

“It was an honor to fly it and deliver it to Los Angeles,” said Seeman. “I see this as a tribute for the airframe and those who have flown it for 25 years.”

To change the specific, well-recognized design of Coast Guard assets is rare. Of the 102 H-65s that are currently operational, only one other aircraft has distinctive markings – the 6598. The 6598 has gold tail numbering indicating that it is the oldest aircraft in the fleet.

The 6584 and its modernized airframe, paired with its legacy paint scheme, serves as a symbol of modern Coast Guard aviation with a nod toward its proud and esteemed history.

Collaboration Improves Treatment of Unseen Scars of War

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 23, 2010 – Several times every week, a team of about 50 specialists gathers around a conference table at the National Naval Medical Center here to assess the progress of every wounded warrior undergoing treatment at the hospital.

They bring an array of expertise to the discussion, with specialties in everything from trauma surgery to pain management and physical and occupational therapy. Joining them at the table are social workers, case managers, a chaplain and military service liaisons.

And, even if there’s no immediate indication of a brain injury or post-traumatic stress, members of a new psychological health and traumatic brain injury team participate fully in talks about treatments being administered, medications prescribed and results seen.

“You have surgeons, neurosurgeons and trauma surgeons sitting next to psychiatrists and psychologists in the same room, talking about these patients,” said Dr. David Williamson, medical director for the hospital’s Inpatient Psychological Heath and Traumatic Brain Injury program. “It’s not a case of waiting to see if there is a problem and then saying, ‘Let’s consult psychology or psychiatry.’ We are automatically a part of the workout.”

This innovative, interdisciplinary approach to patient care is all but unheard-of in even the most respected civilian trauma centers, Williamson said. But it’s showing great promise, he reported, particularly in diagnosing traumatic brain injuries and other mental health issues early on, and bringing the full spectrum of services available to treat them.

The National Naval Medical Center stood up the psychological health and traumatic brain injury team about two years ago to address the complexities of brain and mental-health injuries.

“The idea was, ‘We know our wounded have a cluster of problems to do with brain injury or effects on the brain of being in the combat environment. Let’s get a team of doctors with all the specialties that need to be on that team to deal with that one cluster of issues,’” Williamson said.

The team assesses every single trauma casualty admitted to the hospital for signs of traumatic brain injury or other psychological or psychiatric complications. “It doesn’t matter if you come here with a gunshot wound to the leg or if you have a brain injury,” Williamson said. “Everybody sees the PHTBI team.”

That eliminates any possible sense of stigma on the patient’s part for talking to a psychiatrist, he said, “because everyone has to talk to the psychiatrist.”

It also helps to identify brain injuries early on, he added, particularly mild or moderate injuries that might otherwise be difficult to diagnose.

“Sometimes the brain injury is very obvious,” Williamson said. “But we also know that blasts can cause damage to the brain without necessarily causing physical scars or rendering someone unconscious.”

Integrating the PHTBI and trauma-care teams provides a more holistic approach to patient care that addresses not only the immediate, but also longer-term patient needs.
“The idea is to be able to predict and plan ahead what types of problems a patient will have so we can put services in place early, before they’re needed,” Williamson said.

He contrasted this approach to how civilian medicine treats patients who suffer brain injuries in car crashes and other accidents. Emergency medical services swarm in, flying patients to shock-trauma centers, where they receive aggressive treatment for their physical symptoms. Rehabilitation follows, including physical occupational therapy, then patients typically return home to complete their convalescence.

“At no point on that trajectory is there any behavioral health treatment,” Williamson said. In fact, patients -- or more frequently, their families -- often reach out for this kind of care only after problems involving explosive temper, severe depression or changes in judgment or decision-making get out of control.

“It’s when things are truly at a crisis that people reach out to behavioral health and say,‘Maybe they have something to offer,’” Williamson said.

Not so here, as the behavioral health team is incorporated into patient treatment from the start with a philosophy Williamson calls “proactive intervention.”

“Medicine traditionally very well understands that people can be paralyzed or weakened or have problems with coordination or balance or vision as a result of a head injury,” he said. “What’s not typically been part of the early workup is to include the emotional, cognitive and behavioral changes –- those higher brain functions that get affected by brain injuries -– as part of the assessment package.”

This collaboration provides patients the best, most aggressive treatment possible, he said, while also ensuring that medical specialists don’t inadvertently undermine one another’s efforts.

Because many wounded warriors have multiple traumas, they may be on a variety of different medications to stave off infection and pain.

“They may have a TBI, but they also have an amputation or a back injury, and they have chronic pain,” Williamson said. “So in some cases, they may already have been on six medications before behavioral health becomes involved. Then the behavioral health specialist comes along and says, ‘You’re not sleeping at night, so let’s give you a sedative. You look depressed, so we’ll give you an antidepressant.’

“In the end, people might end up on 10 different medications,” he continued, some that may cause memory loss or other brain impairments or lead to addiction.

“So we see complications and pathologies coming out of aggressive treatment – all of it well-intentioned and logical – by multiple, parallel medical teams,” Williamson said.

The collaborative treatment provided at Bethesda helps to prevent that by opening up communication among the different teams.

“The treatment process works a lot better when you have all the doctors and all the specialties represented in the same room,” Williamson said. “It allows us to simplify the whole package of treatment and make sure that nobody’s activities are interfering with someone else’s treatment process.”

That typically involves fewer, rather than more, drugs, he noted.

“It’s not unusual for people to leave here with less medicine than they came in on,” and frequently off all addictive medications, he said.

This integrated approach pays off in better patient care, and ultimately improves the rehabilitative process, Williamson said.

“We find that if we treat the psychiatric and psychological issues, people tend to do better in rehab. Their spark and motivation comes back,” he said. “We also see that if we treat their chronic pain, then their mental health improves. So these things are interrelated.”

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, September 23, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will conduct a press briefing today at 2 p.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Commander, U.S. Cyber Command, Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander testifies at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on U.S. Cyber Command: organizing for cyberspace operations at 10 a.m. EDT in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.

New Child Development Center Opens Aboard Naval Base San Diego

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Shawnte Bryan, Naval Base San Diego Public Affairs

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Base San Diego and Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southwest hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony Sept. 22 to celebrate the grand opening of the new Child Care Development Center (CDC) located aboard Naval Base San Diego.

The requirement for the new CDC was critical, and the need was urgent to support Sailors and their families in the vital fleet-concentrated area of San Diego, said guest speaker Capt. Keith Hamilton, NAVFAC Southwest commanding officer.

Other guest speakers were Rear Adm. William French, commander, Navy Region Southwest, and Capt. Rick Williamson, Naval Base San Diego commanding officer.

The new 31,200 square-foot CDC has 23 classrooms to provide service to 306 service members' children ranging from infant to five years old.

"Depending on the age, the center usually has two instructors in each class," said James Marcelino, CDC Child and Youth Program administrator. "It has 105 employees to provide for the 306 students."

Marcelino said one of the great things about the facility is each corner of the building has its own playground for each age group. This was designed to avoid crowding in one playground.

Hamilton explained how the CDC was built with environmental standards in mind.

The contractor will be attaining a Leadership in Energy and Environment Design (LEED) Silver accreditation for obtaining points in various categories. The LEED categories include Indoor Environmental Quality, Water Efficiency, Energy and Atmosphere, and Sustainable Site.

"We do save a lot of water," said Marcelino. "If you take a tour the outside you can see the irrigation canals."

Marcelino also said the CDC uses many energy efficient appliances.

The CDC was funded with military construction money, and Soltek Pacific Construction completed the construction.

Navy Celebrates 40 Years of Ombudsmen Service

By MC2(SW) Thomas Miller, Navy Region Midwest Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Naval Station Great Lakes, Ill., celebrated the 40th anniversary of the Ombudsman program by having an appreciation dinner at Buckley's on Sept. 17.

The evening event included remarks by Rear Adm. Tilghman Payne, commander Navy Region Midwest, a dinner and a cake-cutting ceremony.

"Over the years, the volunteers in this program have answered countless two a.m. phone calls, reassured worried spouses, tracked down lost allotments and served as the eyes and ears of many commanding officers and command master chiefs," said Payne.

"The U.S. Navy family is being asked to do more than ever before," said Capt. John Malfitano, Naval Station Great Lakes commanding officer. "We're sending more Sailors into harm's way, more ships to sea, to accomplish a greater variety of missions. Expectations of our Navy are changing every day. And with those changes comes more stress on the family."

The Ombudsman Program was introduced to the Navy Sept. 14, 1970, by then-Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Elmo Zumwalt.

Zumwalt adapted the program from a 19th century Scandinavian custom originally established to give private citizens an avenue to express their concerns to high government officials.

The Ombudsman Program is a command-based program with each commanding officer tailoring the program to meet the needs of the families. The commanding officer officially appoints an ombudsman who then undergoes 25 hours of basic initial training.

Following their initial training, each ombudsman is then required to complete six, three-hour advanced training sessions a year on topics such as child abuse prevention and sexual assault intervention.

Ombudsmen are expected to attend monthly assembly meetings where they are provided with current information on programs or referrals that can benefit families and training.

Services provided by the Ombudsman program are designed to steer families in the right direction so that issues can be resolved.

"Whether you realize it or not, by helping the family left behind, you help the fighter, and by helping the fighter, you help the fleet and our nation. On behalf of the entire Navy family, thank you for your service, and best wishes for your continued success during the next 40 years," said Payne.