Military News

Friday, September 24, 2010

Today in the Department of Defense, Sunday, September 26, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

Today in the Department of Defense, Saturday, September 25, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

This Day in Naval History - Sept. 24

From the Navy News Service

1918 - Ensign David S. Ingalls, in a Sopwith Camel, shoots down his fifth enemy aircraft, becoming the first U.S. Navy ace while flying with the British Royal Air Force.
1944 - Fifth Fleet carrier aircraft attack Japanese in Visayas, Philippines.
1960 - First nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, USS Enterprise (CVN 65), launched at Newport News, Va.

Diversity Crucial For America, Pennsylvania Official Tells NAVSUP Employees

By Tim Christmann, Naval Supply Systems Command Public Affairs

MECHANICSBURG, Pa. (NNS) -- "The United States will be a better country if Americans continue to embrace diversity in everything they do," said Norman Bristol Colon, executive director of the Governor's Advisory Commission on Latino Affairs (GACLA) Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, during a visit to Naval Supply Systems Command (NAVSUP) Headquarters on Sept. 21 to promote National Hispanic Heritage Month.

"Diversity must be a top priority," said Colon, adding that America must reach out and help Latinos, who are the fastest growing ethnic group in Pennsylvania (more than 600,000) and the largest minority ethnic group (more than 45 million) in the nation. "These individuals bring strong family values, work ethic, and high hopes, dreams and aspirations to Pennsylvania ... the same strong foundations brought to America by our founding fathers."

"As we celebrate the contributions Latinos have made and continue making in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the nation, we continue to build stronger communities strengthened by educational, social and economic opportunities," said Colon. "Diversity is in the best interest of America."

Born and raised in Guayama, Puerto Rico, Colon was appointed by Pennsylvania Gov. Edward Rendell as director of GACLA, the Commonwealth's advocate agency for its Latino residents in 2003 at age 27. He is the youngest executive director in the 35-year history of the commission.

"I came from humble beginnings ... and arrived in Pennsylvania as a non-English speaking teenager," he said. "But I had a good mother who taught me strong values ... and thanks to her example, I knew that I would make it ... that I could accomplish anything I set my mind on."

He added that he's grateful he came to the United States because "in America anything is possible ... and millions of individuals in this country embrace this belief."

NAVSUP's primary mission is to provide U.S. naval forces with quality supplies and services. With headquarters in Mechanicsburg, Pa., and employing a diverse, worldwide workforce of more than 22,500 military and civilian personnel, NAVSUP oversees logistics programs in the areas of supply operations, conventional ordnance, contracting, resale, fuel, transportation, and security assistance. In addition, NAVSUP is responsible for quality of life issues for our naval forces, including food service, postal services, Navy Exchanges, and movement of household goods.

USS Hawaii Visits Guam

From Joint Region Marianas Public Affairs

APRA HARBOR, Guam (NNS) -- The Virginia-class fast attack submarine USS Hawaii (SSN 776) arrived Sept. 24 in Apra Harbor, Guam for a port visit during the ship's first deployment to the Western Pacific.

The ship departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific region Aug. 25.

With a crew of 136, this is the ship's first deployment from Pearl Harbor.

Hawaii will be conducting a multitude of missions while assigned to 7th Fleet during the next several months.

"Guam, as a port, plays a vital role in the U.S. military's efforts to fulfill our commitments to our allies and partners and to protect our nation's security," said Capt. John Russ, commodore for Submarine Squadron 15. "USS Hawaii's deployment to the Western Pacific with their unique capabilities helps strengthen our commitment to the prosperity, security and stability of the Asia-Pacific region."

Measuring 377 feet long and weighing 7,800 tons when submerged, Hawaii is one of the Navy's newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines.

The state-of-the-art submarine is capable of supporting a multitude of missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike, naval special warfare involving special operations forces, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, irregular warfare and mine warfare.

Council Evaluates Navy Volunteer Program for CNIC, CNO

By Bill Doughty, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy Community Service Program (NCSP) Council conducted its annual planning and review meeting Sept. 20-24 at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling in Washington, D.C.

Commander, Naval District Washington, in coordination with Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) sponsored the annual meeting of the NCSP Council.

Several key regional representatives, from as far away as Guam and Florida, met with flagship program representatives to review the Navy's volunteer outreach throughout the past year.

Together, the group drafted fiscal year 2011 recommendations for the chief of naval operations (CNO) via CNIC.

Among the recommendations: updating related instructions, standardizing the community service awards program and capturing volunteer hours from every region to be able to demonstrate the effectiveness of NCSP's impact throughout the nation.

"When we can report the numbers of hours our Sailors give back to the community it helps people visualize just how much of an investment that Navy makes," said Dianne Parker, community service volunteer coordinator for Commander, Navy Region Southeast.

"It's huge. In our region alone, more than 23,000 of our service members donated over 385,000 hours of their time helping in one of the five flagship areas," said Parker.

There are five Navy volunteer "flagships," which include Personal Excellence Partnerships, devoted to education-related volunteer work with young people; Health, Safety and Fitness, focusing on health and sports-related volunteer programs; Campaign Drug Free, highlighting anti-drug education; Project Good Neighbor, spotlighting volunteer efforts with people who are less fortunate; and Environmental Stewardship, recognizing the importance of caring for and about natural resources.

Commands compete each year for NCSP awards in each flagship category. During the meeting, they looked for ways to streamline the awards process for Navy regions, installations and other commands.

"As the flagship sponsor for the Health, Safety and Fitness program, I see the value of volunteering, not only to the Navy and to young people in our communities, but also to individual Sailors," said Henry Giles, director of community service and outreach for Naval Education and Training Command.

Giles is also Navy's program manager for Starbase-Atlantis, a DoD youth outreach education program operating at 15 locations throughout the United States.

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Paul Polach of CNIC, who led coordination of the council meeting, said that the minutes and recommendations of the council's meeting will be provided to the CNO via CNIC. He publishes information about NCSP through his magazine, "Navy Volunteer!"

"We'll be compiling a special report on the numbers of volunteer hours by Sailors, Navy-wide," Polach said. "I think people will be impressed with how much our Sailors give back."

Polach also coordinates the NCSP flagship awards and Bainbridge award program.

During the three-day meeting, the council trained together on legal aspects of volunteering, risk management, NCSP's role in natural disasters and other topics.

A highlight of the council meeting was attending a full honors arrival ceremony at the Washington Navy Yard Sept. 23, in which CNO Adm. Gary Roughead welcomed his counterpart, Adm. Nirmal Kumar Verma, chief of the naval staff of the Indian navy.

"We were privileged to be part of the audience to witness this special ceremony," said Olivia Hunter, of Commander, Naval District Washington, primary host of the council meeting.

"We, in turn, hosted 20 JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Corps) students from Suitland High School and joined them in a tour of the Navy Ceremonial Guard Facility," said Hunter.

Several students expressed an interest to council members about joining the Navy.

The council meeting concluded Sept. 23 with a plan for fostering the volunteer program in fiscal year 2011, engaging in social media and continuing interaction opportunities on line.

Naval Medical Center Portsmouth Participates in PANFLUEX

By Deborah R. Kallgren

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center Portsmouth (NMCP) and its branch clinics immunized nearly 4,000 personnel during the Chief of Naval Operations' pandemic flu exercise (PANFLUEX) Sept. 14-15.

Eighty-nine percent of NMCPs active duty staff, 67 percent of its General Service civilians, and 46 percent of its contractors were immunized against the flu.

NMCP is one of two medical treatment facilities to test the Navy's ability to surge in the event of a real pandemic. Naval Hospital Bremerton, Wash., also participated in the exercise.

When the influenza vaccine arrived at NMCP, the medical center's mobile vaccination teams had 48 to quickly respond and get the designated active duty and mission-essential civilians immunized.

Capt. Matthew Pommer, deputy commander, noted that the medical center had 124 staff deployed and 235 others on leave or temporary additional duty on the exercise days. Additionally, multiple staff members presented with possible medical contraindications and were unable to receive a flu vaccine.

"Given the variables, ongoing commitments, chiefs' initiation, E-4 exams and multiple hurdles, things went very well," Pommer said.

There are four phases of NMCPs surge capability. The first was at the medical center. Four teams of 20 fanned out to immunize personnel at the main hospital and its nine branch clinics. The remaining three phases are being conducted as vaccine is received.

"We wanted to stress the system and see how well and how fast we can get a large volume of our staff vaccinated," said Capt. Dexter Hardy, Public Health Services director.

Teams began administering flu injections and the nasal FluMist vaccine Sept. 14 at 7 a.m. They worked continuously through that night to immunize the overnight staff and into the next day. They completed PANFLUEX Sept. 15 at 11 p.m.

The teams got off to a good start the first day.

"Over a 16-hour period, we vaccinated over 70 percent of our active duty staff," Hardy added.

CherylAnn Kraft, NMCP immunizations manager, said much of the PANFLUEXs success was due to the hard work of the immunization teams.

"We have increased our efficiency and reduced vaccination wait times by 50 percent in the pandemic model, getting patients through in 3 and a half minutes," said Kraft. "We are excited to share our lessons learned with our Navy family."

NMCP expects to administer about 130,000 flu shots this year, 60,000 of which will be administered in the pandemic surge exercise. The remaining allocation of flu shots is for TRICARE-eligible dependents and family members; flu shots for those individuals will be available soon.

Each year, the flu vaccine is updated to protect against the three flu strains that research indicates will cause the most illness during the flu season. This year's vaccine contains three new flu virus strains.

The 2010-11 influenza vaccine protects individuals from getting sick from these three viruses, and it can make symptoms milder if the person contracts a related, but different influenza virus strain.

Influenza has the potential to significantly impact Navy force readiness and missions. In the U.S., influenza results in more than 25 million reported cases, more than 150,000 hospitalizations due to serious complications, and more than 30,000 deaths annually.

Officials Seek to Strengthen Reserve Components

By Air Force Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2010 – A report released this week will help Defense Department officials implement recommendations made by the Commission on the National Guard and Reserve two years ago.

“There is a very strong commitment to implement most of recommendations of [the commission],” Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said at a roundtable discussion here yesterday. “This [report] is going to help us sustain and maintain the momentum of that process.”

The Center for a New American Security report, which argues for a number of actions that will strengthen the Guard and reserves, combined with the 12 other studies being conducted by the Defense Department, also will help to inform defense leaders as they plan for the future of the reserve components, said Air Force Gen. Craig R. McKinley, chief of the National Guard Bureau.

“This century obviously has been hugely challenging for all of us,” he said. “We are emerging into the second decade of this century and trying to figure out what are the proper sweet spots for the reserve components.”

McKinley said today about 64,000 National Guard men and women are serving overseas in support of the Army and Air Force, but equally important is their 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year support to their governors.

“Because we don’t know when the next crisis will hit, that requirement to be ready all the time … is very important for us to understand,” he said. “At any moment, we can be challenged with a disaster of natural or man-made proportions, … [and] we have to be ready to meet those challenges."

McCarthy said the Guard and its DOD partners have made “tremendous” progress in its support to civil authorities.

“We are definitely, in my opinion, moving in the right direction,” he said, adding that the Guard’s weapons of mass destruction and civil support teams didn’t exist a few years ago.

The report states the Army and Air Guard and other reserve-component branches lack about 25 percent of their required equipment, but McCarthy said it’s unrealistic to expect every unit to be fully equipped.

“I simply don’t think that we ought to knee jerk into the idea that every company and every battalion needs to have 100 percent of its table of equipment parked out on the back lot,” McCarthy said. “If that is the standard we use for measure, I think we are never going to get there, or we’re going to get there with old and outmoded equipment.

“We need to get beyond that,” he continued, “and do some things that are perhaps a little more creative and a little more useful.” He added that new approaches are needed, including the use of simulation.

“Making the reserve component an integral and indispensible part of the operational force will take a whole range of actions that … the department is committed to take,” McCarthy said.

Wounded Warriors Enjoy Summer Sports Clinic

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2010 – Traumatic brain injuries, amputations and other combat wounds aren’t getting in the way of a good time -– and a great rehabilitative experience –- for 75 disabled veterans participating this week in the National Veterans Summer Sports Clinic in San Diego.

The clinic, sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Department, opened Sept. 18 and wraps up with closing ceremonies later today.

About a third of the participants were wounded in Iraq and Afghanistan, with some still being processed through the disability evaluation system, officials reported. For many, the clinic is their introduction to adaptive sports and recreational activities, and the therapeutic value of sailing, surfing, cycling, kayaking and track and field events.

Raymond Warren, a 29-year-old Marine lance corporal severely wounded in Iraq when a grenade embedded shrapnel in his brain, legs, stomach and arms, said first learning of his severe traumatic brain injury felt like a death sentence.

Always highly competitive, Warren feared when he first awoke at the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., that an important part of his life was forever gone. “It hit me pretty hard,” he said.

But this week, as he ran hurdles, kayaked and tried his hand at sailing, surfing and other clinic events alongside his fellow veterans, Warren said he found himself focusing on his abilities rather than his disabilities.

“This shows me I’ve still got what I used to have,” he said. “There’s nothing that can stop me from accomplishing the goals I’ve set forth in front of me.”

Like Warren, Carlos Figueroa always had been a devoted ‘jock’ before he was medically evacuated from Afghanistan with a traumatic brain injury, post-traumatic stress disorder and nerve injuries to his left leg.

“I’ve always been really competitive and big into sports, but when I got out of the service with my injury, I realized that I could no longer do any of the sports I used to play because I couldn’t run,” said the 31-year-old medically retired Marine. A friend introduced Figueroa to mixed martial arts and jujitsu, which have helped to renew his competitive spirit. “Once we hit the floor, I am no longer disabled,” he said. “It’s a fair game for both of us.”

Both Figueroa and Warren got their first exposure to VA’s sports clinic program while attending the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic in Snowmass, Colo. Warren has participated three times. Figueroa attended the clinic for the first time this spring.

“Since my injury, I’ve competed in other events, and typically I would be the only disabled participant,” he said. “But the satisfaction of competing at the winter sports clinic felt 10 times greater -- just being around other disabled veterans, with everyone trying their hardest and knowing that, whether you succeed or not, everyone has achieved a goal in some way, just by being there.”

A joker at heart, Figueroa said the winter sports clinic restored the smile he’d lost and instilled a newfound self-confidence that has helped him resume a full life.

“What I took back from it was not to underestimate myself, not to let my disability control me,” he said. “There are still tons of things I can do out there.”

While relishing the competition at their first summer sports clinic, both Warren and Figueroa say they’re buoyed just as much by the camaraderie they’ve found among their fellow disabled veterans.

“You’re with people who know what you’re going through,” Warren said. “We understand each other, so this is like a second family, away from your family.”

“This is great for veterans,” agreed Figueroa. “I see the smile on so many veterans’ faces while we are competing. … You get participating in an event, and somehow, the pain goes away. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s just the simple fact that you are around other disabled veterans.”

Warren said he has benefitted greatly from the lessons shared by veterans with more experience living with their disabilities.

“When you fall down, get up. Keep going forward,” he said. “And don’t let anything hold you down.”

Warren has taken those lessons to heart, noting he shares them with the newer disabled veterans he meets.

“Don’t give up on your goals,” Warren said he tells his comrades. “And come to these events, because you are among other veterans going through what you are going through, and they will help you through it.”

All-Military Wilderness Challenge 2010 Kicks Off

By Mark O. Piggott, Naval Weapons Station Yorktown Public Affairs

YORKTOWN, Va. (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic's Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) Department is scheduled to hold its 10th annual All-Military Wilderness Challenge Oct. 7–9 in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains and on the New and the Gauley Rivers in West Virginia.

More than 300 military personnel representing 60 teams from around the world are expected to compete.

The All-Military Wilderness Challenge brings together the best athletes in the armed forces in a series of five outdoor adventure races designed to enhance camaraderie, competition and team spirit between all five branches of the military.

Teams of four will compete in an 8-kilometer mountain run, a 14-mile mountain bike race, a 14-mile forced hike through the mountains, a 13-mile whitewater raft race and a 7-mile kayak race.

Among this year's competitors are three returning All-Military Wilderness Challenge champions and two Wounded Warrior teams, comprised of military personnel injured in combat in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Alexander Details U.S. Cyber Command Gains

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2010 – Establishing U.S. Cyber Command closed the gap that prevented the Defense Department from defending its crucial information networks, the organization’s commander told the House Armed Services Committee yesterday.

Cybercom, based at Fort Meade, Md., merges the offensive and defensive sides of DOD’s cyber world into one organization for the benefit of both sides, said Army Gen. Keith B. Alexander, who also is director of the National Security Agency.

The command stood up in May. Before that, Joint Task Force Global Network Operations was responsible for defense.

“That task force got one level of intelligence and could see one part of the network,” Alexander told the committee. “Operating on the other side was the Joint Functional Component Command Net Warfare trained at a different level with different intel insights at a different classification level.”

Two organizations had responsibility for the same network, the general explained. “And if you were operating at the National Training Center, you wouldn’t have the defensive team out there defending, and then take them off the field and run out with an offensive team,” he said. “It’s the same team.”

The offense and defense cannot be different, because these operations will occur in real time, the general said.

“It’s also an experience that we’ve seen in some of our red team and blue teams of what's happening in our networks,” he said. “And I think that's a huge and a positive step and goes significantly toward providing better support to the [combatant commands].”

A subunified command under U.S. Strategic Command, Cybercom has about 1,000 servicemembers and civilian employees. The command has a budget of about $120 million this year, and is programmed for about $150 million in fiscal 2011.

“We need the continued support of Congress and the resources that the department is putting forward for the component commands that we have here,” Alexander said. “It is going to have to grow. Each of them are looking at this and addressing that, and we will need your continued support to make that happen.”

But the command also needs authorities and guidance from Congress and the White House to ensure a good defense. Alexander said the thinking is that any cyber defense will require a team effort incorporating the Homeland Security Department, the FBI, the Defense Department and other concerned public and private agencies.

“Right now, the White House is leading a discussion on what are the authorities needed and how do we do this and … how will that team operate to defend our country?” he said. “What they will look at across that is what are the authorities, what do we have legally, and then given that, what do we have to come back to Congress and reshape or mold for authorities to operate in cyberspace?”

Alexander went on to describe different forms of the cyber threat.

“Since the inception of the Internet, as it were, probably the key thing that we’ve seen is hacker activity and exploitation,” he said. “That’s where someone comes in and takes information from your computer, steals your credit card number, takes money out of your account.”

That threat endures, and it possibly is the most significant form of the threat, the general said. It is not just stealing American intellectual property, he noted, but also involves theft of U.S. secrets and compromising other parts of U.S. networks.

Fast-forward to 2007, when Estonia became the first nation attacked in cyberspace.

“We see a shift from exploitation to actually using the Internet as a weapons platform to get another country to bend to the will of another country,” Alexander said. “While it’s hard to attribute that to a nation state, you can see it did happen when two nations were quarreling over political issues.”

Disruptive cyber attacks on Georgia followed in 2008. “A disruptive attack prevents you from doing your business for the time being,” the general explained, but it’s normally something that you can recover from and then go on and do your business.

“What concerns me the most,” he continued, “is destructive attacks that are coming, and we’re concerned that those are the next things that we will see.”

Destructive attacks destroy equipment, Alexander said, and the victim cannot take the same equipment and just drive forward.

“It’s not something that you recover from by just stopping the traffic,” he said. “It is something that breaks a computer or another automated device and, once broken, has to be replaced. That could cause tremendous damage.”

DOD is concerned if that happens in a war zone to defense networks, Alexander said.

“If that were to happen in a war zone, that means our command and control system and other things suffer,” he said. “We’ve got to be prepared for that both from a defensive perspective, and then to ensure that the enemy can’t do that to us. Again – a full operational capability.”

DOD classified networks have been breached. A foreign intelligence agency used a flash drive to put a virus into U.S. Central Command networks in 2008. The department launched Operation Buckshot Yankee to combat the worm, and Cybercom has drawn lessons from the experience.

“We actually had three parts that came out of that Operation Buckshot Yankee – culture, conduct and capability,” Alexander told the representatives. “On the culture side, it was getting commanders to understand this is commander’s business. This isn’t something that you say, ‘I’m going to have one of my staff run it.’ This is commander's business. Commanders are responsible for the operation of their command. And this operational network, it’s important to them.”

General Officer Announcement

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

Army National Guard Maj. Gen. Frank J. Grass for appointment to the grade of lieutenant general and assignment as deputy commander, U.S. Northern Command/vice commander, U.S. Element, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Peterson Air Force Base, Colo.  Grass is currently serving as director of operations, J-3, U.S. Northern Command.

Chairman of the JCS Announces 2011 Warrior Games' Dates

By Zona T. Lewis, Navy Safe Harbor Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced Sept. 20 at a Pentagon press briefing that the 2011 Warrior Games, a competition that elevates abilities through athletic competition for wounded, ill and injured service members, would return to Colorado Springs, Colo.

"The athletes who compete in the Warrior Games demonstrate that regardless of circumstance, physical fitness and a passion to win remain at the core of our military culture," said Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the JCS. "And while these values are certainly important on the battlefield, they're also important to the recovery process of our wounded, ill and injured troops. Because when we focus on abilities rather than disabilities, we see that physical fitness and sports can have a healing effect on the mind, on the body and on the soul."

The Warrior Games is a joint endeavor between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the U.S. Department of Defense, uniting the efforts of all the services in using sport as part of the healing process. Two hundred wounded, ill and injured athletes from the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force and Coast Guard will compete in a variety of events, including archery, shooting, swimming, track and field, cycling, wheelchair basketball and sitting volleyball, May 16-21, 2011.

Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's Wounded Warrior program, will once again be coordinating athlete tryouts, training, selection and participation in the Warrior Games.

"The inaugural Warrior Games changed lives," said Capt. Key Watkins, program director of Navy Safe Harbor. "That is the incredible power of sport. Navy Safe Harbor wants to ensure that all of our Wounded Warrior shipmates have the opportunity to participate in adaptive sports and to be confident in their abilities as they progress through competition or pick-up games with their friends and family."

This year the Navy and Coast Guard team will consist of 35 athletes, up 10 from last year. Eligibility is open to all seriously wounded, ill and injured service members. Participants will be grouped into categories of physical disabilities including: amputations, blind/visually impaired, spinal cord injuries, post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury (this category also includes cerebral palsy and stroke).

Eligibility is not limited to just combat Wounded Warriors; any seriously ill or injured Sailor or Coast Guardsman is eligible to apply.

Also new this year, Navy Safe Harbor, in partnership with installation Morale, Welfare and Recreation sport and fitness facilities, will be hosting three training and tryout camps for potential athletes, plus a team training camp the week prior to the Warrior Games.

"It is particularly important in team sports for athletes to have met and trained together before the first time they compete as a team," said Watkins. "We were not able to offer training camps last year, but will be doing so this year which will improve everyone's personal performance as well as develop teamwork."

Wounded Warrior and returning athlete Culinary Specialist Seaman Judi Boyce was excited to learn about the opportunity for additional training prior to the Warrior Games.

"I am ultra-excited because this year I am hoping to have all the equipment and training opportunities I need," said Boyce.

Boyce is also hoping she won't be the only woman to make it past the preliminary completion. Her goal is to win a medal in archery.

In 2010, the Navy and Coast Guard athletes earned 13 medals, and Navy athlete Chief Special Boat Operator Daniel Hathorn earned the prestigious title of "Ultimate Warrior."

"We have championship caliber Wounded Warrior athletes," said Watkins. "We look forward to building a champion team."

Navy Safe Harbor will announce the dates for the training camps and begin accepting applications for the Navy and Coast Guard team this fall. For the latest updates on the Navy and Coast Guard team, applications and training camps, visit Navy Safe Harbor on Facebook and Twitter or call (703)692-2186.

Defense Department Honors Guard, Reserve Employers

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Sept. 24, 2010 – Fifteen U.S. companies nominated by their employees received Defense Department awards yesterday for outstanding support to the Guard and Reserve members they employ.

Recipients of the 2010 Secretary of Defense Employment Support Freedom Award ranged from small companies to the state of Hawaii. The annual award is presented by Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, a defense agency.

Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, was keynote speaker for the event. He said the civilian employers of the nation’s nearly 1.7 million citizen-servicemembers, roughly half the United States’ military strength, play a key role in the country’s defense.

“One thing that we need to constantly keep in mind is that the great young men and women -- if you will, the greatest generation we have today -- cannot do what they do in service of the National Guard and Reserve without the support of their employers,” he said. “The employers that we recognize today are really the linchpin of our success.”

McCarthy said most employers receiving the Freedom Award tell him they’re just doing the right thing.

“Well, you are doing the right thing, … [but] you’re doing it at a higher level, and that’s why we’ve singled you out for this very singular honor,” he said.

Army Maj. K. Mark Takai, a medical service officer assigned to the Hawaii Army National Guard’s joint services support division as equal employment opportunity and school liaison officer, attended the ceremony and said his state provides outstanding support to deployed troops and their families.


Takai was base support operations officer at Camp Patriot, Kuwait, during the 29th Infantry Brigade Combat Team’s deployment to Kuwait and Iraq in August 2008, returning in August 2009. He nominated the state for the Freedom Award following the deployment, and said the award is the result of a team effort by the whole state.

“Whenever anybody deploys from the armed services in Hawaii, it’s a big deal for us,” he said. “We’re all one family. So as people move forward to the front lines, there are many people at home taking care of our families and our loved ones. … Our state does us very well.”

For citizen-servicemembers, Takai said, deployment is particularly challenging because it represents not only leaving family, but also taking on a whole new identity.

“Looking at tonight, this is a very important night for us,” he said. “It’s employers like the state of Hawaii that make it possible for people like me to come back from deployment and get right back into our routines. When active duty members come home, they go right back into their active duty units. We don’t. We see our family, friends and employers. It’s our employers that are critical, especially right when we get back home.”

Navy Reserve Lt. Tim Graczewski, who returned yesterday from deployment as an economic development officer with Regional Command South in Kandahar, Afghanistan, works in civilian life as Intuit’s director of strategy and corporate development.
Graczewski, who attended the award ceremony with his wife, Cheryl, said he nominated the California-based company because he was impressed with the organization’s support before and during his deployment.

Intuit paid him the difference between his usual salary and his reserve pay for the length of his deployment, he said, and continued his insurance benefits.

“I think beyond that, what really impressed me with the company was the sense of commitment and support that was demonstrated,” he added.

Graczewski said after he notified Intuit he would be deploying, the company’s chief executive officer, chief financial officer, founder and chairman all stopped by to visit and wish him well.

“There was much more a sense of neighbors helping folks than a corporation dealing with [a human resources] issue,” Graczewski said. “We have a professional sound studio, and the group arranged for me to come in and read stories for my son that the group professionally edited and gave to us on CD as a going-away family support present.”

Cheryl Graczewski said she played those stories for 7-year-old William after her husband deployed, and that William would listen to the whole CD as he went to sleep, “just to hear Tim in the room.”

When she first learned her husband would deploy, she said, she was concerned about how the company would respond.

“I know there are laws in place to protect [a deployed servicemember’s] job,” she said. “But there’s one thing to have it be the law, but there’s another to have this underlying feeling of ‘We’re grateful for your service, and we’re proud of you.’”

The 2010 Secretary of Defense Employer Support Freedom Award recipients are:

-- Bill Bragg Plumbing – San Francisco;

-- City of Irvine Police Department – Irvine, Calif.;

-- Dollar General Corp. – Goodlettsville, Tenn.;

-- East Carolina UniversityGreenville, N.C.;

-- Food Lion – Salisbury, N.C.;

-- Franklin’s Printing – Murfreesboro, Tenn.;

-- Hawaii State Government – Honolulu;

-- Intuit – Mountain View, Calif.;

-- Legacy Sports International – Reno, Nev.

-- Logistics Health Inc. – La Crosse, Wis.

-- Merck – Whitehouse Station, N.J.;

-- Michigan State Police – Lansing, Mich.;

-- Newmont Mining Corp. – Denver;

-- Southern Co. – Atlanta; and

-- Yerecic Label – New Kensington, Pa.

Face of Defense: Army Guard Gets Its First Muslim Chaplain

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. Johnathon Orrell
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., Sept. 24, 2010 – A Texas National Guard officer will become the Army National Guard’s first Muslim chaplain in December.

Army 1st Lt. Rafael Lantigua, an ecclesiastically endorsed, fully ordained minister, will assume his post after finishing classes required by the Armed Services Chaplain Board.

“I am humbled for this opportunity to be a role model for other members of my faith throughout the military,” he said.

As he was growing up, Lantigua was not a Muslim. He decided to convert when he was a teenager, he said, and he attributed that decision to the diversity of his background. His Baptist mother is an African-American, and his Roman Catholic father is from the Dominican Republic. After his parents divorced, he said, his mother married a Buddhist.

“Growing up in such diversity caused me to explore my options,” Lantigua said.

That diversity, he said, enabled him to embrace the Muslim faith before he enlisted in the Air Force. He has continued to be open about his religious beliefs, he added, in the hope that he can break down the stigma surrounding Muslims since Sept. 11, 2001.

“I hope that I will be able to encourage more servicemembers of my faith to open up about their religious beliefs, especially with how we are viewed politically,” he said. “I hope to show my fellow military members that Muslims are not bad people and that we are not all radical Muslim terrorists.”

Lantigua said the Guard is more than ready for this move.

“The Guard is ripe for this to take place,” he said. “Muslims have been with us since the formation of this great country. There were Muslims fighting with us during the Revolutionary War.”

U.S. Pacific Command Surgeon Praises Pacific Partnership 2010

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- U.S. Pacific Command's command surgeon joined local television station KHON2 to talk about Pacific Partnership 2010 (PP10) at the station's studio in Honolulu Sept. 9.

Rear Adm. Mike Mittelman, U.S. Pacific Command's command surgeon, spoke about the significance and the overall performance of the Navy in PP10.

"Mercy is one of the symbols of America," said Mittelman. "When we send the ship to the western Pacific, it is basically saying that the United States is here to help. We are trying to build partnerships and trust with countries in the western Pacific. Mercy helped more than 100,000 patients in Vietnam, Cambodia, Timor-Leste and Indonesia.

"Our personnel performed life-saving surgeries on about 900 people, prescribed 50,000 glasses and performed dental work approximately 10,000 patients. The most important thing that we've done is build these partnerships with non-governmental agencies and these host nations. In doing so, we've been able to prepare for disaster that might be forth-coming," said Mittelman.

He also talked about the importance of Sailors having a hands-on experience during PP10.

"When the junior Sailors participate in missions like these, it changes their lives," said Mittelman. "They come back excited and they come back wanting to go on future missions."

Mittelman also visited the Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Mercy (T-AH 19) Sept. 13, while it was in port at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a scheduled port visit after completing PP10.

Several ships from partner nations joined Mercy during PP10. While in Vietnam and Cambodia, Mercy operated with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force ship JDS Kunisaki (LST 4003), which hosted an embarked medical team and Japanese non-governmental organizations.

During PP10, Mercy provided extensive surgical capabilities and, combined with utility boats and two embarked MH-60S helicopters, helped support a large cadre of medical and engineering professionals moving to and from their work sites ashore each day.

Families Get Tools to Assist Injured Loved Ones

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

BETHESDA, Md., Sept. 24, 2010 – Family support is a key factor in the long-term recovery process and success of wounded warriors suffering traumatic brain injuries and other mental health problems, said senior staff members at the National Naval Medical Center here.

The hospital’s psychological health and traumatic brain injury team represents the first line of defense in evaluating combat casualties for brain and other mental health injuries.

As they collaborate with their trauma team counterparts to provide a comprehensive assessment and treatment plan, they also work hand in hand with the family members they recognize as critical to the patient’s recovery.

“Families are really the key thing, especially parents and spouses,” Dr. David Williamson, medical director for the Inpatient Psychological Heath and Traumatic Brain Injury program, told American Forces Press Service. “So in our program, we are reaching out to educating and working with and supporting families.”

The PHTBI team members, a mix of brain surgeons, psychiatrists, psychologists and other specialists, provides families emotional support to deal with their loved ones’ situations.

“As we work with families, our question is, ‘How are the families doing? How are they adjusting to having a loved one who is a trauma patient? How is their resilience? How is their level of adjustment?’” Williamson said. “And we support and work with families to make sure they can best support the servicemember.”

Education is a big part of that effort. The team’s adult education specialist provides family members details about traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress so they can make informed medical decisions on their loved ones’ behalf, if necessary, Williams explained.

This also equips them to raise a red flag if they recognize symptoms requiring health-care intervention. “We begin that process of education very early, and start telling families early on what might happen and if it does, to bring your loved one in to see a mental health provider,” he said.

The team also sets the families up with a mental health provider to establish a relationship to build on later, if required.

Valerie Wallace, whose son, Army Sgt. John Barnes, was treated at the National Naval Medical Center for a severe traumatic brain injury suffered during a mortar attack in Iraq, called this family-centered approach a godsend. She worked closely with the entire PHTBI team as Barnes underwent assessment and treatment, and praised its inclusive approach to treating the complex issues of brain injury. The treatment “has made all the difference in John,” she said.

Navy Vice Adm. (Dr.) Adam M. Robinson Jr., the Navy’s surgeon general, has been a major driver in the military’s renewed focus in putting patients and their families first within its health care program.

“The key to successful medical care is to be focused on the patient and the family – not the provider, not the institution, not the military brass, not anyone else but the patient and the family,” he said. “We have to keep in mind the principle that if we take care of the patient and take care of the family, the rest usually will flow together.”

It’s a commitment he said the military and the nation owe its wounded warriors – not just during their initial care, but into the future.

“We now know this may be a very lengthy, and in some cases, a lifelong process,” he said. “And we, from a military medical perspective, have to be committed to keeping up with these patients and their families.”

Robinson conceded that the military is an institution built on polices and doctrines. “But injuries and family conditions and the needs of patients don’t necessarily follow policy or doctrine,” he said. “They follow the individual and idiosyncratic needs of patients and their families.”

That demands that military health care providers, and the military health care system, be agile and flexible enough to follow with them, Robinson said.

“Our policies and our doctrine should always enhance our patients and their families,” he said. “They should never obstruct or detract from their ability to become whole and to get well.”

Robinson credited the National Naval Medical Center, through its treatment programs for wounded warriors, with helping to set that tone throughout the military.

“The signs are wonderful,” he said. “But the proof of the pudding is in the eating. You need to look at families, look at patients, at outcomes and at how the providers are carrying out their treatments, and that’s how you assess where the focus is.”

(This is the third in a series of four articles about the military’s revolutionary new approaches to treating patients with traumatic brain injuries and post-traumatic stress.)

U.S., South Korea Plan Anti-submarine Exercise

From a U.S. Forces Korea News Release

YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea, Sept. 24, 2010 – South Korean and U.S. forces will conduct an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the waters west of the Korean peninsula Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.

The exercise is part of a series of combined naval training events that are defensive in nature and enhance interoperability, officials said. The exercises also are designed to send a clear message of deterrence to North Korea, they added, while improving the overall anti-submarine warfare capabilities of the U.S.-South Korean alliance.

Participating units from the U.S. Navy include the guided missile destroyers USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald and the ocean surveillance ship USNS Victorious. Assets also include a fast attack submarine and P-3C Orion aircraft from Patrol Squadron 9. The USS John S. McCain and USS Fitzgerald are forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and Patrol Squadron 9 is home-ported at Kaneohoe Marine Corps Base, Hawaii.

Participating units from the South Korean navy include two destroyers, a fast frigate, a patrol craft, P-3C aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 6 and a submarine.

The exercise will focus on anti-submarine warfare tactics, techniques, and procedures, officials said. The first exercise in this series, Combined Naval and Air Readiness Exercise Invincible Spirit, was conducted in the seas east of the Korean peninsula in July.

This exercise was originally scheduled to occur Sept. 5-9, officials said, but was delayed for safety reasons related to Typhoon Malou arriving in Korean waters.