Military News

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, October 07, 2010

Staff Sgt. Robert J. Miller will be inducted into the Hall of Heroes at in the Pentagon Auditorium (Room BH650).  Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of the Army John McHugh, Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr., Sgt. Maj. of the Army Kenneth O. Preston and Miller’s family will participate in the ceremony.  See press advisory for details.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen and other service leaders will attend the 2010 USO Gala at 7:30 p.m. EDT at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, Washington, D.C.  Media contact is Tiane Harrison at 703-908-6433, tharrison@uso.org.

Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen hosts an honor cordon to welcome Gen. Han Min-Koo, Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff, Republic of Korea, to the Pentagon at .  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.

This article was sponsored by Police Books.

Missing WWII Soldiers Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of two servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Pfc. Lawrence N. Harris, of Elkins, W.V., will be buried on Oct. 8 in Clarksburg, W.V, and Army Cpl. Judge C. Hellums, of Paris, Miss., will be buried on Oct. 9 in Randolph, Miss.  In late September 1944, their unit, the 773rd Tank Battalion, was clearing German forces out of the Parroy Forest near LunĂ©ville.  On Oct. 9, 1944, in the final battle for control of the region, Hellums, Harris and three other soldiers were attacked by enemy fire in their M-10 Tank Destroyer. Harris and Hellums were reported to have been killed, and evidence at the time indicated the remains of the men had been destroyed in the attack and were neither recovered nor buried near the location.

In November 1946, a French soldier working in the Parroy Forest found debris associated with an M-10 vehicle and human remains, which were turned over to the American Graves Registration Command (AGRC).  The remains were buried as unknowns in the Ardennes American Cemetery in Belgium. A year later, the AGRC returned to the Parroy Forest to conduct interviews and search for additional remains.  Investigators noted at that time that all remains of U.S. soldiers had reportedly been removed and that the soldiers were likely buried elsewhere as unknowns.

In 2003, a French citizen exploring the Parroy Forest discovered human remains and an identification bracelet engraved with Hellums’ name.  The information was eventually sent to the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).  In April 2006, the man turned over the items to a JPAC team working in Europe.

Historians at DPMO and JPAC continued their research on the burials at the Ardennes Cemetery, and drew a correlation to those unknowns that had been removed from the 1944 battle site.  In early 2008, JPAC disinterred these remains and began their forensic review.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC used dental comparisons for both men and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA, which matched that of each soldier’s relatives in the identification of their remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover, identify and bury approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 72,000 remain unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1169 or visit the DPMO Web site at www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

This article was sponsored by Police Books.

Troops in Korea Train on Casualty Reporting System

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 6, 2010 – Military medical personnel here are wrapping up training that ensures the 28,000 U.S. troops in South Korea are covered by the same casualty reporting system being used in Afghanistan, Iraq and 13 other forward-deployed locations around the world.

Eighth U.S. Army is completing a month of one-day classes on the Medical Communications for Combat Casualty Care -– or MC4 -– system that captures details about medical care provided to all forward-deployed U.S. forces, said Army Maj. Kevin Peck, chief information officer for the 65th Medical Brigade at Yongsan Garrison here.

Although the system isn’t new to the Korean peninsula, annual training classes introduce medical personnel who are new to the military or have never deployed to use the MC4 system. The classes also offer a chance for anyone who hasn’t used the system for awhile to brush up on its features.

MC4 started life in 2003 as an Army platform, Peck explained. But, he said, the Air Force and Navy both adopted it three years ago to replace their own separate electronic medical records systems for deployed airmen, sailors and Marines. The Navy still uses a separate reporting system aboard ships at sea.

The result is an increasingly universal medical records system, Peck said, noting a growing list highly deployable commands are adopting MC4 for use at their home stations.

Medics with the 2nd Infantry Division -- serving just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, the world’s most heavily armed border -- recognize the value of using a single system to track patient care, whether at morning sick call or in combat.

“Each day, they’re logging into the same exact box that, if we go to war, they are going to pick up and walk out the door with and do patient care,” Peck said. “So there is no learning curve for these guys. They walk out the door and they keep doing the same thing they’ve been doing every day in the first place.”

MC4 represents a major step toward improving medical records accuracy and ultimately, patient care, said Peck, who oversaw the system’s use at numerous medical treatment facilities in Iraq before reporting to his current post.

“I think our providers are giving these kids the best care in the world. [They are doing] phenomenal work, saving lives and limbs,” he said. “However, if we stop there and don’t document it properly in MC4, then we haven’t finished the job.”

The system begins at the point of injury, where the tending medic keys-in details about the patient’s condition and rendered medical care into a rugged, handheld device. That information, which is then downloaded into a central data repository, will continue to follow the patient through successive treatment facilities in the theater and beyond, Peck explained.

The information will remain with the patients as they are evacuated to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany, to Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, the National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, Md., or another major military medical center.

The data continues with them throughout the rest of their military service, into retirement or as they transition to the Veterans Affairs Department’s system.

“The importance of this is that now, [for] everybody who is deployed downrange, all their medical record data and their documentation are put into the same system,” Peck said.

This helps medical personnel prepare to receive incoming casualties before they arrive and eliminates any confusion about medical procedures already performed or medications prescribed, Peck said.

“I know that if I send one of my soldiers downrange and he gets hurt, that he is not only going to receive the best medical care in the world on the spot, but that the care is going to continue with him as he evacuates out of the theater” and onto follow-on treatment in Germany and the United States, Peck said. “That care is going to follow him the whole way along.”

VA has access to the same records, which Peck said will clear up gray areas that can delay reviews for disability benefits and other services.

One of the big advantages of MC4 is that it requires no immediate Internet connectivity to operate. That makes it as useful during the first phases of contingency operations where there’s no Web access, as opposed to mature theaters such as Iraq and Afghanistan and in highly technologized South Korea.

“If I have a system that is solely Web-based and that’s the only way you can use it, it does me no good in a developing theater of war,” Peck said.

MC4 can run on standalone servers, capturing and storing data until it can be uploaded via the Internet.

“So I can set up a hospital and operate for six months without Internet connectivity,” Peck said. “All that care that we are providing on location is captured.”

This article was sponsored by Police Books.

Guard Bolsters Homeland Response Capabilities

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

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 5, 2010 – The National Guard has added a homeland response force package to its current chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and high-yield explosive response capabilities, which will help to provide a more robust response to any homeland incident, a National Guard Bureau official said today.

“This will allow us to save lives and mitigate human suffering as rapidly as possible,” said Air Force Col. Tim Cathcart, chief of the National Guard Bureau’s joint training and education division.

The National Guard’s current CBRNE enhanced response force package mission has 17 teams of 186 people each throughout the country providing a quick-response capability for an incident involving weapons of mass destruction, Cathcart said. When activated, they initiate search and extraction from collapsed buildings, conduct victim decontamination, perform medical triage and transport victims to stabilization facilities, where doctors will treat victims before they are moved to a hospital or designated medical facility, he said.

The purpose of the homeland response force mission is to create a bigger force providing command and control of multiple CERFPs, weapons-of-mass-destruction civil support teams and other Guard assets during an incident.

“A HRF is built around a CERFP with some additional forces, which makes the total number of people activated for a mission like this to 566,” Cathcart said. “You take the original 186 from the CERFP mission and add in force protection and a command-and-control capability, making sure everyone is integrated, knows what the mission is and maintains situational awareness of the incident.”

Ten HRFs, one in each Federal Emergency Management Agency region, will stand up by Oct. 1, 2012.

The homeland response force mission also has a joint focus, Cathcart noted, which allows those involved to learn from each other, work better, exercise better and feel more comfortable with the capabilities and assets, Cathcart added.

Cathcart said the National Guard Bureau works closely with its partners at U.S. Northern Command, U.S. Army North, the Joint Interagency Training and Education Center at Charleston, W.Va., and the Marine Corps.

“This creates an integrated Department of Defense CBRNE response construct where we share training and a similar understanding of the task and conditions that we are going to perform and at the same standards,” he said.

The goal is to allow both National Guard and active duty forces a faster response time over a wider area of coverage, because everyone will be moving at the same rate with the same plan, he said.

“It will help mitigate any redundancy or confusion during an actual response, allowing us to do a better job at working together as a team, because we have been training and planning for operating the same way we would be in that kind of environment,” Cathcart explained. “It’s going to make things simpler for us to make sure we’re providing a better response to the nation because we’ve practiced and trained to similar standards.”

Gates May Meet Chinese Counterpart in Hanoi

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Oct. 5, 2010 – In a sign that the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship is beginning to return to normal, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates may meet with his Chinese counterpart during meetings in Hanoi, Vietnam, next week.

The secretary will participate in an Association of Southeast Asian Nations defense ministers conference in Hanoi next week that also will include the association partner nations of Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea, Russia and the United States.

“This forum will, for the first time, offer the opportunity for defense leaders from the region to formally come together and establish a regional security dialogue at the ministerial level,” Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said during a news conference today. “A more regular exchange of views will help build trust and transparency in the region, which will be important as nations there continue to develop new, more advanced military capabilities.”

Morrell said Gates hopes to meet with his Chinese counterpart privately during the meeting. They will discuss continued progress in re-establishing U.S.-Chinese military-to-military ties.

The roadmap first goes through Hawaii – where China will participate in maritime consultative talks with U.S. Pacific Command officials -- and then to Washington, where Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, will host her Chinese counterparts, Morrell said.

The maritime talks will feature discussion on ways the United States and China can operate and cooperate on the high seas and in the air over them, Morrell explained. They will discuss search and rescue exercises and ways that U.S. and Chinese ships communicate.

The defense talks will be in November or December, Morrell said. “Thus far, the talks have been largely focused on the mechanisms, the logistics,” he said.

The Chinese would like Gates to visit Beijing, Morrell said. “They’ve asked us to look for opportunities in his calendar,” he said. “We’re doing that right now, looking forward to reporting back on some possible dates. And our expectation is that we would be able to travel and engage with the Chinese as soon as possible.”