Military News

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Intentional Chocolate™ Provides Sweet Relief Southern California Chocolate Maker Pledges 20% to USA Cares

RADCLIFF, KY— November 30, 2010—Intentional Chocolate of Los Angeles, CA (has partnered with USA Cares pledging a 20% donation of net profits to the military charitable organization serving post-9/11 service members, veterans and their families. Among USA Cares four program areas is Warrior Treatment Today (http://usacares.org/index.php/assistance/sub/category/warrior_treatment_today) which provides assistance to veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI) by removing the financial barriers to treatment. USA cares helps these “invisibly” wounded soldiers by assuring that the financial burden of maintaining their households is alleviated while they seek much needed in-patient treatment.

Jim Walsh, CEO of Intentional Chocolate—who learned about USA Cares from their spokesperson, radio host Dennis Miller—knows how difficult TBI can be. At the age of 32, he suffered a traumatic brain injury. “TBI and PTSD are some of the loneliest conditions there are,” says Walsh. “The outside world doesn’t see any evidence of damage, but inside, it’s extremely debilitating. We hope to help these individuals, and their families, however we can. That’s why we’re donating 20 percent of our net profits—up to one million dollars—to USA Cares.”

Gifts of Intentional Chocolate can be purchased from their website at http://www.intentionalchocolate.com/ or Amazon.

About USA Cares™
USA Cares is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization that helps post-9/11 military and their families with basic financial needs, assists veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and traumatic brain injury (TBI), works to prevent home foreclosures and evictions, and assists veterans with career placement. USA Cares has received over 26,000 requests for help and responded with more than $7.4 million in grants. Post-9/11 military and family can apply for assistance at http://usacares.org/ .

About Intentional Chocolate™
Intentional Chocolate’s mission is to co-create a more just and compassionate world—starting by bringing more love and positive intentions into areas of society that need it most, such as our military. It is not their desire to be part of any dialogue on the correctness of what we are doing in Iraq or elsewhere. It is their desire to continue to make sure that our military families know they are not alone. For more information visit http://www.intentionalchocolate.com/.

Vietnamese-American Returns to Birthplace — USS Tarawa

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico
Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- A 31-year-old Vietnamese-American woman returned to her place of birth, the decommissioned amphibious assault ship USS Tarawa (LHA 1), presently moored at the Naval Inactive Ships Maintenance Facility, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Nov. 29.

"This is wonderful," said Grace Tarawa Tran, who was born aboard Tarawa on May 10, 1979, two days after 442 other Vietnamese refugees were rescued in the South China Sea. Being born on U.S. property, Tran immediately became a U.S. citizen. "I never thought this day would come. Meeting all the Marines, coming to see the ship where I was born on, my parents told me a lot of stories. I just never really imagined that this would happen."

Tran was later taken by surprise when the corpsman who delivered her joined her on the flight deck of the ship. Navy Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Richard Reed, "Doc Reed" as he was referred to back then, was assigned to the Marine Corps' Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/3, attached to Tarawa at the time, when the ship was performing the humanitarian rescue effort that rescued the Vietnamese refugees.

"It's wonderful," said Reed who hasn't seen Tran since he delivered her aboard the ship. "She has grown to be a pretty lady. It's amazing that one day you're holding her in your arms, and then the next day she's fully grown."

When Tran's mother gave birth, Reed wrapped Tran up and attended to the infant's needs.

"She seemed like my own child, a daughter from a different country."

Tran cried as Reed revealed himself to her and presented her with flowers and copies of pictures and news clipping of the eventful day. Reed showed Tran old pictures of the day of the rescue, the birth and the days that followed, most of which she has never seen before.

"The events, my experiences with the BLT and seeing the suffering the Vietnamese went through, it changed my life," said Reed. "That's why I'm a pastor today. I've been a pastor now for the past 26 years, and it was all because of this young lady right here. It was a change in my life. It was an unexpected surprise especially for me as a corpsman. I was used to taking care of Marines, sewing them up, giving them shots, taking them to sick call, but delivering a baby— that was a brand new experience. It was a once in a lifetime experience. She was my first and my last."

Tran said she was also overwhelmed meeting Reed as the two went through the photo album that showed photos of other Vietnamese refugees and the wooden motor boat that they were on.

"There are no words that can express how grateful we are for the aid and comfort that all of you provided us while aboard the USS Tarawa," said Tran. "My family along with 400 other Vietnamese citizens fled Vietnam in search for a better life. They fled on a 20 feet wooden motor boat, which later malfunctioned. While adrift, they were robbed by Thai pirates eleven separate times over the course of a week. Condition on the boat was horrible, and they had very little food and water to consume. Exhaustion and hunger took over them that they no longer feared for their lives. So, you can only imagine the joy they felt when the U.S. military came to their rescue."

Despite the end of the Vietnam War with the Fall of Saigon on April 30, 1975, waves of South Vietnamese refugees escaped the war-torn country in search of a better life. More than two million people fled Vietnam in small, unsafe crowded boats ending up in countries like Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines.

"My parents wanted to get away from the war and the communism," said Tran. "So they, along with 400 others, fled Vietnam. They did not know which nation they were going to, they just wanted to escape Vietnam. My mother said she was really scared, but this was the opportunity to leave Vietnam and find freedom. They took a really big risk."

After the rescue at sea, Tarawa delivered Tran and the refugees to an asylum camp in Thailand where they began the process of immigrating to the U.S. Tran said that in three months the refugees were divided up and distributed to several states. Tran's family was eventually immigrated to Philadelphia, PA.

Today, Tran works as a financial analyst for an insurance company in Philadelphia.

Decommissioned in March 2009, Tarawa was the lead amphibious assault ship, and the second ship to be named after Tarawa Atoll, a site of a Marine landing during World War II. Tarawa is currently moored in West Loch, Pearl Harbor, and is considered a retention asset for the U.S. Navy.

Guard Leaders Hope Efficiencies Will Extend Border Role

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 – National Guard soldiers and airmen are making a big difference to civilian law enforcement officers working along the U.S. southwest border, and officials hope smart fiscal oversight will allow them to stay through the spring, a National Guard Bureau official said.

Homeland Security Department officials have told military leaders at the Pentagon that they are “very impressed” with the support from 1,195 soldiers and airmen deployed to the border to help DHS’s Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Border Protection agents, Army Maj. Gen. Peter M. Aylward told American Forces Press Service in a Nov. 24 interview.

Representatives from Homeland Security, the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Joint Staff, and the adjutants general for California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas discussed the Guard’s contribution along the border and their deployment schedule during a Nov. 23 video teleconference, said Aylward, a special assistant to the chief of the National Guard Bureau.

Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano visited California National Guard members in San Diego, along with her top military advisor, Coast Guard Rear Adm. Chuck Michel, on Oct. 18. Michel reported back that there is a high return on investment from President Barack Obama’s directive in May to send up to 1,200 National Guard troops to the border, Aylward said.

“He said they are very impressed with the attitude, professionalism, and great support the National Guard soldiers and airmen are providing in the San Diego sector, and across the board in the other states,” he said. “The troops are doing great work, and it’s greatly appreciated by our colleagues who are working to hire and train 1,000 agents.”

The Guard members were asked to support the federal agents until the new hires are on board. The Guard reached capacity for the mission in October, and the directive calls for the drawdown of troops to begin in February. Government officials, though, are still working out the redeployment schedule, Aylward said. Redeployment is tied to the $135 million allocated to the mission, which is shared equally between the Homeland Security and Defense departments.

“How long we sustain the 1,200 folks on the border is part and parcel to the $135 million,” he said. “The rampdown schedule is something the team is working through right now with the four states. The reality is we have had no change to the existing requirement and don’t anticipate a change to that requirement.” The challenge, he added, is how to execute that requirement within the budget allocation.

Because of the “great fiscal stewardship” of the four adjutants general, Aylward said, officials hope to extend the drawdown timeline into late spring, and perhaps into June. The adjutants general cut costs for the operation by using lower-level personnel and finding alternatives to work-related travel to stretch the appropriated funds, he said.

Defense and Homeland Security officials are reviewing the drawdown schedule to determine how long they can fund it, Aylward said.

The troops are working mostly in “entry identification teams” that operate in secret locations to provide oversight of the 2,000-mile border between the four states and Mexico, the general said.

“For us, it’s really nothing new,” he said. “They work in listening posts, observation posts, gathering information to give to law enforcement for prosecution.”

The Guard members also work as criminal analysts in support of immigration and customs officials, Aylward said. “We do a great job with analytical work and intelligence around the globe, so this is a great fit for us,” he said.

“This, frankly, is just another chapter in this initiative [to reduce transnational threats along the southwest border] that began even before DHS started, going back to 1993 with Customs and Border Protection,” he added.

This year has seen an improvement along the border, with illegal immigration down 23 percent between January and August, Aylward noted. During the same time, drug seizures were up 15 percent and weapons seizures were up 30 percent. At the same time, drug violence has surged in Mexico, but little has spilled over to the U.S. states, he said.

“Our challenge is how to have rules that facilitate trade, tourism and commerce, but eliminate transnational threats and illegal activity,” Aylward said. “We’re part of those who are helping with those solutions by screening out the transnational threats.”

The breakdown of Guard members along the border is 224 in California, 524 in Arizona, 72 in New Mexico, and 250 in Texas. Another 130 are working command and control, officials said.

Customs and Border Protection spokeswoman Kelly Rose Ivahnenko said the National Guard teams help to fill gaps in surveillance coverage along the border, enhance interdiction efforts with analysis and technology such as infrared sensing devices and truck-mounted cameras, and provide agents with real-time information.

“National Guard troops serve as valuable partners and are a tremendous asset in bolstering our border security efforts, along with unprecedented resources in manpower, technology and infrastructure that have been allocated by this administration,” Ivahnenko said.

As examples, Ivahnenko said, Guard members have assisted Border Patrol with 2,500 apprehensions and the seizure of nearly 3,000 pounds of marijuana in the Tucson, Ariz., sector. In Texas, Guard members have helped to secure 25 apprehensions and 200 pounds of marijuana in the El Paso sector and 430 apprehensions and 1,348 pounds of marijuana in the Rio Grande Valley sector. California National Guardsmen have detected 1,046 illegal entries that resulted in arrests by Border Patrol agents, she said.

Obama Proposes Federal Pay Freeze

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 – President Barack Obama today proposed a two-year federal pay freeze to aid in reducing the federal deficit.

The proposed freeze would not affect military pay, and would require congressional action to become law.

“[The freeze] would save $2 billion over the rest of this fiscal year and $28 billion in cumulative savings over the next five years,” the president said in announcing the proposal.

Obama said federal employees must help bear the burden of economic sacrifices to put the federal budget back on track along with Americans in the private sector, but he acknowledged the pay freeze proposal is a decision that didn’t come easily.

“This is not just a line item on a federal register,” he said. “These are people's lives. They're doctors and nurses who care for our veterans, scientists who search for better treatments and cures, men and women who care for our national parks and secure our borders and our skies, Americans who see that the Social Security checks get out on time, who make sure that scholarships come through, who devote themselves to our safety.”

When Obama took office in January 2009, he immediately froze salaries for senior White House officials. Earlier this year, he also proposed freezing salaries for all political appointees throughout the government, White House officials said.

Obama noted today that he also has proposed a three-year freeze on all nonsecurity discretionary spending, a step he said would bring that spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in 50 years.

Veterans’ Reflections: Joining Up to Do His Part

By Ian Graham
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 – The military can be a lot of things to people looking to enlist. It can be a demonstration of patriotism, a college payment plan, or just a way to get out of town and start adulthood.

For Ryan Berkshire, it was all three.

In January 2003, one semester before graduating from high school and two months prior to the start of the war in Iraq, Berkshire signed up with the Montana Army National Guard. The Guard gave him the long-term opportunity to pay for college, where he could study music, and the short-term opportunity to leave his hometown of Billings, Mont., for a while.

“The entire time you’re in high school in Billings, you talk about getting out,” Berkshire said. The National Guard and the Montgomery GI Bill, added, were the best options he had.

“It was really more my need for money for college, and I kind of felt like I needed to earn my right to live in this country,” he said. “There are so many people that say they’re going to do big things, and I just wanted to be one who could say it and back it up.”

Shortly after receiving his high school diploma, Berkshire shipped off to boot camp and advanced training. He would end up serving the in the Guard for six years, followed by two years in the inactive ready reserve. He’ll finish his service completely in January as a sergeant.

By November 2003, Berkshire was leaving for Iraq as a cook with the 639th Quartermaster Company, a petroleum and basic supply company made up of soldiers from different Montana National Guard units who soon would become some of his closest friends.

“For as much as you have to put up with, there are a lot of good times in the Guard, too,” he said.

Talil Air Base, near Nasiriyah, was his home and his work for the next 12 months in Iraq. He worked in a cycle of eight 12-hour days followed by a day off, supervising kitchen contractors brought in from India, Pakistan and Nepal, ensuring they were following military sanitation and food preparation standards.

“Alongside my duties in the dining facility, I did some guard duty,” he said. “I had to escort kitchen employees to the nearby Korean hospital for medical checkups and a lot of escorting food from the gate to the dining facility and back.”

It was during the trips to the nearby civilian hospital, operated by South Korean forces for local Iraqis and contracted civilians on base, that gave Berkshire increased pride about the American mission in Iraq, he said. He spoke with local families who were appreciative of the U.S. and coalition military presence, he recalled, and they were getting medical services and humanitarian aid they hadn’t received in years under Saddam Hussein.

“To see these kids and their parents who were so appreciative of us being there, that was it for me. It really meant a lot,” he said. “It gave me purpose for the rest of the time I was there.”

Berkshire said he felt frustrated for a long time by a widening gap between public opinion and his own experience in Iraq. Though he “wasn’t in the worst situation” –- his base was mortared only a few times a week and received direct missile fire only a handful of times during his tour -– he heard conflicting reports of conditions in the country when he turned on the news.

“It wasn’t like Baghdad, where there was constant fire,” he said. “I had a pretty easy time compared to other servicemembers who had more high-intensity [jobs]. I consider myself pretty lucky.”

Berkshire experienced difficulty when he returned to the United States and attended college, he said, where he was surrounded by opinionated people, for and against the war, who never would have dreamed of experiencing the war first-hand.

“There are a lot of people in America that hear things, but unless you actually experience it, you don’t really have anything to say,” he said. “I’m one of the few people who saw how it actually is over there.”

Berkshire said both sides of the argument were right and wrong about certain things. It was a difficult time, he acknowledged, but he added that he felt the military did a lot to mitigate the stresses of combat. The morale, welfare and recreation facilities on base, he said, helped the troops “keep their heads on their shoulders.”

“They had a Burger King trailer and a Pizza Hut trailer, they had welfare centers where we could watch movies and play video games,” he said. “They had a lot set up so it didn’t have to be such a difficult or dark place.”

Berkshire said it took a while after he returned from Iraq to come to terms with the fact that most people around him hadn’t served, and would never serve. He said he felt as if he was part of a minority because he believed he needed to give something back to his country.

“When I came back from Iraq, I had the same problem trying to figure out who I was,” he said. “For a while, I felt like I had a superiority complex, because I was one of only a handful of individuals that actually went out and did something for this country. I really feel like I’m an American citizen, because I served.”

In the end, Berkshire said, he served in the military because he wanted to. Soldiering isn’t a job that’s performed for the glory, he said, and it doesn’t make you a better or worse person whether you’d served in the military or not.

“I’ve had people buy me food, buy dinners and drinks, because I’m a veteran,” he said. “I don’t want praise for it. That’s not what I’m looking for. I just want to be able to say I did my part at the end of the day. It’s the small things that matter to me.”

(“Veterans’ Reflections” is a collection of stories of men and women who served their country in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, and the present-day conflicts. They will be posted throughout November in honor of Veterans Day.)

Coast Guard Aviation Association CG-1705 Memorial

By U.S. Coast Guard PPC, Topeka

On the evening of October 29, 2009, Coast Guard HC-130 Rescue aircraft 1705 was conducting a search for a missing boater near San Clemente Island off the southern California coast.  Simultaneously, a flight of four Marine Corps helicopters from nearby camp Pendleton was on a training mission in the same area.  At , all communications with Rescue 1705 were lost. Subsequently, it was learned that Rescue 1705 had been involved in a mid-air collision with one of the Marine Corps helicopters. Despite an extensive search by multiple assets, no survivors were found; seven Coast Guard and two Marine Corps personnel perished in the accident.

A Coast Guard Memorial, funded entirely by donations, will be constructed under the auspices of the Coast Guard Aviation Association. It will be located at the Coast Guard Air Station in Sacramento, CA, and its centerpiece will be a bronze C-130 with a 10' wingspan.  Bronze plaques surrounding the memorial will tell the story and honor the nine individuals who gave their lives in the line of duty.  Memorial funds are being raised through direct donations to the Coast Guard Aviation Association, purchase of engraved memorial bricks, and purchase of Rescue 1705 commemorative coins and patches.  More information regarding the Memorial may be obtained by visiting the website http://www.rescue1705.com/.  All donations will be greatly appreciated.

Operation Fireside: A home away from home

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young

On a typical day at boot camp, recruits wait in line for “chow,” at the Coast Guard’s Training Center in Cape May, N.J. standing in a straight line, with shoulders to the “bulkhead” as Company Commanders bark orders. This past Thursday, in the spirit of Thanksgiving, recruits found a small reprieve from this daily routine at boot camp as they settled onto comfortable sofas, surrounded by the aromas of a home-cooked meal.

The recruits, who have endeared weeks of grueling training, earned the privilege to go off base on Thanksgiving Day as part of Operation Fireside. A holiday tradition since 1981, Operation Fireside is sponsored by both the Cape May County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Coast Guard and allows recruits to spend time with families in the community for a break from their now regimented lives.

This year, Operation Fireside matched up 372 Training Center Cape May recruits with 111 host families who took in the recruits for a day of food, fellowship, and of course well-deserved rest and relaxation

Used to starting their day at the crack of dawn and not hitting the rack until , the recruit’s day off started at where they were picked up by a host family and soon found themselves in the warm homes of the local community where smiles and handshakes were a welcome replacement from verbal commands and orders.

The recruits who participated called home to talk to loved ones, watched television, especially football, or for many recruits who welcomed the break from their regulated schedule, just sitting and talking felt good.

One of the participants was Seamen Recruit William Sinclair, who traveled off base with one other recruit to enjoy amenities that were dearly missed. Originally from Whitney Point, N.Y., this was Sinclair’s first time away from home for Thanksgiving, so being able to talk to his family was a highlight of his day.

In between eating both breakfast and a traditional thanksgiving meal and watching television, Sinclair found time to video chat with his family who was back home and eating their Thanksgiving dinner without him for the first time.

“It really means a lot to share in something like this after being stuck here for so long,” said Sinclair. “Here at boot camp everything looks exactly the same as every other room, so it was great just being able to get off the base and being in a home atmosphere.”

The home-cooked food that nourished the recruit’s was only part of the affects the day had on the recruits. For many of the young men and women, who arrived in Cape May from all across the country, missing family and friends was a daily occurrence.

Seaman Recruit Christopher Stevenson was far from his hometown of Chicago, Ill., but his participation in Operation Fireside surrounded him with the comfort and hospitality that can only come from close friends.

“From the time we stepped into the house until they dropped us off back at the base, they acted like we were family,” said Stevenson. “It was such a great thing to go off base and have someone welcome you with open arms and make you feel like you are home, when you are so far from it.”

Stevenson was overjoyed with the camaraderie he shared with his host family and their generosity, but also made sure to note how delicious the food was.

“I think it was the best turkey I’ve ever had in my life,” said Sinclair.

Being away for the holidays is something that often comes with service, and for both Sinclair and Stevenson, recruits from Delta 184, this may not be the last time they are not home for the holidays. Delta 184 will be graduating this Friday and both recruits will be stationed at units far from their hometowns. For them, this holiday and Operation Fireside, was a reminder that despite the fact they are away from their own families, they can still find their way “home.”

Gold Star Mother Offers Inspiration, Hope

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Nov. 29, 2010 – Just seven months after her 23-year-old son was killed in a helicopter crash in Iraq, and with three months left before her husband returns from his deployment to Afghanistan, Sheila Patton isn’t facing the holidays feeling sorry for herself.

Instead, she’s found a calling: helping to bring inspiration and hope to families of fallen soldiers at this post that’s suffered a heavy toll in combat losses since the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

Patton, the wife of Army Command Sgt. Major Gregory Patton, command sergeant major for the 101st Airborne Division’s 3rd Brigade Combat Team, feels the pain of her son’s death as if it had happened yesterday.

Army Staff Sgt. James R. “Jimmy” Patton, died April 18 during a combat mission in Tikrit, Iraq. The 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment soldier, based at Fort Benning, Ga., was serving his seventh overseas deployment since 9/11 that had included two previous tours to Iraq and four deployments to Afghanistan.

His mother learned of his death when a casualty assistance officer drove up to her in-laws’ home in Indiana while she was visiting to celebrate her father’s birthday.

Patton had every reason to feel alone at the time. Her children were at home near Fort Campbell and her daughter-in-law was with family in her native Ecuador, still unaware of Jimmy’s death. Her husband, who deployed to Afghanistan just two months earlier, had flown to Iraq to accompany his son’s body to Dover Air Force Base, Del.

Yet from the moment the notification officials delivered the heart-wrenching news, Patton said, she felt embraced by the Fort Campbell community. It continued as the family made plans to lay Jimmy to rest at Arlington National Cemetery, and after the senior Patton left just a week after the funeral to rejoin his fellow “Rakkasan Battalion” soldiers in Afghanistan’s Khost province.

“The support I have been given through the Fort Campbell community has been absolutely amazing,” she said. “They have been phenomenal in rallying to support my family. It’s been an absolutely heart-warming experience.”

Patton said she cries for her son every day and still feels the devastation of his loss. But she has also developed a sense of peace about his death that’s helped her cope and begin healing.

“I am a proud momma of a soldier who died fighting for his country and doing what he loved doing,” she said. “If he had to die before us that is the only way we could ever have accepted his death: to smile and be proud and honored that God thought enough of my son to make him a hero.”

Patton said she comforts herself “knowing God took my son for a bigger mission, because his mission on Earth was complete.”

Meanwhile, Patton has found a new mission as well: reaching out to other families struggling with their own losses as senior advisor to Fort Campbell’s Survivor Outreach Services program. The program is part of the Army’s effort to help and stay connected with families of the fallen.

As a Gold Star Mother and wife of a soldier serving in harm’s way, Patton recognizes she’s in a unique position to comfort families of the fallen. “I have been where they are, and I can share what they are feeling because I am going through what they are going through, almost simultaneously,” she said.

Patton shared her story as keynote speaker at a recent candlelight vigil honoring Fort Campbell’s fallen. As the crowd began to disperse, one mother who was having a particularly difficult time dealing with her own son’s combat death approached Patton. “You have given me hope,” she told Patton. “I just want you to know that.”

Patton said she’s not quite sure where she gets the strength to carry out what she’s come to see as a personal calling. “I guess God and Jimmy have given me the strength to do this,” she said. “Jimmy has a bigger mission in heaven, and I think this is my mission on Earth, to be able to share his story and offer hope to other families.

“If I can give one person hope that they can look at the loss of their soldier in a different light,” she added, “then that is one person I have helped.”

Flournoy: NATO Action Must Follow Lisbon Vision

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 – Agreements reached at the Nov. 19-20 NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal, represent a blueprint the alliance must follow with “long-term construction projects,” a top Defense Department policy official said today.

In remarks at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Michele Flournoy, undersecretary of defense for policy, summarized the summit’s key agreements and the work the alliance faces to implement them.

“While the Lisbon summit was certainly a major milestone for the alliance with a number of achievements, the … hard work of implementation still lies ahead of us,” Flournoy said, “whether you’re talking about NATO’s work in Afghanistan, about rebalancing to meet the new challenges, or about our relationship with Russia.”

Afghanistan is the most immediate and consequential issue facing the alliance, she said, and summit agreements on a NATO-Afghanistan strategic partnership and a framework for security transition demonstrate long-term commitment on the part of participating nations.

“Trainers are the ticket to transition” in Afghanistan, Flournoy said, noting that NATO must continue to assist Afghanistan’s development of “credible and effective” security forces if that nation is to meet the goal of assuming full responsibility for its own security in 2014.

The Afghan army and police are successfully building numbers, quality and retention in their ranks, and they need the support of NATO trainers to sustain that trend, she said.

“I especially want to tip my hat here to our Canadian friends, who announced just before the summit that they would be providing 750 trainers and 200 support troops,” she said. “We expect many others to come forward with additional such commitments in the force-generation conference that began today.”

“There’s a long way to go in Afghanistan, … but we have seen before what happens when we abandon it,” she added. “In Lisbon, we saw a real commitment on the part of the NATO allies to ensure that we do not make that mistake again.”

The second key summit topic was rebalancing NATO forces to meet current and future challenges, Flournoy said.

“The centerpiece of this effort was, of course, the new strategic concept, essentially the new mission statement for NATO,” she said, noting this is the first such document for the alliance since 1999. The document lays out a balanced concept for NATO’s future that reaffirms the centrality of the alliance’s mutual security guarantee, she said.

“Crucially, this strategic concept also includes missile defense as a new mission for the alliance,” she said, calling that provision, “a great example of a theme that runs throughout the strategic concept – the need for this great alliance to adapt to address new threats.”

The strategic concept “clearly articulates the real threats” to NATO’s collective security, she said: terrorism, nuclear proliferation, cyber warfare, destruction of the global commons, environmental and resource constraints, and “the chronic instability that can foster extremism and erode the rule of law.”

The cyber threat defies established security concepts such as escalation control and military notions of offense and defense, she said.

“Unfortunately, NATO’s ability to defend its own cyber networks is not what it needs to be,” Flournoy said. “This is why we agreed to undertake a cyber policy review … [that] should result in a plan of action to improve the protection of our systems.”

While NATO works to address current and emerging threats, Flournoy said, the global economic downturn requires that member nations find creative ways to redirect spending and pool resources.

“In Lisbon, the allies took meaningful steps … to strip out some of the bureaucratic layers in order to make more funds available for vital operations and capability investments,” she said. “Specifically, the allies agreed to … the elimination of some seven headquarters and the reduction of headquarters personnel by about 4,000 people.”

A notable example of pooling defense resources, she added, can be found in the recent treaty signed by France and the United Kingdom allowing for cooperation in nuclear testing.

“The U.S. fully supports this cooperation between two of our staunchest and most capable military allies, and we call upon other members of the alliance to see similar opportunities where appropriate,” she said.

Flournoy then touched on what she termed the third key summit outcome, a NATO “reset” with Russia.

First, she said, NATO and Russia signed a joint review focused on common security challenges including counter-terrorism, combating weapons of mass destruction, disaster preparedness, piracy and Afghanistan.

“This document charts the way ahead for concrete cooperation between NATO and Russia,” Flournoy said.

Second, Russia agreed to “even greater cooperation” on Afghanistan, she said, in areas including enhanced shipment of coalition supplies through Russian territory, expansion of joint counternarcotics training, and a new initiative to help Afghanistan maintain its helicopter fleet.

Finally, Russia and NATO also agreed to restart their theater missile defense cooperation program, stalled since 2008, and to “develop a comprehensive framework for future missile defense cooperation in time for the June ministerial [conference],” Flournoy said.

In the NATO-Russia reset, as with other areas of progress coming out of Lisbon, Flournoy emphasized, true success will only come with follow-through.

“We have to back up our words and our agreements with real action,” she said.

Clinton: WikiLeaks’ Release Attacks International Community

By Jim Garamone and Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 29, 2010 – The WikiLeaks release of classified State Department documents over the weekend constitutes an attack not only on America, but also on the international community, as diplomats around the globe try to solve the world’s most complex problems, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said today.

Clinton said the publication “puts people's lives in danger, threatens our national security and undermines our efforts to work with other countries to solve shared problems.”

U.S. diplomats focus on advancing American national interests, Clinton noted, and work with representatives around the world to handle everything from economic issues and recovery to stopping the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

“So let’s be clear. This disclosure is not just an attack on America's foreign-policy interests,” she said. “It is an attack on the international community, the alliances and partnerships, the conversations and negotiations that safeguard global security and advance economic prosperity.”

The United States regrets the disclosure of any information that was intended to be confidential, including private discussions between counterparts or diplomats’ personal assessments and observations, she added.

Clinton stressed that U.S. official foreign policy is not set through these messages, but in Washington.

“Our policy is a matter of public record, as reflected in our statements and our actions around the world,” she said.

This is the third set of documents WikiLeaks has released. The first set was military reports from Afghanistan, and the second release was military documents from Iraq. Officials of the website have said they will release more classified documents in the future.

Meanwhile, the U.S. government is taking aggressive steps to hold responsible those who stole this information.

“I have directed that specific actions be taken at the State Department, in addition to new security safeguards at the Department of Defense and elsewhere, to protect State Department information so that this kind of breach cannot and does not ever happen again,” Clinton said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates ordered two reviews of information and intelligence sharing in August. The reviews called on DOD systems officials to disable all “write” capability for removable media on classified computers to mitigate the risks of personnel moving classified data to unclassified systems. He also directed DOD organizations to have a limited number of systems authorized to move data from classified to unclassified systems, and to implement two-person handling rules for moving data from classified to unclassified systems.

More than 60 percent of DOD’s classified net is now using a host-based security system -– an automated way of controlling the computer system with a capability of monitoring unusual data access or usage. The department is speeding deployment to the rest of the classified system, officials said.

In addition, the department is conducting security oversight inspections in forward-deployed areas, undertaking vulnerability assessments of DOD networks, and improving awareness and compliance with information protection procedures.

U.S. Central Command, for example, has increased insider threat training for its intelligence professionals and has started multidiscipline training for traditional security, law enforcement and information assurance personnel at all echelons.

Centcom also has established insider-threat working groups to address the WikiLeaks incident and prevent reoccurrence.

“Previously, oversight was done by humans and, clearly, there were failures there,” Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters today.

While “there are some valid reasons” to remove large amounts of information from classified computers, Lapan said, officials are putting obstacles in place to mitigate the leaking of such information. “It will be monitored much more closely,” he said.

In making the changes, defense officials are working toward Gates’ call for a balance between security and information sharing, the colonel said. To prevent leaks, he added, government officials are focused on procedures and technical systems, not who obtains clearances.

Lapan also addressed the vulnerability of the DOD system to future leaks of classified information. “I wouldn’t say it is vulnerable,” he said, “but I can’t say it won’t ever happen again. There are safeguards in place, but it’s up to individuals to follow them.”

The WikiLeaks postings have caused a chilling effect on who may cooperate with government officials in the future, Lapan said. Defense officials know that WikiLeaks still has some 15,000 sensitive documents related to the war in Afghanistan that they have yet to release, he said.

George Washington Strike Group Begins Exercise with Republic of Korea

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Cheryl Callahan

Waters West of Korean Peninsula (NNS) -- The George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG) entered the waters west of the Korean peninsula to participate in a combined military exercise with the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Nov. 28.

The exercise is part of the series announced at the 2 + 2 meetings in July and is scheduled to run until Dec. 1.

"While this exercise, which is defensive in nature, has been planned for some time, it underscores the importance of the ROK-U.S. alliance and our collective commitment to regional security and stability," said Rear Adm. Dan Cloyd, Commander, Task Force 70.

The purpose of the four-day exercise is to enhance the readiness and interoperability of ROK and U.S. forces during routine operations in international waters and airspace. Both militaries have conducted similar exercises together in recent months on both sides of the peninsula.

The exercise will include more than 7,000 personnel, 11 ships and a variety of aircraft to include F-18 Super Hornets, F-16C Fighting Falcons, A-10C Thunderbolt II, F-15Ks and KF-16s.

The ships involved include: the Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73), with embarked Carrier Air Wing Five (CVW-5); the guided-missile cruiser USS Cowpens (CG 63); the guided-missile destroyers USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS Stethem (DDG 63), and USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62); and several ships and aircraft from the ROK.

The two nations will conduct air defense and surface warfare readiness training, communications and data link drills and subject matter expert exchanges during the course of the four-day exercise.

General Officer Announcements

The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignments:

Army Brig. Gen. Ralph O. Baker, deputy commanding general (maneuver), 1st Armored Division/deputy commanding general-east, U.S. Division-Center, Operation New Dawn, Iraq to director for operational plans and joint force development, J-7, The Joint Staff, Washington, DC.

Army Brig. Gen. Scott F. Donahue, commanding general, U.S. Army Engineer Division, South Pacific, San Francisco, Calif., to director, J-7, U.S. Forces-Iraq, Operation New Dawn, Iraq.

Army Brig. Gen. Christopher K. Haas, commander, Special Operations Command Africa, U.S. Africa Command to commander, Combined Forces Special Operations Component Command Forward, Afghanistan, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen will conduct a press briefing today at 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.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Robert Harward, commander of Combined Joint Interagency Task Force 435, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  Harward will provide an update on detention operations.  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.

Are You Ready for Christmas?

ReadyWisconsin has simple tips to keep the holiday safe

(MADISON) – The joys of the holidays are all around us, but so are the dangers. Based on data from the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) and the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), an estimated 250 home fires involving Christmas trees and another 170 home fires involving holiday lights and other decorative lighting occur each year. Together, these fires result in 21 deaths and 43 injuries.

By taking a little TLC…Tree, Lights and Candle Safety…you can help ensure a safe and happy holiday season for yourself and your family.

“T” is for Tree:

Selecting a Tree for the Holiday
Needles on fresh trees should be green and hard to pull back from the branches, and the needle should not break if the tree has been freshly cut. The trunk should be sticky to the touch. Old trees can be identified by bouncing the tree trunk on the ground – if many needles fall off, the tree has probably dried out and is a fire hazard.

Caring for Your Tree
Do not place your tree close to a heat source, including a fireplace or heat vent. The heat will dry out the tree, causing it to be more easily ignited by heat, flame or sparks. Be careful not to drop or flick cigarette ashes near a tree. Keep the tree stand filled with water at all times.

Disposing of Your Tree
Never put tree branches or needles in a fireplace or wood-burning stove. When the tree becomes dry, discard it promptly. The best way to dispose of your tree is by taking it to a recycling center or having it hauled away by a community pick-up service.

Artificial Christmas Trees
If you are using a metallic or artificial tree, make sure it is flame retardant.

“L” is for Lights:

Maintain Your Holiday Lights
Inspect holiday lights each year for frayed wires, bare spots, gaps in the insulation, broken or cracked sockets, and excessive kinking or wear before putting them up. Use only lighting listed by an approved testing laboratory.

Do Not Overload Electrical Outlets
Do not link more than three light strands unless the directions indicate it is safe. Connect strings of lights to an extension cord before plugging the cord into the outlet. Make sure to periodically check the wires – they should not be warm to the touch. Do not leave holiday lights on unattended.

Use Only Nonflammable Decorations
All decorations should be nonflammable or flame retardant and placed away from heat vents.

C is for Candle:

Avoid Using Lit Candles
Candle use increases the incidence of holiday fires. If you do use them, make sure they are in stable holders and place them where they cannot be easily knocked down. Never leave the house with candles burning. Keep candles at a height where children and pets cannot reach them.  Consider using flameless candles that provide the appearance and glow of a candle but are safely battery operated.

Never Put Lit Candles on a Tree
Do not go near a Christmas tree with an open flame – candles, lighters or matches.

Finally, as in every season, have working smoke alarms installed on every level of your home, test them monthly and keep them clean and equipped with fresh batteries at all times. Know when and how to call for help, and remember to practice your home escape plan.

ReadyWisconsin is a campaign from Wisconsin Emergency Management with a mission to prepare individuals, families and businesses for emergencies and disasters. For additional winter safety tips, visit http://ReadyWisconsin.wi.gov or follow us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/ReadyWisconsin) and Twitter (www.twitter.com/ReadyWisconsin).

This Day in Naval History - Nov. 29

From the Navy News Service

1775 - Capt. John Manley in schooner Lee captures British ordnance ship Nancy with large quantity of munitions.
1890 - First Army-Navy football game (Navy won 24-0).
1929 - Cmdr. Richard Byrd makes first flight over South Pole.
1944 - USS Archerfish (SS 311) sinks Japanese carrier Shinano, world's largest warship sunk by any submarine during World War II.