Thursday, December 02, 2010

Navy Christens Littoral Combat Ship Fort Worth

The Navy will christen littoral combat ship (LCS) Fort Worth, Saturday, Dec. 4, during a 10 a.m. CST ceremony at Marinette Marine Corp. shipyard in Marinette, Wis.

The ship's name recognizes the city of Fort Worth, Texas. For more than 150 years, the patriotic citizens of Fort Worth have supported the Navy and the men and women in uniform. Home to Ranger outposts, training facilities, aviation depots, and defense manufacturing, Fort Worth has answered the call whenever the nation needed it.

Former Deputy Defense SecretaryGordon Englandwill deliver the principal address at the ceremony. Rep. Kay Granger of Texaswill serve as the ship's sponsor. The ceremony will be highlighted by Granger breaking a bottle of champagne across the bow to formally christen the ship, which is a time-honored Navy tradition.

Designated LCS 3, Fort Worth is an innovative combatant designed to operate quickly in shallow water environments to counter challenging threats in coastal regions, specifically mines, submarines and fast-surface craft. It is capable of speeds in excess of 40 knots and can operate in water less than 20 feet deep. Fort Worth will address a critical capabilities gap in the littorals. Carrying out the Navy's mission, it will serve to enhance maritime security by deterring hostility in troubled waters, maintaining a forward presence, and by its ability to project power and maintain sea control.

A fast, agile, and high-technology surface combatant, Fort Worth will be a platform for the launch and recovery of manned and unmanned vehicles. To meet increased demand for mission-tailored packages, its modular design will support interchangeable mission packages, allowing the ship to be reconfigured for antisubmarine warfare, mine countermeasures, or surface warfare missions on an as-needed basis. The LCS will be able to swap out mission packages pierside in a matter of days, adapting as the tactical situation demands. The modular approach also allows us to incorporate new or improved systems into the fleet as advanced technologies mature, providing flexibility and evolving capability. These ships will also feature an advanced networking capability to share tactical information with other Navy aircraft, ships, submarines and joint units.

Fort Worth will be manned by two rotational crews, Blue and Gold, similar to the rotational crews assigned to Trident submarines. These core crews will be augmented by one of the three types of mission package crews as well as an aviation detachment. The prospective commanding officer of the Blue crew is Cmdr. James R. Blankenship, from Ironton, Ohio. The prospective commanding officer of the Gold crew is Cmdr. Warren E. Cupps, from Fort Worth, Texas. Upon being commissioned in the future, Fort Worth will be homeported in San Diego, Calif.

More information on the LCS can be found at

GTMO Provides Support to USCGC Sitkinak

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Bill Mesta, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Personnel attached to Naval Station Guantanamo Bay's (GTMO) Port Operations Department received USCGC Sitkinak (WPB 1329) Dec. 1 for a port visit.

Sitkinak pulled into the naval station to take on 4,500 gallons of diesel fuel, potable water, supplies and take liberty.

When a ship arrives in Guantanamo Bay, Port Control is the communication hub for the entire evolution.

"We have a check list that we go by that breaks down all of the responsibilities that our watch sections must cover for a ship to pull into GTMO," said Operations Specialist 1st Class Frederick Trahan, Port Control's leading petty officer.

"As Sitkinak approached the harbor, we made calls to inform everyone in the bay that the ship was coming in," said Trahan. "We also notified the Coast Guard here so that they could provide an escort for the ship. We then notified the line handlers so that they could ready to receive the ship."

Once the line handlers were notified, the dock master was informed that the ship has arrived as scheduled.

"The communication between Port Control and the dock masters is important because we want to ensure zero mishaps occur in Guantanamo Bay," said Lt. Cmdr. Lareava Meschino, the Port Operations department head.

The dock masters make all of the preparations for meeting a ship's necessities prior to the ship pulling into GTMO. They are also responsible for ensuring that the vessel is moored to the pier safely.

"Prior to Sitkinak arriving we received a logistical requirements request," said Quartermaster 2nd Class Carlton Jones, the dock master's leading petty officer. "The requests listed all of the needs the ship was going to have while they are in Guantanamo Bay."

Once GTMO received Sitkinak's requirements for the visit, a message was sent back to them to inform them of the cost involved for the logistical support, said Jones.

"When Sitkinak arrived to the pier, I was there to meet it," said Jones. "I made sure that they lined up correctly with the fueling station and that their brow was in a safe position. These are the two most important things for getting the ship moored to the pier."

MCPON Sends 2010 Holiday Message to the Fleet

Special from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (SS/SW) Rick D. West

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following Holiday message to the fleet Dec. 1:

"Shipmates and Navy Families,

In anticipation of the holiday season, I would like to take a few minutes to wish you 'happy holidays' and to thank you and our Navy families for the outstanding service and support that you provide our great Navy and nation every day. I could not be more proud of you!

As you know I'm a competitor, and this holiday season I have a challenge for each of you. Are you up for it? The challenge is simple. Be mindful of your shipmates' holiday plans and don't leave any shipmate behind. Take the time to find out what plans your shipmates have over the holidays. No one should be left alone sitting aboard a ship, in the barracks or at home. You've worked hard all year and so have they. Just as our nation supports us and our Navy, let's support each other by making this season one where we are providing our shipmates with the best holiday memories that we can as a Navy family.

Take on this challenge and you'll receive the gift of pride knowing that we each contributed towards making this a memorable and joyous holiday season for our entire Navy family.

Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention and thank those out doing the job. Today, thousands of our shipmates are deployed around the world vigilantly keeping the watch and ready to answer our nations call. Thank you for working hard for our nation's freedom.

As we bring 2010 to a close, please remember to keep safety at the forefront of your daily activities both on and off duty. We've had a great year in safety, and I want to see you continue this trend throughout the end of the year and into 2011.

Happy Holidays, Shipmates, and HOOYAH!"

VP-16, El Salvadorian Military Personnel Host Holiday Festival

By AZ1 (AW/SW) Natalia Luchetti, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

COMALAPA AIR FORCE BASE, El Salvador (NNS) -- Patrol Squadron (VP) 16 and Comalapa military service members hosted 49 children and the founders of the Exodus Foundation at a holiday festival aboard Comalapa Air Force Base Nov. 22.

The Exodus Foundation, founded in 1996, is a non-governmental organization created to restore the lives of boys and girls in situations of risk, providing them academic and physical care, and developing them emotionally, spiritually and socially in a home environment.

The hosted group was given a tour and history brief of the P-3C Orion aircraft, in which they got to experience the different communication and navigation systems.

The guests were treated to a pizza party and received candy from a "Jack Frost" pinata. The party concluded with a surprise visit from Santa Claus.

"I am so grateful for the work you have done," said Patricia de Parras, Exodus Foundation founder. "For you have put a memorable smile on these children's faces, and as the Bible says: start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they would not turn from it."

This event was made possible by voluntary contributions from Comalapa and VP-16 detachments. These Sailors were all key in ensuring safety was number one priority at all times and that an unforgettable memory was stamped in each one of the kid's heart.

"Getting to see the kids so excited and thankful for what we did for them," said Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jonathan Castillo. "This experience was one of the most humbling of my career."

CSL Comalapa is a cooperative security location located on a Salvadoran air base near the San Salvador Municipal Airport. The CSL is a regional monitoring center for the control of drug-trafficking, which stood up in 2001.

COMUSNAVSO is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility. COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. maritime strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

Lincoln Hosts Ambassadors During Bahrain Port Visit

From USS Abraham Lincoln Strike Group Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- The U.S. ambassador to Bahrain and five other international ambassadors, as well as Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), visited USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) Nov. 18.

U.S. ambassador to Bahrain Adam Ereli and ambassadors from France, England, Germany, Japan and India were treated to a reception, dinner and tour while the ship was in Manama for a port visit to strengthen partnership and theater security cooperation in the region.

Rear Adm. Mark Guadagnini, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 9, welcomed the opportunity to host such a diverse group of guests.

"Working with allies and regional partners in a wide range of exercises and operations is an essential aspect of our mission," said Guadagnini. "Without the efforts of many nations, and many navies, we could not conduct the breadth of missions as successfully as we do."

While in port, Lincoln Sailors participated in several sporting events with local teams, experienced the Bahraini culture through Morale, Welfare and Recreation tours and participated in a community service project.

Commander, NAVCENT, Vice Adm. Mark Fox stressed the importance of U.S. Navy port visits in the region and cooperation among regional partners.

"We welcome the opportunity to give back to our neighbors and friends," Fox said. "The Lincoln Sailors did a great job in furthering our friendships here in Bahrain."

CSG 9 consists of flagship Abraham Lincoln, embarked Carrier Air Wing 2, USS Cape St. George (CG 71) and embarked Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9.

Ships assigned to DESRON 9 include destroyers USS Momsen (DDG 92), USS Shoup (DDG 86), USS Halsey (DDG 97) and USS Sterett (DDG 104).

Mullen Calls for Stronger U.S.-China Military Ties

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 – Upcoming meetings agreed to by the military leaders of the United States and China have renewed the prospect of strengthened military-to-military engagement, the chairman of the Joints Chiefs of Staff said today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke at the Center for American Progress in Washington on continuing challenges for cooperation between the nations and opportunities that may arise from adversity.

“Now that both countries have agreed to resume routine contacts as part of this important [aspect] of our relationship, the hard work really begins,” Mullen said. “The United States stands ready to do our part.”

The Chinese military suspended its military-to-military relationship with the United States earlier this year over U.S. arms sales to Taiwan. Then in October, when the U.S. and China sent representatives to Hanoi, Vietnam, for an inaugural meeting of defense ministers from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie formally invited Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates to visit Beijing. Gates plans to make the trip early next year.

Next week, Mullen said, Undersecretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy will host her Chinese counterpart during defense talks and a main point of discussion will be U.S.-China military ties. And Mullen has invited his counterpart -- Gen. Chen Bingde, chief of the Chinese army’s general staff -- to visit the Pentagon, he said.

In November 2009, President Barack Obama and China’s President Hu Jintao made a commitment to advance sustained military-to-military relations, Mullen said.

“While we have not met that objective -- and indeed have continued to encounter turbulence in the military-to-military relationship -- it appears that we are on an upward trajectory,” the admiral added.

Working from a posture of mutual respect, thinking locally and globally about mutual security issues, and looking toward a shared future would make the resumption of military exchanges between the United States and China “most fruitful,” the chairman said.

“Many of our security issues have a common dimension, centered in places where China can exert a great deal of constructive influence and where our interests are aligned,” Mullen said.

This includes stability on the Korean peninsula, the safety of shipping lanes in Southeast Asia and assured access and equitable use of the global commons, he said.

The U.S.-China exchange should range farther and wider than the Asia-Pacific region, Mullen said, noting that China’s reach increasingly extends to extra-regional and global defense concerns, including Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons and security in south and central Asia.

Both nations “recognize the emerging challenges of nuclear proliferation, terrorism, growing global energy demands,” he said, “and the geopolitical implications and stresses of climate change.”

China’s constructive role is essential “as we address the most recent of a long string of reckless acts by North Korea,” Mullen said.

With North Korea’s Nov. 20 revelation of a sophisticated uranium enrichment plant and its unprovoked Nov. 23 attack on South Korea’s Yeonpyeong Island that killed four people, “the ante is going up and the stakes are going up,” he said.

“The United States and China may view the situation differently, but we certainly share an interest in stability along the Korean peninsula,” the admiral said, adding that China is uniquely positioned “to guide North Korea to a less dangerous place.”

“The real question is will China answer that call?” Mullen said. “I am hopeful the answer will be yes.”

Official Briefs Congress on Missile Defense Progress

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 – A hallmark of the four-phase U.S. approach to European missile defense is its ability to adjust to the unpredictable, a senior Defense Department official told Congress today.

James N. Miller, principal deputy under secretary of defense for policy, spoke to the House Armed Services Committee’s strategic forces subcommittee today on progress of the phased, adaptive approach to European ballistic missile defense.

“Further advances of technology or future changes in the threat could modify the details or timing of later phases –- that is one reason this approach is called ‘adaptive,’” Miller said in prepared testimony.

President Barack Obama approved the approach in 2009, and allies endorsed the concept at the recent NATO summit in Lisbon, Portugal.

“At the Lisbon summit, NATO leaders took the unprecedented step to decide to develop a missile defense capability to protect the alliance’s populations and territories in Europe against ballistic missile attacks,” Miller said, noting the U.S. approach will serve as its contribution to the alliance’s territorial missile defense.

“This structure will allow our allies to plug in their national missile defense capabilities to achieve even greater capabilities over time,” he said.

The phased, adaptive approach offers several advantages over previous ballistic missile defense strategies, Miller said. The plan, he said, allows the United States to defend its troops and allies in Europe much sooner against the threat posed by short- and medium-range missiles starting in 2011, rather than in 2016 or 2018 under previous plans.

The approach will cope with dozens or scores of ballistic missile attacks, versus only five for the previous architecture, Miller said, and it will adapt more rapidly to changes in the threat through the ability to deploy additional interceptors as needed to land-based sites and on ships.

The approach also will offer more opportunities for U.S. allies to participate, “thereby strengthening both our combined defenses against the ballistic missiles and the solidarity of the NATO alliance,” Miller said.

Miller said the approach also furthers missile defense cooperation with Russia.

“As part of the announcement of [the plan] last year, the administration welcomed Russian cooperation to bring its missile defense capabilities into a broader defense of our common strategic interests,” Miller said. “Over the past 14 months, we have moved forward transparently in this area.”

Miller said Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Russian Defense Minister Anatoly E. Serdyukov agreed in September to create the new Defense Relations Working Group.

“This body is intended to be a venue for discussing defense policy topics such as missile defense,” Miller said. “I will co-chair two sub-working groups: Missile Defense Cooperation and Defense Technology Cooperation. The first meeting of these sub-working groups is planned for early next year.”

Miller outlined the approach’s four phases, set to proceed through 2020.

Phase 1, through 2012, calls for U.S. missile interceptors deploying to the Mediterranean Sea with a forward-based sensor situated in southern Europe.

The second phase, from 2012 through 2015, will deploy improved interceptors and sensors in both sea-based systems and a land-based site in Romania.

Phase 3, from 2015 through 2018, will establish a land-based interceptor site in Poland and field more advanced interceptors both on land and at sea. The final phase, from 2018 through 2020, will deploy next-generation interceptors intended to counter long-range ballistic missiles during their ascent phase, Miller said.

First Lady Welcomes Marine Families to White House

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 1, 2010 – First Lady Michelle Obama today welcomed Marine Corps families to the White House for an event that highlighted the Toys for Tots charity and allowed military children to make holiday crafts with the first lady.

Active duty and reserve Marines and their families from the Washington area received one of the first public tours of the annual White House holiday decorations during an event in which Obama paid tribute to their community volunteerism.

Obama said she was honored to be with the families who go beyond the call of duty in volunteering with Toys for Tots. “We’re honored to be joined by so many members of the military and their families, folks who show us every day with their service, truly, what it means to put others above self,” she said.

With pine aroma in the air, the Marines in their dress blues and spouses and children in holiday attire, toured the multihued rooms of the East Wing that hold 19 ornately decorated trees. Under the first lady’s holiday theme of “Simple Gifts,” the trees were decorated along themes such as music, nature, Christmas gatherings, and for the official White House Christmas tree in the Blue Room, the “Gift of the American Spirit.”

Down the hall in the Booksellers area “The Children’s Tree” stood as a tribute to the youngest members of military families. The tree was decorated with ornaments handmade by 300 military children chosen by Deborah Mullen, who also attended today’s event and is the wife of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. The tree shared space with an oversized statue of First Dog Bo, made by 100 volunteers using 40,000 pipe cleaners, a tour guide said.

In the East Entrance Landing, the military families viewed the “Military Appreciation Tree,” conceived of by the first lady to honor servicemembers, and adorned with glass ball ornaments depicting each service color and seal and topped with a handmade dove to signify peace.

The first lady spoke to the families in the East Room, along with retired Marine Corps Gen. H.P. “Pete” Osman, president and CEO of the Toys for Tots Foundation.

“As first lady, I’ve had the privilege of meeting our men and women in uniform on bases and in hospitals and in communities all over the country,” she said. “When I make those visits, I come away not just with a sense of pride and gratitude, but also with a sense of awe, both at their courage and their sacrifice and at their commitment to serving their country and their communities.”

Toys for Tots volunteerism “is just one example of how our military families are serving our communities and Americans in need all around the country, year-round,” Obama said, adding that the White House will sponsor a toy drive for the charity for the second year in a row.

Toys for Tots had a very successful year last year, Osman said, “and there’s no doubt in my mind that the first lady standing behind it really made it successful.”

The charity has distributed more than 400 million toys to almost 200 million children over 63 years, Osman said. “Our military servicemembers today are making a difference, certainly Marines among them,” he said.

Obama and Osman appealed to Americans to support Toys for Tots this holiday season, noting that gifts for older children are especially needed.

“I want to thank you for your service and your work,” she told the Marines. “I want to thank your families for the sacrifices you all make, especially our little people who sacrifice just as much as the big people do. This is your time of year. So, we wish you guys a happy and healthy holiday season. We want you to enjoy this day.”

Obama then joined the children in the State Dining Room where she worked alongside them, making fruit and vegetable stamps and decorations out of recycled paper, and decorated gingerbread cookies.

Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Jason Armistead attended the event with his wife, Sara, and toddler daughters, Brooke and Avery. Armistead, who deployed twice to Iraq, said he enjoys volunteering with Toys for Tots at Marine Corps Base, Quantico, Va., especially seeing the joy it brings parents who can’t afford to buy their children Christmas presents.

“I was brought up to believe that Christmas is more about giving than receiving,” he said. “With the economic problems the country is in, this is an easy way for people to help out. Most stores have collection boxes and those gifts go out to your own local area.”

Sara Armistead also volunteers for the charity in Quantico and said they have had no trouble getting help from Marines. “I think they really enjoy it,” she said. “The fact that this is so different from their day job, I think it makes them feel good and it’s good stress relief.”

Marine Cpl. Joshua Quill expressed how important the first lady’s invitation was to the Marines. “I think it’s absolutely amazing that the first lady takes time for Toys for Tots, and it’s very gracious for them to open their home to us.”

Navy Program Increases Operational Stress Awareness

By Navy Lt. Jennifer Cragg
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 2, 2010 – While high operational tempo and manning issues continue to remain in the forefront for deployed sailors, the Navy’s Operational Stress Control program is having success in helping sailors and their families deal with related stresses, the program’s coordinator said yesterday.

In a “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable, Navy Capt. Lori Laraway discussed the program, its success in increasing awareness of operational stress, and the need to build psychological resilience.

“Feedback from our 2010 behavioral health quick poll, [a] Naval Personnel Command poll, other surveys and focus groups indicated growing awareness of the Navy’s stress continuum model and the importance of leaders and individuals recognizing stress at work and home,” Laraway said. “However, while awareness and stress issues are improving, this year’s quick poll respondents also indicated that longer deployments and manning issues continue to contribute to increasing levels of their stress.”

Laraway said the quick poll revealed a larger percentage of sailors reporting positive ways they are coping with stress in their day-to-day lives. The survey indicated they are talking to family, friends, shipmates, counselors at fleet and family support centers and chaplains, and they’re using their chain of command to constructively solve problems, she said.

While awareness of stress issues is improving, Laraway added, the Operational Stress Control program supports an aggressive education, training and communication campaign that integrates policies and initiatives under one overarching umbrella.

“Training has expanded this past year to include eight new e-learning courses designed for Navy leaders,” Laraway said. These Web-based offerings are part of the Navy’s effort to embed Operational Stress Control program concepts across all education and training programs, she explained. This new curriculum builds on courses already taught to 176,000 sailors, family members and health care providers to navigate stress for day-to-day operations, she added.

While the program is about helping commands, sailors and families to become more resilient by increasing their ability to prepare for, recover from and adjust to life in the face of stress, adversity, trauma or tragedy, Laraway said, the expanded curriculum also helps families cope with stress.

“A mission-ready sailor incorporates a mission-ready family,” she said. “When things are going on in the home or in the family that are causing stress, it has an impact on the sailor’s ability to perform the mission.”

Working with the fleet and family support centers, Laraway added, Operational Stress Control program officials developed training and a formal curriculum tailored for families that would complement and support existing programs and have found other ways to get the vital information to family members.

“Our curriculum has been translated into Spanish and American sign language, recognizing that English is not only the primary language to get information out to families,” she said.

Program officials also are working with the Navy Medicine Focus program to develop relationships with families who deploy more frequently. By doing so, Laraway explained, Operational Stress Control training components can better define stress zones for sailors, Marines and their family members in the same, common language, which she said is vital to helping them understand those stress points.

“What we are teaching or presenting to sailors and Marines is the same language that family members use here at the fleet and family support centers,” she said. “That common language is very important when looking to change our culture.”

Operational Stress Control program officials have developed four color-coded categories to assist in classifying and recognizing stress: green indicates a “ready” status, yellow indicates a “reacting” status, orange indicates an “injured” status, and red indicates an “ill” status.

“We recognize that for the most part, our sailors and families are in the green zone,” Laraway said. “They are physically fit, they have had good training, they have good communication skills, [and] they know what to do and how to go about doing it.”

Laraway added that if sailors and their families facing difficulty have resilience and life experience, as well as the training and knowledge, they can move back into the green zone. Occasionally, she added, something happens to shift the stress in the family, and it is perfectly normal to move across the continuum.

An important ingredient of the Operational Stress Control program’s success, Laraway said, is increasing the acceptance of seeking help for stress-related injuries and illnesses.

“Our work to change attitudes has begun with promoting Navy leadership’s belief that asking for assistance and guidance is a sign of strength, and not weakness,” she said.

She added that they are dedicated to using humor as a method to teach leaders and sailors to recognize their stress zones, and established a social media presence with their blog and Facebook accounts.

Face of Defense: Soldier Makes the Right Moves

By Army Sgt. William E. Henry
Indiana National Guard

INDIANAPOLIS, Nov. 30, 2010 – In the Army, infantry is known as the “Queen of Battle,” and artillery is known as the “King of Battle.” An Indiana National Guard soldier recently was able to command all the pieces and was not just a pawn in the game.

Army Spc. Nathaniel Rockhill, a Hope, Ind., native assigned to the 38th Infantry Division, tested his chess-playing skills against military members from 14 other countries during the 21st NATO Chess Championship in Koege, Denmark, in October. More than 80 chess players competed in the event.

Rockhill, an instrumentalist for the 38th Division Band, said he earned his seat after he competed at the 2010 All-Army Chess Championship in May. He was one of six top Army players to advance to the NATO tournament.

“I had never competed at an international level, so I wasn't sure how I would do,” said Rockhill, who placed 51st overall in the NATO event. Though he was slightly disappointed at his performance, he said, he did place higher than the tournament staff projected he would.

“It was a great honor to represent the United States and the Army at such an event,” he said. “Very few people get that chance, and I'm proud to have had this opportunity.”

Rockhill said the endurance and dedication required in chess relate to his service as a military member.

“It requires extreme patience to succeed in chess,” he said, noting that a single chess game can last five to six hours. “It also requires a fighting spirit and dedication. These attributes directly relate to my experience with the military. You don't get far in the Army if you're impatient and don't have dedication to what you do.”