Monday, December 06, 2010

Deadline for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay Extended

The Department of Defense announced today that the deadline for eligible service members, veterans and their beneficiaries to apply for Retroactive Stop Loss Special Pay (RSLSP) has been extended to Dec. 18.  The last deadline was Dec. 3.

To apply, or for more information on RSLSP, including submission requirements and service-specific links, go to .

The deadline extension is included in the continuing resolution signed by President Obama on Dec. 4, providing funding for federal government operations through Dec. 18.

RSLSP was established to compensate military members whose service was involuntarily extended under Stop Loss between Sept. 11, 2001, and Sept. 30, 2009.  Eligible members or their beneficiaries are required to submit a claim to their respective military service in order to receive the benefit of $500 for each full or partial month served in a Stop Loss status.

When RSLSP began on Oct. 21, 2009, the services estimated 145,000 service members, veterans and beneficiaries were eligible.  Because the majority of those eligible had separated from the military, the services have engaged in extensive and persistent outreach efforts throughout the year.  Efforts including direct mail, engaging military and veteran service organizations, social networks and media outlets, will continue throughout the period of eligibility.

First CID students graduate from ITOF pilot program

By Information Systems Technician Seaman Shaun Sandbloom,Center For Information Dominance Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- Center for Information Dominance Corry Station held a ceremony Nov. 19, for the Navy's first graduating class of the newly established Information Systems Technician of the Future (ITOF) course.

ITOF was conceived in response to Department of Defense (DoD) Directive 8570.01-M, which called for a department-wide solution to train, certify and manage the Information Assurance workforce in response to the increasing cyber threats against networks based not only in the Department of Defense, but critical systems throughout the United States.

President Barack Obama recognized the importance of cyber protection and instituted measures to protect vital assets.

"Our technological advantage is a key to America's military dominance. But our defense and military networks are under constant attack," said the president in a May 2009 speech at the White House regarding the nation's cyber infrastructure. "Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups have spoken of their desire to unleash a cyber attack on our country – attacks that are harder to detect and harder to defend against."

In response to the ongoing cyber threat to national security, the president created a cyber security position in the National Security Council and ordered the creation of DoD Directive 8570.1. The new directive also requires technicians and managers to be trained and certified in specific fields.

"The (ITOF) course was geared in order to take care of the DoD requirements," said Information Systems Technician First Class James Dise, ITOF lead instructor. "Our primary focus was to take care of the requirements and burdens in order to administer the IT rating professionally and adapt our rating to the 21st century."

One of the main components of the new directive is that everyone with access to privileged systems will be required to have traceable and verifiable IT certifications in order to retain his or her job.

CID Corry Station's solution in ITOF has gone one step further to ensure that such education and learning happens early in a Sailor's career, establishing an unprecedented understanding of cyber warfare against global threats.

The ITOF pilot class consisted of 20 students, who received a pre-graduation pep talk from Capt. Gary Edwards, CID commanding officer Nov. 18 onboard Corry Station.

"Our mission here is to train Sailors in skills necessary to save lives," said Edwards. "Make no mistake, we are fighting a digital war, not just on the frontlines in Afghanistan, but here at home we are faced daily with the pressing need to enforce and reinforce our role in Information Dominance. The ITOF training you have just completed is integral to that process."

The success of the ITOF course keeps naval cyber forces on the cutting edge of an ever-evolving technological environment. With rapid and consistent changes in technology, the Navy has been presented with the challenge of keeping their information technology community up to speed on the world around them.

"The program is definitely improving the Navy and the IT rate," said Dise. "There are so many opportunities in the Navy available to Sailors just for being an IT and being a part of ITOF."

Those future opportunities are the product of a long and arduous course, compressing several topics into a condensed, 19-week program. Furthermore, the certifications awarded for completing ITOF require a comprehensive understanding of administrator level information technology skills, elevating the educational prowess necessary to succeed.

ITOF is currently the only training program in the DoD, which requires service members to earn certifications while attending "A" school as part of the curriculum and graduation requirements.

"I had no idea what I was getting into," Information Systems Technician Seaman Apprentice James Takeda, of Gardena, Calif., said. "I'm just thankful to be given the chance to do this. I had no background in computers at all, and now I am amazed at some of the stuff I know how to do."

Now that the first group of students has graduated, the pilot phase of ITOF has been approved to become the main Information Systems Technician course at CID beginning in January 2011, with 200 more students scheduled to begin training.

Dise and the other instructors will not be alone in assisting new students though. 16 current graduates are slated to begin "C" school at CID Corry Station in 2011, leading the future of ITOF into its next phase.

With the second generation coming aboard, current ITOF graduates are expected to help shipmates in the same fashion they were taught, making teamwork the staple of success.

Information Systems Technician "A" school Senior Enlisted Advisor Information Systems Technician Chief Petty Officer Jason Wiland emphasized that teamwork is critical to both individual success and the success of the new ITOF program.

"One of the first things I brief new students on is that there are others who have gone through this program before," said Wiland. "It takes a lot of discipline and dedication in and out of the class to get through this. These (newly-graduated) students now have the chance to be mentors."

Wiland instructed ITOF for the first five weeks of training, guiding students through their A+ certification, raising the bar for the weeks to come.

"The instructors could be hard and demanding, but it pushed us to do better," said Information Technicians System Seaman Zeerina Josan. "If you want it bad enough, you will get it, and we wanted it. Looking back, I appreciated how we learned our stuff because I can remember things based on how they were taught."

Along with Wiland and Dise were a team of instructors, civilian and military, which taught specific lessons based on their area of expertise. Experience, "sea stories," and on the job training complemented technical nomenclature and procedures, providing much needed context painting a picture of just what an Information Systems Technician might run into ashore or afloat.

"I feel like I am prepared for anything now," said Takeda. "I'm expected to get 100 percent right, and I will do it."

CID is the Navy's Learning Center that leads, manages, and delivers Navy and joint force training in information operations, information technology and cryptology.

With a staff of more than 1,050 military, civilian and contracted staff members, CID Corry Station oversees the development and administration of more than 168 courses at 16 learning sites throughout the United States and in Japan. CID Corry Station provides training for more than 19,000 members of the U.S. Armed Services and allied forces each year.

Mullen to Visit Seoul to Consult, Reassure Allies

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 – The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff will fly to South Korea tonight for high-level consultations with defense officials there, the chairman’s spokesman, Navy Capt. John Kirby, said today.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen will consult with South Korean defense leaders and demonstrate the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The chairman will participate in meetings in Seoul, the nation’s capitol, Wednesday.

Mullen’s visit is the result of “an interagency decision made late last week,” Kirby said. The visit comes as tensions remain high on the peninsula following the North Korean artillery strike on Yeongpyeong island last month. The attack killed four South Koreans -- two civilians and two Marines.

The discussions will focus on the alliance and new ways to cooperate and improve interoperability, Kirby said. Army Gen. Walter L. “Skip” Sharp, who leads United Nations Command in South Korea, is to participate.

Mullen is to meet with new South Korean National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin and Army Gen. Han Min-koo, the chairman of the South Korean military. He also is to meet with other members of the South Korean national security team.

The visit is intended to reassure South Korea “that we continue to stand by them in defense of their territory,” Kirby said. “This [visit] is not meant as a message to anybody. But, that said, we’ve made it very clear internationally … that we are there to stay, we are committed to that alliance, and nobody … should mistake our resolve.”

Kirby said this is not an emergency consultation.

“If it was an emergency meeting I suspect he would have been on a plane a lot sooner than tonight,” he said. “Obviously the situation remains tense on the peninsula, but I don’t believe anybody thinks we’re in an emergency situation. In fact, things are at a relatively stable level, given the unprovoked artillery attack … and South Korea’s restraint.”

Cutter Mackinaw continues “Christmas Ship” tradition

Written by: LTJG Stephanie Young
Post written by Petty Officer 3rd Class George Degener.

As the holiday season descends on Chicago and lights and decorations swathe the city streets, a Great Lakes icon sits along the waterfront at Navy Pier.

The Coast Guard Cutter Mackinaw, with a Christmas tree tied to its mast and a wreath placed on the superstructure, lies with its decks filled with more than 1,200 fir trees destined for the homes of deserving families in the Chicago area.

In 2000, the original Mackinaw’s crew began collecting Christmas trees from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to bring them south through Lake Michigan to Chicago. After the decommissioning of the first Mackinaw (WAGB 83), the new Mackinaw (WLBB 30) has taken up the tradition started by Capt. Herman Schuenemann, master of the three-masted schooner Rouse Simmons, the original “Christmas Tree Ship” that delivered thousands of trees to Chicago families in the early 1900’s. Rouse Simmons foundered and sank near Two Rivers, Wis., on Nov. 23, 1912, with all 17 souls onboard lost.
“The Christmas tree is a symbol of the holiday season that brings thoughts of family and home,” said Rear Adm. Michael Parks, commander of the Ninth Coast Guard District. “The fact that the Coast Guard can be part of bringing that symbol to less fortunate families in the Chicago area is truly heartwarming.”

Today, Chicago’s Christmas Ship Committee works with the Coast Guard and Coast Guard Auxiliary to re-create the celebrated “Christmas Ship.” Under the supervision of volunteers from Marine Safety Unit Chicago, Coast Guard Auxiliary and Mackinaw’s crew, the trees are loaded into trucks by local youth volunteers, including Sea Cadets, Sea Scouts and Young Marines. Chicago’s Ada S. McKinley Community Services selects the tree recipients and then distributes them to families throughout the city.

Mackinaw’s crew took time out of their fall buoy run as part of Operation Fall Retrieve, the largest domestic aids-to-navigation operation, and traveled almost the exact same route that Capt. Schuenemann and the Rouse Simmons traveled in the early 1900’s. During the journey, Mackinaw crewmembers made a wreath out of branches from the trees and dropped it over the spot where the Rouse Simmons and its crew settled on the bottom of Lake Michigan.

“We followed a very similar path and experienced some very similar weather to what Capt. Schuenemann and the sailing vessel Rouse Simmons did on that cold November night in 1912,” said Cmdr. Scott Smith, Mackinaw’s commanding officer. “It is with great pride that the Coast Guard, including the Marine Safety Unit, the Auxiliary and the Cutter Mackinaw, has been able to partner with the entire Chicago marine community to come together on a project that serves so many deserving families in the Chicago metropolitan area.”

In the years that both the old and new Mackinaw have acted as Chicago’s Christmas Ship, the Coast Guard has helped to deliver more than 10,000 trees and bring the classic evergreen symbol of the holiday spirit into thousands of homes that would otherwise be without.

The Chicago Christmas Ship Committee has taken their motto from the words of Ruthie Gibson, who as a 4-year-old girl waiting for the Rouse Simmons in 1912, refused to leave the dock, saying, “It just won’t be Christmas without a Christmas tree.”

Gates Visits With USS Abraham Lincoln’s Crew

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

MUSCAT, Oman, Dec. 6, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates flew from here today to land aboard the USS Abraham Lincoln for an overnight visit with the aircraft carrier’s 5,000-member crew.

The Nimitz-class supercarrier is nearing the midpoint of its seven-month deployment supporting the war effort in Afghanistan.

After taking a C-2 Greyhound cargo plane to reach the Lincoln, the secretary visited the carrier’s combat direction center and then spoke briefly with some aircraft mechanics near an F/A-18 Hornet parked in front of one of the ship’s hangars. He then headed to a ward room for lunch with about a dozen enlisted sailors.

“Ask me questions and tell me [the] things you need,” Gates told the sailors, noting he’d appreciate their unfiltered viewpoints.

To show the sailors he was sincere in seeking their views, Gates told them that a question posed to him by an Army spouse during a similar meeting at Fort Hood, Texas, led to a change in law that now permits servicemembers to transfer GI Bill education benefits to their families.

“That was all because one spouse of an enlisted soldier asked a question,” Gates said.

The question-and-answer session was closed to the media pool covering the visit.

After lunch, the secretary visited the ship’s bridge, where Navy Capt. John Alexander, the ship’s commanding officer, presented him with a “skateboard” -- slang for a wooden plaque in the shape of an aircraft carrier. “It doesn’t have wheels, but you can put them on later,” Alexander joked as he handed the plaque to Gates.

Gates then went to watch daytime flight operations from Vulture’s Row, a catwalk on the ship’s “island,” where he saw two F/A-18s take off with engines roaring and watched an E-2C Hawkeye and an EA-6 Prowler land. He then went to one of the ships “ready rooms,” where pilots plan their flight operations. Gates met with 25 pilots, shook their hands and handed each a commemorative secretary of defense coin.

“Thank you for your service,” he told the pilots. A subsequent question-and-answer session with the pilots was closed to the media pool.

The visit is the secretary’s first to a deployed carrier, and while en route to Oman yesterday, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said it’s something Gates has wanted to do for a long time.

“He wants to thank the aviators and sailors of the Lincoln personally, and by extension, all who have served at sea in the region over the past decade,” Morrell said. “He knows what they do for the ground forces in Afghanistan, and he wants them to know he and the American people appreciate it.”

Gates praised the work performed by the Lincoln’s sailors and aviators, noting their efforts are an important part of the war effort, Morrell said. The USS Abraham Lincoln provides one-third of the fixed-wing close-air support for ground forces in Afghanistan.

Through yesterday, the carrier’s aircraft had flown 3,863 sorties totaling about 9,300 hours during this deployment -– which reaches its halfway point Dec. 17 -- including 1,571 sorties totaling more than 4,000 hours in November

The Night I Got Killed

With the addition of Samuel Sy Brenner account of his experiences as a World War Two POW, now lists 3922 books authored by 1232 US Military Servicemembers.

According to the book description of The Night I Got Killed, it “is a non-fiction account of the harrowing and lighter side experiences of Sy Brenner, a WWll ex-P.O.W. medic. Brenner was the “Man of Confidence” for the Lazarett (hospital) prisoners. He went underground and was regularly passed information from a woman thought to be the wife of a German general.”

More Information


Deserving Young Patriots Will Win $5,000

SAN ANTONIO, TEXAS – Operation Homefront today announced the expansion of the 2011 Military Child of the Year Award and opening of the nomination period. Beginning in 2011, the award will be given to an outstanding military child from each Service – Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard. The winners, who each will receive $5,000, will be flown with a parent or guardian to Washington, D.C., for special recognition ceremony on April 7, 2011. Nominations are being accepted online until January 31, 2011 at

Ideal candidates for the Military Child of the Year Award demonstrate resilience and strength of character, and thrive in the face of the challenges of military life. They demonstrate leadership within their families and within their communities.

“The sons and daughters of America’s service members learn what patriotism is at a very young age,” said Jim Knotts, chief executive officer, Operation Homefront. “Children in military families understand sacrifice and live with the concept of service. This is what the Military Child of the Year Award honors.”

Nominees must:
·         Must have valid military ID or currently be enrolled in DEERS
·         Must be between the ages of 8-18
·         Must be able to travel to Washington, D.C., for the ceremony on April 7, 2011

Finalists must have a background check to confirm legitimacy of information provided in the nomination and must provide references.

About Operation Homefront: Operation Homefront provides emergency financial and other assistance to the families of our service members and wounded warriors.   A national nonprofit, Operation Homefront leads more than 4,500 volunteers across 23 chapters and has met more than 267,000 needs since 2002. A four-star rated charity by watchdog Charity Navigator, nationally, $.95 of total revenue donated to Operation Homefront goes to programs. For more information about Operation Homefront, please visit

Members of U.S. Military Stand Up To Become U.S. Citizens During American Heroes Air Show

Be sure to land your entire family at the admission-free American Heroes Air Show when U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services hosts a Naturalization Ceremony for members of the military. In conjunction with Texas Military Forces and the American Veterans Traveling Tribute [ AVTT ], the American Anthem presentation is sure to be an emotionally charged ceremony as serving and retired members of the U.S. military affirm their support for and love of America by taking their formal Oath of Allegiance and become U.S. Citizens in front of AVTT’s inspiring replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall.

We’re proud to have as part of the American Heroes Air Show, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute’s inspiring Cost of Freedom presentation. Based out of Texas, the American Veterans Traveling Tribute is a veterans-owned project that travels the country to provide a forum for communities to HONOR - RESPECT - REMEMBER those who have sacrificed their lives for our country's freedom. The Cost of Freedom Tribute includes a September 11 tribute, a Cost of Freedom display of Gold Dog Tags (identifying each service member killed since Vietnam), and the centerpiece of the exhibit: an 80% scale replica of the Vietnam Memorial Wall, displaying all 58,253 names of the men and women killed in the Vietnam War.

“It is a special privilege for us to provide our Vietnam Memorial Wall as the backdrop for members of the U.S. military as they recite their Oath of Allegiance”, explained Colonel Don Allen, Executive Director of AVTT and retired U.S. Army Special Forces. “We’re proud to be part of this event at the Lee County Sports Complex while we honor all Veterans and those currently serving by letting them know they will never be forgotten,” Allen added.

"This will be a memorable way to honor those serving in our military", said Bryan Smith, the event’s Volunteer Director. "We are honored the American Veterans Traveling Tribute will be with us to provide an emotional backdrop to all the heroes that will stand up and take their Oath of Allegiance.”

Event Director Smith has been working for months with the team from U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services [ USCIS ] on the scheduling and presentation details. “It’s been an eye-opening privilege to work with USCIS Field Office Director Brett Rinehart and his team from Tampa,” Smith noted. “The naturalization or ‘NATZ’ ceremony, as they call it, is highly aligned with the theme of the American Heroes Air Show – and it’s an especially poignant reminder to our guests that many serving our country in the military are fighting to defend citizenship benefits that they themselves don’t fully enjoy.”

U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) conducts naturalization ceremonies at public locations, such as the American Heroes Air Show, to reinforce the value and meaning of the process through which the United States naturalizes citizens – many of them serving in the military. As part of the Department of Homeland Security, (DHS), USCIS naturalized 10,505 members of the military in fiscal 2009, with 1,655 of those men and women taking the Oath of Allegiance at ceremonies overseas. Since 2001 USCIS has naturalized more than 55,000 soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines at ceremonies across the country and in 17 nations around the world.

More Than Just Another Air Show The American Heroes Air Show is admission-free at sites from coast-to-coast and dedicated to educating the public about the unique capabilities of helicopters in law enforcement, fire service, public / private EMS, homeland defense and national security. Produced by the American Heroes Aviation Network, the event also includes the CODE3 Career Fair which delivers recruiting teams from law enforcement, public safety, government service, volunteer agencies and the military who are on-scene to profile their mission and provide information on their hiring, training and application processes.

As a long tradition at American Heroes Air Shows around the country, collectible event trading cards will be available and free in limited quantities to early event arrivals. These popular trading cards feature photos of participating aircraft plus flight performance and mission profiles.

In Fort Myers, the USCIS Naturalization ceremony and the Cost of Freedom Tribute are part of the admission-free American Heroes Air Show.

Date: Saturday, January 22nd 2011 The American Anthem Naturalization Ceremony is
Location: Lee County Sports Complex 14100 Ben C. Pratt / Six Mile Cypress Parkway Fort Myers, FL. 33912

Media contacts for follow up:
Deputy Bryan Smith
Lee County Sheriff’s Office – Aviation Section
(352) 328-4248
Email: BGSMITH @
More event details are available on our website:

Jim Paules, Volunteer
USA Producer American Heroes Air Show Network
Cell (818) 631-8132