Military News

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Senate Resolution Designates Gold Star Wives Day

By C. Todd Lopez
Army News Service

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7, 2010 – For the first time, America officially recognizes the contributions and dedication of military widows with ''Gold Star Wives Day.''

A Senate resolution designates Dec. 18, 2010, as a day to honor and recognize the contributions of the members of the Gold Star Wives of America Inc.

The group, with about 10,000 members, provides service, support and friendship to the widows and widowers of military personnel who died on active duty or as the result of a service-connected cause.

"This is the first year we've had a Gold Star Wives day. It's something that our government relations committee has been working on," said Kit Frazer, president, Gold Star Wives of America Inc. "It's national recognition for the organization, which is wonderful. It's something very special to us."

Frazer's husband was an Army helicopter pilot and was killed in Thailand during the Vietnam War. She said the organization represents military widows from every war since World War II.

Vivianne Wersel serves as the chairman of the Gold Star Wives government relations committee. Her husband, Marine Lt. Col. Rich Wersel, died Feb 4, 2005.

She said she hopes the observation brings awareness to the efforts of the Gold Star Wives.

"Part of it is public awareness, that the organization does exist and has existed since 1945, and the only time when we are really in the eye of the public is when we are on (Capitol Hill)," she said.

One of the issues Wersel said the Gold Star Wives would like to bring attention to is how widows receive benefits after the deaths of their husbands -- in particular, how dependency and indemnity compensation from the Department of Veterans Affairs affects a survivor's payments from the Survivors Benefit Plan.

Wersel said some are confused by what the organization is working for when they ask that the rules governing benefits be changed. She said it helps to understand that a military wife often gives up a chance to earn her own retirement benefits when she agrees to move with their husband's military career.

"When you are a spouse and you have to move ten times to ten states in ten years you don't get your own retirement," she said. "Your retirement is a team retirement."

She said one of the things Gold Star Wives of America Inc. works for is to bring attention to that issues, and she hopes the observation on Dec. 18 will bring attention to that effort.

Mullen Arrives in South Korea to Address Tensions

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SEOUL, South Korea, Dec. 7, 2010 – U.S. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrived here Dec. 8, after crossing the international dateline, to meet with South Korean defense officials and reinforce U.S. commitment to the U.S.-South Korean alliance amid escalating tensions on the peninsula.

Mullen told reporters he hopes to send “a very strong signal” of support while discussing long-term strategic objectives during consultations with the new South Korean national defense minister, Kim Kwan-jin, and Army Gen. Han Min-koo, chairman of the South Korean military, as well as other members of the South Korean national security team.

The visit, which occurs as South Korea observes the 60th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, follows a series of provocations by North Korea. On Nov. 23, North Korea launched an artillery attack on Yeonpyeong island that killed two civilians and two South Korean marines. On March 26, it sunk the South Korean frigate Cheonan, killing 46 South Korean sailors.

In addition, North Korea revealed a new uranium enrichment facility last month that gives new capability to its nuclear weapons program.

Mullen told reporters he has no illusion that North Korea plans to stop these provocations, and said he worries it will conduct another nuclear test. “No doubt they will continue” unless world leaders step forward to stop them, he said. “I have said more than once, the only thing that is predictable about [Kim Jong Ill] is his unpredictability. And he has a tendency to run these incidents together.”

The chairman shared Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ belief, expressed earlier this week to the crew of the USS Abraham Lincoln, that these acts are part of North Korean leader’s Kim Jong Ill’s effort to prove, particularly to the North Korean military, that his son is “tough and strong and able” enough to succeed him.

Also like Gates, Mullen said he believes China, North Korea’s close ally, is “a big part of the solution set here” and expressed optimism that China will play a role in getting North Korea to curtail its aggressive activities.

“They are invested,” Mullen said of China. “They live here. Their economy is dependent on stability. They are a world leader. And world leaders must lead, particularly to prevent crises [and] prevent these kinds of destabilizing activities.”

Mullen’s visit follows a trilateral session Dec. 6 among Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Japanese Foreign Minister Seiji Maehara to discuss the situation.

Mullen called these trilateral meetings critical, citing the U.S. alliances with both countries as “a core piece of strength and stability in that region.”

The chairman said he’s particularly interested during his visit here in hearing how South Korean leaders view their security challenges. The talks will cover the ongoing joint military exercises, as well as South Korea’s own exercises, and appropriate responses in the event of another provocation.

“Clearly we are going to want to work with them on how we view provocations in the future and what kind of responses there should be across the full spectrum of opportunities,” diplomatic, political, economic or military, Mullen said.

In addressing these issues, Mullen said a big focus will be on preventing the situation from escalating out of control. He emphasized that South Korean is a sovereign nation and has every right to protect itself.

However, he said he hopes that even routine training missions will be conducted with consideration for the broader, strategic implications and in a way that doesn’t further destabilize the peninsula. “Normalcy and routine are not what they used to be,” he said.

Mullen emphasized, however, that he firmly believes that the only way to deal with North Korea is from a position of strength. “When you are dealing with somebody like this, …my belief is, you have to deal from a position of strength. And if you don’t do that, there is a price to be paid.,” he said. “This guy is a bad guy. And in dealing with bad guys, you can’t wish away what they are going to do. And that has been made evident.”

Mullen said he believes the recent series of provocations served as “a wake-up call” for many South Koreans about Kim Jong ill and the dangers of his regime.“These are bad guys,” Mullen said. “And I think all of us have to be aware of that as we look at how we are going to address him.”

USS Essex Conducts Landing Craft Operations with JMSDF Ships

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Greg Johnson, USS Essex Public Affairs

USS ESSEX, At Sea (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) embarked landing craft, air cushion (LCAC) vehicles with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Dec. 6, as part of exercise Keen Sword 2010.

The training took place off the coast of Okinawa, Japan, and included two U.S. Navy LCACs assigned to Assault Craft Unit Five (ACU-5), Det. Western Pacific, and two LCACs from JMSDF tank landing ship JS Kunisaki (LST 4003).

Each LCAC entered the well deck of their foreign counterpart multiple times, demonstrating each maritime service's ability to seamlessly integrate amphibious operations.

"The goal of Keen Sword is to enhance our interoperability with the JMSDF," said Capt. Troy Hart, USS Essex commanding officer. "The success of today's evolutions is evidence that we already enjoy a high level of interoperability and cooperation, and I'm sure the training we have planned throughout the remainder of the exercise will further strengthen that unity."

Keen Sword is a biennial exercise designed to allow the United States and Japan to practice and evaluate the procedures and interoperability elements required to effectively and mutually respond to the defense of Japan or to a regional crisis in the Asia-Pacific region.

Amphibious operations from the well deck would be an essential element to either of these contingencies, said Cmdr. Zachary McMechan, USS Essex operations officer.

"Well deck operations would be integral should Essex participate in virtually any joint effort with the JMSDF," he said. "Whether it would be defensive military action or a response to a major disaster in the region, the ability for our small craft to operate interchangeably with amphibious ships of both nations would be vital to the success of either of these scenarios."

Lt. Cmdr. Atsushi Sasagawa, an LCAC pilot with the JMSDF, said he thought the exercise was a clear-cut success, despite some differences between the U.S. and Japanese LCACs.

"The American LCAC is a little different," he said. "It has a deep skirt, so when they entered the Kunisaki we had to use some different techniques than we are accustomed to, but we have had a lot of meetings and communication about safety and procedures and it constituted success."

The LCAC event was the first of a number of amphibious evolutions to involve Essex throughout Keen Sword 2011.

During the exercise, destroyers of JMSDF Escort Division 2 will escort the dock landing ship USS Tortuga (LSD 46), the amphibious transport dock USS Denver (LPD 9) and Essex while they perform amphibious and air operations.

Essex is the lead ship of the Essex Expeditionary Strike Group and will operate with the George Washington Carrier Strike Group throughout the exercise, which is scheduled to end Dec. 10.

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 07

From the Navy News Service

1917 - Four U.S. battleships arrive at Scapa Flow to take on the role of the British Grand Fleet's 6th Battle Squadron. The ships include USS Delaware (BB 28), USS Florida (BB 30), New York (BB 34) and USS Wyoming (BB 32).
1941 - Japanese aircraft attack the U.S. Pacific Fleet based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
1944 - Seventh Fleet forces land Army troops on shore of Ormoc Bay. Kamikazes attack task force, damaging several U.S. Navy ships.

Gates Thanks Soldiers, Asks Them to Thank Families

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

CAMP EGGERS, Afghanistan, Dec. 7, 2010 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates visited two forward operating bases in eastern Afghanistan today to personally thank 101st Airborne Division soldiers who have been engaged in tough fighting and to ask them to thank their families for him.

The first visit was to Forward Operating Base Joyce in Kunar province, where Gates told hundreds of soldiers of the 327th Infantry Regiment’s 1st and 2nd battalions that although they’ve experienced losses and hardships, they are doing important work and making a difference.

Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of U.S. and coalition forces in Afghanistan, has defined their work clearly, the secretary noted.

“This is tough terrain, and this is a tough fight,” Gates said. “But as General Petraeus has said, we are breaking the momentum of the enemy, and we will reverse that momentum in partnering with the Afghans, and will make this a better place for them so they can take over and we can all go home.”

Gates noted with gratitude that the soldiers are serving in Afghanistan at a time of year that makes it particularly difficult for them to be away from their families. He thanked the soldiers for their sacrifice, and asked them to pass his gratitude on to their families.

“Next time you're in touch with them, through e-mail or whatever, tell them I personally thank them for their support of you, for their standing behind you in letting you feel that support,” Gates said.

The secretary later conveyed the same message to hundreds of soldiers of the 1st Squadron, 61st Cavalry Regiment, at Forward Operating Base Connolly in Nangarhar province. And as he did with the soldiers at Forward Operating Base Joyce earlier, he told them he doesn’t take his responsibility lightly.

“This is kind of personal for me,” Gates said. “I’m the guy who signed the orders that sent you here, and so I feel a personal responsibility for each and every one of you.”

His first priority since he took office four years ago, Gates told the soldiers, is making sure they have what they need to do their jobs, succeed in their mission and come home safely.

And that mission is important, Gates said.

“It really is important, and [it’s] about defending our own country,” he said. “If we don’t fight these guys on their 10-yard line, we’ll have to fight them on our 10-yard line.”

Gates presented numerous awards at both bases, including Silver Star medals to six soldiers at Forward Operating Base Joyce: 1st Lt. Stephen R. Tangen, Sgt. 1st Class John P. Fleming, Staff Sgts. Brent A. Schneider and Daniel J. Hayes, Cpl. Joshua Bush and Spc. Richard T. Bennett.

At Forward Operating Base Connolly, the secretary met privately with 18 members of the platoon that lost six soldiers last week when a rogue Afghan border policeman opened fire on them.

The secretary posed for pictures with every soldier present at both locations and presented each with his commemorative secretary of defense coin.

Before leaving Forward Operating Base Connolly, Gates told reporters traveling with him that being with servicemembers like the soldiers he visited today invigorates him.

“Visiting these places and seeing these troops revives me with a little bit of energy,” he said. “Particularly here, they’ve taken some serious losses. … The opportunity to shake hands with all of these soldiers and thank them for all that they’re doing is very inspiring.”

The secretary said his meetings with commanders gave him a sense that they’re confident and making “a good deal of headway.” Though there’s no question the going is tough, he added, continued progress with local governance and good district leaders is a positive sign.

Gates met this evening with Petraeus, Army Lt. Gen. David M. Rodriguez, commander of International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, and U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl W. Eikenberry.

Today in the Department of Defense 12/8/2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

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

Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. James Cartwright addresses the Government Executive Leadership Breakfast at at the National Press Club, Washington, D.C.  The point of contact is Maj. Gilmore at 703-571-9472 or 703-697-4272.

NORAD Flight Exercise Planned for Washington, D.C.

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its geographical component, the Continental U.S. NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct exercise Falcon Virgo 11-03 early Wednesday morning in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C.  The exercise is comprised of a series of training flights and is scheduled to take place between and

In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the next day.  If bad weather continues, officials will then make a decision to postpone or cancel the exercise.

For more information on Falcon Virgo exercises, please contact CONR Public Affairs at 850-283-8080, or the NORAD Public Affairs Office at 719-554-6889.

CORRECTION:  Dec. 6, 2010 -- The exercise will occur early Wednesday morning instead of Tuesday.

Remarks by the Honorable Ray Mabus, Secretary of the Navy

The Commandant of the Marine Corps’ Birthday Ball
Saturday, 13 November, 2010

Commandant of the Marine Corps, former commandants, CNO, special guests - particularly wounded warriors.

You know, the whole notion of the Marine Corps to me is wrapped up in one very apocryphal story that was told in a far-off battlefield – there was a single Marine holding the top of a hill as wave after wave of the enemy came after him. And the battle raged all day. And at the end of the day he still held the high ground, and the enemy was preparing to send in more troops. And one of their number came stumbling out of the dust and the smoke and said, go back, go back, it’s a trap. There are two of them. That’s the United States Marine Corps.

The Marine Corps has evolved a little bit in the 235 years since Samuel Nicholas recruited five volunteer companies to act as sharpshooters in the riggings of Navy ships and part of boarding parties to go onboard British ships. They’ve gone from the wars of the 19th century and the 20th, through amphibious operations and now to desert and mountain warfare. But that evolution hasn’t changed them that much. A Marine and a rifle is still the core of the Corps.

The lessons that Marines have learned in counterinsurgency and irregular warfare from the last 200 years, they are putting into practice today. The great amphibious assaults across the Pacific in World War II keep being repeated at Inchon with the Korean heroes we honor tonight. And in Kandahar, early in the Afghan war, Marines came from the sea – this time in planes – to attack the airfield.

The Marines still come from the sea in places like Haiti and Pakistan to deliver humanitarian relief, disaster assistance. And through all this, the Marines have been an incredible team. The Marine Air-Ground Task Force – there is no more formidable fighting operation. The infantry, the artillery – Marine air, Marine logistics – operating as a complete team with the United States Navy. Two services, one fight.

Throughout the history of this storied Corps, there has been an unbroken line of patriotism, of courage, of heroism. Col. Rothwell (ph), born in 1912, to Lt. DeWalt (ph), born in 1989, represent that unbroken red line that stretches as far as we can see in the future.

I want to talk just for a second about three individual Marines. One is Hector Cafferata of Fox Company in the Korean War. He was on the video, a Medal of Honor winner and one of three from Fox Company that held out in unbelievable conditions against unbelievable odds and emerged victorious.

The second is the Marine that Gen. Amos mentioned, Jason Dunham. Jason Dunham, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, leading the patrol in Iraq, heard the sound of gunfire and took his unit


toward it, coming across a group of insurgents. They got into a fight, a grenade fell free and Jason Dunham threw himself on the grenade and saved his fellow Marines.
And today, as the commandant said, the newest ship in the United States Navy is DDG 109, the USS Jason Dunham. For the next 35 to 40 years as that ship goes around the world and is seen by hundreds of thousands of people, the name, the actions, the heroism of Jason Dunham will live on.

And finally, on Wednesday, it was my honor to go to New Hampshire to present the Navy Cross to the mother of Michael Ouellete, 3rd Battalion, 8th Marines. He came under fire in Afghanistan , was grievously and mortally wounded, directed the defense, brought in close air support and refused to be evacuated until all his Marines were accounted for. He died during his evacuation.

Those three Marines are three of tens of thousands who have worn the uniform of the United States Marine Corps, that unbroken line from 1775 until today. And when you see those battlefield ribbons on the Marine Corps flag, every single one of those represents a battle or a campaign that Marines fought in, that Marines died in, that Marines were victorious in. It represents that long unbroken line of heroism, of courage, of honor, of character.

Happy birthday, Marines. Semper fi.

Marines, Navy to Conduct Synthetic Amphibious Exercise

By Jian DeLeon
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 6, 2010 – For nearly a decade the Marines have been heavily involved in land-locked battles in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now, the Marine Corps’ II Marine Expeditionary Force is teaming up with the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet for Exercise Bold Alligator 2011, a synthetic training exercise that’ll test the Marines’ famed amphibious capabilities.

Commander, Expeditionary Strike Group Two, and Commander, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade in coordination with ships assigned to the U.S. Navy’s Second Fleet will conduct a joint large-scale fleet synthetic amphibious exercise Dec. 11-17, which will concentrate on the fundamental roles as “fighters from the sea.”

The synthetic exercise, which Owens says will "make extensive use of modeling and simulation in an effort to simulate weather, battlefield conditions, and force-on- force opposition," will focus on the command element in order to replicate live combat situations. Exercise Bold Alligator 2011 also serves as a test run for a planned live exercise in 2012.

“It's the first brigade-level amphibious exercise on the East Coast in nearly ten years, but it's also a first step in our revitalization of our amphibious proficiency,” Brig. Gen. Christopher Owens, deputy commanding general, 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force, Marine, said during a "DoDLive" bloggers roundtable Dec. 2.

“During the exercise, we plan to refine our current concepts involving sea-basing, forcible-entry operations, and command-and-control,” because “so much of what the U.S. does, in terms of international security, relies on amphibious access to areas of conflict,” he explained.

Owens alluded to Navy assault amphibious ships like USS Iwo Jima, USS Tarawa, and USS Inchon as to how amphibious operations have been perceived, but was quick to point out that not all amphibious operations are assaults. In fact, of the 100 amphibious operations that have taken place in the last 20 years, many were non-combat situations like disaster response, noncombatant evacuations, and humanitarian assistance.

Although numerous military analysts have thought amphibious operations to be obsolete, time and again they have proven their worth in a variety of combat situations -- including possible pre-emptive action. This is why planners for the exercise are working to refine and emerging amphibious concepts and improve amphibious operations overall.

“We do have to find a way to keep our amphibious capability and proficiency, and keep it relevant to the types of operations that we are going to be called upon to provide,” said Owens. “I think [Defense] Secretary [Robert M.] Gates is challenging us to make sure that we remain relevant and ready,” he continued.

Owens believes that the close link between the Marines and the Navy is the backbone of successful amphibious operations.

"What the Marine Corps provides that is unique is that amphibious capability that we provide in conjunction with our Navy partners," he explained. "It is only through that link -- that inextricable link between us and the Navy -- that provides that unique capability."

CFAS Sailors Promote Crime Prevention, Safety During Annual Sasebo Parade

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Johnie Hickmon, Commander Fleet Activities Sasebo Public Affairs

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Sailors from Commander, Fleet Activities Sasebo's Security department joined local organizations in a Year-End Crime Prevention/Safety Parade Dec. 1.

The parade served to inform Sasebo citizens about crime prevention and how to minimize traffic accidents during the year-end holiday season.

More than 800 people from 40 organizations gathered at Matsuura Park where Sasebo Mayor Norio Tomonaga and other city officials spoke about crime prevention and traffic safety.

Musical performances were performed by children from Higashi Ono and Asoka-Kita kindergarten bands and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force band. Afterward, participants headed to the Sun Plaza Arcade for the parade.

According to CFAS Security department's Investigation Supervisor Akira Ishida, Sasebo Police founded the parade in 1983, and CFAS Security has participated in the event since 1999. Ishida said it is important to get the message out to Sasebo residents as the year-end holiday season begins.

"Every year in December, a number of people have drinking parties and may get involved in DUI accidents, or carry a high amount of cash and get robbed," Ishida said. "(Japanese) and military police officers and volunteers together should try to create a safe and friendly atmosphere so anyone, no matter Japanese or American, who needs help, assistance or guidance for crime prevention, can get hold of either Japanese or military police 24-7."

CFAS Security Officer Lt. Franklin Brown, who has participated in the parade for the past three years, said it is important for the base to support and participate in local events such as the parade.

"CFAS is part of the Sasebo community," Brown said. "By us participating in the parade, we are showing the city of Sasebo that we recognize our duties to prevent crime and to ensure events get reported to the proper authority."

USS Constitution Gives 'Toys for Tots'

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kathryn E. Macdonald, USS Constitution Public Affairs

BOSTON (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors participated in the Toys for Tots program Nov. 17 to Dec. 5 in Boston.

Toys for Tots is a Marine Corps program that collects new, unwrapped toys during October, November and December each year.

The toys are distributed as Christmas gifts to needy children in the community where the campaign is conducted.

"The Toys for Tots program allows children in less fortunate families to enjoy gifts that they may have never received," said Yeoman 1st Class (SCW) Chrishinda Dobbs, who organized the drive. "I grew up in a low-income family, and it was programs like Toys for Tots and selfless donors that enabled us to enjoy new toys and cheer during the holiday season."

"I hope the children feel that they are loved, thought about and cared for, even by people they don't know and may never meet," said Dobbs.

Sailors raised more than $600 in donations to the program. Most of the donations will be distributed to the North Shore communities of Boston.

"I hope we (the Constitution crew) continue doing things like this, not just for Toys for Tots but other similar programs," said Seaman Ashley West. "It's a great idea, and it allows us to show that we really care about our community."

The drive concluded with a brunch held at the commandant's house at the Charlestown Navy Yard. The Massachusetts Bay Council and the U.S. Navy League sponsored the brunch.

"I believe that the Toy for Tots program is an important program for Sailors to support, especially from this command because we see so many children every year," said Yeoman 3rd Class Alexis Condon. "The children that have been a part of this ship's past, present and future have always supported the Constitution as well as her Sailors. Likewise, we should support the children."

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston and is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors a year.

For more information on Constitution, visit www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution or www.facebook.com/ussconstitutionofficial.

Leyte Gulf Sailors Soar During Low, Slow Flyer Drill

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Robert Guerra, USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Public Affairs

USS LEYTE GULF, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) successfully completed a low, slow flyer drill while participating in a joint task force exercise (JTFEX) with the Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Dec. 4.

Leyte Gulf's participation in the low, slow flyer drill was crucial due to their role as the Enterprise CSG's primary air defense commander.

The scenario simulated situations similar to ones the strike group could face while deployed to regions such as the Arabian Gulf.

"A low, slow flyer scenario is one of the most difficult and challenging threats to detect and engage," said Lt. Cmdr. Wes Brown, Leyte Gulf operations officer and JTFEX air defense liaison. "It's important for us to walk through those steps to give watch standers an idea of what they're going to see and give the crew time to take the appropriate action to defend the ship and strike group."

A low, slow flyer can involve any type of single-engine aircraft such as a King Lear Jet or a Cessna airplane, said Brown.

While engaged in a low, slow flyer threat, an aircraft usually approaches at a speed of 150 knots and is not usually following a normal air route, making its movements slightly harder to follow.

The drill also tested the skills of Leyte Gulf's repair locker teams, which required the efforts and teamwork of each crew member.

Leyte Gulf's damage control training team (DCTT) played a key role in educating the crew on the potential damage an attack could cause, such as fire or flooding.

"It's extremely important that the crew understands and absorbs this information," said Lt. Art L. Porche, a DCTT member. "A threat such as a low, slow flyer is not just another JTFEX scenario," and that it "... is something that can really happen."

The crew's ability to quickly respond to simulated damage scenarios in a thorough and timely manner are graded evolutions during JTFEX and vital to the ship's mission readiness.

"Overall I was pleased, although there will always be areas we can improve," said Leyte Gulf Executive Officer Cmdr. Harold A. Viado. "We executed the drill and ran it to completion, maintaining a high level of energy."

As Leyte Gulf and the Enterprise CSG progress through JTFEX and closer to deployment, exercises such as low, slow flyer drills are key to assessing the ship's ability to stabilize damage and minimize loss of lives.

The Enterprise CSG consists of Enterprise, Leyte Gulf, the guided-missile destroyers USS Bulkeley (DDG 84), USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Mason (DDG 87), USNS Arctic (T-AOE 8), Carrier Air Wing 1 and Destroyer Squadron 2.

The Enterprise CSG is conducting JTFEX as part of its work-ups in preparation for an upcoming deployment. For more information about Enterprise, CSG 12 or Carrier Air Wing 1 visit www.Enterprise.navy.mil, www.ccsg12.surfor.navy.mil and www.cvw1.navy.mil.>
For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.

Face of Defense: Army Guard Recruit Seeks Better Life

By Army Capt. Kyle Key
National Guard Patriot Academy

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 7, 2010 – Daniel J. Sanchez woke up one morning and knew his day was going to be different than the one before, because it would be the last day he would wake up on a park bench or worry where his next meal would come from.

Sanchez's mother was only 17 when she gave birth to him. With no money, job or support, she put him up for adoption. His adoptive parents divorced when he was six and ping-ponged Sanchez for the next 11 years.

Even when things were good, Sanchez lived below poverty levels without running water or electricity in a trailer in Apple Valley, Calif.

When he turned 17, Sanchez's adoptive mother kicked him out of the house. He went into survival mode, dropped out of high school halfway through his senior year, and found one dead-end job after another to make ends meet.

Sanchez wandered from place to place, staying with friends, in shelters and under the stars.

According to the American Journal for Public Health, 1.5 million youth experience homelessness over the course of a year nationwide. In nearby Los Angeles County alone, there are currently an estimated 26,000 homeless youth.

After working as a ranch hand, Sanchez's adoptive father asked him to come to San Diego. Things didn't work out as he’d planned.

"It's just been really rough," Sanchez said. "My dad couldn't afford to have me in his house. I stayed at my sister's house, but it was the same situation."

Health problems and the economic downturn hit his family hard, forcing Sanchez to go it alone. He hit the streets again.

Determined to make a better life for himself, Sanchez called California Army National Guard recruiter Sgt. Arkadiy Knopov in Kearny Mesa in eastern San Diego.

"He was ecstatic when I confirmed everything that he read about GED [General Equivalency Diploma] Plus," Knopov said. "Part of the reason why I became his National Guard recruiter is because I want to help young individuals like Private Sanchez get on the right track in life."

Sanchez did his homework. Only the Army National Guard had a program to allow him to enlist, get full-time pay, benefits, housing and three square meals a day while going to school to earn his GED credentials.

"I wasn't taking him seriously at first," Sanchez said. "But when he told me there actually was a program like this, I really started to get into it."

Sanchez said the National Guard GED Plus Program at Camp Robinson in North Little Rock, Ark., sounded like an opportunity for him to support himself as a citizen and soldier. The resident program lasts from two to three weeks and prepares new recruits for the GED examination, administered at the end of the course. Upon successful completion, recruits depart for basic training.

Sanchez took the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery exam and scored a 78, well above average, allowing him to select fire support specialist as his military occupational specialty.

After passing a physical examination and completing paperwork, he raised his right hand and became Pvt. Daniel J. Sanchez, the newest recruit in the California Army National Guard. But his problems still weren't over.

"I was still living on the streets," Sanchez said. "Sergeant Knopov started working harder and went to extra lengths, from what I understand, to get me into the GED Plus Program as soon as possible."

Knopov worked quickly to get Sanchez’s orders published for Camp Robinson.

Sanchez said Knopov managed to get him shipped out within a couple of days instead of several months.

Sanchez and other recruits like him not only have a home in the National Guard program, but they have become part of something even greater, Army Sgt. Maj. Elizabeth Causby of the GED Plus program said.

"We're changing lives at the National Guard GED Plus Program," Causby said.
"It's not unusual for us to be a source of refuge for young adults facing hardship, adverse conditions or dangerous situations.

“These warriors,” she continued, “know the day they graduate that they have become a part of a huge family -- the National Guard family -- and we take care of our family."

Sanchez and 193 of his classmates graduated with GED credentials on Oct. 29. His graduating class was the largest since the program began in 2006.

Sanchez said he's grateful for a second chance at his education and a springboard for career opportunities and a better life.

"I want to make my recruiter proud, because he really, really helped me," he said. "I wasn't doing anything with my life. I haven't worked as hard as I could have throughout my life. I needed to get out of there. I needed to get my life straight.”

Sanchez reported to Fort Jackson, S.C., for basic training. He’ll move on to Fort Sill, Okla., for his advanced individual training as a fire support specialist.

When Sanchez returns, he has a mentor waiting for him back in Kearny Mesa.

"My work with him is far from over," Knopov said. "As a National Guard recruiting and retention non-commissioned officer, I am responsible for soldiers during their entire career, from the day I meet them for the first time until they day they leave the military.

"Private Sanchez and I made an agreement than when he completes his [training] he will use me as a 'go to' person to help him enroll in college and begin his journey towards higher education,” Knopov continued. “I see a lot of potential in this young individual."

Sanchez has big plans.

"It's good to know that I have a bright future ahead of me," he said. "Right now, I just really want to support myself."

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 06

From the Navy News Service

1830 - The Naval Observatory, the first U.S. national observatory, was established in Washington, D.C., under the command of Lt. Louis Malesherbes.
1901 - The first report on the Ship Model Basin at the Washington Navy Yard was issued by Naval constructor David W. Taylor, who designed the basin. It's the first facility of this type in U.S. to test hull shapes.
1917 - German submarine torpedoes sink USS Jacob Jones (DD 61) off England.
1968 - Operation Giant Slingshot began in Mekong Delta.

Navy Reserve Sailors Graduate from 'World Class Customer Service' Course

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Ryan Hill, Navy Reserve Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- Navy Reservists in the inaugural three-day World Class Customer Service (WCCS) course graduated at the Navy Reserve Professional Development Center (NRPDC) in New Orleans Dec. 1.

To ensure selected Reservists (SELRES) are receiving the best customer service possible at their Navy Operational Support Centers (NOSC), the Navy Reserve Force implemented WCCS courses in November 2010.

The course was attended by full-time support (FTS) Sailors.

In order for SELRES Sailors to operate with the fleet, they need to first be administratively supported through their NOSCs located in 125 different cities throughout the United States. This is where the Navy's new WCCS program comes into play.

"The course makes a clear distinction between the military concept of 'supported' and 'supporting,'" said NRPDC Commanding Officer Cmdr. Brian Fitzsimmons. "The FTS are in the supporting role, and the SELRES are in the supported role. The course strives to teach skills that will open communication, present training opportunities and create ownership of Reserve systems and processes."

The course offered information on how to work more efficiently with their customers and proper ways to delegate responsibility and teach the customer service skills to co-workers.

"These tools will enable me to disseminate the proper information down to the Sailors at my command who provide customer service," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class George Gordon, from NOSC Charleston, S.C.

Implementing this course helps the Navy Reserve build on its motto to be "Ready Now. Anytime, Anywhere."

"This multiyear initiative will improve customer service to Reserve Sailors, their families and employers and increase transparency so problem areas can be seen and fixed," said Chief of Navy Reserve Vice Adm. Dirk Debbink.

The idea for the course came from Debbink and Commander, Navy Reserve Forces Command Rear Adm. Buzz Little.

"The service provided by our FTS has a direct and significant impact on our ability to meet the mission," said Fitzsimmons. "Therefore, our ability to be 'ready now' is only enhanced with world class customer service skills."

The course is targeted for FTS Sailors E-6 and above who work at NOSCs, squadrons or anywhere Sailors are providing a supporting role to deployed SELRES. This includes Sailors such as Gordon. Gordon is the medical leading petty officer for his NOSC and participated in the inaugural class. He is charged with ensuring that all the SELRES at his NOSC are medically ready for deployment.

"This course reinforces the Navy Reservist's mission as a whole and our roles as a support element," said Gordon. "If we start providing world class customer service one Sailor at a time, we will begin to make a difference. This will help with retention and overall morale. Our mission will be accomplished, and we will enable a 'ready now' mentality that will become contagious."

FTS Sailors interested in the WCCS can obtain quotas through their training department. They can also check for future scheduled courses by logging into www.navyreserve.navy.mil.>
Fore more news from Commander, Navy Reserve Force, visit www.navy.mil/local/nrf/.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

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

Vice Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert delivers remarks and wreath laying starting at 2 p.m. EST, for Pearl Harbor Day Commemoration at the WWII Memorial, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Navy Public Affairs at 703-697-5342.

Commander RC-South West Maj. Gen. Richard Mills and Helmand Governor Gulab Mangal will brief the media live from Afghanistan at , in the DoD Briefing Room, Pentagon 2E973.  Maj. Gen. Mills will provide an update on current 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.

Principal Under Secretary of Defense for Policy James Miller and Assistant Secretary of State for Arms Control, Verification and Compliance Rose Gottemoeller will speak at , about the New START Treaty at the Brookings Institution, 1775 Massachusetts Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Shawn Dhar, Brookings Institution at 202-797-6284.