Military News

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Statement by Secretary Gates on Richard Holbrooke

Defense Secretary Robert Gates made the following statement regarding the death of Ambassador Richard Holbrooke on Dec. 13. 

"I was saddened to hear of Richard Holbrooke's passing last night.

 “Ambassador Holbrooke was one of the most formidable and consequential public servants of his generation, bringing his uncommon passion, energy, tenacity, and intellect to bear on the most difficult national security issues of our time. 

 “Arguably no task was more difficult than his last mission as Special Representative for Afghanistan and Pakistan, an assignment that he tackled with the same drive that characterized everything he did during nearly five decades of public life.  Richard's talents and efforts were critically important to achieving our goals in that part of the world.  He will be sorely missed.

 “On a personal level, I first started working with Richard in the Carter Administration and long considered him not only a colleague but a friend and I will miss him.  All of us at the Department of Defense convey our condolences to his wife and family."

VADM Currier Visits MTU in Germany

By DCMS Log

VADM John Currier visits MTU in Friedrichschafen, Germany to meet with MTU and Tognum AG (MTU Umbrella Company) top executives regarding the Coast Guard's current program with MTU for engines on the National Security Cutter, Fast Response Cutter, 87' Marine Protector Class Patrol Boats, and Response Boat Medium.

Pictured: VADM Currier stands with Mr. Rainier Breidenbach, Excutive Board Member and Chief Operating Officer of Tognum AB.

Coast Guard Outlook 2011

Written by: Christopher Lagan

Coast Guard Outlook 2011 is live online.

Outlook is published each year to provide the public with an overview of the Coast Guard’s missions, assets, units and personnel. It is an excellent introduction to our service for the uninitiated and a great way for our partners and customers to keep up with the latest innovations.

Part yearbook and part forecast, Coast Guard Outlook 2011 features 34 articles including interviews with senior leadership on the future of our service; the outstanding volunteer contributions our people make in the communities where they live and serve; mission profiles from across the nation; and the latest on the technologies the Coast Guard employs for mission success.

This year’s Outlook brings you inside the Coast Guard with:

Interviews with Admiral Bob Papp, 24th Commandant of the Coast Guard, and the 10th Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard, Michael L. Leavitt, on the state of our service and their vision for the future;

A look at the nation’s first-ever National Ocean Policy. Join the Coast Guard at the table as a member of the White House Interagency Ocean Policy Task Force determining the policy that will protect our maritime resources for future generations;

An overview of Rescue 21, the Coast Guard’s latest command, control, and communications system. Join search and rescue responders in the command center as they use state of the art technology to find the metaphorical needle in a haystack;

An update on the production of the Sentinel-class Fast Response Cutters as a new generation of patrol cutters prepares to go on line;

And, an in-depth report on “Greening the Coast Guard.” Long a protector of the nation’s natural resources, our service is aggressively pursuing sustainable energy management.

New PT Program Develops Battle Skills, Warrior Tasks

By Chuck Cannon
Fort Polk Guardian

FORT POLK, La., Dec. 13, 2010 – The winds of change are blowing through the Army's Physical Readiness Training Program, and Fort Polk, La., is taking the initiative to stay ahead of those changes.

"It was about time we took a look at how we did our physical fitness," said Fort Polk Command Sgt. Maj. Jeffrey Hof. "If you think about it, during peacetime, the all-volunteer Army goal was to take a civilian, break him down to nothing, then build a soldier."

Using the post's Noncommissioned Officers Academy as its conduit, Hoff and the Joint Readiness Training Center have come up with a plan to ensure each battalion on post has someone versed in the new program to lead the change.

"How many times did you run 10 miles in Afghanistan or Iraq?" Hof asked a collection of sergeants and staff sergeants during a class on the new PT program held on Dec. 1, 2010. "You didn't. That's why it's important to make these changes to the program. It incorporates scientific effort from doctors who understand the human body."

The new PT "manual" is Training Circular 3-22.20, replacing the old Field Manual 21-20. Sgt. 1st Class Vernon Alcorn, chief of training for Fort Polk's NCO Academy, was the lead instructor for the class on the new practices given to noncommissioned officers from each battalion in early December. He said Army PT has not really changed all that much over the years.

"The way we conduct that PT has changed," he explained. "We're working to get our soldiers physically fit and better able to complete their war-fighting tasks."

Alcorn said the new program goes along with what soldiers do in combat situations.

"The longer runs are going away," he said. "It will be more like a track meet, with sprints and shorter runs. You can still do unit runs, but you won't do the same thing every day."

Staff Sgt. W.B. Fancher and Staff Sgt. John McKenna, instructors at Fort Polk's NCO Academy, were two of the cadre who helped to train the post's junior NCOs on the new PT program.

"FM 21-20 trained soldiers for one thing only: The PT test," Fancher said. "The new program helps soldiers perform all of their combat roles, from jumping off the rear of a truck to clearing a room of combatants."

Fancher listed three reasons for the new program:
- Reduce injuries - building muscles in areas not normally used allows for muscle recovery;
- Combat efficiency - Correlates to actions used in combat and relates to warrior tasks and battle drills; and
- Instill discipline - Gets soldiers used to taking commands from leaders. Soldiers must be disciplined to survive in combat.

The program's goal is to develop soldiers who are physically capable and ready to perform their duty assignments or combat roles. Once the program is in place, McKenna said, soldiers and leaders will see its benefits.

"It's going to help them with their warrior tasks and battle drills," McKenna said. "We want to show Fort Polk's leadership how the program works and how it will help them accomplish their mission, whether in garrison or down range."

McKenna said the new program is a total body workout. It incorporates old-school exercises like the eight-count pushup, the squat bender and the bend and reach, along with new drills such as the back bridge, quardraplex and medial leg raise.

"It doesn't just train for the PT test, which is pushups, sit-ups and a two-mile run," he said. "It works a soldier's core and upper and lower body. It also works the cardiovascular system."

McKenna said soldiers should not be concerned that the new PT program will cause their PT test scores to drop. "There is a lot of interval training - a lot of short distance, fast running," he said. "While it might not seem like you'll be able to run as fast, soldiers will see an improvement in their two-mile times. And the end result is it gets soldiers to a level of fitness the Army needs."

One change McKenna noted was that time, not distance, is now used to govern running.

"The manual says 30 minutes for the run, not a distance," he said.

Alcorn said the new program is an excellent way to standardize unit PT and meet the command sergeant major of the Army's intent to see Soldiers doing PT properly and to standard.

Fancher, speaking on the second day of the local two-day PT class for the post's junior NCOs, said some of the soldiers were already feeling the results of the new exercises. "We've turned a couple of heads," he said. "But there are still skeptics."

Alcorn said those who consider themselves "PT animals" are more likely to resist the change.

"Standardization takes away from the 'I can do more than you' attitudes," he said. "Everybody is different; body types are different. The new program is a total body workout, both strength and endurance - every session. It's strict and formal and geared to all types of soldiers."

McKenna said the intent of the program is to provide a 60-minute workout to start, eventually building up to about 90 minutes. A typical PT session would include 15-20 minutes of warm-up exercises, 30-40 minutes of cardiovascular or muscular work, followed by 5-10 minutes of cool-down exercises.

"The manual is full of great exercises to do during each session, so there's no reason to become bored with doing the same thing every day," McKenna said.

The opinions of the junior NCOs who attended the WLC's class were varied, but most said they were willing to give the new program a chance.

"It's going to take some getting used to," said Sgt. Christopher Nordin, Headquarters and Headquarters Detachment, 88th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Maneuver Enhancement Brigade.

"I had to get used to not stretching, which is completely different. Apparently a study by scientists say our old style of stretching actually put our muscles to sleep. I guess I believe the scientists."

Staff Sgt. Monnicia Jackson, 21st Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Company, 83rd CBRN Battalion, said the new program is an improvement. "It's going to cut down on injuries," she said. "I think the core workout is best; it provides an overall body workout."

She did note one area that she would have to work on. "The turns on the shuttle runs will take getting used to," Jackson said. "You've got to be coordinated."

Staff Sgt. Kevin Wellington, Headquarters Company, 4th Battalion, 353rd Infantry Regiment, 162nd Infantry Brigade, said he likes the fact that the program focuses on combat tasks.

"Pushups and sit-ups are great, but not what we're doing in Afghanistan or Iraq," he said. "The new program is battle focused."

McKenna said once the program is fully implemented, it consists of three phases.

"There is an initial conditioning phase, toughening phase and sustaining phase," he said. "Most Soldiers at Fort Polk are already through the initial conditioning phase and will begin in the toughening phase."

The toughening phase develops foundational fitness and fundamental movement skills, McKenna said. The sustaining phase continues physical development and helps the Soldier maintain a high level of physical readiness.

"Soldiers must do exercises correctly before moving to the next phase," McKenna said.

Frank Palkoska, the U.S. Army Physical Fitness School director, said the old fitness program was flawed. "You had units that said, 'all we've got to do is pushups, sit-ups and run, and the more we run, the better we'll be.' That's a flawed concept."

Palkoska said there is a false assumption that if you score high on the APFT, you can do everything a Soldier needs to do.

"You can't take a 130-pound marathon runner, put 120 pounds on his back and march him at 10,000 feet (elevation) in Afghanistan," he said. "Those are the types of issues that led us to the development of the new doctrine."

Hof said it's the "right time" to change the PT program.

"We are in the ninth year of a two-front war," he said. "We don't necessarily need soldiers who can run from tower-to-tower, although there is nothing wrong with that," he said. "But we do need soldiers who are physically fit, can complete their warrior tasks and battle drills and survive on the battlefield. The new PT program will help our soldiers do that."

Sixth Fleet Flagship Fortifies Bonds with Gaeta During Holiday Reception

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Viramontes, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa/Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; and the crew of USS Mount Whitney (LCC/JCC 20) held a holiday reception for more than 100 distinguished guests from its homeport of Gaeta, Dec. 11.

"As we enter the holiday season and I think about the things I am thankful for, I thought it would be appropriate to hold this reception in honor of the city of Gaeta for all you have done for the U.S. Navy," said Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr., commander, U.S. 6th Fleet. "Gaeta has been the home to the U.S. 6th Fleet flagships for nearly 43 years and although my staff is no longer based in Gaeta, we always look forward to the opportunities that bring us to this beautiful city."

The event provided an opportunity to strengthen the rich bond between the community of Gaeta and Mount Whitney following a year of numerous underway periods.

During the reception, Harris quoted the Italian military hero Giuseppe Garibaldi who once said, "Give me the ready hand rather than the ready tongue."

Harris then talked about the friendship between the two countries who have shared the same strategic goals and desires for the past 60 years.

"Ladies and gentlemen, the bottom line is both of our countries have the ultimate desire for greater stability in the region, and we, the United States, appreciate Italy's 'ready hand,'" said Harris.

Mount Whitney has spent more then 180 days away from its homeport this year conducting numerous exercises such as FRUKUS, Baltic Operations and Jackal Stone.

"We miss the Mount Whitney when it's not in Gaeta," said Laila Volpe, Navy League president. "This event has gotten people together again, and we are certainly looking forward to a great friendship."

Senior leaders aboard Mount Whitney agree that close ties with Gaeta are an important part of succeeding in today's maritime environment.

"Mount Whitney's crew values the strong relationship with the Gaeta community," said Capt. Jeffrey Ruth, USS Mount Whitney commanding officer. "The local community supports us in so many ways, they take care of our families when we are away, and they take care of our ship when we are inport. We are neighbors and we always want to strengthen that bond."

Mount Whitney, an amphibious command ship, is the U.S. 6th Fleet flagship and operates with a hybrid crew of U.S. Sailors and Military Sealift Command civil service mariners.

7th Fleet Band Performs First Concert on Southern Japanese Island of Miyakojima

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kenneth R. Hendrix, Commander U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

MIYAKOJIMA, Japan (NNS) -- The 7th Fleet Band Far East Edition performed its first-ever concert on the southern island of Miyakojima, Japan, before a sold-out crowd at the Matida Civic Center Dec. 12, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the U.S.-Japan alliance.

The concert came on the heels of a visit by the minesweeper USS Defender (MCM 2) to Miyakojima in September. Last year minesweepers USS Guardian (MCM 5) and USS Patriot (MCM 7) visited the nearby island of Ishigaki.

The concert was originally slated to happen in September, but was canceled due to Typhoon Kompasu.

The line outside the theater formed hours before show time with people like Masayoshi Takamori, a Miyakojima native, who said he has traveled to Tokyo and Yokosuka in the past to see the band perform.

"I really like the 7th Fleet Band, and I enjoyed today's concert," Takamori said.

As the band took to the stage at , the theatre roared with a loud applause welcoming the band and lit up with digital camera flashes from mobile devices.

U.S. Consulate General Naha Deputy Principal Officer Claire Kaneshiro said the interaction between the band and locals was an example of the expression that music and culture are the great ambassador.

"A lot people who showed up are music enthusiasts and people who wanted to show that they understood we were also here as part of the celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the security alliance," Kaneshiro said. "These types of events have great synergy, and we were able to distribute lots of material orientated towards encouraging kids in Japan to think about opportunities to study in the United States."

The band performed a total of 14 songs. One of the highlights of the performance was during the performance of the song, "Shima Uta," when Lt. Jeff Wrenn, fleet bandmaster, walked onto the stage playing a Japanese shamisen. A shamisen is a traditional three-string Japanese instrument that is similar in length to a guitar with a rounded drum-sized rectangular body.

"We started putting the segment into our Japanese shows about three months ago as a special treat," Wrenn said. "We always get great reactions, and the crowd is surprised to see that we have a traditional instrument that we play in our concerts."

Then came "Billie Jean," a rendition performed by Musician 1st Class (SW) Christopher Sams, compiled with all the Michael Jackson trimmings from the high kicks to the moonwalk.

"Tonight was special for me because this was my last performance with the Far East Edition of the band," Sams said. "'Billie Jean' is a Michael Jackson classic and audiences in Japan really love it, and they get a kick out of it when I do the moonwalk."

The band ended the show with an encore performance singing the song "Il Yu Da Na."

Some had waited for three months for a two-hour show. But no one was complaining based on the smiles and photos taken after the show when the audience got the opportunity to meet and greet the band.

"Thank you, very much for coming and come again in the future," said Takamori.

This Day in Naval History - Dec. 13

From the Navy News Service

1775 - The Continental Congress authorizes the building of 13 frigates.
1941 - Cmdr. William A. Sullivan designated the first supervisor of salvage, giving the supervisor an office in New York City.

Face of Defense: Grandson Continues ‘Band of Brothers’ Tradition

By Army Sgt. Michael J. MacLeod
1st Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division

FORT BRAGG, N.C., Dec. 14, 2010 – Even at 80 years old, Frederick “Moose” Heyliger was an enormous man, according to his grandson, who serves with the 82nd Airborne Division’s 1st Brigade.

Army 1st Sgt. Mark D. Heyliger, first sergeant of Company B, 1st Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, often is asked by young soldiers who “put 2 and 2 together” whether he knows “that guy in that movie,” and he says he does.

Heyliger, a veteran of five deployments, learned of his grandfather’s World War II exploits as a first lieutenant with Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, of the 101st Airborne Division “Screaming Eagles” the same way the rest of America did –- by reading the book and seeing the HBO mini-series, “Band of Brothers.”

The grandfather Heylinger knew had earned a degree in ornamental horticulture and he sold fertilizer, among other jobs. He was a bit of a wanderer, with a grand plan to own an acre of land in every state so he could travel and camp all the time.

“I’d always known my grandfather served in the Army, and I knew that he had loved it, but he never talked about what he did during the war,” he said. “My dad mailed me a book while I was on recruiting duty. He said, ‘If you ever want to know what your grandfather did, you need to read the book.’”

That was nine years into the South Bend, Ind., native’s Army career. When he enlisted in 1992, he became the first Heyliger in two generations to serve.

“[My father] was always worried about having another fighting man in the family,” he said.

After serving in Hawaii with the 25th Infantry Division, with the 101st, and as a recruiter, Heyliger came to the All-American Division in 2002. Since then, he has served three deployments to Iraq and two to Afghanistan.

Though Moose Heyliger never lived to see his grandson become a paratrooper, his jump wings were pinned on Mark when he graduated from Airborne School.

“I looked pretty silly, because I was the only novice paratrooper running around with two combat jump stars on his wings,” the first sergeant said.

In 2004, wearing his grandfather’s wings, Mark jumped into St. Mere Eglise, France, in commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion. Now, those wings sit in a box waiting to see what the youngest Heyliger, 11-year-old Kiefer, will do.

“I’m glad to serve and to carry on, to find what my grandfather enjoyed so much about the Army,” the first sergeant said. “When I jump, I like to think of him. What keeps me in the Army, though, is the people. The next generation of young guys is what keeps me going.”

Heyliger will spend the next three years at the Joint Readiness Training Center at Fort Polk, La. After that, he said, he would like to finish his career either back at 82nd or with the 101st in his grandfather’s regiment, the 506th “Band of Brothers.”

“I always wanted to be airborne,” he said.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

World War II Navy Ace Recalls Harrowing Mission

By Jian DeLeon
Emerging Media, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Dec. 13, 2010 – When the Dec. 7, 1941, attack on Pearl Harbor occurred, America sought retribution and finally took up arms. It wasn’t until almost three years later that the country would receive its final closure.

In October 1944, Navy Cross recipient and fighter ace William E. "Bill" Davis participated in a bombing run on the Japanese aircraft carrier Zuikaku, the last remaining aircraft carrier afloat that had taken part in the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. Davis recalled the harrowing experience during a Dec. 8 “DOD Live” bloggers roundtable.

“There were two clouds forming, one at 10,000 feet and one at about 4,000 feet, of continuously exploding shells, and I knew there was no chance to fly through that and come out the other end,” he said. “But I still didn't care. I was going to get my hit. I went down, went through both clouds without taking a single hit, which is hard to imagine, and went fairly low. … I pulled the release and pulled out, and of course, blacked out.”

Moments later, Davis said, he came to. “Blood came back to my brain, or what was left of it, and I could see again, and I was actually clipping the spray from the waves,” he recalled. “Another five feet would have done it. But I had not been hit.”

Despite that miraculous escape, the pilot was not out of harm’s way yet.

“I was kind of marveling that I was still alive,” he said. “But I looked up and saw that I was flying into the side of a Japanese ship, the Oyodo. Before I hit the ship, I rolled the plane on its side, and went through between the No. 2 gun turret and the bridge. And I could see the Japanese crew in on the bridge manning the wheel, … all in dress whites. I have a feeling that that was because they expected to die that day.”

Having survived the run unscathed and earning the Navy Cross, Davis settled down with his family in California. Drives to the Sierra Mountains for annual ski trips inspired him to tell his story in book form.

“At that time, it was before FM radio and so forth,” he said. “You couldn't get anything the other side of the Sierra. So we were driving up and one of my daughters said, 'Daddy, tell us war stories.' And I hadn't thought of telling them, … and it became a routine. When we went skiing, I told stories going up and back. And finally, I had to tell more and more.”

While looking back at all his experiences may have been a bit challenging, Davis said, he had a little help from diaries he kept during the war.

“I didn't know we weren't allowed to keep diaries,” he said. “Somehow that directive missed me. So I had something to work from and a map of all of our movements throughout the Pacific.”

The resulting book, “Sinking the Rising Sun,” documents Davis’ service in the Navy, his experiences in World War II, and even his first time in an airplane.

“At the time I volunteered for the Naval Air Corps, I'd never been in an airplane,“ he admitted.

The book has received favorable reviews, and the 89-year-old former pilot is considering opportunities to promote his memoir.

“I haven't made it to a bigtime, on-camera interview with any of the talk shows, which I would love to do,” he said.