Saturday, January 08, 2011

Gates Praises Wounded Congresswoman

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 8, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates praised Rep. Gabrielle Giffords (D-Ariz.) for her support of the military and expressed his wish for her full recovery. Giffords, a member of the House Armed Services Committee, was reportedly critically wounded by a gunman who shot her in the face during a Tucson, Ariz., shooting rampage today that left six people dead.

"I am saddened to hear of the attack on Congresswoman Giffords and members of her staff earlier today in Tucson, Ariz. I have had an opportunity to interact with Congresswoman Giffords in her capacity as a member of the House Armed Services Committee, where she served on the Readiness and Air and Land Forces subcommittees. She is a strong supporter of America's national defense, cares deeply about our men and women in uniform, and has pursued her oversight responsibilities with dedication," Gates said in a released statement.

"Our thoughts are also with her husband, Navy Captain Mark Kelly, an aviator and astronaut of great distinction, as well as the families of the other victims of this attack.  Ms. Giffords represents a new generation of principled and thoughtful political leaders that have come to Washington in recent years.  We will miss her strong character and good judgment in the Congress during these important days ahead, and we are praying for her full recovery," he said.

US 5th Fleet Mine Countermeasures Squadron Changes Command

From U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Public Affairs

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Mine Countermeasures Squadron (MCMRON) 5/Commander, Task Force (CTF) 52 held a change of command ceremony at Naval Support Activity Bahrain Jan. 6.

Capt. Glenn Allen relieved Capt. Gerard O'Regan as commander of MCMRON 5/CTF 52.

MCMRON 5/CTF 52 plans and executes mine warfare operations in support of the U.S. 5th Fleet operational objectives. The command's efforts are critical to maintaining sea lines of communication, deterring and countering disruptive countries and strengthening regional partner maritime capabilities to promote a secure maritime environment in the U.S. Central Command Area of Responsibility (AOR).

"Conducting the mine countermeasure mission is absolutely critical to our ability to operate in the region. Maintaining free movement of goods and services around the world is a strategic imperative," said Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Central Command Vice Adm. Mark Fox, who presided over the change of command ceremony. "The expertise, knowledge and leadership Capt. O'Regan brought to the fight was invaluable, and will be missed, but his experience and knowledge will live on in the Sailors he has led, taught and mentored."

O'Regan was commissioned in the Navy in May 1982 and assumed command of MCMRON 5/CTF 52 in August of 2009. He will retire from the Navy in April 2011 after completing 29 years of fithful service.

"I joined the Navy for adventure," said O'Regan. "I stayed because I felt a part of something special, something bigger than myself."

Fox awarded O'Regan the Legion of Merit for his work as the commander of MCMRON 5/CTF 52 at the ceremony.

Allen, a 1988 graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy, reports from the Naval Expeditionary Combat Command, where he served as the assistant chief of staff for strategy and future technology.

"MCMRON 5/CTF 52 is a critical component of maintaining unfettered access to the Arabian Gulf and ensuring unencumbered use of the maritime domain for military and commercial needs," Allen said. "Our mission contributes directly to the well being of our country and our coalition partners. It is an honor to accept this responsibility."

MCMRON 5/CTF 52 oversees all mine countermeasures assets in the U.S. 5th Fleet AOR, which include mine countermeasures ships USS Scout (MCM 8), USS Gladiator (MCM 11), USS Ardent (MCM 12) and USS Dextrous (MCM 13), and Helicopter Mine Countermeasures Squadron 15, Detachment 2.

General Officer Assignments

The Air Force chief of staff announces the assignments of the following general officers:

Brig. Gen. Jack L. Briggs II, commander, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Air Combat Command, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, to deputy commander, Canadian North American Aerospace Defense Region, and deputy commander for operations, 1st Air Division, North American Aerospace Defense Command, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.

Brig. Gen. Darryl L. Roberson, deputy director of legislative liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C., to commander, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, U.S. Air Forces Central Command, Air Combat Command, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

Brig. Gen. John L. Dolan, commander, 8th Fighter Wing, Pacific Air Forces, Kunsan Air Base, South Korea, to deputy director of legislative liaison, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Brig. Gen. John R. Ranck Jr., deputy director, strategic effects, U.S. Air Forces-Iraq, U.S. Central Command, Baghdad, Iraq, to director, warfighter systems integration, Office of Information Dominance and chief information officer, Office of the Secretary of the Air Force, Pentagon, Washington, D.C.

Naval Branch Health Clinic Bangor Renovation Project Breaks Ground

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

SILVERDALE, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton (NHB), with the assistance of Naval Facilities Engineering Command, Northwest and Naval Base Kitsap, broke ground on Jan. 4, commencing a major facility upgrade and renovation of Naval Branch Health Clinic Bangor.

"The most important thing we do is provide care for our Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines and their families," said Rear Admiral C. Forrest Faison III, Commander Navy Medicine West, honored guest who was hosted by NHB during his tour of the Naval Medical facilities in the Pacific Northwest.

The estimated $5.8 million project will improve patient care and allow clinic staff to operate as efficiently and effectively as possible. The renovation will result in a well-organized layout with more exams rooms, updated handicapped accessibility, and associated services in close proximity which will greatly improve patient flow.

The project will also construct a 2,900 square foot addition to the building. Additionally, the clinic will undergo energy efficient and conservation measure upgrades.

"The modifications we are making in the next 18 months will present a challenge, but it's for the greater good of all," said Capt. Mark E. Brouker, commanding officer of NHB. "We are in a must-win situation in the ongoing war and the top weapon systems we have are our individual Sailors, Soldiers, Airmen and Marines. Providing the best in medical and dental services has always been vital, not just for them, but also for their families."

"Ground breakings are about progress and growth. Today's event is important because it involves improving the medical services to our Sailors and Marines," said Capt. Mark Olson, NBK commanding officer.

NBHC Bangor provides medical and dental services to approximately 9,000 active duty personnel and their dependents, along with another 3,000 eligible retiree beneficiaries and their dependents.

"Along with improving our health care and helping to win the war against terrorism, by working with our contractor for the project, Veterans Northwest, we are creating jobs on the Kitsap Peninsula and helping the local economy," said Capt. Pat Rios, NAVFAC Northwest commanding officer.

According to Lt. Cmdr. Christian Wallis, NBHC Bangor officer in charge, the renovation has been planned in a manner that will minimize impact on patient services.

"There should not be an impact on access to care for our enrolled population," said Wallis. "It is important for our beneficiaries to know that they will still receive the high quality, customer friendly care that our clinic provides."

Wallis says that the renovation has been in for works for some time.

"The clinic is a relatively old building and is in need of modern 21st century upgrades. The current layout has grown cumbersome as our services have expanded over the years," he said. "The new layout will provide staff and patients with a better design which improves patient flow throughout the clinic."

Wallis noted that the majority of the high volume services such as active duty care, pharmacy, general dentistry, lab, and optometry will continue to occur inside the clinic. However, there will be times when these services are either moved within the main clinic or moved adjoining modular buildings for a temporary period.

There are plans in place to relocate some services for the renovation period. These include: specialty dental services (prosthedontics, periodontics) will be moved to Building 506 on NBK Bremerton; some general dentistry will relocate to the Intermediate Maintenance Facility lower base Dental Annex on NBK Bangor; Occupational Health will be moved to the Behavior Health and Education Center on NBK Bangor; and Family Care Center "Gold Team" (family member care) will relocate to the temporary modular building in front of NBHC Bangor.

Today in the Department of Defense, Sunday, January 09, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

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