Military News

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 26

From the Navy News Service

1911 - The first hydroaeroplane flight is witnessed by a naval aviator.
1913 - The body of John Paul Jones is laid in its final resting place in the chapel of the U.S. Naval Academy, Annapolis, Md.
1949 - USS Norton Sound (AV 11), the first guided-missile ship, launches first guided missile, Loon.
1960 - USS John S. McCain (DL 3/DDG 36) rescues the entire 41-man crew of the sinking Japanese freighter, Shinwa Maru, in the East China Sea.

Southern Partnership Station Delivers Wheelchairs, Water Filters to Guatemala

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW) Jeffery Tilghman Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

PUERTO QUETZAL, Guatemala (NNS) -- The Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011 team aboard High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) delivered more than 28,000 pounds of Project Handclasp donations to Guatemalan non-government organizations in Puerto Quetzal, Guatemala, Jan. 26.

Forty-four pallets of mobility aids and five pallets of water filtration systems were unloaded from the ship's mission bay in the early morning.

"Project Handclasp is such an important part of SPS, because it ties directly into our goal of partnership and sharing," said SPS 2011 Mission Commander, Cmdr. Mark Becker. "In addition to conducting subject matter expert exchanges with military and government agencies here, we get the chance to deliver aid to those in need."

Project Handclasp is a U.S. Navy program that accepts and transports educational, humanitarian and goodwill material donated by America's private sector on a space-available basis aboard U.S. Navy ships for distribution to foreign nation recipients.

The items were picked up by representatives from Hope Haven Foundation Guatemala, an organization that manufactures wheel chairs for children, and representatives from the University of Virginia (UVA) Guatemala Initiative, a public health program in the highlands of Guatemala that combines medical service, Spanish language acquisition and cultural education in the context of building sustainable relationships with the people and communities of Guatemala.

"We are so pleased today with this donation, and we are very appreciative," said Omar Cruz, Hope Haven Foundation Guatemala representative.

Cruz is a wheelchair user who works at the Antigua, Guatemala, manufacturing plant.

"These products will dramatically assist communities in the islands of Guatemala; provide clean water to schools and homes," said Scott Schubert, UVA Guatemala Initiative representative.

The wheel chair pallets were donated by Hope Haven International Ministries in Iowa, and the water filtration systems were donated by the Department of Emergency Medicine at the University of Virginia. The total value of the donations was $191, 317.

The HSV 2 crew has delivered Project Handclasp materials to Chile, Ecuador and Haiti as part of SPS 2011 and is scheduled to deliver items to El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua before the conclusion of the mission in April.

SPS is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America involving information sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility.

COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. maritime strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

For more information, contact COMUSNAVSO/C4F Public Affairs by e-mail at comusnavso-c4f_mypt_pao@navy.mil, visit www.public.navy.mil/comusnavso-c4f.

Visit on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT,
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Southern-Partnership-Station/116426301746856, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

Pentagon Spokesman Discusses China, North Korea

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 – The jury is still out on China’s apparent fifth-generation J-20 stealth aircraft, Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell said today.

“The J-20 stories, frankly, that I've seen over the past couple weeks … have been a little over the top,” Morrell said during a Pentagon news conference. He noted that reports of “successful testing” ignore the unknowns of the Chinese aircraft.

“What we know is that a plane that looks different than any other they produced, that they claim to be their J-20, had a short test flight when we were in Beijing,” the press secretary said. “But we don't know, frankly, much about the capabilities of that plane.”

The test flight occurred during Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ visit to China this month.

The J-20’s engine capabilities and degree of stealth capability are among the unknowns, Morrell said, adding that the U.S. current and developing air fleet is more than equal to any possible Chinese challenge.

“That's why we have pursued not just the F-22, which we have in more than enough numbers to deal with any scenario involving China, but also the F-35, to the tune of nearly 2,500 planes,” Morrell said.

Morrell said “given what little we know,” of the Chinese aircraft, “I would just urge everybody to … slow down a little bit on our characterizations of the J-20 at this point.”

China’s capabilities and North Korea’s recent provocations make the question of U.S. force presence in the region an important one, Morrell said.

“In light of the threat that we see emanating … from Pyongyang,” he said, “we have said that we will do what is necessary to protect ourselves here as well as our forward-deployed forces [and] our allies, who we have security commitments to.”

The United States has 28,500 troops on the Korean peninsula and more than 50,000 more in Japan, Morrell noted.

“And over the long-term lay-down of our forces in the Pacific, we are looking at ways to even bolster that, not necessarily in Korea and Japan, but along the Pacific Rim, particularly in Southeast Asia,” he said.

Australia and Singapore may offer U.S. access to certain military facilities in the region, he said, adding, “Guam, obviously, would be the best example of us changing our lay-down and our footprint in the region, enhancing [our presence] in Southeast Asia.”

Morrell said Gates’ recent comments on the North Korean threat shouldn’t be construed as applying immediately.

“I think what he said is they're becoming a direct threat to the United States,” the spokesman said. “By that, he doesn't mean at this very moment. But given their pursuit of both the nuclear weapons and their ballistic-missile capabilities, he sees them being a direct threat not within five years, but sooner than that.”

Morrell said that’s why defense officials are working with China, Japan and others to impress on North Korea that “they've got to cut out this provocative behavior, the destabilizing behavior, and they've got to seriously reevaluate their pursuit of nuclear weapons and delivery vehicles.”

USS Constitution Sailors Give Naval History Lessons during Tampa Bay Navy Week

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Frank E. Neely, USS Constitution Public Affairs

PLANT CITY, Fla. (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors taught more than 100 students about their ship's history at Turkey Creek Middle School in Plant City, Fla. Jan. 25.

Lt. Albert Sharlow, Yeoman 2nd Class (SCW) Daniel Damato, Quartermaster 3rd Class Jared Hutchins, Gunner's Mate Seaman Kali Morris and Seaman Dionna Stephens gave their presentation as part of Tampa Bay Navy Week, Jan. 22-29.

"Our aim is to expand on the children's history education," said Sharlow, a Pensacola, Fla. native. "I believe we achieved that effort today, and the children gained an appreciation for their nation's Navy."

Sailors talked about Constitution's construction, the ship's famous battle with HMS Guerriere during the War of 1812, as well as modern history. Finally, they answered general Navy questions from the students.

"To hear the history of the ship presented by active-duty Sailors still working on this piece of living history was a unique experience for our eighth graders currently studying American History," said Krista Kalson, eighth-grade American history teacher. "The presentation was dynamic and engaging; a field trip that came to us."

Sailors assigned to Constitution undergo 20 weeks of naval history training, along with additional weekly training. They will provide another history presentation at Village Middle Magnet School in Tampa Bay, Fla., Jan. 27.

"You see all the hard work pay off when you see the reaction of the kids," said Hutchins. "You know you've done a good job, and that's something to make me proud, not just as a Sailor serving in the Navy, but specifically serving on the Constitution. I wouldn't have this knowledge without it."

Tampa Bay is the first of 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2011. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

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



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

For more news from USS Constitution, visit www.navy.mil/local/constitution/.

Lynn: Defense Budget Plans Strike ‘Right Balance’

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 – The Defense Department’s plans to cut $78 billion from its budget over five years and find more than $100 billion in savings for reinvestment was a collaborative effort and a reasonable balance between military needs and budget constraints, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said today.

“Some will argue that our proposals cut defense too much, others will argue it doesn’t cut enough,” Lynn told the House Armed Services Committee. “We believe it strikes the right balance for these difficult times.”

Lynn was accompanied by the vice chiefs of each of the services, each of whom agreed that the budget plans were a collaborative effort that included service leaders.

“We were part of that process and agreed with the decisions that have been made,” Gen. Peter Chiarelli, Army vice chief of staff, said.

Acting on Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ directive, the services already have found more than $100 billion in savings. They expect to redirect those savings to spend $70 billion on improved weaponry and technical capabilities and $28 billion on higher-than-expected operating expenses in the next five years, Lynn said.

The Army will realize savings partly from terminating its SLAM-RAM -- Standoff Land Attack Missile and Rolling Airframe Missile – programs, as well as its nonline-of-sight air missiles. With the savings, the Army will invest more heavily in Abrams tanks, Bradley fighting vehicles and Stryker wheeled vehicles, Lynn said.

The savings will allow the Navy to buy six more ships, including a destroyer, he said.

Gates made tough decisions, Lynn said, in terminating programs such as a new presidential helicopter, the F-22 fighter jet, the Future Combat System and the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle. “The department needs to make hard decisions early on [in procurement], and we are endeavoring to do that,” he said. “We’ve often balanced in favor of performance, but then the budget and the schedule suffers. We’re trying to balance better.”

Quoting Gates’ earlier statements, Lynn said the budget plans represent “reasonable, responsible, and sustainable defense spending for the next five years.”

The budget cuts $78 billion from the department’s top line over five years, giving it a $553 billion baseline budget – a modest increase – for fiscal 2012, Lynn said. The cut was made in keeping with Obama administration efforts to lower the deficit, he said.

“The strength of our national defense depends on a strong economy as well,” Lynn said.

The cuts will mean freezing most civilian personnel hiring through 2013, and cutting the department’s contractor work force by 10 percent for three years, Lynn said.

The department also will seek savings through its TRICARE medical system, for which costs have nearly doubled in 10 years, he said. The budget would lift TRICARE enrollment fees – which have remained unchanged since the program began 15 years ago -- for working-age military retirees, stop subsidies to nonmilitary hospitals, and adjust pharmacy co-payments, he said.

Other streamlining measures include closing U.S. Joint Forces Command and merging its essential functions into other areas, eliminating the Business Transformation Agency, and doing away with the position of assistant secretary of defense for network and information integration, Lynn said.

Force structure will grow 2 to 3 percent for fiscal 2012, then decline to the point of no growth in fiscal 2015 and 2016, the deputy secretary said.

Under the plan, the Army would lose 27,000 positions in end strength, and the Marine Corps would lose 15,000 to 20,000. Those reductions would not begin until after U.S. troops are scheduled to leave Afghanistan in 2014, Lynn said, and still would leave end strength higher than it was when Gates took office in December 2006, he said.

Even with the cuts, when the National Guard and Reserve are factored in, the Army will have 47,000 more soldiers in 2015 than it had in 2006, Chiarelli said.

MSC Ships, Personnel Provide Support for Freedom Banner, Cobra Gold Exercises

By Ed Baxter, Military Sealift Command Public Affairs

CHUK SAMET, Thailand (NNS) -- Three Military Sealift Command ships are offloading hundreds of pieces of U.S. Marine Corps equipment, containerized supplies and personnel in support of exercises Freedom Banner and Cobra Gold at Chuk Samet, Thailand, through Jan. 28.

Freedom Banner 2011 brings multiple commands together to offload Maritime Prepositioning Force ships USNS 1st Lt. Jack Lummus (T-AK 3011) and USNS 1st Lt. Harry L. Martin (T-AK 3015) while both ships are anchored three miles off of the coast.

U.S. Marines will deploy cargo offloaded from Lummus to the field for their participation in the 30th annual Cobra Gold exercise, which includes more than 11,000 personnel from Thailand, Singapore, Japan, Indonesia, Republic of Korea, Malaysia and the United States. Participants will conduct computer-simulated and field exercises and take part in civic assistance projects throughout Thailand Feb. 7-18.

Freedom Banner provides Lummus and Martin, both assigned to Pacific-based Maritime Prepositioning Ship Squadron Three, with valuable training. The ships' mission is to quickly deliver military cargo and supplies in response to a military contingency or to provide humanitarian assistance. Lummus and Martin are crewed by about 30 mariners apiece working for private companies under contract to MSC.

"Freedom Banner not only offers participants valuable, hands-on training, but has the added benefit of supporting a real-world, vital exercise," said Capt. Herman Awai, MPS Squadron Three commander.

Both ships arrived off Thailand's coast Jan. 19. The first phase of Freedom Banner, Jan. 20-22, included the offload and assembly of the Improved Navy Lighterage System. INLS includes various causeway sections and tugs used to offload combat equipment and supplies where conventional port facilities may be damaged, inadequate or non-existent.

The INLS assembles at sea and connects together like building blocks to form ferries, causeway piers or a large staging area for cargo called a Roll-on/Roll-off Discharge Facility, or RRDF.

Sailors from Williamsburg, Va.-based Navy Cargo Handling Battalion One went to work Jan. 20, aboard Lummus, offloading warping tugs, utility boats, and powered and non-powered modules that make up the INLS. Working around the clock, all cargo was offloaded Jan. 21.

Nine interconnected modules forming the RRDF were offloaded from Martin Jan. 21-22. Fully assembled, the RRDF is equal in size to two basketball courts. NCHB-1 Sailors operated Martin's heavy-lift cranes and placed each 80-ton module safely into the water.

Sailors from San Diego-based Assault Craft Unit One operated warping tugs to carefully position each module. Next, Sailors from San Diego-based Amphibious Construction Battalion One connected the modules until the platform was fully assembled. Tug boats pushed the RRDF behind Lummus' stern and the ship's ramp was lowered onto the RRDF, Jan. 22. Three inter-connected barges, one of which is powered by a water jet propulsion system, then attached itself to the RRDF.

Marines from Okinawa-based Combat Logistics Group Three then began driving wheeled and tracked vehicles onto the causeway sections Jan. 23. In total, 176 pieces of cargo, including Humvees, trucks, amphibious assault vehicles, will be delivered ashore by Jan. 28. Martin will backload the RRDF Jan. 29-31, and then return to Guam. Lummus will remain off the coast and will backload equipment following the completion of Cobra Gold.

Also supporting Cobra Gold is MSC chartered high speed vessel HSV Westpac Express, which delivered 246 Marines from the Okinawa-based 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force to Chuk Samet Jan. 22. The ship will return to Okinawa in early February.

MSC reservists also played an important role. Members from Expeditionary Port Unit 113 from Fort Worth, Texas, and EPU 102 from New York City deployed in support of the exercises. Reservists crewed a mobile sealift operations command center, a portable communications facility designed to operate and manage port operations, even if port infrastructure is damaged or destroyed. EPU's can quickly deploy to a contingency operation and manage the arrival and departures of cargo ships in port.

MSC operates approximately 110 noncombatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.

For more news from Military Sealift Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/MSC/.

Chairman’s Corner: Strengthening Our Military Families

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, Jan. 26, 2011 – Deborah and I attended a Jan. 24 White House event hosted by the President and First Lady announcing an exciting new effort that renews and enhances our Nation’s commitment to our military families.

“Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment” advances 50 new initiatives across 16 federal agencies and promises to revolutionize the way we care for military families on issues ranging from child care to mental health, from education and employment to housing.

The President noted right up front that, “This is a matter of national security. With millions of military spouses, parents, and children sacrificing as well, the readiness of our Armed Forces depends on the readiness of our military families.” We could not agree more.

Deborah and I are reminded daily that the incredible families who support our men and women in uniform also sacrifice and serve. We are deeply pleased – and grateful – for all our military families do, and for this new comprehensive effort to care for such a special group of people.

New Navy Supply Corps School Opens

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Melissa Weatherspoon, Center for Service Support Public Affairs

NEWPORT, R.I. (NNS) -- A dedication ceremony marking the grand opening of the Vice Admiral Kenneth R. Wheeler Center, Navy Supply Corps School (NSCS) was held aboard Naval Station Newport, R.I., Jan. 24.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead served as the keynote speaker for the event that honored Wheeler, a former chief of the Supply Corps and legend in the logistics community.

The event also highlighted the importance of supply and logistics training in worldwide missions.

Roughead described Wheeler's life and leadership as one of great distinction and dedication. During World War II, Wheeler became a Prisoner of War for three and a half years, enduring and ultimately prevailing through unspeakable hardships.

In December 1944, then Lt. j.g. Wheeler was among a group of POWs headed for Japan aboard the transport Oryoku Maru, when the ship was torpedoed and abandoned.

After assisting a seriously wounded Supply Corps shipmate to the beach, Wheeler, amidst significant enemy gunfire, repeatedly swam back to the ship to rescue others, an action which earned him the Bronze Star Medal.

He was awarded a second Bronze Star for equally heroic and dedicated actions in January 1945, in the wake of an attack on another prisoner ship. Roughead said Wheeler served not only as a model for Supply Corps officers, but for all naval officers in the fleet.

CNO said Wheeler's decades of service has created a tremendous legacy for the school and the logistics community in its role in the Navy's worldwide maritime strategy.

"We are a great Navy because of our people; a global Navy because of our logistics," Roughead said.

Roughead credited Wheeler and the logistics community with always ensuring the fleet has what it needs to fulfill missions around the world. CNO also expressed great confidence in the school's staff, faculty and students to carry on Wheeler's legacy.

"This institution will carry forward the example (Wheeler) set as the 31st chief of the Supply Corps and an active member of the community throughout his life," Roughead said. "The students of the Supply Corps community who leave here will know what it takes to keep America's Navy forward, flexible and fast to respond."

"The Supply Community is excited to be here and looks forward to becoming a strong partner in Newport and Rhode Island," said Rear Adm. Mike Lyden, chief of Supply Corps and commander, Naval Supply Systems Command.

Lyden; Rhode Island Senators Jack Reed and Sheldon Whitehouse; Capt. Jim Davis, NSCS commanding officer; and Capt. Joe Voboril, Naval Station Newport commanding officer; joined Roughead at the podium in dedication of the school. They celebrated the Supply Corps' rich heritage and the current operational importance of the schoolhouse and the logistics community.

Construction on the new 58,000 sq. ft. school was completed in July, with some classes kicking off in October 2010 as the building awaited installation of Navy-Marine Corps Internet and Training networks. The first iteration of the Basic Qualification Course began Jan. 10.

The facility features 11 state-of-the-art classrooms, a large multipurpose room, a mock ship's store and galley, and a Navy Cash lab to simulate afloat operations.

"The Navy Supply Corps School has a mission to train and to support troops in the field, and they do it very well." said Reed. "I just returned from Afghanistan, Iraq and Yemen – at the [tip] of the spear – and Navy personnel are working in support of our missions there. They can only do that if they have the logistics they need, and that is a direct result of the training they receive here."

Together, the Navy Supply Corps School and the U.S. Navy Supply Corps represent a long tradition of service to the fleet. In honor of this long-standing tradition, the school's hallways will be lined with display cases, highlighting the many artifacts and historical items from the more than 215-year Supply Corps history. A ceremonial quarterdeck honors fallen heroes of the Supply Corps and all of the former chiefs of the Supply Corps.

In celebration of this tradition and heritage, members of Wheeler's family participated in morning colors and a ribbon cutting prior to the dedication ceremony.

The school now lies at the heart of a critically important Navy education and training complex that includes the Naval War College, Surface Warfare Officers School, Naval Justice School, Officer Candidate School and the Senior Enlisted Academy, and is in close proximity to the Naval Submarine Base, New London, Conn.

"Newport is the best place for the Navy Supply Corps School," said Lyden. "The synergy is tremendous. The potential is unlimited here."

The school relocated from Athens, Ga., as a result of the 2005 Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) process. It is the 7th home for the Supply Corps community, who traces its history back more than 215 years with the appointment of the nation's first Purveyor of Public Supplies.

More information about the new Navy Supply Corps School can be found at www.netc.navy.mil/centers/css/nscs/.

The more than 3,000 active duty and Reserve officers of the Navy Supply Corps are responsible for supply and logistics support for the ships of the active fleet and hundreds of Naval shore installations worldwide, providing combat capability through logistics.

For more news from Naval Supply Systems Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/navsup/.

USS Enterprise Arrives in Lisbon

From Enterprise Carrier Strike Group Public Affairs

LISBON, Portugal (NNS) -- USS Enterprise (CVN 65) arrived in Lisbon, Portugal, Jan. 26, to conduct its first port-of-call in Europe.

The U.S. ambassador to Portugal will host a reception aboard the ship for local officials, and the crew will participate in three community relations projects and visit the capital city of one of America's strongest partners.

Enterprise Carrier Strike Group (CSG) is transiting toward the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations, where theater security cooperation efforts and maritime security operations increasingly rely on strong bonds between partner nations.

"We have been conducting exercises with our Portuguese allies and have been very impressed by our longstanding military-to-military connectivity and integration," said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, Enterprise CSG commander. "Our ability to seamlessly work together at both tactical and strategic levels is necessary, and has been very successful."

Portugal, a member of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan, was recently praised by President Barack Obama during his November visit to Lisbon, for being "a key partner in Afghanistan" during the president's remarks at the NATO summit.

Portugal currently has 250 troops in Afghanistan deployed to ISAF headquarters, Kabul International Airport and the Regional Command Capital, and is a founding member of NATO.

Enterprise has more than 5,000 Sailors and Marines embarked aboard and is underway on its first deployment since 2007.

"The crew is very excited to be visiting this beautiful and historic city," said Capt. Dee L. Mewbourne, USS Enterprise commanding officer. "Many Sailors join the Navy to see the world, and for nearly half of the crew, Lisbon will be their first overseas liberty port visit. We have lots of tours scheduled and are looking forward to seeing everything that Portugal has to offer."

USS Enterprise is currently on its 21st deployment.

Enterprise Strike Group consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), 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.

For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.

For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.

Navy Secretary Pushes for Alternative Energy Use

By Chinara Lucas, Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON, D.C. (NNS) -- The secretary of the navy reached out to prominent industry leaders during a Washington, D.C., summit Jan. 25, in an effort to have them incorporate the use of alternative fuels in their push for a clean economy.

During the Clean Energy Summit, Secretary Ray Mabus began his review of the effects converting the Department of the Navy (DoN) from fossil fuels to alternative fuels will have on the economy on a basic level.

"A clean energy economy supports American workers and creates new jobs," said Mabus.

Mabus continued by trying to increase understanding of the implications of fossil-fuel by discussing our country's dependence on it.

"History has taught us the competition for resources has been one of the fundamental causes of war for centuries," said Mabus.

Maybus said the dependence on fossil fuel continued to produce bad results during the time of war by endangering Sailors and Marines charged with guarding convoys bringing energy to bases and machinery. He urged that the solution to this reliance and resulting war and loss of lives is the utilization of alternative fuels.

He relayed information about DoN flying an F/A-18 with a camelina-based biofuel and a MH-60 Seahawk helicopter on an algae-based biofuel. Maybus said substitutions such as this would reduce the need for altercation caused by limited availability.

"Neither feedstock impacts the food supply," said Mabus. "Camelina can be planted in rotation, and algae – well, it's grown in a pond."

Benefits of alternative fuel extend beyond the abundance of ingredients necessary for their creation. Mabus said that implementing alternative fuels will save the American people money.

"I am very pleased that the cost of these fuels continues to decrease," said Mabus. "As more is produced – and as our demand signal grows, I am confident that price will continue to fall."

Mabus provided a hybrid-electric ship, the USS Makin Island (LHD 8), as an example of alternative fuels resulting in continued savings. During the course of the ship's life, Mabus said it will save up to $250 million at today's fuel prices, and if fuel prices increase, the savings will become greater.

The use of cotton-seed by Marines in Sangi, Afghanistan, was also presented by Mabus as an example of alternative energy at its best. Through this pilot program, Mabus said Marines have reduced the amount of fossil fuel they use by 20 percent. As a consequence, Marines utilize fuel convoys less.

"If this program can be expanded, it has the potential to achieve monetary savings," said Mabus. Even more important than saving money, fuel economy "will improve both the security and combat capability," said Mabus.

He said that increasing the amount of time between refueling ships and aircraft will respectively create more capable units and extend the range of strike missions.

"It's about ensuring the safety and the lives of our troops," said Mabus.

For more news from Secretary of the Navy, visit www.navy.mil/local/secnav/.

System Takes Shape for Military Disaster Relief in Americas

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 25, 2011 – A system is in the works that will strengthen the ability of military services to contribute to civilian-led disaster response in the Western Hemisphere, a Defense Department official said here yesterday.

Paul Stockton, assistant secretary of defense for homeland defense and Americas security affairs, spoke at the Inter-American Dialogue, a policy forum on Western Hemisphere affairs.

Stockton was joined by Frank O. Mora, deputy assistant secretary of defense for the Western Hemisphere.

The United States is working with partners in the region, Stockton said, to plan for and better coordinate the international influx of help that follows deadly disasters such as the 2010 earthquake in Haiti.

“When the earthquake struck, there were plenty of partner nations who stepped up to the plate, eager to provide assistance,” he said. “The problem was … we didn’t have a database of the capabilities specific countries could bring to the fight. And we had no way to match up Haiti’s most important requirements with the kinds of assistance that nations were able to provide.”

The magnitude 7.0 earthquake that struck in January 2010 killed an estimated 230,000 people and displaced one-third of Haiti’s population, U.S. Southern Command officials said.

Southcom established Joint Task Force Haiti to conduct humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in support of the U.S. Agency for International Development. It was the largest disaster response mission in modern U.S. military history.

“Civilians will always be in charge of disaster response,” Stockton said. “Defense will only be in support of those civilian leaders. But in a catastrophe, let’s face it, sometimes defense establishments are where the capability is. We need to be able to harness those defense capabilities to serve the requirements established by civilian authorities in the country that’s been struck by the disaster in a way that’s much more effective than we had in Haiti.”

A mechanism to improve the integration of defense capability and civilian authority in response to natural disasters was introduced during a November conference Western hemisphere defense ministers in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. There, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates strongly endorsed a proposal based on consultations among partners as well as on September workshops in Washington and in Lima, Peru, and lessons learned from relief operations in Haiti.

The proposal, co-sponsored by 14 countries, called for:

-- Standardizing a system for military collaboration during disaster relief operations through a Military Assistance Collaboration Cell;

-- Adopting a common platform for information sharing; and

-- Establishing working groups to develop the framework for military support for civilian-led disaster relief operations.

“We are now in the process of organizing a workshop to be held in South America where the details of all this will be ironed out, institutionalized and, hopefully, implemented,” Mora said.

Stockton said such a system would help a country struck by a natural disaster detail its most urgent priorities and allow those providing assistance to match those needs with international contributions.

“Let’s have a database, purely voluntary,” he said, “that enables countries in advance of an event to offer up what they might be able to provide so that can be fed in to the consultative process.”

Stockton noted that 128 days remain before hurricane season begins June 1 for the United States and countries in the Caribbean, and earthquakes can happen year-round.

“We have standing working groups, and we’re making progress on this because in our hemisphere a [natural] catastrophe is not a question of if, it’s a question of when,” Stockton said. “So we are moving out in a way that’s focused on saving lives in partnership with the nations of the region.”

USS Essex Departs for Western Pacific Patrol

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Greg Johnson

USS ESSEX, At sea (NNS) -- The forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD 2) departed Sasebo, Japan Jan. 25 to begin a series of partnership-building exercises throughout the Western Pacific.

The deployment will feature several bilateral maritime training exercises designed to build relationships and enhance operational readiness between U.S. and Asian-Pacific partner nations throughout the region.

"Because Essex is permanently forward-deployed, she has the unique ability to continuously engage and exercise with partners and allies in the Western Pacific, as well as forge new relationships with nations with whom we have operated less frequently," said Capt. David Fluker, Essex' commanding officer. "She remains always ready to respond to crises in the region, whether it be by providing assisting during relief efforts following a natural disaster, offering routine humanitarian assistance or by reassuring our friends in support of treaties or national objectives."

During the deployment, Essex and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit will participate in exercise Cobra Gold 2011, an annual U.S.-Thailand co-sponsored joint coalition exercise designed to ensure regional peace and stability.

The deployment will also serve as a first for many of Essex' newest Sailors, many of which will enjoy their first taste of life underway.

"I'm really looking forward to a couple of things, like the opportunity to learn my job and having a chance to visit all of the ports that I hear we're going to," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Airman Rachel Walker, of Miami. "It sounds really exciting."

Fluker assumed command of Essex Jan. 20 following an 18-month as the ship's executive officer.

"I look forward to continuing to work with this remarkable team, he said. "I am constantly inspired with the dedication and unmatched flexibility that the Sailors and Marines of Essex demonstrate."

Essex is part of the forward-deployed Essex Amphibious Ready Group and is underway in the Western Pacific region.

For more news from USS Essex (LHD 2), visit www.navy.mil/local/lhd2/.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, January 27, 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.

Cmdr. Charles Benson, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force Psychiatrist and 1st Marine Division Deputy Surgeon, and Cmdr. Keith Stuessi, director of the Concussion Restoration Care Center at Camp Leatherneck, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on combat stress.  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.

Enterprise Searches for 'BiggEst Loser'

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Alex R. Forster, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At Sea (NNS) -- As the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) continues operations in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility Jan. 25, Sailors aboard are getting themselves 'ship shape' with the help of a new fitness challenge.

The 'BiggEst Loser' challenge, inspired by the hit TV series, will last for 12 weeks and focus on providing Sailors the opportunity to accomplish personal fitness goals.

The contest supports the Navy's culture of fitness initiative, which includes an all-hands commitment to well-rounded, regular physical conditioning and making healthy food choices.

Recent changes to the evaluation and fitness report program, covered in NAVADMIN 083-10 highlight the importance of staying physically fit. With physical fitness assessment scores now being input into evaluations and fitness reports, the link between staying fit and advancement has never been clearer.

BiggEst Loser participants hope to increase their performance in the physical readiness test only a few weeks away.

Sailors and Marines will be placed into groups of three and will earn points through team and individual events, said Ashley L. Epperson, USS Enterprise fit boss. The challenges will be point-driven and provide its participants a healthy, encouraging and competitive environment.

"The team and individual with the largest percentage of weight loss and total points will be declared the biggest losers," said Epperson.

Sailors will weigh in weekly to keep them focused on their physical fitness goals.

"I personally want to look fabulous for my husband when I return," said Chief Hospital Corpsman (SW/AW) Teresa S. Somers, Dental department leading chief petty officer.

Epperson said any Sailor or Marine on board can participate.

"Anyone willing to make the steps toward improved fitness, whether it is weight loss, weight gain, muscle toning, definition or self esteem-boosting, is welcome to join," said Epperson.

For more information on the BiggEst Loser program, contact Ashley Epperson.

USS Enterprise is currently deployed on its 21st deployment.

Enterprise Strike Group consists of Enterprise, the guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), 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.

For news regarding Enterprise Strike Group's deployment, visit the USS Enterprise Facebook page at www.facebook.com/USS.Enterprise.CVN.65.

For more news from USS Enterprise (CVN 65), visit www.navy.mil/local/cvn65/.

Deputy Assistant SECNAV for Energy Discusses RAND Report

From Defense Media Activity Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Deputy assistant secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) for energy hosted a roundtable event Jan. 25 in Washington to discuss the recent release of the RAND Corporation's report on "Alternative Fuels for Military Applications," which was submitted to Congress Jan. 24.

The RAND report was submitted as a result of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2009, Section 334, which directed the Secretary of Defense to fund the research and development of alternative and synthetic fuels.

Tom Hicks, deputy assistant SECNAV for energy, discussed the Navy's reservations on the accuracy and impartiality of the report.

"The lack of engagement with the leading voice on alternative energy, the secretariat, has caused us to have reservations about this report. We haven't been consulted or asked to provide input on the secretariat level." said Hicks. "Unfortunately we think there are some misrepresentations and some factual errors regarding to the Navy's certification and testing efforts."

"We have some serious reservations about the report." said Hicks. "The Navy has really led the way in the Pentagon and in DoD on energy issues. We have been focused on alternative fuels since SECNAV announced his goals back in October 2009 on a range of issues, including 50 percent of fuel in the Navy to be alternative fuel sources by 2020. Based on active engagement with alternative fuel and biofuels industry, we have come up with far different conclusions than are indicated in the RAND report."

SECNAV Ray Mabus announced five energy targets at the Navy Energy Forum in McLean, Va., Oct. 14-15, 2009, that the Navy has steadily continued to pursue.

The goals included:

- Energy Efficient Acquisition: Evaluation of energy factors will be mandatory when awarding contracts for systems and buildings.

- Sail the "Great Green Fleet": DON will demonstrate a Green Strike Group in local operations by 2012 and sail it by 2016.

- Reduce Non-Tactical Petroleum Use: By 2015, DON will reduce petroleum use in the commercial fleet by 50%.

- Increase Alternative Energy Ashore: By 2020, DON will produce at least 50% of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources; 50% of DON installations will be net-zero.

- Increase Alternative Energy Use DON-Wide: By 2020, 50% of total DON energy consumption will come from alternative sources.

Hicks re-emphasized the importance of the development of alternative fuels when referring to national security during the roundtable discussion.

"We feel like alternative fuels and bio fuels play right into that discussion - we feel like there are absolutely national security issues that are directly related to the alternative fuel issue that are not reflected in the report." said Hicks.

For more news, visit www.navy.mil.

Navy Surgeon General Addresses Military Health System Conference

From Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md. (NNS) -- The Navy Surgeon General addressed mission readiness and the importance of total force management at the Annual Military Health System (MHS) Conference held at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center Jan. 24-27.

The overall theme of this year's conference is "The MHS Quadruple Aim: Working Together, Achieving Success." The Quadruple Aim is the military health care concept that focuses on the encouragement of healthy behaviors, beneficiary satisfaction, maximizing force readiness and the successful management of per capita health costs.

The annual conference allows all the stakeholders in the U.S. military health system, including the representatives from all branches of service, TRICARE Management Activity, and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to come together and share lessons learned and best practices throughout the military medicine field.

Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr., emphasized the need for proper training and education and highlighted Navy Medicine programs that he believes can be effectively replicated within the MHS.

"It's about the ability to train and educate a fully ready force in order to deliver health care, anytime, anywhere," said Robinson. "Whether we're providing care to beneficiaries at home, developing new life-saving vaccines in medical research and development, or providing the best in casualty care, we must meet our missions—from the battlefield to the bedside."

Robinson discussed the benefits of the Joint Medical Education and Training Center (METC) in San Antonia, Texas, the first ever fully integrated, tri-service education and training school to prepare our Sailors, Soldiers, and Airmen, making it the largest consolidation of service training in defense history.

"We need to standardize our training and education across the Navy Medicine Enterprise, across the services, and across the MHS," said Robinson. "This will eliminate gaps and overlaps, increase efficiencies through resource sharing, and integrate learning strategies. METC will help us achieve this."

Robinson further stressed transparent and calculated management of resources and the importance of developing a diverse workforce.

"We must know how best to allocate our limited resources and the diversity of our talent across the Enterprise," said Robinson. "We must continue to build inclusive thinking into our culture, to work towards institutionalizing formal mentoring and open up key and nominative billets that offer more opportunities for promotion of diversity candidates."

Robinson said it is everyone's responsibility to be good stewards of the taxpayer dollars and said initiatives like the Navy's new Medical Home Port initiative are ways to do so. Robinson said Medical Home Port represents a paradigm shift in how the Navy Medicine Enterprise will provide care to and communicate with our beneficiaries.

Medical Home Port is a model of care that emphasizes a team-based, coordinated, and proactive approach. Each patient will be assigned to a Medical Home Port team, led by one's provider. The patient is a part of that team that also includes a nurse educator, a care coordinator, and other support staff. The new model better utilizes the health care team, as well as integrated ancillary care, such as behavioral health, case management, and pharmacy. Providers have greater ability to diagnose and treat patients by leveraging support staff to manage other aspects of clinic operations and patient care. Patients will have more access to directly engage in their own care and by focusing on prevention, wellness, and disease management, Medical Home Port will drive down costs over time.

"Medical Home Port is a philosophical construct that will force us to change the way we think," said Robinson. "In the coming years, full implementation of Medical Home Port worldwide will reduce overall costs in the long term and also improve population health, patient satisfaction, and readiness across the board."

Robinson concluded his remarks by affirming his commitment to Navy Medicine personnel and the MHS core mission.

"Our people are our number one asset and we must take care of them. We must know them, we need to counsel them, we need to affirm them, we need to understand them because without them, we cannot complete our mission," said Robinson. "When they know that we are committed to them, they will be committed to the mission and in turn those who serve our nation along with their families will always be able to count on the entire MHS to provide quality and compassionate patient and family-centered health care."

For more news from Navy Medicine, visit www.navy.mil/local/mednews/.

Redesignation Board Looks at Probationary Officers

By Wm. Cullen James, Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs Office

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- Force shaping and stabilization are two of the top issues for Navy's manpower planners. One tool they are using to ensure Navy's officer communities maintain the right mix of skills, force size and stability is the Probationary Officer Continuation and Redesignation (POCR) Board.

Officer community managers and detailers identify probationary officers eligible to appear before the POCR board. These officers include those with fewer than six years of service who are dropped or attrite from a course necessary to obtain a designator, professional warfare qualification, or professional certification. Other reasons may include failure to obtain or maintain a required security clearance, non-deployable due to permanent physical or mental conditions, and others.

"POCR Boards only include those officers who have less than six years of active commissioned service and meet one of 10 specific criteria – only one of which is attrition from initial training," Holmes said. "Because the eligibility criteria have expanded from previous force shaping boards, the Navy has better selectivity to retain those officers who have the requisite skills to be successful in other designators either in the active or reserve components, while separating those officers who no longer have viable career paths or possess unique and critical skills."

Each probationary officer is afforded the opportunity to apply for retention and redesignation, or to request separation. The board meets monthly to review all applications and makes its decisions based on the strength of the probationary officers' board packets, force shaping requirements and quotas available throughout the officer communities.

"In a manpower and fiscal environment such as we are in, it is important that officers coming before the POCR Board clearly present their desires for retention and/or redesignation and highlight the skills and attributes that might indicate a successful naval career," Holmes said. "Some educational backgrounds lend themselves to direct application in certain officer designators. Similarly, prior service might give a person valuable skills and qualifications that can be reutilized."

The results of every POCR board are sent before the deputy chief of naval personnel (DCNP) who approves or disapproves each case. Officers selected for separation are informed via a letter signed by the DCNP, and will be separated no longer than four months later.

"Making a decision to separate an officer after they have invested time and effort to be successful is a very difficult decision for the board to make – but at times necessary. Because it is a life-changing decision, the board members, community managers, parent commands and involved detailers take this process seriously and apply a lot of effort to it," Holmes said.

For more information about POCR boards visit the Navy Personnel Command Officer Community Management Page at www.npc.navy.mil/Officer/CommunityManagers/ and reference the POCR section in the right-side menu.

For more news from Navy Personnel Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/npc/.