Tuesday, February 01, 2011

USS Constitution Public Lottery Opened Again

By Mass Communications Seaman Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

CHARLESTOWN, Mass. (NNS) -- USS Constitution officially opened its lottery program to the public for the first time in three years in Charlestown, Mass., Feb. 1.

The lottery, which selects 150 winners to ride Constitution for her annual July 4th turnaround cruise, closed in 2008 due to the ship undergoing a restoration period that wrapped up in November of 2010.

"Our partners at the Naval History and Heritage Command Detachment Boston have completed a major restoration of the ship, further restoring her to her 1812 configuration," said Cmdr. Timothy M. Cooper, Constitution's 71st commanding officer. "As part of that work, the caprail has been lowered almost two feet and a section of the waist in the vicinity of the main hatch has been removed. In addition to her more accurate look, the ultimate benefit to our guests is that they will now have a better view of Boston as the ship moves through the harbor."

Each winner will be allowed to bring one guest, and all winners and guests must be of or between the ages of eight and 70. Entries must be made by completing the entry form and returning it by e-mail or mail. The lottery will close April 29 and the drawing held May 2.

"This lottery gives the ordinary citizen the opportunity to be a part of history on this great ship," said Lt. Albert Sharlow, Constitution's operations officer. "It costs nothing more than two minutes of your time to enter. We appreciate the public's patience waiting while the ship's restoration was in progress; this is our way of saying thank you."

The July 4th turnaround cruise celebrates the nation's birthday by firing from Constitution's saluting batteries a 21-gun salute exchange with Fort Independence located on Castle Island. The voyage is about 4.5 miles total, typically lasting three hours.
"I lived here for 10 years and have dreamed of sailing on USS Constitution," said John Upton, Charlestown resident. "It is a blessing to even have the chance."

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

To enter the lottery or for more information on the lottery program, visit http://www.history.navy.mil/ussconstitution/Lottery.html>
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/.

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Croatian Minister of Defense Davor BoĹžinovic to the Pentagon today at   The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the Pentagon River Parking Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

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

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at at the Annual Chiefs of Mission Conference at the Department of State, 8th Floor, Benjamin Franklin Room, Washington, D.C.  Media do not need to RSVP.  Pre-set time for video cameras is from the
23rd Street
Entrance Lobby.  Final access time for journalists and still photographers is from the
23rd Street
Entrance Lobby.

Sailors and Marines about Gunston Hall Find Colombian Roots during Southern Partnership Station

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brian S. Finney, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command & U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

ATLANTIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines embarked aboard USS Gunston Hall (LSD 44) conducted the first subject matter expert exchanges (SMEEs) of Amphibious Southern Partnership Station 2011 (A-SPS 11) with South American service members, Jan. 31.

For three Gunston Hall crew members, the opportunity for joint operations between partner nations also served as a homecoming, as the ship arrived off the coast of Covenas, Colombia.

"It feels good to see how far my family has come, and I want to give back," said Information Systems Technician 1st Class Mark Cervantes, from Orlando, Fla., who currently has family residing in Colombia. "What we're doing (in Colombia), I want to have a big part in it".

A-SPS 11 is structured to develop and improve capabilities to respond to a variety of maritime missions.

Communications is key during the A-SPS 11 mission, and Cervantes leads an essential team providing communications for approximately 600 Sailors and Marines aboard and ashore while in Colombia.

Cervantes is the network security manager of communications aboard Gunston Hall, and is visiting Colombia for the first time as a uniformed Sailor in an operational status. Both of his parents were born in the Colombian city of Barranquilla, which he has future plans of visiting.

Security is a necessary condition for prosperity and lasting democratic institutions. A-SPS 11 provides opportunities for the participating nations to come together and join efforts to enhance regional maritime security.

"It's a great opportunity to visit where my father is from", said Sgt. Alexandria Orsono, a Due End Status File supply clerk from Acworth, Ga., attached to the Security Cooperation Task Force (SCTF) embarked aboard Gunston Hall. "It's a part of my roots, so I feel it's important to me as a Marine to see how their (Colombia) military does things."

Now a U.S. citizen, Orsono's father was born in Medellin, Colombia. She is serving a vital mission role as a Spanish translator during her first trip to the South American nation. Orsono has demonstrated her devotion to the crew's mission readiness by instructing classroom-training sessions in basic Spanish.

Gunston Hall Sailors and embarked Marines focus on strengthening the Navy's existing regional partnerships and encouraging the establishment of new relationships. A-SPS 11 allows each participating country to improve capabilities in what it considers key maritime security mission areas.

Logistics Specialist 3rd Class Johan Sanchez, a Gunston Hall Sailor from Miami, Fla., resided in Bogota for 15 years prior to moving to the U.S. His entire family, including both his parents and younger sister, currently resides there.

"It was a very tough adjustment for me, because I didn't speak any English," said Sanchez. "Now that I'm bilingual, it's great knowing that I'm not just coming back to visit, but to know that I'm here to help."

Colombia is the first of four countries Gunston Hall is scheduled to visit during this deployment to the U.S. Fourth Fleet area of responsibility. Other stops will include Belize, Guatemala and Jamaica.

"One of my dreams was to be in the Navy and go back to Colombia," Cervantes said. "I'm happy and very fortunate to be a part of this."

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, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT.

For more news from U.S. Marine Corps Forces, South, visit www.marines.mil/unit/marforsouth/Pages/Home.aspx.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command, visit www.navy.mil/local/cusns/.

Stephen W. Groves Hosts Tanzanian Naval Officers During Africa Partnership Station 2011

By Ens. Daniel Stayton, USS Stephen W. Groves Public Affairs

DAKAR, Senegal (NNS) -- USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29) welcomed aboard two Tanzanian naval officers as part of the multinational Africa Partnership Station (APS) East initiative, Jan. 27.

While on board the ship, the African partners will work along side the crew, participating in the day-to-day routine of U.S. Navy Sailors.

"I am pleased to have the opportunity to host riders from our partner nations in Africa," said Cmdr. Matthew Rick, USS Stephen W. Groves commanding officer. "I want the Tanzanians and my crew to take full advantage of this unique opportunity. This experience of sharing naval ideas and learning from each others' culture will remain with these sailors for the rest of their life."

Lt. Joseph Mjema and Sub Lt. Amani Mbwambo will embark the Stephen W. Groves for 10 days. While on board, they will participate in, and observe shipboard damage control, ship navigation and leadership training.

Mjema was very energized about this opportunity and expressed his willingness to learn.

"I am excited to learn navigation and chart work," said Mjema.

This is the first of many African partners that Stephen W. Groves will host in support of APS 2011.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Stephen W. Groves, a Oliver Hazard Perry-class guided missile frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Fla., and is on a scheduled deployment in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

For more news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/naveur/.

Military’s Role Unaffected by Terror Alert Change

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2011 – A new federal warning system that abolishes color-coded terror alerts emphasizes a whole-of-government approach that military officials say won’t change their efforts in defending the homeland.

“The Department of Defense will continue to work closely with the Department of Homeland Security and our partner agencies to keep our nation safe from threats,” U.S. Northern Command officials said in a statement released yesterday. “U.S. Northcom’s continuing coordination and information sharing with these partners is key to our continued vigilance as we defend the homeland.”

In announcing the new system here last week, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said improved security requires more than the oversight of DHS; Northcom, which oversees North American security; and the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which oversees North American airspace.

“Real security requires the engagement of our entire society, with government, law enforcement, the private sector and the public all playing their respective roles,” she said.

Under the new system, DHS and other departments and agencies will share in alerting the public to security threats that could affect them, Napolitano said. That means some alerts will go out only to certain groups, such as law enforcement or the hotel industry, she said.

The alerts will provide as much information as possible for people to protect themselves, their families and communities, Napolitano said. The alerts will provide a summary of the potential threat, actions being taken, and recommended steps for individuals and communities to take, as well as a specific end date, she said.

The announcement last week began a 90-day implementation period for the new system, she said.

Napolitano said recent a trip she took to visit troops in Afghanistan was a reminder of how far-reaching the homeland mission is.

“The hard work of securing the U.S. homeland stretches from the mountains of Afghanistan and Pakistan and other far-off places, all the way back to the main streets of our smallest home towns,” she said.

The new system “is built on the common-sense belief that we’re all in this together and that we all have a role to play,” she added.

The United States is safer than it was 10 years ago just after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, Napolitano said, and that has much to do with the sacrifices of service members and their families.

“Our nation’s armed forces may be thousands of miles from our shores, living in forward operating bases far from loved ones or the comforts of home, but they’re every bit on the front lines of our homeland security,” she said. “They’ve helped significantly degrade al-Qaida’s capabilities to mount major attacks here in the United States and elsewhere.”

Still, Napolitano said, the arrests of more than two dozen Americans on terrorism-related charges in the past two years have proven that counterterrorism operations are not just overseas efforts.

Navy League Seeks Safety Role Models

From the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Safety

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy League of the United States will be accepting nominations for the Adm. Vern Clark and Gen. James L. Jones Safety Awards until March 1.

The safety awards were created to recognize individuals or groups whose actions and examples have significantly improved the safety culture within the Navy or the Marine Corps.

"The Navy League sponsors these safety awards to advance and highlight safety culture and safety awareness within the Department of the Navy," said Navy League President Dan Branch.

In addition to a Navy League commemorative scroll, recipients will receive a cash award from proceeds of an endowment established by former Secretary of the Navy Gordon England and his wife, as well as multiple corporate sponsors. The amount of the award is determined by the Navy League Awards Selection Board.

The awards will be presented at the Secretary of the Navy Luncheon during the Navy League Sea-Air-Space Exposition, April 11-13 at the Gaylord National Resort and Conference Center, National Harbor, Md.

For criteria and submission guidelines, visit the Navy League of the United States website, www.navyleague.org/public_relations/awards.php.>
For more information on the Sea-Air-Space Exposition visit www.seairspace.org. Military members can register free of charge and are encouraged to attend.

For more news, visit www.navy.mil.

Enterprise Sailor Wins at All-Navy Box-Off

From USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At sea (NNS) -- A USS Enterprise (CVN 65) Sailor triumphed at the All-Navy Box-Off at the Warfield gym aboard Naval Base Ventura County, Port Hueneme, Calif., Jan. 29.

Enterprise's Culinary Specialist Seaman Julio A. Lopez defeated Aviation Ordnanceman 2nd Class Jessie Valdez of Fleet Readiness Center, Mid-Atlantic Site, Oceana, in a bout that could earn him a spot on the Navy boxing team.

The 145-pound competitor won one of sixteen bouts on the card that featured 32 competitors from across the country. The event determines which of the 14 Sailors eligible for the Navy team will go on to compete against Army, Air Force and Marine Corps boxers in the Armed Forces Boxing Championships, scheduled for Feb. 14-19, aboard Lackland Air Force Base, San Antonio, Texas.

The final Navy team is expected to be announced this week.

Lopez, a Dallas native, attended the Boxing Training Camp (BTC) at Port Hueneme late last year and is relatively new to the sport, having only been boxing for the past five years. .

"I think his victory adds to the prestige of this great warship," said Chief Culinary Specialist (SW) Michael J. Sims, USS Enterprise wardroom leading chief petty officer. "His win is a win for the entire Enterprise team."

Lopez, a middleweight, has had some pretty tough competition in the past.

"At times I felt outclassed by the other boxers," said Lopez. "The other competitors had more experience than me, and when we're training aboard the ship, it's as a team. But, when you're in the ring, you have to do it all by yourself."

Even though he now has a taste of success, Lopez still continues to work toward new goals and wants to box in the Olympics. He said he has a relatively straightforward approach to the concept of boxing.

"I don't dislike my opponents, but when it comes to the fight, it's either them or me," said Lopez. "I choose me."

However, Lopez said he is not always so singular in his vision.

"I have brought back contracts for Navy sports in case other culinary specialists aboard the ship want to get involved," said Lopez. "It's a way to inspire people to stay fit and better themselves; not just in the Navy but in their lives as a whole."

"I am trying to show the rest of the guys that they can do a lot and we're capable of anything," said Lopez. "If I can better my fellow culinary specialists by setting the example of 'doing it big,' then it's worth it."

Military boxing has a long tradition and is an official sport of the Department of Defense (DoD) Armed Forces Sports program along with many others including basketball, golf, wrestling, soccer, swimming, track and field, cycling and others.

The Navy's Boxing Training Manual, published by the Naval Institute Press in 1943, summarizes the sport's longstanding appeal to Sailors:

"Boxing is the essence of the fighting man. Through time immemorial it has been used to train, harden and discipline men for military purposes. The value in boxing is not the skill acquired, although that too has real value in hand-to-hand combat, but because it quickly acclimates the mind and body to the violence and shock of combat so foreign to modern day youth, yet so absolutely essential to fighting men."

Today, both men and women participate in the sport, and many ships and bases regularly hold competitions to promote athleticism, competition, morale and esprit de corps.

For more information about DoD sports visit http://armedforcessports.defense.gov.

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/.

NEWS: Governor orders Wisconsin Guard to state active duty for winter storm

As Wisconsinites are urged to buckle up, hunker down and stay off the roads, approximately 75 Wisconsin National Guard Soldiers are deploying to armories across the state to assist local and state authorities with weather emergencies.

The deployment is in response to Governor Scott Walker's declared state of emergency which directs all state agencies to assist with response or recovery efforts and authorizes Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, the adjutant general of Wisconsin, to mobilize Wisconsin Guard Soldiers and Airmen.

"The National Guard’s dual mission makes us uniquely suited for emergency response," Dunbar said.  "We are trained and equipped to answer the call and meet the needs of Wisconsin citizens.  Support to civilian authorities is a core mission of our Soldiers and Airmen. When the state needs us, we're there."

The Soldiers, with tactical vehicles, will report to armoires in Plymouth, Milwaukee, Oak Creek, Kenosha, Sussex, Elkhorn, Watertown, Janesville and Platteville tonight (Feb. 1). They will remain on site through the state of emergency or until released.  The nine manned armories will be available for use as back-up emergency shelters and the Soldiers will be standing by to support local authorities with emergency operations such as door-to-door safety visits, generator assistance or stranded-motorist support. 

The Wisconsin National Guard's Joint Operation Center is also fully operational, and working alongside Wisconsin Emergency Management and other state agencies to answer additional calls for assistance.

African American History Month: Master Chief Vincent Patton

Post written by Vincent W. Patton III, Ed.D., Eighth Master Chief Petty of the Coast Guard (Ret.)
Posted by: LTJG Stephanie Young

Each year, the President of the United States designates February as African American History Month – a national celebration of both the accomplishments of and long struggle for equality for black Americans. In recognition of African American History Month 2011, the Compass has asked Coast Guard men and women about the valuable role mentoring plays in promoting both diversity and mission success in the Coast Guard.

This week’s post comes to us from the Eighth Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard (Ret.), Vincent W. Patton III, who discusses the role mentorship and pursuit of education played in his success both as a Coast Guardsman and as the first black Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard.

Over the course of my Coast Guard career I had several mentors, first starting with my encounter with Master Chief Boatswain’s Mate Hollis Stephens, who later became the Third Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard. Master Chief Stephens and I were stationed at then Coast Guard Group Detroit in the early 70s when I was a radioman third class.

It was Master Chief Stephens who actually pushed me on to earning my college degree on active duty. In my prior assignment aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Dallas, I had been taking correspondence courses and College Level Examination Program exams, amassing 63 semester hours of credit during my two and a half years on Dallas. After having a reporting aboard brief with him, as he was the unit’s senior enlisted advisor at the time, he found out about my college credits, and encouraged me to continue on.

At first I had no intention of working on a degree, as I only took the courses and worked on the CLEP exams on Dallas because I was bored. During that era, the Coast Guard was involved with ocean station missions, which kept us away from home port for 45-60 day patrols. Other than standing my radioman watch and the normal routine shipboard drills, I joined in with a number of other crewmembers taking CLEP exams and college correspondence courses through a program known at the time as the Armed Forces Institute.

I wasn’t really sure what I was going to do with the college credits, other than perhaps look to using them when I got out of the Coast Guard. I also had the notion that if I chose to stay in the Coast Guard and make it a career, I wanted to become the Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard someday. While many people felt I was reaching for an unattainable goal, with many of my fellow shipmates often laughing at me whenever I told them, Master Chief Stephens was the first person who took me seriously. At one time, I can recall several people telling me that I could never become Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard because of my race. In any event, most of the people with whom I shared my goal with, either didn’t believe me, or tried to convince me that this was not a practical or attainable goal.

It was Master Chief Stephens taking a personal interest in me, devoting the time to not only sit down and talk with me, and talk about my future in the Coast Guard but also what kinds of things that I could do in mapping out my future assignments. Through his encouragement and with the sincerity of believing in me, I listened to his sage advice, and the rest as they say is history! After all, I was listening to a guy who he himself became Master Chief Petty Officer of the Coast Guard – so I was ‘sold’ on his thoughts, ideas and philosophy. Master Chief Stephens’ personal leadership served as a foundation for me to emulate throughout my career, where I learned firsthand the value of mentoring. Taking the time with people to truly listen to them and understand what their needs are helped in formulating my personal core values of “People, Passion and Performance.”

Today, even in retirement, I find myself mentoring people in the Coast Guard, as well as talking with young people about the opportunities that the Coast Guard offers. Over the past eight years since my retirement, I have written more than two dozen letters of recommendation for Officer Candidate School, and the Coast Guard Academy on behalf of the young people I have encountered, as well as those who I have served and worked with during my Coast Guard career.

Mentoring never ends if you care about people, and about the success of our service! Semper Paratus!

USS Enterprise, Leyte Gulf Transit Strait of Gibraltar

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Austin Rooney

STRAIT OF GIBRALTAR (NNS) -- The deployed aircraft carrier USS Enterprise (CVN 65) and guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55) successfully passed through the Strait of Gibraltar Jan. 31, bringing the ships from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean Sea as they continue to operate in the 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

With the ships' homeport in Norfolk, Va. now far behind, Sailors are busy conducting flight operations and cooperative missions with allies in the region in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

The Strait of Gibraltar is a narrow strait which separates Europe and Africa by only seven miles at its closest point and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea. The depth ranges from 980 to 3,000 feet, which makes it difficult to navigate a 90,000-ton warship.

Quartermaster 3rd Class Tom Sanborn, a quartermaster of the watch aboard Enterprise, said to successfully complete a transit through the strait, skill, planning and concentration are required by all hands.

"There's a lot of shallow water, and in some areas the land is less than five nautical miles from the ships on either side," said Sanborn. "There is no room for error."

The process of transiting the strait requires the quartermasters on a ship's bridge to take constant measurements of the ship's position, both electronically and manually by taking bearings and visually watching the distance from the land.

"The entire process usually takes several hours," said Sanborn. "We take bearings and make sure we're in deep enough water every two minutes, and we cross reference the data with what we see on our screens electronically."

The strait is dangerous to transit for other reasons including traffic from other ships. Sanborn said that quartermasters spend hours to prepare to make sure the charts are accurate and the equipment works to ensure a safe transit.

"We call sea and anchor detail before going through the strait, so our Deck department is standing by, ready to drop the anchor in case of an emergency," said Sanborn. "We only let our master helmsmen drive the ship during the transit."

Transiting important chokepoints takes the skill of multiple departments aboard the ships. The engineering departments must ensure all propulsion capabilities are operating perfectly in addition to many other duties.

The ships' security divisions and helicopter squadron provide physical security to the ships, and the safety departments ensure everyone mitigates risks. It's an all-ship effort for both.

The transit is important as a strategic statement as well, said Rear Adm. Terry B. Kraft, commander of Enterprise Carrier Strike Group. "Entering the Mediterranean in the shadow of the rock of Gibraltar is always symbolic to me," he said. "It sends a strong signal that the Enterprise Strike Group has arrived to operate and integrate with our partners in the region."

Chief Quartermaster (SW/AW) Jacob Lozano, Enterprise Navigation Department's leading chief petty officer, said the process of leaving the Atlantic Ocean and entering the Mediterranean Sea went smoothly because of the entire ship's hard work and professionalism.
"We have a lot of really well-trained Sailors on this ship," said Lozano. "But we only put our best people on watch for the transit."

Ensuring the freedom of navigation through vital sea lanes is a core responsibility of the Navy and has ensured that the 90% of goods that travel by sea are free to do so.

Enterprise Carrier Strike Group consists of Enterprise, guided-missile cruiser USS Leyte Gulf (CG 55), 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, log onto www.navy.mil/local/cvn65 or 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/.

Chairman Highlights Families, Budget in Podcast

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2011 – The “Strengthening Our Military Families” commitment President Barack Obama announced last week is a “tremendous initiative,” the nation’s top military officer said yesterday.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, discussed that initiative, defense budget concerns and the situation in Egypt during his regular podcast to troops worldwide.

The president’s initiative, Mullen said, focuses especially on education, child care, spouse employment and benefits for veterans as they transition back to communities throughout the country.

The admiral noted that all of the Cabinet secretaries had signed the report. “As the president said during the roll-out,” the chairman said, “he’s focused on those Cabinet leaders, and he has expectations that they will support our military families.”

Mullen said supporting military families and veterans has been a priority for him and his wife, Deborah, for “many, many years.”

“So to have the president focused on this –- and particularly in these key areas, … I’m excited about it,” he said.

“I know the president well enough to know that he is focused on delivering,” Mullen added. “This isn’t just something he wants out there. He wants to produce results.”

Mullen said the initiative will “make a big difference for a group without whom we would not be anywhere close to as successful as we’ve been in these wars.”

Military families, the chairman said, have been through a lot.

“They need this kind of support,” he said. “The country, from the president on down, is very focused on making their lives better.”

The admiral then turned to budget concerns, saying Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ recent announcement of eventual reductions in Army and Marine Corps troop strength isn’t an issue for immediate concern.

“It’s certainly something that we think is about right, based on what we understand the future to be,” the chairman said. “[But] the future can be very uncertain. I’m much more concerned with what happens in the next couple of years.”

Mullen said the continuing resolution under which the Defense Department is now operating holds spending at last year’s level. A continuation of that resolution, which expires March 4, would be “a disaster for us in terms of executing the budget,” Mullen said.

While the military can continue to operate under the resolution’s constraints, “the inefficiencies that are associated with it -- the programs that we can’t start, the impact that a one-year continuing resolution will have on us -– will really, really force us into extreme measures,” he said.

With respect to the force reductions, “those really don’t happen until [2015 and 2016]. So we’re several years away from that,” the chairman noted.

Mullen has endorsed the current defense budget plan as necessary to help the country weather a tough economic climate, but he cautions against long-term flattening in defense spending. Because Gates’ plan calls, essentially, for halting growth to the defense budget in 2014 through 2016, Mullen said, beginning in 2017 “we’re going to have to start to grow the budget again in order to carry out our national security responsibilities as the president has given them to us.”

The chairman also addressed the crisis in Egypt and that country’s military response, noting that he has spoken with his Egyptian counterpart, Army Lt. Gen. Sami Enan, by phone and received an update on the situation.

“He assures me that they’re very focused on this, and they will continue to be a stabilizing influence within their country,” Mullen said.

While the situation is very volatile, the chairman added, “so far, the Egyptian military have handled themselves exceptionally well.”

Air Defense Exercise Readies Fighters for Super Bowl Mission

From a Continental United States North American Aerospace Defense Command Region News Release

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2011Military fighter jets will be busy this week preparing to protect the skies around Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas, during Super Bowl XLV on Feb. 6.

Amalgam Virgo 11-05A, a North American Aerospace Defense Command air defense exercise, will allow interagency partners the chance to practice procedures in response to airspace violations, officials said.

The Amalgam Virgo exercise comprises a series of training flights held in coordination with the Federal Aviation Administration, Customs and Border Protection, Civil Air Patrol, and the Continental United States NORAD Region's Western Air Defense Sector, officials said.

Residents in the area can expect flights to begin around Feb. 2 and to continue for about an hour and a half.

"Interagency coordination is a key aspect of our daily air defense measures," said Air Force Maj. Gen. Garry C. Dean, commander of the Continental United States NORAD Region. "This Amalgam Virgo exercise is an excellent opportunity for all of our interagency air defenders to hone our air defense skills in preparation for Super Bowl Sunday."

These exercises are carefully planned and closely controlled to ensure rapid response capability, officials said, noting that flights of this nature have taken place throughout the United States since the start of Operation Noble Eagle, the command’s response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

Since then, officials said, the Continental United States NORAD Region’s fighters have responded to more than 3,400 possible air threats and have flown more than 58,200 sorties with the support of Airborne Warning and Control System and air-to-air-refueling aircraft.

Missouri Guard Mobilizes for Storm Support

By Air Force Tech. Sgt. John Orrell
National Guard Bureau

WASHINGTON, Feb. 1, 2011 – Four governors have declared states of emergency and one has mobilized his state’s National Guard due to blizzard warnings and strong winter storms.

By today, the governors of Oklahoma, Kansas, Missouri and Illinois had declared states of emergency, with three to six inches of sleet and up to a foot and a half of snow anticipated for some areas.

Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon mobilized about 600 Missouri National Guard members to support local authorities with emergency route clearance, door-to-door safety visits, generator assistance and stranded-motorist support, Missouri Guard officials said. The Missouri Guard also has sent liaison officers to emergency operation centers in affected cities and counties.

Army Maj. Gen. Stephen Danner, Missouri’s adjutant general, said that the Missouri Guard has dealt with similar situations before, and that he feels confident Guard members will get the job done again.

“The leadership and soldiers and airmen of the Missouri National Guard are seasoned professionals,” Danner said. “We will apply lessons learned from years of experience to help the citizens of Missouri.”

The Federal Emergency Management Agency is using the Will Rogers Air National Guard Base in Oklahoma City, Okla., for equipment staging, but National Guard officials said they don’t anticipate this FEMA mission assignment will require Guard support.

Report on Reserve Component’s Future Coming Soon

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Jan. 31, 2011 – The future of the Defense Department’s reserve component is the topic of a review due this week, a senior defense official said today.

Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, told the audience at the Reserve Officers Association’s 26th annual exposition that he has been involved in preparing the review for the past eight months.

The Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review completed last year called for a comprehensive review of the reserve component’s future role and the balance between active and reserve forces. Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was McCarthy’s co-chair in the review.

McCarthy declined to discuss the review’s findings, saying he will submit the review to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates. But he said he’s confident those findings represent a thorough assessment of the reserve component’s changed role after nearly a decade of frequent deployments.

“Ideas about the reserve component have changed very, very significantly,” McCarthy said. “People who used to see the reserve component as exclusively - or maybe at most - a strategic reserve to be used once in a lifetime, have come to understand that isn’t likely to be, ever again, the way we see [reserve forces.]”

A recently published report noted that if the Defense Department were to put the National Guard and Reserve “back on the shelf,” the active-duty Army would need an end-strength increase of 170,000 to fill the gap, McCarthy told the group.

“The reserve component is positioned, I would suggest, to play an important role in putting forth a full-spectrum force around the world in an efficient and cost-effective way,” he said. With roughly 1.4 active-duty service members, 1.2 million reserve-component members and likely future missions worldwide, he added, the military will need to continue to rely on reserve strength.

“The challenges [the Defense Department] has to face are not going to be handled by circling the wagons here at home,” McCarthy said. “We’re going to continue to need a force that can deploy worldwide … for the full spectrum of missions.”

The current stress on the force from repeated deployments also indicates the reserve component will have a critical role to play in helping to ensure the active component gets adequate time at home stations between deployments, McCarthy said.

“The ‘dwell-to-deployment’ cycle is a significant factor,” he said, adding that the reserve component can play a positive role in maintaining a healthy balance between time away and time at home for the overall force.

Reserve service members today, like their active-duty counterparts, know they can expect to deploy, McCarthy said, recalling that before he was appointed to his position in 2009, he was called to an interview with Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates.

It was a cordial conversation and the secretary is a “consummate gentleman,” McCarthy said, but about midway through the interview, Gates told him he was very concerned that perhaps the department had “pulled a bait-and-switch” on its reserve members and was asking them to do things they hadn’t signed up for.

McCarthy said he told the secretary, “I must disagree.”

From his perspective, McCarthy said, everybody serving in uniform in 2009, like everyone serving today, had either enlisted or re-enlisted since 9/11.

“There’s nobody [in the services] who didn’t know what they were getting into,” he said.

Reserve service members’ families and civilian employers have adjusted to the tempo of the last decade and the likely future as well, McCarthy said.

“That’s because of a lot of hard work by a lot of people, but the fact is that our families and our employers have continued to support the men and women who are serving in uniform,” he said.

“I think all of us recognize that that support is absolutely essential,” he added. “If we ever lose the support of our families and our employers, we’re going to be out of business as a reserve component.”

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, February 01, 2011

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

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen participates in a press conference with the Society for Human Resource Management and the Families and Work Institute to announce new developments in workplace flexibility at in the Fourth Estate Room at the National Press Club,
529 14th Street NW, Washington D.C.
  Media interested in attending contact Kelly Sakai at 212-981-2559 or JCS Public Affairs at 703-697-4272.

Commanding General U.S. Forces-Iraq Gen. Lloyd James Austin III and Ambassador to Iraq James Jeffrey testify at a hearing of the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee on Iraq: The challenging transition to a civilian mission at in room, 419 Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Lt. Gen. David Rodriguez, commander, International Security Assistance Force Joint Command and deputy commander, U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, will brief the media live at , in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on operations in Afghanistan.  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.

This Day in Naval History - Jan. 31

From the Navy News Service

1944 - A U.S. amphibious landing takes place on Kwajalein, Marshall Islands.
1961 - Lt. Cmdr. Samuel Lee Gravely Jr. becomes the first African-American to command a combat ship, USS Falgout (DER 324).
1981 - The era of enlisted naval aviators ends when the last pilot retires.

Charities Discuss Continued Support To Washington Medical Centers

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

BETHESDA, Md. (NNS) -- National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) and Walter Reed Army Medical Center (WRAMC) met with charitable organizations Jan. 22 at NNMC to discuss continued support for troops and their families in the new joint environment.

Updating the groups on the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) and integration, Chief of Staff for Integration and Transition Capt. David Bitonti explained to supporters that all clinics have integrated thus far and it is now a matter of physically moving everyone under one roof.

While the America building (Building A) and Arrowhead building (Building B) are complete, construction is still underway for the new wounded warrior barracks and an underground parking garage. A new administrative building (Building 17) and a new parking garage near the Fisher Houses are also nearing completion.

Bitonti told the charitable organizations wishing to support the hospital, once the physical integration is complete; the expectation is to have all charitable groups managed by the Warrior and Family Coordination Cell (WFCC), a centralized platform to assist with coordinating services.

Naval Support Activity Bethesda (NSAB) is the point of contact for groups wishing to support base activities; because, a number of functions are now part of the base. In addition to the BRAC update, the meeting was also an opportunity to put a face to each organization, said Jane Gilhooly, Oakleaf Club president, who helped organize the meeting.

A first of its kind, she said, last week's meeting gave the charitable organizations a chance to see where they overlap, allowing them to move forward as integration quickly approaches. Along with the Oakleaf Club, representatives from the Walter Reed Auxiliary Club, Walter Reed Society, NNMC's Fisher Houses, Red Cross, and the Naval Dental Officers' Spouses Club, each gave a brief presentation of their organization's purpose and membership structure.

Together, they agreed that, in the future, they will plan to rely on NNMC's Red Cross chapter for volunteer training as needed for those who wish to assist with the charitable organizations, said Gilhooly. Offering similar programs and social events, Walter Reed Auxiliary (WRA) and the Oakleaf Club will work together to integrate their activities.

"They have a day book club and we have an evening book club," said Gilhooly. "We'll merge our branches."

All organizations will join efforts and extend their membership privileges across their clubs.

"That means that we'll be able to meet the [potential needs of the hospital]," said Gilhooly.

"If we know what each [group] does, we can do different things and meet different needs," added retired Col. Janet Southby, president of the Walter Reed Society.

The Walter Reed Society, founded in 1996, supports educational, patient, treatment and research activities at WRAMC. Since 2004, the society has given more than $1.53 million in grants; this month, the organization donated $34,000 to assist with a therapeutic program for family members whose loved ones suffer from a traumatic brain injury.

Southby noted that bringing the groups together ensured there wouldn't be any duplication of efforts. Coming together is a step in the right direction.

"The initial discussions and getting to know each other is really important because you have to learn [about] each other and work together," said Southby.

"It's really great for some of the key players to get together and meet each other," said Becky Woods, a Fisher House manager at NNMC. "It was really interesting to hear a little bit more detail about how it's going to play out."

The Fisher House program, established in 1990, provides military families a place to stay, at no cost, while their loved one is in treatment.

The Fisher Houses at both NNMC and WRAMC have been working together to provide support for military family members, said Woods.

"It's great we've come together behind the scenes, so to speak, because it's going to make it seamless for the families," said Woods. "It's really important to plan ahead of time."

She believes the groups will continue to work together and, in doing so, carry on their traditions, supporting patients and their loved ones.

"We care about our families, we just want to take care of them," said Woods. "It's our job to look out for them and give them a safe place. We have their best interest at heart."

In the coming months, Gilhooly said she plans to help coordinate more meetings for charitable groups to discuss BRAC and integration. Those interested in attending can e-mail oakleafdc@gmail.com. To address your BRAC-related concerns or suggestions, e-mail NNMCDCIT@med.navy.mil.

For more news from National Naval Medical Center, visit www.navy.mil/local/nnmc/.

Wisconsin National Guard provides marriage survival training

Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs Office

Militaries have always trained their warriors in the skills needed to survive combat. Not until recently has the U.S. military offered training to its married service members in the skills needed to help marriages survive the rigors of a relationship as well as the strains of deployment.

The Strong Bonds program began modestly in 1999 with a Hawaii-based infantry division, and today encompasses all of the active and reserve components of the Army. A chaplain-led program for commanders that builds relationship resiliency, the mission of Strong Bonds is to increase service member readiness by strengthening the family relationship through education and skills training in an off-site "getaway" setting.

The Wisconsin National Guard has provided these services to all service members, not only its own Soldiers and Airmen, for the past few years through its Service Members Support Division. Relationship programs include a seminar for singles on building strong relationships, a workshop for families on developing resilience, a relationship enhancement session for married couples as well as a new offering - "Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage" by Mark Gungor.

"PREP [Prevention, Relationship Enhancement Program] has been a real strong foundational thing we've been doing," said Maj. Douglas Hedman, state chaplain for the Wisconsin National Guard. PREP teaches couples how to improve communication techniques and explains strategies for resolving problems, but it is considered a workshop and not marital counseling or therapy.

"It's not the silver bullet," Hedman said, "but it's certainly helpful. The Army's making a great investment."

PREP has been well attended, and some service members have attended the weekend program more than once for refresher training. Hedman said that SMSD wanted to offer something different in addition to PREP, and chose the popular "Laugh Your Way" seminar. Hedman and his staff completed training to present the video seminar, which was offered for the first time through SMSD Jan. 28-30 at The Osthoff Resort in Elkhart Lake, Wis.

"I love you just the way you are - what a bunch of baloney," Gungor, a pastor from Stevens Point, says during one of the sessions. "The truth is we love you in spite of the way you are."

In another observation, Gungor referenced a biblical proverb about how you can't have an ox without a messy ox stall, but the ox's strength is valuable in the field.

"There is no such thing as a poo-free marriage," Gungor said. "This weekend is not about attaining a perfect marriage - it's about achieving a good positive-to-poo ratio."

Hedman said the seminar was well received, with many participants comparing the program favorably with PREP.

"I had someone approach me during the break and say, 'My husband and I haven't laughed this hard in years,'" he said.

The Service Members Support Division Strong Bonds schedule presently includes three marriage enrichment weekends, one additional "Laugh Your Way" weekend, two premarital interpersonal choices and knowledge weekends and two family wellness weekends. Service members can register online. For additional information, contact Carolyn Morgan, Family Assistance Center, at 800-292-9464.