Military News

Monday, February 07, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome French Minister of Defense Alain Juppe to the Pentagon today at   The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance. At the conclusion of their meeting, Secretary Gates and Minister Juppe will sign a statement of principles for US DOD-French MOD space partnership.  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 will make remarks at 6:45 p.m. EST at the National Defense Industry Associations' 22nd Annual Special Operations/Low Intensity Conflict Symposium Awards Banquet in the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel, 2660 Woodley Road NW, Washington, D.C. Media must register at the NDIA desk and present press credentials to obtain a symposium badge.

Army Col. Willard Burleson, commander of 1st Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and Army Col. Daniel Williams, commander of Combat Aviation Brigade, 4th Infantry Division, will brief the media live from Mazar-e Sharif, Afghanistan at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

This Day in Naval History - Feb. 07

From the Navy News Service

1800 - USS Essex becomes the first U.S. Navy vessel to cross the equator.
1815 - The Board of Naval Commissioners, a group of senior officers, is established to oversee the operation and maintenance of the Navy under the direction of the Secretary of the Navy.
1955 - Ships from the 7th Fleet begin the evacuation of Chinese nationalists from the Tachen Islands.
1965 - In response to a Viet Cong attack on a U.S. barracks area in Pleiku, South Vietnam, aircraft from carriers USS Coral Sea (CV 43), USS Hancock (CV 19) and USS Ranger (CV 61) attack a North Vietnamese area near Donghoi.
1991 - Using her remotely piloted vehicle for spotting, USS Wisconsin (BB 64) pounds Iraqi artillery, electronic warfare and naval sites with her 16-inch guns. Fifty rounds sink or severely damage 15 boats, and destroy piers at Khawr al-Mufattah Marina.

Transcom Provides America’s Greatest Advantage, Commander Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 – The greatest advantage that the United States has over any potential enemy is the ability to project and sustain forces anywhere in the world, the commander of U.S. Transportation Command said here today.

“No other nation can do what we do,” Air Force Gen. Duncan J. McNabb, said at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

A decade of war has meant Transcom is agile and practiced at delivering equipment, materiel and people where it needs to be, when it needs to be there, he said. The service portions of the command –- the Air Force’s Air Mobility Command, the Navy’s Military Sealift Command and the Army’s Surface Deployment and Distribution Command –- work together closely and constantly, he added.

Experience since Sept. 11, 2001, has changed the way the command does business, the general said. Before, he explained, delivering logistics was relatively straightforward –- officials chose a mode of transport and sent the cargo on its way.

“What we’ve found, like the rest of the industry, is that if you can figure out how to do this intermodally, you can figure out where I can go commercially, and then where I need to go militarily, or I can go surface or air, depending on the threat,” he said.

This allows planners to ensure they are taking care of warfighters while delivering people, supplies and equipment in the most cost-efficient manner, he said.

McNabb cited the mine-resistant, ambush-protected all-terrain vehicles for Afghanistan as an example. Industry officials figured they could produce 500 of the life-saving vehicles a month. When the vehicles first started rolling off the assembly line, they were loaded aboard C-17 aircraft and flown to Afghanistan.

“The question came: If we can build more, can you transport more?” McNabb said.

In the middle of the Afghanistan troop surge, industry officials came to Transcom and said they could produce 1,000 vehicles a month. That ran into Transcom’s requirement to move units into Afghanistan, McNabb said, “and we started looking at different ways to accomplish this.”

The command solved the problem by getting the vehicles to the U.S. Central Command theater of operations via ship and loading them aboard aircraft only for the final leg of the journey. Because it was a short hop, the aircraft carried five M-ATVs instead of three, and they went directly to the units in Afghanistan.

Another example is the opening of the
Northern Supply Route
. High-value and purely military cargo goes to Afghanistan via air. Other supplies go via ship to Karachi, Pakistan, and then overland into Afghanistan. Transcom forged a series of routes from the Baltic republics, through Russia and the Central Asian republics, or via the Caucasus republics through Central Asia to Afghanistan.

The command took advantage of the contacts that private companies maintain to forge these routes, McNabb said.

“That is the real advantage these companies bring,” he said. The companies have planes and ships, he added, but they also have the network of contacts in the region that allows them to speed the cargo through.

Now, if routes are blocked, other routes can take up the slack, the general said.

Looking ahead, Transcom has the mission of sustaining the service members in Afghanistan while re-deploying the final 48,000 Americans in Iraq by the end of the year.

The command also must plan for contingencies. Last year, for example, Transcom had to provide logistics for the hundreds of thousands of Haitians affected by a massive earthquake and also supported the response to the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster. The command also lifted goods to Pakistan when that nation experienced catastrophic flooding, and had to do all this while maintaining the logistics needed to fight two wars.

Challenges remain, McNabb said, noting that Transcom needs the services to get new air-refueling tankers. Replacing the 50-year-old KC-135s will save millions of dollars, he added.

The command also is investing in defending its computer systems. About 90 percent of Transcom’s business takes place on unprotected networks, McNabb said, and 33,326 “computer network events” took place against the command last year.

Defense is another priority. “After helicopters, our aircraft are the most shot at,” McNabb said. Last year, he added, 125 aircraft were shot at, and 15 were hit.

As the command continually works to re-invent itself, McNabb said, the Transcom team -- active duty and reserve component servicemembers and civilians, along with private industry partners -- always is looking for ways to perform the mission better.

Official Cites Need for Collaboration in Solving DOD Issues

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 – Collaboration is key to solving some of the Defense Department’s toughest issues, whether it’s building resilience in service members and their families or keeping the best and brightest in the department’s ranks, the Pentagon’s top personnel official said today.

“We try too often to do it ourselves. … There are a lot of smart people out here in this world, but we tend not to receive them or see them because of our own biases,” Clifford L. Stanley, undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, told attendees of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury’s 2011 Warrior Resilience Conference in Arlington, Va.

Whether it’s rank or religion, position or gender, moving beyond biases will help to foster an environment open to the new ideas and effective solutions service members and their families deserve, Stanley said.

“Our warriors, our men and women who serve in uniform, deserve our very best,” he added. “They deserve more than we can give them in this lifetime.”

Stanley encouraged the audience to keep cooperative efforts in mind as they moved forward with the conference, intended to increase leaders’ awareness of Total Force Fitness. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, created the initiative to foster a holistic approach to well-being that keeps the individual, family and organization in mind.

Resilience plays a key role in well-being, but the trick is deciphering what makes some people resilient and others less so, Stanley noted. Some people can weather extreme circumstances and come out unscathed, and others may crumble, he said.

Stanley cited his own life as an example. His wife was shot in a sniper attack in 1975, he said, and is paralyzed as a result. They’re celebrating their 40-year anniversary in June, their daughter is a Navy nurse practitioner, and they’ve had their “bumps” as well, he added.

“Each of us experiences similar kinds of things in life,” he said, “and those things help us become better, and some of us crumble. … Some of us have challenges as a result.”

Everyone is going to take some flak from others, Stanley noted. “Somebody is not going to like what you have to say,” he told the group. “They’re not going to love you back.”

The question, he said, is how to bounce back when bumps in the road occur. Working together, he added, people can find answers to that question and more.

A lack of trust can be a barrier to building resilience, and well-being, Stanley said, acknowledging that tough times and circumstances can make it hard for people to trust others. But this lack of trust, he told the group, can prevent people from the kinds of collaborations that will breed solutions.

Stanley cited the government as an example, noting that people within the government don’t always work or communicate together well. This hinders hiring reform, he said, posing an ongoing challenge.

“I can’t bring the people in fast enough,” he said, noting that government presents a barrier to bringing the best people in quickly. And then, he added, the challenge becomes keeping them once they’re on board.

“Picking the best people is tough business,” he said. “We’ve done very good at picking good people, but we can do better.”

If people accept things as they are, Stanley said, progress is impossible. “My orientation in life, in general, is … we should always be looking, looking, looking for the next edge,” he said. “Policies that we put in place, it’s not just about right now, but later on. Taking care of our people is so fundamentally basic -- and it’s about love. I can’t make it any simpler than that.”

DARPA ‘Crowd Sources’ Combat Vehicle Design

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 7, 2011 – The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency is leveraging the “power of the crowd” to reduce the time it takes to design and build complex, expensive combat vehicles, an agency official said today.

Army Lt. Col. Nathan Wiedenman, deputy program manager for the six-month Experimental Crowd-derived Combat-support Vehicle Design Challenge, told American Forces Press Service that the crowd includes service members, engineers, members of the public and others who usually have no way to contribute to military design.

“Soldiers love to give feedback, to put it nicely, about the limitations of their vehicles,” Wiedenman said.

“I spent months in Afghanistan hearing from soldiers about their issues with their vehicles,” he added. “So here’s an opportunity to contribute in a meaningful way to how we can do things better.”

The program will result in a fully functional concept vehicle that should be ready in June, he said, and offers a way to introduce the most innovative ideas for a better performing vehicle.

The agency is working to create a new, faster process for developing future military vehicles. This challenge – conducted with Local Motors, Inc., of Phoenix -- is one step in that process.

Local Motors will begin accepting design submissions Feb. 10 and close the process March 3. The competition is open to the public, and designs can be entered using anything from a sketch on a piece of paper to a computer-aided design system. The winner will receive $7,500, second place $1,500 and third place $1,000.

The competition involves use of a lightweight, tubular steel chassis and a General Motors power train from a car called the Rally Fighter built by Local Motors, which developed the vehicle in 2008 using a crowd-sourced process.

Those who take the challenge will use the chassis and drive train and design a vehicle body “that does the things soldiers need it to do,” Wiedenman explained.

To focus the contributors’ efforts, the challenge offers two mission sets -- one is combat delivery and evacuation and the other is combat reconnaissance.

“The intent is not to produce two separate vehicles but to give people something to shoot for,” Wiedenman said.

Combat resupply refers to the constant need in the battlefield to bring supplies forward and move people or equipment back, he explained. The challenge for this mission will be to conceptualize a vehicle body design that allows this to be done in the most flexible possible way.

A combat reconnaissance vehicle has to be light and fast. Sighting systems should be mountable on the vehicle. Inside, items such as camouflage and ammunition should be easily stowed but accessible, Wiedenman said.

“Because we realize that not everybody has the military background to understand these mission-set requirements,” he added, “we provided Local Motors with four different fictitious scenarios” that illustrate how the vehicles might be used during each mission.

“In the late 90s during a resupply mission … we found ourselves low on rations,” one of the fictitious scenarios begins, and tells how weather stranded a group of coalition forces for three days without food or water.

“If we’d had access to a fast vehicle,” the scenario concludes, “they could have provided the necessary supplies within 24 hours and our mission wouldn’t have been delayed. Fortunately the delay didn’t cost us any lives this time.”

According to the competition description, “The goal of the [concept] vehicle will be to transport items and people around quickly and efficiently in a potentially hostile but mobile environment.”

DARPA has successfully used crowd-sourcing for other projects, Wiedenman noted.

In 2009, the DARPA Network Challenge explored the roles the Internet and social networking play in the timely communication, wide-area team building and the urgent mobilization needed to solve time-critical problems.

The Network Challenge winner was the first to submit the locations of 10 8-foot balloons moored at 10 fixed locations in the continental United States.

During the current challenge, the agency and Local Motors will provide feedback to the competitors, Wiedenman said.

“As submissions are received, folks at Local Motors and DARPA will be providing feedback. There will be quite a bit of back and forth,” he said. “It’s not just one shot and you’re done.”

After the submissions are assessed, those that meet the challenge requirements will be up for vote on March 3 to 10.

“Everybody who wants to participate can vote on the designs, so it’s not just submissions that are crowd derived, but the winners of the vehicle body design will be crowd derived,” Wiedenman said.

DARPA is investigating potential uses for the concept vehicle, Wiedenman said.

“It’s something the larger military-vehicle-development community will be interested in,” he added. “So capturing those ideas and giving [the community] an opportunity to not just see how the competition goes but see that end result is going to be valuable.”

Chandler to Become Next Sergeant Major of the Army

Secretary of the Army John McHugh and Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. announced today that Command Sgt. Maj. Raymond F. Chandler III will become the sergeant major of the Army March 1.

"We have the utmost confidence in Command Sgt. Maj. Chandler and look forward to having him join our leadership team,” said McHugh. “He has the right qualities and credentials to assume this vitally important duty that Sgt. Maj. of the Army Preston has skillfully and adeptly performed for the last seven years."

Chandler is currently the commandant of the U. S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.  He will succeed Kenneth Preston, who has served since January 2004.

 “Command Sgt. Maj. Chandler is the right soldier to lead our NCO Corps,” Casey said.  “He has demonstrated excellence in every position, and has the depth of experiences required to help us lead our Army.”

Chandler will be sworn into the new position March 1 in a ceremony at the Pentagon.

 “Being named the 14th sergeant major of the Army is truly an honor,” Chandler said.  “I am humbled, yet excited by the opportunity to serve our soldiers and their families in light of the challenges ahead.”

In June 2009, Chandler became the first enlisted commandant of the U. S. Army Sergeants Major Academy.

In his new position, Chandler will serve as the Army chief of staff’s personal adviser on matters affecting the enlisted force.  The role involves extensive travel and focuses on soldier training, noncommissioned officer development and the well-being of families.

The sergeant major of the Army recommends quality-of-life improvements to Army leadership and often sits on councils that make decisions affecting enlisted soldiers and their families.  He also routinely testifies before Congress on these issues.

Preston leaves the position as the longest serving SMA after being selected by previous Army Chief of Staff Gen. Peter Schoomaker.

 “Many of the great CSMs and SGMs serving around the Army today are a product of CSM Chandler's leadership and development efforts,” Preston said.  “He brings a broad breadth of experience and I have no doubt he will provide the strategic vision and professionalism long associated with this position.”

Face of Defense: Airman's Lineage Spans Three Generations

By Mike Joseph
502nd Air Base Wing

LACKLAND AIR FORCE BASE, Texas, Feb. 7, 2011 – Growing up, Air Force Staff Sgt. Jason Paxton knew it was only a matter time before he would follow in his family's boot prints.

Though family lineages in military service aren’t uncommon, the Paxtons stand out for the way three generations chose to spend part of their Air Force careers.

Paxton is now going down the same path chosen by his father and grandfather as a military training instructor.

"Even when I was in high school, I knew I was going into the Air Force," said Paxton, who serves in the 323rd Training Squadron. "And I always knew at some point I was going to be a TI, because I thought it would be cool to be a third-generation TI."

The Paxtons’ military training instructor lineage started in 1970, when the sergeant’s grandfather, Jack Paxton, arrived here from Vietnam. He joined the Air Force in 1954 to leave West Virginia, he said, "because there was really nothing for me there.” He spent four years as a military training instructor here before retiring and taking a civilian job on the base.

It wasn't long after his father’s retirement before Jack Paxton Jr., one of six children, followed his lead into Air Force blue.

"About a year after high school [in 1978], Dad woke me up one morning and said, 'You've got an appointment at the recruiter's office,'" the younger Jack Paxton said. "I didn't know what I wanted to do -- my dad nudged me along. If I could go back and do it all over again, I'd do the same thing."

The "same thing" translated into an Air Force career. Twenty-two years later, he retired as a senior master sergeant. He spent eight of those years as a training instructor, section supervisor and superintendent.

"I knew I wanted to be a TI because I grew up with my father being a military training instructor," he said. "The same thing with Jason -- he was around this environment when I was an MTI."

Jason, who joined the Air Force in 2001, arrived here after deciding the time was right to apply for a military training instructor position. He was certified as an MTI in June.

Perhaps it was destiny calling when Paxton was assigned to the 323rd TRS. The squadron is housed in the same recruit housing and training building where his father spent six years in the MTI corps. But that's not the only connection. Jack Paxton Jr. was the MTI for his son's current supervisor.

So when the three generations of Paxtons gathered at the squadron recently, it was like coming home.

"Jason runs into people all the time who knew me," the sergeant’s father said. "When I see what Jason's going through, it brings me back. And every time I walk in this building, it's like nothing's changed.

"I saw some trainees at parade rest [while I was coming in], and I almost yelled at them," he added with a laugh.

But his personality and that of his father suggest otherwise.

"Anybody who meets Dad and Grandpa knows they are very, very laid back -– big time," Paxton said. "Dad never brought it home. And if I didn't know, I'd have never thought Grandpa was a TI."

His father quickly agreed about his own father. "People look at Dad as the nicest guy in the world," he said.

The sergeant’s grandfather said he enjoyed being an instructor and remembers his time here.

"I still go back to the TI business in my dreams,” he said. “It never leaves you. Sometimes I wake up marching, 'Hut, two, three, four.' Some of it is TI and [some is from Vietnam experiences]."

All three Paxtons agree job satisfaction far outweighs the long hours and demands involved in being a military training instructor.

"Three generations of TIs … says something about the career field," Jack Paxton Jr. said. "I'd do it all over again. This was by far the best job I ever had."

People’s Choice – Photo Contest, Round 4

Posted by: LT Connie Braesch

We are half way through our list of 40 nominations for this year’s Coast Guard Photo Contest People’s Choice award.

Below is the next set of photos taking you behind the scenes and into the daily lives of your Coast Guard men and women…

To vote, you can go to our Flickr photo set (http://www.flickr.com/photos/coast_guard/sets/72157625698358095) to see all the pictures nominated so far and leave your comment there. It’s your choice… your People’s Choice.

General Officer Announcement

The chief of staff, Army announced today the following assignment:

Maj. Gen. William C. Mayville Jr., to commanding general, 1st Infantry Division and Fort Riley, Fort Riley, Kan.  Mayville most recently served as deputy chief of staff, operations, International Security Assistance Force, Operation Enduring Freedom, Afghanistan.

Second Fleet Commander Visits USS Gettysburg (CG 64)

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Betsy L. Knapper, USS Gettysburg (CG 64) Public Affairs

USS GETTYSBURG, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, U.S. Second Fleet, Vice Adm. Daniel P. Holloway visited the guided missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64), Feb. 3.

Holloway arrived aboard via helicopter to meet with Gettysburg's commanding officer and take a quick tour as the ship was conducting Composite Training Unit Exercise (COMPTUEX) and Joint Task Force Exercise (JTFEX) as part of the George H.W. Bush Strike Group.

"We talked a lot about different things that have been on our minds," said Capt. Patrick O. Shea, USS Gettysburg (CG 64) commanding officer. "We talked about individual augmentees, the funding for our ship, and managing the overall approach to deployment."

While touring the ship, Holloway reminded the crew that they were a maritime nation at war and to take full advantage of the training scenarios so that they can be ready on arrival.

"Vice Adm. Holloway was very encouraging [from] the stand point of where we are headed in our certifications and was very positive about the performance of Gettysburg thus far," said Shea.

Being able to operate so close with USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), the embarked air wing and the other Strike Group ships during COMPTUEX, has made a positive impact on Holloway.

"I am very proud of what you are doing out here as part of the strike group," said Holloway over the ship's 1MC. "Have a wonderful port visit and a great [leave] period. Take care of your families … so you can come back out and successfully accomplish your mission."

Gettysburg is scheduled to deploy with the George H.W. Bush Strike Group in Spring 2011.

For more news from Navy Public Affairs Support Element, Norfolk, visit www.navy.mil/local/pacennorfolk/.

Stethem Makes Port Visit to Hong Kong

From USS Stethem (DDG 63) Public Affairs

HONG KONG (NNS) -- The guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) arrived in Hong Kong for a port visit during the Chinese New Year celebration Feb. 4.

"We on Stethem are excited to be back in Hong Kong, and are pleased to not only enjoy liberty in Hong Kong, but also to be here to witness the great traditions associated with the New Year's festivals," said Cmdr. Hank Adams, Stethem's commanding officer.

"Port visits like this are great for the crew, giving everyone a chance to broaden their horizons through exposure to new cultures and customs," Adams added.

During Stethem's visit, crew members will take part in a community service project at the Fu Hong Society in the Cheung Sha Wang Adult Training Center, and participate in the "Meals in the Home" program hosted by the Hong Kong American Women's Association.

Sailors dine in the homes of local Hong Kong families, as part of the Meals in the Home program. This enables them to eat local cuisine, experience Hong Kong culture and strengthens relations with the local community.

Additionally, the Stethem soccer team is scheduled to play a game against the Hong Kong University soccer team.

Stethem is currently on patrol in Southeast Asia to support U.S. 7th Fleet's interoperability and training commitments in mine neutralization warfare and maritime operations.

For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.