Military News

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Chairman Asks Communities to Help Veterans Reach Their Dreams

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 – He is proud and privileged to lead a military that is the best he has seen in more than 40 years, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said today.

Speaking during a town hall meeting at Capitol Theatre in Chambersburg, Pa., Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said, “I’ll state the case up front: I believe that there is in our country [a] ‘sea of goodwill’ to support our men and women in uniform, and their families, and we are now in our tenth year of war.”

The chairman has traveled around the nation for his “Conversations with the Country” since last April, working to raise awareness of how Americans can help veterans and their families return successfully from war to civilian life.

“They are extraordinary young men and women, and they come from all over the country - and in some cases all over the world,” the admiral said. “They make a difference, and they want to make a difference.”

The same service and sacrifice the nation witnessed in Iraq is now occurring in Afghanistan, the admiral said, and those who do so are on average in their early 20s.

“They bear this burden proudly, they care deeply about our country, and it is the freedoms we enjoy that they serve to make sure are never, ever in question,” he said.

Many soldiers have deployed four or five times, the chairman said.

“The first one was six months, the second one was eight months, and after that we went to 12 months, and 15 months and 15 months, and we’re now back to 12 months,” he said.

Between deployments those troops got only as much time as they had spent away, Mullen said, and typically spent half of that time away from home.

For Marines, deployments are shorter but more frequent – “Seven months out, seven months back, since the war started,” he said.

The change that punishing schedule has wrought in Iraq is “breathtaking,” Mullen said.

“It is about politics in Iraq now, it’s not about violence,” he said. “And it’s about a future for 26 million people.”

There are young Americans who gave their lives and many others who served and sacrificed to create that possibility, the admiral said.

“In Afghanistan, we still are on this kind of rotation … though we are now home longer than we are deployed,” he said.

Mullen said for him, part of the conversation is “I want to make sure we are facing the fullness of these wars.”

The chairman said he and his wife, Deborah, greet returning troops, meet with military families, and visit service members wounded in the wars.

“You go in to visit them and their families, and the docs do the medicine, but the families really do the healing,” he said. “You go to try to lift their spirits, and after you spend time with them … they lift yours.”

Today’s returning warriors are a young generation determined to make a difference and wired to serve, the chairman said.

“What I want to have a conversation about with communities like yours is, these young men and women are coming back … and they will make a huge difference, I believe, in our future,” Mullen said.

Veterans have seen their lives change, but their dreams remain the same, he said: “They still want to go to school, they want to have a family … they’d like to own a piece of the rock.”

What he asks of communities are the things that will make those dreams possible, the chairman said.

“Education, employment and health,” he said. “I recognize … the employment challenge is huge here, as it is throughout the country. But this economy’s going to turn, and the number of jobs available is going to go up.”

The model by which the Defense and Veterans Affairs departments send a soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who is leaving service back to his or her community with “have a nice life” is no longer acceptable, Mullen said.

“These are the same individuals who on Monday of a given week, I am devoting the fullness of my life and leadership to their success,” he said. “And on Tuesday, when they leave, I am no longer focused on them. I don’t think we can do that anymore.”

The military bureaucracy and American communities must be partners in making veterans and their families successful in their post-war lives, the chairman said.

While the Pentagon and the VA contribute funds for health care and education, Mullen said, communities are where those funds must translate to successful services.

“It has to be local, and leaders have to design the model, if you will, in the local community that’s going to achieve this kind of effect,” the admiral said.

He has seen a list of community services that succeed, the chairman said.

“What I’m asking of communities is to just open up your lenses, to include in your outreach, these families,” he said.

The chairman thanked the audience for joining in the conversation.

“Hopefully, out of this can come some inspiration and leadership to make a difference in their lives as they return,” he said.

Website Informs Financial Management Workers

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 – Members of the Defense Department’s financial management work force have a new website as a source for information one-stop shopping.

The site “FM Online” features the latest information and articles on topics of interest for the financial management community, in addition to up-to-date DOD guidance, policies and directives, officials said.

FM Online links to “FM myLearn,” a new e-catalog that serves as a gateway to professional development and training opportunities provided across the department’s financial management work force, officials added.

The Pentagon comptroller’s office maintains the site, which is accessible to all DOD common access card holders and focuses on the department’s financial management work force, which comprises more than 45,000 civilian employees and military service members.

Unlike public websites, access to FM Online is limited to common access card holders, officials said.

The website also contains a search tool and links to other financial management-related websites, both within and outside of the Defense Department.

Special Operations Focuses on World’s ‘Unlit Spaces’

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 – A NASA composite image of the Earth at night, seen from space, offers an illuminating reference point for the shift in special operations forces’ missions since 2001, their senior officer said this week.

Before Sept. 11, 2001, the military considered the places where the lights are to be the most strategically important on the globe, said Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson, commander of U.S. Special Operations Command.

Olson discussed the strategic importance of the globe’s unlit areas during Feb. 8 remarks at the National Defense Industrial Association’s 22nd Annual Special Operations and Low-intensity Conflict Symposium.

“I’ve come to think of this as … representative of how the world has changed,” Olson said, indicating the photograph.

The swath of light stretching in a narrow band across the Northern Hemisphere represents industrialized nations with “developed societies, … things and money,” Olson said, and during most of the 20th century, he added, the U.S. military focused on that area.

“But the world changed over the last decade,” he said, explaining that Socom now considers 51 countries to be of high-priority interest in the global campaign against the extremist threat.

For the most part, “there’s not a great deal of overlap” between those countries’ locations and where the lights are, Olson said.

“Our strategic focus has shifted largely to the south, … certainly within the special operations community, as we deal with the emerging threats from the places where the lights aren’t,” he said.

Olson said the unlit places generally have ungoverned or under-governed spaces, more porous borders and less-secure airports than in more developed areas.

“They have the opportunity for training, for movement, for smuggling –- for activities to occur that ultimately may threaten us,” he said. “They are also places where the population may be riper for recruitment into behavior that is sort of challenging to the more legitimate form of government.”

Places where special operations forces are deployed show “a pretty high degree of overlap” with the unlit places in the photograph, Olson said.

“We are in these places at the request of the host government and in accordance with the strategy [of] the geographic combatant commander,” he said. “These are countries where building partner capacity, assisting our partners in helping themselves, is becoming more and more important to us.”

Olson described the two primary “flavors” of special operations activities: strike capability -- which he called the “man-hunting, thing-hunting, direct-action piece” -- and the indirect approach, which includes engagement, training, advising, mentoring, equipping and “sticking with” foreign forces.

It’s the second approach, Olson said, that ultimately leads to decisive effects on the battlefield, but the direct action buys time for engagement, and both are necessary for success in operations such as those in Afghanistan.

Many of the nations where special operations forces primarily operate today, the Socom commander said, don’t historically have a strong military-to-military relationship with the United States “either because of politics, or economies, or both.”

The absence of a historical military relationship poses a number of challenges to effective military partnerships with those countries, the admiral said.

“We don’t know them, and they don’t know us,” Olson said. “We generally don’t speak their languages, we don’t understand their histories, we don’t know their families, we don’t know how work is done, we don’t know how money is made, we don’t know all the nuances, we don’t know the effects, truly, of climate, of terrain, of religion, of culture, in these regions. And it takes time to get there from here.”

Special operations forces see an ever-increasing need to work effectively in locations where they haven’t operated before in the numbers or with the purpose they have now, he said.

When he was first asked how the special operations community has changed since 2001, Olson said, his answer referenced the classic military construct of “shoot, move, communicate.”

“Our ability to shoot hasn’t changed all that much,” he said, noting that weapons and tactics have improved, but that forces find, approach and address targets in much the same way as they did before 9/11.

But Socom’s ability to move, particularly over ground, is significantly better, Olson said.

“Before [2001], of our five active-duty Special Forces groups, only one … had a motor pool of any significance. Now we are fully equipped, across our force, with a variety of vehicles,” he said.

But the “sea-change movement” within the special operations community and the real change over the last decade, Olson said, has been in the third area.

“By ‘communicate,’ I mean ‘network,’” he said. “We have placed networks on the battlefield with truly powerful effect.”

Olson said networks offer instant communication, the ability to change targets while en route to a target, the ability to sort out friendly and enemy forces at the target with biometric feedback quickly, and the ability to transmit imagery and classified message traffic wherever a team-sized element may be.

“Wherever there is a vehicle or a handful of people, we have that kind of connectivity now,” he said. “And then all of the talent that is required to … grow up in that networked community.”

But shooting, moving and communicating isn’t all there is to it, Olson pointed out. The goal, he said, is understanding.

“If you can shoot, you can move and you can network the battlefield, how do you then know that what you’re doing is right?” he asked.

It takes a deep understanding of a place to accurately predict the effects of special operations actions, Olson said. His approach to fostering this understanding, he added, is what he calls “Project Lawrence,” inspired by Thomas Edward Lawrence, a British army officer better known as “Lawrence of Arabia,” who served as a liaison officer to Arab forces during their revolt against Ottoman rule in 1916 to 1918 during World War I.

Socom needs “Lawrences” of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Mali, Indonesia and other places, Olson said.

“Absolutely, enormously essential and valuable when you can find these kinds of people, because they are the key to understanding the place,” he said. “Much better if we can recruit them from that place and make them part of us than … train us to be part of them, but we’ve taken a balanced approach to that, and frankly, we have more of us.”

Socom is intensifying the training and preparation of its people to work in the places they’re sent, Olson said, with a particular focus on high language capability.

“You don’t get the sense of a place if you can’t look at it through the lens of that language and communicate with those people,” he said. Over the past year, Socom has created cultural support teams made up of women that are deployed with tactical elements in all sorts of situations and remote environments, Olson said.

The teams are trained in many advanced skills, but their primary value is that they give those tactical elements access to “the 50 percent of the population … that we simply couldn’t reach before,” the admiral said.

That access has greatly increased his forces’ understanding of their operating environments, Olson said, noting his ideal approach to operations is “understand, communicate, move and shoot.”

“If you don’t understand, your communications will be wrong; if your communications are wrong your movement will be wrong; and if your movement is wrong you’re not shooting at the right things,” he said.

Government Publishes Veterans Homelessness Report

From HUD and VA News Releases

WASHINGTON, Feb. 10, 2011 – The Housing and Urban Development and Veterans Affairs departments today published what officials say is the most authoritative analysis yet of the extent and nature of homelessness among military veterans.

According to HUD and VA’s assessment, nearly 76,000 veterans were homeless on a given night in 2009, while roughly 136,000 veterans spent at least one night in a shelter during that year.

The assessment, part of President Barack Obama’s plan to prevent and end homelessness in America, is based on an annual report HUD provides to Congress and explores in greater depth the demographics of veterans who are homeless, how veterans compare to others who are homeless, and how veterans access and use the nation’s homeless response system.

“This report offers a much clearer picture about what it means to be a veteran living on our streets or in our shelters,” HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan said. “Understanding the nature and scope of veteran homelessness is critical to meeting President Obama’s goal of ending veterans’ homelessness within five years.”

“With our federal, state and community partners working together, more veterans are moving into safe housing,” Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki said. “But we’re not done yet.

“Providing assistance in mental health, substance abuse treatment, education and employment goes hand-in-hand with preventive steps and permanent supportive housing,” Shinseki continued. “We continue to work towards our goal of finding every veteran safe housing and access to needed services.”

Obama announced in June the nation’s first comprehensive strategy to prevent and end homelessness, including a focus on homeless veterans. The report, Opening Doors: Federal Strategic Plan to Prevent and End Homelessness, puts the country on a path to end veterans’ and chronic homelessness by 2015; and to ending homelessness among children and families by 2020.

Key findings of the report include:

-- More than 3,000 cities and counties reported 75,609 homeless veterans on a single night in January of 2009; 57 percent were staying in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program while the remaining 43 percent were unsheltered. Veterans represent about 12 percent of all homeless people counted nationwide during the 2009 assessment;

-- During a 12-month period in 2009, about 136,000 veterans -- or about 1 in every 168 veterans -- spent at least one night in an emergency shelter or transitional housing program. The vast majority of sheltered homeless veterans -- 96 percent -- experienced homelessness alone. Four percent of homeless veterans were found to be part of a family. Sheltered homeless veterans are most often single white men between the ages of 31 and 50 and living with a disability;

-- Veterans are 50 percent more likely to become homeless compared to all Americans and the risk is even greater among veterans living in poverty and poor minority veterans. HUD and VA examined the likelihood of becoming homeless among American veterans with particular demographic characteristics and found that during 2009, twice as many poor Hispanic veterans used a shelter compared with poor non-Hispanic veterans. African American veterans in poverty had similar rates of homelessness;

-- Most veterans who used emergency shelter stayed for only brief periods. One-third stayed in a shelter for less than a week; 61 percent used a shelter for less than a month; and 84 percent stayed for less than three months. The report also concluded that veterans remained in shelters longer than did non-veterans;

-- Nearly half of homeless veterans were in California, Texas, New York and Florida while only 28 percent of all veterans were located in those states;

-- Sheltered homeless veterans are far more likely to be alone rather than be part of a family household; 96 percent of veterans are individuals compared to 66 percent in the overall homeless population.

HUD and VA are working to administer a joint program targeting homeless veterans. Through the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing Program, HUD provides rental assistance for homeless veterans while VA offers case management and clinical services.

HUD last month awarded $1.4 billion to keep nearly 7,000 local homeless assistance programs operating. The Department also allocated $1.5 billion through its new Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-housing Program. Made possible through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, HPRP is intended to prevent persons from falling into homelessness or to rapidly re-house them if they do.

To date, more than 750,000 people, including more than 15,000 veterans, have been assisted through HPRP.

Northcom Looks to Expand Partnership with Guard

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

NATIONAL HARBOR, Md., Feb. 10, 2011 – U.S. Northern Command depends heavily on the National Guard and is looking for more opportunities to expand that partnership, Northcom’s deputy commander said here recently.

In remarks Jan. 20 during the National Guard Bureau Domestic Operations Workshop, Army Lt. Gen. Frank J. Grass said the National Guard is Northcom’s most important partner in its three critical mission areas: homeland defense, security cooperation and civil support.

“And if you look across the board at the things that we do,” he added, “there is not a mission that we do that the Air Guard or Army Guard doesn’t touch every day or accomplish for us.”

Grass said partnering between Northcom and the National Guard is a critical component of today’s national security strategy.

Grass noted eight areas of focus for Northcom that affect the homeland the most and said some of those areas hold potential for growth in the Northcom-National Guard Partnership.

The focus areas are:

-- Counterterrorism and force protection;

-- Combating transnational criminal organizations;

-- Defense support of civil authorities;

-- Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear consequence management;

-- Maritime warning;

-- Aerospace warning and control;

-- Missile defense; and

-- The Arctic region.

“We are interested in hearing from the states through the National Guard Bureau on where [our two agencies] can partner more,” the general said. “The National Guard makes me proud every day, and it will be written in history that [the Guard] did an amazing job for the nation, and that you are a true national treasure.”

Spouses Can Nominate Boss for Patriot Award

Special to American Forces Press Service

ARLINGTON, Va., Feb. 10, 2011 – Spouses of National Guard and Reserve service members are invited to nominate their employers for the Patriot Award, following a recent expansion in the program, announced yesterday by the Defense Department’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve agency.

Nominations for the Patriot Award were previously open only to Guard and Reserve service members to nominate their employers.

However, after learning of the growing number of employers with supportive initiatives for military spouses, ESGR added nominations for spouses’ employers, who will receive their own DOD award, the only one of its kind for military spouses.

Employers of military spouses are not legally obligated to provide special support, but Guard and Reserve spouses often share the challenges that go with military service. Child care, managing the household, and work schedules often have to be adjusted when a military spouse deploys.

Military spouses value the cooperation and encouragement of their employers just as much as those in the Guard and Reserve. The expansion of the Patriot Award honors flexible employers and is the only DOD-sanctioned award designated for spouses’ bosses.

The nation has relied heavily on Guard and Reserve service members during overseas military operations over the past decade. Reserve component members have deployed and fought with active-duty troops. Unlike spouses of active duty troops, Guard and Reserve spouses often don’t live near a network of large military bases. In many cases, an employer is a spouse’s strongest support community.

Spouses already have begun submitting nominations. Robyn Gellerup, a Wisconsin mother of three, works as an office manager for a construction company showroom.

“While my husband was deployed both times, [my employers took] care of us like we are part of their family, from mowing our lawn, plowing snow from our driveway, to performing maintenance on our vehicles and home,” Gellerup said. “It gave my husband peace of mind knowing that if something goes wrong I could just pick up the phone and they’d be there.”

All spouses of Guard and Reserve members are eligible to nominate their employers. Nomination forms are accessible on the ESGR website. Each nominated supervisor will receive a Department of Defense Certificate of Appreciation, presented by the spouse’s employee or a volunteer from the ESGR State Committee.

Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve is a Department of Defense agency established in 1972 to develop and maintain employer support for Guard and Reserve service. ESGR advocates relevant initiatives, recognizes outstanding support, increases awareness of applicable laws, and resolves conflict between service members and employers.

Paramount to ESGR’s mission is encouraging employment of Guardsmen and Reservists who bring integrity, global perspective and proven leadership to the civilian workforce.

For more information about ESGR Outreach Programs, or ESGR volunteer opportunities, call 1-800-336-4590 or visit the agency’s website.

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, February 11, 2011

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

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus presents the Vietnam Era Navy Cross to Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Ned Seath at at the Marine Corps Museum, Quantico, Va.  Media interested in attending should contact the public affairs officer for National Museum of the Marine Corps Gwenn Adams at 703-784-6134.

National Capital Region Flyovers of Arlington National Cemetery occur at and with one B-52.

This Day in Naval History - Feb. 10

From the Navy News Service

1862 - Union gunboats destroy Confederate ships during a victory in the Battle of Elizabeth City.
1900 - The first naval governor of Guam, Commodore Seaton Schroder, is appointed.
1960 - USS Sargo (SSN 583) surfaces at the North Pole.

TAG Lines – For WING Families, Soldiers & Airman

Live Internet Town Hall Meeting Tuesday, 15 February, (1800)

Join Brig. Gen. Donald Dunbar, Tuesday for an online town hall – topics of discussions will include:

·         724th Engineer Battalion Homecoming

·         Family Program Conference

·         Youth Camp, 29 - 31 July 2011

·         Tax Preparation Services

·         Strong Bond events

Log in, ask questions and share your thoughts with the man at the top.  Go to http://dma.wi.gov/TAGLines now to sign up for an e-mail reminder of this important event.

On event day:

·         Using your browser, navigate to: http://dma.wi.gov/TAGLines

·         Select a screen name that will appear when you ask a question or make a comment… example:  “Sherry_B/2/127th “

·         Then sit back read, watch and chat with the TAG, members of his staff and other participants about issues that affect you.

·         Don’t be worried if your comments or questions don’t appear right away. We anticipate there will be lots of messages going back and forth, and there are delays between the time you click “Send” and the time it appears in the message window for all to see that are a normal part of the system we are using.

·         Our “auto scroll” feature ensures you're always shown the newest content without having to refresh or scroll your screen. You can turn this on or off by using the controls at the bottom of the viewer window.

·         Subtle sound effects alert you to new content as it’s published. This can also be turned on or off as needed.

Reminder: In order to facilitate an open discussion with General Dunbar, please limit sharing this invitation to Wisconsin National Guard members & their families.

RIVRON 3 Sailors Test Combat Skills

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Paul D. Williams, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

CHESAPEAKE, Va (NNS) -- Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3, Det. 1, Sailors successfully completed a two-week final evaluation problem (FEP) on the Elizabeth River in Chesapeake, Va., Feb. 4.

The Detachment participated in various scenarios designed to test the Sailor's combat skills, and how they perform in a simulated combat environment.

"FEP is the final evaluation problem and is essential for the overall certification of the detachment to deploy," said Chief Warrant Officer William Norton, RIVRON 3 training officer and FEP evaluator. "It's essential we check their knowledge and test their skill sets to ensuring they are ready to fight."

RIVRON 3 completed a 13-week rigorous training cycle, and the evaluation was the last hurdle to clear before deploying. During the evaluation, Sailors responded to simulated indirect fire, chemical, biological and radiological defense, mass casualty drills, small craft interdictions and various other combat scenarios that fall within the Riverine area of responsibility.

"We have a well rounded training plan to deploy," said Engineman 1st Class (EXW) Jonathon Teal, RIVRON 3, Det. 1, leading petty officer. "With the Iraq mission being complete, this training scenario was set up to resemble other areas of potential security threats with elements of improvised explosive device attacks similar to what we saw in the Middle East."

Overall, the detachment had been put to the challenge and successfully demonstrated the last 13 weeks of training provided them with the ability to meet irregular challenges.

"The detachment went above and beyond," said Norton. "They excelled in their skill sets and did a great job overall."

The Riverine forces mission is to combat sea-based terrorism and other illegal activities, such as transportation of weapons of mass destruction components, hijacking, piracy and human trafficking.

RIVRON 3 is part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command and an enduring force providing capability across the full range of military operations in the maritime strategy to include forward presence, maritime security, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, sea control and power projection and deterrence.

Loneliness of Combat

By Army Capt. John Marion

Army Capt. John Marion flies the AH-64D Apache, and has carried out about 1,000 hours of combat flight time. He’s served seven years in the Army, with tours to Baghdad, Iraq and Al Kut, Iraq. Currently on his third deployment in Khowst, Afghanistan, John writes for the DCoE Blog on what it has felt for him to be a soldier and deployed.

I never really know how to respond when people ask me about deployments. With two tours in Baghdad under my belt, and currently serving in Eastern Afghanistan, words like boring, chaotic, harsh, exciting, gratifying, depressing and just about every other descriptor you might expect come to mind. Truth is, deployments can be such a rollercoaster that no one word can really capture the full extent of what it feels like, but of course, I usually throw a few of them out there to satisfy their curiosity.

The only word, or feeling, I've found that remains constant, is “loneliness.” Now, most people don't want to hear that because it isn't what combat is supposed to be like, and most veterans don't want to say that because either it's too revealing or entirely unexciting to the listener. It seems to me that the loneliness that springs from combat results from the separation of pre- and post-combat experiences.

Looking back, I can recall the first onset of that loneliness. When I was accepted to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, my life began to change. I certainly felt some excitement and anxiety as I started down this brave new path, but I also felt a deep regret that, in many respects, my life would never again be as carefree. I sacrificed wild college years for hard and tedious study, so that I could better serve my nation. Although I’ve kept close contact with my friends, I know that they simply can't relate to most of my military experiences. That lack of understanding separates you from the life that you led and the life you now lead. West Point initiated that crevice of isolation that has turned into a gorge.

The first time I deployed I accepted the thought that I might not make it home. I understood the risks and I had very little trouble moving from the academic theory to the practical reality. I would either get smoked, or I wouldn't. I had metaphorically put my name in a hat knowing that mine might be the next drawn. As a deployed soldier the time I spent at West Point immersed in leadership examples (both good and bad) and rigorous academic study, seemed a waste. The brave, intelligent and disciplined soldier could end up dead just as quickly as a cowardly, foolish one. Facing your own mortality with such random, unforgiving swiftness gives you a unique perspective…and takes some time to accept.

Family and friends may try, but they will never really understand the “loneliness” of a deployed soldier. And as that soldier, you can only accept that "a man never steps into the same river twice" and know that you're not alone.

DCoE resources for you or someone you know:

DCoE Outreach Center (24/7)
Call: 866-966-1020 / E-mail: resources@dcoeoutreach.org
Chat: www.dcoe.health.mil/24-7help.aspx
Afterdeployment.org
www.afterdeployment.org
Real Warriors Campaign

Wasp Sailors Aid in "Extreme Makeover"

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Christopher Koons, USS Wasp Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- USS Wasp (LHD 1) Sailors volunteered to help build a house during the filming of the television show, "Extreme Makeover: Home Edition", Jan. 31-Feb. 6.

"What we've done is to change the life of a family forever, and for us to be a part of helping others in the Hampton Roads community is a big deal," said Lt. Matthew Weems, USS Wasp chaplain.

The show's format involves the destruction of an old home and the building of a new one for a needy family. Wasp's involvement with the project began when members of the ship's Volunteer Service Program committee heard about it on the radio.

"Soon after we learned about it, we called the show's producers and volunteered to help," said Fire Controlman 3rd Class Richard Weaver.

During the project, many other volunteers, both civilian and military, aided in the effort.

"The immediate response was huge when we put the word out," said Betsy Burns, project volunteer coordinator. "Since Hampton Roads is such a close-knit community, we had volunteers from all branches of the armed forces as well as civilians, many with military ties, come out to help."

The Wasp Sailors assisted in tasks such as clearing the road of debris and helping repair lawns dug up by construction machinery. They also performed crowd control duty as the new house was revealed to the waiting family, Feb. 5

"It was a very emotional moment for them," said Weaver. "They were excited to see their brand new home ready for them to move into."

For other volunteers, helping to build a brand new house is simply part of a good day's work.

"I did an 'Extreme Makeover' project in Jonesboro, N.C., and it's a great thing to do because it helps out families, and the community as a whole," said Jay Burns, local resident and volunteer.

For Weaver, the main benefit of the project is helping those in need to get back on their feet.

"It was a chance to give back to the community, and to be involved in a charitable project such as this, is always a good thing," he said.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

Troops Urged to Quit Smokeless Tobacco

From a Tricare News Release

FALLS CHURCH, Va., Feb. 10, 2011 – When the Defense Department weighs in on kissing and spitting, it’s with good reason -- two good reasons, in fact: love and health.

Using smokeless tobacco can pose a stinky, unsavory obstacle to sharing a kiss with a loved one, parent, child or sweetheart. It also may cause a slew of serious health problems. That’s why TRICARE wants military personnel to participate in the Great American Spit Out on Feb. 24, and kiss the spit goodbye for a day.

About 19 percent of 18- to 24-year-old men in the armed forces use smokeless tobacco -- that’s more than double the national rate. The DOD Quit Tobacco -- Make Everyone Proud campaign at www.ucanquit2.org is focusing on helping those who spit and chew tobacco to develop a personalized cessation plan.

“Many of our servicemen started using smokeless tobacco at a young age due to peer pressure and became addicted before realizing the negative effects it could have on their personal relationships and health,” said Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Aileen Buckler, a U.S. Public Health Service officer and chairman of the DOD Alcohol and Tobacco Advisory Committee.

Throughout the month of February the DOD website will host a special Great American Spit Out page, www.ucanquit2.org/facts/gaspo/, where service members can publicly post their pledge to quit.

Also on the website, Navy Capt. (Dr.) Larry Williams, public health emergency officer, will answer questions about smokeless tobacco. Installations planning cessation events will find ideas, an event registration page, pledge cards, and downloadable promotional materials.

Service members and their friends, families and other supporters are invited to join the event on Facebook at www.facebook/ucanquit2.org. Those planning to quit can get a “Kiss me, I’m Tobacco Free” badge to post on their Facebook page.

The website will showcase graphic photos of the devastating effects of surgery for oral cancer, which has been linked to smokeless tobacco use. Those who use smokeless tobacco are marked by bulging cheeks, gunk stuck in teeth, permanently discolored teeth, and spitting cups -- all universally unappealing. Visitors will also find hard-hitting facts that dispel the myth that smokeless tobacco is a safe alternative to smoking. For example, almost half of those who contract oral cancer die within five years, and one American dies from oral cancer every hour.

“Don’t let spitting and chewing get in the way of your personal relationships,” Buckler urged. “Take this opportunity to do something for yourself and those you love. Kiss smokeless tobacco goodbye and experience the benefits to your social life and health.”

Enrolling in the website’s comprehensive support system, Train2Quit, can be the first step in the journey to saying goodbye to smokeless tobacco. The system features interactive components such as quit tools, self-assessment questionnaires, and quizzes.

Service members can create a customized quit plan with a calendar to track progress and learn how to beat cravings, overcome weight gain and cope with nicotine withdrawal. The site also has personal quit coaches, available 24/7, to get answers to questions about becoming tobacco free.

Airmen Missing in Action From WWII Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of 11 U.S. servicemen, missing in action from World War II, have been identified and are being returned to their families for burial with full military honors.

Army Air Forces Technical Sgt. Charles A. Bode, 23, Baltimore, will be buried on Feb. 11 in Arlington National Cemetery.  On Nov. 20, 1943, Bode, along with 10 other B-24D Liberator crew members, took off from Jackson Airfield, Port Moresby, New Guinea, on an overwater mission near the northern coast of the country.  During the mission, the only radio transmission from the crew indicated they were 20 miles northwest of Port Moresby, but they did not return to Jackson Airfield.  Subsequent searches failed to uncover any evidence of either the crew or the aircraft.

Following the war, the Army Graves Registration Service conducted investigations and searches for 43 missing airmen including Bode and the other 10 airmen, but concluded in June 1949 that all were unrecoverable.

In 1984, the government of Papua New Guinea notified U.S. officials of a World War II crash site in a ravine in Morobe Province.  A U.S. search and recovery team investigated the crash site in late 1984 and located B-24 aircraft wreckage. They also recovered human remains but were unable to complete the mission due to time constraints and the threat of landslides.  From that time until 2004, multiple teams from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) attempted to access and excavate the location but the threat of landslides made recovery too dangerous to continue.  During a site visit in 2004, local villagers turned over human remains they had previously removed from the area.

In addition to Bode’s individual burial, the crew of 11 men, 1st Lt. Richard T. Heuss, 23, Berkley, Mich.; 2nd Lt. Robert A. Miller, 22, Memphis, Tenn.; 2nd Lt. Edward R. French, 23, Erie, Pa.; 2nd Lt. Robert R. Streckenbach, Jr., 21, Green Bay, Wis.; Tech. Sgt. Charles A. Bode; Tech. Sgt. Lucian I. Oliver, Jr., 23 Memphis, Tenn.; Staff Sgt. Ivan O. Kirkpatrick, 36, Whittier, Calif.; Staff Sgt. William K. Musgrave, 24, Hutsonville, Ill.; Staff Sgt. James T. Moran, 21, Sloatsburg, N.Y.; Staff Sgt. James B. Moore, 21, Woburn, Mass.; and Staff Sgt. Roy Surabian, 24, Medford, Mass., will be buried as a group on March 24 at Arlington National Cemetery.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from JPAC and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA in the identification of Bode’s remains.

At the end of World War II, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 74,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

Odierno Details Joint Forces Command Disestablishment Plans

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – The commander of U.S. Joint Forces Command today outlined some of the changes that will take place over the next several months as he oversees the disestablishment of the southern Virginia-based organization responsible for the military’s joint training, doctrine and operations.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in August that he would recommend the command be eliminated and its essential functions assigned to other organizations, and President Barack Obama approved the command’s disestablishment Jan. 6.

Army Gen. Raymond T. Odierno spoke with reporters at the Joint Warfighting Center in Suffolk, Va., and shared his vision for the reorganization.

“What I hope to see is that we’re able to do our job better to support combatant commands in the services as they request help,” he said, “whether it’s conducting training exercises around the world or developing new doctrines for Afghanistan or ballistic missile defense or other areas.”

Gates signed a memorandum this morning providing guidance and direction to execute the disestablishment, Odierno said.

“The changes are significant,” he added. “We will retain the most critical functions and expertise for the joint warfighter in an organization flattened for agility and efficiency. But I do want to stress that this will be a different organization.”

In the months ahead, streamlined relevant joint functions will be transferred to “appropriate Defense Department entities, mostly the Joint Staff,” Odierno said. “We’ll ensure that we sustain the momentum and gains in jointness while maintaining critical interaction with NATO, specifically Allied Command Transformation, and other multinational partners.”

Allied Command Transformation, based in Norfolk, Va., is a NATO military command that provides the conceptual framework for conducting combined joint operations.

Odierno said he’s required over the next 30 days to publish a detailed implementation plan and submit it to Gates.

“During this time,” the general said, “I will continue to refine the details of this plan, and will continue to refine it as we begin execution of the plan.”

A two-star general officer will lead the new organization from Norfolk-Suffolk as deputy director for operational plans and joint force development on the Joint Staff. Joint Forces Command will be disestablished as a four-star combatant command by the end of August, and all personnel moves will be complete by March 2012.

“Today we have 33 liaison officers as part of Joint Forces Command,” Odierno said. “They will remain connected to the Joint Warfighting Center. We have requests for 17 other nations to join us here, and that will continue to be programmed.”

The general said the command’s outlying centers and agencies will be realigned and reduced for efficiency and assigned to other combatant commands. No physical moves are projected with the transfers.

These include the Joint Warfare Analysis Center in Dahlgren, Va.; the Personnel Recovery Agency in Fort Belvoir, Va.; the Joint Communications and Support Element at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla.; and the NATO School in Germany.

Joint Forces Command service components include Fleet Forces Command, Air Combat Command, Marine Forces Command and Army Forces Command, Odierno said, and each will revert to their respective service’s control Aug. 1.

The reorganized command will retain 51 percent of its Virginia work force, which will be reduced from about 4,700 people to 2,425. In the Norfolk-Suffolk area, the work force will drop to 1,900 from 3,800 people, and from 21 buildings to four.

“[Joint Forces Command] is one of the small pieces of a larger DOD efficiency effort,” Odierno said. “That piece, though, is important, and it’s personal to everyone here. I will place the highest priority on the execution and disestablishment and taking care of all our employees.”

Odierno said he and his staff understand the impact the command’s disestablishment will have on its workers.

“We are engaged with the Office of the Secretary of Defense Personnel and Readiness, the Navy Personnel Office’s human resource offices, and the entire Virginia delegation, both local and national, as well as the governor’s office,” he said, “to make sure our work force receives the best professional career advice and placement assistance available.”

The bulk of the reductions will affect contractors, he said, but some military and government civilian reductions also will take place.

“I absolutely agree with what we’re trying to do here,” Odierno added, “but the proof will be in our execution to make sure that we get this new organization right.”

Leaders Look to Protect Best MWR Programs

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 9, 2011 – The leaders of the services’ morale, welfare, and recreation departments today pledged to sustain military families’ best programs while searching for ways to deal with inevitable budget cuts.

“As we are focused on efficiencies, we will take care of our most valuable asset: our service members and their families,” Robert L. Gordon, the Defense Department’s deputy assistant secretary for military community and family policy, told a congressional subcommittee.

Gordon appeared before the House Armed Services Committee’s military personnel subcommittee to discuss morale, welfare, and recreation programs, along with leaders of each of the service MWR programs.

Results from the first survey of MWR program patrons conducted in 2009 shows the programs are fine, but could use improvement, especially in outdoor and recreational facilities, Gordon said.

Rich Gorman, executive director of the Army’s Family and Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Command, said MWR programs are important to help soldiers maintain physical fitness and alleviate stress, and support families.

“Everything we do every day is designed to support our soldiers,” he said. “MWR serves soldiers everywhere they serve.”

Gorman added that support is equal for families. “Mission accomplishment is directly related to soldiers’ knowing their families are safe and happy,” he said. “The Army has long recognized that if we don’t retain the family, we simply won’t retain the soldier.”

Rogers Patrick, acting director of the Navy’s Fleet and Family Readiness Programs, said his department has streamlined costs through its Quality of Life models to improve on-base housing, community centers, and galleys.

Those savings have helped to fund 30 more child care centers, allowing for 7,000 more openings and a waiting list of no more than three months, he said.

“Whatever the need, whatever the location, our patrons know they can count on MWR to give high-quality programs,” Patrick said.

Charles E. Milam, director of Air Force Services, said his office has “stretched the traditional programs of MWR to meet the constantly changing needs of airmen.”

Air Force Services has enhanced warrior and survivor care, outreach programs, and the dignified transfer services of fallen service members, Milam said. “We will not lose site of our core function of allowing for mission-ready airmen” as he and others develop next year’s budget, he said.

Timothy R. Larsen, director of the Marine Corps’ Personnel and Family Readiness Division, said the Corps increased funding for the programs by $10 million this year as part of a multiyear effort to transition programs such as the Exceptional Family Member and Quality of Life programs into the Personnel and Family Readiness Division, noting the programs’ importance to the resilience and readiness of Marines.

Gordon and the others said they are focused on how to preserve the best programs while finding cost savings in ones that are less effective or valued.

“Our services have done a very good job assessing the programs for the degree to which they provide effective quality of life for service members and their families,” he said. Program leaders will continue to focus on what military families want and need, he added.

“This notion of focusing on our human element … is absolutely essential,” he said.

The officials said nonappropriated funds programs supported partially by fees and revenue -- such as child care centers, commissaries and post exchanges -- are critical for sharing resources with other programs, providing benefits of reduced costs to families, and building a sense of community among service members and families, at least 60 percent of whom live off base.

Southern Partnership Station 2011 Commander Visits Guatemalan School

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

SAN JOSE, Guatemala (NNS) -- The Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011 mission commander visited a Guatemalan school for a tour and speech in San Jose, Guatemala, Feb. 9.

Cmdr. Mark Becker, SPS 2011 mission commander, and his foreign affairs officer, 1st Lt. Axel Zengotita, visited Colegio Liceo Alpha y Omega to discuss the importance of SPS 2011 and the importance of education.

"We're delighted about this opportunity to discuss our mission and partnership with the Guatemalan government," said Becker. "These children are the future of this country, and I'm honored to speak with them."

The invitation for Becker to speak at the school was a result of a class tour by 32 Colegio Liceo Alpha y Omega students to High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2), Feb. 7.

"Our students were so excited about their experience on a Navy ship and their interaction with American service members; we had to offer a token of our appreciation by inviting them here," said Colegio Liceo Alpha y Omega Director General Roberto Genovez del Cid.

More than 250 students were in attendance for Becker's speech, which was followed by a question and answer session. Most of the questions were related to why U.S. Sailors were in Guatemala, and how one becomes a Sailor.

"Their questions were very well thought out, and they displayed a sincere appreciation for our service and how we've partnered with Guatemalan service members to complete training and school construction projects here," said Becker.

At the conclusion of Becker's speech, Genovez del Cid presented him with a certificate of appreciation and school medallion to commemorate the day.

"The idea for this award and this entire day was initiated by our students who are committed to learning and broadening their horizons," said Genovez del Cid.

"We have never seen or met an American Sailor, so we're very excited about this day. Everyone we've met from the ship has been so nice and friendly to us, and we wanted to say thank you," said Jessica Rosemary, a 5th level student at the school.

The school visit was the final activity of a 19-day subject matter expert exchange with the Guatemalan military. During the exchange, service members worked side by side, participating in information exchanges related to medical operations, practical self defense, construction, civil affairs and security in support of SPS 2011.

SPS 11 is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is 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, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/NAVSOUS4THFLT, at
http://www.facebook.com/pages/browser.php#!/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/.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, February 10, 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 Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at at the Army War College Commandant's Lecture Series at Carlisle Barracks, Pa.  Media interested in attending should contact Lee DeRemer at 717-586-2511.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen participates in a Conversation with the Country Town Hall Event at at the Capitol Theatre,
159 S. Main St., Chambersburg, Pa.
  Media interested in attending should contact Pamela Gaudiose, chairman, Scotland Landing Foundation at 717-264-9492.

U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Mark Martins, commander of Rule of Law Field Force-Afghanistan, will brief the media live from Kabul, Afghanistan, at , in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on rule of law.  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.