Saturday, February 19, 2011

This Day in Naval History - Feb. 18

From the Navy News Service

1846 - General order on port and starboard is issued. Port replaces the term "larboard."
1944 - An amphibious force under Rear Adm. Harry W. Hill lands troops on Engebi Island, Eniwetok, in the South Pacific.
1955 - The first of 14 detonations takes place during the Operation Teapot nuclear test.

Salvadoran CNO Visits HSV Swift, Accepts Project Handclasp Delivery

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

PUERTO CORSAIN, El Salvador (NNS) -- El Salvador's senior naval officer went pier side to High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) to accept a Project Handclasp delivery from the Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011 team at Puerto Corsain, El Salvador, Feb. 18.

Cmdr. Mark Becker, SPS 2011 mission commander, greeted Jefe del Estado Mayor General de La Fuerza Naval de El Salvador, Contralmirante Juan Antonio Calderon Gonzalez, at the ship's brow to donate $86,000 worth of fire fighting gear and computer equipment to be used by a variety of agencies and local schools.

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

"The items donated will definitely be put to good use, and we appreciate the time, consideration and effort that went into making this delivery happen," said Gonzalez.

"Our entire team is excited about supporting Project Handclasp and continuing to provide assistance in conjunction with our partnership efforts in the region," said Becker. "In the end, everyone involved gains something from our exchanges, which is critical to mission success and fostering lasting bonds with the Salvadoran government."

Prior to the lunchtime delivery, Gonzalez and his staff were given a tour of Swift. After lunch aboard ship, Becker and Gonzalez headed to two sites ashore where U.S. Sailors and Marines were participating in subject matter exchanges with Salvadoran sailors.

"I felt it was important for him to see the cross training his Sailors are participating in with our Sailors," said Becker. "They are doing some amazing things in the community and learning from one another."

At the first site, U.S. Sailors were participating in physical security practical training applications with their counterparts. The second site the two leaders visited was an elementary school where Seabees assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 28 and Marines assigned to 2nd Marine Logistics Group were working electrical, plumbing and construction projects with their Salvadoran counterparts.

"Today was an opportunity to see how successful and effective these engagements are for my men and the American service members," said Gonzalez. "Hopefully we will continue to work together in the future."

Southern Partnership Stations are annual deployments of U.S. ships to the Caribbean and Latin America, in the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. 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.

Alaska Guard Team Prepares for Snowmobile Race

By Kalei Rupp
Alaska National Guard

CAMP DENALI, Alaska, Feb. 18, 2011 – The Alaska National Guard team is putting the finishing touches on its machines and logging the last training miles in preparation for the start of the “Iron Dog” snowmobile race Feb. 20.

Army Command Sgt. Maj. Pamela Harrington, of Palmer and Army Sgt. 1st Class Elaine Jackson of Anchorage will represent the Alaska National Guard in the pro-class division of what is known as the world’s longest and toughest snowmobile race.

As the only all-female team among the 28 teams entered in this year’s pro-class race, the two Guard soldiers will traverse more than 2,000 miles of Alaskan trails from Big Lake to Nome, then on to Fairbanks. If they finish, they will be only the second all-female team ever to finish the race, and the first since 2001.

For the first time, an ambassador team of riders, including an Alaska Army National Guardsman, will serve as goodwill ambassadors for the race, making public appearances in towns along the race route.

“The purpose of the team is to express the gratitude of both the Iron Dog race and the Alaska National Guard to all volunteers and local community members at each checkpoint along the race,” said Lt. Col. Joseph Lawendowski, Alaska Army National Guard recruiting and retention commander and ambassador team rider. “We will be moving at the trail-class pace and start with the trail-class riders, but we will travel the entire route of the pro-class race from Big Lake to Nome to Fairbanks.”

For the second straight year, the Alaska National Guard is the presenting partner for the Iron Dog. The Guard became the lead sponsor in 2009 to support a uniquely Alaska event and bolster the Alaska National Guard throughout the state and nation, officials said.

“We view the Alaska National Guard as an excellent partner to help us elevate the race and grow to the next level,” said Kevin Kastner, Iron Dog executive director. “With the Guard, we have the opportunity to strengthen our relationships with the community and work on the education side to really connect on the ground with the youth. If we can engage and excite the communities out there, that’s a huge benefit.”

The Alaska National Guard team has put in hundreds of miles of training for the race and spent countless hours preparing their machines for the rugged terrain. But ultimately, they hope their experience as Guard members will give them an edge.

“An advantage we have as National Guardsmen is that we train for the mental aspect –- the stamina, the sleep deprivation, the perseverance,” Harrington said. “You never quit, you never leave a fallen soldier behind. You know you will both prevail. That mental strategy is going to help us overcome any physical challenge.”

Harrington and Jackson will be among 12 rookie teams and 27 rookie drivers.

“We’re hungry and ready for the challenge,” Jackson said.

Today in the Department of Defense, Sunday, February 20, 2011

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

Southern Partnership Station 2011 Medical Team Visits El Salvadorian Island

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffery Tilghman Williams, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. 4th Fleet Public Affairs

PUERTO CORSAIN, El Salvador (NNS) -- A U.S. Navy medical team and U.S. Marine Corps engineers visited the Unidad De Salud medical clinic on the island of Zacatillo, El Salvador, to assess public health needs in support of Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011, Feb. 17.

The three Sailors and two Marines took a 30-minute boat ride from Puerto Corsain, El Salvador, to meet with medical officials at their sole medical clinic to discuss capabilities and limitations for providing quality medical care to 2,000 island residents.

"Basically, we wanted to see firsthand how they provide care, and evaluate our ability to work together and partner to provide the best public health for the men, women and children who live here," said Cmdr. David Blazes, SPS 2011 senior medical officer.
"We view this as a positive step toward improving the services we offer our patients," said Karen Ivania Ponce, Unidad De Salud primary care provider. "Our resources and funding are very limited, so we often face challenges which make it difficult to do our jobs."

After a briefing and tour of the facility by Ponce and her staff, the service members' attention shifted toward key concerns by island residents and medical clinic staff.

"The biggest problem we face here is potable water," said Rafael Antonio Martinez, Unidad De Salud head nurse practitioner. "We have three wells used to provide water throughout the island, but we don't have a quality filtering system, which allows bacteria and disease to travel through our water."

Because of the uncertainty and lack of ability to produce purified water, all residents are required to boil their water prior to consumption. There is also a limit on production capabilities, and residents are only provided with 18 gallons of water per week. The water provided is used for bathing, cooking, cleaning and drinking.

"This is a very important issue here, because water is critical to life," said Corp. Robert Wrobleski, 2nd Marine Logistics Group water support technician. "We're evaluating their equipment and procedures, and offering recommendations to improve their filtering process."

"Hopefully being able to walk through the streets of our town, and see our wells and purification process, will help in developing a joint plan to end this problem and provide limitless clean water to our people," said Ponce.

The team of service members spent five hours on the island walking and talking with residents prior to heading back to High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) to draft plans and document recommendations.

"There is so much value in these site assessments, because it allows us to gain an in-depth knowledge of how and what we can do, to provide assistance and continue to build and sustain enduring relationships with the El Salvadorian government," said Blazes.

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 news from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command/U.S. FOURTH Fleet, visit, or

For more news from Southern Partnership Station 2011, please visit or

National Naval Medical Center Receives Joint Commission Accreditation

By Sarah Fortney, National Naval Medical Center Public Affairs

Bethesda, Md. (NNS) -- The National Naval Medical Center (NNMC) received Joint Commission accreditation in recognition of the its safe and high quality care, treatment and services, Feb. 9.

The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 18,000 health care organizations and programs nationwide, ensuring health care provided is safe and effective.

"There are multiple participation requirements that we have to meet in order to be accredited," said Gene Monroe, NNMC Joint Commission specialist. "Part of that includes our on-site survey that took place in November."

During the tri-annual survey, Nov. 15 through Nov. 19, 2010, commission surveyors conducted on-site observations and interviews, and assessed documents provided by hospital staff. Evaluating the hospital's efforts to improve performance, the commission also reviewed more than 1,500 standards, addressing areas such as medication management, emergency management, leadership, life safety, rights and responsibilities of the individual, treatment and services, and national patient safety goals.

"If you were to ask yourself what a high quality hospital looks like, these standards provide that picture for you," said Monroe. "We successfully completed the survey process, and that has resulted in our continued re-accreditation."

Department of Defense medical treatment facilities are required to seek and maintain accreditation, he added.

"It's one of the ways we validate we're doing great work, we're providing safe and quality health care to the beneficiaries," said Capt. Khin Aungthein, NNMC Joint Commission fellow.

Aungthein said even though the commission surveys the hospital tri-annually, they can survey the organization anytime between 18 and 39 months after a completed survey.

"We need to be ready at any given time," said Aungthein, adding that it is not just about meeting the Joint Commission's standards. "We're doing it for our patients to keep our patients safe, our staff safe and our organization safe."

"[The] National Naval Medical Center upholds a commitment of quality patient care," said Col. Charles Callahan, NNMC chief of staff. "Despite everything else we have going on, our staff is committed to providing quality primary care and specialty services in a patient and family-centered environment. The Joint Commission survey process is an opportunity to benchmark our hospital against the highest healthcare industry standards. Our warriors — past, present and future — and their families deserve nothing less."

Aungthein said in addition to the Joint Commission accreditation, the Medical Inspector General (IG) team also evaluates the hospital, making sure NNMC is also compliant with their requirements.

A separate organization, the IG visits at the same time as the Joint Commission, assessing efficiency, readiness and quality of health care in accordance with the secretary of the Navy, and Bureau of Medicine and Surgery (BUMED).

"All of those things are very important to make sure our organization is performing at the level we should [be]," said Aungthein.

This spring, the Joint Commission will return for a one-day, life-safety survey of the hospital's new spaces, said Monroe. Staff can also expect another visit within three to six months after integration, surveying Walter Reed National Military Medical Center Bethesda (WRNMMCB) as a new organization.

This article was sponsored by Military Books.