Military News

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Safety Advice on Military Flares


The Sheriff’s Encinitas Station and Bomb/Arson Unit are advising people along the coastline of Encinitas to be careful about military flares washing up on the beach. Encinitas Sheriff’s Deputies have responded to two incidents of military flares in metal boxes washing up on the beach yesterday and today. On February 23rd at 6:00 p.m., a device was found on the beach near the 300 block of S. El Portal Street. This morning, a man found two metal boxes while he was walking on Beacons Beach. The boxes contain a label stating:

“FLAMMABLE, SIGNAL SMOKE, CONTAINS PHOSPHORUS, DO NOT HANDLE AND TO NOTIFY POLICE OR MILITARY.”

The Sheriff’s Encinitas Station Deputies and Bomb/Arson Detectives responded to both incidents and safely disposed the devices. No one was hurt. Bomb/Arson technicians determined the devices were phosphorus flares. Phosphorus can cause severe burns if exposed to the skin and should not be touched. Some of the flares may not burn all the way and can reignite when exposed to air or water. If you find a military flare on the beach, please don’t touch it and call 911.

The military is currently conducting terrorism exercises off the coast of San Diego and have been notified. The Sheriff’s Encinitas Station is conducting extra patrols on the beach and have notified lifeguards from the cities of Encinitas, Solana Beach and Del Mar.

For additional information
Melissa Aquino

Media Relations Officer
(858) 974-2253

Face of Defense: ‘Gun Doctor’ Keeps Howitzers Firing

By Marine Corps Lance Cpl. Jovane M. Holland
Marine Corps Bases Japan

HIJUDAI TRAINING AREA, Japan, Feb. 24, 2011 – People who feel under the weather see a doctor. If a dog isn’t feeling well, a visit to the veterinarian is in order. If an M777 howitzer is on the fritz, Marine Corps Cpl. Daniel Rivera is the man to call.

As a second-echelon artillery mechanic with the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force’s 3rd Battalion, 12th Marine Regiment, 3rd Marine Division, Rivera is responsible for troubleshooting errors, implementing solutions, and supervising operations to ensure Marines accomplish their mission.

“It’s basically my job to step in if a misfire occurs or the gun isn’t operating properly,” said Rivera, who has worked in his field for three years. “I oversee everything from gun levels and pressure to suspension, breach movements and recoil maintenance.”

Marines qualified to conduct artillery maintenance are categorized into four echelons, Rivera said.

“The members of the gun team are the first on the scene to troubleshoot when there’s a problem with the howitzer,” he explained. “If they can’t solve the problem, I step in. If the damage is beyond my control, the third echelon, heavy ordnance, is called in. When and if the repairs are considered too extensive, then the gun is sent to the fourth echelon, which is basically a repair shop where full maintenance can be applied.”

To qualify as a second-echelon artillery mechanic, Rivera attended the two-month artillery technician course in Aberdeen, Md. The course focused on two main objectives: taking the M777 howitzer apart, then reassembling it piece by piece. In the process, Rivera said, he learned the purpose and importance of each item.

“It’s always easy to take something apart, but when it comes to putting it back together and having to account for each piece, it’s really tough,” the Jacksonville, Fla., native said.
The task took about a month and a half to complete, he added.

Rivera is aided in his troubleshooting by a portable computer that serves as a digital problem-solving companion, hooking up to the digital fire-control system attached to the howitzer and providing step-by-step instructions to aid in maintenance procedures.

However, the computer can’t decipher every malfunction, Rivera said. Sometimes it comes down to trial and error.

“A majority of the solutions I use on a daily basis were learned through on-the-job training,” Rivera said. “Whether or not the computer can aid me in fixing a gun just depends on the situation.”

After more than a dozen exercises and training events, Rivera says he still finds his job intriguing and relevant.

“Even though I did auto mechanic work before I came into the Marines, I never pictured myself working on a weapon this complex and expensive,” he said. “I feel accomplished knowing that my assistance ensures missions go smoothly and the goal is reached every time.”

To the Marines Rivera assists in the field, he is not a distant repairman who steps in only when there’s a problem, but is a valuable asset and productive member of their team.

“Even when the gun is firing perfectly, you can still find Rivera helping load rounds, run errands, whatever we need,” said Marine Corps Cpl. Dennis Price, assistant chief of Gun Team 2. “We consider him just as much a member of the team as anyone else.”

Rivera recently re-enlisted for his second term, and said his job not only is an important aspect of artillery, but also is a non-negotiable asset to the Marine Corps as a whole.

“Without gun doctors, Marines wouldn’t be able to send rounds downrange if they encounter a malfunction beyond their expertise,” he said. “Without rounds pushing out toward the target objective, the howitzer is just an 8,000-pound paperweight.”

Mullen: U.S., Allies Monitor Libya Situation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

MANAMA, Bahrain, Feb. 24, 2011 – U.S. defense officials are monitoring the civil unrest in Libya and will provide President Barack Obama with a range of options, the nation’s top military officer told reporters traveling with him today.

“Right now, it is very difficult to know what is going to happen” as the situation in Libya unfolds “almost hourly,” Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said.

In terms of planning, “we are looking at all our capabilities and a range of contingencies, as we always do,” he said. “What we [will] do is provide the president options. And I want them to be as comprehensive and robust and as far-ranging as we can think of at this point in time as the situation unfolds.”

Mullen emphasized that the United States is not going it alone to deal with the crisis.

“We are working with our allies, absolutely,” he said. “And as the leadership has said, I think it is the responsibility for all nations … to focus on ending that kind of violence and looking for a peaceful, nonviolent outcome, whatever that is going to be.”

The chairman arrived here in the Bahraini capital to meet with national leaders during his sixth stop in a week-long trip through the region.

Mullen praised Bahrain’s Crown Prince Salman bin Hamad al-Khalifa’s decision to begin a national dialogue to address protestors’ concerns after initial violence. “I have great admiration for steps the crown prince has taken,” the chairman said.

“I certainly decry the violence,” Mullen emphasized. But “it’s a very important message that as soon as the [Bahraini security] forces went away, the violence went away. And I think that both sides responded in a way that ensured violence would not continue.

“That doesn’t mean we don’t evaluate it,” he added.

Mullen said he “honestly never gave a second thought” to reconsidering the long-planned visit here, despite last week’s events.

Bahrain is a critical, longtime ally and host to the U.S. 5th Fleet, the chairman noted, adding that he looks to that relationship continuing into the future.

Mullen told reporters his trip through the region has given him new perspectives about the turmoil and the fact that every country affected faces different issues.

“Each of these countries is different, and each of these countries is figuring out how to address their own challenges,” he said. “That is really up to them. Country after country after country, this is about the people of these countries and how their leadership addresses the challenges they have.

“We want to help and support where it is appropriate,” he continued, with a goal of “doing it peacefully [and] sustaining stability.”

How it will be resolved is yet to be seen, Mullen noted. “We’re all in the middle of this,” he added.

Nearly two weeks after former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak's regime fell, Mullen said, there’s “more of an understanding of what is going on, but without clarity … about exactly what it all means.”

What is clear, the chairman said, is that anti-government protest movements rippling through the region demonstrate that people want much more than what al-Qaida and other terrorist organizations have to offer.

“My belief is that al-Qaida has had a bankrupt approach from the beginning,” one based on violence and bloodshed, Mullen said. “Al-Qaida has no positive outcome.”

Demonstrators who have asserted themselves against oppression to seek opportunity, freedom and better lives “are headed in the exact opposite direction of what al-Qaida seeks,” he said.

The protest movement “isn’t about seeking a way of life that al-Qaida aspires to,” Mullen said. “It is about seeking a better life, about opportunity for themselves and their families –- the kinds of freedoms, employment opportunity, prosperity [and] security that many of them haven’t seen.”

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, February 24, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.
                            
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Maj. Marvin Hill, senior enlisted leader of International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, and sergeant major of the Afghan National Army, Afghan Sgt. Maj. of the Army Roshan Safi, will brief the media live from Kabul, Afghanistan, at 10:30 a.m. EST, 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.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William Lynn, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter, Secretary of the Air Force Michael Donley and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz will announce the KC-X tanker contract award at 5:10 p.m. EST in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).  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.

ONR Reflects on African-American Contributions

From Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

ARLINGTON, Va. (NNS) -- The Office of Naval Research celebrated African-American History Month with a speaking event at its Arlington, Va., headquarters, Feb. 22.

Rear Adm. Julius Caesar, Joint Concept Development and Experimentation vice director, U.S. Joint Forces Command, gave the keynote address, using the theme of "African-Americans and the Civil War" as the context for the lecture.

Caesar said that African-Americans are an influential American history and people as a whole have a pride for who they are, bringing them together as a group but also allowing them to be individuals.

"People have a natural sense of pride for where they come from," he said. "That sense of identity affirms the groups we are from and affirms you as an individual."

The audience learned the history of African-Americans' involvement in the Civil War, and how influential figures, such as Frederick Douglass, Civil War spy John Scobell and ship's pilot Robert Smalls, were important in defining American culture throughout history.

While stressing the inequalities that African-American troops encountered during the Civil War, Caesar also described how they played a decisive role in its outcome. More than 186,000 African-Americans served in 'negro' regiments and comprised nearly 10 percent of the Union Army. However, the casualty rate of the entire African-American troop contingent throughout the Civil War was more than 30 percent, which was 35 percent higher than their white counterparts.

"African-Americans were also paid 35 percent less than the white troops," he added. "And there were only 16 blacks who received the Medal of Honor during the Civil War."

This reality was portrayed in "The Negro's Civil War: How American Blacks Felt and Acted During the War for the Union," a book Caesar cited during his speech, drawing anecdotal examples of both the oppression of African-American troops and their loyalty to the country.

"What it comes down to is that people want their freedom. African-Americans helped fight for, and build, this country. With that said, their contributions should never be overlooked," he said.

Caesar followed his discussion with a question and answer session where he addressed diversity in the Navy as well as his own personal motivations for pursuing a naval career.

There are currently more than 89,000 African-Americans serving in the Navy, comprising 18 percent of Navy enlisted personnel and 8 percent of naval officers. African-American History Month was founded by the writer, editor and historian Carter G. Woodson in 1926, to address and memorialize the significant achievements of African-Americans throughout history.

The Department of the Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR) provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

For more news from Office of Naval Research, visit www.navy.mil/local/onr/.

This article was sponsored by Military Leadership.