Military News

Friday, March 04, 2011

U.S. Military Aircraft to Deliver Libya-related Aid

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 – Two U.S. military aircraft will deliver humanitarian supplies to Tunisia today and return tomorrow to transport Egyptian refugees from Libya, a Pentagon spokesman told reporters today.

The C-130s out of Ramstein Air Base, Germany, will deliver six pallets of aid supplies, including 4,000 blankets, 40 rolls of plastic sheeting, and 9,600 10-liter water containers to Djerba, Tunisia, according to Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan.

“Those two aircraft stopped in Italy, where they picked up humanitarian assistance [supplies] from the USAID … warehouse,” Lapan said.

The planes will return to Tunisia tomorrow to relocate Egyptian refugees back to Egypt, he said.

The request for aid came from the Egyptian government, through the U.S. Embassy to the State Department and to the Department of Defense, Lapan said.

The flights are part of U.S. Africa Command-led Operation Odyssey Dawn, which is providing humanitarian assistance to people fleeing Libya in the wake of recent political uprisings and violence there.

A number of NATO countries and international organizations also are contributing aid, Lapan said.

President Barack Obama announced yesterday that the United States would give humanitarian aid and send military and civilian aircraft to assist refugees leaving Libya.

Deputy Surgeon General Visits Lejeune Hospital

By Raymond Applewhite, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- Rear Adm. Karen Flaherty made her first official visit to Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune since assuming the role as the Deputy Surgeon General, March 3.

Flaherty visited Lejeune to take part in the dedication of the Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Fisher House and Wounded Warrior Battalion Bachelor Enlisted Quarters(BEQ). Flaherty joined Commandant of the Marine Corps, Gen. James F. Amos, along with Fisher House Foundation Chief Executive Officer, Kenneth Fisher, to commemorate the opening of the facilities.

Several speakers attended the ceremony, all of whom drew applause from the crowd present.

"This is bigger and better than what I imagined," said retired Lt. Col. Tim Maxwell. "The Marines and family members now have a place they can call home."

Maxwell is credited with the original concept for the Wounded Warrior Battalions.

Marine Corps Installations East, Commanding General Maj. Gen. Carl Jensen, delivered a speech informing the crowd of the purpose behind the buildings.

"These facilities will allow for rest, rehabilitation, and recovery," said Jensen. "They are America's commitment to her service members. Our warriors will never suffer alone - not on this base, not in our community, or not in our Corps."

Fisher, whom the commandant made an Honorary Marine at a reception the night before, was the last individual to speak during the ceremony.

"The Fisher Foundation would never leave a military family behind while their loved ones heal," said Fisher. "This is Fisher House number 49, and to date we have built 53 Fisher Houses, helped 142,000 families and helped military families save 165 million dollars."

The second building, Wounded Warrior Battalion BEQ, is a three-story building consisting of 100 rooms designed for two occupants per room. A full service kitchen is included, as well as, various lounge and recreational areas. The new facility is intended for easy access by Marines with disabilities, to include slip resistant flooring, hand rails along all corridors and bathrooms that are curb-less with grab rails.

The central wing and entrance to the facility will house company offices, duty stations, and a battalion aid station.

The Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune Fisher House and the Wounded Warrior Barracks are two of four facilities comprising the larger wounded warrior complex, slated for completion within the year. The remaining facilities will be a wounded warrior battalion east headquarters and a wounded warrior hope and care center.

After the ceremony, Adm. Flaherty addressed the entire hospital staff. She stated that 'the high optempo' requires us to deploy on more than one occasion in some cases.

"Our folks are doing an outstanding job and when they return from these deployments their lives are changed forever," said Flaherty. "I strongly encourage you to watch out for each other, look out for your wing man and pay close attention to your fellow shipmates and keep up the good work."

"We are excited to have Rear Adm. Flaherty visit our hospital to visit with our phenomenal staff and see the great work we are doing caring for Wounded Warriors. Our relationship with the Wounded Warrior Battalion and the generosity and patriotism of Mr. Fisher and the Fisher House Foundation, bring that care to a new level of excellence," said Capt. Daniel Zinder, Naval Hospital Camp Lejeune,commanding officer.

Wisconsin Air Guard squadron earns Outstanding Unit Award

By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin National Guard

A group of Wisconsin Airmen stand united in a unique mission - controlling air space from the ground. Now they stand united as one of the nation's top Air Force units.

Air Force officials recently awarded the prestigious Air Force Outstanding Unit Award to the Camp Douglas-based 128th Air Control Squadron, which employs more than 160 members of Wisconsin's Air National Guard.

"I've got outstanding officers, and outstanding NCOs and Airmen that are dedicated to meeting their own individual qualifications ... but they're also dedicated to upholding the traditions of this organization," said Lt. Col. Gerard Iverson, 128th ACS commander. "That's what so great about this award - it's not just one person, it's the entire organization."

The ACS was recognized for their service from Nov. 1, 2008 through Oct. 31, 2010. During this time of highlighted service, the ACS provided theater battle management command and control while deployed to Southwest Asia in support of Operation Enduring Freedom. Recognized for their proficiency during a Unit Compliance Inspection in June 2010, the ACS earned a 97 percent compliance rating from an Air Combat Command Inspector General team. The unit was also looked to for their expertise when they were called upon to provide pre-deployment training to another Air Control Squadron - certifying 40 Airmen prior to their deployments overseas.

Members of the Wisconsin Air National Guard's 128th Air Control Squadron return to their home base at Volk Field Monday, Oct. 5, 2009 following a deployment to Southwest Asia that began May 13. The 128th was awarded the Air Force Outstanding Unit Award for their service from Nov. 1, 2008 to Oct. 31, 2010. The unit also supported several Presidential visits, training initiatives and large-scale exercise this time.

"This is a tremendous honor," said Brig. Gen. Don Dunbar, adjutant general of Wisconsin, "that recognizes the significant contributions of the 128th ACS to the joint war fighter. This is a special group of Airmen and I am very proud of their performance."

The 128th does not rest on its laurels, however - the squadron remains busy supporting Presidential events across the country and participating in large-scale exercises such as the Patriot Exercise, Northern Lightening and NATO's international exercise, Ramstein Rover.

"We don't let grass grow under our feet. We've continued to reach out and seek out events that challenge us," Iverson said. "You have to be proactive in getting out there. By doing so, it gives everyone experience to further hone those skills that we train for."

In the award's announcement letter, Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt, director of the Air National Guard, highlighted the caliber of the award and its significance to the nation.

"The competition was extremely keen and each winner is commended for having been selected from and outstanding group of nominees," Wyatt said. "The dedication and commitment of the members of these organizations enable the Air National Guard to fulfill its commitment to the mission of peacekeeping, humanitarian relief, domestic improvement and most important of all - defense of America."

This is the fourth AFOUA award the 128th has earned, but the first since the 1980s. The 128th ACS is a mobile radar/communications unit that supports air operations from the ground. The unit deployed immediately following Sept. 11, 2001 and has since deployed twice to Afghanistan and once to another base in Southwest Asia. Meanwhile they continue to support Homeland Defense as part of Operation Noble Eagle.

"We bring a seasoned, well-rounded, experienced and highly motivated control and reporting center to the combatant commander," Iverson said, "and that is a testament to each and every individual in this organization."

Retired Army Chaplain Becomes Auxiliary Bishop

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011 – Many retirees swap their business attire for shorts, but one retired Army chaplain hung up his black beret and Army camouflage uniform to don the "miter" hat and robes of a Roman Catholic bishop.

Chaplain Neal J. Buckon retired as a lieutenant colonel on Dec. 31, 2010. On Jan. 3, he received the news that Pope Benedict XVI had selected him as a bishop and assigned him as an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA.

Bishop Buckon will minister to Roman Catholics in the U.S. military worldwide. “I enjoyed two days of retirement,” he said.

On Feb. 22, Buckon was ordained a bishop during a ceremony at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, here. He joins three other auxiliary bishops and Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio, who leads the pastoral team for the 1.5 million archbishopric.

Buckon will work with three other auxiliary bishops to assist the archbishop in “his role as shepherd of the Military's Catholic faithful,” Buckon explained.

Buckon will be the vicar for the western region of the archdiocese. The region comprises 18 states and includes Hawaii and Alaska. “I will conduct pastoral visits to the Catholic Faith Communities on Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine and Coast Guard installations,” there, he said.

“I will also assist and advise the Catholic chaplains assigned to the installations in Catholic-specific pastoral leadership,” Buckon said, adding that a bishop is the minister of the sacrament of confirmation, which is the “final sacrament of initiation.”

Buckon has come a long way in a short time from his final Army chaplain days spent in South Korea with the 8th Army field chaplain for current operations, and as the Catholic chaplain for U.S. Army Garrison-Yongsan/Seoul.

“The selection to become a bishop is a great honor and a privilege, and it is somewhat humbling to be chosen,” Buckon said. “I trust that God will supply the inspiration, the strength, and the courage for the ministry that lies ahead.”

“During many of the pastoral visits, I will confer the sacrament of confirmation upon the service members and family members who have requested and prepared to be fully initiated into the Catholic faith,” he said.

Pope John Paul II created the Archdiocese for the Military Services to provide a full range of Catholic Church pastoral ministries and spiritual services for U.S. military troops.

The archdiocese serves more than 220 military installations in 29 countries, 153 Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Centers, in addition to federal employees working in 134 countries, according to the Archdiocese website.

Buckon is probably one of the few bishops authorized to wear a Ranger Tab. He initially served as an infantryman during earlier active duty service from 1975 to 1982. After seven years on active duty, Buckon left the Army and entered the ministry. He was ordained a priest for the Diocese of Cleveland, May 25, 1995, and later returned to the Army as a chaplain.

“Twenty-eight years of military service,” he said, “has prepared me for the responsibilities of a new ministry to the service members and families who selflessly serve in many parts of the world to protect the country we love.”

Commanders Cite Unpredictable Future Threats

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 4, 2011America and its allies will face varied and unpredictable security threats in the years ahead, the leaders of the two most intensely engaged U.S. military commands told House Armed Services Committee members yesterday.

Navy Adm. Eric T. Olson of the U.S. Special Operations Command and Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis of the U.S. Central Command discussed the status and priorities of their commands during a hearing on their fiscal year 2012 budget requests.

Both commands have headquarters at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Fla., Olson said, and with 85 percent of Socom’s deployed forces in the Centcom area of operations, Mattis “is by far the largest customer of our product.”

Beyond the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Olson said, the United States and its allies face a range of security challenges that make the future of warfare “complex, unpredictable and unstructured.”

Challenges include decentralization of al-Qaida’s network; revolutionary activity in the Middle East; destabilizing elements in Latin America, Africa and Southeast Asia; increased intertwining of violent extremism and criminality; and the persistence of piracy.

U.S. special operations forces are universally recognized as key to our nation’s ability to address all of these challenges and others,” the admiral said, noting Socom’s high-profile diversity.

“We include many forces of legend -- Green Berets, [Navy] SEALs, [Army] Rangers, Air Force Air Commanders, Army Night Stalker aviators, [Air Force] Combat Controllers, [Air Force] Pararescue jumpers, [Navy] Combatant Craft crewmen, today’s version of Marine Raiders, and others,” Olson said.

Socom also employs specialists in administration, intelligence, communications, engineering and logistics, he added, and headquarters staff members worldwide that include more than 300 representatives from at least 15 other DOD organizations and other agencies.

“In many ways,” Olson said, “U.S. Socom is a microcosm of defense, with ground, air and maritime components, a global presence, and authorities and responsibilities that mirror the military departments, military services and defense agencies.

“We take pride in the diversity of our people and our mission,” he added.

A key challenge for these elite forces “is how to meet the increasing global requirement for their capabilities … since 9/11 our total manpower has roughly doubled, our budget has roughly tripled and our overseas deployments have quadrupled,” the admiral said.

The demand is outpacing the supply, he added, and “this great force is beginning to fray around the edges.”

Potential solutions, he said, include investing in capabilities that relieve special operations forces from duties others can perform, expanding inventories of assets essential to today’s complex and irregular warfare, and promoting nontraditional skills like language and microregional expertise as essential military requirements.

“Underlying all this is the need to look after our people and their families,” Olson said.

“We must rehabilitate and return to duty those of our wounded who can, care for those of our wounded who can’t, along with their families and caregivers, and provide enduring support to the families of those who have died in action,” he said.

Mattis praised today’s skilled and professional troops, who he called a national treasure.

“Thank you for supporting our troops and their families, who carry the brunt of the physical and emotional burden in this 10th year of war,” he told the committee members.

“I also recognize the commitment and sacrifice of our international partners who operate with us from the waters off Somalia to the mountains of Afghanistan,” Mattis said, “where the largest warfighting coalition in recent history is engaged with troops from 49 nations united in the fight against our common enemy.”

Countries in Centcom’s area of responsibility include many of the most recently visible nations on the planet -- Afghanistan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Yemen and others.

“The strategic landscape of the broader Middle East has been altered by recent events in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and elsewhere,” Mattis said. “We see pressure on government institutions from the aspirations of people seeking improved economic and social conditions.”

“Young people born in the information age are exchanging ideas in real time. While the long-term impact of this unrest is unknown, it presents as many opportunities as it does challenges,” the general said.

“The central challenge for us,” Mattis added, “is how to make common cause with our friends throughout the region.”

Solutions in the region will require the support of military and civilian teams, Mattis added.

“Robust resourcing for the State Department’s mission is one of the best investments for reducing the need for military forces to be employed,” he told the committee members.

“Undeniable security progress” in Afghanistan, the general said, is a result of increasing and unprecedented pressure on al-Qaida in the border region between Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The enemy’s strategy also is being undercut by “the commitment of the international community and the Afghan government to begin this summer a process of fully transitioning responsibility” for the nation’s security to Afghanistan by 2014, Mattis said.

“In Pakistan we are strengthening our security relationship with Islamabad as we work to overcome years of mistrust and misunderstanding on both sides,” he said.

The Pakistanis have shifted a quarter of their army -- 140,000 troops -- to the western border and are conducting operations in close coordination with coalition forces on opposite sides of the border, the general added.

With coalition help, Iraq is emerging as a more stable country in a turbulent region, he added, and the commitment is to transition there from a military- to a civilian-led effort.

Mattis said Centcom requires “congressional authorities that enable us to continue advising, training and equipping our Iraqi partners through the new Office of Security Cooperation-Iraq.”

The general said he expects that al-Qaida in Iraq and Iranian-sponsored proxies will attempt to execute “sensational attacks” in Iraq in the coming months.

Coalition forces are disrupting al-Qaida and other violent extremist organizations that operate across the Mideast,, Mattis said, noting efforts are now being focused on the threat of extremism in Yemen, especially al-Qaida on the Arabian Peninsula –- the group that twice has attempted to attack the United States.

“With our international partners, our special operations forces are putting our most-violent enemies and related networks under increasingly intense pressure,” the general said.

“At the same time,” he continued, “the populace-inspired changes that are taking place across the region undercut the message of al-Qaida and other extremist groups, highlighting the bankrupt philosophies of terrorists who use violence and contribute nothing but mayhem to the innocent.”

Israel and the Palestinian territories are not in Centcom’s theater, the general said, but lack of progress toward a comprehensive Middle East peace affects U.S. and Centcom security interests in the region.

“I believe the only reliable path to lasting peace in this region is a viable two-state solution between Israel and Palestine,” Mattis said.

“The issue is one of many that is exploited by our adversaries in the region,” he added, “and used as a recruiting tool for extremist groups.”

MCPON Sends Navy Reserve Birthday Message

Special from Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following Navy Reserve birthday message to the fleet Mar. 3.

"Shipmates,

As the Navy Reserve celebrates 96 years of service, we can look back at a rich history of service to our nation and our Navy, from World War I to today.

As I travel the world to meet and talk with Sailors, I could not be more proud of the day-to-day efforts and tenacity of our Sailors. I'm amazed at the integration that has taken shape over the years between our Active and Navy Reserve. We are one Force working side by side in all corners of the world; a Total Force integrated and executing the Navy's mission wherever and whenever called.

Our Navy Reserve provides our nation with a pool of trained and talented Sailors who live up to their motto Ready Now, Anytime, Anywhere. I am proud of the operational capabilities our Navy Reserve provides every day, and those capabilities are made possible by our outstanding Sailors, their families and civilian employers.

Our Sailors are able to serve when called because of their unique support network that makes their service to our Navy and our nation possible. It's because of the devotion and care of Navy families and the Ombudsmen who help them become strong and resilient that our Sailors can serve in harm's way knowing their families have the support they need; and it's because of the support of civilian employers our Sailors can serve when called and return to work when their mission is complete; and it's because of this support network that our Sailors are able to serve with honor, courage and commitment making America's Navy truly a global force for good.

To our more than 64,000 Navy Reserve Sailors, thank you for what you do every day and for your continued service and dedication to our nation and our great Navy.

Happy 96th Birthday Navy Reserve!

HOOYAH!

Very Respectfully,
MCPON"

Navy ROTC Returns to Harvard

From Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary Ray Mabus and Harvard University President Drew Faust will sign an agreement March 4 that will bring the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) program back to Harvard for the first time in 40 years.

Under the agreement, the NROTC program will have an office on the Harvard University campus. This returns an NROTC presence to Harvard, one of the six original partner institutions of NROTC when the program was established in 1926.

"NROTC's return to Harvard is good for the university, good for the military, and good for the country," said the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "Together, we have made a decision to enrich the experience open to Harvard's undergraduates, make the military better, and our nation stronger. Because with exposure comes understanding, and through understanding comes strength."

"Our renewed relationship affirms the vital role that the members of our Armed Forces play in serving the nation and securing our freedoms, while also affirming inclusion and opportunity as powerful American ideals," Faust said. "It broadens the pathways for students to participate in an honorable and admirable calling and in so doing advances our commitment to both learning and service."

NROTC active duty Navy and Marine Corps officers will meet with Harvard NROTC midshipmen on the Harvard campus during routinely-scheduled office hours. This partnership will enhance the mentoring and development of Harvard NROTC midshipmen and provide an opportunity for the Harvard community to learn more about the Navy and Marine Corps.

"The commitment of the University to educating active duty officers and military veterans is absolutely tremendous; over 100 current members of the University are serving or have served. And it is a relationship that, quite literally since the birth of our nation has benefited and enriched the experience of both Harvard and the military."

The NROTC program develops young men and women morally, mentally, and physically, and instills in them the highest ideals of honor, courage, and commitment. The program educates and trains young men and women for leadership positions in an increasingly technical Navy and Marine Corps.

This Day in Naval History - March 03

From the Navy News Service

1776 - The first amphibious landing operation takes place. A Continental naval squadron, under Commodore Esek Hopkins, lands Sailors and Marines, commanded by Capt. Samuel Nicholas, on New Providence Island in the Bahamas. They capture urgently-needed ordnance and gunpowder.
1871 - The Navy Medical Corps is established.
1883 - Congress authorizes four modern ships of steel, "A, B, C, D Ships"; three cruisers, Atlanta, Boston and Chicago, and dispatch boat Dolphin.
1915 - The Office of Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) is established.
1915 - Congress creates the Federal Naval Reserve. Under it, the Naval Reserve Force is built up.
1960 - USS Sargo (SSN 583) returns to Hawaii from an Arctic cruise of 11,000 miles - 6,003 miles under the polar ice.