Military News

Monday, March 14, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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

Under Secretary of Defense for Policy Michele Flournoy and Commander, International Security Assistance Force and Commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan Army Gen. David Petraeus testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the situation in Afghanistan at in room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness Clifford Stanley; Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs Jonathan Woodson; Surgeon General U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Eric Schoomaker; Surgeon General U.S. Navy Vice Adm. Adam Robinson and Surgeon General U.S. Air Force Lt. Gen. Charles Bruce Green testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on military health system and costs at 10 a.m. EDT in room 2212, Rayburn House Office Building.

This Day in Naval History - March 14

From the Navy News Service

1863 - Rear Adm. Farragut's squadron of seven ships forces its way up the Mississippi River to support Union troops at Vicksburg, Miss., and Baton Rouge, La.
1929 - Naval Air Station Pensacola aircraft make 113 flights for flood rescue and relief.
1970 - Navy hospital ship USS Repose (AH 16) leaves South Vietnam after four years of service there.

SECNAV, CNO, CMC Sign MOU to Join Navy, Marine Corps Forces

By Chinara Lucas, Secretary of the Navy Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) met with the chief of naval operations (CNO) and the commandant of the Marine Corps March 14 to commit to achieving greater combat capability in naval aviation by signing a Tactical Aviation (TACAIR) Integration Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

"Today we reaffirm the enduring partnership of the Navy and Marine Corps. This MOU ensures that our aircraft apportionment is best suited to meet the needs of both services and fulfill the variety of missions undertaken by both," said SECNAV Ray Mabus. "Together, the Navy and Marine Corps are stronger than they are alone. And together, they will continue to be the most formidable expeditionary fighting force the world has ever known."

The joint commitment will bring increased combat capability to the nation for the foreseeable future, while reducing the force structure and the number of aircraft required to source requirements for both the Navy and Marine Corps. It also recognizes the service unique requirements of the Navy and the Marine Corps.
The MOU establishes a framework under which the Marine Corps will provide five squadrons of F-35C aircraft to carrier air wings. As part of the F-35 transition plan, the Marine Corps will procure 80 F-35Cs and 340 F-35Bs; the Navy will procure 260 F-35Cs.

The MOU also eliminates the need for the Navy to provide an expeditionary F/A-18 squadron as part of the Unit Deployment Program, supporting forward deployed forces in Japan.

"The Marine Corps' decision to purchase the F-35C is representative of our commitment to tactical air integration with the Navy," said Commandant of the Marine Corps Gen. James Amos. "With this decision, it is important to note that the continued development of F-35B remains the centerpiece of the USMC tactical fixed wing modernization program."

"This reaffirms the way the Navy and Marine Corps serve the nation over time," said CNO Adm. Gary Roughead Chief of Naval Operations. "This brings a new capability into our forces and provides the nation with greater expeditionary capability."

Because of the dynamic nature of carrier and expeditionary operations, the MOU will be reviewed every five to seven years to ensure alignment with current missions. Additionally, a TACAIR Integration Team will annually examine current situations and attempt to forecast future requirements to be included in updated MOUs.

NHB Recognizes March as National Social Work Month

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton recognized March as National Social Work Month with a command observation on March 11.

In conjunction with the National Association of Social Workers, this year's theme is "Social Workers Change Futures".

"As Navy social workers, we are here to take care of Sailors and their families," said Lt. Jo Ann Martinez, Social Worker and Social Work Case Management department head. Martinez, along with Bruce Robertson, Laural Butler-Taylor, and Rangell Wallen, form NHB's Social Work team.

Navy social workers use a variety of disciplines such as sociology, psychology, law, and medicine to solve social problems. Case work involves close cooperation with service members and/or their families, who are under mental, physical, or social stressors. In times of crisis, social workers are often contacted to alleviate a potentially dysfunctional situation or high-risk situation.

"Our work is complex at times. We provide assistance and coordination in encouraging care and restoring functionality to the family," said Martinez, one of 30 active-duty social workers in the Navy.

The National Association of Social Workers describes the primary mission of the social work profession as to enhance human well being and help meet the basic human needs of all people. Particularly, attention to the needs and empowerment of people who are vulnerable, oppressed, and living in poverty. Attention to the environmental forces that create, contribute to and address problems in living are fundamental to social work.

"Our profession is diverse," Martinez said. "We borrow from the other disciplines to develop a comprehensive psychosocial assessment. Much of our work involves operating in the 'gray' when we deal with a multitude of complex multifaceted problems. Our theoretical background in systems theory enables us to work within the dynamic of any family or organizational system to bring together a better collective sum of all parts."

The social work mission is rooted in a set of core values that are the foundation of social work's unique purpose and perspective: service, social justice, dignity and worth of the person, importance of human relationship, integrity and competence. The core values are considered unique to the profession. In the Navy, social workers have to be independently licensed masters level clinicians for employment.

Martinez, with 10 years as a social worker in the civilian sector, joined the Navy in 2008 and has already completed one deployment to Naval Forces Central Command headquarters Kuwait, working for the Warrior Transition Program in 2009.

"I was there to assist Sailors with processing their deployment experience to promote a successful reintegration back home. Active duty social workers continue to deploy in support of contingency operations worldwide."

"I find my job to be really rewarding," said Martinez, also NHB's command family advocacy representative and Victim Witness Assistance Program coordinator. "My job as VWAP is to help victim and witnesses of crime understand their rights in relation to their participation in the Navy legal system. When a Sailor says 'thank you' for their sincere appreciation for what you've helped them do, that shows that we have made a difference. That one person impacts their family and that family impacts the community. There's a ripple effect."

Of particular focus at NHB is addressing the components of family readiness support, care coordination for the ill and injured service members, and direct clinical care to service members and dependents.

Wallen is a clinician providing mental health for pediatric patients and Butler-Taylor has worked at NHB for 17 years with pregnant active duty service members and family members by providing crisis intervention, assessment, and supportive resources for the single pregnant active duty services members and at-risk obstetrics family members.

"It's almost like we are considered a crisis safety net by providing support and letting new parents and families know what is available to them," said Butler-Taylor. "Often the challenges of deployment on both the service member and the family and the lack of social support intensify risk factors amongst many Navy families. Social workers can bridge the gap and link them to improved coping and resilience."

Wallen has started a Pregnant/Post Partum Support Group that is open to all and meets every Friday at on NHB's Seventh floor. The group addresses, 'Phase of Life' issues such as coping skills and occupational stress.

NHB's social workers are also involved in academia and behavioral health. Robertson spearheads the biofeedback and virtual reality technology to augment traditional psychotherapy in treating Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Robertson, with 23 years at NHB, is also the assistant clinical professor of family medicine and heads the behavioral science curriculum for NHB's Puget Sound Family Residency program.

Plan Improves Navy, Marine Corps Air Capabilities

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2011 – Navy and Marine Corps leaders today signed an agreement by which the Corps will join the Navy in buying the F-35 joint strike fighter variant designed for aircraft carriers, service leaders announced today.

Navy Secretary Ray Mabus, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead, and Marine Corps Commandant Gen. James F. Amos signed a memorandum of agreement today on the purchase of F/A-18E/F and F-35B/C fighter jets they say will improve air capabilities for both services.

Under the agreement, the two services will buy 680 F-35s. The Navy will buy 260 of the F-35C carrier variant, and the Marine Corps will buy 80 of the F-35Cs, along with 340 of the F-35Bs, a short-take off, vertical-landing variant. The Corps will assign five of its air squadrons to flying the F-35Cs in the Navy’s carrier air wing, the agreement says.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates announced in January that he was placing the F-35B on the equivalent of two years probation due to testing problems with the STOVL aircraft.

Today’s agreement demonstrates the commitment of Gates, Mabus and Roughead to the purchase of the F-35B, Thomas E. Laux, the Navy’s deputy assistant secretary for air programs, said during a press briefing. “These quantities match the fiscal 2012 budget request,” he said.

The F-35Cs will be assigned to the Navy’s aircraft carriers, while the “B” variants are assigned to L-class ships, Laux said. “Our priority is to do testing of the F-35Cs on the carrier,” he said. “We will learn a lot about the F-35Bs on the L ships” to determine if the STOVLs may be used on carriers.

The agreement reflects the “enduring partnership” of Navy and Marine Corps aviation, Laux said. Training for the aircraft will be “completely integrated,” and there will be only one pipeline, he said.

The combination of F-35B and C variants, along with the F-18s, will improve the services’ advance air capabilities, service officials said.

“Together, the Navy and Marine Corps are stronger than they are alone,” Laux said. “Together, we are more formidable than we are apart.”

Robert G Bradley Conducts COMREL in Freetown

By By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Darryl Wood, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/ Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet Public Affairs

SIERRA LEONE, Freetown (NNS) -- Sailors of USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) and Maritime Civil Affairs and Security Training (MCAST) Command, participated in an Africa Partnership Station (APS) West community relations (COMREL) in Freetown, Sierra Leone, March 11.

Sailors volunteered at the Christian Faith Rescue Orphanage in Freetown, Sierra Leone, providing assistance through construction projects which included demolition and carpentry.

The three-day COMREL began with U.S. and Sierra Leone Sailors removing walls made of fiber board and branches, and constructing six classrooms to provide an improved learning environment for the 650 children that attend classes at the orphanage.

"I joined the Navy so I could help others. Volunteering my time to help these kids was more than worth it," said Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class Matthew Layton. "I've seen what they have and I feel grateful to be able make a small difference here."

During the COMREL, APS also provided school supplies donations to the orphanage.

"These supplies will help us greatly," said Honorable Reverend Marie Yanseneh, founder of the orphanage. "We receive no government funds and work mostly from donations."

Yanseneh thanked the volunteers for their help and provided a tour of her school to Capt. Susan Dunlap, director of the Africa Regional Engagement Group at U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa.

"The Sailors had a blast helping and playing soccer with the kids," said Dunlap. "I think success of the project is seen on the faces of the kids, and that's what pleases me most of all. We're proud to be helping here."

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

USS Stephen W. Groves Conducts COMREL in Seychelles

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class William Jamieson, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/ U.S. 6th Fleet Public

VICTORIA, Seychelles (NNS) -- Sailors from USS Stephen W. Groves (FFG 29), participated in a community relations (COMREL) project to paint Foyer de la Solitude La Misere orphanage as part of an Africa Partnership Station (APS) East 2011 deployment, March 11.

Lt. j.g. Brett Lincoln, Stephen W. Groves' COMREL organizer, felt the orphanage project provided Sailors with an excellent opportunity to help those in need and expand their horizons.

"We had a great turnout and I think that says something about our Sailors," said Lincoln. "They always come through when there is a chance to lend a helping hand."

Foyer de la Solitude La Misere is maintained and operated by local Catholic nuns, with the operating costs covered by donations and some limited government assistance.

Sonar Technician 1st Class Seth Merrill viewed the COMREL as a chance to give back to people less fortunate than himself.

"This just felt like a good opportunity to do something worthwhile," said Merrill. "I'm the type of guy who likes to really experience the places I'm visiting."

Lincoln explained how the Groves team couldn't have made the project happen without assistance from the U.S. Embassy.

"The guys here on the ground scout out these locations and help us find where we can be of the most use," said Lincoln. "We only have a limited number of days to complete any of these projects, and the U.S. Embassy really helped us maximize our time."

Stephen W. Groves is deployed in support of APS East, and will continue on to Mauritius and Kenya.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

0-0-1-3 Formula Keeps Alcohol-Related Incidents At Bay

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW/AW) Mary Popejoy, Commander, U.S. Second Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- In a fleet-wide message sent March 11, U.S. Second Fleet Commander stressed to all Sailors how the "0-0-1-3" approach to drinking offers a simple rule of thumb to keep them within the limits of responsible alcohol use.

Vice Adm. Daniel P. Holloway also stressed this same approach to the 2nd Fleet headquarters staff during an all-hands safety standdown, March 4.

"The 0-0-1-3 approach is zero drinks if you're under age, zero drinks if you're driving, one drink per hour and three drinks per event," said Holloway. "One setting does not equate to three drinks at one bar, and then going to another bar and having three more. Having a good time does not mean you have to drink excessively to enjoy yourself. I am not saying don't drink, but what I am saying is to drink responsibly and have a plan."

The consequences of an alcohol-related incident can be expensive and severe for Sailors, friends, and families. For example, in Virginia driving under the influence (DUI) is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The maximum punishment for a first offense is a $2,500 fine, one year in jail, and the loss of one's driving privileges for one year. Additionally, all persons convicted of DUI are, by law, required to lose their driving privileges for one year.

"Alcohol abuse undermines combat readiness, puts the safety and welfare of our Sailors and families at risk, and is incompatible with the maintenance of high standards of performance and military discipline," said Holloway.

Studies and research have also shown how alcohol can be a contributing factor to safety mishaps, domestic disputes, assaults, and sexual assaults. In many cases, these incidents can be avoided with a responsible approach to alcohol consumption.

"In fact alcohol is the weapon of choice in the majority of our sexual assault incidents, and alcohol abuse, when combined with sleep deprivation, is one of our major contributing factors to our reported suicides," Holloway said.

Today's Sailor can build a smart plan using many alternatives to drinking and driving. Walking, using a cab service or having a designated driver are recognized ways to enjoy yourself responsibly and get home safely.

Many commands operate a "Safe Ride" program offering free rides to help Sailors get home safely. Throughout the fleet, Drug and Alcohol Program Advisor (DAPA) briefs during command indoctrination and routine training help re-emphasize responsible drinking and making smart decisions.

Though there are many tools in place for Sailors, ultimately it's up to the individual to make the right choice, drink responsibly, and not drink and drive – putting themselves and others at risk.

"I implore all of you to practice safety and operational risk management whether you're at a friend's house or out in town celebrating with friends," said Holloway. "Please think; what are you doing to minimize your risk and maximize your fun? I cannot stress enough the importance of using good judgment and practicing operational risk management in your activities, because I want everyone to arrive safely to their next destination because each of us has a critical piece to the operational puzzle. There is no plan where driving under the influence is acceptable – period."

For more news from Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c2f/.

Thousands Attend El Centro Air Show

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Benjamin Crossley, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

EL CENTRO, Calif. (NNS) -- Approximately 45,000 spectators attended the Naval Air Facility (NAF) El Centro Air Show in El Centro, Calif., March 12.

The show featured more than 20 events, multiple military and civilian aerial demonstrations, as well as vintage aircraft on static display.

"It's an opportunity to give back to the community for all the support the community gives us throughout the year," said Cmdr. Erik Franzen, NAF El Centro executive officer. "It's kicking off the air show season."

One of the highlights during the air show was the Blue Angels, the Navy's Flight Demonstration Squadron.

"NAF El Centro is the winter home to the Blue Angels," said Franzen. "They do all of their practicing here in preparation for their upcoming show schedule. Their first show is here at NAF El Centro every year."

"I saw the Blue Angels in 1964, and they haven't changed," said Ed Chadek, a spectator at the air show. "They are just awesome; it was a great show."

A member of the "Black Daggers", the United States Army Special Operations Command Parachute Demonstration Team, displayed the American flag for the national anthem during a jump demonstration that opened the show.

"We bridge the gap between the American public and the military, to let them know what their special operations or armed forces are capable of," said Staff Sgt. Noah Watts, Black Daggers demonstrator and assistant team leader. "It is a great response. We walk around, everyone is cheering, they want to come up and shake your hand. Little kids want to give us high fives. It's a really great opportunity for us to give back to the supportive community."

The Black Daggers team members are comprised entirely of volunteers from the Army special operations community.

The owners and operators of many of the vintage and current aircraft were on hand to share their knowledge and their passion for aviation.

"You have such an enthusiastic crowd out here and great people," said John Collver, an air show pilot. "It is just a joy to fly for them and share my passion."

The crowd cheered and applauded as the pilots performed aerobatics and races during the show. The air show also featured pyrotechnics demonstration put on by Explosive Ordinance Disposal Mobile Unit (EODMU) 11 detachments from Fallon, Nev., and San Diego.

"I loved it, just like old times," said Alex Hooper, a spectator at the air show. "My father used to bring me out here as a little boy, and I thought I would give the experience to my son."

This year's air show was both a celebration of the "Centennial of Naval Aviation" and the relationship between NAF El Centro and the local community.

"I saw a wonderful interface between the military and the local community, and that is indeed a rarity," said William G. Vasilovich, official announcer for air show. "That's really a tribute to the efforts that the folks here at NAF El Centro make."

Misawa Sailors Assist Cleanup at Local Fishing Port

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Devon James, U.S. Naval Air Facility Misawa, Japan

MISAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Approximately 92 Sailors from Naval Air Facility Misawa (NAFM) and its tenant commands, volunteered with a clean up-relief effort at the Misawa Fishing Port, March 14.

The clean up comes only days following an 8.9-magnitude earthquake, which triggered a tsunami along Japan's eastern coastline, resulting in severe damage to many Japanese coastal cities.

The damage to the fishing port was unexpected to Misawa Sailors due to the port's proximity to their base.

"It was an overwhelming when I fist saw the damage, but now that we are here, we will help in anyway possible," said Chief Master-at-Arms Bradley Dickey. "For the service member here in Misawa, this is our home too. We are here today to support our community, especially when things get tough."

Dickey also added that he was proud of his Sailors.

"I cannot say enough about the Sailors who gave their time out here today, they did an awesome job."

When the Sailors arrived, they split into groups and combed through the wreckage alongside Misawa city workers and local civilians. They cleaned up debris and salvaged any fishing equipment they found.

Masayoshi Sawaguchi, Director of Department of Policy and Finance for the Misawa city office, joined the relief effort and praised the Misawa Sailors for their support.

"We are very grateful for the participation today by the U.S. Navy," he said. "At City Hall, we are committed to solidarity with the base community and I believe the Sailors presence here today is a great symbol of that commitment and the alliance between the U.S. and Japan."

Demonstrating their appreciation, the city of Misawa provided lunch for the volunteers. NAFM Sailors said they were more than happy to spend their day cleaning up the port.

"After seeing everything on the news about the recent tragedy in Japan, many do not realize the path of destruction the earthquake made, we are very lucky," said Chief Construction Mechanic Michael Robb. " Today we are more than happy to be of service right in our own backyard. While the logistics were handled primarily by senior leadership, our junior guys are out here in full force and making a huge difference out here."

Operations Specialist 2nd Class Eric Tan said when the opportunity to assist in a relief effort arose, there was no question in mind to volunteer after experiencing the recent earthquake first-hand.

"I am very glad I got this chance," he added. "I am sure I am like many people around the world who want to help Japan in anyway possible. I hope to do more."

Service Members Assist Japanese Quake Victims

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2011 – Japan’s earthquake and tsunami are tragedies on an epic scale, Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said today, and the U.S. military will do all it can to help.

The United States has about 50,000 military personnel in Japan and already has responded to some immediate needs for the people of northern Japan.

“We’ve got about … a dozen ships that are either there or en route, a lot of aircraft associated with those ships.” Morrell said in an MSNBC interview this morning. “They have been doing search-and-rescue operations, and they have been providing relief supplies as well.”

The situation is further complicated by the conditions of Japanese nuclear plants affected by the quakes. Some Navy airmen and sailors participating in relief missions off the USS Ronald Reagan have been exposed to radiation that leaked from these plants. The exposure was at such low levels that they washed it off with soap and water, Morrell said.

“They've since moved the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group [from the] downwind area of that Fukushima plant,” Morrell said.

U.S. servicemembers are standing by to deliver what aid the Japanese need, and the number of U.S. personnel involved in aid efforts will rise and fall, depending on Japanese needs, he added.

The USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continues operations off the east coast of Honshu, Pentagon spokesman Marine Corps Col. Dave Lapan said today. The United States has eight ships east of Honshu with five more on the way.

“In the upcoming days, the Ronald Reagan will serve as an afloat platform for helicopters from the Japan Self-defense Force, the Japanese coast guard and other civilian authorities,” Lapan said.

“We conducted air operations today with 10 helicopters from the Naval Station in Atsugi and the USS Reagan flying relief missions identifying people in need of assistance in the region of Minato, and delivered food and blankets,” he continued. The choppers also flew surveys of the at-sea debris field and flew search-and-rescue missions along the coast.

The USS Tortuga, with heavy-lift MH-53 helicopters, is steaming toward the eastern coast. “They will on-load 300 Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force personnel and 90 vehicles and deliver them to the northern tip of Honshu,” Lapan said. Other U.S. ships are expected to arrive in the area March 17.

The Navy has P-3 Orion aircraft flying to help in area surveying efforts.

Lapan said no U.S. bases are in the danger zone for radioactivity, and that there are no plans to evacuate any U.S. personnel or their families.

USS Halsey Returns to San Diego from Independent Deployment

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- USS Halsey (DDG 97) returned to San Diego following an independent six-month deployment to the U.S. Central Command (CENTCOM) and Western Pacific areas of responsibility (AOR), March 14.

Halsey participated in a Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise in the Republic of the Philippines, Joint Task Force Presidential Support operations for President Barack Obama's first visit to Indonesia, and conducted counter-piracy operations in the Arabian Sea.

"This deployment has been tremendously successful, and our team performed as professionals and patriots," said Cmdr. Jordy Harrison, USS Halsey commanding officer. "A Navy deployment is unique amongst the armed services, in that it not only serves to defend our homeland, but also enables us to represent America as ambassadors and symbols of strength; we accomplished this mission."

On its way to the CENTCOM AOR, Halsey transited the Strait of Malacca and joined forces with USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72), providing air defense control and maritime defense duties. Halsey also operated with the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle (R 91) and the French frigate Forbin (D 620).

"Halsey traveled nearly half way around the world and displayed one of the world's finest warships to six different countries across two oceans," said Harrison. "We symbolized freedom and American resolve, reinforced our allies and deterred adversaries everywhere we traveled. Halsey fully executed the mission thanks to the 300 professional warriors on board and the hundreds of family members supporting them ashore."

Halsey crewmembers volunteered more than 400 man-hours and engaged in five community relations projects to help improve communities in the countries they visited.

Halsey helps provide deterrence, promote peace and security, preserve freedom of the sea and humanitarian/disaster response within 3rd Fleet's 50-million square mile AOR in the Eastern Pacific, as well as supporting the Navy's Maritime Strategy when forward deployed.

Radiation Forces U.S. 7th Fleet to Reposition Ships

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2011 – The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet has temporarily repositioned its ships and aircraft away from Japan’s Fukushima Dai-Ichi Nuclear Power Plant after detecting low-level contamination in the air and on its aircraft operating in the area.

The source of this airborne radioactivity is a radioactive plume released from the power plant, officials said.

In a statement announcing the decision, officials emphasized that the maximum potential radiation dose received by anyone aboard a ship that passed through the area was less than the radiation exposure received from about a month of exposure to natural background radiation from sources such as rocks, soil and the sun.

The USS Ronald Reagan was operating about 100 miles northeast of the power plant at the time. Using sensitive instruments, precautionary measurements of three helicopter aircrews returning to the ship after conducting disaster relief missions near Sendai identified low levels of radioactivity on 17 air crew members.

The low-level radioactivity was easily removed from affected personnel by washing with soap and water, officials said, and no further contamination was detected afterward.

But as a precautionary measure, officials said, USS Ronald Reagan and other U.S. 7th Fleet ships conducting disaster response operations in the area have moved out of the downwind direction from the site to assess the situation and determine what appropriate mitigating actions are necessary.

“We remain committed to our mission of providing assistance to the people of Japan,” the 7th Fleet statement said.

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, March 14, 2011

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

DOD Takes Steps to Secure Classified Data

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – The Defense Department has taken steps to prevent another massive leak of its classified information, a senior official told a Senate committee yesterday.

Thousands of classified military documents were leaked and distributed into the Internet’s public forum last summer, prompting an immediate investigation from the top down.

Officials since have singled out the weakest link in the department’s security chain, and began a checks-and-balances system to stem the flood of the critical defense data, Teresa M. Takai, chief information officer and acting assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, told the Senate Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee yesterday.

“The department immediately began working to address the findings and improve its overall security posture to mitigate the possibility of another similar type of disclosure,” she said.

Takai told Senate members that Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates immediately called for two internal studies to review the department’s information security policy and to unveil how classified information is handled in forward-deployed areas. The results showed that forward-deployed units had an “over-reliance” on using removable electronic storage media, Takai said.

Responsibilities needed to be better defined to detect and handle insider threats, she said, and methods to monitor user behavior on classified computer networks were limited.

To get control of the vulnerabilities, the department has disabled the ability to copy data from nearly 90 percent of its classified computers, Takai said. The rest of the classified computers were left intact to write removable media for operational reasons, she explained, but only under strict controls.

Takai told the committee that more work is coming to prevent stolen data, and a project is under way with the Office of the National Counterintelligence Executive to add an information technology insider detection capability and insider threat program.

The Defense Department is working on a Web-enabled information security training to accompany the department’s mandatory annual information assurance training, she said, and plans also exist for an oversight program for inspections in forward-deployed areas.

“We will strive to implement the mechanisms necessary to protect the intelligence information without reverting back to pre-9/11 stovepipes,” Takai said.

“The department continues to work toward a resilient information-sharing environment,” she added, “that is secured through both technological solutions and comprehensive policies.”

U.S. Forces Provide Relief Aid to Japan

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 13, 2011U.S. military forces are working alongside their Japanese counterparts to provide aid as the country digs out in the aftermath of the massive 8.9 magnitude earthquake and tsunami that struck March 11.

"Because of the longstanding and close working relationship between the U.S. military and its Japanese counterparts on a daily basis, the United States military has humanitarian assistance capabilities positioned in the affected regions that are ready to support emergency relief efforts and minimize human suffering," U.S. Ambassador to Japan John V. Roos said in a statement to the media yesterday.

Dubbed Operation Tomodachi -- Japanese for "friendship" -- U.S. military assets mobilizing in the area include a wide range of equipment, air, sea, and ground capability and expertise.

"We have units from all of our services, with a multitude of capabilities, from medical to communications to civil engineering, poised and ready to support where needed," Roos said.

Yokota Air Base in Japan was instrumental in recovering airline traffic in the hours immediately following the earthquake, Roos said. Also, Yokota is being used as an alternate airfield for planes that cannot land at Tokyo's Narita Airport. The air base is also providing food and shelter for displaced Japanese, according to reports.

U.S. Air Force and Marine helicopter and transport aircraft were moved from Okinawa to the U.S. military bases on Honshu.

Two SH-60 Seahawk helicopters from the U.S. Naval Air Facility Atsugi have already delivered 1,500 pounds of rice and bread to people in the town of Shiroishi, in one of the worst-hit parts of Japan, according to reports.

Marines and sailors from III Marine Expeditionary Force are supporting relief operations and its subordinate units are providing command and control, aviation and logistics support, according to Marine Corps officials.

The troops are capable of providing food, water, transportation and other relief support.

The proximity of aviation assets at Marine Corps Air Station Futenma in Okinawa has allowed Marines from III MEF to quickly deploy critically needed supplies and aid to areas that need it most, officials said.

“In a matter of hours supplies, gear and manpower began flowing into mainland Japan with more to follow,” said Marine Lt. Col. Karl C. Rohr, the assistant chief of staff of current operations for III MEF.

Yesterday, CH-46E Sea Knight helicopters with Marine Medium Helicopter Squadron 265, III MEF, departed Marine Corps Air Station Futenma bound for Naval Air Facility Atsugi on mainland Japan.

A squadron from Marine Corps Air Station Yuma in Arizona also has been tapped to help with the relief efforts.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is now off the coast of Japan’s main island of Honshu and the USS Tortuga is expected to arrive today.

According to reports, the Reagan is serving as place for Japanese helicopters to land and refuel. There are two escort ships with the Reagan and four more destroyers on the way to conduct search and rescue, according to reports.

The Tortuga is loaded with two heavy lift MH-53 Sea Stallion helicopters. The USS Essex, an amphibious ship carrying a 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit is still a couple days away.

The USS Blue Ridge, a command ship loaded with relief supplies, has left Singapore but it will get to Japan after Essex.

The U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command forces are poised to support relief operations in Japan, according to AMC officials.

Numerous AMC aircraft and crews have been placed on alert, according to officials, positioning forces to take-off within hours of receiving the call to support the humanitarian relief effort.

Tanker and airlift aircraft are included in the alert posture. Forces from the 615th Contingency Response Wing at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., are poised to deploy to open and operate airfields and receive and off-load humanitarian relief supplies, according to a release.

Arlington Burial Planned for Last ‘Doughboy’ Frank Buckles

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011America will pay its respects to its last World War I veteran March 15, as former Army Cpl. Frank Buckles is buried at Arlington National Cemetery.

Buckles -- the last of the more than 5 million Americans who served during World War I and were known as “doughboys” -- died Feb. 22 at his home in West Virginia. He was 110.

He will lie in honor at Arlington’s Memorial Amphitheater Chapel from to March 15 for the public to pay its last respects. The interment will be at , and the corporal will be buried near the site where General of the Armies John “Black Jack” Pershing, the commander of the American Expeditionary Force, is buried.

The Pentagon Channel will carry the service.

Buckles was born in Missouri in 1901. He enlisted in the Army in 1917, shortly after the United States declared war on Germany and its allies. He served as an ambulance driver on the Western Front.

In 1941, Buckles was in the Philippines, working in Manila, when Japan invaded the island nation. The Japanese captured him and confined him at the Los Banos prison with 2,200 other American civilians. U.S. forces liberated the camp in 1945.

President Barack Obama has ordered that U.S. flags be flown at half staff in Buckles’ honor March 15.

Two men in Great Britain are believed to be World War I’s last living veterans. Both are 110 years old.

Mullen Urges Communities to Embrace Returning Vets

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 11, 2011 – The top U.S. military officer continued his campaign yesterday to encourage communities to help combat veterans transition after returning home and to embrace the attributes they bring to the nation.

“This is a generation that is wired to serve,” whether at the local, state, national or international level, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen told an assembly at Arizona State University’s Phoenix campus. “They will make a difference in other people’s lives.”

Mullen recognized the “extraordinary sacrifices” combat veterans have made, and the fact that many have returned with physical wounds or unseen emotional scars. They’ve been “to hell and back” and have “seen things nobody else could have imagined,” performing exceptionally well on the battlefield, he said.

“Hands down, they are the best military” the United States or the world has ever seen, he added.

Now, as they settle into civilian communities and attempt to find jobs in a difficult economy, the chairman urged Americans to recognize all they have to offer.

“They bring home a potential that is unimaginable for the future of our country,” he said. “This is an exceptional group, and they will make a difference for a long time to come.”

Mullen recognized the Post-9/11 GI Bill as a big step in helping tens of thousands of veterans get the training and education many seek. But he also called communities a key part of helping combat veterans make a smooth transition following wartime service.

“If we can just open up our lens to be inclusive of them as they return home, with that little boost, I really believe they will take off and make a huge difference for the future,” he said.

Mullen also acknowledged the sacrifices military family members have made as their loved ones served repeated combat deployments.

The chairman recognized the support Americans have shown their men and women in uniform during the past decade of conflict. That support “makes all the difference in the world,” he said, contrasting it to the Vietnam War days, when the public didn’t support its military members.

Mullen blamed that abandonment, in part, for the high rates of homelessness among veterans. “We are better than that,” he said. “We can get at this problem.”

He pointed to the decades-old “disconnect” between the time, effort and money the military spends recruiting and training its service members and how it has handled their departure from the military. “When their time comes up and they have made the decision to leave the military, I hand them a duffle bag and say, ‘Have a nice life,’” he said. “That’s not an operative model for the world we are living in.”

A coordinated effort to help in smoothing veterans’ transition to civilian life will make them more likely to share positive stories about their experience, Mullen said, and in doing so, will inspire the next generation of military members.

“If we get this right,” he said, “they’ll essentially become our recruiters.”

Following his address, Mullen fielded a wide range of questions from the audience on international as well as personnel issues.

The chairman emphasized the importance of strong U.S.-Pakistani relations and international cooperation in addressing the crisis in Libya.

Asked about the Supreme Court’s decision that upholds the right of protestors to demonstrate at military funerals, Mullen said he recognizes it as a freedom protected under the First Amendment. But “it appalls me to the depth of my soul that anybody would do this,” he said.

Mullen also reiterated his support for the decision to repeal the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law that has banned gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. He said he has been “unable to reconcile” between asking some people to serve and possibly even die for their country and demanding that they “live a lie every day.”

“This is not about changing anybody’s views,” he said. “It is about a policy I think is in complete conflict with our values.”