Military News

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Operational Briefing on Libya Announced

Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the Joint Staff will provide the media with an operational update concerning Libya at in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973).

Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the Pentagon Third Corridor 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.

Navy Provides Support to Eligible Family Members of Navy Civilians

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced in NAVADMIN 094/11, released March 20, that eligible family members of Navy civilians, based on the island of Honshu, Japan, are authorized voluntary departure to the continental United States for a period not to exceed 30 days.

"Navy civilians and their families are an integral part of the total force," explained Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel. "We are going to ensure these families receive our complete support."

Family members of Navy civilians participating in the authorized departure may be eligible for entitlements and allowances which include:

- Coverage of Travel Expenses: Transportation expenses and travel per diem may be provided to cover the time traveling from the evacuation site to the safe haven location, including time spent processing through a repatriation site.

- Subsistence Expense Allowance (SEA): SEA is based on the local per diem rate and begins the day after arrival at the authorized safe haven location.

- Advance Pay: Employees who evacuate, when authorized, received 30 days advance pay.

- Unaccompanied Baggage Shipment: Evacuees may ship up to 350 pounds of unaccompanied baggage per evacuee age 12 or older and 175 pounds per evacuee under age 12, up to a total of 1,000 pounds.

A primary source of information for Navy civilians and their families still in Japan is the Fleet and Family Support Center in Yokosuka, Japan, which is currently open 24/7 in support of our Sailors, civilians and families.

Another source of information for civilians is the Department of Navy Human Resources website, http://www.donhr.navy.mil/, where visitors can review a list of frequently asked questions and unique fact sheets about the authorized departure and their entitlements eligibility.

Whether in Japan, in transit or at their designated safe haven location, all Navy civilians, contractors and employees should call the Navy Family Assistance and Assessment System (NFAAS) 24-hour help line at (877) 414-5358 or access the website at https://navyfamily.navy.mil to register their families, as well as to get answers to their questions. The family assessment tool within NFAAS is accessible from any location where there is an internet connection and is designed to provide assistance to personnel and their families while in transit or upon arrival at a point of debarkation.

For more information on the entitlements and allowances available to eligible family members of Navy civilians, visit npc.navy.mil.

Obama: Brazil Offers Example for Freedom Movements

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 20, 2011 – Noting that the movements in the Middle East and North Africa demonstrate a universal yearning for freedom, President Barack Obama today held Brazil up as an example of how “a call for change that starts in the streets can transform a city, a country and the world.”

Speaking during a visit to Rio de Janeiro, the president made no mention of coalition military operations under way to enforce a U.N.-endorsed no-fly zone in Libya and halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s brutal crackdown on protestors there.

Instead, the president spoke more broadly about the common thread behind struggles unfolding throughout the region and their implications for the future.

“We see a revolution borne out of a yearning for basic human dignity in Tunisia. We have seen peaceful protestors pouring into [Cairo’s]
Tahrir Square
– men and women, young and old, Christian and Muslim,” he said.

“We've seen the people of Libya take a courageous stand against a regime determined to brutalize its own citizens,” he continued. “Across the region, we have seen young people rise up - a new generation demanding the right to determine their own future."

The change they seek, he added, must be driven by their own people.

“But as two nations who have struggled over many generations to perfect our own democracies,” the president said, “the United States and Brazil know that the future of the Arab world will be determined by its people.”

Obama pointed to Brazil -- a nation that has emerged from two decades of military dictatorship to become a thriving democracy and economic powerhouse -- as a model for Libya and others. Brazil offers proof that “a dictatorship can become a thriving democracy," he said.

The president recognized Brazil’s progress toward overcoming poverty and disease at home, and its work as a global partner fighting narcotics trafficking, promoting nuclear security and assisting the African continent.

He also praised Brazil for providing vitally needed assistance and support to Japan following its devastating earthquake and tsunami.

“We will pray with them and stand with them and rebuild until this crisis is passed,” he said.

“When men and women peacefully claim their human rights, our own common humanity is enhanced,” Obama said. “Wherever the light of freedom is lit, the world becomes a brighter place. That is the example of Brazil.”

Obama urged Brazil to join the global call for universal rights.

“These are not American or Brazilian ideas. They are not Western ideas,” he told the audience. “They are universal rights, and we must support them everywhere."

Military Family Members Arrive From Japan

By Army Sgt. 1st Class Michael J. Carden
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 19, 2011 – About 200 military family members arrived at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state today after leaving Japan voluntarily, U.S. Army North officials said.

The family members left Yokota, Japan, aboard a government-chartered airplane, Army Col. Wayne Shanks, an Army North spokesman, told American Forces Press Service in a phone interview today.

Shanks stressed that the family members were not forced to flee. Rather, he said, those who decided to leave Japan likely did so as a precaution. The 8.9 magnitude earthquake that struck northern Japan on March 11 and the tsunami that followed devastated the country, including destruction to viable infrastructure, such as nuclear power plants.

"We're providing for Department of Defense families who want to [leave] Japan, and that could be for a number of reasons," Shanks said. "I don't think the radiation threat is the overriding reason, … although it is a concern."

As what officials have called a prudent precaution, the Defense Department is providing eligible family members of department personnel an opportunity to voluntarily leave Japan at government expense.

The only priority for volunteers is for those closest to the disaster or threat, Army North officials said, and flights will continue throughout the foreseeable future to accommodate servicemembers and their families.

"The underlying thing is that we're here to help the people coming out of Japan," Shanks said. "We're doing whatever we possibly can to assist them."

USS Decatur Visits India

By Mass Communication Specialist 1sr Class (EXW) Jennifer A. Villalovos, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet

CHENNAI, India (NNS) -- Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) visited Chennai, India, March 16-19, giving the crew a chance to experience the culture of India and participate in community service (COMSERV) projects.

For Cmdr. Shanti Sethi, commanding officer of Decatur, this was a special visit.

"My father was raised in New Delhi and came to the United States to continue his education and met my mother, who is American, and stayed," said Sethi. "While I was born and raised in America, I still consider my ties to India to be very strong. I came to India quite often as a child and my first words were in Hindi."

While Sethi visited India before, this was her first visit to Chennai. It was also a first visit to India for many of the Sailors aboard Decatur.

"This is Decatur's third deployment in less than three years, and when we were planning the deployment, we looked at where we would go for port visits," said Sethi. "One thing my Sailors consistently asked for was some place they hadn't been. India was specifically asked for, and when the request was granted for Chennai, the crew was very excited and has been talking about it ever since.'"

The executive officer and 15 additional officers from the Decatur wardroom toured the Indian navy's Car Nicobar-class, fast-attack craft INS Kora Divh (T 71) March 16 in Chennai. Kora Divh's crew consists of four officers and 42 enlisted Sailors.

"It's amazing how similar the ship is and the way they run their systems to the way we do," said Lt. Kelly Martin, Decatur's operations officer. "The amount of redundancy though the engineering plant and the controlling stations were extremely similar and would be a very easy transition from one of our ships to theirs."

Many crew members volunteered their time taking part in COMSERV events, which included interacting with female high school and college students to commemorate Women's History Month, playing a game of basketball and an introductory lesson into India's most popular sport - cricket.

"In my home country, Guyana, South America, I grew up playing cricket, and I haven't played much since I moved away, and playing with Indian Sailors was a lot of fun," said Boatswain's Mate 3rd Class (SW) Imran Khan. "Most of the U.S. Sailors had never played before, and the Indian Sailors did a great job teaching everyone. Everyone had a good time."

During the visit, Sailors explored the town in search of food, shopping, sightseeing and interactions with the locals in the city.

"This is the first port visit we've had since I've been on the ship," said Chief Fire Controlman (SW) Seth Rusackas. "I got a chance to see their way of life and not the Americanized part of a city. I learned a lot about their culture by trying to find places to eat. I walked around town looking for a restaurant that looks good and in the search for food you find the people."

Decatur's visit to Chennai marks the first visit from a U.S. Navy ship since 2007.

"This is my first time in India. It's an honor to be here and an honor to interact with the local Navy and the local people," said Martin. "It's great to spread our partnership and to encourage more partnership in the future."

For more news from Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet, visit www.navy.mil/local/c7f/.

Navy Provides Departure Support for Family Members

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy announced on March 19 that dependents living on the Japanese island of Honshu have been authorized to depart and will be eligible to receive entitlements and allowances as required by their circumstances.

"Our Sailors and their families need our support," explained Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel. "We must not waiver in our commitment to them during this difficult time."

To assist families evacuating Japan, the Navy will provide entitlements and allowances to those eligible for their transfer to the approved safe haven, which the Department of State has designated as anywhere in the continental United States. Families wishing to evacuate to Hawaii or Alaska may be approved on a case-by-case basis by Principle Deputy Undersecretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) (PDUSD(P&R)) via Navy's Pay and Benefits (N130) office.

Command and non-command sponsored dependents are authorized transportation back to the United States. Other entitlements and allowances command-sponsored dependents may be eligible for include:

1. Per Diem: Transportation expenses and travel per diem are authorized from the time the family departs through the time they reach their selected safe haven.

2. Escort Allowances: Travel and transportation allowances are payable to a person who travels under an official travel authorization as an escort for a dependent who is incapable of traveling to the safe haven alone, due to age, physical or mental incapacity, or other extraordinary circumstances.

3. Household Goods (HHG) Shipping Allowances: Unaccompanied baggage and HHG needed for the dependent's comfort and well-being may be transported at government expense.

4. Personally Owned Vehicles (POV): Although shipment of POVs is not authorized as part of this evacuation, a $25/day, per family, local travel allowance will be authorized to partially off-set the expenses incurred for required local travel at the safe haven.

5. Pet Transportation: Families are authorized transportation to the safe haven of up to two common household pets (to include quarantine fees). Animals such as horses, fish, birds, various rodents and others are excluded due to size, exotic nature, shipping restrictions, host country restrictions and or special handling difficulties.

6. Housing Allowances: Sailors whose dependents are evacuated will continue to be paid their dependent housing allowance while they remain in private sector housing at their permanent duty station.

7. Family Separation Allowance (FSA): Sailors will be entitled to FSA once their family evacuates.

The allowances listed above are not all inclusive and do not contain all the stipulations required to receive them. For questions regarding allowances, travel advances or travel vouchers, Sailors should contact the Travel Processing Center-Hampton Roads, VA (TPC-HR) to obtain information specific to their circumstances by calling (866) 239-0303 or by sending a fax to (866) 708-6985.

An additional concern is access to medical care for dependents in Japan, and following their evacuation. TRICARE Overseas Prime beneficiaries impacted by the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami in Japan may be unable to access their usual sources of medical care and pharmacy services.

Telephone and internet disruptions may further limit beneficiaries' ability to contact International SOS, the TRICARE Overseas Prime contractor, to arrange referrals.

To compensate, TRICARE is establishing a waiver of the usual referral requirements in order to ensure access to health care and medications, and to prevent enrollees from incurring point of service charges.

This waiver is effective from March 11, 2011 until on June 30, 2011, with the option for extension based upon an analysis of the situation at that time. For more information, visit www.tricare.mil/tsunami.>
Financial and medical well-being are important factors in ensuring our dependents' successful departure from Japan.

The disposition of their personal possessions is also of concern. Due to the temporary nature of this evacuation, families submitting claims now to the Office of the Judge Advocate General for lost or damaged property may be doing so prematurely.

However, if they believe a claim is warranted at this time, they are asked to visit www.jag.navy.mil for more information.

Commander, Navy Installations Command (CNIC) will open an accessibility event in the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System (NFAAS) for Navy members affected by this authorized departure.

All Sailors or family members who are in need of assistance should utilize the NFAAS support site at https://www.navyfamily.navy.mil to ensure the Navy can track and assess support requirements for all parties affected.

For more information on Navy support for the authorized departure, read NAVADMIN 093/11 at www.npc.navy.mil.> For more information from the chief of naval personnel, visit www.navy.mil/cnp.

For more news from Chief of Naval Personnel, visit www.navy.mil/local/cnp/.