Military News

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

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

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn has no public or media events on his schedule.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at at the Center for the Study of the Presidency and Congress 44th Annual Awards Dinner and accepts the Eisenhower Award on behalf of the U.S. Armed Forces at the Willard Hotel, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Jonathan Murphy at 202-872-9800 ext 223.

U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. John "Red" Walker, commander of Mehtar Lam Provincial Reconstruction Team in Regional Command-East, accompanied by Governor of Laghman province, Mohammad Iqbal Azizi, will brief the media live from Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan, at 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.

This Day in Naval History - March 23

From the Navy News Service

1815 - USS Hornet captures HMS Penguin in a battle lasting 22 minutes.
1882 - The Secretary of the Navy, William H. Hunt, issues General Order No. 292, creating the Office of Naval Intelligence.
1917 - USS New Mexico (BB 40) is launched as the first dreadnought with turboelectric drive.
1945 - Carriers begin pre-assault strikes on Okinawa; kamikaze attacks follow.
1958 - Simulated Polaris missile is launched from a submerged tactical launcher facility off California.
1965 - Lt. Cmdr. John W. Young, pilot of Gemini 3, completes three orbits in four hours, 53 minutes, at an altitude of 224 km. Recovery was by helicopters from USS Intrepid (CVS 11).

CNRH Establishes Support Programs for Families Arriving from Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Robert Stirrup, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii (NNS) -- Commander, Navy Region Hawaii set up support programs March 21 for family members of active duty service members arriving from Japan at the Honolulu International Airport.

CNRH is teaming with the Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam's Warfighter and Family Services (WFS) office, and Navy and Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) to help families that have been displaced by the recent events in Japan.

"We currently have staff members at a reception desk at the airport to accommodate any families arriving from Japan and Guam. We are here to reach out to them and provide any services they may need," said WFS Director Margaret Scurfield. "It is important for us to greet these families upon arrival and facilitate their needs after they've had to leave their home and take a long flight back to the U.S."

While there has not been a large number of families arriving in Hawaii, WFS staff will remain at the airport to support, according to Scurfield.

"So far we've only had a handful of people arrive here in Hawaii, but we expect that number to increase," Scurfield said. "It is important for these families to know that we are here to support them in whatever they may need."

WFS provides counseling services, assistance with lodging, relocation, child care, new parent support and phone contact information.

Paul Belanger, director of NMCRS Pearl Harbor, said his organization offers a variety of services to incoming families.

"Currently we are offering short term immediate assistance to all of the families arriving from Japan, including loans and access to our thrift shop at minimal cost," Belanger said. "NMCRS is here to support our active duty service members and their families in this time of need."

Service members and families can contact the Warfighter and Family Services Office at 808-474-1999 or call 808-473-1222 on weekends.

For more information on the voluntary authorized departure for eligible DoD family members from designated areas in Japan, read NAVADMIN 093/11 at www.npc.navy.mil.>

All Sailors or family members who are in need of assistance should utilize the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System support site at www.navyfamily.navy.mil to ensure the Navy can track and assess support requirements for all parties affected. Navy Fleet and Family Support Center has a 24-hour hotline available to provide family support information at 866-854-0638.

Bataan Amphibious Ready Group Deploys

From Commander, U.S. 2nd Fleet Public Affairs

NORFOLK, Va. (NNS) -- More than 4,000 Sailors and Marines from the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) deployed from Norfolk and Little Creek, Va., in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn, March 23.

The decision to deploy the Bataan ARG/22nd MEU ahead of its previously scheduled deployment date was made based on continuing urgent needs in Libya and the region.

"Amphibious ships are optimally suited for executing a wide range of missions, from humanitarian assistance to theater and maritime security operations," said Capt. Steven J. Yoder, Bataan ARG commander. "There is no doubt in my mind that our Sailors and Marines will excel at whatever task we are called upon to perform."

Sailors and Marines of the Bataan ARG/22nd MEU successfully completed months of unit level training to ensure they can operate effectively and safely. During the next few days, the Bataan ARG will transit to Camp LeJeune, N.C., to complete on-load of the 22nd MEU and will continue to conduct integrated blue/green training until they arrive in the Sixth Fleet area of responsibility.

The Bataan ARG/22nd MEU will provide the combatant commander a versatile sea-based force that can be tailored to a variety of missions, including quick reaction crisis response options and humanitarian assistance in maritime, littoral and inland environments, in support of the Navy's Maritime Strategy.

"This team is extremely well prepared to execute whatever mission our nation calls upon us to do," said Capt. Steve Koehler, USS Bataan (LHD 5) commanding officer. "Our Sailors and Marines have worked extremely hard over the last year to make sure we were on time throughout our training cycle, so when the time came, we'd be ready for any tasking. It's why we're here."

Following their assignment in the Mediterranean, the Bataan ARG/22nd MEU will continue with its scheduled deployment in support of maritime security operations (MSO) and theater security cooperation (TSC) efforts in the U.S. 5th and 6th Fleet areas of responsibility.

The Bataan ARG includes Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 6; Tactical Air Control Squadron (TACRON) 22; Fleet Surgical Team (FST) 8; Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 28; and Naval Beach Group (NBG); which includes Assault Craft Unit (ACU) 2, ACU-4 and Beachmaster Unit (BMU) 2.

ARG ships include the Norfolk-based Bataan, USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41), homeported aboard Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek - Fort Story, Va.

The 22nd MEU is comprised of its Command Element; a Ground Combat Element, Battalion Landing Team, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marine Regiment; Aviation Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced); and Logistics Combat Element, Combat Logistics Battalion (CLB) 22.

First Total Force Survey Results Released

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Chief of Naval Personnel announced the results of the Navy's first ever Total Force survey March 23.

This initial survey was sent to roughly 45,000 active and Reserve Sailors, and civilian employees throughout the Fleet, with the goal of providing a baseline understanding of their perceptions on work-life quality and other hot button issues.

While the Navy has used surveys in the past to uncover perceptions in the Fleet, none were shared across the active, Reserve and civilian workforce or used similar questions to allow for useful comparison.

"The Navy Total Force survey has taken the best aspects of previous questionnaires and applied them to all elements of the Total Force," said Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson, chief of naval personnel. "In doing so, we can better understand how the entire team views their quality of life-work balance, job satisfaction and career intentions."

The survey was administered by the Navy Personnel Research, Studies, and Technology (NPRST) team from February to September 2010. NPRST was then tasked with compiling, and analyzing the results for senior leadership. Once completed, they were able to deliver a credible and valuable comparison tool.

Results of the survey among active and Reserve Sailors revealed consistent and positive results on key indicators such as job satisfaction, compensation, and intent to stay with Navy. When measuring career intentions, the survey found enjoyment of job and benefits such as retirement and healthcare to be top reasons to continue serving, while the frequency and duration of deployments were cited as top reasons to leave.

Among Navy civilians, they were found to report fewer problems in balancing their personal life with their career, but were also shown to be less satisfied than their uniformed counterparts in career progression.

"Overall, the survey showed the Total Force is satisfied with the quality of their service, their leadership, and their compensation," said Ferguson. "We view these results as a baseline to measure our future efforts to improve our quality of life programs. This will be our 'Total Force' starting point for the future."

Southern Partnership Station 2011 Kicks Off Mission in Nicaragua

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffery Tilghman Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift Public Affairs

CORINTO, Nicaragua (NNS) -- The joint military construction team supporting Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011 kicked off its mission Corinto, Nicaragua, March 22.

The construction team consists of Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 detail bravo Sailors and 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG) members, who will conduct subject matter expert exchanges (SMEE) at Instituto Parroquial Pbro. Emilio S. Chavarria with Nicaraguan military members.

During the SMEE, service members are working together to construct two Southeast Asia huts (SEA hut), to be used as a classroom and library for the children and faculty at the school.

"This is going to be a challenging project for us, because we are attempting to construct two 16-by-32-foot wood frame structures in five days, while participating in an information sharing exchange with members of the Nicaraguan military," said Lt. Rama Mutyala, NMCB detail bravo officer-in-charge. "But I'm confident our team is more than capable of performing the task at hand."

The construction project is the first of several SMEEs U.S. Sailors, Marines and Airman have planned during their nine-day engagement in Nicaragua. Additional SMEEs focusing on physical security, medicine, civil affairs and counter terrorism techniques are scheduled during the visit.

"We're focused for this mission, and committed to this cross training venture with our foreign counterparts," said Construction Electrician 1st Class Sammy Hill, NMCB detail bravo leading petty officer. "Today's the first day, and we've already learned a few things from the Nicaraguan sailors, which goes to show the importance of SPS."

SPS 11 is an annual deployment of U.S. ships to the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility in the Caribbean and Latin America. The mission's primary goal is information-sharing with navies, coast guards and civilian services throughout the region.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command (COMUSNAVSO) is the naval component command for U.S. Southern Command and is responsible for all naval personnel and assets in the area of responsibility.

COMUSNAVSO conducts a variety of missions in support of the U.S. Maritime Strategy, including theater security cooperation, relationship building, humanitarian assistance and disaster response, community relations, and counter-illicit trafficking operations.

Military Children Need Nation’s Support

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011Military children need the support not just of the Defense Department, but the “whole of nation” to ensure they’re ready for the future, a DOD official said here today.

“Military children are resilient, but they need a lot of help,” said Robert L. Gordon III, deputy assistant secretary of defense for military community and family policy. “We’re doing much more in the within the Department of Defense and federal government, but it will not be enough, because this is an American problem -- it’s not just a problem of the Department of Defense.”

Gordon touched on the challenges facing military children and some of the programs the Defense Department is implementing to help them during a roundtable on the education of military children, one of the culminating events of an education summit called “Building a Grad Nation.”

Military families today have different challenges from those their predecessors faced, he sai, most notably multiple deployments. “Again and again we are seeing service members deployed and spouses having to take care of their families back home,” he said. “It’s been very difficult.”

Gordon said he just returned from a trip to Europe, where he met with spouses and children. Some of the spouses he met had never been out of the United States before, yet were asked to move overseas with their children and without their military spouse, who was deployed directly into the combat theater. Most of these spouses, he noted, were under 25 years old.

“That is the world in which we live today,” he said. Scattered around the world are about 2 million military children, Gordon said, 1.2 million of school age.

Of the 1.2 million, roughly 90,000 are in the military school system, and about 70,000 are in public schools on military installations across the country. The other roughly 1 million children are scattered throughout the United States in the public school system.

“One the issues is finding them, understanding where in the world they are and what they are doing,” Gordon said. Then, he added, it’s “finding and engaging them.”

This will take a concerted effort that extends far beyond the reach of the Defense Department, he said.

Gordon praised President Barack Obama’s Presidential Study Directive 9, which directed federal agencies to determine how they can better support military families. A report titled “Strengthening Our Military Families: Meeting America’s Commitment” outlines the nearly 50 commitments federal government agencies made on behalf of military families. Many are specific to military children and their education.

“It is a whole-of-nation approach,” Gordon said. “All 16 agencies of the federal government focused on military families. It’s about strengthening military families.”

Within the Defense Department, Gordon called for leadership involvement to help bolster military children and praised the efforts of Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his wife, Deborah Mullen, who also spoke at the roundtable.

“The chairman could … prioritize a lot of different things – this is the DOD – but it has been our children that they have prioritized,” he said. The chairman and his wife have gone across country and brought back pertinent issues and avenues of change, he noted, which “helps us craft our programs.”

Additionally, DOD leaders have commissioned a 270-day education review, currently under way, to “ensure world-class educational opportunities for all 1.2 million military children,” he said.

The review will look at curriculums for military children, the impact of transitions and deployments, and facilities.

Gordon also highlighted the military family life consultant program, which is designed to provide support to service members and their families. Consultants provide parent education, information on support services, and helps individuals and families develop coping mechanisms.

The program includes 40,000 consultants, he said, who assist with nonmedical counseling for a set length of time. They also can work within schools for a semester at a time. “This is a huge success story,” he said.

Overall, it will take a combination of strong leadership seeking areas of improvement and the support of the entire nation to ensure military children receive the support they need and deserve, Gordon said.

After all, he noted, “military children are American children.”

NPC Clarifies Japan PCS Stop Movement

From Navy Personnel Command Public Affairs Office

MILLINGTON, Tenn. (NNS) -- In the wake of an immediate stop movement order, Navy Personnel Command (NPC) has provided clarification for Sailors with orders to Japan in NAVADMIN 100/11 released March 23.

As directed in NAVADMIN 084/11, the Navy has issued a temporary stop movement order for all personnel scheduled to report to Japan as either an ultimate duty station or an intermediate duty station in conjunction with a permanent change of station (PCS) move.

Under the new guidance, commanding officers and officers-in-charge in the affected areas are now able to request waivers and operational holds to fill critical billets. Further, the new message adds clarity regarding Sailors who have orders to Japan, including adding Immediate Superior-in-Commands (ISIC) and Navy Operations Support Commands (NOSC) as places where Sailors can report. The message also includes information about intermediate duty stations, guidance regarding placing Sailors on temporary additional duty (TAD) and changes the accounting code receiving commands should use to classify those Sailors on orders to Japan.

"We want Sailors to know that we're in constant contact with forces in Japan and that our decisions are based on the best information and assessments available," said Capt. Robert Weitzman, NPC director of Distribution Management. "As the situation changes we'll keep you updated."

Commanding officers and officers in charge who want a waiver to the stop movement for critical billets should request one through their chain of command. The Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet is authorized to approve or disapprove waiver requests.

Approvals will be sent through record message traffic and will specify whether the member is authorized to bring family members. Upon approval, Personnel Support Detachments (PSD) will process Sailors to transfer.

Personnel with orders to commands in Japan who have not yet detached from their current command are directed to remain in place unless their orders direct them to report to intermediate duty stations en route. Those Sailors should execute their orders and will stop at their final intermediate station.

Ships and embarked units getting underway and that cannot retain detaching Sailors should put those service members on TAD orders to the Beach Detachment or the ISIC until further notice. Commands who gain these Sailors should notify NPC immediately.

Members who have detached from their command, but have not left their homeport area should check into their previous duty station, local transient processing unit (TPU) or ISIC.

Members who have already detached from their command and have commenced travel to Japan, should report to the nearest naval installation or NOSC.

Members assigned overseas, other than Japan, and who have orders to Japan should contact NPC for specific guidance.

Installations, ISICs, NOSCs, TPUs and Beach Detachments who receive these Sailors, are directed to place them on TAD orders under Accounting Classification Code (ACC) 350. This is a change from the previous NAVADMIN. This ACC better fits the status of those Sailors affected by this message.

According to the message, there are two categories of personnel affected by the message: those with orders to areas other than the island of Honshu (such as Okinawa and Sasebo); and those with orders to Honshu (Atsugi, Misawa and Yokosuka).

Service members who have orders to areas other than Honshu are not eligible for authorized allowances – they receive the normal permanent change of station allowance. Since all entitlements are dependent on personal circumstances, Sailors should read the message and NAVADMIN 084/11.

For questions regarding allowances, members should contact their nearest disbursing office or PSD.

The stop movement does not impact Sailors with outbound orders from Japan, and they should continue to execute their orders.

Commands are directed to make every effort to contact affected Sailors in order to advise them of the contents of this message and have them contact NPC.

Sailors who have already shipped household goods (HHG) and vehicles to Japan should contact the Naval Supply Systems Command HHG helpline at 1-800-444-7789 or e-mail at nvtrnshhghelpline@navy.mil.

For more information, members or commands should contact the NPC Emergency Coordination Center at 1-877-414-5358 or via e-mail at NPC.CAT.CAPTAIN@navy.mil. Sailors are also reminded to log into the Navy Family Accountability and Assessment System at https://navyfamily.navy.mil to help the Navy track and assess support requirements. Further questions can be directed to the NPC Customer Service Center at 1-866-U-ASK-NPC (866-827-5672).

Gates Reaffirms U.S. Support of Egypt

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

CAIRO, March 23, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates met with Egyptian leaders here today as part of a visit officials said is designed to reaffirm U.S. support and advance the nations’ defense partnership.

“It’s always a pleasure to be back in this vibrant and historic city,” Gates said, “especially during a time of monumental promise and change both in Egypt and elsewhere in the region.”

America’s historic relationship with Egypt is a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East and North Africa, Gates said. The U.S.-Egyptian military partnership has grown over 30 years, he added, “and it is an integral part of the way our two countries pursue our common interests and advance stability in an often tumultuous region.”

Rapid change in the region holds potential new opportunities for the United States, Gates said.

“I would point to the longstanding relationship between the United States military and the Egyptian military and the constructive role the Egyptian military has played in the events of the past couple of months,” he said.

“For existing governments that undertake a process of reform and that we work with today, those relationships will continue,” Gates added. “And I think where change is underway we may have even greater opportunities.”

After his meeting today with Prime Minister Essam Sharaf and other Egyptian officials, Gates said the leaders “do see a need for economic assistance, not just from us, but from all their friends.” The Egyptian leaders see the connection between political progress and people seeing concrete improvements in the quality of their lives, which means a growing economy, the secretary added.

“The key here is the stability that the Supreme Council has brought and the naming of the interim government that we hope in the short term will allow for a return of the tourist trade, which is an important source of income,” Gates said.

As private industry observers see a process of democratization going forward, he added, they will see opportunities for investment in Egypt, “which is at the end of the day, both inside Egypt and from external investment, the long-term solution to their economic problems.”

Gates will meet tomorrow with Field Marshal Mohamed Hussein Tantawi, the nation’s commander in chief and chairman of the Egyptian Supreme Council of the Armed Forces.

NHB Family Practice and Patient Administration Personnel Assist Returning Family Members

By Douglas H. Stutz, Naval Hosptial Bremerton Public Affairs Officer

SEATTLE (NNS) -- Naval Hospital Bremerton staff assisted with the arrival of military family members who were part of the voluntary authorized departure from Japan at Seattle-Tacoma international airport March 21.

The military-chartered flight arrived from Naval Air Facility Atsugi with 154 passengers and 21 pets. NBH was one of numerous Navy assets to help support the U.S. Army North joint mission, with an established reception and coordination center to receive, account for, and render support for the returning family members.

Patient Administration hospital corpsmen, a doctor and nurse from the Family Practice Clinic, and technical support from the leading chief petty officer of Information Management Division, aided in the overall process to get the family members to their final destinations scattered throughout the U.S. The Army-led joint service support team brought in experts from personnel services, logistic and other specialties to streamline and personally manage and address the returnees' needs and required administrative accountability.

"We are here in this joint environment to provide military-medical liaison, any basic medical needs, handle triage requirements and screen anyone for any health-related issues," said Cmdr. Pat Taylor, of NHB's Family Practice Assistant Department Head.

The Monday flight followed the initial arrival on March 19 that brought approximately 240 military family members to the designated destination, including 190 children and nine pets from Yokota AB.

"We had some minor medical issues on Saturday such as allergies kicking in and some gastro-intestinal distress," Taylor said. "We handled everything with the supplies we had on hand."

These two flights are the beginning of multiple chartered flights bringing in almost 7,000 Department of Defense personnel and family members impacted by devastating March 11 earthquake and tsunamis.

"Bringing military medicine to where it's needed is what we do," said Lt. Cmdr. Gray Dawson, of NHB Family Practice, noting that for the majority of passengers arriving, the common theme was simply a relief to finally be at their chosen destination. "But we're here for anything, even working with them to clear up TRICARE questions or find and contact a case manager for them to where they are headed, or just seeing them or their children for any reason at all."

For Minerva Aguinaga, traveling from NAF Atsugi with her six-month old daughter, Cassandra, and another baby on the way, her main concern after the long flight was linking up with a provider at her final destination to assist with checkups during her pregnancy. Aguinaga also had concerns about base access and unfamiliarity with the area in which she was headed.

Hospital Corpsman 2nd Class Jerry Wagner, of NHB Patient Admin, seamlessly stepped in to calm her unease. Wagner, adept in fleet liaison and family consult issues, took the paperwork to ensure Aguinaga's family information would be correctly updated in TRICARE. He then explained how he would arrange contact information and facilitate necessary paperwork for her upcoming appointments.

Losing access to medical care for family members arriving from Japan has been alleviated by TRICARE Management Activity. TRICARE Overseas Prime beneficiaries may be unable to access their usual sources of medical care and pharmacy services. To compensate, TRICARE has established 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. The TRICARE waiver is in place from March 11, 2011 until on June 30, 2011, with the option for extension based upon an analysis of the situation at that time.

Additionally, communication disruptions may further limit beneficiaries' ability to contact International SOS, the TRICARE Overseas Prime contractor, to arrange referrals. To compensate, TRICARE has established 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 also in place 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.

"Although we haven't fielded a lot of questions, the families arriving see we're here and everyone one else standing by to help them. That takes a lot off their mind. The combined team effort going on here really is tremendous," Taylor said. "The [Naval Base Kitsap] Child Development Center has set up a great area to watch the children so the parents can concentrate on getting checked in and our Fleet and Family Support team has so much compassion in reaching out to every family member and helping them."

"What an amazing experience and the folks, as tired and stressed as they were, just handled everything with absolute strength. Even the kids," said Britt Feldman, of NBK Fleet and Family Support Center.

Northcom Operation Helps Families Relocating From Japan

From a U.S. Northern Command News Release

PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo., March 23, 2011 – U.S. Northern Command is leading “Pacific Passage,” an operation for the voluntary return of military family members from Japan in the aftermath of the deadly March 11 earthquake and tsunami.

Northcom is the joint combatant command formed in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks to provide homeland defense and defense support of civil authorities.

U.S. Army North defense coordinating elements led by a defense coordinating officer in Federal Emergency Management Agency Regions 9 and 10 have established joint reception coordination centers, work closely with federal, state, tribal and local officials to determine unique Defense Department capabilities that may be needed to assist civil authorities.

Arrival locations have been established at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in Washington state and at Travis Air Force Base, Calif. The arriving families, including their pets, are being met by military representatives from U.S. Army North, who help them with follow-on arrangements such as temporary lodging, food and other support requirements.

Air Forces Northern’s national security emergency preparedness directorate has deployed two emergency preparedness liaison officers to the Seattle-Tacoma airport and is ready to support with others if needed, officials said. Joint reception coordination centers have been set up at both locations.

Northcom's Standing Joint Force Headquarters is on standby to establish an additional arrival location, as necessary, officials said.

More information on Pacific Passage and useful information for returning family members is available at http://www.northcom.mil/japan.

USS McCampbell Replenishes to Continue Relief to Japan

By Ensign Emily McMenamin

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS McCampbell (DDG 85) took on supplies to continue Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) operations off the eastern coast of Japan March 23.

McCampbell Sailors moved tons of materials ashore to the civilian population in some of the hardest struck areas, as displaced Japanese continue to have a critical need for food, supplies and fuel.

Over a period of more than two hours, McCampbell took on 45 pallets of food and supplies from USNS Matthew Perry (T-AKE 9) to prepare for a new wave of emergency provisions, and move them to the Japanese ashore.

"It was incredible to watch the pallets swing across between our two ships and know all of these supplies were going ashore soon, to help our Japanese friends," said Seaman Cyd M. Vargas of Aguada, Puerto Rico.

The crew worked in near freezing temperatures to bring an abnormally large amount of supplies aboard.

"The crew pulled together to on load nearly three times the normal amount of supplies in support of HADR operations ashore," said Ensign Thad Brill of McMinnville, Oregon, the Assistant Supply Officer aboard McCampbell. "These items will greatly help to sustain the victims ashore."

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 51 Detachment 5 the "Warlords" embarked on board McCampbell, will be transferring needed supplies to shore over the next few days based on information gathered during previous drops at established shelters. The air crew customizes the loads to various sizes and content in order to best suit the needs for each group of survivors. Aware that there may be additional groups with needs, the air crew is constantly vigilant to identify additional previously unestablished shelters.

Sailors have been working tirelessly to ensure that all available resources are getting ashore in a timely manner since arriving on scene arch 11, immediately following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami.

USS McCampbell Commanding Officer, Cmdr. Steven H. DeMoss said, "McCampbell and nearly every U.S. Navy ship forward-deployed to Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan have joined with the Reagan Strike Group to support disaster relief ashore. There is a tremendous commitment by our nation and our Navy to ensure Japan overcomes and recovers from this tragedy."

McCampbell is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen and is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan. McCampbell will remain on scene, continuing to provide assistance, as part of the overall humanitarian effort being conducted by U.S. Navy 7th Fleet Forces.

Education Activity Launches Online Preregistration

By Elaine Wilson
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2011 – Defense Department officials have launched an online preregistration application that’s intended to help parents get an early start on enrolling their children in DOD schools.

Through the site, parents can preregister their children in a DOD school from anywhere in the world, and even while on the move from one installation to another, explained Mike Lynch, chief of policy and legislation for the Department of Defense Education Activity.

The site, located at https://registration.dodea.edu, is open to parents with students entering pre-kindergarten up to 12th grade.

“We want to reduce the time it takes to register children for school,” he said. “This way, the school can be ready the day the parents get there so they can get in and out quicker.”

The site is intended to aid with new enrollments into Defense Department schools, Lynch said, rather than re-registration requests. “An online re-registration application is something we’re looking at developing for next school year,” he said.

Lynch said the site can help military parents worldwide, whether they’re moving their children from an off-base school to one on base or are in the early stages of preparing for a move, either stateside or overseas.

Parents who are readying for a move can preregister children even before they know the exact school their child will enter, he noted. On the site, parents can choose options ranging from the community they’re moving to down to the specific Defense Department school their child will attend.

“If you’re going to Europe, for example, you can pick that option, then the country, community and school,” he said. However, “You can stop at any point along the way.”

Registrars will be on the lookout for new registration paperwork, he said. And, for those who didn’t designate a specific school, the registrar can quickly pull the paperwork from a queue upon the family’s arrival. “It takes only a few minutes to print and have it ready,” he said.

The site is simple and easy to navigate, Lynch said. Parents answer questions ranging from student’s birth date to citizenship. They also can attach documents, such as military orders and birth certificates, to their online preregistration paperwork.

While the site is designed to streamline the registration process, he said, it doesn’t replace the need for an in-person school visit. Parents still will need to stop by the school to update documents, complete other forms, such as bus routes, and sign an official registration request.

Along with parents, the site also offers benefits for school officials, Lynch noted. Since the system generates pre-filled forms, it eliminates the need to have registrars transfer data from sometimes hard-to-decipher handwritten registration forms. Additionally, the schools can better track the number of incoming students.

“But that’s not why we’re doing this,” Lynch said. "We're committed to making school transitions easier, and we believe that improving the school registration process is the perfect place to start."

PACOM Commander Addresses Concerns during Yokosuka Townhall Meeting

By Mark Elrod

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The U.S. military's top Pacific leader spent several hours at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) March 22 to answer questions and address concerns regarding events in the wake of the 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated northeastern Japan March 11.

Commander, U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Robert Willard, along with his wife Donna Willard, addressed the community on the current situation with the Fukushima nuclear-power plants, voluntary departure of dependents, and thanked families for their support to their Sailors who are fully engaged in Operation Tomodachi.

"The purpose of my visit to Japan was multi-faceted," said Willard. "I needed to talk to my forces out here that are conducting the humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operation, in northern Honshu, to help the Japanese. So, I'm working the disaster side of this, but while we're here Donna and I both wanted the opportunity to visit the sites, interact with the families, and perhaps share some information that would be helpful under these circumstances," he added.

Willard began the meeting reassuring the community that leadership at all levels has the safety of service members and their families at their top priority. He also put the conditions of northeastern Japan into perspective.

"Just imagine 440,000 people that are in an area where infrastructure is pretty much destroyed, and more than one thousand roads are gone. There's no power, no water and people are relying on relief efforts that we are assisting in," Willard told the crowd of approximately 700 people.

He also addressed the Japanese members of the audience and expressed his concern for the people of Japan and praised the courage they have displayed throughout catastrophic circumstances.

"From all of us in America, and from all of us in the United States military, and in the Pacific Command, I would like to express our profound condolences for what your country is enduring."

To help share information during the meeting, Willard held a question and answer session with community members to address community concerns.

"We couldn't have been happier with the turnout and with the questions. I learned a lot and I hope they got a lot out of it as well," said Willard. "Their safety is paramount on our minds. My responsibility is to manage that safety, look out for any future contingency that could occur, and to keep them informed."

Willard reiterated to the local commanders the importance of communications in keeping the community assured by keeping them informed.

"For the leaders that are here, keep leading keep supplying the information that's required as we go about this great humanitarian assistance and disaster response effort," stated Willard. "To the families here, we're very, very proud of what they're doing, the courage they're showing, and the help that they are affording one another."

Though Willard addressed the Yokosuka community concerns, he also, in addition, spoke of the catastrophes that the Japanese people are enduring.

"The Japanese people, I think, have shown just wonderful resilience and fortitude under the worst circumstances," Willard expressed. "I know I speak for every American and every military member that we are very, very sorry for this great disaster that they've been subjected to."