Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Portugal's Minister of National Defense Augusto Santos Silva to the Pentagon today at .  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the Pentagon River Parking Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

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

Chief, National Guard Bureau Gen. Craig R. McKinley; Director, Air National Guard Lt. Gen. Harry M. Wyatt III; Chief, Army Reserve and Commanding General, U.S. Army Reserve Command Lt. Gen. Jack C. Stultz and Director, Army National Guard (Acting) Maj. Gen. Raymond W. Carpenter testify at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on the guard and reserve budget at 10 a.m. EDT in room H-140 Capitol.

Commander, U.S. European Command and NATO Supreme Allied Commander - Europe, Navy Adm. James G. Stavridis; Commander, U.S. Northern Command and North American Aerospace Defense Command, Navy Adm. James A. Winnefeld Jr.; and Commander, U.S. Southern Command Air Force Gen. Douglas M. Fraser testify at a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee on fiscal 2012 national defense authorization budget requests from EUCOM, NORTHCOM, and SOUTHCOM at 10 a.m. EDT in room 2118, Rayburn House Office Building.

Secretary of the Air Force Michael B. Donley and Chief of Staff of the Air Force, Gen. Norton A. Schwartz testify at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee on fiscal 2012 Air Force budget at in room SD-192, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Under Secretary of Defense (Personnel and Readiness) Clifford L. Stanley; Deputy Chief of Staff G-1 (Personnel) Army Lt. Gen. Thomas P. Bostick; Chief of Naval Personnel Navy Vice Adm. Mark E. Ferguson III; Deputy Commandant for Manpower and Reserve Affairs Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Robert E. Milstead Jr. and Deputy Chief of Staff for Manpower, Personnel and Services Air Force Lt. Gen. Darrell D. Jones testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on the active, guard, reserve, and civilian personnel programs in review of the defense authorization request for fiscal 2012 and the future years defense program at 1 p.m. EDT in room SR-222, Russell Senate Office Building.

Gen. Douglas Fraser, commander, U.S. Southern Command, will brief the media live at , in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on the Caribbean, Central and South America.  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 29

From the Navy News Service

1954 - Carrier aircraft began reconnaissance near Dien Bien Phu, Indochina.
1960 - The first fully-integrated fleet ballistic missile is launched from USS Observation Island (AGM 23).
1973 - Naval Advisory Group and Naval Forces, Vietnam, disestablished, and the last U.S. prisoners of war leave Vietnam.
1975 - The Evacuation of Danang began by sea.

Camaraderie, Challenge Inspire Wounded Warriors

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 29, 2011 – Camaraderie and the opportunity to challenge themselves are proving to be some of the best therapy possible for wounded warriors attending the National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic here as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.

Few might have guessed during the early days of last year’s clinic that one of its most reluctant participants would return this year as one of its biggest supporters.

Retired Army Sgt. John Barnes suffered a severe traumatic brain injury during a mortar attack in 2006 while he was deployed to southwestern Iraq with the 101st Airborne Division. His injury sent him into a downward spiral as he struggled with TBI, post-traumatic stress and substance abuse.

Attending his first winter sports clinic last year, Barnes was ready to call it quits from the start. His luggage was lost in transit, and the high altitude made him feel miserable.

“My son was convinced that this was going to be a horrible week and said we should just go home,” Barnes’ mother, Valerie Wallace, recalled. “He was irritable, negative and just kept saying he wanted to go home. He said he would never come back here again.”

But snowboarding the first morning of the clinic changed everything. “When he left the snow, he was excited, happy and exhilarated,” Wallace said. “He was excitedly telling everyone who would listen how he was going to get back on the mountain … and ‘tear it up.’”

By the week’s end, Barnes was singled out to receive the Disabled American Veterans Freedom Award for Outstanding Courage and Achievement. The award recognizes the first-time participant at the clinic who best exemplifies courage and achievement while taking a giant step forward in rehabilitation.

This year, Barnes enthusiastically returned to the clinic, recognizing the changes it helped him make in his life. “This gave me a lot more self-confidence,” he said. “It shows you that you can do things you didn’t think you could because you limit yourself. This helps take away those limits.”

Barnes is among about 100 veterans of operations in Iraq and Afghanistan participating in this year’s winter sports clinic.

Many, like former Army Spc. Barbara Newstrom, say they’ve grown through their experiences on Snowmass Mountain and are passing those lessons on to first-timers to the clinic, many of whom still are learning to live with their disabilities.

Newstrom was a medic and truck driver deployed to Iraq with the Army Reserve’s Las Vegas-based 257th Transportation Company in October 2003 when an enemy attack left her with a traumatic brain injury. The winter sports clinic, she said, has made a huge difference in her rehabilitation and given her a sense of belonging that’s hard to find elsewhere.

“This is an environment where you don’t feel different,” she said. “If you can’t find a word, you get lost in the hotel or you have anxiety issues, people here understand. You feel acceptance and understanding. It’s what makes this place so special, because it feels like family.”

Newstrom said she strives to welcome first-time participants at the clinic into the fold.

“We try to reach out to the new veteran coming in and teach them the little things we’ve learned along the way,” she said. “We try to pass it on to them so they can benefit from it, too.”

Former Army Sgt. Kevin Pannell, also a veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom, said he took so much away from his first clinic last year that he, too, anxiously returned for its silver anniversary celebration.

“The snow is cool, but that’s not really what brought me back,” Pannell said. “It’s the people here. They’re what make this place really something.”

Pannell was deployed to eastern Baghdad with the 1st Cavalry Division’s 1st Squadron, 9th Cavalry, in June 2004 when two grenades lobbed during an ambush tore off both his legs -– one below the knee and one just above. As he recovered from his wounds, Pannell took up snowboarding and with it, a whole new outlook on life.

“I’m a happier person now,” he said. “I realized that I hadn’t been getting the most out of what life is until I almost had the rug pulled out from me. Some people think it sounds strange, but I am actually a better, happier person since this happened to me.”

Some participants in the winter sports clinic, like former Army Sgt. Robert Schuler, suffered their injuries after returning from combat. Schuler was back just six months from his deployment with the Hawaii-based 25th Special Troops Battalion when a freak boogie-boarding accident in May 2008 broke his neck and put him into a wheelchair. Less than two years after his injury, Schuler jumped at the chance to attend his first winter sports clinic last year.

“I just had a blast on the mountain,” he said. “But it went beyond that. What’s really neat here is the chance to talk to other veterans. You learn about yourself. And when you see people with less function than you have, it opens your eyes to new possibilities about what you are able to do.”

The winter sports clinic, jointly sponsored by the Department of Veterans Affairs and Disabled American Veterans, uses recreation as a rehabilitative tool for veterans with disabilities ranging from spinal cord injuries and orthopedic amputations to visual impairment and neurological conditions.

As veterans learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and get introduced to rock climbing, scuba diving, trapshooting, curling, snowmobiling and sled hockey during a five-day program, program officials strive to open their eyes to a new world of opportunity.

Lynn Receives Award for Cybersecurity Efforts

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 29, 2011 – Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III topped the list of 100 government and industry leaders recognized at an information technology awards event held here yesterday.

Accepting the “Eagle Award” during a banquet attended by roughly 1,000 participants, Lynn reiterated a theme he has emphasized during his tenure at the Pentagon: industry and government must act quickly against cyber threats that still are maturing.

The cyber threat is “moving up the ladder from exploitation to disruption. … We have not seen much destruction in terms of cyber threats, but we will,” he said.

Cyber warfare capabilities now are largely in the hands of sophisticated nation-states, but could shift to rogue states and terrorist organizations, Lynn said.

“We have a window at this point where the most malicious threats haven’t been joined with the most malicious actors, but that will happen,” the deputy secretary said.

The government’s goal, he said, is to establish defenses “that will prevent that union from having an effect on the security and the economy of this country.”

Defending the nation’s military and commercial networks and cyber infrastructure requires cooperation among government agencies and between those agencies and industry, Lynn said. The Defense and Homeland Security departments work closely together, he noted, but he added that partnerships with industry experts are vital.

“That cross-fertilization is critical,” the deputy secretary said. “We are not going to solve this problem as a government-only problem, [and] private industry is not going to be able to solve it alone.”

It’s a priority that must be addressed quickly, Lynn said, adding, “We don’t know when that window is going to close.”

The Federal 100 Awards recognize government and industry leaders who “have made a difference in the way technology has transformed their agency or accelerated their agency’s mission, officials said.

The annual winners are nominated by Federal Computer Week magazine readers. Additional Eagle Awards are presented to one government official and one industry executive for outstanding contributions to the federal IT community.

Six other Defense Department officials, five Army employees, three Navy members and two to Air Force representatives also received 2011 Federal 100 awards.

Lessons We Can Learn from Suicide Survivors

Posted by Sarah Heynen

“Death itself is not always a sad ending, but suicide is. Suicide is a tragedy. It ends sadly for everyone,” said W. Scott Gould, deputy secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs, at an annual conference on suicide prevention sponsored by the Departments of Defense and Veterans Affairs.

It takes amazing courage to speak about losing a loved one to death by suicide. It takes even more courage to share this experience in front of an audience of more than 1,000 service members, veterans, clinicians and community leaders. A panel of five brave suicide survivors did just that with the hope that their stories of loss would help others and benefit suicide prevention programs.

The panelists included Army Col. Robert McLaughlin, garrison commander at Fort Carson, Colo., and childhood friend of a service member who took his own life. McLaughlin detailed the personal and professional impact the loss of his friend had on him. Also, Kimberli Walker, who lost her husband, Army Capt. Shawn Walker in 2009; Robert Bagosy, who lost his son, Marine Sgt. Thomas Bagosy at Camp Lejeune, N.C. last year; and Carolyn Colley, whose brother, Army Spc. Stephen Colley died in 2007 at Fort Hood, Texas, all shared their stories.

Kim Ruocco of the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) facilitated the panel and stressed how families can help one another.

“We have 2,000 suicide survivors in our [TAPS] data bank. Each story is different, but each story is a lesson,” said Ruocco. “The stories of our husbands, sons, daughters…will be used to save someone else’s life.”

Ruocco lost her husband Marine Maj. John Ruocco six years ago and now speaks to various audiences. Read more about Ruocco’s story in the Boston Herald article, “Military Suicides Personal for Widow.”

The lives of families, friends and colleagues coping with a loss of a loved one by suicide are forever changed. They will question why and will search for answers. No story will be alike or fully understood, but the departments recognize that people affected by suicide have valuable stories to share, and they are stories that we can learn from.

Several conference breakout sessions also stressed the need for postvention for suicide survivors – anyone who has lost someone to suicide. Postvention, an intervention after a suicide occurs, provides immediate psychological or spiritual support which can help survivors by lessening distress, restoring coping abilities, bringing hope, and rebuilding normalcy. Check out the presentation by Navy Capt. Donald P. Troast from the session, “Suicide Postvention” for more information.

For resources on suicide prevention and postvention, please visit suicide prevention on the DCoE website. If you are in crisis or know someone who might be, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK; veterans press 1.

Families Depart on Last MAVDD Flight from Atsugi, Japan

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Vivian Blakely, Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

ATSUGI, Japan (NNS) -- The last contracted flight for DoD dependents participating in the Military Assisted Voluntary Departure of Dependents (MAVDD) left Naval Air Facility (NAF) Atsugi, Japan, March 28.

According to NAF Atsugi officials, more than 1,500 people have departed through the MAVDD program since March 21. This last flight carried just more than 100 people out of Japan.

Families and friends waited in Atsugi's hangar 183 for the last departure provided by Ryan International Airline.

For Petty Officer 2nd Class Ricardo Garcia, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka, this flight was perfect timing for his wife and three kids who had just returned from leave.

"Our main concern is this little boy," Garcia said as he cradled his sleeping infant son in his arms. "It's hard because I'm going to be the only one staying at home once they leave. It's going to be hard both ways. Hard for them, because my wife has three kids she has to take care of."

Garcia said his family would not be returning to Japan as he would be retiring in July.

Not everyone leaving however was a DoD dependent. "I would have left earlier," said Marcine Woodley, an instructor with the Sullivan's Elementary School based in Yokosuka. "However, there has been multiple information put out about DoDDs teachers and whether we are permitted to leave."

"I'll come back to Japan when it's safe," said Woodley. "I want to know that it's safe for my family and myself, and the children we teach at the Sullivans."

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 NFAAS 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.

Army Earth Day Poster Update

Posters have been sent from the printer for all of those who ordered before March 15. Everyone should receive theirs by April 14. If you are located within the continental United States and do not receive what you ordered by Monday, 4 April 2011, please email Cathy.Kropp@us.army.mil so we can verify that your order was received and filled from the printer.

For those that ordered after March 15, we will be putting your posters in the mail (sent from USAEC in Texas) after we receive our stock from the printer.

If you have not yet ordered your copies, we are still taking orders (from Army installations and organizations) and will fill as many as we can until we run out of stock. Please use the form here http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/earthday02.html.  Follow the directions at the bottom of the order form if you have any problems placing your order.

If you'd like to print your own copies, you will find the files on our web site.
JPG: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/images/armyearthday/aed2011poster.jpg
PDF: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/images/armyearthday/aed2011poster.pdf
Earth Day Resources: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/earthday03.html
Earth Day Links: http://aec.army.mil/usaec/newsroom/earthday01.html

If you haven't yet sent us information on your planned Earth Day event, please do so we can capture lessons learned and best practices to update our Planning Guide and assist others with their future events.  Send a short description including date, times and locations (if you have them) to cathy.kropp@us.army.mil.

If you need bookmarks or any other Earth Day support from USAEC, please let us know as soon as you can.

Thank you for all that you do every day in supporting our environment!

Power Consumption Drops at Japan Naval Base

From Naval Facilities Engineering Command Far East Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- The U.S. Navy base in Yokosuka reduced its daily consumption of electrical energy by 74 percent since the 9.0 magnitude earthquake and tsunami struck northern Japan March 11.

The energy manager on base explained that the base, one of Tokyo Electric Power Company's major customers, took measures to reduce consumption in order to free electricity for other needs.

"The U.S. Navy wants to help our neighbors who are making sacrifices for the good of Japan during this critical time," said Thomas Bawden, Fleet Activities Yokosuka energy manager.

"Just as we see users in the local community turning off lights and curtailing their power use, we are joining the effort to do the same," he said.

Average daily consumption of electrical energy for the base in March 2010 was 280,000 kilowatt-hours.

Since the earthquake on March 11, power consumption has steadily declined.

On March 23 power consumption was 72,500 kilowatt-hours, a 74 percent decrease from the March 2010 average.

"From the very beginning of these devastating events Fleet Activities Yokosuka wanted to help contribute in any way we could to support the community we are very much a part of," said Capt. David Owen, Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka.

"Vigilance in securing lights and other electrical sources we do not absolutely need, along with suspending activities such as night time sports to conserve electricity vital to impacted areas for recovery, are vital to the relief cause," he said.

Biden Encourages Winter Sports Clinic Participants

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

SNOWMASS VILLAGE, Colo., March 29, 2011 – Vice President Joe Biden made another surprise appearance to the 25th National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic yesterday, encouraging disabled veterans as they hit the slopes and teasing them for showing him up on the mountain.

“I’m a pretty good skier, but some of these veterans have really passed me by,” the vice president joked at the base of Snowmass Mountain as he chatted with disabled veterans getting strapped into adaptive skis amid a heavy snowfall.

Steps away from the slope, he watched a scuba-diving session as instructor Susan Ferguson explained, “We’re trying to give them a whole new experience.”

Mingling among the disabled veterans, volunteers and staff, Biden shook hands, posed for photos and hugged the mother of a wounded warrior as he checked out the events.

The visit was Biden’s third to the winter sports clinic. He stopped in during early registration March 26 to recognize the more than 600 volunteers supporting this year’s clinic. Then on March 27, he made an unannounced return to address about disabled veterans during the clinic’s opening-night ceremonies.

Biden hinted during those ceremonies that he might be back. “I’m not supposed to tell you, but I’ll be hiding out watching you,” he told the group.

Tyrone Allen, a former Navy petty officer third class, here for his first winter sports clinic after suffering a traumatic brain injury and spinal injury aboard USS Wasp in 2004, said he was thrilled that Biden remembered him from the previous night’s meeting.

“He said, ‘Hey big guy,’” said the 6-foot-5-inch Allen. “I have to say this is the greatest day of my life. You just don’t expect a person at that level to be so friendly and open.”

Biden told the veterans at the opening ceremony they’re an inspiration to their fellow Americans, and not so bad on the slopes, either. “I already got my [rear end] kicked by one guy on a sled and one guy with a prosthesis,” he joked. “And I’m a pretty good skier.”

The visit to the winter sports clinic, the first for a vice president, isn’t about politics, Biden told the group. “This is about all of you,” he said.

The vice president introduced his wife, Dr. Jill Biden, his sons -- including Army Capt. Joseph “Beau” Biden, who deployed to Iraq with the Delaware Army National Guard -- and his grandchildren to the audience. He quoted from John Steinbeck’s novel “East of Eden,” which calls soldiers the holiest of all humans because they’ve been tested.

“You are, in Steinbeck’s words, the most tested of Americans,” he told the veterans. “We’re here to pay tribute to you and to thank you.”

The National Disabled Veterans Winter Sports Clinic, co-sponsored by the Veterans Affairs Department and Disabled American Veterans, is the world leader in promoting rehabilitation, officials said.

The event is open to veterans with spinal cord injuries, amputations, traumatic brain injuries, neurological challenges, and visual impairments who receive care through VA.

Participants in the five-day clinic learn adaptive Alpine and Nordic skiing and are exposed to various other winter-sports activities, all aimed at helping them focus on their abilities rather than their disabilities.

DOD Launches Online Career Transition Training for Service Members

The Department of Defense today announced the launch of an online Career Decision Toolkit that will allow service members to self assess transition needs and thoroughly explore an array of transition related subjects such as: career exploration, financial planning for transition, job search success, effective resumes and cover letters, interviewing excellence, and negotiating your ideal compensation.

 “The toolkit is customized to a service member’s own transition needs and assists them in cataloguing their military skills and experience in a way that helps them effectively communicate their skills to prospective employers,” said John R. Campbell, deputy assistant secretary of defense for wounded warrior care and transition policy.

The online toolkit will deliver 24-hour global access to career transition training to service members who are not geographically able to attend Transition Assistance Program (TAP) classes traditionally offered at military installations.  The toolkit’s online launch also marks the second phase of a major redesign of the Defense Department’s main career transition website,  and a cornerstone of the transformation of TAP into a blended delivery model that takes advantage of online resources, as well as a virtual classroom settings and platforms to enhance the traditional “brick and mortar” TAP experience that most service members receive.

Originally released in compact disc format last August, the Career Decision Toolkit was developed by the DoD’s Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy in collaboration with Departments of Veterans Affairs and Labor to assist separating, demobilizing, retiring and wounded service members, and their families, to effectively navigate their course to civilian employment and educational opportunities.

For more information on the online Career Decision Toolkit, visit http://www.turbotap.org or contact Office of Wounded Warrior Care and Transition Policy at 703-428-7649 or warriorcare@osd.mil.

Face of Defense: Powerlifter Adds to Records

By Laura M. Levering
Northwest Guardian

JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash., March 29, 2011 – At age 54, Leamon Woodley, a civilian employee here, is in better physical condition than many soldiers half his age.

A trained powerlifter, Woodley holds more records than he can keep track of -- earlier this month, that number increased by two.

The retired Army master sergeant competed in the 2011 Washington State Powerlifting, Bench Press and Deadlift Championship in Tumwater, Wash., March 5 and 6. The 181-pound Woodley set two national records, including the squat at 640 pounds and total weight at 1,654 pounds. The total record was the combined weight of three separate events: squat, bench press and dead lift.

Woodley also was inducted into the Washington State Powerlifting Hall of Fame for his nearly two decades of participation and recognition in the sport.

Woodley's interest in powerlifting began while stationed in South Korea in 1991, when he became a certified master fitness trainer for the Army. He had just graduated from the course and attended his first powerlifting meet, where he saw a 130-pound woman dead lift 330 pounds.

"I was impressed -- very impressed," Woodley said. "That's what got me started."

He checked out several library books to help get him started. Soon after, Woodley relocated to what was then Fort Lewis, where he entered his first competition. He took fourth place, but if you’d asked him then about his prospects for breaking records for nearly two decades, the then-novice probably would have laughed.

"I said, 'Man, there's no way in the world I could ever break those [records],'" he said. "But through training over a period of time, I got better and started breaking records."

Training and social support are the keys to success and what got him to where he is today, Woodley said.

"If you train, you can be good at anything," he said. "Plus, you have to invest in your equipment and be around good friends -- people that are going to support you, cheer you on -- and just have a good time at it."

Woodley's wife and two children have been extremely supportive of his hobby, along with his longtime friend and sponsor, Tony Suffern, he said. The retired Navy chief befriended Woodley about 12 years ago after hearing about his powerlifting experiences.

Suffern was surprised to learn Woodley did not have a sponsor, so he offered to be his sponsor. He travels with Woodley, offering advice and encouragement, and critiques the powerlifter’s every move.

"I'm kind of like a seeing-eye dog for him," Suffern said.

Having been a powerlifter in his younger days, Suffern said, he has the expertise Woodley needs, but is not above learning a thing or two himself. Woodley's work ethic and humility make him an inspiring athlete, he added.

"He's at the gym every morning, and he works out before he even goes to work," Suffern said. "He has about 15 records at least, and if you didn't know him -- if you just see him lifting at the gym -- you'd have no idea he has that many records."

At this stage in his career, Woodley said, he appreciates the understanding extended to him by former military units, leaders and fellow soldiers who allowed him time to lift during unit physical training time to prepare for competitions.

"I had very supportive units throughout my military career, which made a big difference," he said.

Now, Woodley added, he makes time for training five days a week before work, and believes that if he can do it, anybody can. His attitude has gone beyond powerlifting and has changed his perspective on life, he said.

"When you get up for a competition, even though sometimes you might be in pain, I think sometimes it's a mental and physical matter that you can always overcome certain things -- obstacles in your life or whatever -- to make yourself rise to the occasion," he said.

George Washington Sailors, Shipyard Workers Overcome Challenges at Sea

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Juan Manuel Pinalez, USS George Washington (CVN 73) Public Affairs

USS GEORGE WASHINGTON, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS George Washington (CVN 73) Aviation Fuels Division, with help from Puget Sound Naval Shipyard workers, accomplished an unprecedented undertaking at sea by moving a massive fuel purifier seven decks below, March 29.

The 4,000-pound jet propellant five (JP-5) fuel purifier being moved is responsible for separating the useable, raw fuel from water and sediment. JP-5 is repeatedly refined via the purifier to remove contaminants that have accumulated while the fuel sits in storage containers for later use.

The JP-5 fuel is important to the functionality of an aircraft carrier. The fuel is used to perform a variety of functions including controlling the ship's balance; fueling the fighter jets on the flight deck and the tractors that stage them; and, running the ship's emergency diesel engines and auxiliary generators.

"We [replaced] this critical piece of equipment while at sea because we did not have an opportunity to do it in port," said Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Fuel) 1st Class (AW/SW) Nelson Lubin, leading petty officer of George Washington Air Department's V4 division. "Under normal conditions, the unit would be replaced by qualified shipyard workers while the ship is in port. A large hole in the ship is generally cut to facilitate the installation of the unit, so us getting it done at sea, on our own, is an incredible feat."

George Washington recently deployed from her homeport of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka due to complex nature of the natural disaster that struck Japan on March 11. The ship's repair status of "under maintenance" to "fit for sea" occurred in just five days. This resulted in the postponement of several open projects and installations until Washington was fconsidered to be safe and sea-worthy.

"I continue to be amazed each and every day we are at sea by what our Sailors and these civilian craftsmen are accomplishing," said George Washington Commanding Officer Capt. David A. Lausman. "They are working around the clock, putting their heart and soul into their work, and I couldn't be prouder to call them shipmates."

The team of Sailors and their shipyard counterparts successfully relocated the now-disassembled fuel purifying unit — similar in size to a Volkswagen Beetle — from the ship's open hangar bay, down seven decks to a pump room via a ladderwell in less than eight hours time.

"I'm really proud of what our team did today. It might be the first time something like this has ever been attempted — at least for us it is," said ABF3 Richard Bell, from Syracuse, N.Y.

"I really have to hand it to the civilian riggers. Without their help we would not have been able to accomplish this," said Bell.

George Washington is the Navy's only permanently forward-deployed aircraft carrier, ensuring security and stability across the western Pacific Ocean.

Homes for Wounded Heroes

Military Warriors Support Foundation, a non-profit organization which provides support for wounded military members, is giving away a 100% mortgage free home to a wounded hero and their family! The home is a beautiful 1-story home in San Antonio, TX.

In addition to receiving the home, the family will receive 3 years of home and financial mentoring to set them on a path of success for the future!

For requirements and how to apply, visit http://MilitaryWarriors.org/OpenHomes. Click on the picture of “Texas #6”. There you can find additional pictures and information about the home, as well as be able to download the application.

*Applications must be in by 11:59pm CST on Sunday, April 3, 2011.*

For any questions, please call our office @ 210.615.8973, or send an email to Support4WW@MilitaryWarriors.org.

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Mongolian Minister of Defense Luvsanvandan Bold to the Pentagon today at .  The cordon will be held on the steps of the Pentagon River Entrance.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the Pentagon River Parking Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 30 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort to the cordon.

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

Commander, U.S. European Command/Supreme Allied Commander-Europe Navy Adm. James Stavridis and Commander, U.S. Strategic Command Air Force Gen. C. Robert Kehler testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on U.S. European Command and U.S. Strategic Command in review of the Defense Authorization Request for fiscal 2012 and the future years defense program at 9:30 a.m. EDT in room SD-G50, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Italian Brig. Gen. Marcello Bellacicco, commanding general for Regional Command West, will brief the media live from Herat, 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.

Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) Robert Hale; Under Secretary of the Army Joseph Westphal; Under Secretary of the Navy Robert Work and Under Secretary of the Air Force Erin Conaton testify at a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee on Department of Defense efficiencies initiatives at in room SR-232A, Russell Senate Office Building.

This Day in Naval History - March 28

From the Navy News Service

1800 - Essex becomes the first U.S. Navy vessel to pass the Cape of Good Hope.
1814 - HMS Phoebe and Cherub capture USS Essex off Valparaiso, Chile. Before capture, Essex had captured 24 British prizes during the War of 1812.
1848 - USS Supply reaches the Bay of Acre, anchoring under Mount Carmel near the village of Haifa, during its expedition to explore the Dead Sea and the River Jordan.

Carter: Acquisitions Improvements Need Permanence

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 – With spring coming in Afghanistan, the Defense Department is set to perform the same “remarkable” work it conducted in last year’s troop surge to get warfighters everything they need while working to institutionalize those procedures, the department’s undersecretary for acquisitions, technology and logistics told a congressionally established commission today.

The Pentagon’s logistics community “performed a miracle” in getting warfighters in Afghanistan everything they needed between President Barack Obama’s troop surge directive in December 2009 and the arrival of the last of the surge troops in August, Ashton B. Carter told the Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan, a bipartisan panel created as part of the fiscal 2008 National Defense Authorization Act.

Defense Department officials have worked closely with the commission in implementing Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ initiatives to improve the acquisitions process while safeguarding taxpayer dollars, Carter said.

“We are working off the same list of challenges: to combat waste, fraud and abuse in contingency contracting; root out corruption; get control of the particular risks of private security contractors; and, above all, to balance the effective response to warfighter needs and taxpayer dollars,” he said.

“Failure to do so not only amounts to theft from the taxpayer, but theft from those who put themselves in harm’s way to protect us,” Carter added.

Still, Carter said, “it’s fair to say we’ve not done contingency contracting as well as the taxpayer and the warfighter deserve.”

When he accepted his current position two years ago, Gates told him, “The troops are at war and the Pentagon is not -– especially your part,” Carter said.

“I took that to heart and have been trying to make that not so over the past two years,” he added.

Department officials are doing everything possible to field everything troops need to make them safe and successful in Afghanistan, Carter said. That includes making permanent “the constellation of ad hoc processes” that allows the department to get around outdated, bureaucratic procedures to deliver equipment and supplies quickly, he said.

For example, Carter said, he and others have successfully appealed to Congress to “reprogram,” or shift money within its appropriations, to fund needed items. The annual budget cycle, he explained, was designed to plan for war, not to conduct war.

“We have to create a fast lane for contingency acquisitions,” he said. “We’re constantly hotwiring and working around. That is not satisfactory. We need a better system.”

Through the workarounds, the department was able to field requests for more and improved aircraft for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as for improvised explosive device detectors and the all-terrain version of mine-resistant, ambush-protected vehicles, the undersecretary said.

On his priority for saving public money, Carter said everyone connected to the Defense Department must face the reality of flattening budgets.

“We don’t anticipate, and certainly we don’t plan, to see the defense budget go down in any way like it did in the 1990s,” he said. “After all, we are a country at war, and we cannot compromise on the capabilities we now plan. At the same time, we do not expect the double-digit annual gains like we’ve had since 9/11.

“Flat is going to feel very different to us forever upward,” he added. “The secretary wants us to begin to adjust to the new era.”

To make that adjustment, Carter has directed acquisitions managers to always consider what products and services should cost versus what companies say they will cost; to demand competition in all contracting; and to consider “productivity growth” –- that items improve over time, while becoming less expensive.

“None of that matters if we don’t have good people executing it,” Carter said. “We oversteered in the past decade in downsizing the acquisition workforce.”

Officials are working to add nearly 1,500 acquisitions management and support positions, he added.

Family Matters Blog: Blogger Describes ‘Mom Shift’

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 28, 2011 – I’d like to welcome guest blogger Navy Lt. Tiffani Walker. In this blog, Walker writes about the “Mom shift” she works after a full day on active day, and expresses her gratitude for the service members who put their lives on the line to keep families like hers safe.

By Navy Lt. Tiffani Walker
Defense Media Activity

I work the “Mom shift” after I finish my day job as a Navy lieutenant on active duty.

It is that time of night when I have heard that other people watch their favorite show and catch up with their spouse. Some people may even read or even get to bed early. But I pull another shift at the factory where I make school lunches, wash bottles, sign homework and ensure the house is picked up enough to not cause injury or infection to my beautiful kids.

The Mom shift is that time of night when single and sometimes-single-due-to-orders moms like me take care of all of the things that need to be done just to make it to the next day.

I find that this time of night is the most reflective for me. I put the kids to bed and do menial tasks that don’t take much brainpower to do. It opens up my mind for a million other things that I don’t have time for throughout the day.

I make my lists of groceries, chores, to-do’s and wishes. I think about how much I miss my handsome husband and wonder when the day will come that we live in the same house again -- not just for a visit, but for good. I wonder if I can clone myself so I can find time to take naps and work to get rid of the “baby weight.”

And to be completely honest, I also internally whine about a number of things, such as why, when I am here alone with two kids, the sewage pipe had to back up in the basement and I had clean it up. And about why I have to go it alone as the plumber, mover, financial advisor, housekeeper and pediatrician … Why? Why? Why?

And then I remember. My kids are safe in their beds, warm and happy and it wasn’t entirely my doing. I didn’t go it alone tonight or any other night. I had help from strangers -- people who don’t know those two sleeping kids or me.

There are men and women around the world from our country and so many others who are flying, fighting, patrolling, diving, standing a watch, manning a rail and holding the line. It’s a line in the sand drawn in dirt, the air and the ocean that keeps children like mine safe in their beds.

I am grateful for the soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines that stand afar while I tuck my sweet children in at night.

Thank you all from one grateful mom.

Operation Pacific Passage Winds Down at Travis Air Force Base

By Melinda Larson, Naval Air Station Lemoore Public Affairs and Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Olivia Giger, NAS Fallon Public Affairs

TRAVIS AFB, Calif. (NNS) -- Operation Pacific Passage, the voluntary military-assisted departure from Japan, neared its end with two flight arrivals of family members at Travis Air Force Base, Calif., March 25.

The final flight will arrive March 28.

Eligible dependents of U.S. service members and Department of Defense civilians assigned to installations on the main island of Honshu, Japan, were authorized by the U.S. Department of State to depart March 16, following a strong earthquake, subsequent tsunami and damaged nuclear power plant.

When word was received March 18 that Naval Air Station (NAS) Lemoore would be the primary Navy team responding to assist in the effort, the installation's Emergency Operations Center (EOC) was activated.

Senior leadership and the EOC team developed a plan and deployed a team of 10 from the installation and Naval Hospital Lemoore to San Francisco International Airport, one of the initial arrival sites for the operation.

"We were tasked late [March 18] afternoon and our initial team left early [March 19] morning to assist Navy family members arriving from Japan," said Cmdr. Robert Quinn, executive officer, NAS Lemoore.

The team quickly set up operations at a former Air Canada gate, made contact with airport managers and set up shop near U.S. Customs and Immigration.

"We adapt to changing environments on a regular basis; it's what the Navy does best," Quinn added.

When it became apparent Operation Pacific Passage was growing, the Navy team quickly tripled in size with assistance coming from Naval Air Station Fallon, Navy Operational Support Center San Jose, Naval Air Station North Island, Naval Station San Diego and the Navy Public Affairs Support Element West. Sailors and government civilians provided medical assistance, counseling, and help with travel orders. More than 1,200 Navy family members were processed during the five day evolution.

When the operation needed more space it was relocated to Travis AFB. With some 10,000-square feet of passenger terminal and baggage areas, family members were greeted and catered to by hundreds of volunteers.

"This is my contribution while my husband is in Iraq," said Victoria Wong, whose husband, Cmdr. Clement Wong is at Camp Victory, Iraq. "Somehow I feel connected to him by helping people who are so near and dear to his heart."

Wong is staying in nearby Stockton, Calif., with her parents while her husband is on an individual augmentee assignment.

As the operation evolved during the week, attention to detail was apparent as it seemed every need of family members was met.

"I literally started crying when I saw toothbrushes and toothpaste in the bathroom. They've thought of everything and have been so helpful here," said Heather Lewis who arrived from Misawa,

For one junior Sailor from NAS Lemoore, being helpful to the family members was his top priority.

"All they wanted to do was get out of here and get some sleep. I was as courteous as possible and adapted to whatever someone needed help with which was different for every person," said Personnel Specialist Seaman Jose Navedo, who assisted families with travel claims and advance pay questions.

With the crew of Operation Pacific Passage often working around the clock throughout the week, it seems there's no question the operation to care for and comfort family members during their journey was a success.

"The love and compassion you've shown these family members has been phenomenal," Col. James C. Vechery, 60th Air Mobility Wing Commander told the multi-service team before the final two aircraft arrived March 25. "At the end of the day you will have welcomed and loved over 2,500 people during this operation and I thank you all for your help."

What is expected to be the last flight of family members from Japan is set to arrive at Travis Air Force Base today. All of the family members who voluntary departed under Operation Pacific Passage will be provided return travel when directed by the Under Secretary of Defense.