Saturday, April 02, 2011

Sailors aboard IKE Participate In Autism Awareness Day

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Ridge Leoni, USS Dwight D. Eisenhower Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va, (NNS) -- Sailors aboard Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69) (IKE) participated in Autism Awareness Day, April 1.

The event is intended to acknowledge autism as a growing public health crisis and to inform those who simply may not know what the disorder is.

"For the first of April there will be blue lights illuminated on various iconic structures all over the U.S.; such as the White House and the Empire State Building in New York City to support autism awareness, and I thought to myself 'how about [have] the IKE show support by lighting up the island on the flight deck?'" said Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) Henry Cooper, the founder of IKE's Autism Support Group. "I feel that it will make a huge statement and spark a lot of conversation when people see an aircraft carrier is also taking part in Autism Awareness Day.

"There are a lot of Sailors in the IKE family that have children who are diagnosed with autism and overall the majority of the IKE family at least indirectly knows someone diagnosed with the disorder," said Cooper. "IKE's participation with Autism Awareness Day will ultimately bring us closer and may promote early detection of the disorder."

Along with lighting the "69" on the carrier's island, Cooper and other members of IKE's Autism Support Group passed out blue ribbons that are recognized as a part of Autism Awareness Day. The ribbons were worn under the crew's "I Like IKE" pins on their uniforms.

"We have ordered blue ribbons for those who would like to wear it," said Cooper. "The blue ribbon is another way to promote awareness. I remember when the NFL was wearing pink gloves and cleats during the game to promote breast cancer awareness; that type of advertisement is very effective and raises that question 'what's the ribbon for?'"

Autism is a disorder of neural development characterized by impaired social interaction and communication, and by restricted and repetitive behavior. These signs all begin before a child is three years old. Autism affects information processing in the brain by altering how nerve cells and their synapses connect and organize; how this occurs is not well understood.

Autism affects one out of every 117 children in the U.S., and IKE's crew represents approximately the same rate of children diagnosed with autism. Cooper encouraged everyone to learn as much as they can about the disorder and welcomes anyone who has questions about autism.

"As a parent of two kids diagnosed with autism, I feel that we should be able to lean on one another that also may have kids with autism," said Cooper.

U.S. Marine Team to Aid Japan Recovery Effort

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, March 31, 2011 – A team of Marines specifically trained to operate in chemical, biological, nuclear and radiological environments is deploying to Japan, Defense Department officials said today.

A 155-member initial response force composed of Marines from Naval Support Facility Indian Head, Md., could arrive in Japan as early as tomorrow, said Navy Cmdr. Leslie Hull-Ryde, a Pentagon spokeswoman.

The unit is part of the Chemical, Biological, and Incident Response Force. The initial response force will support the U.S. on-scene commander by providing a rapid response capability. If requested, it could also advise Japanese authorities.

The Fukushima Dai-Ichi nuclear power plant is leaking radioactive materials, and the extent of the damage to the plant is not known. The Marine force will bring equipment for agent detection and identification; casualty search, rescue and personnel decontamination; and emergency medical care and stabilization of contaminated personnel.

As part of Operation Tomodachi, U.S. personnel continue to help the Japanese following the magnitude 9.0 earthquake and subsequent tsunami that devastated large areas of northern Japan.

U.S. Navy divers helped to reopen the harbor at Hachinohe. American ships used side-scan sonar to survey the harbor’s waterway, enabling divers to remove obstacles such as vehicles, a small storage building, 20-foot storage containers and 100-ton concrete blocks the tsunami washed out to sea.

Japan’s Maritime Self Defense Force and commercial divers are coordinating with U.S. 7th Fleet units to assess the port of Miyako and plan for clearance operations there. The U.S. units include the USNS Safeguard, the USS Tortuga, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5 and Underwater Construction Team 2. The Navy teams may do the same in the port of Oshima after completion of operations at Miyako, officials said.

U.S. Navy barges containing 500,000 gallons of fresh water from Yokosuka are being used at the crippled nuclear power plant. The water will be used to replace salt water in the reactor cooling system to lessen the corrosive impact of salt from the sea water still being used for emergency cooling.

SPS 2011 Concludes in Nicaragua

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jeffery Tilghman Williams, High Speed Vessel Swift (HSV 2) Public Affairs

CORINTO, Nicaragua (NNS) -- U.S. Sailors and Marines supporting Southern Partnership Station (SPS) 2011, joined Nicaraguan sailors at a closing ceremony and celebration at the local school where they completed a five-day construction subject matter expert exchange (SMEE) in Corinto, Nicaragua, March 31.

Sailors assigned to Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 28 and Marines assigned to 2nd Marine Logistics Group (MLG) were honored during a farewell ceremony and certificate presentation at Instituto Parroquial Pbro. Emilio S. Chavarria, to recognize and thank them for constructing a classroom and library at the school.

The event marked the conclusion of a 10-day visit to Corinto that included medical, security and construction SMEEs with Nicaraguan military counterparts.

Indiouis Reyes, school director, presented Cmdr. Mark Becker, SPS 2011 mission commander, and Lt. Rama Mutyala, NMCB 28 detail bravo officer-in-charge, with certificates of appreciation for the construction work completed by Sailors and Marines from NMCB 28 and 2nd MLG, as well as the Nicaraguan navy.

"We can't express how thankful and grateful we are to these men who have taken the time to provide us with the tools we need to teach these kids," said Reyes.

The SPS 2011 construction team partnered with their Nicaraguan counterparts to build two 16-by-32-foot wood frame Southeast Asia (SEA) huts as part of an information exchange designed to build and strengthen ties with the Nicaraguan government.

"We could not have completed this task in such a short period of time without the exceptional assistance of the Nicaraguan sailors who helped us build these two structures," said Mutyala. "The cross training which took place between the two services was a testament to professionalism and partnership."

"Throughout our visit to Nicaragua, the local people have been so receptive and helpful, and we thank them for hosting this event for us," said Becker. "We're committed to continuing to develop enduring relationships with the people of Nicaragua and the Nicaraguan government."

This project is just one of the projects the Seabees and Marines have completed in six South and Central America countries since SPS 2011 began in November 2010. They have also conducted SMEEs with foreign militaries in Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Peru.

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.

Riverine Squadron 3, Royal Netherlands Marines Conduct Cross Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SCW) Paul D. Williams, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C. (NNS) -- Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3, Det. 1, Sailors spent three weeks aboard Camp Lejeune, N.C., cross-training with Dutch marines from the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps to exchange tactics and refine their skills as combat boat crewmen, March 14 through April 1.

The training was the first portion of a six-week cross-training schedule providing riverines the opportunity to share their knowledge of river warfare. The next phase of training focuses on amphibious ship-to-shore operations provided by the Netherlands marines.

"As Riverines we haven't done over-the-horizon or amphibious operations," said Lt. j.g. Michael Diehl, RIVRON 3, detachment 1 officer-in-charge. "We can give them our experience and knowledge in the brown water, and when we train with the Dutch later this year, they can pass along their experiences and educate us."

The Caribbean-based Dutch marines conduct amphibious based missions out of Aruba and Curassow including hurricane preparation and relief, anti-piracy interdictions and boarding operations. The Royal Netherlands Marine Corps recently purchased boats allowing them to integrate river based operations as a part of their mission skill sets.

"We are setting up a riverine capability," said Royal Netherlands Marine Corps Lt. Macheal Bussemaker, platoon commander. "We are primarily trained in using amphibious ships off coastal waters, and we are now bringing up the notion of pushing through to brown water delta areas. We don't have any operational experience in using the brown water, but the Riverines, with their experiences in Iraq, do."

During the three-week training, RIVRON 3 provided Dutch marines with the chance to practice riverine boat maneuvers using the Riverine Patrol Boat and the Riverine Assault Boat. They also provided training on riverine security tactics and combat skills.

This isn't the first time Riverines have trained with other nations' militaries on river combat tactics. In May 2008, Riverines in Iraq shifted their mission from combat operations to a training mission to assist in the turnover of inland waterways control back to the Iraqi military.

Since then they have performed other cross-training missions with the British and the Panamanians, providing a unique capability that allows the U.S. and its allies the ability to conduct maritime security on rivers and inland waterways.

"The capabilities and the equipment that Riverines have are specially made for riverine operations; they are built for combat," said Bussemaker. "Seeing how the Riverines operate is very helpful to us because we can use it ourselves when we are going into our own rivers of operation."

According to Diehl, the Dutch marines have adopted the training provided by RIVRON 3 very quickly.

"The Dutch have been amazing, and these guys are seasoned operators," said Diehl. "They came to the table prepared, and they're well versed warfighters. These guys are now deploying tactics and making smart decisions that, in real river combat, will save people's lives."

Riverine Sailors continue to build allies around the world and create multinational expertise that can be applied across the spectrum of warfare.

DOD Celebrates Month of the Military Child

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2011 – Children of U.S. service members around the world will be honored throughout the month for their contributions to their families’ well-being and sacrifices on behalf of the nation, a Defense Department official said.

Each April, Americans pause to recognize the nation’s 1.8 million military children during the Month of the Military Child, which marks its 25th anniversary this year.

“It’s really exciting that the Department of Defense, the White House and civic leaders recognize the sacrifices that military children make,” Barbara Thompson, director of the Pentagon’s office of family policy, children and youth, told American Forces Press Service. “It’s particularly important during these times of conflict, when children are missing their parents and are sacrificing a lot, to say your sacrifice is recognized and we want to commend you for what you do for your family.”

Throughout the month, military installations worldwide will host programs and activities for military children, including fairs, picnics, carnivals and parades, Thompson said. Communities also can get involved by sponsoring fun events to celebrate military children, she added.

Military children’s sacrifices and contributions have risen to the forefront in recent years, Thompson said, as people have become increasingly aware of the impact a decade of war is having on military families. Along with the typical military-related stressors of multiple moves and schools, children also have had to deal with long-term, multiple deployments and separations from one, or both, parents over the past 10-plus years, Thompson said.

More than 900,000 military children have had a parent deploy multiple times, she added.

Military children have known only war since 9/11, Thompson noted, and recent research suggests deployments and the length of time separated have an impact on children’s academic success and psychological well-being. Other research regarding children and attachment indicates that “this has to be a difficult time for military children,” she said.

Just as important as caring for children is caring for their parents, Thompson added. “We know that if the parent is taken care of, the children are taken care of,” she said.

Thompson praised the introduction of programs such as the Defense Department’s military family life consultants, who provide coaching and nonmedical counseling to children, families and staff in schools and child development and youth programs. Sports and camps offer other opportunities for children to thrive and grow, she said.

However, she said, the Defense Department can’t tackle all of these issues alone.

The nation took an important step forward in January, Thompson said, when President Barack Obama unveiled a governmentwide plan to strengthen military family support. Federal agencies committed to nearly 50 new programs and cooperative efforts to improve quality of life and well-being for military families.

Thompson also called for a strong “circle of support,” in which schools, communities, health care providers and federal agencies come together to support military families. “We know that it takes a village,” she said.

“Without a doubt, when we can recognize their sacrifices, when we can tell them that we’ll reach out and help them, that we care about them and will connect them with the resources they need, then we’re doing right by them,” she said.

Mullen Assesses Global Security Environment

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 1, 2011 – Navy Adm. Mike Mullen provided his assessment of the global security environment during the annual Rostov Lecture at Johns Hopkins University’s Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies here last night.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff spoke about the challenges facing the world and the role that militaries play.

The United States and its military cannot be complacent, Mullen said. “If past is prologue,” he added, “there will be challenges this century that we cannot imagine today.”

Military power alone cannot solve the problems facing the world, the chairman said, but it should be seen as one piece of the whole-of-government approach. “While military power may prove to be the best first tool of the state,” he said, “it should never be the only one.”

When it’s used, Mullen told the students and faculty, military power must be applied in a precise and principled manner, “even against enemies that may not demonstrate similar restraint.”

These realities are daunting as they occur at a time of constraints –- fiscal and otherwise, the admiral said, repeating his assertion made last year that America’s national debt represents the greatest threat to national security.

The Defense Department has to adjust to this more constrained environment, Mullen said, and Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ efficiencies program is a start. The efficiencies effort “cancels costly programs, improves business practices and even eliminates more than 100 flag and general officer jobs and more than 200 senior executive service jobs from our rolls,” Mullen said. “All told, we believe this will result in a total reduction of $78 billion from the five-year defense plan submitted last year.”

While money is one constraint, another is energy, the chairman told the group.

“In my profession, … the cost of fossil fuel manifests itself far more profoundly than just a heftier bill at the gas pump,” he said. “I’m acutely aware of the cost in blood and treasure of providing energy to our forces in Afghanistan today.”

The military is responding to the challenge. The Navy is building a “green fleet,” the Marines are deploying solar panels with units, and the Army is insulating roofs to save millions in fuel costs. And the military’s efforts may affect climate change, Mullen said.

“Whatever the root cause, climate change’s potential impacts are sobering and far-reaching,” the admiral said. “Glaciers are melting at a faster rate, causing water supplies to diminish in Asia. Rising sea levels could lead to a mass migration and displacement similar to what we saw in Pakistan’s floods last year.”

Other shifts could pull thousands of square miles of arable land from Africa, the chairman noted. “Scarcity of water, food and space could create not only a humanitarian crisis, but conditions that could lead to failed states, instability and potentially radicalization,” he said.

These constraints could place the United States at a strategic turning point, Mullen said, noting that the National Military Strategy released earlier this year takes these issues into account.

“How we lead will be as important as the military capabilities we provide,” Mullen said.

The emerging security environment calls for more extensive and broader security partnerships “within government, between public and private, and most importantly, internationally,” Mullen said. The United States, he said, must ensure its military can operate across the full spectrum of its capabilities -- from stability and counterinsurgency operations to more traditional capabilities.

“Underpinning this strategy is the belief that there is a place and a need in this world for America’s leadership,” Mullen said. “But in leading, our military must be ready to play a number of roles –- facilitator, enabler, convener and guarantor -- sometimes simultaneously.”

Military-to-military contacts are enabling nations to deepen relationships and address challenges, the chairman said.

“We saw these connections pay very real dividends recently in Egypt –- a nation we’ve shared a strong military-to-military relationship with for decades,” Mullen said. “While the situation is still evolving, Egypt’s military -- their professionalism and restraint -- help lend stability to an incredibly dynamic situation, and our relationship provided mutual benefits to this challenging time.”

This, Mullen said, is why he visits his counterparts in Pakistan and China.

“When a crisis or misunderstanding occurs, it is too late to build a relationship,” he said. “It must be cultivated beforehand over time, one conversation and one friendship at a time.”

Mullen asked the students and faculty to remember the sacrifices service members make as they look for ways to solve the problems confronting the nation.

“This decade at war has included some very tough fights, and tragically, we have lost some tremendous young men and women,” he said.

This Day in Naval History - April 01

From the Navy News Service

1893 - Navy General Order 409 of Feb. 25, 1893, establishes the rate of "chief petty officer".
1942 - The first Naval Air Transportation Service (NATS) squadron for Pacific operations is commissioned.
1945 - More than 1,200 Navy ships and Army troops begin invasion of Okinawa.
1966 - U.S. Naval Forces Vietnam established as a command.
1967 - Helicopter Attack (Light) Squadron 3 is activated at Vung Tau.

Kearsarge Engineering Plant Reaches A Milestone

By Mass Communications Specialist 3rd Class Scott Pittman, Commander, Amphibious Squadron Four Public Affairs

AT SEA (NNS) -- The engineering department aboard amphibious assault ship USS Kearsarge (LHD 3) reached 225 consecutive days of operations on 29 March.

Kearsarge has been underway for all but eight days of its current deployment which is in its seventh month. The Sailors charged with the daunting task of maintaining and operating the propulsion plant of Kearsarge belongs to the main propulsion divisions of engineering department. They are responsible for the two boilers that provide steam to two main engines and five generators used to generate the ships electrical power.

"We're trying a new concept where we have fewer watchstanders in our main space than past deployments," said Engineering Department Leading Chief Petty Officer, Master Chief Machinist's Mate John Tucker. "This allows us to have a maintenance team to supplement our three watch teams. It enables a 'four on, eight off' watch rotation, which allows propulsion engineers an opportunity for more time to study, rate training, and personal time while underway."

The modified watch organization is modeled after a program used by the Military Sealift Command. Since the boilers aboard Kearsarge were lit on August 25, 2010 they have been running, barring planned maintenance, with exceptional proficiency. That much time at sea does result in general "wear and tear" on systems and equipment so Kearsarge engineers plan accordingly.

"We've been able to conduct all of our routine preventative maintenance repairs by strategically securing boilers without impacting the ship's propulsion requirements," said Kearsarge Chief Engineering Officer, Cmdr. Jerry Chapmon.

The hard work and planning of Kearsarge's engineering department has kept the ship functioning without any time taken away from operational commitments. This effort has not gone unrecognized, as Kearsarge was awarded its fifth Command Engineering/Survivability Excellence Award on Febuary 11. The Navy gives this award annually to recognize sustained superior engineering and damage control readiness.

"I have never seen an engineering department, as a whole, overcome as many obstacles as these Sailors have with only eight days in port during a deployment," said Chapmon.

With 225 days and counting the men and women of Kearsarge engineering department are steaming toward the future, ready for anything and any mission.

Kearsarge is the command ship of Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group, currently deployed supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.