Military News

Thursday, April 07, 2011

Brazil Expo Sets International Stage for ONR Global to Exchange Ideas

By Rob Anastasio, Office of Naval Research Public Affairs

ARLINGTON (NNS) -- Office of Naval Research's (ONR) Global department will join forces with officials from the defense and security industries at the Latin America Aero and Defense (LAAD) Expo 2011, in Rio de Janeiro, April 12-15.

The biannual event features companies that specialize in supplying equipment and services for armed forces, police forces, special forces, security services, consultants and government agencies.

The Expo, which is expected to attract more than 20,000 visitors and 550 exhibitors, supports ONR's goal of increasing collaboration within the international science and technology (S&T) community.

Will Fontan, regional director of the ONR Global Americas office in Santiago, Chile, said LAAD is an international stage to meet and greet government, industry and academia representatives as they showcase their science and technology efforts and products.

"ONR Global builds and fosters international connections, such as the LAAD expo, to discover new science and technology that addresses the future needs of the naval fleet and forces, and international partners," Fontan said. "ONR Global uses exchange visits, conferences, workshops and seed funding to enhance collaboration among Navy personnel, scientists and technologists around the world."

ONR Global has offices in Washington, London, Prague, Tokyo, Singapore and Santiago, Chile. As part of its mission, ONR Global pursues international collaborative partnerships with organizations conducting basic and early applied research. These partnerships enhance ONR's ability to identify and provide the science and technology necessary to maintain the technological edge for Navy and Marine Corps, as well as U.S. allies and partners.

The Department of the Navy's ONR provides the science and technology necessary to maintain the Navy and Marine Corps' technological advantage. Through its affiliates, ONR is a leader in science and technology with engagement in 50 states, 70 countries, 1,035 institutions of higher learning and 914 industry partners. ONR employs approximately 1,400 people, comprising uniformed, civilian and contract personnel, with additional employees at the Naval Research Lab in Washington, D.C.

NEXCOM Wins 2010 SDDC Shipper Performance Award

By Kristine M. Sturkie, Navy Exchange Service Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va (NNS) -- The Navy Exchange Service Command (NEXCOM) was presented the 2010 Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command (SDDC) Shipper Performance Award in the Large Shipper category, at the SDDC Training Symposium Banquet in Dallas, Texas, April 6.

This is the second year in a row NEXCOM has won this award.

"We are excited to have won this award again," said Tom Williams, NEXCOM senior vice president, Logistics. "There are over 1,000 shippers vying for 15 awards, so the competition is fierce. I give credit to my entire transportation team for their hard work in making sure our merchandise is shipped correctly, accurately and on time."

The SDDC Shipper Performance Award is an ongoing effort to promote timely and accurate submission of documentation for shipments moving through the Defense Transportation System. The award recognizes organizations that consistently submit on-time and error-free data.

In fiscal year 2010, NEXCOM shipped 417,208 measurement tons or 7,071 40-ft. containers of product at a transportation cost of $36.7 million dollars.

Deputy Defense Secretary Releases Shutdown Guidance

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 – The Defense Department is hopeful that a government shutdown will be averted, but is releasing guidance to help plan for an orderly process if a shutdown becomes necessary, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said in a memo issued today.

“The president and the [Defense] Secretary [Robert M. Gates] know that the uncertainty of the current situation puts federal employees in a difficult position and are very much aware that a shutdown would impose hardships on our military and civilian personnel as well as our military families,” Lynn wrote.

Operations and activities essential to safety and to protect human life and property will not be shut down, he wrote.

Addressing duty status, Lynn wrote that military personnel are not subject to furlough and should report for duty during a shutdown. Civilian personnel performing excepted activities will continue to work during a shutdown, he wrote.

The Defense Department will continue to conduct activities in support of national security, Lynn wrote, including operations in Iraq, Afghanistan and Japan, as well as Libya-related support operations and other activities essential to national security.

Continuing operations include the following, Lynn wrote:

-- Inpatient and emergency outpatient care in DOD medical treatment facilities and emergency dental care;

-- Dining facilities and child-care activities;

-- Some legal activities, and contracting and logistics operations supporting excepted activities;

-- Some education and training activities, including Department of Defense Education Activity schools, and some financial management activities.

“In the absence of appropriations, non-excepted activities that have not already been fully funded will need to be shut down in an orderly fashion,” Lynn wrote.

He will issue more detailed guidance to the department regarding specific activities that are considered excepted or non-excepted. Lynn wrote that he understands the military departments, defense agencies and individual commanders must tailor this guidance to many different situations around the world.

“Therefore, should there be a government shutdown, DOD personnel will be informed through their chain of command about how a shutdown may affect them personally,” he wrote.

On the topic of military, civilian and retiree pay, Lynn said if the government shuts down because of a lack of funding, DOD will have no funds to pay military members or civilian employees for the days during which the government is shut down.

But military and civilian personnel will receive pay for time worked before the shutdown, he said, and military personnel and civilians in excepted positions will be paid retroactively for their work during the shutdown once the department receives additional funding.

“Congress would have to provide authority in order for the department to retroactively pay non-excepted employees for the furloughed period,” Lynn wrote.

Benefits for military retirees and annuitants should continue without interruption, he added.

Officials Discuss DOD’s Government Shutdown Plans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 7, 2011 – Military personnel will report to duty as normal if the U.S. government shuts down tomorrow night, Pentagon officials said today.

The department has identified tasks that must continue if or when a government shutdown occurs, said Pentagon spokesman Marine Col. Dave Lapan.

“Who is affected comes down to defining what constitutes operations and activities that are essential to safety, protection of human life and protection of our national security,” he said. All military personnel will be “excepted” from shutting down. In addition, certain civilian employees, who work on crucial duties, also will be excepted.

The Department of Defense will continue to conduct activities in support of U.S. national defense and national security. This includes operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, Japan and Libya and related support operations. The department also will conduct other operations and activities considered essential to U.S. national security, Lapansaid.

Other excepted activities include in-patient and essential out-patient care in DOD medical treatment facilities, emergency dental care, non-appropriated fund activities such as mess halls and child care facilities, certain legal activities to support on-going litigation and legal assistance for deployed U.S. personnel, contracting and logistics operations that are in support of activities that are considered excepted, certain training and education activities to include the Department of Defense Education Activity schools and financial activities necessary to ensure the control and accountability of funds.

“In the absence of appropriations, not excepted activities that have not been fully funded will need to be shutdown in an orderly fashion,” Lapan said. If there is a government shutdown, leaders will inform employees how the shutdown affects them personally.

Military personnel are not affected by a furlough and will report for duty as normal. Civilian personnel that are deemed to be performing excepted activities will continue to work during the period.

If the government has to shut down due to a lack of funding, the DOD will have no funds to pay military members or civilian employees for the time the government is shut down. However, both military and civilian personnel will receive pay for the period worked prior to the shutdown.

“In general, if the government shuts down –- for however long it shuts down –- there are no funds appropriated to pay government employees,” said Doug Wilson, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs. “If you are required to work –- as all men and women in uniform are required to work –- then there is a legal obligation to ultimately pay those men and women. When that would happen would be timed to the restoration of appropriated funds.”

Once funds restart, military personnel and all civilians occupying excepted status positions are entitled to be paid for the work performed during the shutdown, “and they will be paid retroactively,” Lapan said.

DOD personnel who do not work during the shutdown will not get paid, he said.

“However, in past instances Congress has appropriated funds to pay those civilians,” Lapan said.

Face of Defense: Cutter Commander Shares Haiti Experience

By Coast Guard Petty Officer 2nd Class Timothy Tamargo
U.S. Coast Guard Academy Public Affairs

NEW LONDON, Conn., April 7, 2011 – U.S. Coast Guard officers are presented with many challenges and opportunities. Normal operations may quickly turn into a life or death mission that challenges their training and experience.

Coast Guard Cmdr. Diane W. Durham became the head of the Professional Maritime Studies Department here during the summer of 2010. She leads 17 military and civilian instructors and staff, and oversees the nautical science training of the more than 1,000 members of the academy’s corps of cadets.

A few months earlier Durham had put her experience to the test as commander of the Coast Guard Cutter Forward. She and her crew were pressed into action in response to a 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck less than 15 miles from Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Jan. 12, 2010.

The Forward was on deployment, Durham recalled, and recently had arrived in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, when the earthquake occurred.

"The duty section and off-duty crew onboard were jolted by unusual movement of the ship and quickly gathered to respond to an onboard emergency,” she said. “We learned that it was an earthquake, and soon after, we learned of the devastation in Port-au-Prince.

“The crew was recalled from various points around the base,” Durham continued, “and we were underway by We made best speed through the night.”

Durham’s cutter was the first U.S. vessel to arrive in Haiti for the earthquake response mission.

During the response, Durham said her crew members conducted numerous missions, including search and rescue, air traffic control, port assessments, damage assessment overflights and medical evacuations.

Durham and her crew were recognized for their exceptional work during the response effort. On July 4, 2010, Durham represented the Coast Guard at the White House and was commended by President Barack Obama for the Haiti relief efforts.

“We salute the United States Coast Guard, including a Coast Guardsman who commanded the first U.S. vessel to arrive in Haiti after the earthquake, helping to pave the way for one of the most complex humanitarian efforts ever attempted, Cmdr. Diane Durham,” Obama said.

At the height of the response in mid-January, the Coast Guard had up to eight cutters in Haiti’s ports, in the Caribbean and in Florida waters. Air assets included a HC-144A Ocean Sentry aircraft, five HC-130 Hercules aircraft, three MH-65 Dolphin helicopters and three MH-60 Jayhawk helicopters operating in Haiti with more than 800 Coast Guard members providing assistance on shore, afloat on the cutters and in the air.

Durham said she emphasized an open and honest command climate built on trust and communication.

“Being on a cutter requires people to embody the term shipmate," she said. “You live together, work together, struggle together and succeed together for long periods of time. You become a family.”

This command climate directly impacted Durham’s crew.

“Commander Durham is very dedicated to the overall mission of the Coast Guard. I have sought after her council for stressful situations on several occasions,” said Senior Chief Petty Officer Nicole Rose, the command chief on the Forward. “What makes a good leader is looking out after your people, dedication, motivation, compassion and the ability to expertly handle difficult situations. This is a talent too few have and many more need.”

Durham has served more than nine years at sea during her 21-year career on the Coast Guard cutters Rush, Decisive, Resolute, Tampa and Forward. Durham said she now brings her knowledge and experience from the fleet into the classroom to train and teach cadets, officer candidates, prospective commanding officers and executive officers.

“It’s important to have officers from the fleet as instructors because they know what is expected of junior officers in their first tours and what will help us achieve success when we enter the workforce,” said First Class Cadet Amanda Cousart, a marine and environmental science major at the academy. “Teaching cadets and other Coast Guard personnel is a way to make sure all of the information Commander Durham has learned is passed on so future officers can make the Coast Guard thrive.”

First Class Cadet Dana Prefer echoed Cousart’s sentiments.

“I think that Commander Durham is a wealth of knowledge because she has done almost everything you can do in the afloat community,” Prefer said. “When she told us about her past jobs, I was very impressed that she held that many command positions and highly-sought-after billets.

I believe that due to her diverse career path,” Prefer added, “she is able to get through to her students effectively, and I see her as a very good model of what a leader should be.”

USS George Washington Sailors Complete Security Training Course

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Juan Pinalez, USS George Washington Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Thirty-three USS George Washington (CVN 73) Sailors completed a Security Reaction Force Basic (SRFB) course aboard the ship, April 7.

The three-week course trains Sailors to work in the Security department and is mandatory for all USS George Washington E-6 and below Sailors.

The course includes classroom instruction and hands-on training in anti-terrorism/force protection followed by a final challenge of fighting their way through a gauntlet of obstacles, barriers and attackers after receiving pepper spray directly into the eyes.

"The Oleoresin Capsicum spray is liquid pain, but it's imperative these Sailors undergo a direct spraying to pass and complete the SRFB course," said Chief Master-at-Arms (EXW) Darren Price, SRFB instructor. "The commanding officer requested all George Washington Sailors E-6 and below participate and obtain their qualification, so having the students do this in front of the crew really helps put the crew at ease; especially since they'll be next."

Hundreds showed up in the ship's hangar bay for the opportunity to watch their friends and co-workers get sprayed with highly concentrated pepper spray and to cheer them on as the 33 students fought their way through the gauntlet.

"I've participated in this course once before and watched many of them before too," said Intelligence Specialist 3rd Class Kaylie Gordon from King's Bay, Ga. "This group was the most prepared I've ever seen. They had a motivator always by their side to help guide them through the stations and ensure they would be able to complete the course."

Inside the 50-foot, cone-lined ring, Sailors were required to complete various tasks at multiple stations. Some of the tasks required Sailors to take down an adversary, perform forward-reverse strikes with a baton, demonstrate defensive blocking techniques and the ability to retain a weapon while fighting against a mock attacker in a red, padded suit.

"It's good to see what I have to go through in the near future," said Aviation Ordnanceman Desiree Brown from Milwaukee. "I do feel safer knowing everyone has to go through this. It'll make sure someone thinks twice before reaching for the pepper spray bottle."

While being pepper sprayed is something many of the students may never forget, they have also learned a number of important lessons throughout the course. The training in basic law enforcement, security watch standing and weapons proficiency means they are trained and can help ensure everyone is safer.

With the SRFB course over, the Sailors will return to their original departments and will remain on standby until recalled. Recalled Sailors will work in Security for a period of six to twelve months where they will help the ship's Master-at-Arms maintain a safe ship.

George Washington has been underway since March 21, departing her forward-deployed homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, in response to the disaster that struck Japan, March 11.

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

Misawa Chiefs and First Classes Help with Tsunami Recovery

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Jerry Foltz, Naval Air Facility Misawa Public Affairs

HACHINOHE, Japan (NNS) -- Misawa Air Base Chief Petty Officers (CPOs) and board-eligible First Class Petty Officers (FCPOs) joined forces to assist in recovery and clean up efforts at a tsunami-ravaged strawberry field, April 6.

Together they cleared plastic and greenhouse support frames that were mangled and buried under layers of sediment following a 9.0-magnitude earthquake that triggered a devastating tsunami in this northeastern-Japanese city, March 11.

"Just seeing the devastation here made my heart drop," said Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Brian Alexander. "I think we're all honored to have the opportunity to get out and help in whatever way we can."
The combined effort also provided the Misawa Air Base Chief Petty Officer Association (CPOA) with its inaugural "CPO 365" event.

"CPO 365" is a three-phase training process, created by Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy Rick West. The goal of this initiative is to engage prospective chiefs beyond just CPO Induction, while giving them a better insight into the responsibilities and expectations of the Navy CPO.

"It helps instill our prospective chiefs with the importance of being a chief petty officer," said Naval Air Facility Misawa Command Master Chief Michael Napier. "Working side-by-side with genuine chiefs and communicating through a mutual level of respect, I think will not only benefit our board-eligible first class petty officers, but will also give our chiefs another opportunity to manufacture quality senior-enlisted leadership that will one day steer the Navy's future.

Prior to kicking off recovery efforts, Napier briefed the board-eligible first classes on the importance of working together towards a single common goal. He said this community service project should set the tone and foundation to build upon in the future.

"We are not only looking forward to working with you just today, but every day of the year," he said. "Remember that the chief is always there. Go ask the chief."

While the Sailors labored intently throughout the day to help recover and clean up the farm area, the teamwork and camaraderie was more-and-more evident with each shovelful of progress in this battered region.

Following a day of labor-intensive clean up, both CPOs and prospective chiefs felt good about the work they accomplished together.

"Today was important for both board-eligible first classes and chiefs. I believe the earlier we begin working together, the more effective our prospective chiefs will be during induction and beyond," said Chief Navy Counselor Jascha Janssen. "A day like this gives them an idea of what is expected of them and the self-sacrifice of the position."

Covered in a sheen of dirt and sweat, Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Joselito Camiling echoed Janssen's statement.

"It is really good being out here working alongside our chiefs," he said "Through their leadership example, we are learning more about what it takes to wear those anchors."

Koa Kai Trains Above, Below and on Sea Near Hawaii

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Mark Logico Commander Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Surface Navy and other combatant units are participating in an integrated training environment called Koa Kai 11-2 in waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands, March 31 to April 5.

Conducted by Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 31, Koa Kai is a semi-annual exercise event for mid-Pacific Navy combatant units, including submarine and aviation assets. The designation "11-2" signifies the second iteration of the exercise in fiscal year 2011.

"My expectations are to take full advantage of the six days at sea," said Capt. David Welch, the commander of DESRON 31. "We'll accomplish quite a bit in terms of training and certification readiness for each of the independent deployable units."

Guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59), USS O'Kane (DDG 77), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS Chafee (DDG 90); and guided-missile cruisers USS Lake Erie (CG 70) and USS Port Royal (CG 53) are participating in the semi-annual exercise.

"Our focus is to prepare our ships, which are all independent units, preparing them for forward deployment operations to either 7th or 5th Fleet, depending on where they are scheduled to operate," said Welch.

Attack submarines were also included in the exercise as they provided submarine familiarization training to surface and air units.

Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron Light (HSL) 37, Patrol Squadrons (VP) 9, 47 and the 407th, which is a Canadian Air Force P-3 squadron, participated, as well.

Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oilier USNS Yukon (T-AO 202) also took part in the exercise, not only to provide key services to Koa Kai participants but also to serve as a high-value unit from which ships rallied and protected.

French navy frigate FS Prairial (F 731) also joined the ship-maneuvering portion of the exercise.

"We've got some great resources out here with our submarines, our ASW squadrons and our ships," said Welch. Welch said that because each of these units is so busy in port, Koa Kai gave them rare opportunities to put so many assets at sea at once.

In one exercise, Port Royal, Russell, Chafee, Chung-Hoon and Prairial operated in unison performing ship maneuvering and formation.

Cmdr. Justin Orlich, executive officer of Chung-Hoon, said that Hawaii-based destroyers do not normally perform work-ups in a battle group environment.

"It provides us with a higher-level intermediate training that we don't normally get by being out here in Hawaii," said Orlich. "In the old days, we had to go to San Diego to work in a strike group before deploying, which took up a lot of time. It was time away from family and time away from our own training."

Orlich said that the ability to work with other ships in close proximity and in an integrated environment allowed Chung-Hoon to prepare for its upcoming deployment.

In another exercise, Chief Fire Controlman Robert Jennings, assigned to Chung-Hoon, led a visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) team to Yukon.

Jennings said that the exercise allowed his team to integrate its newer members. The VBSS team had four new members added for a total of 15 VBSS trained Chung-Hoon Sailors.

"We run drills per quarter, but to be able to use a USNS ship, that's something we get to do once or twice a year," said Jennings. "It's a good opportunity to get aboard another ship of a similar design to what we get to see on deployment."

VBSS teams are used extensively for maritime interdiction and anti-piracy operations.

"We have a crew that's very experienced," said Orlich. "I think we have a very well-trained crew. What's super about Koa Kai is that it affords the crew the opportunity to flex and see them at a higher-level. It's nice to have the opportunity like this to showcase our crew in this type of environment."

Pacific Partnership Doctors Provide Emergency Medical Assistance

By By MC1(SW/AW) R. David Valdez, Pacific Partnership 2011 Public Affairs

FANAFO, Vanuatu (NNS) -- FANAFO, VANUATUNavy Doctors from Pacific Partnership 2011's Advance Echelon (ADVON) team provided emergency care to two boys while conducting a site survey of the Fanafo Clinic, April 1.

Lt. Cmdr. Scott Wenger and Lt. Scott Humphrey, a pair of U.S. Navy doctors with the ADVON, noticed a young boy with blood dripping from his hand as they were surveying the facility.

The boy, a four-year old named Joel Warl, had a laceration from an accident with a bush knife, a tool commonly used in remote areas of Vanuatu.

"We noticed Joel and his mother sitting on the veranda," Wenger said. "We talked to his mother and the medical council members, and we got permission to treat him."

Wenger and Humphrey cleaned and bandaged the wound and told the mother to bring her son back to the clinic the next day.

While the doctors worked on little Joel, another woman brought in her two-year-old son, Michael Andrew with a gouge behind his ankle. He had slipped and cut himself while walking in the bush.

The Pacific Partnership doctors cleaned and bandaged the wound, but they decided he had to be taken to the hospital because of the size of the cut.

Accompanied by Zachariah Daniels, the local provincial project planner, Drs. Wenger and Humphrey drove the boy and his mother to the hospital in Luganville. A duty nurse stitched up the wound and then the two doctors drove him and his mother back.

Although the Navy doctors were following their Hippocratic oath to render aid to the wounded, they are in Vanuatu to prepare for humanitarian assistance and disaster relief mission know as Pacific Partnership 2011.

Pacific Partnership is Pacific Fleet's annual mission to improve interoperability for crisis situations, humanitarian and civic assistance, and disaster relief. The main body of the U.S. assistance is arriving on the amphibious transport dock ship USS Cleveland (LPD 7).

Pacific Partnership is a team effort between partner nations and host nations, which invite the multinational force to provide medical, veterinary, dental, and engineering subject matter expert exchanges. Pacific Partnership 2011 is the sixth iteration of this mission.

Over the past five years, Pacific Partnership doctors have seen more than 210,000 patients in 13 countries. Mission engineers have completed over 130 construction projects, including rebuilding medical clinics and schools. And mission veterinarians have inoculated hundreds of cows, pigs and dogs.

Gala Honors Survivor Assistance Program Supporters

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 – Crystal Becker felt lost when her husband, Army Staff Sgt. Shane R. Becker, died when his unit came under enemy attack near Baghdad in April 2007. She knew she would eventually come to terms with her grief, but feared for her two daughters -- a 7-year-old whose world revolved around her daddy and a newborn who could never know him.

Becker found her solace in the Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, or TAPS, a program committed to providing emotional support and services to grieving military families. She and her girls have become regulars at TAPS’ military survivor seminars and Good Grief Camps as they share their feelings with other military families struggling with their own loss.

“You could offer my daughter Disney World or Disneyland and she would say no, she wants to go to TAPS,” Becker said of her oldest daughter, Cierra, now age 11. “We go every year, and every time there’s crying and pain and hurt. But it doesn’t overshadow the greatness that this new family we have found has to offer.”

Last night, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, joined Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz and Veterans Affairs Secretary and former Army Chief of Staff Eric K. Shinseki in praising the program that has brought so much comfort to so many military families.

Speaking at TAPS’ annual Honor Guard Gala held at the Andrew W. Mellon Auditorium here, Mullen called TAPS a “world-class organization that in so many ways sets the gold standard” in serving families struggling to deal with the loss of a loved one.

Mullen recalled the Vietnam War days, when no similar programs were available for military families. The chairman said he’s gratified that so many Vietnam veterans and their children have reached out as supporters and mentors to this generation’s military families during their time of need.

“I only say that as a reminder that I don’t think we will ever be done here,” Mullen said. “I think we need to keep pushing the envelope of support for the families of the fallen in ways that we often times haven’t thought about.”

Just returned from a trip to Boise, Idaho, where he and his wife, Deborah, met with 13 families of the fallen, Mullen said he asked a mother who had lost her son in Iraq what he could do to help. Her response was, “Please don’t ever forget… Please don’t let our country forget.”

“It is a reminder about our responsibility to those who have sacrificed so much for all of us -- to say with emphasis [and] to make sure we absolutely never, ever forget their sacrifices,” Mullen told the group.

Mullen thanked Bonnie Carroll, president and founder of TAPS, the donors and volunteers who help ensure its success and the surviving families with living up to that promise.

“Thank you for remembering and moving forward with courage,” the chairman said.

Shinseki was honored last night with the annual TAPS Military Leadership Award for his lifetime commitment of supporting surviving families of the fallen while in uniform and now as VA secretary.

Accepting the award on behalf of America’s 22,000 veterans and the VA, Shinseki lauded the TAPS program for its support for families of the fallen, and the example these families provide.

“To the survivor families and their children, we are blessed to witness the quality of your strength [and] your grace as you deal with the adjustments in your life,” Shinseki said. “You provide great motivation to all of us. Thank you for the model of strength and grace that you provide to all of us.”

Mullen, Shinseki and Schwartz all held high praise for the late Sen. Ted Stevens, the recipient of this year’s TAPS Congressional Award. Stevens was a staunch supporter of military men and women, and he was instrumental in helping to establish TAPS in 1994, Carroll said.

In remembrance of that contribution, TAPS awarded the first annual TAPS Ted Stevens Leadership Award to a TAPS survivor, Lisa Dolan.

Dolan is the widow of Navy Capt. Bob Dolan Jr., who died during the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon. Since her husband’s death, Dolan has served as a peer mentor through TAPS to help other military widows, raised and trained therapy dogs to comfort grieving military children and worked tirelessly to raise funds for the Pentagon’s 9/11 Memorial.

“Lisa has been a true leader in the survivor community, and we are honored to recognize her efforts tonight,” Carroll said.

The program concluded with a group of children from TAPS programs waving goodnight to the attendees as Nashville recording artist Barry Michael performed the original song, “Heroes and Angels.”

The TAPS Honor Guard Gala raises funds to support the organization’s programs, including peer-based emotional support, grief and trauma resources, case work assistance and a 24/7 resource and information helpline for all who have been affected by a death in the armed forces. This year’s gala raised a record $1.1 million for TAPS programs and services.

All TAPS services are provided free of charge through donations from corporations, foundations and private citizens.

Expeditionary Rock Crusher Goes Global

By Mason Lowery, Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center Public Affairs Officer

PORT HUENEME, Calif. (NNS) -- Future Seabee construction project capability got better, lighter and faster March 31 when the Naval Facilities Expeditionary Logistics Center's (NFELC) Expeditionary Rock Crusher was officially given the OK to fly.

The Expeditionary Rock Crusher, or Eagle 1200-25CC portable impact crusher, can be loaded into a C-5 Galaxy aircraft and shipped anywhere Seabees are deployed.

Before the Expeditionary Rock Crusher was developed, deployed Seabees could not easily deploy a rock crusher and had to rely on local raw materials and suppliers to produce many of the key ingredients in their construction projects. These local products often do not meet the quality standards the Naval Construction Force (NCF) sets for its construction projects.

Seabees can now deploy the Expeditionary Rock Crusher with them and create their own mineral base products for concrete and asphalt that meet their high standards.

"The Expeditionary Rock crusher bridges the gap between war debris or rubble and a useful construction project," explained John Lemmond, First Naval Construction Division, Civil Engineer Support Equipment (CESE) readiness program manager. "The Seabees take that mineral-based pile of war debris and recycle it into usable construction products like aggregate for asphalt and concrete and other construction materials."

When Seabees first arrive in an area and begin building or rebuilding infrastructure, the first things they build are roads and airstrips to allow Navy and Marine Corps warfighters to arrive after them and focus on their primary missions – preventing or winning wars.

Two of the key ingredients in roads and airstrips, mineral base product, concrete and asphalt, are not always readily available in suitable quantity or quality in deployed locations. The Expeditionary Rock Crusher crushes rocks and material leftover from war – damaged buildings, roads and infrastructure, to create the ingredients of concrete and asphalt.

Chuck Zimmerman, NFELC CESE and NCF systems integration manager, said, "When Seabees go into a war zone and need to build the infrastructure to support the Navy and Marine Corps warfighters, we don't have a pit or quarry available. What we have is what's there – the debris from a natural disaster or war. This machine is designed to recycle that rubble into quality usable construction material."

Sharp Emphasizes Need for U.S.-South Korea Alliance

By Terri Moon Cronk
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 6, 2011 – While the U.S.-South Korean troop alliance works to secure and stabilize Northeast Asia, it still faces threats from North Korea, the U.S. Forces Korea commander said today.

The United States maintains forces on the Korean peninsula to deter North Korean provocations and aggressions, and if deterrence fails, to fight and win, Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp told the Senate Armed Services Committee.

As evidence of North Korea’s recent brutality, Sharp pointed to the North’s unprovoked attacks that sank the South Korean ship Cheonon and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island. The 2010 attacks killed 50 South Koreans.

“The alliance stands ready to address a full spectrum of conflict that could emerge on the Korean peninsula,” Sharp said. “Maintaining this preparedness is accomplished through… a continual refinement of our bilateral plans to deter and defeat aggression.”

Those plans, he said, can be continued through annual joint, combined and interagency exercises to maintain its “fight tonight” readiness.

Successful execution of these bilateral plans requires a well-trained force, and three annual joint, combined and interagency exercises.

Sharp called the exercises “key enablers for maintaining the fight-tonight readiness, while also preparing for the future transition of wartime operational control” to South Korea.

Another priority, Sharp said, is to strengthen the U.S.-South Korea military alliance, in support of the June 2009 joint presidential vision statement between the two countries.

“A strong alliance better deters North Korean provocative acts and promotes a peaceful, secure and prosperous future for the Korean peninsula, the Asia-Pacific region and the world as a whole,” Sharp said.

Last year, President Barack Obama agreed with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak to adjust the timing of the transition of wartime operational control to South Korea from April 2012 to December 2015, Sharp noted.

Obama also agreed to develop a plan “to better synchronize all the ongoing transformation initiatives of which [operational control] transition is just one of the elements,” he said.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and South Korean Defense Minister Kim Tae-Young signed Strategic Alliance 2015 at a consultative meeting in October, Sharp noted. The plan synchronizes U.S. and South Korean efforts to build adaptive and flexible capabilities to deter aggression, he said.

Repositioning U.S. forces to Camp Humphries at Osan Air Base south of Seoul improves force readiness, Sharp said, and allows for the consolidation of forces onto two enduring hubs.

Normalizing tours in Korea, Sharp said, will improve readiness, combat capability, and lower turbulence in units and reduce the stress placed on troops and families.

Gates approved the normalization plan in December 2008, paving the way for longer, accompanied tours for the 28,500 U.S. service members stationed throughout South Korea. For many years, the tour of duty in Korea was one year, and unaccompanied by family members.

Sharp told the committee his command’s support of the Strategic Initative 2015, the U.S. troops' relocation and other initiatives, demonstrate a long U.S. commitment to securing South Korea and the region.

U.S.-Saudi Relationship ‘In a Good Place,’ Gates Says

By John D. Banusiewicz
American Forces Press Service

RIYADH, Saudi Arabia, April 6, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates emerged from a 90-minute meeting with Saudi King Abdullah here today convinced that the relationship between the United States and Saudi Arabia is “in a good place.”

Gates said he had an “extremely cordial, warm meeting” with the Saudi monarch. The secretary said he and the king discussed how to prevent Iran and extremist groups from trying to exploit the recent turmoil in the Middle East.

Gates said the Saudis don’t seem to be particularly concerned about the unrest spreading to Saudi Arabia, but they are concerned about the region, including Iran.

“We already have evidence that the Iranians are trying to exploit the situation in Bahrain,” Gates said, “and we also have evidence that they’re talking about what they can do to create problems elsewhere, as well.”

The secretary said he and Abdullah also talked about the breadth of the bilateral and military-to-military relationships between the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as various programs associated with U.S.-Saudi relations.

Today’s visit marked the seventh Middle Eastern country Gates has visited since mid-March.