Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Story of Heroism and Brutality During World War II

The Wereth Eleven Story of Heroism and Brutality During World War II to be Featured at the Prestigious GI Film Festival in Washington, D.C. in May

As seen on National Geographic Channel, “Caught by the SS: The Wereth Eleven” will be featured in full-length at the Fifth Annual GI Film Festival on Saturday, May 14 at 4:45 p.m. at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. in honor of Armed Forces Appreciation Month

Southold, N.Y. – April 12, 2011 – “The Wereth Eleven,” an epic docudrama based on the true story of the dramatic escape made by 11 American soldiers at the start of the Battle of the Bulge during World War II, will be featured in full-length at the Fifth Annual GI Film Festival in celebration of American servicemen and women. The world premiere will be held at the United States Navy Memorial in Washington, D.C. on Saturday, May 14 at 4:45 p.m. EST.

“The Wereth Eleven” is one of 31 films to premiere at the GI Film Festival between May 9 and May 15 that honor the heroic stories of the American Armed Forces and the worldwide struggle for freedom and liberty. The festival films are known to express the courage and selflessness of American soldiers and the value of their work.

Narrated by “The Closer’s” Corey Reynolds, “The Wereth Eleven” retraces the steps of 11 soldiers of the segregated African-American 333rd Field Artillery Battalion who escaped The 18th Volksgrenadiers after their unit was overrun at the start of the Battle of the Bulge. Their 10-mile trek from their battery position to Wereth, Belgium led them to refuge with a Belgian family until a Nazi sympathizer revealed their presence to an SS Reconn Patrol. The soldiers surrendered, but were taken to a field, where they were tortured, maimed, and shot on Dec. 17, 1944. The killings were investigated, but never prosecuted.

“This story really moved me and I’m proud to have it featured on film at the GI Film Festival,” stated Joseph Small, executive producer of “The Wereth Eleven” and CEO of The Ardennes Group. “My mission has been to increase awareness of these heroic men and their story. People need to know what happened to the 11 soldiers and learn of the contributions of the 333rd Field Artillery Battalion during World War II. The GI Film Festival will be instrumental in helping get the word out about our heroes and their sacrifices for our nation.”

The powerful and poignant film is an epic docudrama with stunning Hollywood-grade visual effects, interviews with people who were there, and archival footage.

“The Wereth Eleven” was produced by The Ardennes Group with executive producers Small, Robert Child, and Frederic Lumiere. The film was directed and written by Child, and edited by Lumiere: producer, director and editor of the groundbreaking Emmy Award-winning series “WWII in HD,” narrated by Gary Sinise.

The GI Film Festival screening of “The Wereth Eleven” will be on Saturday, May 14 at 5:30 p.m. EST at the United States Navy Memorial located at 701 Pennsylvania Avenue NW between 7th Street Northwest and 9th Street Northwest in Washington, D.C . Click here to view the trailer for “The Wereth Eleven.”

About The Ardennes Group
Launched in 2009 by CEO Joseph Small, The Ardennes Group develops and produces historical military documentaries and films. The company’s productions include the World War II docudrama, “The Wereth Eleven,” which premiered nationwide on National Geographic Channel (credited as “Caught by the SS: The Wereth Eleven”) and the soon-to-be released war documentary, “USS Franklin: Honor Restored,” based on Joseph A. Springer’s book, “INFERNO: The Epic Life and Death Struggle of the USS Franklin in World War II.”

About Robert Child
Originally from New England, Robert Child has worked behind the scenes as a writer, technical director, and director for more than a decade with network clients including HBO, Comedy Central, MTV, VH1, NBC, ABC, and CBS. Child produced a series of highly regarded and award-winning Civil War films including “Gettysburg: The Boys in Blue” and “Gray and the docudrama Gettysburg: Three Days of Destiny.” Child also directed “Lincoln and Lee at Antietam: The Cost of Freedom,” “Silent Wings: The American Glider Pilots of World War II,” “The Wereth Eleven,” and “USS Franklin: Honor Restored.” Child has won numerous awards including five Telly, two CINE Golden Eagles, Best Director at the New York Independent Film Festival, and Special Jury at World Fest Houston. In 2011, Child was selected to receive the highly coveted Lifetime Achievement Award in the Arts from the Bucks County Chamber of Commerce. His work has also been named as Official Selection at major United States film festivals including the New York Independent Film Festival and the Washington DC Independent Film Festival. Click here to view Child’s Director Reel.

About Frederic Lumiere
Frederic Lumiere is an award-winning filmmaker who’s first feature film, “Tomorrow is Today” starring Scout Taylor-Compton (“Halloween I,” “Halloween II”) received 11 awards, including the Directorial Discovery Award from the Rhode Island International Film Festival. He has also produced, directed, and edited award-winning programming for Cinemax, A&E, History, Biography, and The National Geographic Channel. Before executive producing and editing “Caught by the SS: The Wereth Eleven,” Lumiere produced, directed, and edited the groundbreaking Emmy Award-winning series “WWII in HD,” narrated by Gary Sinise. Click here for more work by Lumiere.

Twitter: @TheWereth11 Story of Heroism & Brutality During #WWII Featured at Prestigious GI Film Festival in D.C. 5/14 #Wereth11 http://bit.ly/hy3u8m

For Official Trailer:

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Verena King

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Latvian Minister of Defense Artis Pabriks to the Pentagon today at 10 a.m. EDT.  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.

Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Ashton Carter testifies at a hearing of the House Appropriations Committee on DoD Acquisition Program in the Fiscal Year 2012 budget at 10 a.m. EDT in room H-140, Capitol.

Bataan Amphibious Ready Group Receives Visit from Commander, U.S. Second Fleet

From Bataan ARG Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, Atlantic Ocean (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines assigned to the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (BATARG) and 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) received a visit from the Commander, U.S. Second Fleet, April 11-12.

Vice Adm. Daniel Holloway visited each of the three ARG ships during the final two days of a rigorous integration training cycle designed to prepare the blue-green team for a broad range of amphibious operations.

During the three weeks of accelerated training, Sailors and Marines tested their ability to perform in such areas as flight deck and well deck operations, air and surface-defense exercises, replenishments-at-sea, small boat operations, medical evacuations, non-combatant evacuation, and tactical recovery of aircraft and personnel.

"I came out here for one reason only, and that is to congratulate you on the way you have come together during this training," said Holloway in an address to Sailors and Marines on board USS Bataan (LHD 5). "It is no small feat to surge like you have. You have risen to the occasion and knocked this training out of the park."

The integrated training, conducted by Strike Force Training Atlantic and the Marine Corps' Special Operation Training Group, began shortly after the Marines embarked March 29.

For many Sailors and Marines, the training marked their first experience working together.

"This is my first deployment, and it took awhile to get used to being on a ship," said Lance Cpl. Dijon Terry, assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 263 (Reinforced). "I spent the first few days lost and trying to get used to the ship rocking. I feel much more comfortable now, and I really like the Sailors and Marines I work with. As we head east, I know we're ready."

Holloway was present during the final training exercise, a complex scenario that tested each watch stander's ability to make tactical decisions and work together as a unified team.

Holloway expressed his satisfaction with the considerable progress Sailors and Marines had achieved during their short time underway, as well as his confidence that the team will only continue to grow stronger as they 'sharpen the sword' and refine their skill sets.

"We are proud of you," said Holloway. "You are the face of the Navy and Marine Corps and the face of the nation."

The BATARG deployed three months ahead of their original schedule to relieve the Kearsarge ARG and 26th MEU, currently conducting operations in the Mediterranean Sea.

The BATARG is comprised of Bataan, amphibious transport dock ship USS Mesa Verde (LPD 19), and amphibious dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41).

Online Skills Program Helps 10,000th Sailors with College, Career Change

By Ed Barker, Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

PENSACOLA, Fla. (NNS) -- The Navy's Online Academic Skills Course (OASC) logged its 10,000th Navy user April 12, less than one year since transitioning to a solely Web-based program.

"Sailors looking at a change of rating should start with their Command Career Counselor," said Master Chief Navy Career Counselor (SW/SCW/AW) Tod Shuls, Naval Education and Training Command force retention program manager. "The OASC is one of the tools that we can use to get Sailors where they need to be career-wise, and counselors review and track individual progress and verify completion of the program."

The OASC is a self-paced academic skills improvement program that evaluates an individual's reading level, vocabulary, and math ability. The program then designs customized individual lessons to increase proficiency in each of these academic areas.

Participants start by taking a pre-test to establish their areas that need improvement. After each module completion, a post-test is given to determine improvement. Participants can choose the length and depth of the courses based on needs and time available, including an abbreviated review with shortened lessons.

"The OASC helped me not only increase my ASVAB (Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery) score by nearly 20 points, but also helped me prepare for college placement exams," said Ship's Serviceman 2nd Class (SW/AW) Ashlei Alexander, assistant to the Career Counselor at Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola. "I'll be using the OASC again soon for a college math test I'm about to take."

The program gives Sailors 24-hour world-wide access to OASC from any computer with an internet connection. Each lesson is supported by interactive exercises such as drag-and-drop matching, and videogame-style, multiple choice or dynamic flash cards. Quizzes and practice problem sets help students gauge how well they are mastering the material.

"The OASC is accepted as one of the qualifiers that Sailors must have to retake the ASVAB," said Tom Smith, enlisted education coordinator for the Naval Education and Training Command (NETC). "One justification choice is showing that they have improved their educational and academic skills since their initial test, and the OASC online courses are accepted as demonstrating positive improvement in education. The test that current active-duty and Reserve service members take to improve their ASVAB score is the AFCT (Armed Forces Classification Test)."

In addition to around-the-clock access from any Internet connection, the OASC is also available to Department of Defense family members and government civilians at no charge.

OASC is available at www.nko.navy.mil via the NKO Learning Tab and on the Navy College Website under the academic skills link. Navigation to OASC is also available at: http://www.nelnetsolutions.com/dantes/.

True Stories, Not War Stories

With the addition of Staff Sergeant Jack Lewis, Military-Writers.com now lists 1241 US Military Servicemembers and the 3948 books they have authored.

Staff Sergeant Jack Lewis, USA, was “Born in Portland (Oregon) in 1964, he is a middle-aged curmudgeon of catholic writing proclivity. Jack holds a BA English cum laude from Washington State University and an MFA in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. He wears thick glasses, drinks Ardbeg, owns two motorcycles and a chainsaw, and prefers slip-on shoes. He lives with his wife, young daughter and two large dogs in a small house just north of Seattle.”

Jack Lewis said of his military service, “served as team sergeant to Tactical PSYOP Team 1291, a slice of Tactical PSYOP Detachment 1290 from the 361st PSYOP CO (Tactical), 12th PSYOP Battalion (Moffet Field). We were deployed to NW Iraq for OIF III from summer 2004 through summer '05, first supporting 2nd Infantry Division's 3-2 SBCT, then 1-25 SBCT from 25th ID. Along the way, we also supported Task Force Freedom, MNCI, the National Guard's 81st BDE.” Jack Lewis is the author of Nothing in Reserve: true stories, not war stories.

According to the book description of Nothing in Reserve, it “invites the reader to an intimate glimpse of one middle-aged soldier's journey to Iraq and back. True stories set in wartime, these are not war stories. Jack Lewis offers an unexpectedly vulnerable glimpse into one of the timeless tests men have faced: going to war, and returning home.

While the veteran will find honesty and truth within, this book is accessible to the uninitiated as well. Early stories give an authentic but often funny glimpse of military life, building to a crisis of personality all too common among returning soldiers. Exploring the universal human question of how we move through our lives, acknowledging mortality and pain without becoming lost within it, Jack shares with us his own journey toward elusive redemption.”

This Day in Naval History - April 12

From the Navy News Service

1861 - The Civil War begins when Confederates fire on Fort Sumter, S.C.
1911 - Lt. Theodore Ellyson qualifies as the first naval aviator.
1962 - The Navy demonstrates a new landing craft, LCVP (H), with retractable hydrofoils.
1975 - Operation Eagle Pull, the evacuation from Cambodia, takes place.
1981 - First launching of reusable Space Shuttle Columbia (STS 1) with an all-Navy crew. Capt. John W. Young commanded, while Lt. Cmdr. Robert L. Crippen was the pilot. Mission duration was two days, six hours and 20 minutes. Sixteen of the shuttle's heat-shielding silicon tiles were lost and 148 damaged during reentry.
1993 - Aircraft from USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) and NATO forces begin enforcing the no-fly zone over Bosnia in Operation Deny Flight.

Military Family Support a ‘National Priority,’ Obama Says

By Fred W. Baker III
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – President Barack Obama today made caring for military families a national priority, calling to action his entire administration and communities across the United States on their behalf.

“The strength and the readiness of America's military depend on the strength and readiness of our military families,” the president said. “This is a matter of national security. It's not just the right thing to do. It also makes this country strong.”

Obama made the remarks at the White House accompanied by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Navy Adm. Mike Mullen and other senior officials as he announced a national initiative aimed at increasing support for the families of American service members.

The initiative will focus on employment, education and wellness, and aims to raise awareness about the sacrifices and needs of military families. First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will this week launch a national tour as part of the initiative.

The president praised the efforts of today’s military, but added that no troop serves alone.

“Behind every American in uniform stands a wife, a husband, a mom, a dad, a son or a daughter, a sister or brother,” he said. “These families, these remarkable families are the force behind the force. They, too, are the reason we've got the finest military in the world.”

In Obama’s travels to military installations since taking office, he said, one theme recurs in his conversations with service members.

“There's one thing they request more than anything else: Take care of my family. Take care of my family. Because when our troops are worried about their families back home, it's harder for them to focus on the mission overseas,” Obama said.

The president cited his recent directive to establish a coordinated federal approach to support military families. Released in January, the report detailed nearly 50 commitments from Cabinet agencies to reform, strengthen, or better coordinate the federal government’s efforts.

The efforts range from protecting families from financial scams, to improving education for military children and spouses, to helping end homelessness among veterans.

“As commander in chief, I'm not going to be satisfied until we meet these commitments,” Obama said. “Across this administration, we're going to keep doing everything in our power to give our military families the support and the respect that they deserve.”

But, the president said, national support for military families cannot be solely a government function. Support needs to be at the community level.

“Our military and our military families can't be the only ones bearing the burden of our security,” he said. “The United States of America is strongest -- and as Americans, we are at our best -- when we remember our obligations to each other; when we remember that the price of freedom cannot simply be paid by a select few, when we embrace our responsibilities to each other, especially those who serve and sacrifice in our name.”

Biden, whose son deployed for a year to Iraq, said he understands first-hand the value of family support to deployed troops.

“We learned at that time how much it means to those who are in a war zone thousands of miles away, knowing that their family is being cared for, that their next-door neighbor has offered to cut their grass while their husband is overseas or that the next-door neighbor will give a jumpstart on that cold morning when they're trying to get their daughter or son to elementary school,” Biden said. “They know that those little things are the things that make every day work or not work. It matters. It matters because it's one less thing they have to worry about in theater.”

Biden said a little support at the community level goes a long way toward easing the burden of both the families and the deployed troops.

“All Americans should know that one act of kindness extended to a family of a soldier, a sailor, a Marine, a Coast Guardsmen, reverberates across the water, over the mountains and through the desert into the heart of the warrior who's standing there alone thinking as much about his family as his family's thinking about him or her,” he said. “I promise you, I promise you, all those of you who are listening on the television or radio, it matters. It matters.”

Changed South Korea Duty Tours Aid Readiness

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

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – Normalizing U.S. military duty tours in South Korea will increase combat readiness and greatly reduce stress for service members and their families, the top U.S. military commander in the region told the Senate Armed Services Committee here today.

“A force multiplier, tour normalization keeps trained and ready military personnel in place for longer periods of time,” said Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp, commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea. “It improves readiness, combat capability, lowers turbulence in units and reduces the stress placed on our troops, units and families.”

Tour normalization in South Korea is an initiative the Defense Department and Sharp have been working on since December 2008. The initiative increases troop tour lengths in South Korea to three years and allows their families to accompany them.

The initiative is part of the Strategic Alliance 2015 agreement that hands over wartime operational control on the Korean Peninsula to the South Korea military in December 2015. The agreement also calls for U.S. forces to reposition to two enduring hubs under the Yongsan Relocation Plan and Land Partnership Plan.

Repositioning U.S. forces “realizes stationing efficiencies and signals a continued American commitment to defense of Korea and the engagement,” Sharp said. “Restationing also enhances force protection and survivability.”

Currently, 4,400 military families are in South Korea on command-sponsored tours. About 12,000 families will be there once tour normalization is fully implemented by the end of 2015.

“I think everyone is aware of the importance of tour normalization, with the increase of the readiness that it brings to our units that are over there; with the fact that it does show our commitment, which is a great deterrent value to North Korea,” the general said.

Sharp said the tour normalization plan he will present this week to Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates will be “an affordable plan to get to full tour normalization.” However, he acknowledged, the duty tour initiative’s initial costs for moving an additional 10,000 families and compensating troops’ housing needs will not be cheap.

“We are looking at many different options in order to be able to reduce the costs, and looking at many different options as far as how long it will take,” Sharp said.

Casey Retires After Four Decades of Army Service

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – Army Chief of Staff Gen. George W. Casey Jr. expressed great pride in his soldiers and their families as he ended more than four decades of military service yesterday.

“I couldn’t be prouder of your courage, your resilience and your commitment to the values and ideals that make this country and this Army great,” Casey, the 36th Army Chief of Staff, wrote in a farewell letter to the troops.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates called Casey “a valued leader” yesterday during the general’s Pentagon retirement ceremony.

“The Army George Casey leaves behind, a force that has borne the brunt of our nation’s wars, is more resilient, better trained, more balanced and vastly more lethal because of his leadership,” Gates said. “He served as a stalwart advocate and guide for thousands of brave young men and women, and their loved ones.”

Before becoming chief of staff in 2007, Casey served as commander of Multinational Forces Iraq. The general led the force through a difficult time including Iraq’s transition to a sovereign government, three elections, and the growth -- in size and capability -- of the Iraqi army and police, Gates said.

Casey’s “personal demeanor, steady confidence and care for the well being of his troops served as an important example for our young men and women on the front lines,” the secretary said.

Upon becoming the Army’s chief of staff, Casey found that the service was out of balance.

The Army at that time was “so weighed down by current demands that we couldn’t do the things we needed to do to sustain the all-volunteer force and simultaneously prepare ourselves for the full range of missions,” Casey wrote.

Casey and his wife, Sheila, journeyed to installations and units around the world to speak to Army families and see firsthand how they were handling the strain of simultaneously fighting two wars, Gates said.

Under Casey’s tenure as chief of staff, the Army expanded programs to help America’s wounded sons and daughters receive needed treatment and recover from war’s physical and emotional trauma.

“George greatly increased the number of behavioral health providers and improved mental health screening for returning soldiers in order to identify those at risk,” Gates said. “He pushed the Army to reduce the stigma associated with combat stress and traumatic brain injuries and to treat them as the injuries they truly are.

“General Casey led the battle to provide long-term support to survivors of the fallen, creating the Army Survivor Outreach Services,” he added.

Casey also implemented alcohol treatment and suicide prevention programs at Army installations around the country to help returning soldiers struggling to adjust to life at home.

When the president authorized an increase in the size of the Army, Casey pushed to exceed the service’s recruiting goals.

Because of Casey’s efforts “the Army was able to end the practice of stop-loss and increase soldiers’ home station dwell time -– developments that have greatly increased force readiness,” Gates said.

“Nearly 70 percent of the Army is now on a path to meet the goal of two years at home for every year deployed,” the secretary added. “As the drawdown in Iraq continues, and the transition in Afghanistan begins, I hope the Army will be able to achieve its longer-term goal of three years home for every year deployed.”

During the ceremony, Gates presented Casey with the Distinguished Service Medal.

Soldier Missing from Korean War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Korean War, have been identified and returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Army Cpl. John W. Lutz, 21, of Kearny, N.J., will be buried tomorrow at Arlington National Cemetery.  From May 16-20, 1951, Task Force Zebra, a multinational force made up of Dutch, French, and U.S. forces, was attacked and isolated into smaller units.  Lutz, of the 1st Ranger Infantry Company, part of Task Force Zebra, went missing while his unit was attempting to infiltrate enemy lines near Chaun-ni, South Korea, along the Hongcheon River Valley.

After the 1953 armistice, surviving POWs said Lutz had been captured by enemy forces on May 19, marched north to a POW camp in Suan County, North Korea, and died of malnutrition in July 1951.

Between 1991-94, North Korea gave the United States 208 boxes of remains believed to contain the remains of 200-400 servicemen.  North Korean documents turned over with one of the boxes indicated the remains inside were exhumed near Suan County.  This location correlates with the corporal’s last known location.

Analysts from DPMO developed case leads with information spanning more than 58 years.  Through interviews with surviving POW eyewitnesses, experts validated circumstances surrounding the soldier’s captivity and death, confirming wartime documentation of his loss.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, scientists from the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command and the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory also used dental comparisons and mitochondrial DNA – which matched that of his niece—in the identification of the remains. 

More than 2,000 servicemen died as prisoners of war during the Korean War.  With this accounting, 8,001 service members still remain missing from the conflict.  For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO web site at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703- 699-1169.

U.S., South Korea Prepare Defense Against North’s Provocations

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

WASHINGTON, April 12, 2011 – The South Korean and U.S. militaries are well prepared to defend South Korea should North Korean provocations continue, the top U.S. military commander posted in the region told Congress today.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee here, Army Gen. Walter “Skip” Sharp, commander for United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command and U.S. Forces Korea, said South Korean and U.S. military leaders have been working to hone their defenses and are ready to effectively respond to an array of North Korean provocations.

“We have been working on a whole range of possible provocations from North Korea,” Sharp said. If North Korea should stage an act of provocation or aggression, he said, then South Korea “will immediately strike back in a proportionate self-defense manner. I do believe we are prepared.”

Sharp cited North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean navy frigate Cheonan in March 2010 that killed 48 sailors, and the November artillery barrage on Yeonpyeong Island from North Korea that killed two South Korean service members and wounded others, including some civilians.

These attacks, along with North Korea’s continuing development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities have strengthened the South Korean-U.S. alliance, Sharp said. The alliance, he emphasized, is fully prepared to deter North Korean aggression.

The South Korea-U.S. alliance “continues to deter a North Korea that threatens both regional and global peace and security,” the general said. “Maintaining this preparedness is accomplished through the development and the refinement of our bilateral plans to deter and defeat provocations -- attacks like we saw last year -- while maintaining the ability to respond to other destabilizing conditions.”

U.S. Pacific Command commander Navy Adm. Robert F. Willard, who testified along with Sharp, added that North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear efforts are helping the rogue nation become more than just a threat to its neighbor to the south.

“I do agree that North Korea is becoming a direct threat to the United States,” Willard said, noting that North Korea’s ballistic missile programs are working toward an intercontinental capability.

“It becomes an international threat and, for sure, a potential future threat to the United States,” the admiral said.

Willard said the international community is becoming increasingly impatient with North Korea’s unpredictable and hostile behavior. It’s important that the People’s Republic of China realize the international community’s impatience with North Korea, he said, noting that China is North Korea’s only ally by treaty in the region.

Key to ending North Korea’s weapons development and a potential nuclear and ballistic arms race in the region is productive dialogue with China, Willard explained. “I think it’s appropriate that [China] understands the United States’ impatience and recognize that what is occurring on the Korean Peninsula is not static or stable,” the admiral said. “Rather, we have seen an advancing nuclear capability being developed in the midst of what are very conventional provocations.”

Regional talks with China are focused on making it clear to leaders in Beijing that South Korea is fed up with North Korea’s bellicose actions.

“The situation on the Korean Peninsula has changed; both in South Korea and their unwillingness to tolerate the continued provocations that have become deadly …, as well as the impatience of the international community over the nuclearization piece,” Willard said. “China’s understanding of the acuteness of both of those things is an important factor in generating what influence they can exhort over Pyongyang in order to change this.

“We have a significant challenge on the Korean Peninsula – one that we cannot allow to fester any longer,” he added.

Face of Defense: Soldier Mentors Kids on Drug Dangers

By Rick Scavetta
U.S. Army Garrison-Kaiserslautern

KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany, April 12, 2011 – As Army Sgt. Mark Arnett wraps up his tenure here teaching kids about the dangers of drugs and alcohol, he can look back knowing he made an impact on children's lives.

For the past two years, Arnett has taught the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program in the Kaiserslautern Military Community's four elementary schools.

"It's been great for me to see the difference D.A.R.E. is making in kids' lives," Arnett said. "The light bulb goes on and the wheels are turning," he said of how quickly children understand the message about the risks of drug and alcohol use.

Since 1983, D.A.R.E. has taught millions of students worldwide about the dangers associated with using alcohol and drugs. National D.A.R.E. Day is observed each April in the United States by a presidential proclamation, community events and other activities. This year, President Barrack Obama declared April 7 as National D.A.R.E. Day.

It's been a few weeks since Arnett taught his final D.A.R.E. class here. He departs Kaiserslautern soon for Fort Knox, Ky., where he’ll serve with the 1st Infantry Division.

Meanwhile, Arnett said when kids see him in the Kaiserslautern community, they ask him to come back.

"That's rewarding, to know that they learned and that it was a fun experience for them," he said.

During a previous duty tour at Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall, Va., Arnett donned the McGruff the Crime Dog suit and shook hands with kids. He had never been in front of a classroom, but in becoming Kaiserslautern's D.A.R.E. instructor, Arnett learned the subtleties of teaching.

"As a soldier, you instruct your peers," he said. "It's totally different in front of fifth graders, trying to get them to listen to you."

Department of Defense Dependents Schools students here complete 10 lessons over several weeks, working from D.A.R.E. planners, Arnett said. Weekly lessons include students acting out skits on peer pressure and watching videos about the dangers of drugs and alcohol.

In Europe, where beer and wine are often part of the local culture, alcohol is easier to obtain at a younger age. Children living overseas know that, Arnett said.

"We stress the impacts alcohol has on young bodies, the adverse effects that it can have," he said. "Kids are pretty smart. They know it's bad for you, just not how bad it can be."

What kids learn in D.A.R.E. can have a ripple effect within their families, Arnett said. One Kaiserslautern fifth-grader recently brought her lessons home and helped her mother quit smoking, he said.

Staffing a D.A.R.E. officer for Kaiserslautern Military Community schools make sense, as police in military communities mirror the work of their civilian counterparts, said Master Sgt. Kenneth Pryor, U.S. Army Garrison-Kaiserslautern’s provost sergeant.

"It gives us an opportunity to have an officer go into the classroom, so the kids don't just see a police officer as a cop," Pryor said. "It humanizes the individual."

In February, Lt. Col. Kevin Hutchison, commander of U.S. Army Garrison-Kaiserslautern, spoke at the Kaiserslautern Elementary School graduation. He thanked Arnett for his efforts in making the D.A.R.E. program a success.

"He is the face of D.A.R.E. in our community," Hutchison said.

Arnett will pass the D.A.R.E. teaching reins to Army Spc. Kathy Ogburn. In less than four years as a military police officer, Ogburn has served at Fort Hood, Texas, and helped train local police in Afghanistan. She said she’s excited about taking on new challenges here.

"I've worked the road and I've deployed," Ogburn said. "Now, I get a chance to do something completely different."

Research Examines Blast Impact on Human Brain

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

FORT DETRICK, Md., April 12, 2011 – There’s little debate about the risk of a brain injury when a service member gets a blow to the head -- whether from an enemy round or from crashing against a wall or being inside a vehicle during an explosion.

But some of the foremost academic researchers from around the world, working in cooperation with the Defense Department’s Blast Injury Research Program, are trying to determine exactly what happens to a service member’s brain when it’s exposed to a blast, but with no direct head impact.

Their answers could change the way the military protects tens of thousands of deployed troops from improvised explosive devices, mortar rounds and other explosions, Michael J. Leggieri Jr., director of the Defense Department’s Blast Injury Research Program Coordinating Office, told American Forces Press Service.

DOD has long recognized the risks of overpressure and shock waves associated with blasts on the human body, Leggieri said.

For the past 18 years the Army Medical Research and Material Command based here has conducted a robust research program focused on occupational exposures to blasts -- such as when an artillery crewman fires a howitzer.

As a result, the command helps the Army evaluate the blast impact of every weapons system before it’s fielded.

But the current conflicts, and the frequency of percussive blasts and explosions, leave researchers questioning: What effect are they having on the brain, and how can we better protect service members against traumatic brain injuries?

The answer isn’t as easy as it may appear, Leggieri explained. That’s because, despite decades of study in the United States and around the world about brain injury, no one completely understands what happens to the human brain during a blast.

In fact, DOD has a lot of clinical data about the impact of blasts on the brain, but that’s from animal studies, Leggieri said. Comparing animal data to humans, particularly when dealing with something as complex as the brain, raises as many questions as it answers, he said.

In terms of humans, DOD has just one confirmed clinical case of a deployed service member who suffered a brain injury in a blast without hitting his head, Leggieri said.

“We know a lot about what happens when you get hit in the head or hit your head against something and it causes a brain injury,” Leggieri said. “That has been studied for decades, primarily by the automotive industry. Impact is something we know quite a bit about. But this whole question about blast is still a question.”

And although the Army is at work on its second-generation helmet sensor with plans to field it soon to about 30,000 soldiers, there’s still no clear indication of what those blast readings will mean in terms of the brain.

Theories abound in how blasts can cause brain injuries, Leggieri said. One prevalent theory advocates that the blast shock wave causes the skull to flex and as a result, damages the brain. Another theory actually has nothing to do with the head. It supports the idea that the blast pressure squeezes the thorax -- much the way fingers squeeze a tube of toothpaste. The result, theorists say, is a sudden vascular surge that goes up into the brain, causing an injury.

Getting to the bottom of what exactly happens is more than a scientific exercise, Leggieri said, it’s critical to finding the best way to protect service members.

The first theory might support a new kind of combat helmet protection, or modification to the current helmet. The latter might call for modified body armor. But providing the wrong solution, no matter how well-intentioned, could actually backfire in adding more weight and less mobility to the warfighter.

“If you are restricting their ability to perform the mission, you are actually putting them at risk because now they can’t do what they need to do to survive,” Leggieri said. “So you have got to be very careful about what protection systems you put on a soldier. You have to make sure they are really effective at what they are supposed to be doing.

“My point is, if you don’t understand the mechanism, you can’t possibly protect against it,” he added. “You may end up doing something that has no effect whatsoever.”

Leggieri assembled a forum of about 100 of the world’s leading brain-injury researchers to determine, first, whether their work shows that blast-induced mild traumatic brain injuries actually exist, and, if so, what happens within the brain to cause them.

“With this expert panel, we are reaching out to this community of modelers, clinicians, and experimentalists who do animal research in blasts, and getting these communities to finally work together and to communicate with each other,” he said. “We are going to have them help us pin down what we don’t know and to get to a solution.”

The meeting proved to be a huge success. Attendees “started to communicate, to share information, to come up with ideas about how we might approach this,” Leggieri said.

What’s needed, they agreed, is a validated mathematical model to show how a blast interacts with the human head, and how that might cause a brain injury. Current models -- and there are several -- are based on simulations that can’t be scientifically validated, Leggieri said.

So Leggieri established a DOD Brain Injury Modeling Expert Panel, made up of 19 leading modelers from academia, industry and government. So far they have met four times, with their fifth and final session slated for this summer.

“Their work is going to help us develop a research roadmap that will take us from where we are today … to a validated model of blast-induced brain injury that we can say with confidence is an accurate model of what happens to humans,” Leggieri said.

That milestone, he said, will help the Defense Department better tailor protective systems for its service members.

“The goal and the focus are on how to prevent this,” he said. “Let’s understand it and find a way to prevent it. If we can make a difference just in these areas, I think would be a huge advancement.”

Open Applications: Homes for Wounded Heroes

Military Warriors Support Foundation (http://militarywarriors.org) is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization founded in 2007. Our Mission is to provide support for our nation’s wounded heroes as they transition out of the military and into their new civilian life. This is a very fragile time for these heroes, and their families, and it is our goal to provide programs that facilitate a smooth and successful transition. Our programs include home donation, academic and employment assistance, as well as recreational activities to develop life skills that are essential to achieving success.

Through Homes4WoundedHeroes, our homes donation program, we award 100% mortgage-free homes to combat wounded veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan. In addition to the home, each family receives three years of family and financial mentoring so that they may learn the necessary skills to become happy and successful homeowners. Our Homes4WoundedHeroes program not only changes the lives of the hero and their family, but it also changes the lives of the generations that follow.

MWSF is proud to announce that we are now accepting Open Applications for our Homes4WoundedHeroes program! If you are a combat wounded hero, injured during the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts, you are eligible to apply!! We encourage you to designate as many areas, within the United States, as possible that would work for you.

Recipients must still meet our eligibility requirements ( http://militarywarriors.org/openhomes) and will still undergo our usual review process. We are accepting applications for 14 days only, April 12th - 26th!! 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!!

MWSF plans to award up to 100 homes during the next 9-12 months, so apply as soon as possible as homes will be awarded to the first and most qualified applicants!!

For questions, you may contact our office at 210.615.8973, or send an email to Support4WW@MilitaryWarriors.org

To Apply - http://militarywarriors.org/node/151

NORAD Flight Exercise Planned for National Capital Region

North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and its geographical component, the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR), will conduct an exercise, Falcon Virgo 11-07, beginning midnight Tuesday into early Wednesday morning in the National Capital Region, Washington, D.C. and Frederick County, Md.

Flights in the National Capital Region are scheduled to take place between midnight Tuesday and 2 a.m. Wednesday morning.  Flights in the Frederick County, Md., area are scheduled to take place between 4:10 a.m.and 5 a.m. Wednesday morning.

In the event of inclement weather, the exercise will take place the next day until all training requirements are met.

For more information on Falcon Virgo exercises, please contact CONR Public Affairs at 850-283-8080, or the NORAD Public Affairs Office at 719-554-6889.

Naval Base Guam Welcomes Residents Back to Sumay

By Anna-Victoria Crisostomo, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

SANTA RITA, Guam (NNS) -- Former residents of Sumay village and their descendents returned to their pre-World War II (WWII) home to celebrate the second annual "Back to Sumay Day" on U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) April 9.

Coordinated by island mayors from the villages of Agat, Santa Rita and Piti with NBG officials, Back to Sumay Day offered the returning residents the chance to return to the location of their once prosperous village.

The event started with a Catholic mass attended by former residents and their families. After the mass, Santa Rita Mayor Dale Alvarez welcomed many generations of people and reflected on the significance of the celebration.

"As the saying goes, 'you cannot know who you are, unless you know where you came from,'" Alvarez said. "Today, my dear people of Sumay, we are at the place where we came from."

Alvarez thanked Capt. Richard Wood, NBG commanding officer, for opening up the gates and allowing the residents to return to the place they once called home.

The mass was followed by cultural song and dance presentations by students from Harry S. Truman Elementary School in Santa Rita, Guam, and Cmdr. William C. McCool Elementary/Middle School on NBG.

Afterwards, attendees were treated to a traditional island feast and the sounds of local music. Throughout the day people viewed old photographs and a map of Sumay village that were part of a historical display. Some elders were able to locate their former homes from an aerial photograph and reminisced about their childhood in Sumay.

Juan T. Guzman, former Sumay resident and retired naval aviation machinist's mate, recalled his life as a 7-year-old boy in the old village.

"Oh, I love it because the people, the families, are very close together," Guzman said.

Volunteers from the University of Guam made their way through the crowd, listening to the stories of the manåmko' (man-UHM-koo), or elderly people, in an effort to record their memories for publication. Volunteers from military commands supported the event by assisting with set up and take down, trash recycling and helping the elders when needed.

Agat Mayor Carol Tayama reflected on the day's events and the hospitality offered to the community by base leadership.

"This is really a very great event for the original residents of Sumay and their families to come back and see where they were born, where they grew up, and we thank Capt. Wood for doing this for us," Tayama said.

Wood echoed Tayama's sentiments and stressed that, under his leadership, Back to Sumay Day would be a continuing event.

"It's important [for us] to remember that we're part of the community, that we work together with the mayors and the local villages to try to enhance cultural and historical opportunities for people who have ties to this land," Wood said. "[They can] come back and see where their grandparents lived, where the invasion occurred, where the village was destroyed - and how it was destroyed - and to welcome these people back for as long as they want to come back."

Back to Sumay Day was started by former NBG commanding officer Capt. Scott Galbreaith in 2010.

Political, Civic Leaders View Damage Along Kolekole Pass

By Grace Hew Len, Commander, Navy Region Hawaii Public Affairs

WAIANAE, Hawaii (NNS) -- Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Commander Capt. Richard Kitchens, hosted a group of political and civic leaders on a tour of Kolekole Pass Road in Waianae, Hawaii, April 9 to initiate talks of reopening the thoroughfare only months after weather caused extensive damage.

The Navy closed Kolekole Pass Road in January when significant road damage after heavy rains, and further pavement deterioration of the roadway, rendered the road unsafe for vehicular travel.

The tour group included state representatives, council members and neighborhood board representatives from the Leeward Coast, and representatives from State Civil Defense and the City Department of Transportation Services.

Kitchens hosted the tour in efforts to work with community and state government to discuss the issues and possibilities surrounding the reopening of Kolekole Pass as a state evacuation route. Kolekole Pass has served as an alternate route to Farrington Highway.

"There is no short-term solution to safely open the road due to the additional damage caused by the slide," said Kitchens, referring to the damage to an existing slide area on the road. "The roadway and embankment at the slide area requires major repair for it to be safely used."

Longitudinal cracks forming on the existing pavement require further monitoring. Kitchens said an in-depth assessment of the rockfall and roadway slope failure was completed in March. The engineering study provided recommendations for repairs to the landslide area and erosion control measures.

"The Navy is committed to being good neighbors and good stewards, and understands the compelling need to restore the road as an emergency egress," said Kitchens. "We are ready to partner with other government agencies and the community to find the funds to restore this important emergency evacuation route for civil emergencies."

Seabees Cleanup High School in Support of Operation Tomodachi

By Lt. j.g. Benjamin Dunn, Naval Mobile Construction Battalion 133 Public Affairs

SENDAI, Japan (NNS) -- Seabees from Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB) 133 provided support for Joint Support Forces Japan (JSF-J) March 30 at a local Sendai, Japan, high school affected by the March 11 tsunami and earthquake.

Seven NMCB 133 Seabees operating out of Camp Sendai in the Miyagi Prefecture, were part of a 50-person joint-forces team tasked with supporting cleanup efforts at the Ishinomaki Technical High School.

More than 800 students, school staff and local residents were isolated on the second floor of the high school for two days without running water, while the first floor was flooded with mud and debris in the rush of the tsunami.

Service members from the U.S. Marines, Army, Air Force and Navy, in conjunction with the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF), joined school officials and students with the cleanup of the classrooms, common spaces and student hall. Heavily soiled walls and workstations were scrubbed. Floors were cleared of mud and mopped, and damaged furniture and debris were removed as the school was restored to working order.

"It was great to go out and get involved with the cleanup and assist in the recovery effort. You could tell the students and school staff were excited and very appreciative to receive our support," said Builder 1st Class Matthew Culberson, a Seabee from NMCB 133 who participated in the cleanup.

The Seabees, and civilian and military leadership, collaborated on site to direct the efforts. Seabees are intimately familiar with disaster recovery operations, especially to those of NMCB 133 and other Atlantic-based battalions whose Construction Battalion Center Gulfport, Miss., homeport was heavily damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. Disaster recovery is a primary mission of the U.S. Naval Construction Force, who train extensively for and excel in contingency operations.

The school's vice principal requested assistance with cleanup efforts to restore the school in time for the student's entrance exams.

Ishinomaki Technical High School was the first of many schools identified by the JGSDF slated to use U.S. forces in cleanup operations. The JGSDF has requested U.S. military assistance in clearing mud and heavy debris from the school grounds of over 40 damaged schools in the Miyagi Prefecture.

One of the benefits of clean up projects like this is, once schools are re-opened, students return to school and parents are free to return to work, and to contribute more to the recovery of their homes and towns. As children return to school, a sense of normality can be established while progress toward recovery is achieved with a greater sense of hope in the wake of the disaster.

NMCB has provided engineering and disaster-recovery subject matter expertise, and advisement of Naval Construction Force capability during humanitarian assistance and distaster relief efforts in the region.

Operation Tomodachi is a joint effort between the combined forces of the U.S. Military and the Japan Self-Defense Force aimed at facilitating recovery efforts in northeastern Japan.