Military News

Monday, April 18, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn have no public or media events on their schedules.

This Day in Naval History - April 18

From the Navy News Service

1848 - A Navy expedition to explore the Dead Sea and the River Jordan, commanded by Lt. William F. Lynch, reaches the Dead Sea.
1906 - The Navy assists in relief operations during the San Francisco earthquake and fire.
1942 - USS Hornet (CV 8) launches Doolittle's Army bombers for the first attack on Japan.
1988 - Navy destroys two Iranian drilling platforms and a frigate in retaliation for attack on USS Samuel B. Roberts (FFG 58).

Obama Salutes Air Force Academy’s Football Team

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – President Barack Obama today presented the prestigious Commander-in-Chief trophy to the U.S. Air Force Academy’s football team, marking the first time since 2002 that the trophy will return to Colorado Springs, Colo.

Obama joked with the team, accompanied by Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton A. Schwartz and Air Force Academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michael C. Gould, about the honor of outperforming the U.S. Military Academy and breaking the U.S. Naval Academy’s seven-year winning streak.

“Until this year, no one on this team knew what it felt like to beat Army, to beat Navy, to visit the White House, and to earn football bragging rights over the other branches,” Obama told the Falcons during the ceremony in the White House Rose Garden. “Now you know the feeling.”

Obama praised the Air Force as not just a good service academy team, but “a good team -- period.” He recognized its 350 rushing yards against the University of Oklahoma, its bowl game win against Georgia Tech and its 9-4 finish in what Coach Troy Calhoun called the toughest schedule a service academy ever played.

“Of course, I hear the victory that was sweetest of all was finally beating that Navy team,” the president said. “I’m told that as soon as the final whistle blew, the loudspeakers started blasting Etta James singing ‘At Last,’” drawing laughter from the group. “The entire cadet wing -- usually some of the most disciplined young men and women you’ll ever see -- just rushed the field and sang the alma mater with the team.”

While the Air Force’s football team has much to be proud of, Obama said what truly sets them apart is that its members aren’t defined just by being football players.

“They’re airmen first,” he said. “And more important than any bowl game or trophy is the commitment they’ve made to serve this country.”

That’s why, the president said, while nearly every other Division I team was working out and running through practice drills, “these players were scattered around the world learning the skills they needed long after they take off their jerseys and hang up their helmets.”

Quarterback Tim Jefferson was at Dover Air Force Base, Del. learning about C-17 aircraft, Obama noted. Tight end Josh Freeman was training in Japan. Cornerback Reggie Rembert was getting up every morning at 3 to take summer classes, command a squadron of 127 freshman cadets and organize practices for players who were still in town.

Being away from their teammates meant players had to come up with creative ways to stay in shape, the president said. “The conditions weren’t always ideal,” he said. “But as Coach [Troy] Calhoun, a former Falcon himself, said, ‘The good ones will find a way.’”

“This team found a way,” Obama said. “And now that the season is over, these seniors will have to adjust to a very different life as they become part of the finest military that the world has ever known. It won’t always be easy… But cadets know that what’s expected of them is to do whatever it takes.”

As they begin their military careers, Obama told the players he knows they’ll draw on the camaraderie, work ethic and brotherhood they built as members of the Air Force football team and students at the Air Force Academy.

“As president, I have no greater honor, no greater responsibility, than serving as your commander in-chief,” Obama told the cadets. “And as all of you begin your service to our nation, I want you to know that we are going to do everything in our power to help you succeed and help you come home safe. You all make us incredibly proud.”

Calhoun echoed Obama’s praise for the team’s accomplishments, noting its senior-year players are preparing to graduate about a month from now.

That day, as they graduate from the Air Force Academy, the players “will have an opportunity to be a part of the finest team there is -- and that is to lead, to be an [Air Force] officer for the United States of America,” Calhoun said.

Second Fleet Sailors Walk to Combat Drunk Driving, Underage Drinking

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Rafael Martie, Commander, U.S. Second Fleet Public Affairs

Virginia Beach, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors assigned to Commander, U.S. Second Fleet (C2F) participated in the 'Walk Like MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving)' event April 16 to raise awareness of driving under the influence (DUI) and underage drinking.

'Walk Like MADD' a 5K walking event, is MADD's signature walking event.

The C2F team contributed more than $500 while demonstrating that the Navy cares about the safety of its community and the importance of showing others that it is not ok to drink and drive.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 10,839 people will die in drunk-driving crashes this year; that is one every 50 minutes. Virginia Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) latest data notes that the state had 316 fatal alcohol related crashes, 6,256 people were injured in alcohol related accidents, and 31,434 were convicted of DUI.

"The DMV statistics are scary when it comes to how many were convicted, and that means there are [probably] thousands more that are not caught," said Master-At-Arms (SW/AW) Jeremy Centeno Second Fleet Walk Like MADD team captain. "I worry for my Sailors who work the mid-shift and go home during those last call hours where there are too many drivers under the influence on the road."

"We hold various safety events within our own command regarding alcohol awareness to educate our Sailors," said Legalman First Class (SW) Patrice Washington. "C2F's Chiefs' Mess sponsors free ride cards to all the Sailors at the command in the event they are in a situation where they need a free ride home with no questions asked."

The Sailors who participated were pleased with how the event turned out and will pass along the knowledge they learned from the walk to the command.

"We got some great information out of this event that we can incorporate in our training and pass it along to our Sailors back at C2F," said Intelligence Specialist First Class (SW/AW) Tiffany Johnson. "I also have a family of my own that I worry for because I never realized just how many convictions there were in the state and just how many dangerous drivers under the influence are on the road as we speak."

C2F Staff Command Master Chief Information Systems Technician (SW/AW) Yvonne Kitchen was pleased with C2F participation at the event and how well everyone worked on the team to achieve their goals for the walk.

"I am proud of my Sailors at C2F for taking a little time out of their hard earned weekend to come out and educate our community regarding drunk driving and the impact it has on the command and military as a whole," said Kitchen. "I find it outstanding that our Sailors continue to demonstrate unity within our command as well as with our civilian counterparts and that they do understand the importance of giving back."

North Carolina Bases Mostly OK After Severe Weather

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

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – Operations on Fort Bragg, N.C., are “pretty fluid” today after severe weather damaged buildings and cut off power to the installation and surrounding communities over the weekend, Fort Bragg officials said.

A tornado touched down in Fayetteville, N.C., April 17, ripping through several neighborhoods and roads near Fort Bragg.

Benjamin Abel, a spokesman for Fort Bragg, said the storm had little impact on the post’s residents and facilities. Base officials ordered a two-hour work call delay for civilian employees today, while troops are expected to report for duty at 1 p.m., he explained.

Abel said he expects normal operations to resume very soon.

“We had some damage to maintenance facilities and on our airfields,” he said. “Nothing major, though; no housing areas have been affected, no barracks have been affected -- child care centers [and] all the things that deal with the day-to-day health and safety of the post -- have not been affected.”

Fort Bragg had “lost power for about 24 hours, but we had no deaths or significant injuries to post residents,” Abel added.

However, the damage in surrounding Cumberland and Hoke County communities was much worse. A Cumberland County news report stated that at least 167 homes were destroyed, while another 144 were damaged. As of 7 a.m. this morning 11,000 homes in Cumberland County, which includes the city of Fayetteville, were without power.

The tornado formed over the Wayside area of Hoke County and hit ground on North Reilly Road, destroying homes for more than a mile to Yadkin Road, according to reports. Both roads feed into Fort Bragg access control point gates. Portions of both roads are closed to vehicle traffic, including the Fort Bragg gates. The Butner Road and All American Express Way gates onto Fort Bragg remain open.

Fort Bragg officials do not know yet exactly how many Fort Bragg families who lived along the tornado’s path lost their homes. Individual units are supporting displaced families, Abel said, which are estimated to be very few.

“There’s no estimates on how many Fort Bragg families are displaced,” Abel said. “It’s something we’re trying to figure out right now, but some areas had some pretty significant damage, so we have to assume there are some Fort Bragg families affected.”

Fort Bragg officials’ priority now is working to establish a one-stop shop for soldiers and their families to access legal services, insurance claims services, Army Community Services and Army Emergency Relief, Abel said.

“We want to make sure we get them all to one central location on post shortly to assist families in need,” he added.

At the Marine Corps base at Camp Lejeune, N.C., located about 90 miles east of Fort Bragg, Marine Corps Lt. Nicole Fiedler, a base spokesperson, said troops and civilians are reporting for duty as normal after a separate tornado touched down in the Tarawa Terrace housing community there April 17.

There are some displaced families, according to a Camp Lejeune press release, which reported that 40 to 60 homes sustained significant structural damage, while another 40 to 60 homes sustained minor damages, such as broken windows and torn siding.

Power has been fully restored on Camp Lejeune and services such as the post exchange and commissary are up and running, Fiedler said. All access control points are open, she added.

Naval Hospital Bremerton Recognized for Dedication in Fight Against Autism

By Douglas H Stutz, Naval Hospital Bremerton Public Affairs

BREMERTON, Wash. (NNS) -- Military Special Needs Network representatives thanked Naval Hospital Bremerton staff April 15, for their dedication to helping families affected with autism.

"We wanted to thank everyone at NHB for their continued hard work, dedication and support in the lifelong journey of autism," said Wendy Kruse, Military Special Needs Network spokesperson.

According to complied statistics by Department of Defense, there are currently over 22,000 family members and dependents of active duty and retired service members with autism diagnoses.

One out of 88 military family members is diagnosed with autism, a neurodevelopmental disorder that affects a person's ability to communicate and interact socially.

"NHB has always had strong ties with our EMFP families," said Capt. Mark E. Brouker, commanding officer, NHB. "It's an honor to be recognized and we also thank them for their passion in caring for family members with autism and other disorders."

Kruse noted that the Military Special Needs Network group is comprised of approximately 200 families, with 48 percent having an child with autism.

"We know our children are a little different, but they don't have to live in a bubble. With the help of the NHB staff, we are enabling them to come out and experience what it is like to be a kid," said Kruse.

Symptoms of autism involve three major areas of development – social, communication and behavioral.

A person with autism may have difficulty in social interaction with others; not communicate in developmentally appropriate ways; exhibit self-injurious or repetitive behaviors and/or focus interest on a single topic or activity, or fixate on objects. Among people with autism, no two individuals are the same.

For Krista Barosh, the support from NHB has been a positive, life-altering experience for her family and especially Jonah, her son, who is autistic.

"It was unexpected. But we had been told before it was something else and was undetected," Barosh said. "Now that we know, Jonah has had great care. Staff at NHB 'get it' and have been very helpful and always quick to assist us."

The Military Special Needs Network for the greater Kitsap/Navy Region Northwest area meets on the fourth Tuesday of each month. An average of 75 people, along with their children, attend.

"We provide activities and really show that our support group is 24 hours, seven days a week," said Kruse. "We're also linked to other similar groups around the country in such places as New Jersey, Arizona and southern California."

Guantanamo Bay Strives to Raise Funds, Awareness for Sailors and Marines

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leona Mynes

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- The Guantanamo Bay Navy Marine Corps Relief Society (NMCRS) has achieved 15.2 percent of its monetary fundraising goal as of April 18, while attempting to raise awareness of Sailors and Marines that they have financial services available to them.

With just under one month left to raise funds, NMCRS is planning a 'radio-a-thon' event which will give the Guantanamo community an opportunity to pledge money to NMCRS while hearing their favorite songs played on-air.

"NMCRS is a charity, and we work off of all non-appropriated funds," said Intelligence Specialist 1st Class Jonathan Murray, a volunteer case worker for NMCRS on Guantanamo. "All of our funding comes from other service members and civilians who donate their money."

When he was a junior Sailor, Murray did not understand NMCRS's impact on Sailors and Marines, however, now that he is an active volunteer, he said he understands the benefit of the program to eligible participants.

"Sailors and Marines should come see us before they go see any external lender," said Murray. "We're here for the service members and offer interest-free loans, whereas the external lenders are there to make a profit, sometimes with a 100 to 200 percent interest rate."

Murray added that NMCRS involvement does not negatively affect a Sailor or Marine's career and is a wonderful tool for Sailors and Marines.

During the past three months, Murray said he worked with several Sailors and Marines requesting financial support for emergency leave.

"We do everything for that person," said Murray. "We book their flight, pay for it, and set up an allotment for them to help them pay NMCRS back, taking the stress out of an already stressful situation."

In addition to helping financially with unexpected hardship, like emergency leave, errors in pay, natural disasters, and possible government shutdowns, NMCRS can help Sailors and Marines pay for utilities and bills they may otherwise be unable to pay.

"We also offer budgeting services for a member before giving them money so that they won't find themselves in that situation again," said Murray. "I want Sailors and Marines to use NMCRS's programs for an interest-free loan."

National Guard Responds to Texas Wildfires

National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., April 18, 2011 – National Guard members from four states today are supporting firefighters and civil authorities in Texas as they battle more than 30 wildfires threatening lives and property.

Drought conditions have caused a reported 32 wildfires in Texas, National Guard officials reported.

Under the direction of the Joint Forces Air Component Commander for Air Forces Northern based at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla., four C-130 Hercules aircraft equipped with firefighting capabilities are responding to the Texas wildfires.

Texas National Guard members are supporting civilian authorities with personnel and four UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters using buckets to drop water in multiple counties, officials reported.

The C-130s are basing operations at Dyess Air Force Base in Abilene, Texas.

Two of the four aircraft are from the California Air National Guard's 146th Airlift Wing, a third is from the Wyoming National Guard’s 153rd AW and a fourth is from North Carolina’s 145th AW.

California and North Carolina are providing additional support aircraft, officials reported.

All are expected to arrive today to begin firefighting operations.

The Modular Airborne Fire Fighting System, or MAFFS, is a self-contained, reusable aerial firefighting system loaded into the cargo bay of a C-130 aircraft, which effectively turns the airplanes into aerial firefighting tankers.

Officials said the system can discharge 3,000 gallons of water or fire retardant in less than five seconds, covering an area one-quarter of a mile long by 60 feet wide. Once the load is discharged, it can be refilled in less than 12 minutes.

Typically, the aircraft will spray along the leading edge of a fire in order to check its advance. The fire retardant has fertilizer mixed in to promote re-growth in a burned area.

If needed, MAFFS aircraft can spray water directly onto a fire.

Four Air National Guard and U.S. Air Force Reserve units operate MAFFS.

To help prevent the spread of fires, two additional MAFFS currently flying missions from Laughlin Air Force Base in Del Rio, Texas, to Coahuila, Mexico, also are releasing fire retardant in Texas until the four relief C-130s arrive.

The MAFFS is owned by the U.S. Forest Service, one of several federal and state government agencies and organizations with roles and responsibilities in fire-suppression operations that comprise the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise, Idaho.

The Defense Department is flying at the request of the fire center, officials said. The center requests MAFFS assistance only after committing all other aerial firefighting resources to a fire emergency.

Texas has been under a state emergency declaration since Dec. 21, 2010, because of extremely dry weather and wildfires, officials reported. The declaration makes all state resources available to the Texas Emergency Management Agency.

The Texas wildfire support is one of numerous current National Guard domestic and overseas operations, officials reported. Currently, Guard members are providing flood support in Minnesota and North Dakota, protecting critical infrastructure in New York, supporting the Deepwater Horizon oil spill recovery in Louisiana and fulfilling other domestic missions.

In addition to local responses, the Guard is involved in counterdrug operations and ongoing Southwest border operations in support of the U.S. Border Patrol.

Meanwhile, more than 45,000 Guard members are currently serving in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Guantanamo Bay, Iraq, the Sinai Desert and elsewhere.

American Embassy to Jamaica Hosts Continuing Promise 2011 Opening Ceremony

By Air Force Staff Sgt. Alesia Goosic, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs

KINGSTON, Jamaica (NNS) -- The American Embassy hosted an opening ceremony for Continuing Promise 2011 (CP11) at the Bank of Jamaica, April 15.

The ceremony marked the beginning of the Continuing Promise mission in Jamaica, which will provide medical, dental, veterinary and engineering support to the local population through April 23.

"CP11 marks the sixth Continuing Promise mission since 2007, and our very first visit to Jamaica," Commodore Capt. Brian Nickerson, mission commander, said. "Our visit provides great opportunities to share common interests and building bonds that will undoubtedly create new and lasting friendships."

CP11 is a collaborative effort among the United States, partner nation governments and non-government organizations in providing humanitarian assistance.

CP11 provides an opportunity for U.S. military and U.S. Public Health Services to work with NGOs, international organizations and partner nations so that strong partnerships are in place and can be called upon in the event of a regional crisis.

During the ceremony, Minister of Health Rudyard Spencer, Deputy Prime Minister Kenneth Baugh and Honorable Pamela Bridgewater, United States Ambassador to Jamaica, spoke of the significance of the partnership during the CP11 mission and their appreciation for USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) and its crew coming to Jamaica.

"This hospital ship symbolizes the commitment of the United States of America toward Jamaica and all her people, and toward regional cooperation," said Bridgewater.

Bridgewater said it is important to note that CP11 is a team effort with health professionals aboard Comfort from Jamaica, Canada, Brazil, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Mexico and the United States working together during this project.

"Please know that the U.S. ambassador to Jamaica salutes America's ambassador, which is the U.S. Naval ship Comfort," Bridgewater said. "And we look forward and know it's going to be a wonderfully productive mission in Jamaica."

COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Family Matters Blog: First Lady, Dr. Biden Kick Off Sesame, USO Tour

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – Last week I traveled to Ohio to attend a “Joining Forces” event for local military families and community members in the Columbus area.

First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, hosted the concert-style event to thank military families as well as to encourage community members to support and honor them as part of the White House’s Joining Forces family support initiative. The event also helped to kick off a new installment of the Sesame Street and USO Experience for Military Families, a free traveling tour exclusively for military families.

Elmo, Grover, Cookie Monster and friends offered a preview of the traveling show, which features a new theme and a new character named Katie, a military child about to move. During the musical show, Katie opens up to her Muppet friends about her fears, and excitement, over her upcoming move. With the help of a few songs, Elmo and other Sesame pals reassure her that she’ll make new friends while still remaining close with old ones.

The show was a blast, although my ears are still ringing from the screaming fans, particularly after singer Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers made a special appearance.

The traveling show will begin its around-the-world tour with a stop in Alaska later this month, and will continue with stops in Hawaii, Guam, South Korea, Turkey, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium, the United Kingdom and Spain.

For up-to-date tour information, people can visit the USO website.

Cherries : A Vietnam War Novel

With the addition of former US Army Soldier John Poklaski's Cherries: A Vietnam War Novel, Military-Writers.com now lists 3951 book authored by 1243 current, former and retired US Military Servicemembers. 

 John Podlaski “served in Vietnam during 1970 and 1971 as an infantryman with both the Wolfhounds of the 25th Division and the 501st Infantry Brigade of the 101st Airborne Division. He was awarded the Combat Infantry Badge, Bronze Star, two Air Medals, and a Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry. He has spent the years since Vietnam working in various management positions within the automotive industry and has recently received a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration.

John now works in sales and logistics for a Belgian company that supplies gears and shafts for transmissions and diesel engines. He is a member of Vietnam Veterans of America Chapter 154 and lives with his wife of 37 years, Janice, in Sterling Heights, Michigan. They own a 1997 Harley Davidson Heritage and are both members of the Great Lakes Chapter of Southeast Michigan Harley Owners’ Group.” John Podlaski is the author of Cherries : A Vietnam War Novel

According to the book description of Cherries : A Vietnam War Novel, “It's 1970 - they're 18 years old - drafted and trained by the Army Infantry for five months - sent to Vietnam with others their age to fight in an unpopular war - dubbed "Cherries" by their more seasoned peers - nothing had prepared them for this nightmare - forced to become men overnight - working hard to learn the ropes and earn the acceptance and trust of fellow soldiers. Once they come under fire and witness death firsthand, a life-changing transition begins. This eye-opening account offers readers an in-depth look into the everyday struggles of these young infantry soldiers. You'll feel their fear, awe, drama, and sorrow, witness the bravery and sometimes laugh at their humor. In Vietnam, battles weren't just fought against NVA and VC soldiers - personal battles occurred daily as these teenagers had to fend off the many crawling, flying and scurrying insects, rats, snakes, spiders and other creatures that lived in these dense jungles. Some were magnificent - most were deadly! Buy "Cherries" and read about it for yourself!”

Pentagon Official Addresses WikiLeaks, Social Media

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – The WikiLeaks episode underscores the need for government-wide laws and policies that address the unintended consequences of “technology at the intersection of national security,” Douglas B. Wilson, the Pentagon’s lead communicator said yesterday.

WikiLeaks.org group posted more than 90,000 documents, many that detailed field reports from Afghanistan as well as Pakistan’s relationships with the Taliban.

Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for Public Affairs, spoke about Wikileaks and social media issues with interviewer Vago Muradian on “This Week in Defense News.”

“I think the most significant lesson to come out of this is that technology -- and particularly technology at the intersection of national security -- has outpaced the policy and the law necessary to address the unintended consequences,” Wilson said.

“Classified information is classified information, and releasing that information is illegal,” he said. “But I think that we have a lot to do in government to understand that we need to be focusing much more on policy and much more on the laws that we need to think about to address what have been very unintended consequences of technological advance.”

Even as social media revolutionizes information-sharing, the Defense Department’s communications strategy boils down to the responsibility of being transparent and timely without jeopardizing the safety and privacy of service members and their families, Wilson said

“The issues that we face every day at the Pentagon involve two factors,” he said. “One, how do you deal with the press and public openly, credibly, in a timely manner and honestly? How do you provide facts and the truth, by the same token understanding that we’re responsible for our men and women in uniform who are in harm’s way in many places? How do you make sure that there is not unintended consequences of information which can put them further in harm’s way and affect their safety and the privacy of their families?

“Those are the issues that frame everything that we do,” Wilson said.

These enduring principles apply regardless of the communications format, and whether it’s through traditional or evolving media, he said.

Wilson said he recognizes how the advent of social media revolutionized the way people around the world -- including those in the Defense Department -- communicate.

Social media “provides instantaneous, real-time ability to reach broad numbers of people and to communicate quickly and effectively,” he said. “When everybody is equipped with the social media tools, it’s a very effective means of communication.”

Wilson noted the use of social media as an organizing and messaging tool in the Middle East in recent months.

“We’ve seen that in terms of sectors of societies in the Arab world which had not had that kind of communications across those sectors before being able to mobilize very quickly,” he said.

Unlike in that past, where a finite number of elites around the world defined messages, social media provide a voice to anyone, regardless of what they have to say and whether they are friend or foe.

“You can have religious extremists from Florida to Yemen say things and do things that are going to have international impact,” Wilson said.

That makes it an imperative, he said, for communicators at the Defense Department -- and across government as a whole -- to be able to explain policies in ways that people find credible.

Twitter, Facebook and other social media, Wilson said, are among the many communication tools that DOD employs, including print and broadcast media, the Internet and personal communication.

Social media “is not an end in itself. It is a tool of communications,” Wilson said. “It’s a way to communicate, and you need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of each of the tools of communications in order to be effective … I don’t believe that there is any panacea in communications.”

NAVFAC Washington Event Focuses on Contractor, Employee Safety

By James Johnson, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

PATUXENT RIVER, Md. (NNS) -- Contractors and vendors attended Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Washington's second annual 'Safety Symposium' aboard Naval Air Station Patuxent River, Md., April 14.

The symposium was divided into two sessions. The morning session focused on educating contractors and the afternoon focused on NAVFAC Washington employees. Both featured discussions from NAVFAC Washington safety personnel, mishap reviews, and award presentations.

"It's particularly important for our NAVFAC employees to know that leadership is engaged in this," said Ramé Hemstreet, NAVFAC Washington, commanding officer, host of the event. "It's a priority for us."

During the afternoon session, NAVFAC Washington employees were taught fall protection and medical issues, and were encouraged to actively participate in the safety 'Spot Check' program. The program is credited for helping to improve NAVFAC Washington's safety record during Fiscal Year (FY) 2010 and the first half of FY 2011.

A difference between this year's symposium and last year's, said Larry Carpenter, NAVFAC Washington safety director, is the emphasis on improving the safety record of subcontractors. Noting that most of the attendees were prime contractors, he said, "They're going to go back and say, 'if we want to work for the Navy in the future, we're going to have to really start taking a look at our subcontractors and making sure they're as good as we are, or we're not going to hire them, because if we hire bad subs, NAVFAC is not going to hire us.'"

A presentation showed how a contractor's safety record can influence their selection of a contract award. Bill Garrett, NAVFAC Atlantic command safety, explained that criteria had been developed through collaboration between NAVFAC acquisition and industry. The goal is to have a consistent process to assure NAVFAC is engaged in contracting with partners who have proved safety performance and proactive subcontractor management practices. The process has received positive feedback from contractors since it began in January 2011.

The presentation was a big help, as well as the opportunity to network with others in the industry, said Michael Phillips, of C.E.R. Inc. "We don't get an opportunity too often to talk to our friendly competitors. This industry is not rocket science, if you see a good idea, mimic it; whatever works, whatever gets safe results," he said.

Awards were presented to five contractors who completed work for NAVFAC Washington in FY 2010, in recognition of outstanding safety performance.

Gates Will Present President With Cost-cutting Options

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 18, 2011 – Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is “a leader when it comes to fiscal responsibility” and will provide President Barack Obama with options -- along with the pros and cons of each -- to make additional defense cuts, the assistant secretary of defense for public affairs said yesterday.

Gates “has made some very hard choices and some very innovative decisions in doing his efficiencies exercise,” Douglas B. Wilson told interviewer Vago Muradian on “This Week in Defense News.”

Obama announced last week that he would work with Gates and Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to find additional cost savings beyond the $400 billion in reductions the department has made over the past two years.

The goal is an additional $400 billion in national security cuts through 2023, to help realize $2 trillion in savings as part of a plan to reduce federal borrowing by $4 trillion over the next 12 years.

“We have been given a mission, and the secretary will undertake it,” Wilson said.

It’s too early to determine where exactly those cuts will be made, he said, noting that Obama called for a review of the nation’s role in the world, along with its missions and responsibilities.

“That will be the framework for this initiative,” Wilson said. “And the secretary of defense is committed to providing the president with the options necessary and the choices and the implications of those choices.”

Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell said Gates believes that the Defense Department cannot be exempt from efforts to trim the federal budget.

“However, it is important that any reduction in [defense] funding be shaped by strategy and policy choices, and not by a budget math exercise,” Morrell said.

Gates “has been clear that further significant defense cuts cannot be accomplished without reducing forces structure and military capabilities,” Morrell added. “The comprehensive review of missions, capabilities and America’s role in the world will identify alternatives for the president’s consideration.”

Accomplishing the president’s goal, Morrell said, “must be about managing risks associated with future threats and national security challenges and identifying missions that the country is willing to forego.”

Obama has acknowledged that the Pentagon has been at the forefront at eliminating “unneeded, duplicative and obsolete programs and administrative overhead,” Morrell said.

The president “wants us to continue this effort with the goal of significant additional savings over the coming decade,” Morrell added.

Air Wing Deputy Commander Traps Major Milestone

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Josh Cassatt, USS Ronald Reagan Public Affairs

USS RONALD REAGAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The deputy commander of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 reached a major naval aviation milestone April 18 on board the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76).

Capt. Kevin "Nix" Mannix tallied his 1,000th arrested landing with the trap of his F/A-18F Super Hornet from the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154 on the flight deck of the Ronald Reagan.

"One thousand traps is a milestone in naval aviation," Mannix said. "It just shows I've been around naval aviation a long time. Naval aviation is an unforgiving environment that demands your best every day."

Mannix joins the ranks of the '1,000 Trap Club', and his name will appear on a special plaque at the Naval Aviation Museum in Pensacola, Fla., where those who have reached this significant accomplishment are honored.

"Today's milestone is a tribute to his airmanship and professionalism," said Capt. Hamlin Ortiz-Marty, Commander, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14. "He's achieved a goal that others can only dream of reaching in today's Navy."

Mannix attributed his career achievement to the hard work of the Sailors who helped him over the years.

"There is nothing but professionals in this line of work," Mannix said. "The men and women on the flight deck, the maintainers, I've worked with nothing but absolute professionals."

Mannix said he has come a long way since his first arrested landing Dec. 6, 1987, on board USS Lexington (CV 16).

"It's so surreal," Mannix said. "It seems like just yesterday I started this adventure in naval aviation. I love what I do."

The squadrons of CVW 14 include the "Black Knights" of VFA 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA-147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA-146, the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

Ronald Reagan departed from its homeport in San Diego Feb. 2, for a training exercise and its deployment to the 7th Fleet area of responsibility. Ronald Regan's last deployment to 7th Fleet was in 2009.

Face of Defense: Marine Becomes Top Cook

By Marine Corps Cpl. Jad Sleiman
Marine Forces Reserve

NEW ORLEANS, April 18, 2011 – Marine Corps Sgt. Daniel Evans didn’t see himself working in a kitchen when he first became interested in the Marines, but food service specialist was the only job available.

“I wasn’t exactly thrilled,” he said. “But I thought I might as well make the best of it.”

Eight years later, Evans is the Marine Corps Reserve’s top food service specialist noncommissioned officer. The Portland, Ore., native recently took first place honors in the 2011 Major General W.P.T. Hill Awards Program for Food Service Excellence.

Evans credits his platoon with making the victory possible.

“We’ve got good lance corporals who are good in the kitchen,” he said. “We’ve worked together long enough to work well together. It was a team effort.”

Evans led a 15-member Marine Corps team of food service specialists assigned to the 6th Engineer Support Battalion, 4th Marine Logistics Group as they prepared chicken a la king for some 200 Marines as competition inspectors evaluated their every move. The Portland, Ore.,-based Marines were judged on their overall appearance and organization as well as whether their food was “edible, tasted good or tasted [awful],” Evans said.

The Marines used a mobile field food service kitchen -- complete with many of the same appliances and equipment found in commercial kitchens -- to prepare the meals and serve them in an adjacent feeding tent.

Marine Corps Sgt. Jamie Doering, Evans’ platoon sergeant, has worked with Evans for seven years.

“He’s just kinda that motivational spark, everyone looks to him for that motivation day-to-day,” Doering said of Evans. “He always sets the example.”

Evans will join the competition’s other winners in Chicago in May to receive his award.

Continuing Promise 2011 in Full Swing

By Senior Airman Kasey Close, Continuing Promise 2011 Public Affairs

KINGSTON, Jamaica (NNS) -- Medical personnel from Military Sealift Command hospital ship USNS Comfort (T-AH 20) began screening patients at the National Sports Arena and Windward Road Health Centre in Kingston, Jamaica, April 14.

Comfort's crew set up the two locations with 60 pallets of medical, dental and other supplies, which several practitioners will use to examine, diagnose and treat hundreds of patients as part of Continuing Promise 2011.

Between the two sites, Kingston residents may receive pre-surgical screenings, optometry, dermatology, dental, pediatrics, physical therapy, lab, pharmacy, x-rays, family and internal medicine services, and may also, on a case-by-case basis, be referred for further treatment on board the ship.

Capt. David Tanen, Comfort emergency room physician and National Sports Arena (NSA) site leader, said the patients were very receptive to the advice, education and care the NSA staff offered in the clinic. He said the staff seemed to enjoy the interaction with the patients and their morale is great.

The clinic assisted more than 510 patients, April 14, exceeding its original goal of 500.

"I appreciate this, because it's great for those who can't afford it," said Fitzedroy Shephard, a patient. "This a good thing."

The day was not only beneficial to patients, but to Comfort's personnel as well.

"It went pretty well, and I enjoyed how open the providers were with the patients as they listened to their concerns," said Hospitalman Jennifer Glover.

COMUSNAVSO/COMFOURTHFLT supports U.S. Southern Command joint and combined full-spectrum military operations by providing principally sea-based, forward presence to ensure freedom of maneuver in the maritime domain, to foster and sustain cooperative relationships with international partners and to fully exploit the sea as maneuver space in order to enhance regional security and promote peace, stability, and prosperity in the Caribbean, Central and South American regions.

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, April 18, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Italian Minister of Defense Ignazio La Russa to the Pentagon today at 11:45 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.