Military News

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, April 21, 2011

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

German Army Maj. Gen. Markus Kneip, commander, Regional Command-North and U.S. Army Brig. Gen. Sean P. Mulholland, RC-North deputy commander, will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification.  Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

This Day in Naval History - April 20

From the Navy News Service

1796 - Congress authorizes the completion of three frigates.
1861 - Norfolk Navy Yard in Virginia is abandoned and burned by Union forces.
1914 - In the first call to action of naval aviators, a detachment on USS Birmingham sailed to Tampico, Mexico.
1915 - The first Navy contract for lighter-than-air craft is awarded.
1942 - USS Wasp (CV 7) launches 47 British aircraft to reinforce Malta.
1947 - Navy Capt. L.O. Fox, supported by 80 Marines, accepted the surrender of Lt. Yamaguchi and 26 Japanese soldiers and sailors, two-and-a-half years after the occupation of Peleliu and nearly 20 months after the surrender of Japan.
1953 - USS New Jersey (BB 62) shells Wonsan, Korea, from inside the harbor.
1964 - USS Henry Clay (SSBN 625) launches a Polaris A-2 missile from the surface in the first demonstration that Polaris submarines could launch missiles from the surface as well as from beneath the ocean. Thirty minutes later, the submarine launched another Polaris missile while submerged.

GW Sailors Stay on Top of Warfare Quals

By Mass Communication Specialist First Class (SW) Tal Reeve, USS George Washington Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- USS George Washington completed, "Warfare Days", an incentive in which Sailors are earning their enlisted warfare qualifications, while underway in the Pacific Ocean April 18.

Every weekend, while George Washington is at sea, members of the crew meet in the mess decks and hangar bays to take part in the ship's "warfare days". During this time, enlisted Sailors can work on their Enlisted Surface Warfare Specialist (ESWS) or Enlisted Air Warfare Specialist (EAWS) qualifications.

"These programs really help Sailors get a broad understanding of all the departments," said Senior Chief Aviation Boatswain's Mate (Handling) (AW/SW) Glen Newbins of Denver, Colo., George Washington's warfare program coordinator. "They learn how every department works together as one team; they learn how every one plays a vital role in the mission of the ship."

The ESWS program began in 1978 to recognize the qualifications and hard work of Sailors while aboard surface ships. During the programs inception it was mandatory for all second class petty officers and above. It has since become available to all hands.

"The more qualified Sailors are; the more experienced they are, the more valuable they are to their ship and the Navy," said George Washington's command master chief (AW/SW) Martin King.

Aboard George Washington, Sailors have 30 months to complete the qualifications after they sign up for the program. "But really it should take only 4-6 months," added Newbins.

For Machinist Mate Fireman (SW) Joshua Pearson from Vernon, Conn., it took less than a month to earn his EAWS pin.

"I studied a lot," Pearson said. "While standing trash watch for five hours a day, every day, I had plenty of time to crack open my books."

During George Washington's last "Warfare Day" he passed both the test and the board, only missing three questions out of the 60 the warfare board asked.

The process for earning a pin involves first getting a warfare specific professional qualifications standard (PQS) book. This is completed by frequenting specific departments and proving your knowledge to the experts within. Sailors then have to pass a 200 question test related to the program and prove themselves in a review board with several departmental representatives.

"I get a real feeling of personal pride when I see these guys complete their qualifications. I remember when I went through the program back in the day," said Newbins. "I want these guys to get that same feeling I had."

"I feel like there's nothing to worry about now that both of my pins are complete," Pearson said. "I'm definitely going to help my shipmates with their pins now. If I can do it, so can they."

George Washington holds "Warfare Days" every weekend while at sea and will continue to do so until all hands are qualified.

"It's not about a pin on the uniform or a pennant on a flag; it's about having highly qualified Sailors aboard George Washington," said King. "Personal, professional qualifications should always be in the forefront of every Sailor's mind."

George Washington has been underway since March 21, departing her forward-deployed port of Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka in response to the complex nature of the natural disaster that struck Japan, March 11.

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

Secretary of the Navy Visits Ronald Reagan, Praises Crew

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

SASEBO, Japan (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) welcomed the 75th Secretary of the Navy (SECNAV) April 20, who thanked the crew for their efforts during Operation Tomodachi.

SECNAV Ray Mabus expressed his gratitude to the crew during an all-hands call in the hangar bay, praising them for their efforts in providing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief (HA/DR) following a magnitude 9.0 earthquake and resulting tsunami that struck Japan March 11.

"I made a special trip here to thank you all for what you do and to tell you how much pride you have brought, not only to the Navy or to the Reagan strike group, but to the United States of America," Mabus said.

The ships of Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group (CSG) were the first on the scene in Japan, and began providing HA/DR support immediately after arriving March 13.

Mabus said the hard work and quick response by the CSG greatly helped Japan, and showed the adaptability of changing the strike group mission to meet the challenges of HA/DR.

"Using the same people, the same platform, the same equipment and the same training, you went from doing high-end combat training to doing humanitarian assistance and disaster relief overnight," Mabus said. "The way you have taken the training to do completely different things and instead of precision strikes you're using it to do precision humanitarian assistance and disaster relief; nobody else can do that."

During his visit, Mabus met with Ronald Reagan and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 leadership and was briefed on the CSG's HA/DR operations and greeted Sailors and Marines throughout the ship.

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

Army to Transfer Manning to Leavenworth

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 19, 2011 – The Army plans to transfer Army Pfc. Bradley Manning, charged with leaking classified military information in the WikiLeaks incident, to a new Joint Regional Correctional Facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., Jeh C. Johnson, the Defense Department’s general counsel, announced today.

Johnson explained the rationale noting that it is the right time to transfer Manning to a more appropriate facility for long-term pre-trial confinement.

“At the request of Private Manning's defense counsel, an assessment is under way to determine whether Private Manning is mentally competent in this case in the event it goes to trial,” he said. “On Saturday, April 9, the inquiry phase of that process, known in military justice terms as a 706 board, was completed, and Private Manning's presence in the Washington, D.C., area is no longer necessary for that purpose.

“At this juncture of the case, we have decided that the new joint regional correctional facility at Fort Leavenworth, Kan., is the most appropriate facility for Private Manning for continued pretrial detention,” he said.

Manning’s transfer from the pretrial confinement facility at Marine Base Quantico in Virginia is “imminent,” Johnson said, but citing standard policy, he declined to provide precise details.

"This is the right decision at the right time," Army Undersecretary Joseph W. Westphal said, reinforcing Johnson's explanation.

"This [facility] became available in January for pretrial [confinees]," Westphal said. "We were looking at the situation where he would need an environment that was more conducive to a longer-term period, and this is why we made the decision to move him at this time.  We needed to wait until the 706, and his participation in the 706 review process was over."

With the medical review of Manning’s competence to stand trial expected to take additional time, and a pretrial phase that “may continue for months beyond that,” Johnson said, the decision was made to transfer him to Fort Leavenworth.

Army Corrections Command reviewed the new facility and determined it has the expertise and capability to provide continued, long-term pretrial confinement for Manning, Johnson said.

“The facility, which opened in October and opened a pretrial confinement capability in January, is a state-of-the-art complex with the best and widest range of support services available to pretrial prisoners within the Department of Defense corrections system,” he said.

The facility has resident medical and mental-health care staff appropriate to meet Private Manning’s health and welfare needs for the remainder of the 706 Board process into the pretrial phase, Johnson said.

“When he is transferred to the Joint Regional Correction Facility, he will receive support from experienced, trained professional staff that has been doing this for well over 20 years,” said Army Lt. Col. Dawn Hilton, the facility commander. “And he will receive the mental health, physical health and emotional health [support] that he needs to go through this judicial process.”

"The Quantico brig is a Level 1 facility that is not intended for long-term incarceration either pre- or post-trial," she said. Typically, pretrial prisoners are not incarcerated at a Level 1 facility for more than a couple months."

The Joint Regional Correctional Facility in Kansas is a state-of-the-art, Level 2 facility, Hilton said. "So what that means is that I have the capacity to hold not only the pretrial prisoners, but post-trial prisoners with sentences up to five years.  And with that comes all the support staff that Pfc. Manning may need," she said.

"I have the experienced staff who not only work at the Joint Regional Correctional Facility, but also at the United States Disciplinary Barracks at Fort Leavenworth," she continued. "So it's more than just the facility. It's the staff that comes with the facility. My facility is different than the [Quantico] brig.  I am developed, designed and staffed with the experienced staff to provide those services for long-term incarceration."

Johnson emphasized that the decision to transfer Manning should not be interpreted as any criticism of the pretrial facility at Quantico.

“We remain satisfied that Private Manning’s pretrial confinement at Quantico was in compliance with legal and regulatory standards in all respects,” he said. “And we salute the military personnel there for the job they did in difficult circumstances.”

As at Quantico, Manning will be allowed to receive a limited number of outside visitors at Fort Leavenworth, subject to his and the command’s agreement, Johnson said. In addition, he said, the Army will allow a limited number of media representatives to tour the Leavenworth pretrial facility.

Manning will return to Washington as necessary, for legal proceedings, with his case remaining under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Army Military District of Washington.

Johnson emphasized that as the case progresses, Manning will be assumed innocent until proven guilty.

“It is important to remember that while Private Manning is charged with very serious offenses involving classified information and national security, in our system of military justice, as in our system of civilian justice in this country, he is presumed innocent until proven guilty,“ he said.

Pretrial confinement, common to both systems, “has been determined to be appropriate in this case,” he said.

Manning, an Army intelligence analyst, is suspected of being involved in one of the largest leaks of classified material in U.S. history, Johnson said. The leak involved hundreds of thousands of diplomatic and military documents, including classified records about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The WikiLeaks organization published many of these documents online, drawing criticism by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and other defense officials, who charge they put deployed U.S. service members at increased risk.

Following a seven-month investigation, the Army added 22 charges against Manning in March, charging him with loading unauthorized software onto government computers to extract classified information that was unlawfully downloaded, improperly stored, and transmitted for public release and use by the enemy.

Missing WWII Airman Identified

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

U.S. Army Air Forces Tech. Sgt. James G. Maynard, of Ellenwood, Ga., will be buried on April 22 at Arlington National Cemetery.  On March 12, 1945, Maynard and five crew members aboard a C-47A Skytrain departed Tanauan Airfield on Leyte, Philippines, on a resupply mission to guerilla troops.  Once cleared for takeoff, there was no further communication between the aircrew and airfield operators.  When the aircraft failed to return, a thorough search of an area ten miles on either side of the intended route was initiated.  No evidence of the aircraft was found and the six men were presumed killed in action.  Their remains were determined to be non-recoverable in 1949.

In 1989, a Philippine National Police officer contacted U.S. officials regarding a possible World War II-era aircraft crash near Leyte.  Human remains, aircraft parts and artifacts were turned over to the local police, then to U.S. officials at the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC).

From 1989 to 2009, JPAC sought permission to send teams to the crash site but unrest in the Burauen region precluded on-scene investigations or recovery operations.  Meanwhile, JPAC scientists continued the forensic process, analyzing the remains and physical evidence already in hand.

Among other forensic identification tools and circumstantial evidence, the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory used mitochondrial DNA—which matched that of Maynard’s cousin—in the identification of his remains.

At the end of the war, the U.S. government was unable to recover and identify approximately 79,000 Americans.  Today, more than 72,000 are unaccounted-for from the conflict.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, call 703-699-1420 or visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo.

Commander, Naval Forces Korea Sailors Honor Lost ROK Sailors

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Brianna K. Dandridge, Commander, Naval Forces Korea Public Affairs

SEOUL, Republic of Korea (NNS) -- Sailors from Commander, Naval Forces Korea and Republic of Korea (ROK) navies honored Sailors lost on ROKN ship Cheonan (PCC-772) during a memorial and bell ringing ceremony April 20.

Cheonan sank March 26, 2010, in the Yellow Sea after being struck by a torpedo. The lives of 46 sailors onboard were lost along with Warrant Officer Han Jun-ho who died during subsequent rescue operations.

"We are here to honor and remember their service to the sea," said Rear Admiral Pete Gumataotao, Commander, Naval Forces Korea. "As we in the United States Navy will never forget the Sailors of USS Cole and USS Stark, we will never forget the Sailors of Cheonan."

The ceremony began with a brief invocation and speech by Lt. Chong-wook Kim, flag lieutenant to Gumataotao.

Kim served aboard Cheonan as weapons control officer in 2005 and expressed condolences for the 46 sailors, who went down with Cheonan.

"I was in deep grief before her shortly, tried to recollect the past time I had spent with her, and buried those beautiful memories within my heart forever," said Kim.

Taps were played and two bells were rung during the ceremony, to honor each of the servicemen who lost their lives while serving on Cheonan.

"Those who gave their self in service of their country will never be forgotten," said Gumataotao.

Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Korea (CNFK) is the regional commander for the U.S. Navy in the Republic of Korea (ROK) and provides expertise on naval matters to area military commanders, including the Commander for the United Nations Command; the Republic of Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command; and Commander, U.S. Forces Korea. CNFK also serves as liaison to the ROK Navy and the Combined Forces Commander staff in armistice and in wartime to Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet; based in Yokosuka, Japan.

USS George Washington Returns to Yokosuka

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Erin Devenberg, USS George Washington Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) returned to the ship's forward operating port at Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka after almost exactly one month at sea, April 20.

"Even after being at sea all this time, we are still ahead of our maintenance schedule and it's because of you," said George Washington's Commanding Officer Capt. David Lausman during an all-hands call on the ship's flight deck the afternoon prior to the ship's return to Yokosuka. "The Sailors aboard this ship, our hard working crew, you are our real secret weapon."

Under normal circumstances, it would take nearly three weeks to get George Washington ready for sea while in the middle of a routine maintenance period. Following the Japan earthquake, the crew got the ship underway in an unprecedented time frame of just six days.

"That is your legacy… this is your ship, you did this, you deserve all the credit," added Lausman.

Continuing maintenance at sea was an unscheduled hurdle for the ship but one George Washington was able to overcome with the help of 466 shipyard workers from Puget Sound and Norfolk Naval Shipyard and 116 Japanese contractors from Ship's Repair Facility (SRF) Yokosuka.

"Our continued work at sea allowed us to complete more than 1,000 jobs on the ship plus 500 to 600 jobs in the plant," said Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Pomeroy, maintenance manager, George Washington. "We still have work to do, but couldn't have gotten this far without their full support."

During the short underway, the ship pulled into port twice, both times in Sasebo, Japan, to pick up supplies and transfer personnel. On the second visit, however, George Washington's crew also had a chance to get off the ship an enjoy two days of liberty. Among those going ashore were more than 50 Sailors who volunteered their time at the Sakura Challenged Home, a facility for the physically and mentally handicapped.

"This particular community service event was an excellent opportunity to give our Sailors a chance to meet with some of the local people and help the community," said Lt. Cmdr. Jose Pimentel, one of George Washington's command chaplains. "This project also gave them a chance to interact with people of a capacity that they may not be use to interacting with or may not be comfortable interacting with."

Now back in Yokosuka, George Washington will continue her routine maintenance. For the crew, their time at sea and experiences since the earthquake has given them a newfound perspective on life.

George Washington is the Navy's only forward deployed nuclear powered aircraft carrier. From her forward operating port of Yokosuka, Japan, George Washington's mission is to help ensure security, stability and prosperity in the Western Pacific.

NSTC, Navy Band Great Lakes Salute the Military Child

By Scott A. Thornbloom, Naval Service Training Command Public Affairs

NAVAL STATION GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- Naval Service Training Command (NSTC) and Navy Band Great Lakes are supporting and saluting local children to celebrate Month of the Military Child including a performance at Forrestal Elementary April 14.

The band has performed concerts and educational music celebrations at more than five area elementary and high schools in the area surrounding Naval Station Great Lakes throughout April.

At Forrestal Elementary, the band's brass quintet, the 'Brass Ambassadors,' performed a number of familiar songs before more than 500 students, teachers and parents during a school assembly April 14.

"It is vital to have assemblies dedicated to military families and military children. As a husband and father of two I know personally of the sacrifice that my family makes so I can serve the Navy to the best of my ability," said tuba player and Musician 3rd Class Dave Yeager. "These events may be the only opportunity in a year for these sacrifices to be recognized and appreciated."

"I was very happy and proud to participate in this event. The opportunity to both celebrate our military children and to provide support of arts education is a win-win situation," he continued.

According to the Department of Defense website, "there are 1.7 million American children and youth under 18 with a parent serving in the military and about 900,000 with one or both deployed multiple times. April is designated as the Month of the Military Child, underscoring the important role military children play in the armed forces community. The Month of the Military Child is an opportunity to recognize military children and youth for their heroism, character, courage, sacrifices and continued resilience."

During the Forrestal concert, the school also took time to recognize the entire military family.

"We serve well over 75% of the military population," said Dr. CasSandra A. Brooks, Forrestal's principal. "Students need to feel good about themselves. We recognize African-Americans during the month of February and Latino-Americans during the month of September. It's all about making children feel good about who they are and what they represent."

Brooks said she hoped the students at Forrestal would take away an understanding how "it's difficult to be a child whose parents are in the military. We understand how hard it is for change and to make new friends at a new school and especially how hard it is to adjust having parents deployed."

Aviation Ordnanceman 1st Class (AW/SW) Rudoff Liverpool, a recruit division commander at the Navy's Boot Camp, also attended the Forrestal assembly, representing Operation Military Kids (OMK).

OMK is a U.S. Army collaborative effort with American communities to support children and youth impacted by military deployments. As part of OMK, Liverpool handed out Hero Packs to eight Forrestal students who have a parent or parents currently deployed.

According to OMK, Hero Packs serve as a tangible expression of support for military families from their communities and OMK partners.

"The items that go into the packs are things that will help a child through a deployment such as stationary, blank photo albums, journals and small games. One if the most special items are hand written letters from other children thanking the military kids for their sacrifice," Liverpool said.

"Our goal each year is to reach more (military) children in hopes of making them feel more connected to their communities. A lot of time these children feel isolated is because they may not know anyone else in their situation."

The quintet performed nine songs that included a wide range of music from Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's 'Eine Kleine Nacht Musik' and Gioacchino Rossini's 'William Tell Overture' to Sesame Street's 'Rubber Ducky' and the theme from 'SpongeBob SquarePants'.

"This is probably the most fun and rewarding part about my job as a musician," said trumpet player and Musician 2nd Class Kurt Zemaitaitis. "I get to represent the Navy and inspire kids and their families about music and the arts. I hope the kids learned that making music can be fun and rewarding."

Each of the 'Brass Ambassadors' also took a few minutes to explain their instruments (trumpets, trombone, tuba and French Horn) to the students.

"I was extremely pleased that the Navy Band decided to come out today. They were a joy to our students as well as our staff and special guests. It shows a sense of collaboration between our schools and the Navy. They wanted to come and help us celebrate the military child," Brooks said.

Other concerts and clinics performed by members of Navy Band Great Lakesvduring the Month of the Military Child include Wayne Thomas (Highland Park, Ill.,) Elementary and Daniel Webster (Waukegan, Ill.), April 21; Waukegan High School, April 26; and a concert for the Oak Terrace (Highland Park) Elementary after school activity program, April 29.

"I hope all the children at the assembly were inspired by our concert to at least be interested in the arts. I hope the military children came away with a great sense of pride in knowing they are appreciated by their peers, teachers, and all those who serve with their parents in defense of our nation," Yeager said.

The band also will be performing at numerous area schools throughout the rest of 2011.

USS McCampbell Strengthens Partnership

By Ens. Emily McMenamin, USS McCampbell Public Affairs

PACIFIC OCEAN (NNS) -- Guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85) completed a maneuvers and communication exercise with Republic of Korea Ulsan-class frigate ROKS Seoul (FF 952) April 18.

During the exercise, the two ships completed shipboard maneuvering drills and practiced transmitting and receiving flashing light and flag hoist messages.

The exercise was a learning experience and training opportunity for both crews. It also helped to reaffirm the important relationship between the U.S. and Republic of Korea navies. Opportunities such as this help build upon the alliance that exists between the two navies.

This was the first time McCampbell operated with the Republic of Korea Navy since participating in the Invincible Spirit exercise in July 2010.

USS McCampbell is one of seven Arleigh Burke-class destroyers assigned to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 and is forward-deployed to Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan.

This Day in Naval History - April 19

From the Navy News Service

1783 - George Washington proclaims the end of hostilities with Great Britain.
1861 - President Lincoln orders the blockade of Southern ports from South Carolina to Texas.
1955 - USS Albany (CG 10) and USS William Wood (DD 715) begin to provide disaster relief to citizens of Volos, Greece.

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, April 20, 2011

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

Under Secretary of Defense (Acquisition, Technology & Logistics) Ashton Carter delivers remarks at 11 a.m. EDT at the Heritage Foundation on Pentagon Efficiency Initiatives:  "Are they enough to stave off more defense cuts?" in the Lehrman Auditorium, 214 Massachusetts Ave NE, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact the Heritage Foundation, Mackenzie Eaglen, Research Fellow for National Security at 202-546-4400.