Military News

Monday, April 25, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates hosts an honor cordon to welcome Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom Liam Fox 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.

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Secretary of State for Defence of the United Kingdom Liam Fox will have a media availability after their meeting.  For media who want to cover only the media availability, the admission procedures are the same as the honor cordon.  The pick-up time for those covering only the media availability will be at 1:15 p.m. EDT at the Pentagon River Parking Entrance only.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn will provide the keynote address and participate on a panel at the White House Forum on Energy Security at 10 a.m. EDT at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building, Washington, D.C.  This event will stream live at http://www.whitehouse.gov/live.

This Day in Naval History - April 25

From the Navy News Service

1862 - Union naval forces occupy New Orleans, La.
1914 - First combat observation mission by Navy plane, at Veracruz, Mexico.

Naval Hospital Corps School Makes Historic Move

By L.A. Shively, Navy Medicine Support Command Public Affairs

SAN ANTONIO, Texas (NNS) -- Navy Medicine and the Hospital Corps marked the milestone of the relocation of the Naval Hospital Corps School from Great Lakes, Ill., to Fort Sam Houston, Texas, during a ceremony aboard Joint Base San Antonio, Fort Sam Houston, April 21.

"The Commandant's Own," the United States Marine Drum and Bugle Corps, performed as Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen from the tri-service Medical Education and Training Campus (METC) attended the ceremony.

"METC is both a place and an idea," said Rear Adm. William R. Kiser, METC inaugural commandant. "As a place it represents new buildings and infrastructure, which is absolutely world class. As an idea, it is always good to train like we fight. It's always good to come together to get know each other and develop trust in each other before we show up on the battlefield."

Hospital Corpsman training at Fort Sam Houston continues to include basic courses taught in Navy service-unique classes but now adds multi-service integrated classes. Navy Corpsmen began training in advanced "C School" classes at METC in May 2010. The BRAC deadline for all students to train at the METC is Sept. 14.

The average daily student load for basic and advanced medical training is estimated to be about 9,000 Sailors, Soldiers and Airmen, making METC the world's largest military medical education and training facility.

Force Master Chief Laura Martinez, director of the Hospital Corps, was the guest speaker for the ceremony. She discussed the corpsman's training and mission, and she addressed the history of the Navy's largest rating and the significance of corpsman training at Great Lakes dating back to 1917.

"Today we honor and celebrate that sacred trust to ensure our nation has a medically ready, fit, and fighting force and that those who've served our nation, along with their families, can always count on the Hospital Corps to help provide quality and compassionate patient and family-centered health care," Martinez said.

"It is no accident that we are experiencing the lowest battle mortality and non-battle injury rates in the history of armed conflict," said Martinez, a hospital corpsman for more than 30 years. "This is due in large part to our exceptional corpsmen and their training. The Hospital Corps is the largest rating in our Navy and the most decorated in the United States. Twenty naval ships alone have been named after hospital corpsmen."

Seaman Jose Espinoza, a student in the first Hospital Corps School class at Fort Sam Houston, expressed pride in his training as a hospital corpsman.

"I feel honored so say that when I put on my uniform, I not only represent the U.S. Navy. I also represent generations of Sailors who have gone before me to fight for my freedom."

Fellow Student Seaman Daniella Summers echoed Martinez' commitment to service, adding, "No matter the situation, a shipmate will never be left behind," she said.

"We have long heard the call 'Corpsman up', that we have answered in every major battle since the Corps' founding," Martinez said. "At the same time, the Hospital Corps has always provided care for family members and retirees at military treatment facilities around the globe. This dual commitment will never waver, no matter where our Sailors and Marines go or what they do.

Enlisted Retention Board Provides Retention Board Provides Some Benefits for Fleet

From Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The recently announced enlisted retention board (ERB) will help the Navy achieve mandated end strength, the chief of naval personnel (CNP) said in an April 25 interview.

The ERB will eliminate overmanning in 31 ratings and will benefit high-performing Sailors in the long run by improving advancement opportunities. The Navy has witnessed improved retention over the past decade which can be attributed to factors such as work-life balance initiatives and improved recruiting. Additionally, the slow economic recovery has influenced many Sailors to re-enlist.

"We are attracting and retaining the highest quality force we've ever had and these Sailors are increasingly looking at the Navy as a great long-term career choice," stated chief of naval personnel, Vice Adm. Mark Ferguson. "With this sustained high retention, systems designed to help maintain the balance in our Force, particularly Perform-to-Serve, have become over-burdened. As a result, re-enlistment and advancement opportunities for our high-performing Sailors are being negatively impacted Fleet-wide."

The ERB will review Sailors in 31 of the most overmanned ratings and will look at performance to fill a specific number of retention quotas within competitive groups broken down by rating, pay grade and years of service. The board will value Sailors with proven performance in challenging billets, while Sailors with negative performance indicators such as convictions for drunk driving, declining performance evaluations, lost security clearances and non-judicial punishments will be less competitive for retention quotas.

By focusing on performance in addition to quotas, Navy reinforces its strategy to retain the best and brightest.

"In designing this board, we were determined to separate only those Sailors in ratings needed to rebalance the force and stay within our congressionally mandated manpower limits," Ferguson said.

Although the number directly affected by the ERB represents a small percentage of Sailors, the impacts will be felt across the force.

While Navy-wide advancement opportunities to E-5 declined modestly over the past several advancement cycles and E-6 opportunities remained relatively stable over the same period, opportunities to both E-5 and E-6 in the 31 ratings being considered have dropped steadily. Reducing overmanning in these ratings will result in career stability and will likely result in increased advancements in these ratings.

Not only will the ERB help stabilize advancement opportunity in the 31 ratings, currently undermanned ratings will benefit from the expanded conversion opportunity Navy leaders approved in advance of the board. Several factors that are normally mandatory for rating conversion, including maximum years of service, maximum paygrade, and minimum activity tour requirements, are being waived. This will allow the greatest opportunity for Sailors who would otherwise be board-eligible to ensure their continued service, while increasing manning in ratings that the Navy has been challenged to fill.

"Our Sailors are dedicated to serving their country, and this is why we are providing additional opportunities for them to convert into undermanned ratings ahead of the board," Ferguson said. "Sailors will see the benefits of increased manpower support in some critical areas."

Sailors chosen for conversion into the undermanned ratings listed in NAVADMIN 129/11 will be exempt from the board and will be given an opportunity to continue serving in areas of need for the Navy. The procedures for requesting conversion will be released by the beginning of May and applications will need to be received by June 15 to be considered.

A more balanced force - the goal of the ERB - will benefit the entire Fleet, Ferguson said.

"Improved advancement opportunities, expanded PTS re-enlistment quotas, and increased manpower support in needed ratings over the long term - these are the positive results," he said.

USS Robert G. Bradley in Senegal for Africa Partnership Station Exercise

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Darryl Wood, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Africa/ Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

DAKAR, Senegal (NNS) -- USS Robert G. Bradley (FFG 49) arrived in Dakar, Senegal, for its second multinational exercise on its Africa Partnership Station (APS) West deployment, April 20.

Bradley is in Dakar to participate in Exercise Saharan Express 2011, which begins with a pre-sail conference, April 25.

Saharan Express 2011 is a multinational exercises focused on improving the communications and interoperability of West African countries to counter narcotics trafficking and proliferation.

Through joint cooperation efforts, Africa's growing maritime capabilities ensure regional security and stability. APS Bradley continues to enhance the regional capabilities in West and Central Africa by helping to build maritime professionals and international partnerships.

Robert G. Bradley will also conduct a search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise with the Cape Verde navy. The SAR exercise will include a command platform, an air search helicopter and surface search small boats. This training is essential in establishing safety to a country's coastal waters by providing a rapid and effective rescue force.

"Saharan Express will be a great opportunity for our boarding team and SAR team to evaluate and train with our African partners" said Lt. j.g. James Carles, USS Robert G. Bradley boarding officer. "This exercise will further expand the maritime security of all the participating partner nations."

Robert G. Bradley's visit to Dakar will include a military-to-military community relations (COMREL) project, office calls to prominent officials, tours of the ship and a reception held on board.

USS Robert G. Bradley, an Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigate, is homeported out of Mayport, Fla., and is on a scheduled deployment to West and Central Africa.

APS is an international security cooperation initiative, facilitated by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-Africa, aimed at strengthening global maritime partnerships through training and collaborative activities in order to improve maritime safety and security in Africa.

Military Sees High Recruiting, Retention

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 – Recruiting and retention has stayed high throughout the military for the first half of the fiscal year, according to Defense Department numbers released today.

Through March, the active duty Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force met or exceeded their accession goals for fiscal 2011, which began Oct. 1:

-- Army: 34,264 accessions, 102 percent of its 33,600 goal;

-- Navy: 16,011 accessions, the same as its goal;

-- Marine Corps: 11,497 accessions, more than its goal of 11,468; and

-- Air Force: 14,279 accessions, matching its goal.

In the reserve components, only the Air National Guard fell slightly short of its goal:

-- Army National Guard, 27,426 accessions, 106 percent of its goal of 25,825;

-- Army Reserve, 15,322 accessions, 112 percent of its 13,693 goal;

-- Navy Reserve, 3,998 accessions, matching its goal;

-- Marine Corps Reserve, 5,081 accessions, 112 percent of its 4,525 goal;

-- Air National Guard, 3,413 accessions, nine short of its 3,422 goal; and

-- Air Force Reserve, 4,539 accessions, 14 more than its goal of 4,525.

All of the components are on target with the retention goals, Pentagon officials said.

Naval Medical Center San Diego Treats Sailors following Spice Use

By Lt. George Loeffler and Lt. Cmdr. Donald Hurst, Naval Medical Center San Diego Mental Health Department

SAN DIEGO (NNS) -- Naval Medical Center San Diego announced April 25, that it had admitted 15 active duty service members for symptoms relating to Spice between August to December 2010.

Spice is a new synthetic designer drug that has become the newest fad among young individuals.

According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) website, the DEA exercised its emergency scheduling authority March 1, to control five chemicals (JWH018, JWH-073, JWH-200, CP-47,497, and cannabicyclohexanol) used to make so-called "fakepot" products making the possession and sale of these chemicals or the products that contain them illegal in the United States.

Service members need to be aware of the serious side effects such as hallucinating (seeing and hearing things that are not actually present), paranoia (believing people are after them), or confusion to the point of becoming debilitating. These symptoms can often last days, long after the high and the drug is out of the system. A handful of patients continue to have these symptoms months after their last Spice inhalation.

Spice is a man-made drug most commonly sold in a tobacco form but can also be sold in its raw form as a powder. It mimics many of the perception-altering effects of marijuana; however, because it is artificially produced it tends to be far stronger than Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the natural psychoactive chemical in marijuana. The newness of this drug means very little medical research has been done on its immediate toxicity and long-term psychological and physical effects.

This emergency action was necessary to prevent an imminent threat to public health and safety. The temporary scheduling action will remain in effect for at least one year while the DEA and the United States Department of Health and Human Services further study whether these chemicals should be permanently controlled.

Part of its rise in popularity is related to it being both legal (until recently) and undetected in the normal drug screening process. Concern over the growth in the use of Spice resulted in the U.S. Marine Corps banning it in September 2008. And in July 2009, 15 Sailors aboard USS George Washington (CVN 73) were discharged from the Navy for taking Spice, resulting in a Navy-wide ban on the drug in March 2010.

In January 2011, seven Navy midshipmen were discharged from the U.S. Naval Academy due to Spice use. According to the March 17, 2011, Navy Rhumblines, 192 Sailors have been held accountable for the use or possession of Spice or a Spice derivative since fiscal year 2011.

Spice presents a real and present danger to an individual's mental and physical health, as well as their military careers.

Loeffler is a second year psychiatry resident at NMCSD. Hurst is a third year psychiatry resident at NMCSD.

U.S. Navy, U.S.C.G. Ships Arrive in South Florida for Fleet Week Port Everglades

By Mass Communications Specialist 2nd Class Eric Garst, Navy Region Southeast Public Affairs

PORT EVERGLADES, Fla. (NNS) -- More than 2,500 U.S. Navy Sailors, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen arrived in Port Everglades, Fla., to participate in the U.S. Navy's largest community outreach program in South Florida, April 25.

Service members from visiting ships USS Iwo Jima (LHD 7), USS Ross (DDG 71), USS Normandy (CG 60) and USS Annapolis (SSN 760), joined by elements from Navy Assault Craft Unit Four, USCGC Gannet (WPB 87334) and USCGC Diamondback (WPB 87370), as well as Marines from 2nd Marine Division, are scheduled to take part in a variety of community service projects and recreational activities during Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011.

Broward County Navy Days Chairperson Mary Anne Gray said the ensuing ship tours, community outreach efforts from Sailors, and an extension of South Florida hospitality to members of the sea services has continued for more than two decades.

"Sailors coming in give us the opportunity to show how much we appreciate everything they do and all the sacrifices they have made," she said. "This is also an opportunity for them [Sailors] to get out and show how much they appreciate what we do for them."

Fleet Week Port Everglades has historically interjected thousands of dollars into the local economy.

"Broward County benefits when Sailors go out into the community, visit restaurants, stay in hotels and go shopping," Gray said.

Gray said Broward County residents have been anticipating tours of the six U.S. vessels.

"We have more than 7,000 people that are going to come down to tour the ships, and a lot of them are school children, young kids from JROTC (Junior Reserve Officer Training Candidate program), Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts," she said. "This gives them the opportunity to see the Sailors and a new career they may not have thought about in the past."

More than 2,500 Sailors, Marines and Coast Guardsmen are in South Florida for Fleet Week Port Everglades 2011. The week-long celebration of the sea services honors the men and women of the military through public events and recognition, and also provides the sea services an opportunity to showcase the capabilities of surface platforms, equipment and the skills of the men and women serving aboard these vessels.

First Lady Aims to Improve Military Families’ Lives

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 25, 2011 – First Lady Michelle Obama stood tall behind a podium in the White House’s East Room, her husband close at hand, as she addressed a packed audience of high-ranking military and government officials.

Although it was a high-powered crowd, the first lady wasn’t there for the officials or for the star-studded brass. She was there to speak for military families.

As the flashes of hundreds of cameras lit the room, the first lady unveiled an unprecedented initiative intended to draw the entire nation together in support of military families.

This is about “the extraordinary military families who serve and sacrifice so much every day,” Obama said. One Marine wife, tightly gripping her husband’s hand, wiped away tears.

The event marked not only the launch of the “Joining Forces” campaign, but also the culmination of a long journey to improve military families’ lives. Over the past two years the first lady, with Dr. Jill Biden at her side, has traveled to bases -- stateside and overseas -– to meet with military spouses and to advocate for funding on their behalf.

“This is the moment that we’ve been working toward for such a very long time,” she said.

For Obama, it’s a journey that began even before her husband took the oath of office. Just over two years ago, she hit the campaign trail and met with working women to discuss the challenges of balancing work and family while “staying sane.”

During those talks, she heard from a segment of society she hadn’t heard from before, the first lady told American Forces Press Service in a recent interview.

“They were military moms and grandmothers and sisters who were handling all of the stresses that we were handling, only adding on the multiple deployments, multiple transfers, trying to finish education,” she said.

Obama heard from mothers who were trying to keep their children settled as they moved from base to base, and from spouses who were having trouble with job certifications. She recalled one military couple that was trying to adopt. Each time they moved, they had to fill out new paperwork, needlessly drawing out the process.

The first lady was taken aback by what she’d heard. Growing up in Chicago, she’d had little contact with military families. Her father had served in the Army, but that was before she was born. She had little knowledge of the challenges associated with military life, including the frequent moves and school transfers, and multiple deployments.

The stories she heard “took my breath away,” Obama said, and also sparked a passion for military family support.

“One thing I vowed on that campaign trail as I got to know these women –- and some men, of course –- [was] that if I had the privilege of serving as first lady, I’d use this platform to shine a light on these issues,” she said.

Obama said she was thrilled to find out that the vice president’s wife shares her passion. Biden is part of a military family with first-hand knowledge of the challenges they face. Biden’s son, Beau, is a member of the Delaware Army National Guard and, as a military mom, she had her own struggles when he deployed to Iraq a few years ago.

“The first time we met, I asked her what she wanted to work on, and it was military families,” the first lady recalled.

Obama and Biden together set out to first “shine a light” on military families, then to call on the nation to take steps to increase the support offered to them.

Just last week, Obama and Biden embarked on a two-day, nationwide tour to promote military family support. They made stops in Colorado, Texas, North Carolina and Ohio during their whirlwind trip. They attended a math and science competition and an employment event, and stopped by a celebration for pregnant military spouses.

At an event in Ohio, the first lady talked about the impact of frequent moves on spouses seeking jobs.

“We see them trying to build seniority at their jobs, but seeing that they have to keep starting over every time that they move to a new duty station,” she said at a national retailer’s distribution center. “And that’s not easy, particularly when so many employers see a resume with multiple jobs as a red flag, rather than as a reality of military life.”

To assist, Obama is calling on businesses to recruit and hire military spouses and veterans, and asking them to make their workplaces more military-spouse-friendly, with flexible work schedules and portable jobs.

In Colorado, the first lady focused on education at the Fountain-Fort Carson High School in Colorado Springs. She spoke of a national math and science initiative that’s working with the Defense Department and partners in the private sector to expand a program called the “Initiative for Military Families.” This program, she explained, provides advanced placement courses in math and science to schools and areas with high military populations.

Military life equips children with special skill sets such as responsibility and flexibility, she noted at the event.
“And when you use that knowledge alongside with what you’ll be learning in these math and science courses and other classes, there’s no telling what you guys will be able to do and what you’ll be able to achieve,” she told the students gathered there.

Their last stop was in Columbus, Ohio, where they hosted a concert-style event for local military families and community members. First up was teen idol Nick Jonas of the Jonas Brothers, followed by the cast of Sesame Street. Both were tough acts to follow, especially with an audience of primarily children and teens. But their introduction by Elmo was met by a thunderous round of applause.

As in their other stops, the first lady asked the audience a few simple questions. “Jill and I believe that everyone -- everyone -- can do something, even boys and girls. Everyone can do something to support a military family. And everyone can ask themselves, ‘What can I do? How can I give back?’”

Following her remarks, the first lady stepped off the stage and into the crowd to mingle with military families. She shook hands and shared hugs, taking time to greet each person with a warm smile and a few words of gratitude.
Their aim, Obama said, is to connect troops and their families -– who make up only 1 percent of the nation –- with the other 99 percent of Americans. “I think that most Americans are like I was -- not aware,” she said. “But I believe that if we’re made to be aware, that we step up.”

Obama said the best way to raise awareness is to pass on military families’ stories. She cited a few that have remained at the forefront of her mind.

One young woman she met stepped up to care for her family after her father was severely burned. While her mother tended to her father, the 15-year-old girl cared for her younger brothers and sisters. She cooked, cleaned and helped them with their homework, the first lady said.

That young woman is now in college, she said, marveling at “the strength and maturity that it took for her to change her life.”

“She did it because, in her own words, ‘My family needed me,’” the first lady said.

In another family, a sister gave up her career as a nurse to move in with her brother and take care of him after he was injured and lost both of his legs, she said.

And many of these families are serving not just in the military, but in the community as well, Obama said. “They’re the coaches, they’re the heads of PTA, they’re the ones leading the bake sales, they’re the ones supporting each other,” she said. “In addition to all the burdens they already have, they’re finding ways to reach out and be the best Americans that this country has to offer.”

Obama said she’s touched by the stories she’s heard, but now it’s time for the rest of the nation to hear them.

“These aren’t stories of sadness,” she said. “They’re stories of success, triumph and coming together and unifying. These are the stories the country needs to be motivated by.”

In the coming months, companies, businesses, nonprofit groups and individuals will be rolling out new initiatives and programs for military families to assist them with everything from employment and education to mental health and wellness. Federal agencies also will continue to pursue the nearly 50 commitments they made earlier this year through the Presidential Study Directive 9, a governmentwide effort to improve military families’ lives.

And Obama will continue to showcase the nation’s efforts to improve military family support. The first lady said she would like to weave her efforts into the fabric of the nation so “when we’re long gone and the next president has taken office, this is just something we do, that all sectors of society will have figured out how to incorporate this into their mission now and forever.”

Above all, Obama wants military families to know their nation will support them over the long haul.

It’s “making sure that you know that from the president of the United States on down, we’re behind you,” she said. “Hopefully, families will see they live in a nation that truly cares.”

Chairman, Undersecretary Visit Deployed Troops

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT, April 24, 2011 – The man who is responsible for personnel and readiness issues for the Defense Department observed how his decisions impact the fight during his visits to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq this past week.

Dr. Clifford L. Stanley, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, accompanied Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to meet with overseas-deployed military members serving at forward operating bases and main installations.

“I’m responsible for all people in the military,” Stanley said yesterday during an interview aboard a C-17 aircraft en route to Washington. “I can’t do my job just by pushing papers. I need to be out here understanding the operations, understanding what our troops go through.”

In Afghanistan, the retired Marine Corps major general visited service members at Bagram Air Field and Forward Operating Base Salerno in Regional Command—East and Kandahar in RC-South. He also met with military personnel assigned to the U.S. embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. In Iraq, Stanley visited facilities in and around Baghdad. And when the C-17 he was riding in on the way home stopped at Ramstein Air Base, Germany, Mullen and Stanley met with troops at Landstuhl Medical Center.

“I was able to speak to a great many people,” Stanley said. “This [experience] will help me do my job.”

As undersecretary, Stanley has responsibility for setting military and civilian personnel policy, the DOD health care system, family matters policies and issues, wounded warrior policies, DOD dependent schools, recruiting, retention and manning issues, to name just a few.

Stanley has been involved in personnel policy issues related to the repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law, and he has helped to develop the training the services are putting into place.

Stanley also is a key player in Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates’ campaign to seek efficiencies across the department. The closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command and the decision to reduce Army and Marine Corps end strength beginning in fiscal 2015, he said, were among the personnel recommendations in DOD’s drive to save taxpayer dollars.

Visiting troops deployed to combat zones, Stanley said, helps him to focus on what is truly important, and what it is the nation is asking these young men and women to do.

“This helps me do my job better, and gives me more information to set priorities in the Pentagon,” he said.

Stanley said he found that the troops are proud of their service and “they felt they were making a difference. They really are heroes.”

This does not mean service members don’t have concerns and they expressed them to the chairman and undersecretary at “All Hands” sessions in Afghanistan and Iraq and during smaller meetings with senior noncommissioned officers and junior officers.

Service members asked the undersecretary and the chairman how budget cuts might affect personnel issues. Both Stanley and Mullen said that they want to ensure that personnel items in the budget are addressed first, so that service members receive the training, supplies and equipment they require before deploying. They also said that they will protect effective programs that support military families.

Both men emphasized that the U.S. military must continue attracting the right recruits, and also retain the best of this generation’s combat-hardened officers and NCOs. If that happens, the services will weather the budgetary storm, Mullen said.

Stanley said he was not pleased by the threatened shut down of the federal government on April 8, which was averted by an 11th-hour compromise on Capitol Hill.

“I need to tell you personally, we don’t need to be having any more conversations about government shutdowns that affect [service members’] pay,” he said. “That is totally un-sat, totally un-sat.”

Military pay ought to be exempt from the effects of any shutdown, Stanley said. Political leaders can shut down the government, he said, but service members should be paid.

“Don’t touch their pay -– not them,” Stanley said. “We ask too much of them. They are risking their lives for us, and their families depend on getting those paychecks on time.”

Big 'E' Hosts Country Music Star

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Michael Croft, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

USS ENTERPRISE, At sea (NNS) -- Country music celebrity Toby Keith visited thousands of Sailors and Marines aboard USS Enterprise (CVN 65), April 23.

Keith has long been associated with his public support of the U.S. military and has participated in many USO tours and performances for deployed troops.

The trip to Enterprise is Keith's first time touring a deployed U.S. Navy ship.

Before performing for the crew in the ship's hangar bay, Keith and his band members had a chance to tour the ship, to meet the crew and see exactly what it is they do on board the "city-at-sea" called USS Enterprise.

"Spending time with our troops around the world is something I've always regarded as a privilege and honor," said Keith. "I won't forget for a second who's really doing the heavy lifting to keep this country safe. And that's why I'll keep going back and spending time with those good folks every chance I get."

Prior to the show, Sailors and Marines had the opportunity to eat dinner with Keith and his crew.

"I had a great time at the dinner," said Yeoman Seaman Joshua A. Wright. "It's not everyday you get to eat dinner with Toby Keith and his crew."

During the show Keith wore an Enterprise tee shirt to show the crowd how proud he is with the ship and her crew.

"I think the concert was great for the crew," said Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW/AW) Darren Villano. "After what this ship has been through so far this deployment, this concert is exactly what the doctor ordered. This is such a morale booster for the crew."

Keith spent most of the time on stage singing his award-winning songs and spoke to the crowd in between them. He received extremely loud cheers when he began his hit song 'Courtesy of the Red, White and Blue,' which is a song about 9/11 and Operation Enduring Freedom, which the ship has supported during its current deployment.

"I am thankful for every one of you and what you do for our country," said Keith. "I will remember this trip for the rest of my life."

Enterprise and Carrier Air Wing 1 are in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility on a routine deployment to conduct maritime security operations and to provide support to operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn.

Navy Team Repairs, Tests Misawa Fuel Pipeline

By Ronald Inman, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Far East Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- A U.S. Navy team played a key role in the rapid repair and successful testing of the last six kilometers of pipeline fueling Misawa Air Base April 15.

The mission's success was the result of a collaborative effort that began within days of the devastating earthquake and tsunami which struck northern Japan March 11.

"We made our way to the site the day after the tsunami and the devastation was incredible," said Lt. Dustin Glazier, Misawa Air Base's public works officer. "Cars had floated off the road and damaged fences, light poles and structures. There was no power, no water and about six inches of mud on everything."

Within three days of the earthquake, a small team of inspectors from Naval Facilities Engineering Command's (NAVFAC) Engineering Service Center (ESC) in Port Hueneme, Calif., began investigating the condition of tanks, pipes and fuel delivery system components at Defense Fuel Supply Point (DFSP) Hachinohe, which normally supplies fuel to Misawa Air Base but was damaged and not functioning.

According to Glazier, nearly the entire pipeline was submerged during the tsunami, and although there were no fuel leaks, there was significant damage to the supports and positioning of the lines. In one of the worst sections, a run of 100 meters of pipe was lifted off its stanchions and displaced about 35 meters from its original location. Some of the stanchions were twisted, some experienced severe erosion and some sections previously buried underground were exposed.

In addition to the main terminal, which was swept over by the tsunami, Pump Station No. 2 was completely flooded, with water reaching the roof of most of its structures.

The team completed a detailed assessment, which not only provided a framework for long-term recovery efforts, but also plotted a course for bringing the system back on line in a short amount of time. NAVFAC ESC quickly completed actions to bring in a contractor who mobilized on site and began necessary repairs.

Parallel to these efforts, U.S. Navy Seabees from NAVFAC Far East's Public Works Department (PWD) Misawa arrived at DFSP Hachinohe 36 hours after the earthquake and tsunami. They immediately began clearing debris and reestablishing more than 500 feet of security fencing damaged by the tsunami. Many sections were damaged when vehicles, floating away with the moving water, crossed over the fence.

After the tsunami waters receded, approximately eight inches of sludge covered the entire site. Fuel containment berms were full of water since the drainage system was clogged with sludge.

Working with Japanese Master Labor Contract (MLC) employees from PWD Misawa and Fleet and Industrial Supply Center (FISC) fuels personnel, Seabees cleared the site of sediment three weeks following the tsunami. In one of the most rewarding experiences, the group was joined by Japanese Sailors from Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Mobile Construction Group Hachinohe. The JMSDF Sailors removed nearly 250 tons of debris by hand from within the fuel containment berms. All told, the groups removed more than 600 tons of debris from DFSP Hachinohe, which was transported for use as fill material at Misawa Air Base.

Seabees focused a lot of their efforts on the catastrophically-damaged Pump Station No. 2. Work to dry out the site, which still had one foot of standing water, began March 22. They cut drainage channels through the debris and operated pumps. PWD Misawa contacted the local JMSDF office, and they worked with the port authority to mobilize a contractor to make long-term fixes to the drainage problem.

Once the site had been dewatered, Seabees and PWD Misawa MLCs began the tedious process of removing sediment from the site and from within the buildings. These efforts were completed April 15, the same day as the pipeline test. Although Pump Station No. 2 occupies only 10 percent of the area of the main terminal, another 550 tons of sediment was removed from just that site alone.

"The most rewarding part so far has been working with all of the different groups who have made contributions to this effort," concluded Glazier. "In addition to our own Seabees, we worked with the Defense Logistics Agency and the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force Public Works employees, FISC Fuels Yokosuka, NAVFAC Far East, PWD Atsugi, Explosive Ordnance Disposal Mobile Unit 5, Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit 1, Underwater Construction Team 2, U.S. 7th Fleet salvage divers and the Air Force's 35th Fighter Wing. Everyone played a key role, from Hachinohe Harbor right up to Misawa Air Base."

Bataan Celebrates Easter Underway with Sunrise Service

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman James Turner, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines aboard the multipurpose amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5) celebrated Easter during a sunrise church service on the ship's flight deck April 24.

More than 150 crew members attended the celebration as the ship transited the Atlantic Ocean en route to the Mediterranean Sea.

"I thought the sunrise service went very well, and everyone played their part," said Cmdr. Steven Souders, Bataan's command chaplain. "God played his part because we had calmer seas, lighter winds and beautiful sunshine. The people did their part for coming out, and the chaplains did their part by singing in the chaplain choir."

For the service members who attended the sunrise service, it was a way to enjoy a small piece of home while away during deployment.

"The service adds a little normality to our lives during this long deployment," said Marine Corps Sgt. Timothy Bunde, the non-commissioned officer-in-charge of administration for the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit's Air Combat Element, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 263.

"I thought it was beautiful, and it was relaxing to feel the cool breeze and warm sunshine," said Hospital Corpsman 1st Class Kelly L. Pickton, Dental Department's leading petty officer.

Bataan's location added to the already unique ceremony.

"It will be a very memorable sunrise service because there could not be a more fitting place to have an Easter sunrise service at sea; we are heading into the mouth of the old Roman Empire. Just on the other side of the Strait of Gibraltar, at the end of the Mediterranean, is the holy land," said Souders.

Easter sunrise service is good for the crew's morale, which in turn is good for the overall mission.

"Easter is a very holy day for Christians, and it gives all of the various faith communities a sense of coming together in the resurrection of Christ. It is very important to give that renewed sense of hope to the Sailors and Marines aboard," said Souders.