Military News

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, May 11, 2011

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

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen hosts an honor cordon to welcome Australian Chief of the Defense Force Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston to the Pentagon at 10:30 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 703-697-4272 for escort to the cordon.

Assistant Secretary of Defense (Health Affairs) Jonathan Woodson; Surgeon General of the Army, Lt. Gen. Eric B. Schoomaker; Surgeon General of the Navy, Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr. and Surgeon General of the Air Force, Lt. Gen. Charles B. Green testify at a hearing of the House Appropriation Committee on the defense health programs' fiscal 2012 budget at 10 a.m. EDT in Rayburn Office Building, room 2359.

This Day in Naval History - May 10

By Navy News Service

1775 - Force under Ethan Allan and Benedict Arnold cross Lake Champlain and capture British fort at Ticonderoga, New York.
1800 - USS Constitution captures Letter of Marque Sandwich.
1862 - Confederates destroy Norfolk and Pensacola Navy Yards.
1949 - First shipboard launching of LARK, guided missile by USS Norton Sound.
1960 - USS Triton (SSRN 586) completes submerged circumnavigation of world in 84 days following many of the routes taken by Magellan and cruising 46,000 miles.

General Officer Announcement

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates announced today that the President has made the following nomination:

Air Force Col. David J. Buck for appointment to the rank of brigadier general.  Buck is currently serving as the director of space forces, U.S. Air Forces Central, Air Combat Command, Southwest Asia.

Mullen: America Must Help Its War Veterans

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

NEW YORK, May 10, 2011 – Navy Adm. Mike Mullen spoke about service member and veteran issues to a crowd primed for a Lady Gaga show here last night.

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff found a nontraditional audience for his message about the military as part of a fundraiser for the Robin Hood Foundation at the Javits Center. The group raised $132 million last year for charities all over the city, and this year announced a special fund to help veterans in Metro New York.

Mullen followed celebrity crooner Tony Bennett -- who at 84 can still bring it -- and Seth Meyers of “Saturday Night Live.” The 4,000-member audience listened respectfully to the chairman, who was interviewed on stage by veteran journalist Tom Brokaw. Kid Rock and Lady Gaga followed.

Brokaw told the audience that as they were enjoying the $3,000-a-plate dinner, young Americans in Afghanistan and Iraq were putting on Kevlar and getting ready for another day of war.

“They represent less than 1 percent of the American population,” Brokaw said. “The rest of us -- 99 percent -- nothing is asked of us.”

Brokaw noted that New York has a growing problem with veteran homelessness and asked the chairman what the Defense Department is doing about it. As a Vietnam veteran, Mullen said, he is particularly concerned about the issue because veterans of that war were experiencing the same thing when the current wars started.

“My peers were still sleeping on the street in Washington and cities throughout the country, and I swore I would do whatever I could to address the homelessness challenge,” Mullen told Brokaw. “As we’ve engaged in this, I find we’ve generated homeless veterans at a higher rate than we did in Vietnam.”

The Defense and Veterans Affairs departments are working together on the issue, the chairman said, but it will require the commitment of people in local communities to solve.

“I find local leaders want to structure something to take care of our veterans,” Mullen said. “The focus is on education, employment and health, and the private side has to help.”

Communities will lose a lot if they do not help the veterans of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the chairman told Brokaw and the audience.

“More than 2 million have served in the wars, and they are a generation that is wired to serve,” he said. “They are going to make a difference in the future. What they need is a bridge, and communities like New York need to provide that.”

Post-traumatic stress is another issue that Americans need to know about, Mullen said, because of reluctance in the military culture to seek help means that more than the reported 18 percent of today’s combat veterans are affected.

“We are fighting a stigma of asking for help, which is not strange for our country, and certainly not for the military,” the chairman said, noting that post-traumatic stress penetrates right to the heart of military families.

“It is the most significant invisible wound of these wars,” he said.

The chairman urged the crowd to reach out to the families of those who have lost someone in the wars. Many family members who have lost loved ones tell him their greatest fear is the country will forget the sacrifices service members have made, he said.

“These are extraordinary young men and women who go out every day, and in too many cases, give their lives for this country so we can be the country we are,” he added.

Mullen urged the crowd to connect with these families.

“They are very proud,” he said. “I promise you, they won’t ask for help, so figuring out how to connect with them to support them is really important.”

Denver Navy Week Injects Strong Navy Medicine In Community

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach

DENVER, Colo. (NNS) -- Navy Medicine leadership met with local Denver health care providers, medical researchers, civic and educational groups, and the FBI to discuss Navy Medicine's role in the maritime strategy and shared medical initiatives as part of Denver Navy Week 2011, May 2-8.

Rear Adm. William M. Roberts, Fleet Surgeon, U.S. Fleet Forces Command, was the senior medical officer
representing Navy Medicine during Denver Navy Week.

"We are here to thank the citizens of Denver for the great job they are doing supporting the men and women of our armed forces," said Roberts. "Our Navy is proud to serve Americans and freedom seeking people world-wide."

Of the nearly 330,000 active duty Sailors across the Navy, 4,200 come from the Denver area. An additional 1,500 Reserve Sailors also hail from the state, and more than 6,000 retired Navy veterans live in Colorado, Roberts noted.

During a meeting with leaders at the FBI Denver Division, Roberts shared Navy Medicine's critical role in the maritime strategy and its shared initiative of building inter-agency and community relationships while protecting the United States.

"We are proud to have the opportunity to advance the relationship between the FBI and Navy Medicine," said Roberts. "The relationship between the FBI and other agencies is crucial in developing partnerships to protect our citizens and their freedom."

Roberts also met with emergency medical and rescue staff at the Denver Fire Department (DFD) to discuss trauma care, lifesaving techniques, and procedures currently used by Navy medical personnel on the battlefield in Afghanistan. Roberts further acknowledged DFD's nationally recognized advances in first responder procedures, and its cutting-edge professionalism, dedication, and courage which regularly saves lives.

"Navy Medicine has made great strides in providing resuscitative skills and medical/surgical interventions on the battlefield and at home, which have made a difference in saving lives of our Sailors and Marines," said Roberts. "Denver Navy Week has provided a great opportunity to share thoughts and ideas with over-the-top organizations like the Denver Fire Department."

As a global force for good, Roberts shared Navy Medicine's critical research and development role with executives of GlobeImmune, Inc., a biopharmaceutical company developing treatments for infectious diseases and cancer.

During the visit, Roberts noted that research and development is a top priority of the Navy Surgeon General, Vice Adm. Adam M. Robinson, Jr.

Roberts explained how research and development plays a critical role in the maritime strategy through not only vaccine research but also advances in life-saving technology on the battlefield such as a one handed tourniquet that can be applied quickly in combat.
Roberts noted that these lifesaving advancements have made a significant impact on the amount of lives saved, whereas many would have been lost in the past.

"Navy Medicine also plays a vital role in supporting the five 'hard power' capabilities of the maritime strategy: forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, and maritime security, because no ship, submarine, aircraft or other Navy asset deploys without the support of Navy Medicine," said Roberts. "In addition, Navy Medicine projects and executes 'soft power', the maritime strategy's final priority, through its most visible role in humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) missions."

Other Navy Medicine engagements during Denver Navy Week included a visit with leaders at Denver Health; speaking with the physicians, residents and medical staff at University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Center; a presentation for the Rotary Club of Aurora, Colo.; and a discussion regarding post traumatic stress disorder and chaplaincy with professors at the Iliff School of Theology, among others.

Denver Navy Week is one of 21 Navy weeks across the country this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence. Denver Navy Week events continue through May 8.

Parents Send Care Packages To Sailors Around The World

By Senior Chief Mass Communication Specialist Susan Hammond, Navy Office of Community Outreach

ARVADA, Colo. (NNS) -- As part of Denver Navy Week, Navy parents from six states gathered at American Legion Post 161 in Arvada May 7 to greet the director of Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division and hold a "packing party" for care packages.

Nearly three years ago, Molly Gisi of Portland, Ore., founded Molly's Adopt a Sailor (MAS), an organization that supports deployed U.S. military personnel, sending them letters and care packages.

"With all its giant ships and technology, the Navy's most important asset is its people," said Rear Adm. Herman Shelanski, Director, Chief of Naval Operations Environmental Readiness Division.

He told the group the average age of a typical Sailor is 19 ½, and in the case of a Sailor on the deck of an aircraft carrier, he has the most dangerous job in the world.

He congratulated the mothers and the recruiters for their work in supporting those Sailors.

"Those Sailors have the training and experience to get the job done successfully," said Shelanski.

Gisi said she started Molly's Adopt a Sailor because she learned, when her own son went into the Navy, that one-third of the Sailors on his ship didn't get any mail while on deployment. MAS has grown to more than 5,000 volunteers in 47 states who have packed 12,000 boxes full of socks, snacks and comfort items that are donated.

"We received an email from one of our adopted Sailors who was halfway through his seven-month ship deployment," said Gisi. "He said the letter he got from one of our moms was the first thing he had received from home since he left."

The boxes packed at the packing party in Arvada are destined to go to Navy destroyer USS Higgins (DDG 76). Each local MAS group may adopt a specific ship or unit to send their items to, sometimes on a monthly basis.

The Special Hugs Project, also part of Molly's Adopt a Sailor, supports wounded military personnel in combat hospitals with the same kind of care packages sent from home, said Kim Parks of Monteno, Ill. Parks works specifically to send out stuffed animals and other items, each with a special note from someone back home, to those being cared for in deployed medical facilities.

"An Army Chaplain at a Combat Hospital in Afghanistan asked us if we could send some cards and snacks to the wounded in January 2011," said Parks. "Of course, we responded, and the project keeps growing."

All MAS organizers and participants volunteer their time. The organization is an official not-for-profit charity and accepts donations as well as sponsorships to get the packages to the military members.

First Lady Invites Guard, Reserve Kids to Fitness Event

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 10, 2011 – Alongside about 80 children of National Guardsman and reservists, First Lady Michelle Obama showed off her dance moves and football-handling prowess yesterday during a Let’s Move fitness and nutrition event for military families on the White House’s South Lawn.

The first lady invited the kids to “get going” at fitness stations -- led by members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition – posted across the lawn. With the teens cheering her on, she danced to Willow Smith’s “Whip My Hair,” hopped through hula hoops in an obstacle course, practiced a few lunges, and took a few minutes to toss a football.

But before she got moving, the first lady first took time to spotlight two of her “top priorities” -- kids’ health and wellness and military families.

Military families, she noted in brief opening remarks, “are truly the force behind the force.” Over this past decade, she said, the nation has relied on its servicemembers and their families more than ever before.

“You might not be in uniform, but we all know that all of you make the same, if not more, of the sacrifice,” she told the families in attendance. “We know that when our troops serve, you all serve. It’s time we started doing everything as a country that we can do to show our gratitude for your contributions to this nation.”

That intent, she said, is what drove her and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to start the Joining Forces military family support campaign. This national initiative calls on all sectors of society -- from citizens and communities, to businesses and nonprofit groups -- to support military families.

“It’s an effort to rally the entire country -- every American -- to recognize, honor and support all of our military families,” she said. “It is incumbent upon all of us to step up in some way to make sure these families know that we’re proud of them.”

As part of this initiative, the first lady unveiled three new Let’s Move commitments specifically designed for military kids and teens.

Members of the President’s Council on Fitness, Sports and Nutrition have committed to doing a special series of events and outreach with military families across the country, Obama said, citing a few upcoming examples.

Championship NASCAR driver Carl Edwards will visit military bases in connection with his weekly races, and former New England Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, along with a team of wounded warriors, will start climbing Mount Kilimanjaro today.

Additionally, the International Health, Racquet and Sports Club Association will offer free memberships to immediate family members of actively deployed National Guard and Reserve members, she said. Starting June 1, people can log onto the Let’s Move website at http://letsmove.gov to find a club in their area and sign up for free.

Also for these families, the American Council on Exercise has agreed to provide at least 1 million hours of free personal training and fitness instruction. Obama pointed out her own personal trainer in the crowd, noting that he’s the one responsible for her famously toned arms.

Obama encouraged military families to visit the Let’s Move website to learn more about these initiatives.

The Wisconsin National Guard cares about your relationships

By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs– May 10, 2011
Maj. Doug Hedman
Chaplain, Wisconsin National Guard

Married couples typically spend more time planning their wedding ceremony than developing skills to build a happy, enduring marriage. Do the math — that doesn’t add up to happily ever after!

Current statistics (Olson&DeFrain, 1997) show that more than half of married couples are divorcing. A significant percentage of married couples experience serious marital conflict early on, indicated by the high divorce rate in the first years of marriage. The average marriage today lasts about six years — clearly, couples are not prepared to deal with the challenges of marriage.

However, right now I’m not talking about marriage, or trying to pressure anyone into marriage. I’m talking about relationships — I want to talk to those of you who have never dated, those who are currently dating, and those who have gone through a divorce and are looking for a healthy relationship.

A relationship has its ups and downs. The ups are great — the downs can prepare you for future dates. But the worst aspect of dating is going out with a loser. What exactly defines a loser is open to debate, but everyone agrees that they don’t want to date one! With an honest heart and a level head, you can avoid dating a loser.

As a civilian pastor, it bothered me that the church as a whole did not do a better job of helping people make better relationship choices. For many engaged couples who entered my office, taking the marriage survey was the first time they really asked the tough questions about different aspects of their relationship. Some decided not to marry until they truly took the time to discover who they were, and who the person was they planned on marrying.

I was excited to discover the P.I.C.K. (Premarital Interpersonal Choices and Knowledge) program to help people make better relationship choices. (Participants receive a book entitled “How to Avoid Falling for a Jerk [or Jerkette]” — can’t get much plainer than that!) However, for many singles the program was too expensive.

But the Wisconsin National Guard will provide this information to you for free, as part of a weekend retreat. One small preview to the P.I.C.K. retreat weekends is the following tool to help make good relationship choices:

For example: Too many couples don’t take the time to know someone before jumping into other relationship aspects, and discover later on that they went too fast.
The proven steps are:
1. Know the Person
2. Build Trust
3. Can You Rely on the Person?
4. How Committed are Both of You to the Relationship?
5. Touch.

One of the big mistakes people make is thinking they can change the other person, when in reality the only person we can change is ourselves.

Listed below is a small sample of some helpful hints in developing healthy relationships during a P.I.C.K. weekend:

1.    Take your time at the start of a relationship. While it may be fresh and exciting to meet someone new, it is only with time that you really get to know someone. A person can make a strong first impression and turn out to be a loser. Conversely, someone could make less of a splash at first, but turn out to be a true gem as time goes by.

2.    Be honest with yourself. If someone is incredibly attractive but you still feel like something is missing, then something is. Maybe the person you are dating is a little vain, or maybe they aren’t as caring as you would like them to be. Just ask yourself what you really want and whether this person can provide it.

3.    Give blind dating a try. Blind dating, when set up by a friend or someone you really trust, can be uncomfortable. Nevertheless, if your friend knows you well, he may actually be able to fix you up with someone who has everything you need.

4.    Leave anyone who ever does anything that physically hurts you–no exceptions. Some people fool themselves into thinking that their partner will never do it again, but why take the chance? Your safety should always be more important.

5.    Make sure your partner has plenty of his or her own interests. If they’re homebodies that never go out or motivate themselves to get involved in other activities, they’re probably never going to push themselves too hard to achieve their own dreams, instead relying on you to support them.

Here is what Staff Sgt. Connie Fueherer has to say about attending a P.I.C.K. weekend:

“I thought the weekend away was excellent! I learned a lot about myself and what goes into a picking a partner. I applied what I learned and am happily married to a service member who is currently deployed. I would highly recommend this to anyone who is serious about dating and finding the right person.”

Your relationship matters to us and we would love to have you come to one of our P.I.C.K. Retreat weekends. To learn more about the P.I.C.K. (Premarital Interpersonal Choices & Knowledge) program go  www.nojerks.com or register for a P.I.C.K. Retreat.  You can also visit Wisconsin’s Service Member Support Division site for information on P.I.C.K. and much more.

You can also call me at 608-630-1660 with questions or comments. And if you’ve attended one or our retreats why don’t you tell others about your experience here?

Stennis Begins Exercise In Preparation For Deployment

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Kathleen O'Keefe, USS John C. Stennis Public Affairs

USS JOHN C. STENNIS, At Sea (NNS) -- The USS John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group (JCSCSG) began its composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX) May 6 after pulling out of San Diego.

COMPTUEX, a three-week evolution required of each carrier strike group before departing for a deployment overseas, qualifies JCSCSG to deploy to any theater of operations world-wide.

"COMPTUEX is the cornerstone of our workup cycle," said Stennis' Strike Operations Officer, Cmdr. Stevin Johnson. "It will be the first full integration with the strike group, in which we will train for operations that we might face on deployment."

Stennis will work with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and other independent Navy ships in combating different scenarios presented by Commander, Strike Force Training Forces Pacific (CSFTP).

"COMPTUEX really makes everyone come together as a team," said Electronics Technician 2nd Class (SW/AW) Patrick McKeever, who participated in COMPTUEX with Stennis during its last deployment cycle. "On a large scale all the ships come together and train for deployment. Internally, the ship's company trains with essentially everyone that will be on deployment. It really prepares the entire strike group for successful operations when we deploy."

The scenarios led by CSFTP will challenge ships, the air wing, and the entire strike group, in their ability to handle a variety of circumstances the strike group could potentially encounter while deployed. CSFTP will evaluate the strike group and present results to Commander, U.S. Third Fleet.

"We will be demonstrating the strike group's combat efficiency," said Stennis Executive Officer Capt. Michael Wettlaufer. "Everything on Stennis will be a key part to the success. From our communication links, satellites, launching aircraft, down to the propulsion plants, Stennis will act as a huge piece in this exercise."

The cruiser and destroyers in the strike group will act as defense perimeters against air, submarine and surface threats, protecting Stennis so it can project its force abroad.

"COMPTUEX is the final stone, and will bring us into joint task force exercise [JTFEX], where other branches of the military will work with the strike group and we can train as a joint service," said Johnson.

JTFEX is the final exercise Stennis and the strike group must complete before deployment.

COMPTUEX will bring JCSCSG ships and aircraft together to prepare a force capable of protecting the nation's interests and security anywhere in the world.

Guantanamo Supports Coast Guard Ships, Missions in Caribbean

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Leona Mynes, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Medium-endurance cutter USCGC Vigilant (WMEC-619) departed Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, May 8 after a two day port visit.

For Quartermaster 2nd Class (SW) Carlton Jones, a dockmaster attached to NS Guantanamo Bay's Port Operations Department, it was the base's 880th successful ship movement since he arrived in July 2009.

"The dockmaster is the liaison between the vessels coming in and out of port, and all of the services offered here in GTMO," said Jones. "We're the middle man for all of these ships."

Vigilant and several other U.S. Coast Guard ships frequently conduct missions in the Caribbean Sea and are regular customers of NS Guantanamo Bay, said Jones.

"Vigilant usually takes on fuel, gas, stores, water, makes liberty calls and will sometimes onload helicopter support kits," said Jones. "They can do all of that here, and we provide the support for those missions."

Providing efficient support to ships like Vigilant can present several challenges to members of the port operations department, said Jones.

"I would say the most challenging part is being able to piece everything together for the ship you're supporting," said Jones. "Between sending e-mails back and forth between the ship and here, and coordinating logistical request replies, our tasks have to be managed in a timely and professional manner."

Among the tasks Jones must coordinate for ships are fuel and stores provided by the Fleet Industrial Supply Center–Jacksonville (FISC–J) Detachment aboard NS Guantanamo Bay; weapons training facilitated by NS Guantanamo Bay's weapons department; and locations for swimming qualifications, physical readiness tests, and group workout sessions provided by Morale, Welfare and Recreation Guantanamo Bay.