Military News

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Monday, May 16, 2011

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

A National Capital Region Flyover of Arlington National Cemetery occurs at 11:05 a.m. EDT with one B-25.

San Diego Sailors, Marines, Cilvians Prepare for Wildfire Season

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class (SW) Stephen D. Doyle II, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West

CAMP PENDLETON, Calif. (NNS) -- Sailors, Marines and civilians in the San Diego area attended a training exercise May 12 in preparation for the upcoming wildfire season.

Flight crews, personnel and helicopters from Navy Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron 85, 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, San Diego Sheriff's Department and the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection worked together for the exercise.

"It's very important that exercises like this work smoothly with civilian and military units working together," said Marine Corps Col. James Griffin, 1st Marine Expeditionary Force's deputy current operations officer. "We are training in anticipation for the upcoming fire season, and we need to continue to train together, as we progress."

The cooperative effort culminated on an attack on a simulated fire as part of a three-day firefighting exercise conducted by U.S. 3rd Fleet, Marine Corps Installations West, the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection and other regional and federal agencies at Marine Corps Air Station Miramar and Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton May 11-13.

"It's critical that everyone understands what air space management is all about and how we set up the air space management, so that when they come to work in among the other aircraft everybody understands the correct frequency to be on, what patters we're flying, and what the objectives are," said John Winder, California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection's Tactical Air Operations Department. "Without that, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to integrate."

In a state as large and populated as California, cooperative efforts between state, federal and local agencies are essential to respond to emergencies like wildland fires.

"We are trained in a lot of missions that can help out the public and if our loading is such that we have the ability to help during a situation of emergency, it is incumbent upon us as good leaders a citizen to help out," said Capt. Bing Stickney, California's Navy emergency preparedness liaison officer.

The fourth annual exercise is an element of the joint operating plan developed by the Marine Corps, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, San Diego County Sheriff's Department and the U.S. Forest Service's Pacific Southwest Region, following the devastating 2007 Southern California wildfires.

"It's been amazing to see the progress that's been made over the years," said Griffin "Today, to see how well everyone works together, is just a breath of fresh air."

Gates Farewell Includes Visits With Recruits, Trainers

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

PARRIS ISLAND, S.C., May 14, 2011 – With his retirement nearly at hand, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is taking time to visit entry-level training facilities for military services all over the country.

Over the past 10 months, Gates has visited recruits and trainers -- thanking them for their commitment and service -- at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio; Naval Training Station Great Lakes in North Chicago, Ill.; Marine Corps Recruit Depot in San Diego, Calif.; and the U.S. Army Training Center at Fort Jackson in Columbia, S.C.

During one of his last such stops yesterday, Gates walked historic grounds near Beaufort, S.C., where most of the signs that welcome visitors to the Marine Corps Recruit Depot here add, “We Make Marines.”

Amid the palms, pines and palmettos here, Page Field was in constant motion. The noise also was constant.

Speakers in the trees blasted out the sounds of battle chaos -- the relentless beat of helicopter rotors and every possible kind of explosion.

Drill instructors led groups of sweating and exhausted recruits, who clutched rifles as they ran, crawled face up and face down, climbed walls, scooted on their backs through barbed wire and ran on logs to cross a creek.

This was day two of what Marines call the Marine Corps Crucible, a 54-hour rite of passage at the end of 11 weeks of training during which recruits become Marines.

Only after recruits successfully come through the Crucible do they receive the eagle, globe and anchor. Only then are they called Marines.

“The Crucible is very impressive,” Gates said, “in the way it brings all the skills together in terms of teamwork, teaching about not leaving a Marine behind, teaching the combination of skills and core values, and [giving recruits] the opportunity to integrate everything they’ve learned in the preceding weeks of training.”

Over 54 hours the recruits walk 48 miles carrying 45 pounds of gear plus the M-16 A2 service rifle.

With limited food and sleep, they perform day and night marches, night infiltration movement, combat resupply and casualty evacuation, combat field firing as a team, solving problems and negotiating obstacles as a team, leadership tests and core values training.

Such values include upholding honor, courage and commitment in every situation.

Marine Capt. Miguel Whyte is a platoon leader in the Field Training Company. He and another platoon leader are responsible for training recruits on the rappel tower, the gas chamber, basic warrior training and more, and conducting the Crucible.

“The event I like the most is called the leadership reaction course,” he said. “I call that the MacGyver course. It’s a true test of their thinking abilities.”

MacGyver was an action-adventure television show in the mid-1980s in which a resourceful agent solved complex problems with everyday materials.

During the three-hour course, the teams perform six tasks that test their ability to work together to solve problems.

These tasks include using three wooden boards to cross several stumps without touching the ground, using the same concept to cross a water hole, and hauling a large container over a wall using available resources.

“Most of these guys won’t be going into the infantry but it’s important that they have the skills," Whyte said.

The Marine Corps makes sure everyone has combat skills, he said.

“We have that motto, ‘every Marine is a rifleman,’ and it really comes in handy,” Whyte said. “If you’ve got a guy coming to give you fuel and something happens, if he can’t defend himself, you’re not getting your fuel.”

The day before the secretary’s visit to Parris Island, he spoke with more than 1,000 Marines during a town hall at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

“America has leaned heavily on the Marine Corps this past decade and will continue to do so going forward because Marines are always ready, no matter what the mission,” Gates said.

“In just the past few months,” the secretary added, “Marines from the II Marine Expeditionary Force have responded to Japan's devastating earthquake and nuclear crisis, evacuated civilians fleeing upheaval in Tunisia and Libya, conducted multiple air strikes against Libyan tanks and armored vehicles advancing on Benghazi, and in Afghanistan have given the Taliban a severe beating and pushed them out of their traditional strongholds in Helmand after some of the heaviest fighting of the war.”

He called the Marine Corps “an expeditionary force with a maritime soul” and said its future is bright.

“The Marine Corps has been at the leading edge for over 200 years in adapting and responding to new technologies and new threats,” he said.

“Even as our country faces great challenges,” Gates told the Marines, “the adaptability, initiative and improvisation, along with the raw courage that is displayed by the United States Marines every day, gives me confidence that we can and will prevail as this country has in the past.”

Department Honors Top Communicators

From a Defense Information School News Release

FORT MEADE, Md., May 13, 2011 – The military’s best writers, photographers, and videographers were recognized for excellence in a ceremony at the Defense Information School here today.

Douglas B. Wilson, assistant secretary of defense for public affairs, recognized the award recipients for their achievements.

“Many of those being awarded here today are forward deployed, and it's a tribute to your dedication and professionalism that not only do you adhere to [the Defense Department Principles of Information], you embody them, and the standards of excellence reflected in your work in the most difficult conditions is a credit to you, your units, and the Defense Information School,” Wilson said.

The school hosting the ceremony is the evolutionary result of three separate military schools combining into a single communications school here in 1995.

Air Force Master Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock was named Military Photographer of the Year for an unprecedented fifth time. He also won the award in 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008, and earned runner-up honors in 2007 and 2009.

“I thrive on working stories, diving into each experience, and living for a moment in a world outside of my norm,” Lock said. “It is an honor to be able to share my vision and hopefully foster awareness, understanding, and empathy.”

The award winners in graphic arts, photography, videography, and print and broadcast journalism covered combat operations, humanitarian assistance, sporting events and daily military news events around the world.

In addition to presenting Lock with his award, Army Col. Gary L. Keck, Defense Information School commandant, presented the awards to the following overall winners:

-- Military Graphic Artist of the Year: Marine Corps Sgt. Shawn P. Sales;
-- Military Videographer of the Year: Air Force Staff Sgt. Burt Traynor;
-- Broadcast Journalist of the Year: Dave Annarino, Defense Media Activity – Army;
-- Print Journalist of the Year: Randy Roughton, Defense Media Activity - Air Force
-- New Broadcaster of the Year: Air Force Airman 1st Class Tori Fleck; and
-- New Military Writer of the Year: Marine Corps Cpl. Reece E. Lodder.

“Thank you for all of the hours you’ve dedicated to perfect your craft in the public affairs and visual information communities,” Keck said. “You have the incredible privilege of telling the story of the men and women who make up the Department of Defense team, and the products you produce consistently deliver immediate and lasting impacts.”

Keck presented 60 awards in all to winners representing all five service branches. The awards programs date back to 1960 for military photojournalists and to 1968 for the Thomas Jefferson Awards for print and broadcast journalists. This year’s Military Graphic Artist of the Year wasn’t alive when the programs started.

“It is an honor to serve my country as a Marine and as an artist,” Sales said. “As a child, the two things that brought me the most enjoyment were art and playing ‘soldier’ with neighboring children. … Although that was many years ago, I have not lost that passion for the military or the art. To have found an occupation that brought both of those interests together is nothing short of amazing. I sometimes feel that this job was made with me in mind.”

Defense Information School graduates are working in a world in which communication is integral, Wilson said. Their efforts are not in a stovepipe, he noted, and are not a separate entity from all that is going on in the world. The award winners’ career fields, he added, are part of policy development, not an afterthought to it, and are an essential part of the military mission, not an adjunct to it.

“What you do here in the continental United States, and around the world -- very often in harm's way now -- to tell the story of our military for our internal and external audiences is critically important,” Wilson said. “Your professional images and the reports you compile provide our internal audiences and the American people the initial look into the most sensitive operations around the world.”

Naval Air Station Jacksonville Kicks Off Motorcycle Awareness Month

By Clark Pierce, Naval Air Station Jacksonville Public Affairs

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Motorcycle safety advocates from law enforcement, education, motorcycle clubs and base leadership gathered May 10 aboard Naval Air Station (NAS) Jacksonville, Fla., to highlight the importance of training motorcycle drivers.

Lt. Bill Leeper, a Florida Highway Patrol representative, informed the audience that Florida has more than one million drivers with the motorcycle endorsement on their license, and one-third of them completed a basic motorcycle rider training course that helped prepare them for a lifetime of safe riding.

"Governor Rick Scott declared May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, so we want to take this opportunity to come together as riders, industry members, safety advocates and law enforcement to stress the importance of how education and awareness to save lives," said Leeper.

In Florida's Duval County alone, there are more than 42,500 endorsed riders.

"Since July 1, 2008, first-time riders in Florida are required to complete a basic rider course prior to receiving their license endorsement to operate a motorcycle. Results have been positive as motorcycle crash fatalities in Florida have dropped 35 percent in the past five years," said Leeper. "Today, we have partnered with NAS Jacksonville to recognize the focus that our nation's military has placed on motorcycle safety. Not only do they provide driver training to service members who ride – they also require military riders to wear protective gear above and beyond what the law requires."

"Our station is proud to join the Florida Highway Patrol and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office to stress smart motorcycle riding through education, as well as safety measures designed to prevent accidents and minimize injuries," said Cmdr. Jim Debold, NAS Jacksonville's operations officer. "With the Navy's '101 Days of Summer' safety campaign just around the corner, this joint news conference could not come at a better time. Our commanding officer, Capt. Jeffrey Maclay, encourages all leaders and military personnel aboard the base to continue to be proactive at increasing motorcycle safety awareness."

"NAS Jax is recognized for having one of the most proactive motorcycle training programs in the Navy. The base also has a motorcycle simulator, so Sailors considering the purchase of a motorcycle can experience real-world traffic from the two-wheel point of view before they buy," said DeBold.

Statistics show a positive trend in motorcycle safety as a result of the Navy's defensive driving program. In 2008, there were 33 motorcycle fatalities Navywide with three of them coming from NAS Jacksonville. In 2010, there was a marked reduction to 13 fatalities.

Hospital Corpsman Frankie Pace talked about the value of Navy motorcycle safety courses. He recently bought a sport/touring bike and took the opportunity to get familiar with it at an NAS Jacksonville sport bike rider class.

"The training means more when you're riding your own bike. The instructors are very knowledgeable, both in the classroom and on the driving range. The range provides a safe environment for riders to learn their bike's handling characteristics under acceleration and braking. Bottom line – whether you ride for basic transportation or recreation, these courses make you a better driver," said Pace.

"Education is the key to preventing motorcycle mishaps – so in addition to our basic rider course, we created experienced rider and sport bike courses. Last year, we trained about 850 riders and this year we're already at 600 in just five months. But the best measures of our success are those graduates who stop by and tell us that what they learned in our classes helped them avoid a life-threatening situation on the highway," said Ron Williamson, NAS Jackonsville's safety officer.

CNO Speaks at Brookings Institution

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Kyle P. Malloy, Chief of Naval Operations Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The chief of naval operations (CNO) delivered remarks and answered questions at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C., May 13.

CNO Adm. Gary Roughead discussed a multitude of topics affecting the future of the Navy and its operational ability, especially in regards to unmanned systems.

Roughead spoke about the Navy's expectations as it evolves unmanned technology.

"As we put this unmanned enterprise together, my direction to my people is that it has to be flexible, it has to be movable and it has to be agile," said Roughead.

When talking about unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), Roughead discussed the exciting milestones the community has made and mentioned the success naval aviation has had with UAVs aboard aircraft carriers.

"We remain committed to getting a squadron of UCLASS (Unmanned Carrier Launched Airborne Surveillance and Strike System) on board an aircraft carrier by 2018," said Roughead. "I would say if you are a young Sailor coming into naval aviation today you are looking at an entirely new fleet."

He spoke about the advancements in the Navy's unmanned underwater vehicles, and the road to creating a proficient energy solution.

"I've challenged the technical community, the research community and the academic community to give safe, ship-board, long duration power, and I have been extraordinarily pleased with the response that we have seen in that technology," said Roughead.

Whether he was discussing unmanned technology or other naval advances, Roughead said creative problem-solving is one of the reasons why the U.S. Navy is the most powerful fleet in the world.

"Innovation in the Navy is something we are proud of, and we have seen it transform naval warfare," said Roughead.

The Brookings Institute is a nonprofit public policy organization that conducts research to provide innovative recommendations for a stronger democracy, economic and social welfare and enhance international relationships.

Service Members Honored at The Players Championship

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Sunday Williams, Navy Public Affairs Support Element Detachment Southeast

PONTE VEDRA, Fla. (NNS) -- Service members and their families from military installations throughout the Florida and Georgia area were honored during Military Appreciation Day May 11 at The Players Championship 2011 in Ponte Vedra, Fla.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Gary Roughead was the guest speaker at the event.

Roughead thanked all who attended for their support of service members.

"They do it because of you," said Roughead. "They serve because of you. The words of encouragement, the acts of appreciation that you perform to express that appreciation are not lost on those who serve and that is what allows them to get up every day, to go into harm's way."

The ceremony was held on Tournament Players Club at Sawgrass' clubhouse lawn and included a pageantry of military personnel. More than 1,000 people attended the ceremony that featured numerous events designed to honor and show appreciation to all active duty, retired and Reserve military members and their dependents.

The ceremony included "The National Anthem," performed by the 82nd Airborne All-American Chorus from Fort Bragg, N.C.; a flyover; and remarks from Professional Golfers' Association of America (PGA) Tour Commissioner Tim Finchem, Jim Furyk, a PGA Tour player, and representatives from the Wounded Warrior Project and the Military Warrior Support Foundation.

"This is a fantastic event," said Wilma Hernandez, a resident of Ponte Vedra. "I live here and come every year to this event to honor our military, and it is so great to see so many people come out to support them because they deserve to know how grateful we are for their service and sacrifice."

Roughead went on to say it is not just thanks due to those who serve, but thanks also to those that allow service members to serve.

"Behind each and every one of them is a family, someone that allows them to put this uniform on every day, to go off and do something that they love to do, something that they know is important and something that they know is making a difference in this world," said Roughead. "So for that encouragement, for that support, I thank you."

Kara Lyle, a wife of a Army Soldier, said she was honored to attend in support of her husband Army Staff Sgt. Jared Lyle, who is currently serving in Afghanistan.

"I go to every function I can to show support for our troops because it is important," said Lyle. "It was so great to hear the CNO speak and to thank military member's families as well, but what really warmed my heart is that he truly is proud of all of these men and women and honored to serve with them."

Darius Rucker, a country music artist, closed the program with a special performance dedicated to the military and their families.

"What a great day," said Michael Redando, who served 10 years in the Marine Corps. "I think this is such a great way to make service members and their families feel the love of America. There is no other country that appreciates their military the way we do and to have people like Darius Rucker and the PGA take the time to show that speaks volumes about the heart of the people in our country."

Family Matters Blog: My Husband’s PTSD

American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, May 13, 2011 – Diana Veseth-Nelson’s husband, retired Army Capt. Adrian Veseth-Nelson, was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder after his second deployment in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He received treatment through the Deployment Health Clinical Center’s specialized care program. Here’s Diana’s story of coping with PTSD as a military wife, supporting her husband throughout his treatment and her desire to reach out to other military spouses.

By Diana Veseth-Nelson
May 13, 2011

My husband’s PTSD manifested itself in different ways. I remember Fourth of July at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., when we were all standing outside listening to the band, enjoying the picnic and listening to fireworks. The fireworks bothered Adrian because they sounded so much like gunfire. It made other soldiers upset too, and we all went inside. I thought it was ironic because the celebration was supposed to be for the American soldiers; they couldn’t even enjoy it.

He’d see a can on the side of the road and swerve, thinking it was an improvised explosive device. When he’d go out to dinner with other soldiers, I’d say it looked like a “The Last Supper” painting because they’d all sit there with their backs against the wall. If a room became too busy, he’d want to leave. He’d suddenly become unfriendly or unapproachable. At first, I confused his behavior with depression, or I thought maybe he was just tired. I also couldn’t help but think it had to do with me; I’m only human.

I was fortunate that Adrian was willing to get help once he got back. Once he was diagnosed, I knew we’d know better how to deal with his symptoms. I educated myself on PTSD; I went to his group therapist and reached out to the Real Warriors Campaign for information. But the most important thing I did was to listen to Adrian.

After he took part in the DHCC program, I could tell there was a stark improvement in his ability to manage his PTSD symptoms. The program taught him different ways to manage the symptoms. I never thought he would be into activities like yoga or acupuncture -- now he’s a convert!
I think because Adrian and I communicate well we’ve been fortunate. When a soldier comes home, there’s usually a highly anticipated arrival and perception that everything’s going to be OK now. The truth is, everything may not be OK and getting to that desired state may be more of a process. But in the end, it’s worth it.

We recently moved outside Washington, D.C., and I’m looking to start a support group for significant others since we’re so close to Walter Reed Army Medical Center and other bases. I think spouses need a support network just like service members, especially since some soldiers are not as open as my husband. Some families may have to cope with someone who is in complete denial -- being involved in a support network may help. My hope is to lead a group that does just that, provide support to military families.

MEDREACH 11 Builds Capabilities, Cooperation

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

LILONGWE, Malawi, May 13, 2011 – Army Col. Marcus De Oliveira, the U.S. Army Africa chief of staff, closed the MEDREACH 11 medical humanitarian assistance exercise here yesterday praising the participating U.S. and Malawi Defense Force troops who “accomplished every exercise objective and achieved far more than we asked of them.”

The exercise, which kicked off May 1 and wrapped up yesterday, was the first MEDREACH for U.S. Army Africa and the first surgical readiness exercise the United States has conducted in Africa.

De Oliveira ticked off a list of accomplishments: classroom exchanges on combat lifesaving and tropic medicine and other medical techniques, outreach missions that provided medical and dental care to more than 3,000 Malawian civilians, and use of new sutureless techniques that restored sight to almost 400 people suffering from advanced cataracts, among them.

During the closing ceremony at the Malawi Defense Force’s Kamuzu Barracks here, De Oliveira said the exercise couldn’t be done everywhere. It succeeded in Malawi, he said, “because here we found a professional force that stood side by side with us in planning, and, most important, in working to help the citizens of Malawi.”

But beyond these training and health and surgical benefits, De Oliveira said MEDREACH provided “one small, positive piece of a much larger program.”

“The real benefit of this exercise is the mutual respect and understanding gained by two professional militaries that worked side by side and built lasting relationships,” he said. “Those relationships will far outlast the short-term benefits of this exercise. … This exercise is really a small facet of a wider, strong lasting partnership between our two countries.”

Lisa Vickers, charge d’affaires at the U.S. Embassy in Malawi, called MEDREACH two nations.”

“Such cooperation is critical as we both work for a more peaceful, stable and prosperous world,” she added.

Lessons learned during Medreach 11 will help ensure that both the Malawi Defense Force and U.S. military are better prepared “for any mission that may come their way,” Vickers said.

This preparedness is critical, she said, “whether that mission be peacekeeping on the continent of Africa, providing humanitarian assistance to a neighboring country in their time of need, responding to a natural disaster here at home in Malawi, or yes, maybe even combat.”

The U.S. government has long been a proud partner with the Malawian military in preparing for all of these missions, Vickers said. “And it is my hope,” she added, “that the training gained in MEDREACH 2011 will be useful in any situation in which the [Malawi Defense Force] might find itself engaged.”

Brig. Gen. Paul Phiri, the Malawi Defense Force’s director of training, said the benefits of MEDREACH 11 will assist his troops as they conduct peacekeeping operations and respond to disasters and crises in the region.

“This joint exercise has increased the understanding of the two armed forces’ capacity and capability in such operations,” he said. “I believe there is a lot more we can do together. … The impact of these exercises is far-reaching.”

Naples American Red Cross Conducts Disaster Training Course

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Felicito Rustique, Navy Public Affairs Support Element-East Detachment Europe

NAPLES, Italy (NNS) -- The American Red Cross aboard Naval Support Activity (NSA) Naples conducted a three-day, "Disaster Training" course at its Capodichino facility, May 10-12.

Sailors, Fleet and Family Support Center (FFSC) personnel and volunteers from the NSA Naples community attended the course.

An overview on the mission of the Red Cross, dealing with a mass casualty disaster and successfully setting up a shelter, were the focus points of the training.

Natural disasters such as fires, earthquakes, volcanoes, floods and hurricanes, or man-made disasters such as factory explosions and terrorist attacks were some course examples of what can create mass casualties and a need to provide shelter for displaced people.

"With this course, we wanted to inform the community of the types of emergencies out there and how they can help themselves and others in time when an emergency occurs," said Jacqueline Mack, the course instructor and director of operations for the Red Cross station here. "The class went well, and we had a lot of enthusiastic people show up eager to learn."

Engineman 2nd Class (SW/EXW) Miguel Huerta, NSA Naples Emergency Management Division (EMD), attended the course.

"This was a great opportunity, and it helped me realize that there are more resources available for dealing with a disaster here; not just us at the EMD," said Huerta. "Everybody should be prepared ahead of time. Have emergency disaster kits and self-documentation ready, and in the event that the NSA Naples community would have to seek shelter, the food court at the Navy Exchange is our safe-haven for everyone."

During the training, workbooks accompanied by video clips and lectures were combined with a simulated exercise where course participants had to split up into two teams to set up shelters.

"The books such as 'Mass Care Overview' and 'Mass Casualty Disasters' are excellent," said Lynn-Marie Smith-Martin, NSA Naples FFSC director. "They were very helpful and now I plan to use them to better prepare my staff and refine my operating procedures for disaster preparedness."

The Disaster Training course usually occurs three times a year. In preparation for an upcoming disaster preparedness exercise for NSA Naples this summer, Mack said the course will take place again June 7-9.

To sign up for the course, or for more information on the American Red Cross, visit the website at redcross.org.

Learning From the Bystander Intervention Pilot Program

From Naval Education and Training Command Public Affairs

ORLANDO, Fla. (NNS) -- The results of a Navy program aimed at eliminating violence against women were briefed at the Department of the Navy Sexual Assault and Prevention Response Summit held in Orlando, Fla., May 4.

Conducted over the past year, the Bystander Intervention Pilot Program was designed to determine the viability of implementing a bystander intervention training program for the Navy and Marine Corps.

"Bystander intervention approaches teach our service members to take action when risky peer behavior is observed," stated Capt. Chuck Hollingsworth, commanding officer of the Center for Personal and Professional Development in Norfolk, Va., which coordinated the contract for the training and collected survey data used to assess its effectiveness. "It's appropriate for all audiences, because while most Sailors don't perpetrate the illegal behavior, all are in a position to stop it."

Using the Mentors in Violence Prevention (MVP) program, the Navy selected 25 commands to participate in the pilot. MVP is a leadership program focused on gender violence prevention and education and was established in 1993 as a multi-racial, mixed-gender training program geared toward high school and college-age students. The program also focuses on professional athletes in the fight against all forms of violence against women. MVP uses bystander intervention as a strategy to prevent sexual violence and has been implemented broadly throughout the country including secondary schools, college athletics, sororities and fraternities, youth service providers, and professional sports associations. Surveys were conducted before and after the MVP training to determine if Sailors realized a change in attitude toward intervention in sexual assault related incidents.

"The survey data indicated a significant attitude change for our junior Sailors (E-4 and below)," said Hollingsworth. "More importantly for our Navy, however, the survey respondents reported 31 interventions that took place because of the training. These are incidents that were avoided because Sailors took care of Sailors."

In the MVP model for training delivery, Sailors who were designated as command trainers received two days of intense MVP training, including a "teach-back" session, and then returned to deliver the peer-to-peer training to their units. Class participants receive training in areas including gender relations, abuses of power and discussions of social norms, all centered on the principle of supporting mutual dignity and respect.

"Bystander intervention is clearly a great fit for the Navy culture," said CPPD Command Master Chief (SW/AW) Stephan Fontenot. "It is all about Sailors taking care of Sailors, and these skills can be used not only to prevent sexual assault, but for numerous other situations where our Sailors find themselves needing to watch each others' backs.

Bystander intervention training is one piece of a larger strategy addressing changes in attitudes and behaviors about sexual assault. Based on the results of the pilot, Navy leadership is currently assessing the best way to provide bystander intervention skills throughout the Navy.

"We've all taken an oath to 'support and defend'," Hollingsworth concluded. "It's time we started applying that oath to our own force."

TR Prepares to Undock with Fast Cruise

By Mass Communication Specialist Seaman John Kotara, USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) Public Affairs

NEWPORT NEWS, Va. (NNS) -- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) held a "fast cruise" May 12 during its Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in preparation to flood the ship's dry dock, and to move the ship pier side at Newport News Shipbuilding, which will be the ship's first underway since 2009.

A fast cruise consists of a series of checks and procedures performed on a ship that has undergone an overhaul, or spent an extended period in port. These procedures will help the crew understand their role when the ship's dry dock is flooded and what events will take place during the ship's undocking and short underway to a pier side location.

"Fast cruise will give new Sailors, as well as Sailors who need a refreshing, the chance to learn what to do when we float the ship and undock," said Chief Warrant Officer Cary Carrigan, TR's boatswain. "These checklists will help give us a true assessment and account for potential issues or problems ahead of time, and keep us all on the same page."

For TR and Newport News Shipbuilding personnel, this is a critical evolution because there have been hundreds of cuts and welds made into the hull of the ship during the first 18 months of its RCOH. To maintain the ship's water tight integrity and prevent flooding, water will be gradually allowed to enter the dry dock and make contact with the ship's hull.

With many of the ship's departments working together, including Engineering, Reactor, Deck, Air, Supply, Safety and Navigation, communication was a top priority. Not only was there inter-departmental communication, but communication with shipyard employees as well.

"We speak different terms in each department, as well as pretty much a different language than the shipyard workers," said Carrigan. "So communication is crucial as we prepare for the real thing."

To specifically prepare Sailors, many departments sent their Sailors to schools focusing on qualifications used in their specific rates. The departments also conducted drills and accurate simulations that were as real as possible to better train their Sailors.

Smith explains that in conducting practice drills, Sailors will be able to learn from their mistakes and minimize the surprises that might arise.

"To prepare Sailors, we have practiced and trained well in advance for the events of flooding dry dock and the moving of TR," said Lt. Cmdr. Daniel A. Smith, TR's damage control assistant. "Perfect practice makes perfect."

Team Theodore Roosevelt's fast cruise, and the preparations leading up to it, have allowed the crew and Newport News Shipbuilding employees to ensure the ship's first underway since entering RCOH is a success.

Theodore Roosevelt is currently undergoing its scheduled mid-life Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) at Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries. During the 39-month maintenance period, TR's fuel will be replenished and significant upgrades will be made to the ship's combat and communication systems to extend the ship's service life for 25 or more years. All Nimitz-class aircraft carriers go through RCOH near the mid-point of their 50-year life cycle.

Team Navy/Coast Guard Completes Roster with Surprise Selection

By Zona Lewis, Navy Safe Harbor

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (NNS) -- Team Navy/Coast Guard finalized its Warrior Games athlete roster May 12 by announcing the selection of its 35th and final member.

The announcement was made by members of the 2011 Navy/Coast Guard team during a surprise visit to Fountain Middle School.

Filing into her last school class of the day, members of Team Navy/Coast Guard surprised eigth-grader Cali Overcast and her classmates, with a bouquet of flowers, loading her up with Navy-pride gear, and naming her an honorary member of Team Navy/Coast Guard.

Overcast is not a wounded warrior; she is not even in the Navy. Colorado residents might not be familiar with her name, but she has made a huge impression on every wounded warrior athlete arriving in Colorado Springs to compete in next week's Warrior Games. A quilt she made hangs prominently in the lobby of the Colorado Springs Airport welcoming athletes to the Games.

"I came up with the idea in early April," said Cali. "I wanted to do something to show my support and appreciation to the wounded warriors because [through their service] they have given up arms and legs."

To sew the quilt, she enlisted the help of her mother and a neighbor, and in three days, they completed the base of the 10'x10' quilt. To bring the quilt to life, she worked with the sixth and seventh graders from the school's Chain Link Club to add decorations, text, and small posters.

However, the final touches came in the form of more than 1,700 signatures and messages from local students, Boy and Girl Scout troops, veterans, service members, and area fire and police department personnel.

In less than 30 days from the birth of the idea, the completed quilt was hung in the airport May 2 to ensure that all athletes arriving for service-specific pre-Warrior Games training camps felt welcomed.

"When I arrived in Colorado Springs and saw the quilt I knew I had to meet her," said Navy Petty Officer Steve Lipscomb. "I was exhausted from a long flight and seeing the quilt welcoming wounded warriors to Colorado Springs for the Warrior Games renewed my spirit and inspired me."

Lipscomb was diagnosed with stage-4 gastric cancer in August 2010 and has worked hard preparing for the competition, balancing family, work, physical training, and chemotherapy.

Cali is not a stranger to the label "disabled." Born with a congenital birth defect, her left hip and leg do not grow at the same rate as the rest of her body. After 14 surgeries and at the age of 9, her lower left leg was amputated.

Team Navy and Coast Guard recognizes that what makes Cali special is not her disability, but her abilities. She is a member of her school's varsity volleyball team, rides horses, kayaks, rafts, and goes rock climbing. Since age 11, she has been mentoring wounded warriors faced with a disability by sharing her story and encouraging them not to give up on life or themselves.

"After 9/11 I felt horrible that soldiers had to go to war to protect us and keep us safe," she said. "I wanted to do something."

The athletes, who usually are the ones to inspire people, found themselves in awe of a middle school student. They asked for her autograph, had her sign their uniform jackets, and had photos taken with her.

"I have not met many people that have inspired me as much as this young lady," said retired Navy Chief Gerald "Wayne" Williams. "She is a true inspiration; an angel in human form. I wish my kids could meet her."

Williams was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in 2008 and has suffered from depression. He credits his participation in the inaugural Warrior Games as one of the things that saved his life.

"She gives me hope for our future," said retired Navy Petty Officer Michael Johnston, who lost his left leg from the knee down in a motorcycle accident. "She has adapted so well to her circumstances at a very young age. She has a positive and joyful outlook on life – it is refreshing."

Since they share a disability, Johnston challenged Cali to a sprint across the length of the gymnasium and was relieved that he won such a close race. Johnston competed in the Paratriathlon World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in 2010 and has his eye on a spot on the 2012 Paralympics team.

Immediately upon seeing Overcast's quilt, Team Navy/Coast Guard co-captain and the adaptive athletics program manager for Navy Safe Harbor, the Navy and Coast Guard's wounded warrior support program, set in motion the plan to visit to Cali's school.

"Once I saw who did the quilt and made the effort – for a young lady to have such a social conscience and to make such an effort on behalf of service men and women she has never met – I knew we had to say thank-you in person," said retired Master Chief James "Will" Wilson.

Wilson believes Cali's support of service members, especially wounded warriors, is heartfelt and sincere.

"I don't think anybody does something like that just to make a statement or for the publicity. I took time to read the messages on the quilt and had tears running down my face – that is America taking care of us. Her quilt is a blanket sewn with the threads of love."

The day she was named as an honorary team member, Cali also celebrated her 14th birthday. She said the visit from Team Navy/Coast Guard was the best birthday present she could have received, and it will be a birthday she will not soon forget.

Constitution Sailors Lend a Hand to Habitat for Humanity in New Orleans

By Seaman Shannon Heavin, USS Constitution Public Affairs

NEW ORLEANS (NNS) -- USS Constitution Sailors helped build a home as part of a Habitat for Humanity project in New Orleans, May 11.

Lt. Cmdr. Stephen Shirley, executive officer of Constitution, Yeoman 1st Class(SCW) Chrishinda Dobbs, Airman Sang Nguyen, Aviation Structural Mechanic Airman Andrew Wyall and Master-at-Arms Seaman Gary Matthias participated in the project as part of New Orleans Navy Week.

"I'm glad we were able to support Habitat for Humanity," said Shirley. "We worked as a global force for good with local Sailors as one team conquering the hard work at hand."

Sailors assigned to Navy Operational Support Center New Orleans and Naval Support Activity, New Orleans, also participated in digging out an area of earth in preparation for building the home's driveway. They also dug holes and trimmed the yard for a future fence.

"I look forward to seeing the end result," said Dobbs. "Although we will never meet the family we're helping, we know through our combined efforts, there will be, in a sense, a miracle to come for this family."

"That certainly was inspiring," said Rear Adm. Vic Guillory, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Southern Command and U.S. 4th Fleet. "The Sailors have been a tremendous representative of the Navy, and it gives me a tremendous sense of pride; men and women with different stories serving in a Navy bigger than ourselves, and today they proved just that."

Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization, offers their homes at no interest to families who qualify.

New Orleans Navy Week is one 21 Navy Weeks planned across America in 2011. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Constitution is located in the Charlestown Navy Yard in Boston. She is the world's oldest commissioned warship afloat and welcomes more than 500,000 visitors per year.

Major Structural Repairs Preserve Historic 'Home of the Commandants'

By James Johnson, Naval Facilities Engineering Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- WASHINGTON—Naval Facilities Engineering Command Washington completed restoration efforts on the historic residence of the Commandant of the United States Marine Corps at Marine Barracks Washington May 12.

The project required restoration and repairs to every aspect of the residence, including major structural repairs, a complete replacement of the HVAC system to be more energy efficient, electrical upgrades, exterior work on brick, mortar and wood trim, abatement of all lead paint and asbestos, new solar power equipment and Anti-terrorism/Force Protection site upgrades.

"NAVFAC is proud to deliver this project that enhances the mission of the Marine Barracks," said Igor Boras, project manager, NAVFAC Washington. "This renovation has preserved a National Historic Landmark that has served the Marine Corps and United States of America for over 200 years."

The Home of the Commandants was built in 1806 at the direction of President Thomas Jefferson and has housed all but the first two Marine Corps Commandants. It is the oldest, continuously occupied public building in Washington D.C., according to the Marines Corps. In 2004 and 2008, structural inspections showed severe deterioration of exterior brick and mortar which had caused structural problems throughout the rest of the residence.

To meet the highest standards in maintaining historical aspects of the building, work was coordinated with the District of Columbia State Historic Preservation Office and the services of a historic preservation architect, who has worked previously on the U.S. Capitol and Washington Monument, were obtained.

The prime contractor, G-W Management Services was awarded a $3.7 million contract on June 17, 2010, to complete the project. Boras said G-W Management Services provided innovative solutions to accomplish their task, and noted that work was completed ahead of schedule and within budget, despite numerous contract modifications. No safety mishaps occurred during construction.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for May 20 at Marine Barracks Washington.

USS Alabama Returns to Bangor

From Commander, Submarine Group 9 Public Affairs

BANGOR, Wash. (NNS) -- Trident ballistic missile submarine USS Alabama (SSBN 731)(Blue) returned to its homeport of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, Wash., after a 45-day strategic deterrent patrol, May 10.

Rear Adm. Bob Hennegan, commander of Submarine Group 9, was among those on hand to welcome home the crew which departed for its patrol March 27.

"I am proud to lead the finest Sailors that our country has to offer," said Cmdr. Christopher Kline, USS Alabama (Blue) commanding officer. "They love their families and our country, and show it by making every minute at sea count through their dedication, hard work and commitment to excellence."

While underway, a total of 12 Blue Crew Sailors – 10 enlisted and two officers – earned the coveted submariner's "dolphins" by completing their submarine qualifications.

"The guys worked hard, and it paid off with the successful completion of our mission," said Master Chief Electronics Technician (SS) Lance Mefford, Blue Crew chief of the boat.

The sixth of 18 Ohio-class SSBNs, Alabama is one of eight ballistic missile submarines homeported at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, providing the survivable leg of the nation's strategic deterrent forces.