Military News

Friday, June 03, 2011

Officials Suggest New Role for More Capable Reserve Force

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 3, 2011 – Capabilities gained from a decade of combat have transformed military reserve components into a full-spectrum operational force that should be integrated into the active fighting force, a defense official said today.

Paul Patrick, deputy assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs for readiness training and mobilization, briefed an audience here on the Comprehensive Review of the Future Role of the Reserve Component, approved by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates on April 27.

The report calls on the Defense Department to institutionalize experiences and integration that has occurred among the National Guard and reserves over the last 10 years After operations in Iraq and Afghanistan are over, Patrick said.

The reserve components study was a product of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defense Review, completed last year. The review called for a comprehensive look at the roles of the National Guard and reserves, and the balance between active and reserve forces.

Dennis M. McCarthy, assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, and Marine Corps Gen. James E. Cartwright, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, were co-chairs in the review.

“The 21st century will require the United States to maintain an array of forces that can consistently win across the full spectrum of military operations on a global scale,” McCarthy and Cartwright wrote in the study foreword.

“These forces must be augmented by an accessible and ready pool of reinforcing and complementary capabilities, some of which will reside in our reserve components,” they added, noting that “the policies and practices necessary to use the National Guard and reserve as the report suggests have not been fully institutionalized.”

At the briefing, Robert Smiley, principal deputy for readiness training and mobilization in the office of the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, said 24 DOD agencies participated in the study, which offered seven suggestions for best use of the part-time military force.

In its current role -- as units, teams and individuals -- the reserve component participates in overseas conflicts, defends the homeland against external attacks and supports civil authorities in response to attacks or natural disasters.

In major combat operations it augments and reinforces the national effort with combat and support forces, supports combatant commanders worldwide and supports the efforts of the military services to preserve the all-volunteer force.

According to the report, several options exist for rebalancing capabilities in the total military force.

These include relying on the reserve component when building force structure to avoid shortfalls or expand capacity, assigning some recurring operational missions to reserve component units, and establishing long-term relationships between specific guard or reserve units and individual combatant commands.

“If you have the same people come back to the same well several times, we think that works out better, and this long-term relationship we think is a good deal,” Smiley said.

“[Intelligence] people do that now,” he added. “A lot of [reserve] folks work on intel things, and the intel folks see the same people over and over again. It’s a good idea to build these relationships.”

Other options include establishing national or regional reserve units staffed with people who are willing to serve on active duty more often or for longer periods than usual based on individual missions, and using reservists to respond to emerging needs like cyber defense.

“How do I capture [an] engineer from Microsoft and say to him, ‘You don’t have to join the military all the time, but we need your expertise for this requirement?’ Smiley asked.

“What can we do in the reserves?” he continued. “How do we recruit that person, how do we retain that person, and what’s the proper way to compensate that person?”

The report also suggested integrating active and reserve forces into blended units, and assigning some institutional support tasks -- recruiting, organizing, supplying, equipping, training and others -- to reserve-component units, teams or individuals.

Without employing the Guard and reserves, the report says, “the United States cannot continue to remain engaged globally, given DOD’s current force structure.”

Tornado, Flood Response Jumps to 5,000 Guardsmen

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., June 3, 2011 – In the aftermath of severe storms that brought devastating tornadoes to areas of Missouri and Massachusetts and major flooding across the Midwest and other parts of the country, the number of National Guard personnel who are answering the call for help has risen to about 5,000.

Guard members are performing domestic operations for flood relief support in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Vermont and Wyoming.

Operations include transportation and aviation support, levee patrols and security, assisting local and federal civilian emergency management agencies, evacuation support, search and rescue operations and sandbag operations.

In areas of Montana, Vermont and Wyoming, heavy rains and melting snow have created rising waters that prompted evacuation of Washington County, Vermont, residents.

In the Dakotas, about 3,000 Guard members are battling flood waters after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened oversaturated up-river dams earlier this week along the Missouri River.

Louisiana and Mississippi Guard members remain vigilant in their battle against the waters of the Mississippi River after severe storms swelled the river earlier this year. Operations continue in both states, where about 1,200 Guard members are operating.

Tornadoes have been another part of these heavy storms recently, and parts of Massachusetts and Missouri have both seen extensive damage. About 450 citizen-soldiers and -airmen were on duty the morning after tornadoes tore across central Massachusetts on June 1. About 675 Guardsmen are on state active duty.

About 275 Missouri National Guard members are performing various domestic operations in the Joplin area after a major twister leveled large portions of that city May 22.

Operations in both Missouri and Massachusetts include search and rescue, debris removal and cleanup, health and wellness checks, assisting local and federal emergency responders and damage assessment, Guard officials said.

Missouri Sailors Continue Volunteer Efforts in Joplin

By Lt. Jennifer Cragg, Commander Submarine Group 2 Public Affairs

JOPLIN, Mo. (NNS) -- Eight USS Missouri (SSN 780) Sailors continue their volunteer efforts by organizing 200 volunteers to assist with clean-up efforts in Joplin, Mo., June 2.

The Sailors dispersed over several areas of Joplin to remove debris, assist homeowners with recovery of their belongings and oversee volunteers.

"After our first day in Joplin it became clear to all members of the Missouri team that our decision to volunteer in Missouri and assist not only the citizens of Joplin but the entire state, was the right one. It further strengthens the strong ties between USS Missouri and our namesake state," said Chief Yeoman (SS) Mike Shea.

The Missouri Sailors departed their homeport in Groton, Conn. on June 1, to assist with recovery efforts following a tornado that tore through the city last month. Each Sailor elected to take voluntary leave for one week to offer assistance where needed in Joplin.

"We also have realized that what we are doing here is helping to establish a strong footprint in the recovery and rebuilding of the town of Joplin," said Shea.

The Missouri Sailors will continue their volunteer efforts with Americorps, the American Red Cross, and the Missouri State Emergency Management Agency until the middle of next week.

Missouri is the fifth Navy ship to be named in honor of the people of the "Show Me State."

Riverine Forces Make History with Well Deck Certification

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe, Navy Expeditionary Combat Command Public Affairs

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- Sailors from Riverine Squadrons (RIVRON) 2 and 3 made history when they successfully completed the first well deck certification for the Riverine Command Boat (RCB) and Riverine Patrol Boat (RPB) aboard USS Oak Hill (LSD 51) May 31.

"What this proves is that, once and for all, we have the capability with the Riverine Command Boats and Riverine Patrol Boats to bring them on board the well deck of a ship," said Capt. Christopher Halton, commodore of Riverine Group 1. "With us being able to sustain operations out of the well deck, it opens up a variety of mission sets for the Riverines, from counter piracy missions, supporting amphibious operations or providing force protection for LCACs (Landing Craft, Air Cushioned) operating back and forth to the beach."

With completion of the well deck certification, the boats have the ability to deploy worldwide aboard an amphibious ship in support of the maritime strategy.

Amphibious operations reach across all six core capabilities of the maritime strategy which are forward presence, deterrence, sea control, power projection, maritime security and humanitarian assistance and disaster response.

While Oak Hill was anchored in the Chesapeake Bay, the Riverine boats entered the well deck several times, testing the boats maneuverability and the crew's ability to safely bring the boats in, and work together with the Oak Hill crew.

After the RCBs and RPB were secured in the well deck with mooring lines, Oak Hill drained the deck so Riverine Sailors could inspect the boats and ensure they could be properly secured for sea during underway evolutions.

"The RCB was designed with the focus of being a mobile command and control boat, with the ability to control smaller Riverine boats up river," said Cmdr. Clay Wilson, commanding officer of RIVRON 2. "We've kind of pulled it (Riverine mission) out towards the coastal environment right now to fill Riverine needs and the craft has proven to be capable of doing more then just inshore missions."

"Once the last boat was clear of the well and it was clear that the events of the day were successful, my well deck team broke out into spontaneous cheers and applause," said Cmdr. David Bauer, commanding officer of USS Oak Hill. "They knew the importance of what they had just done. It was a very moving moment."

The Riverine Force, part of Navy Expeditionary Combat Command, is a combat-arms force that performs point defense, fire support and interdiction operations along inland water ways to defeat enemies and support U.S. Marines and coalition forces.

Reagan CSG Sailors, Marines Help Bahrain Schools

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kevin Gray and Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Kyle Carlstrom

MANAMA, Bahrain (NNS) -- Sailors and Marines assigned to USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 7 participated in community relations projects at the Regional Institute for Active Learning (RIA) and Bahrain Mobility International (BMI) in Bahrain, May 23 and 24.

Sailors and Marines from Reagan, embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14, and guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) volunteered their time during a scheduled port visit to help tutor students in conversational English and mathematics, renovate buildings and play games with the children during recess.

"These community relations projects are a way for us to extend a hand of friendship," said Lt. Evan Adams, Chancellorsville's command chaplain. "It is a way for us to learn about the culture and show a gesture of appreciation for allowing us to be a part of their commerce and society."

For the crew members who volunteered, the experience of giving back was rewarding and meaningful.

"It was an outstanding opportunity," said Aviation Electronics Technician 1st Class William Vega. "It's always important to give back. Sometimes we take for granted what we have and if we brightened up their day a little bit more; it was worth it."

Sailors and Marines visited RIA and BMI. RIA specializes in the academic and social development of children with autism and serves both Bahraini and expatriate students, while BMI provides physically disabled individuals with social and recreational activities.

"This is a great way to show what type of ambassadors of the United States we can be," said Gas Turbine System Technician (Mechanical) 2nd Class Joshua Elliott. "Getting to interact with the children and introducing them to another culture they may not experience again was a lot of fun."

The staff expressed appreciation for the crew's volunteer efforts.

"It helps out in many ways," said Eugenia Augustine, a teacher at RIA. "For the children, it's fun when the Navy comes in. Sailors take over for the teachers and do a little bit of spelling, reading and drawing and have fun with the children. They've [done] a good job. The children [felt] happy at the end of the day that they had something different. All of them love it when the Navy comes to visit; the children wait for them."

"Some of the kids in our school are very shy and they can't open up," said Anne Wilson, a teacher at RIA. "When new people come into the classroom, it helps the children to interact and communicate more, and builds their confidence."

The Ronald Reagan CSG is comprised of USS Ronald Reagan, guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, which includes USS Preble (DDG 88). Embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 14 includes the "Black Knights" of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 154, the "Argonauts" of VFA-147, the "Blue Diamonds" of VFA-146, the "Death Rattlers" of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 323, the "Black Eagles" of Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the "Cougars" of Tactical Electronic Warfare Squadron (VAQ) 139, the "Providers" of Carrier Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) 30 and the "Black Knights" of Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (HS) 4.

Ronald Reagan CSG is conducting maritime security operations and missions as part of Operations Enduring Freedom and New Dawn, while deployed in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility.

NSWC Port Hueneme Hosts VLS Forum, Strengthens Allied Relations

From Naval Sea Systems Command

PORT HUENEME, Calif (NNS) -- Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Port Hueneme hosted an international forum on the MK 41 Vertical Launching System (VLS) with nine allied nations, May 18-20.

During the event, NSWC Port Hueneme provided allied VLS users with access to the latest technology in logistics and in-service engineering.

"This event allowed users to discuss issues, exchange knowledge, skills, and lessons learned with system experts at one location," said Stan Wypyszynski, NSWC Port Hueneme VLS FMS project office manager. "It also enables a more efficient and effective way to control total ownership costs and maintain the VLS at the highest level of capability."

The annual forum supports the U.S. Navy's maritime strategy by fostering and sustaining cooperative relationships with international partners. This is the fourteenth year international VLS system users have participated. NSWC Port Hueneme has hosted similar events for 20 years, and created a best practice for other programs to follow.

Foreign navy participants included Australia, New Zealand, Korea, Germany, Canada, Turkey, Japan, Netherlands and Spain.

"This is the most important conference for Vertical Launching Systems," said Gunnar Luckas from the German navy.

"This conference is very useful for us to exchange experiences, exchange knowledge, and improve our performance," said Cmdr. Manuel Golmoyo of Spain.

"There are so many systems to learn," said Cmdr. Shinya Akao, Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force technical liaison officer. "We are working on two new systems, and definitely need to keep in touch with this group."

In addition to the hosting warfare center, other Navy participants included Program Executive Office, Integrated Warfare Systems' Surface Ship Weapons Launchers and International Programs Offices; Surface Combat Systems Center; NSWC Dahlgren; NSWC Carderock; NSWC Indian Head, Detachment Earle Weapons Systems, N.J.; NSWC Corona; SEA21's International Fleet Support Program Office; and the Naval Education and Training Security Assistance Field Activity.

The warfare centers are the Navy's principal research, development, test and evaluation assessment activity for surface ship and submarine systems and subsystems. In addition, the warfare centers provide depot maintenance and in-service engineering support to ensure the systems fielded today perform consistently and reliably in the future.

NSWC Port Hueneme, a division of the Naval Surface Warfare Center and a field activity of Naval Sea Systems Command, integrates, tests, evaluates and provides life-cycle engineering and logistics support for surface warfare systems.

U.S., Chinese Leaders Note Progress on Military Ties

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

SINGAPORE, June 3, 2011 – U.S. and Chinese defense leaders are pleased with the progress the countries are making in re-establishing good military-to-military relations.

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Chinese Defense Minister Gen. Liang Guanglie held bilateral talks during the Shangri-La Dialogue here today. This is the first time the Chinese defense minister has participated in the annual Asia security conference sponsored by the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

Gates and Liang continued discussions that began in January when the secretary visited Beijing. The Chinese suspended contacts with the U.S. military in 2009 in retaliation for the United States providing defensive weapons to Taiwan.

President Barack Obama and Chinese President Hu Jintao call military-to-military contacts between the two nations “an underdeveloped” part of the broader relationship between the United States and China.

“In recent months, our two countries have made some progress toward rectifying this imbalance by jointly identifying areas of cooperation,” Gates said at the start of the Shangri-La meeting.

Gates, who will retire as defense secretary at the end of the month, said he believes the U.S.-Chinese military relationship is now on a more positive trajectory. “Going forward, the U.S. and China must do more to work together on issues where we have common strategic interest -- piracy, disaster relief and North Korea,” he added.

The secretary said the two countries agree in many areas, but that it is especially important that leaders continue to work together in areas where there is disagreement. This will allow leaders of both nations to have greater clarity on each other’s intentions, he said.

“Together, we can show the world the benefits that arise when great nations collaborate on matters of shared interest,” Gates said.

The meeting was productive and cordial, said Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell.

“It focused on moving forward with the agenda that they set forth during the secretary’s visit in January,” he said. “I think overall the meeting focused more on areas of agreement rather than disagreement. Of course, areas of disagreement were raised, but they were sort of acknowledged and moved on from. Far more time was spent on things that collectively need to be done moving forward.”

Liang recognized the efforts Gates has made to advance the military-to-military relationship, Morrell said.

“He noted at least a couple of times that the Chinese side appreciated Secretary Gates’ efforts, … and [that] without his personal efforts, the progress that has been achieved over the past year would not have been possible,” Morrell said. “The secretary thanked General Liang and said in retirement he hopes to monitor the forward progress with a fishing line in hand.”

The Chinese did raise issues they are concerned with, including arms sales to Taiwan, a “hyping” of the Chinese military threat and reconnaissance operations off China’s coast, said a senior defense official speaking on background.

Liang did bring up the Strategic Security Dialogue put in place following the January meetings, the official said, adding that U.S. officials were encouraged that the Chinese see this as a beneficial forum for discussion. Officials discussed cyber and maritime issues in the first meeting of the dialogue last month, and officials hope future meetings will discuss nuclear missile defense and space, the official added.

“There seemed to be agreement today that it would be worthwhile to dedicate more time to forthcoming discussions,” a senior U.S. defense official said.

The meeting with Liang capped a full day of bilateral meetings for the secretary. Gates also met with Malaysian Prime Minister Mohamed Najib bin Abdul Razak, Japanese Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa and Singapore’s Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen.

National Guard Responds to Tornadoes, Floods

By Army Staff Sgt. Jim Greenhill and Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., June 2, 2011 – Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick has declared a state of emergency and ordered up to 1,000 National Guard members to support civilian authorities after deadly tornadoes caused property damage and power outages across the state yesterday afternoon.

About 450 citizen-soldiers and -airmen already were on duty this morning, the Massachusetts National Guard reported.

At least four people were killed, dozens were injured, damage hit 19 Massachusetts communities and tens of thousands of residents were without power after severe weather, according to civilian media reports.

Among other duties, Guard members were expected to assist with damage assessment, debris removal, health and wellness checks, route clearance, traffic control points and road closures, Guard officials reported.

Air Guard officials were assessing possible damage at the Barnes Air National Guard Base near Westfield, Mass.

Meanwhile, the number of National Guard members responding to severe spring flooding rose to about 4,300 over the weekend as parts of the Missouri River began to swell in Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.

Other states -- including Tennessee, Vermont and Wyoming -- also are seeing flooding as flood operations in Kentucky come to a close.

As of 5 p.m. May 31, about 2,000 North Dakota Guard members were on state active duty in response to rising waters in Burleigh, Morton and Ward counties, as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers opened upriver dams oversaturated with heavy rainwater and snowmelt.

Snowmelt is predicted to cause flooding in Wyoming, where about 115 Guard members are performing sandbagging operations ahead of the floods as the state continues to see a warming trend. The Wyoming Guard has opened its state operations center and is working with civil authorities to stay ahead of the waters, a Guard official said.

Montana also saw more snow than usual in the mountains over the winter, and heavy rains combined with the snowmelt have caused flooding in that state as well. About 97 Guard members there are performing security operations.

Heavy rains have contributed to rising waters in Vermont, where more than 90 Guard members have been evacuating residents from around lakebed areas. Officials there said rains have been consistent almost every day for about a month.

In Louisiana and Mississippi, Guard members continue their battle after severe storms swelled the Mississippi River earlier this year. Operations in both states -- including transportation support, levee patrol and inspection, search-and-rescue missions and levee security missions -- are scheduled to continue, officials said.

(This article includes information from CBS Boston.)

Yokosuka Increases Summer Safety Awareness for Sailors

By Mark Elrod, Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka Public Affairs

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) hosted its 5th annual Safety, Health and Environmental Awareness Fair, May 25.

Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) hopes such events will help reduce, or thwart summer mishaps by raising awareness.

"With the arrival of summer, many of us are going to start working and playing outside a lot more in the heat and humidity," said CFAY Commanding Officer Capt. David Owen. "Last summer, between Memorial Day and Labor Day, there were 28 Sailors and Marines, who, unfortunately died, and they all could have been averted in what they were doing.

"We need to refresh our memories on how to keep ourselves safe. We need to remember things like ORM (Operational Risk Management). It does not only apply at work, but also at home," Owen said.

The event marks the beginning of a concentrated, proactive stance that CFAY takes regarding the safety of its service members, civilians and family members.

"This is the kickoff of our 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign," said CFAY Safety Officer Kordeen Kor. "We brought people in from a series of different vendors to be able to provide information to the Sailors and civilians who are working here at CFAY to help them get through the summer safely."

During the event, attendees had an opportunity to receive free literature, American Red Cross CPR demonstrations, auto-impact airbag demonstrations by Japanese police, a demonstration on the effects of alcohol by CFAY Security, and CNFJ Regional Fire Department provided an earthquake simulator and offered fire prevention tips.

Providing the information is only the first elements in promoting safety, these elements rely on implementation by community members.

"[People should] make sure they are in shape for what they want to do," said Kor. "Make sure they have done their operational risk management; that they have gone through and identified any hazards or potential hazards; that they have assessed those; they've made a risk decision and that they've implemented any controls that are necessary to make sure they can be safe."

"I challenge you all to help each other by helping our families, our friends, and other members of our community, in preventing these tragedies that can occur when people don't manage a risk," said Owen. "Being safe is something we take seriously. Whether you're driving a vehicle, or playing softball… the last thing we want is to lose friends or family members to something that they could have avoided."

USS Norfolk Departs Shipyard Early

From Norfolk Naval Shipyard Public Affairs

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (NNS) -- Norfolk Pearl Harbor Naval Shipyard (NNSY) completed a Continuous Maintenance Availability (CMAV) for USS Norfolk (SSN 714) one week early, returning the submarine to the Fleet May 27.

"This marks another successful, short 688-class availability preceded by recent Dry-docking Selected Restricted Availabilities on USS Montpelier (SSN 765) and USS Boise (SSN 764)," said Oliver Bennett, submarine program manager.

The submarine docked at the shipyard Jan. 12, for scheduled maintenance work on her internal tanks, vibration reducer, fair-water planes, and significant upgrades to the sonar systems. The CMAV involved coordinated work between more than 20 activities outside of NNSY.

"The project went great," said Project Superintendent John Darlington. "We worked together as a family, as well as a team; looking out for each other."

NNSY, a field activity of the Naval Sea Systems Command, is the oldest and largest industrial facility belonging to the U.S. Navy, and specializes in repairing, overhauling and modernizing ships and submarines.

USS Gettysburg Departs Plymouth, England After Successful Port Visit

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Betsy Lynn Knapper, USS Gettysburg Public Affairs

PLYMOUTH, England (NNS) -- The guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg (CG 64) completed its first port visit for its 2011 deployment in Plymouth, England, May 31.

While in port, Sailors were able to take a Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) sponsored bus trip to London, Salisbury and Stonehenge, one of the Seven Wonders of the World.

"It was great interaction and the Sailors had a blast," said Gettysburg Command Master Chief (SW) Brent H. Tidwell. "All of the people that I spoke to that had interaction with Gettysburg Sailors, said we had a great group of young men and women on the ship. That is one of the things I was really proud of and that just tops it off for me."

"I think the trips were definitely a success," said Lt.j.g. Kayla M. Johnson, Gettysburg MWR officer. "I've gotten great feedback from those who participated. Everyone who went to either London or Stonehenge and Salisbury had a great time and enjoyed seeing the historical sights."

The ship's MWR crew also set up a bus that picked Sailors up at the pier and dropped them off in downtown Plymouth throughout the day and late into the evening. Gettysburg Sailors were able to walk around the town, go shopping, try local food, and catch a movie.

"The English liaisons were extremely hospitable," said Johnson. "They played a huge role in our successful port visit in Plymouth."

Gettysburg made its way into Plymouth after departing Mayport, Fla., May 10, as part of the George H.W. Bush Carrier Strike Group in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.

The George H.W. Bush Strike Group consists of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 2 staff, Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 8, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 22 staff, USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77), guided-missile cruisers USS Gettysburg (CG 64) and USS Anzio (CG 68), and guided-missile destroyers USS Truxtun (DDG 103) and USS Mitscher (DDG 57), and ESPS Almirante Juan de Borbon (F 102).