Military News

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Service Women's Action Network Outraged by Rape and Sexual Assaults at VA Hospitals

SWAN Reacts to Government Report Showing Sex Crimes Being Committed Against Veterans

NEW YORK, NY - Today, the Service Women's Action Network (SWAN) expressed its outrage over a report released by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) on Tuesday that patients and staff have been raped and sexually assaulted while seeking care at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) facilities.

284 reports of sexual assaults occurred between January 2007 and July 2010. 67 were classified as rape, 185 as inappropriate touching, 13 as forced oral sex, 8 as forceful medical examinations and 11 as other types of sexual assaults involving patients against patients, patients against staff and staff against patients.

The findings came as part of a GAO investigation of VA safety policies in five of the VA's 153 medical facilities.


"We are extremely outraged at the VA for allowing this to happen, but we are not all that surprised," said Anu Bhagwati, former Marine Corps Captain and executive director of the Service Women's Action Network.

"SWAN has testified numerous times before Congress about the hostile and harassing environment that often exists at VA hospitals. We receive calls every week from veterans telling horror stories of VA visits where they have literally run a gauntlet of sexual harassment and mistreatment. The rates of sexual assault and harassment in the military are disturbing enough. However, to expose veterans to hostile behavior where they are being treated for conditions related to in-service sexual trauma is unconscionable."

The House Committee on Veterans Affairs requested the report and has introduced H.R. 2074, a bill that would require the VA to track all sexual assaults and to closely examine veterans that may pose a risk of committing sexual assault. The committee will hold a hearing next week to examine the findings.

Bhagwati testified last spring at the House Committee on Veterans Affairs Joint Hearing with Subcommittee on Health, "Healing the Wounds: Evaluating Military Sexual Trauma Issues," about the concerns that face victims of sexual harassment and her unnerving experiences with VHA, saying: "Triggers of one's assault or harassment are everywhere, from the prospect of running into your perpetrator, to being surrounded by male patients who routinely engage in sexual harassment of female patients, to being improperly treated by staff members who have no knowledge about the unique experience of sexual trauma in a military setting. The climate at VA hospitals is still largely unwelcoming to women, but for [Military Sexual Trauma] survivors, the experience of going to an appointment can be life-threatening."

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, 27.8 percent of U.S. women veterans have enrolled in the VA health care system, and those who recently served in Afghanistan and Iraq are turning to VA health care at unprecedented rates. SWAN's fact sheet, "Rape, Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment in the Military," reports that female survivors who receive VHA health care report a lower quality of care and dissatisfaction with VHA services compared to women using alternatives - most of whom have access to private health care.

SWAN's vision is to transform military culture by securing equal opportunity and the freedom to serve in uniform without threat of harassment, discrimination, intimidation or assault. SWAN also seeks to reform veterans' services on a national scale to guarantee equal access to quality health care, benefits and resources for women veterans and their families. You can find the Service Women's Action Network on The Web, on Twitter or on Facebook.

Panetta Vows to Put National Security, Troops First

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 9, 2011 – Leon E. Panetta told the Senate Armed Services Committee today that if he’s confirmed as the next defense secretary, his first and foremost mission will be to protect the United States and ensure it has the “best-trained, the best-equipped and the strongest military in the world” to provide that defense.

Panetta, who has served as director of the CIA since February 2009, said during his confirmation hearing that he will work closely with the service secretaries and chiefs and Congress, and that he will be a staunch advocate for military members and their families.

“I believe it's important to have a candid, open line of communication between the secretary and all of the service chiefs,” he said. “They're the ones that are out there leading each of their services. And I need to know what they're thinking, and I need to know what is important in terms of serving the interests of the troops that they directly lead.”

The United States owes members of the all-volunteer force who have stepped forward to serve, as well as their families, the “best leadership, the best training, the best equipment, the best benefits [and] the best health care that we can give them,” he told the panel.

Panetta pledged to fight for support and to be “mindful of the stresses” on military members and their families as he makes deployment decisions. “They put their lives on the line to fight for America, and I will just as surely fight for them and for the families who support and sustain them,” he said.

The president’s nominee for the top Pentagon post said he feels honored to be considered to follow in the footsteps of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates, who he said “will be remembered as one of the greatest secretaries of defense in our nation's history for the way he led the department during a time of war and for the crucial reforms that he's tried to put in place in the way the Pentagon does business.”

“Those are reforms that I intend to carry on,” he told the committee, promising to use a “focused, hands-on” management style to run the department.

If he is confirmed, Panetta said, he will lead the department at a time of “historic change” and as the nation confronts “a multitude of challenges.”

These, he said, include the operations under way in Iraq and Afghanistan, al-Qaida and other terrorist networks, the proliferation of dangerous weapons, rising international powers, and political transformations under way in the Middle East and Northern Africa. In addition, “the next Pearl Harbor that we face could well be a cyber attack,” he said.

“We are no longer in the Cold War,” Panetta declared. “This is more like the ‘Blizzard War’ -- a blizzard of challenges that draw speed and intensity from terrorism, from rapidly developing technologies and the rising number of powers on the world stage.”

This comes as the Defense Department attempts to cut $400 billion in spending as part of the administration’s deficit-reduction initiatives, Panetta noted.

“Our challenge will be to design budgets that eliminate wasteful and duplicative spending while protecting those core elements that we absolutely need for our nation's defense,” he told the panel.

Panetta said he doesn’t believe the United States needs to choose between strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.

“I don't deny that there are going to be tough decisions that have to be made and tough choices that have to be made,” he said. “But we owe it to our citizens to provide both strong fiscal discipline and a strong national defense.”

TR Sailors Volunteer for Career Day at Elementary School

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Sandra A. Pimentel, USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs

NORFOLK (NNS) -- Sailors aboard USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) attended a career day at Coleman Place Elementary School in Norfolk June 7, to teach roughly 50 students how to cook aboard an aircraft carrier.

Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Dwayne Jones, Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Rogelyn Cambe and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Kenyatta Pore, volunteered for the hands-on demonstration by teaching children step-by-step processes of preparing and cooking a large meal on a small budget.

"We wanted to do more than just a normal presentation," said Cambe. "We knew that it had to be interesting enough to really get the kids involved."

The idea for this project stemmed from a youth summit in April, during in which Lt. Cmdr. Karen Eifert, TR's public affairs officer and Cheryl Bunting, interim parent liaison for Coleman Place Elementary School met and began brainstorming.

"Initially, we knew that we wanted to involve the TR," said Bunting. "It was Mrs. Eifert that suggested having the culinary specialists (CS) come in for the demonstration."

During the demonstration, children were able to come up and assist the CS's with the preparation of chicken fajitas, which included slicing vegetables and chicken breast. The children were also able to cook the fajita mix in two large skillets.

The lesson included topics such as deciding what utensils were needed, how to figure out the space needed for preparation, and how to avoid cross contamination between uncooked meats and other cooking items.

Once the entree was prepared, children were allowed to sample the food.

"The food was so good," said Alysia Nelson, a fourth-grader at Coleman Place Elementary School. "We want TR to come back and cook for us all the time."

During its Refueling Complex Overhaul (RCOH) in Newport News Shipbuilding, a division of Huntington Ingalls Industries, the TR has been involved in various community programs.

As active members in the community, TR Sailors take every opportunity to teach how small day-to-day activities can be applied on a large scale.

TR Sailors are committed to being a global force for good by partnering with several schools in the Hampton Roads area and ensuring they are making a difference in the lives of the community's youth.

"Learning outside of the classroom is always good," said Jackie Chapelle, a school counselor for Coleman Place Elementary School. "It gives the children a different perspective on how things work."

Face of Defense: Vietnam Vet Guardsman Savors View From Top

By Army Sgt. Darron Salzer
National Guard Bureau

ARLINGTON, Va., June 9, 2011 – As one of the last remaining active-duty National Guard members with service experience in Vietnam, Army Master Sgt. Leland Lesher said the most rewarding thing about his career is the view from the top while at the Army Guard headquarters.

In a small ceremony June 7 at the Army National Guard Readiness Center, Lesher swore the oath of enlistment and extension for the last time in his military career, which began more than 40 years ago.

Lesher’s first enlistment came in December 1970 with the Marine Corps. After training, he spent a year in Vietnam.

“After Vietnam, I left the Marine Corps and went to college,” he said, where he learned about the Guard and made the switch. “I was a traditional Guard member, and after I graduated from college, I spent 22 years as a police officer.”

He originally enlisted with the Illinois National Guard, and also served as a North Dakota Guard member and as a member of the Colorado National Guard for a few years, but since has returned to the Illinois Guard. Over those years, Lesher has done a lot at home and abroad with the Guard, spending time in Vietnam and South Korea and providing blizzard, flood and ice storm assistance in North Dakota.

Since his first enlistment into the Guard, Lesher said, he has seen it go through major changes.

“When I got back from Vietnam,” he said, “the Guard was full of those who wanted to continue their military careers, those who wanted to avoid Vietnam and then those who, like myself, had decided they were done with regular military and wanted something else.

“Then 9/11 happened,” he continued, “and it changed the demographics of the Guard from those who had no or very little combat experience to a force that has 85 percent [of its forces] with combat experience. I’ve seen the Guard become very professional over the years.”

Lesher said he was part of some great units early on, and the camaraderie has kept him in the Guard.

“The North Dakota Guard and Illinois Guard really were some great units to belong to,” he said, “and they put off any reservations I had had initially about the Guard when I first joined.”

His final stop in his long Guard career is Stuttgart, Germany, where he will have an active role in the State Partnership Program at the U.S. European Command level.

“Part of my position in Germany will be coordinating with and assisting states that have State Partnership Programs with the European Union nations that fall under the European Command,” Lesher said. “It’s still at the level of assisting states, but it’s helping them to expand beyond their state borders.”

After a long military career that has seen the Guard mature over the years and become an operational reserve, Lesher said, he looks forward to his final tour in Germany and having the opportunity to work within the State Partnership Program.

“As my final three-year tour, it is just phenomenal,” he said.

Comedian Educates Sailors with Comedy

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

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- New London Submarine Base personnel participated in a comedy event focused on preventing alcohol and drug abuse in Groton, Conn., June 8.

Command Master Chief (SS) Wesley Koshoffer, commander, Submarine Group Two Command Master Chief, and Senior Chief Culinary Specialist (SS/SW) Chad White, were instrumental in bringing comedian Bernie McGrenahan to the Subase to parlay the lessons he's learned in his lifetime.

The "Comedy with a Cure" event is part of Bernie McGrenahan's comedy with a message tour, geared toward educating service members about the dangers of drug and alcohol abuse, as well as suicide prevention and the trouble it caused throughout his career and life.

"It's comedy with a prevention message," said McGrenahan, who has been educating service members and college students over the past 15 years. He has visited more than 1,000 bases since he started educating about the dangers associated with all forms of substance abuse.

During his two presentations at the Subase, McGrenahan provided insight to the experiences while driving on the rough road of life and how lessons, some tragic, steered him in the direction to a better, happier life.

"It's critical to provide valuable insight to Sailors about the signs of a drinking problem, inspiring them to not 'deny' the possibility of a drinking problem if these patterns and behaviors are happening in their lives," said McGrenahan.

McGrenahan described how at the age of 14 he started drinking and over the years it progressed to a battle with alcohol addition. At the age of 25 and with three driving while intoxicated violations under his belt, McGrenahan was sentenced to six months in jail.

"This year marks 23 years without a drink," said McGrenahan who advised the Sailors to follow his advice and steer away from the path he was driving on more than two decades earlier.

McGrenahan's scheduled tour comes at a poignant time during the 101 Critical Days of Summer campaign spearheaded by the Naval Safety Center. This campaign, which runs until Labor Day, helps raise awareness about the possible mishaps that can happen to off-duty service members during the summer months.

"We honestly care about your quality of life, that is why these types of events are so important," said Koshoffer. "This event ties with the steady stream of information about our current alcohol and drug abuse prevention efforts.”

Lynn: U.S. Must Prepare for Future Warfare Trends

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 – The Pentagon must factor in major trends likely to shape the national security environment, including many that defy traditional military planning, Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III said here today.

The Defense Department must play a part in federal deficit-reduction efforts, Lynn told the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ 2011 Global Security Forum.

“Since 9/11, we have had the ability to address new defense challenges with increased resources,” he said. “We will not have that luxury for the foreseeable future.”

The challenge, he added, is to manage the coming budget reductions wisely and responsibly, and apply resources so they can best meet future warfare trends.

Lynn cited the revolutionary changes that occurred during the last half-century alone, exemplified through the life of Frank Buckles, the last surviving U.S. World War I veteran, who died in February. Buckles saw the horrors of trench warfare during World War I, was rescued as a World War II prisoner of war just as the design for an atomic bomb was finalized, and lived to have his own Facebook page before he died at age 110.

The three revolutions that Buckles’ life encompassed -- industrial, atomic and information -- “brought an avalanche of military technologies and introduced whole new dimensions to war,” Lynn said. “The issue for us as we consider what capabilities and programs to protect in a defense drawdown is what course future technologies will take.”

Lynn identified three strategic trends he said are likely to shape the future U.S. national security environment: increasing access to lethality across the threat spectrum, longer-duration warfare, and the growing prevalence of asymmetric threats.

“They are each, in different ways, the result of our entry into a new era of war, one driven primarily by the overlay of the information age atop the industrial and atomic revolutions,” he said. “They can and they must inform our defense planning. What we need to do at this juncture, in this fiscal environment, is to take the long view about what strategic trends are important.”

Gone, Lynn said, are the days when the most economically developed counties possessed the most-lethal military power, and others had second-rate capabilities or little or no access to highly lethal technologies.

“Today, this linear relationship between economic and military power no longer holds,” he said. “Terrorist groups with few resources can mount devastating attacks. Insurgents can defeat our most advanced armor with fertilizer bombs. Rogue states seek nuclear weapons. Some criminal organizations even possess world-class cyber capabilities.”

This change has increased the risks the United States faces and broadens the range of threats it must be prepared to confront, he said.

“Defense planning must reflect this development,” Lynn said, ensuring the military has the capabilities to confront both high- and low-end threats.

“We have decisions about how to size our forces for these disparate contingencies, but we must equip for both,” he said. “In other words, we will need both fifth-generation fighters and counter-[improvised explosive device] technology.”

Current reality also challenges the long-held assumption that kinetic engagements would be relatively short, Lynn said. Noting that operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have lasted longer than the U.S. participation in World War I and World War II combined, he said military planners must be prepared to sustain long-term commitments for a range of plausible conflicts. Their planning, he added, must account for enough force structure to provide adequate troop dwell time between deployments.

“This is likely to have important implications for how we size, structure and utilize our reserve force components,” he said. “We need the ability to scale-up force structure for longer conflicts. The long-term costs of extended conflicts must be considered in our strategic calculus.”

Another trend Lynn said must be taken into account in posturing the military for the future is the increasing prevalence of asymmetric threats.

Recognizing that they can’t go up against the United States militarily, adversaries use asymmetric approaches that Lynn said “target our weaknesses and undercut our advantages.”

As a result, “insurgents such as the Taliban and al-Qaida in Iraq avoid engaging our military in direct force-on-force engagements,” he said. “Instead, they use IEDs and assassination as their weapons, and they hope to use the longer duration of war to wait us out.”

Traditional powers also seek asymmetric capabilities, increasingly turning to area-denial and anti-access tactics through the proliferation of precision-strike weapons, he said.

Sophisticated precision-strike technologies, once exclusive to the United States and its allies, will be available to more nations in the next 10 to 20 years, Lynn said. This will have a cumulative effect he said will challenge U.S. power-projection to distant parts of the globe.

“To address these anti-access tactics and defeat area-denial strategies, we need to develop a range of capabilities, particularly missile defense and long-range strike,” Lynn said. He cited major investments being made in a long-range strike system that will enable the United States to penetrate defenses and deliver munitions worldwide.

Lynn also cited the potential use of asymmetric tactics in cyberspace -- a development he said that would threaten the Internet technology that increasingly underpins U.S. military and economic strength.

The cyber threat is maturing, Lynn said. Not only are its effects escalating, but more capabilities are being developed within terrorist groups which are hard to deter because they typically have few assets to strike back against.

“If a terrorist group gains a disruptive and destructive capability, we have to assume they will strike with little hesitation,” he warned. “So in cyber, we have a window of opportunity to act before the most malicious actors acquire the most destructive technologies. We need to continue moving aggressively to protect our military, government and critical infrastructure networks.”

Looking to the future, Lynn said the challenge is to navigate current fiscal circumstances without disrupting the capabilities of the world’s most effective military force.

“We need to make the right judgments about the nature of our future security environment,” he said.

“We need to invest in the right capabilities and force structure that address the trends in warfare, … and we need to relentlessly adapt our technology and our doctrine as threats evolve and mature,” Lynn said. “If we do these things, we will ensure our forces are ready for the future of war.”

Baltic Operations 2011 Participants Meet on Soccer Field

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Collin Turner, Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

KIEL, Germany (NNS) -- Spectators gathered at the Kiel naval base soccer fields in Germany to watch Sailors stationed aboard USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20) and USS Philippine Sea (CG 58) take part in a sports-day hosted by the German navy June 4.

Sports day is an event that is designed for recreation and friendly competition, helping to build long lasting partnerships between the different nations involved.

Participating teams fielded their soccer players for a thirty-minute, round robin, single elimination tournament.

"Well it's always great to get a workout in and play some soccer," said Lt. Cmdr. Tiffany Hill, Mount Whitney's operations officer. "Most importantly, it's a great time to play soccer against some of our partner nations."

Taking part in the day's festivities were teams from France, Germany, Holland, Netherlands, Poland, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.

"These events are important, because they allow us to strengthen ties with other nations, and there is no better place to do that than here in a sport setting," said Yeoman 3rd Class Conner Slomka, an administrative clerk assigned to Mount Whitney.

Sports day was held days before maritime forces representing 13 countries begin the Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011, a multinational naval exercise focusing on peace and security in the region.

BALTOPS has been held since 1971, in the Baltic Sea and regions surrounding it and is sponsored by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe-U.S. Naval Forces Africa, Commander, U.S. 6th Fleet.

During the exercise, Sailors will work closely with other personnel from partner nations, both on land and at sea, and will become familiar with countries' military practices and procedures.

Some of the events scheduled for the upcoming exercise range from traditional activities to new emerging missions. The traditional activities include mine clearance operations, anti-submarine warfare and surface-to-air defense, while the newer emerging missions include counterpiracy and small-boat attack.

BALTOPS will conclude later in the month with the partnering nations once again engaging in social events during Kiel Week, Europe's largest sailing event.

Scholarship Honors Fallen Navy SEAL

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jacob L. Dillon

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (NNS) -- An East Coast based SEAL team hosted a scholarship presentation on board Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., June 6.

The scholarship was awarded in memory of Lt. Michael M. McGreevy, who died during combat operations in Afghanistan in 2005.

The $8,000 scholarship is awarded yearly to a high school senior from McGreevy's hometown of Portville, N.Y., and Virginia Beach, Va. McGreevy's mother, Pat Mackin, and his wife, Laura McGreevy, interview the applicants and choose the winners. This is the fourth year the scholarship has been awarded.

"There is a wide variety of criteria looked at by Mike's (McGreevy) wife and mother in choosing the winning applicant," said Larry Welty, lifelong friend of McGreevy and event organizer. "They really look and see who the applicants are as individual people; the applicants character, dedication, leadership and desire to serve the community are all closely looked at."

The purpose of the scholarship is to keep McGreevy's memory alive said Welty.

"This scholarship is a great way to honor Mike and maintain what he stood for," said Welty. "This is the best way, year after year, to let kids in the communities, which Mike was apart of, know what kind of person he was and what principles guided his life."

High school seniors from Portville Central High School in Portville, N.Y., visited the SEAL team. The students received hands-on demonstrations of equipment SEALs use, and the SEALs talked to the students about life in naval special warfare.

After the students interacted with the SEALs, the scholarship presentation took place. This year's winner was Tayler Clark.

"I was so nervous during the application and interview process," Clark said. "I feel so happy and feel some added pressure in receiving the scholarship. I understand the importance of this scholarship, and I hope I can perform to the level for which Mike McGreevy stood for.”

Webinar Presenters Echo Early Intervention as Key to Managing Combat Stress

DCoE Director Navy Capt. Paul Hammer kicked off the May webinar by addressing the importance of preventive strategies in managing stress during his opening remarks. The featured presenters echoed these sentiments in their own compelling remarks, highlighting the need to build resilience among service members facing increasingly stressful workloads and family challenges at home. Presenters Navy Capt. Lori A. Laraway, Navy Cmdr. (Dr.) Charles Benson and Air Force Col. Christopher Robinson each provided unique insights into managing operational stress and in-theater care and strategies for stress management.

Laraway, coordinator for the Navy Operational Stress Control Program, has managed mobile support teams to provide early intervention care to troops dealing with operational and combat stress. Laraway stressed the importance of providing information about coping with stress to troops before they deploy, so that they’re better prepared to care for themselves. As for leaders, Laraway emphasized the need for them to receive training on reintegration issues to better support service members following deployments.

Benson, an Operational Stress Control and Readiness program psychiatrist with the 1st Marine Division, began with a look at a map of Afghanistan to illustrate how each experience differs based on location. As activity varies throughout the country, so does an individual’s perspective and reaction to combat stress. In continuing with the theme of early intervention, Benson touched on two key strategies: have psychological health staff reach out to meet troops where they are and provide preventive outreach ahead of medical evacuations. Troops are more likely to seek care and talk openly if they’re familiar with the staff, leaders and chaplains they can turn to, he emphasized. And when it comes to traumatic combat injuries, it is crucial to talk with troops before they leave to reframe the issue in their minds. Further, injured troops may feel guilty or not want to leave and need to be told that they didn’t do anything wrong; they need to be told they are heroes, said Benson.

Robinson, DCoE deputy director for psychological health, recently returned from Afghanistan where he served as the Combat Stress Detachment commander for Regional Command-East. Robinson emphasized that everyone is affected by combat, with some of the more common issues service members face including depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, sleep problems and chronic pain. He also reiterated the impact of family problems on stress levels, noting that, while instant access technologies can be good, they can also lead to more arguing in troubled relationships.

You can listen to audio and download presentations from this webinar from the DCoE website. Interested in finding out what we’ll be discussing this month? Check out the monthly webinar schedule.

Lynn Cites Importance of Programs to Prevent Conflict

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 8, 2011 – Deputy Defense Secretary William J. Lynn III expressed concern today that as the U.S. government tightens its fiscal belt, programs critical to preventing conflict -- many funded by the State Department -- could fall victim.

Lynn, speaking at the Center for International and Strategic Studies’ 2011 Global Security Forum, said fiscal restraint will require some tough, calculated choices about defense spending.

“The challenge for us is to navigate our nation’s fiscal circumstances without disrupting the capabilities of the world’s most effective military force,” he told the audience. “We need to make the right judgments about the nature of our future security environment,” investing in capabilities and force structure and adapting technology and doctrine as threats evolve and mature.

Predicting the next big conflict has never been easy, Lynn acknowledged.

“In fact, we have a particularly poor track record of projecting when, where and against whom we will fight,” he said. “Secretary [Robert M.] Gates has described our record in this regard as perfect -- we have never gotten it right.”

Increased investment in intelligence assets may help to make these predictions more successful, Lynn said during a question-and-answer session following his address. But the better chance of success, he said, boils down to preventing conflicts from happening in the first place. That means, he said, more front-end investment in programs managed directly by the State Department or in partnership with the Defense Department.

Among them are programs that promote security assistance, economic development and improved governance.

“The hope would be that we would head off crises before they reach the stage where the U.S. [needed] to deploy military forces, that we have addressed the problems in advance,” Lynn said.

Looking across the scope of challenges the United States faces, the deputy secretary said, the goal would be to identify “cauldrons of conflict” and “address the panoply of them and bring them all back from a boil so we won’t have to deploy military forces.”

One problem in this approach, Lynn said, is that the security assistance and economic development spending needed to support these initiatives funded through the State Department could suffer as government organizations reduce their spending levels.

Gates has been a staunch advocate for increasing the U.S. government’s civilian international assistance capabilities, including those within the State Department. His argument has been a straightforward acknowledgement that other parts of the government must take on some of the duties such as nation-building and international development that the military has taken on by default.

Sitting side by side during congressional testimony in March, Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton pressed the Senate Appropriations Committee’s defense subcommittee to approve supplemental funding critical to both departments to support ongoing contingency operations.

“Our joint testimony today reflects the close cooperation of our two departments and the importance of a properly funded and integrated civil-military approach to the challenges we face in Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world,” Gates said during the March 25 hearing. “I would like to offer my strong support for the programs funded in the State portion of the supplemental request, without which our military efforts will not be successful.”

Sufficient State Department funding is expected to be particularly critical as the United States prepares for a troop drawdown in Afghanistan.

“We are in the midst of the beginning of the next step” of the operation, Lynn told the CSIS audience today. Army Gen. David H. Petraeus, commander of the International Security Assistance Force and U.S. Forces Afghanistan, is expected to make recommendations “in the very near future” about how to implement the phased U.S. military drawdown in Afghanistan President Barack Obama announced 18 months ago, he said.

But as Gates and Obama have made clear, the Afghanistan drawdown plan will be “conditions-based,” Lynn said.

“It will depend on judgments about the strength of the Taliban, about progress in terms of capabilities of the Afghan national security forces and the ability of the Afghan government to take an increasingly larger role in the security function,” he said.

“That shift will start very soon and will progress over the next couple of years to that full transition that is projected for 2014,” Lynn said.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, June 09, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates is traveling.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn III has no public or media events on his schedule.

This Day in Naval History - June 08

From the Navy News Service

1830 - Sloop-of-war Vincennes becomes first U.S. warship to circle the globe.
1853 - Commodore Matthew Perry arrives at Uraga, Japan, to begin negotiations for a treaty with Japan.
1880 - Congress authorizes the Office of Judge Advocate General.
1937 - Observation of total eclipse of the sun by U.S. Navy detachment commanded by Navy Capt. J. F. Hellweg, participating in the National Geographic Society - United States Navy Eclipse Expedition at Canton Island in the Phoenix Islands, Pacific Ocean. USS Avocet (AVP 4) was assigned to this expediton.
1958 - Navy and post office deliver first official missile mail when USS Barbero (SS 317) fired Regulus II missile with 3,000 letters 100 miles east of Jacksonville, Fla., to Mayport, Fla.
1960 - Helicopters from USS Yorktown (CVS 10) rescue 54 crewmen of British SS Shunlee, grounded on Pratus Reef in South China Sea.
1962 - Medical team from Naval Hospital, Bethesda, Md.; Naval Medical Research Institute, Bethesda, Md.; and Naval Preventative Medicine Unit No. 2 Norfolk, Va., sent to San Pedro Sula, Honduras to fight epidemic of infectious gastroenteritis.
1967 - USS Liberty (AGTR 5) attacked by Israeli forces in Mediterranean.
1990 - Cmdr. Rosemary Mariner becomes first Navy women to command fleet jet aircraft squadron.