Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Navy Departs the City of Roses

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Nathan Lockwood, Navy Public Affairs Support Element West, Det. Northwest Public Affairs

PORTLAND, Ore. (NNS) -- Fleet Week came to an end as the three visiting Navy ships departed the Tom McCall Waterfront Park sea wall in Portland, Ore. and began transiting the Willamette River, June 13.

The guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and guided-missile frigates USS McClusky (FFG 41) and USS Ingraham (FFG 61) were in Portland along with vessels from the Coast Guard, Army Corps of Engineers and the Royal Canadian Navy, in celebration of the 104th Annual Portland Rose Festival.

"It's a nice opportunity that the Sailors can come here and have some fun," said Gladys Stanton, Rose Festival Softball Tournament volunteer.

Stanton also said just being part of something that provides a little payback to the Sailors is her favorite part of the festival.

More than 5,000 visitors toured the Navy ships, allowing the public to interact with and see the character of the Sailors and the capability and quality of the ships. Festivities for Sailors during Fleet Week included several officially-hosted parties, a waterfront carnival, sports tournaments and the Rose Festival Grand Floral Parade.

"It's been outstanding, the support of the public and outpouring of friendliness has been overwhelming," said Cmdr. Ron Candiloro, executive officer of Navy Recruiting District Portland. "Portland Navy Week is the chance the Navy gets to show off and the community really responds to it."

"I think the Navy being able to come out here is good for the community," said Boatswain's Mate 1st Class (SW) Erik Wilkins, assigned to USS Lake Champlain (CG 57). "It also gives the Navy a chance to see how much the community does for us."

The arrival of the USS Charleston in 1907 marked the first visit From a Navy vessel.

Department Leads Nationwide Food Drive

By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – The Defense Department is taking a leading role in a nationwide campaign challenging federal employees to donate to their local food pantries.

The “Feds Feed Families” campaign, announced by the Office of Personnel Management on May 26, will run through the end of August, Pat Tamburrino Jr., deputy assistant secretary of defense for personnel policy, said.

Tamburrino is the Defense Department chairman of the food drive, which DOD is co-leading with the Agriculture Department. It’s the third year for the White House-sanctioned program, which began as part of the 2009 United We Serve Act.

For the past two years, DOD officials have participated locally in the national capital region, collecting nonperishable items and distributing them -- thousands of pounds worth -- to food pantries here. This year, they are extending the campaign to DOD installations nationwide for their own local distribution.

“Being hungry is a local phenomenon,” Tamburrino said.

Organizers felt they could be more effective by placing collection boxes at all DOD installations, especially at commissaries, to provide whatever items are most needed in the local communities. “It’s contributed locally and used locally, and we thought that was a pretty nice idea for DOD to advance,” he said.

The Defense Department goal is to collect 733,800 pounds of items during the 90-day campaign, as part of the overall federal goal of 2 million pounds, Tamburrino said.

“There’s a lot of enthusiasm,” he said of the campaign. “We’ve had tremendous support in DOD and I’m really confident we’re going get to this goal.”

DOD officials “were stage ready” when the campaign began, and department civilians and military members have proven their willingness to give, Tamburrino said.

“My impression is federal employees just seem willing to say, ‘There’s a need in the community, I’m part of the community, if I can contribute, I will,’” he said.

The summer timing of the campaign is important, Tamburrino noted, to help recent victims of tornadoes and floods, and also to provide food to children who depend on public schools for two meals each day during the rest of the year.

Because the drive is locally managed, food pantries have included lists of items most needed in their areas, he said. Here, canned fruits and vegetables and boxed grains lead the list. In areas affected by natural disasters, he added, bottled water often is most needed.

From the types of foods the pantries request, Tamburrino said, $20 worth of food will give a family four or five days of nutritious meals. “That’s a big boon to a lot of people,” he said.

Because there are only three regular pickups from collection points -- one at the end of each summer month -- all items must be nonperishable, he said, and cash donations are not allowed.

Karen A. Spracher, chief of strategic analysis and reporting for DOD civilian personnel policy, is the DOD Feds Feed Families “champion.” Spracher said she is “getting emails from all over the place,” indicating the department will meet its campaign goal, and have fun while doing so.

“People are really excited about this,” she said. “I think it’s going to be something we really enjoy. People in the Department of Defense like to give, and this is going to make this summer a lot of fun.”

Tamburrino also offered a playful challenge to the campaign: “We’re a little bit competitive in DOD. I want to make my goal. I want to collect the most food. I want to be at the head of the class. I do not like being second, and many people who work here do not like being second either.”

Multinational Minesweepers Train Together in Baltic Operations 2011

From Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. 6th Fleet Public Affairs

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- Twelve minesweeping vessels representing five different Baltic nations and accompanied by the USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), completed a series of close maneuvers, June 12, during Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011.

The exercise began with the formation of a battle line, followed by an arrow, and concluding with an expanding star burst formation. The USS Mount Whitney served as a flagship and point of reference.

"The seamanship of these vessels and their crews is amazing," said Lt. Cmdr Tiffany Hill, USS Mount Whitney operations officer. "The ships performed flawlessly. To do this in a multi-national environment is an impressive accomplishment.

Ships participating in the exercise included the Latvian ships LNS Jotvingis and LNS Suduvis; Polish vessels ORP Gardno, ORP Druzno, and ORP Naklo; Estonian vessel ENS Ugandi; Germany's FGS Bad Rappenau; the Danish vessel HDNS Havkatten; and Lithuania's LVNS Visvaldis. Two manned drones from the Havkatten also participated.

Now in its 39th year, BALTOPS is a multinational naval exercise focusing on peace and security in the region. Baltic maritime operations continue through June 17.

236 years young, Army is strength of the nation

By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs– June 14, 2011

My, but how the U.S. Army has grown and changed over the years.

At 236 years young today, traces of the Continental Army from the Revolutionary War can still be seen in today’s warriors. Yet there is more than war fighting and humanitarian assistance to the approximately 1 million members of the U.S. Army.

“From the first battles at Lexington and Concord to the streets of Mosul and Kandahar, Soldiers have always defended freedom and epitomized what is best about America,” said Gen. Martin Dempsey, the 37th Army Chief of Staff. “We will remain the nation’s decisive force, the clearest symbol of America’s commitment to freedom and the country’s preeminent leadership experience. We will remain America’s Army, the strength of the nation.”

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, agreed.

“I believe that in many ways, the story of the Army is the story of America,” Mullen said.  “I often talk about how the Army is the very center of gravity for our military — a force that understands the power of ballots as well as bullets, and culture as well as conflict. It’s a force that is able to defeat an enemy swiftly and silently one day and help build a school or dig a well the next — one that has made possible the success we’ve seen in Iraq, the progress we are now making in Afghanistan and the security we ensure around the globe.”

Sergeant Major of the Army Raymond Chandler paid tribute to those Soldiers marking the Army’s birthday in harm’s way.

“Happy birthday to those who make the Army what it is today, the premier fighting force in the free world,” Chandler said. “You are America’s Army, and you are Army strong.”

That really is the heart of why we continue to observe the Army’s birthday. True, we celebrate a magnificent organization, but that organization is nothing without the men and women who make up its ranks — what Adm. Mullen calls “the flesh and blood of the Army.”

“One of my greatest privileges over the last four years has been getting to know them and their families,” he said. “To every Army Soldier and civilian, family member and veteran, thank you for your service. I salute each of you for the difference you make for our nation and for the world.”

How will you observe the Army’s birthday?

Information for today’s blog provided by Army News Service and DoD Live.

Chairman’s Corner: Happy Birthday Army!

By Navy Adm. Mike Mullen
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – Days like today remind us of the central and essential role of the United States Army throughout our Nation’s history. I believe that in many ways, the story of the Army is the story of America -- from our founding through the Civil War, a tumultuous 20th century, right up to today.

I often talk about how the Army is the very center of gravity for our military -- a force that understands the power of ballots as well as bullets and culture as well as conflict.

It’s a force that is able to defeat an enemy swiftly and silently one day and help build a school or dig a well the next -- one that has made possible the success we’ve seen in Iraq, the progress we are now making in Afghanistan and the security we ensure around the globe.

Tempered by ten years of war, the Army has transformed to deploy more modular and flexible capabilities than ever before, literally rewriting just about every rule in the book and revamping essential doctrine in order to adapt to the challenges of today’s dynamic and uncertain world.

But what impresses me the most is the flesh and blood of the Army -- the extraordinary young men and women who signed up willingly to risk their lives for something greater than themselves. One of my greatest privileges over the last four years has been getting to know them and their families. I am simply awestruck at the manner in which they do their duty every single day.

To every Army soldier and civilian, family member and veteran, thank you for your service. I salute each of you for the difference you make for our Nation and for the world.

On behalf of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Happy 236th Birthday!

Vietnam Veteran and Author Announces Book Signing at Welcome Home 2011 - PR.com

Vietnam Veteran and Author Announces Book Signing at Welcome Home 2011 - PR.com

Comedians Bring Laughter to Bataan's Crew

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW/AW) Julio Rivera, USS Bataan Public Affairs

USS BATAAN, At Sea (NNS) -- The Comics on Duty world tour embarked aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) to perform for the 2,500 Sailors and Marines, as the ship operated in the Mediterranean Sea, June 8-9.

Navy Entertainment sponsored the comedy tour, featuring celebrity comedians Paul Ogata and J.R. Brow for a pair of two-hour shows featuring original stand-up routines on the ship's mess decks.

"I'm here to pay it back," said Brow. "My father was a military man. Both of my brothers were in the service; my grandfather. I'm the only male who didn't enlist, and it's kind of nice to be able to come back and help out the people that serve our country."

The comedians provided a break from day-to-day operations and were happy to see and hear how much of an impact the laughter they provided had on the crew.

"People got to put deployment in the back of their minds and just get to laugh a little bit," said Machinist's Mate 3rd Class Gerard Van Dyke.

"It was fantastic; I laughed so hard I almost cried. It was very good," said Cpl. Alleia Arthur.

The comics said seeing the joy on people's faces, hearing their laughter and learning more about the audience is why they do this for a living.

"I like to find where you guys are from, what you do, and how you got to be here," said Ogata. "I want to learn about everything going on here on the USS Bataan."

Comics On Duty is celebrating its 19th year of entertaining service members. Tour Executive Producer Rich Davis said Comics on Duty is responsible for more than 3,500 shows for deployed service members around the world. The current tour was developed specifically for deployed Sailors and Marines aboard Bataan, the dock landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD 41) and Naval Air Station Sigonella, Sicily.

"From my perspective, the best part is how we're able to affect the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines," said Davis. "By putting the tour together with an all-headliner show, each show is different, and each comic is different. There is no warm-up, so from start to finish, you have a real solid show."

Bataan is the command ship of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group (ARG), supporting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

DOD Libraries Launch Summer Reading Program

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 13, 2011 – Defense Department libraries have launched a summer reading program in the hopes of inspiring children -- and adults -- of all ages to read throughout the summer.

Visitors to libraries on 270 military installations around the world are invited to join “A Midsummer Knight’s Read,” an activity-packed reading program with a medieval twist.

“The idea is to encourage kids to come in and see the library and look at the books and other materials, [and to] encourage them to participate,” said Margie Buchanan, libraries division chief for the Air Force Services Agency.

This open-enrollment program lasts for about eight weeks on average, she said, and military family members from all service branches, whether active or reserve, are welcome to participate.

Some libraries already have kicked off the program with a theme-driven opening event, Buchanan said, citing a few examples. One library hosted a renaissance fair featuring dancers and jousters, and at another, a librarian dressed up as a queen and “knighted” new program participants.

Once the program is under way, libraries typically host weekly events for children and adults, and can pick from a wide array of medieval-minded ideas, Buchanan said, such as candle-making, planting an herb garden, learning to weave, creating a sorcerer’s hat or ballad writing. They also can make snacks such as smothered bread, chocolate toads, dragon’s breath candy mix and medieval gingerbread.

The program inspires a love of reading in children, Buchanan said, and “the activities offer them a chance to learn more about arts and crafts and music.”

To track reading progress, libraries ask children to fill out a handwritten log or, in some cases, an online log. Children who participate are asked to complete the books on their own or, for younger children, with the help of a parent. Book choice is left to the reader’s discretion, Buchanan said, noting they can read a variety of fiction and nonfiction.

Libraries offer incentives along the way and, at summer’s end, prizes to people with the most books read or with the longest time spent reading, Buchanan said. However, she added, everyone will get a prize, such as a certificate or ribbon.

The program also has an added benefit. Studies indicate there’s a significant summertime loss in literacy and learning if kids stop reading, she said, citing a Dominican University study that showed students who read throughout the summer scored better in reading achievement tests in the fall, and had better literacy and analytical skills.

“Students who read recreationally outperform those who don’t,” she said.

This year marks the second for a DOD-wide summer reading program. Officials adopted a worldwide program last year to pool resources and offer military children consistency when making a summer move, and a way to get involved once they’re at their new base, said James Ellis, program analyst for the Pentagon’s office of military community and family policy’s morale, welfare and recreation office.

“The summer reading program helps families transition during the busy [moving season] that routinely happens during summer months,” he said.

“It’s a great program for all our military families,” Buchanan added. “We thought this would be a good way to de-stress and have some fun.”

For more on this program, people can stop by their local library or read about it online at http://www.ila.org/dodsumread. Military families who aren’t near a base can email dodsumread@navy.mil to find out how to participate.

Buchanan also pointed out a few of the other programs military libraries have to offer this summer, including reading groups, story times, reading program parties, online books, downloadable audio books for car rides, online study guides for summer school attendees and access to Tutor.com, a site that offers free tutoring services 24/7 to military members and their families.

Libraries also have a host of other resources, including military and voluntary education study guides, online databases for college test exams, computer labs, CDs, DVDs and, in some cases, wireless Internet.

George Washington Begins Summer Patrol

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class William Pittman

YOKOSUKA, Japan (NNS) -- George Washington Carrier Strike Group (GWCSG), centered around the Navy's only full-time forward-deployed aircraft carrier, USS George Washington (CVN 73), returned to sea to begin their summer patrol, June 12.

"After a six month long maintenance period, George Washington is an [increasingly] modern, state-of-the-art warship," said George Washington's commanding officer, Capt. David A. Lausman. "I am excited to return to sea and work in international waters with our regional partners."

In addition to George Washington, GWCSG consists of 7th Fleet's Carrier Air Wing 5, Destroyer Squadron 15, guided-missile destroyers USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS Fitzgerald (DDG 62), USS John S. McCain (DDG 56), USS Lassen (DDG 82), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Mustin (DDG 89) and USS Stethem (DDG 63). Also included in the strike group are guided-missile cruisers USS Cowpens (CG 63) and USS Shiloh (CG 67).

Carrier Air Wing 5 is composed of Strike Fighter Squadron 27, Strike Fighter Squadron 102 Strike Fighter Squadron 115, Strike Fighter Squadron 195, Electronic Attack Squadron 136, Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron 115, Fleet Logistics Support Squadron 30 Detachment 5 and Helicopter Anti-submarine Squadron 14.

More than 5,500 Sailors are currently stationed aboard George Washington.

George Washington's mission is to ensure security and stability in the Western Pacific and to be in position to work with our allies and regional partners to respond to any crisis across the operational spectrum as directed.