Military News

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, June 16, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates has no public or media events on his schedule.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn is traveling.

Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen delivers remarks at 7:30 p.m. EDT at the Bob Woodruff Foundation’s Stand Up for Heroes event in the Ronald Reagan Building, 1300 Pennsylvania Avenue, N.W., Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Rene Bardorf at 703-881-6994.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will be the keynote speaker at 8 a.m. EDT at the 2011 Navy Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Forum at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center, Alexandria, Va.  Media interested in attending should contact Cmdr. Charlie Brown, CNO’s public affairs officer at 703-692-5307.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver remarks at 9 a.m. EDT at the “Active in the Arctic” seminar in room SD-562, Dirksen Senate Office Building, Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Cmdr. Charlie Brown, CNO’s public affairs officer at 703-692-5307.

Commanding General for Regional Command Southwest, Maj. Gen. John Toolan Jr., will brief the media live from Afghanistan at 10:30 a.m. EDT in the Pentagon Briefing Room (2E973) to provide an update on current operations.  Journalists without a Pentagon building pass will be picked up at the River Entrance only.  Plan to arrive no later than 45 minutes prior to the event; have proof of affiliation and two forms of photo identification. Please call 703-697-5131 for escort into the building.

Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Gary Roughead will deliver remarks at 11 a.m. EDT on “A Global Navy in a Time of Change” at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, 1800 K Street N.W., Washington, D.C.  Media interested in attending should contact Cmdr. Charlie Brown, CNO’s public affairs officer at 703-692-5307.

This Day in Naval History - June 15

From the Navy News Service

1944 - Fifth Fleet lands Marines on Saipan, under the cover of naval gunfire, in conquest of Marianas.
1963 - Launching of combat store ship, Mars (AFS 1), first of new class of underway replenishment ships.
1991 - Two battle groups and amphibious ships evacuate dependents and Air Force personnel from Clark Air Force Base after Mount Pinatubo erupts in Philippines.

TSC Great Lakes Honor Vietnam Brown Water Navy

By James F. Antonucci, Training Support Center Great Lakes Public Affairs

GREAT LAKES, Ill. (NNS) -- More than two dozen brownwater Navy Sailors, who comprised the River Patrol Boat Force Veterans Association (RPBF/VA) reunion, visited the Training Support Center (TSC), Great Lakes June 9.

The Navy Military Training (NMT) history and naval heritage lesson on the Brown-Water Navy of Vietnam was provided by the organization aboard the USS Cole Barracks (BEQ-6301) to more than 400 students.

Capt. Peter R. Lintner, commanding officer for TSC commented about the visit with, "It was an eye opening discussion for our Sailors. The members spoke of their experiences, how they got into the Brown-Water Navy and they fielded questions from the audience. They did a marvelous job speaking about camaraderie, getting to know your shipmates, the fact that you can be ordered any place at any time and the very real impact of taking live fire."

Members of the RFBF/VA had been assigned to a vessels like the Patrol Boat, River (PBR); a thirty-one foot, fiberglass Uniflight boat propelled by two General Motors marine diesel engines powering two Jacuzzi jet pumps.

In December 1965, the United States Navy formed the Brown-Water Navy in Vietnam and continued their duties up until 1970, when the Navy stood down the last of its Brown-Water Navy units and turned over the boats to the South Vietnamese Government.

Comments made by members of the group described the heroics and brutalities of war. Individuals like Mr. James Woods, an Engineman 3rd Class in Vietnam, described how he was wounded early in his PBR tour in Vietnam, but managed to return to his unit after he recovered.

Fire Controlman Seaman Corey Farrar said, "It was interesting to learn the difference between the generations of the Navy, and it was cool to actually speak with the Vietnam vets and hear what they went through."

"I will take their example of camaraderie to my ship. They are great role models," he said.

The descriptions provided by Richard J. Cragg, a former Lt. and Senior Patrol Officer, outlined how he planned patrols for his unit, River Section 532 (RS 32) in My Tho, Vietnam and its ten PBRs. He reminisced over his tour patrolling the Cua Dia River in Jan. of 1967, and reflected on how RS 532, as part of Task Force 116 during Operation Game Warden, was designated to patrol the rivers of Vietnam, primarily the Mekong and its tributaries.

As an excellent example of a dedication to duty, their orations and descriptions of the actions and equipment brought to mind more recent events with the renewed effort on the Navy's Special Warfare (SPECWAR) Riverine Forces. Yet it may never be possible to fully appreciate the efforts and sacrifices put forth by these special Sailors of the brown water Navy.

Fire Controlman Seaman Diego Ortega commented, "I learned about people who enlisted to get out of going to Vietnam but ended up there anyway. They did their best while they were there and showed the true meaning of a sailor."

Lintner finished by saying, "These former Sailors spoke reverently about lost shipmates, good times and the worst of times. Our Sailors soaked it up; with one student commenting, 'Boy, we thought we had it bad, this is nothing.'"

Training Support Center (TSC) Great Lakes is the only training command located within the same vicinity as Recruit Training and is the home of five learning sites operated independently. The command supports 85% of the Surface Navy School and averages 13,500 Student throughputs per year.

Face of Defense: Soldier Gives Gift of Life

By Rachel Parks
III Corps and Fort Hood Public Affairs

FORT HOOD, Texas, June 15, 2011 – Army Spc. Christopher Sutton enjoys helping people. It’s something that comes naturally to him whether it’s at his job, in his free time or while volunteering.

In that spirit of giving, Sutton took part in a bone marrow donor drive while stationed with the 89th Military Police Brigade about four years ago, and he was entered into the Defense Department bone marrow donor database.

“Two months ago, they called me out of the blue,” Sutton said. “I just happened to have the same number.”

Now working as a cadre member of the Warrior Transition Brigade Headquarters, Sutton was stunned when he was told he was a match to someone who would benefit from a bone marrow donation.

A donor coordinator from the C.W. Bill Young Department of Defense Marrow Donor Center contacted Sutton to ask if he would donate blood to verify a positive match.

“They said chances were slim that I could even be a match,” he said. But in a few short weeks, Sutton was contacted again with the official word. He was a match and his bone marrow donation could save a life.

Sutton said he wanted to help, but was concerned about the marrow-extraction process. “I was definitely thinking they were going to shove a huge needle in me and it was going to hurt,” he said. “I’ve heard that is one of the most-painful things ever.”

Ultimately, Sutton decided the pain would be worth the possibility of having a positive impact on someone’s life.

“I was trying to make excuses at first, but after that I was just like, ‘OK it’s got to be done,’” he said.

Although he was willing to donate, Sutton had work considerations as well. At the time of the coordination, the WTB was preparing for a Warrior Transition Command Inspector General inspection. Sutton, who played a vital role in the inspection preparation process, was reluctant to leave before the inspection was over.

“They had to have the donation soon because [the recipient] was getting worse,” he said. “They waited for the inspection that we had, because I needed to be there for that, and they flew me out the day after the inspection was over.”

Although Sutton was expecting a painful bone marrow extraction process, he was able to donate through a less-invasive method. Instead of requiring surgery to harvest bone marrow from his hip, Sutton donated peripheral blood stem cells.

“Basically it’s five days of injections of this medicine called filgrastim,” he explained. “It tells your body to produce more stem cells. On the sixth day, you go in and they do the draw.”

Sutton spent more than four hours donating peripheral blood stem cells during the procedure. He said he’d definitely donate again.

Sutton is humble when discussing his donation.

“I didn’t think it was that big of a deal, but it was everyone else’s outlook on it,” he said. “Everywhere I went, people said it was amazing and it made me feel really good.”

Soldiers who work with Sutton each day say they’re proud of him, but not surprised by his willingness to donate to someone he doesn’t know.

Army Capt. Rica Banks, the WTB’s personnel officer, and Army Chief Warrant Officer 3 David Garcia, a brigade human resources technician, said that’s just the way Sutton is.

Garcia also served as a source of information for Sutton as the donation process unfolded.

“When we were in Hawaii a few years ago, my wife actually got contacted [to be a bone marrow donor],” Garcia said. “Unfortunately, the lady passed away before all that could happen. After that, she convinced me to become a donor.

“You never know when it’s going to be you, or someone close to you,” he added.

Banks agreed.

“It’s a very easy thing to do,” Banks said, “but unless you’ve had a situation where you’ve had to receive, you might not understand how important it is or how one simple little thing can change the life of someone else.”

Sutton was honored in front of the brigade for his donation. “Everyone recognized what a big deal this is for him,” Banks said.

Sutton said it was an easy decision to make.

“I definitely recommend people get signed up, it’s great to help someone.”

Baltic Operations 2011 Tests Interoperability

From Commander Carrier Strike Group 8 Public Affairs

USS MOUNT WHITNEY, At Sea (NNS) -- Commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 8, visited ships participating in the serial phase of Baltic Operations (BALTOPS) 2011, June 7-13.

Rear Adm. Clifford Sharpe, commander CSG 8, is in operational control of units participating in BALTOPS 2011, and his staff developed the scenario for the exercise.

Traveling by helicopter or rigid hull inflatable boat (RHIB) from USS Mount Whitney (LCC 20), Sharpe visited 20 ships from 11 different European nations. During each visit, he met with commanding officers and crew members, toured the ship, and received a brief about its capabilities and missions.

Ensuring multinational interoperability is one of the key objectives of BALTOPS 2011. While visiting each vessel, Sharpe asked officers for their comments and input on the exercise.

"Our objective is to meet the needs of all participants," said Sharpe. "These visits provide a way for commanders to let me know how my staff can help them achieve their training and operational goals."

In addition to visiting USS Philippine Sea (CG 58), and USNS John T. Bobo, Sharpe visited ships from Denmark, France, Sweden, Germany, the Netherlands, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Estonia, and Russia. His tour included an oiler, a squadron of minesweepers, a landing ship, corvettes, destroyers, frigates, and patrol boats. He also witnessed several gunnery exercises and a mine countermeasures demonstration.

Accompanying Sharpe were members of his staff and an interpreter when needed.

BALTOPS 2011 is a multinational exercise focusing on ensuring peace and security in the Baltic Region. Maritime operations continue until June 17, when the ships return to Kiel, Germany.

Guantanamo Oil Spill Response Team Refines Skills

By Chief Mass Communication Specialist (SW) Bill Mesta, Naval Station Guantanamo Bay Public Affairs

GUANTANAMO BAY, Cuba (NNS) -- Sailors and civilians attached to Naval Station (NS) Guantanamo Bay, Cuba's, Port Operations and Public Works departments conducted an oil spill response drill in the bay June 14.

The drill, conducted quarterly, refines boom boat and skimmer operators' skills and ensures NS Guantanamo Bay maintains its oil spill response capability.

"The oil response drill included simulating an oil spill in the 'industrial area' of the naval station's harbor," said Lt. Thomas Ware, NS Guantanamo Bay port operations officer. "The drill focused on mechanical sweeping on the surface of the water and transferring oil from the skimmer to a vacuum truck."

This drill was conducted differently than it has been in the past, said Ware. Military members and civilian contractors participated in the evolution, allowing military to get a grasp of oil spill response procedures.

"Previously, the contractor has conducted oil spill response drills utilizing only contracted personnel," said Ware. "Going forward, [we have] created a spirit of cooperation for drills between civilian and military who are assigned to the port operations department."

Future oil spill response drills will expand, and are scheduled to include participation from NS Guantanamo Bay's fire department and activation of its Emergency Operations Center, said Ware.

Guam Military Children Entertained, Informed by Sesame Street Characters

By Airman 1st Class Whitney Tucker, U.S. Naval Forces, Marianas Public Affairs

GUAM (NNS) -- Sesame Street television show characters visited Andersen Air Force Base and U.S. Naval Base Guam (NBG) June 9-10, to perform for military members and their families.

The USO teamed with Sesame Workshop, the non-profit organization that produces Sesame Street, to bring the Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families to the Asia-Pacific region.

"It's a fantastic partnership," said Lonnie Cooper, USO tour manager. "It's a natural thing. Sesame Street has an instant credibility with children and their families and the USO has credibility with the military. When you put those two things together for this kind of program for military families, it is just unprecedented and it's been a real success for us."

Audiences at the shows were introduced to a new character, Katie, a military child relocating to a new home. With the support of Elmo and other Sesame Street "celebrity" friends, Katie is able to open up about her apprehension and excitement as she deals with the challenges of adjusting to a new environment and making new friends.

The new show also features a 25-minute, high-energy character performance with special giveaways and vital outreach materials for those who attend.

"It's a way for military children to learn how to cope with issues that affect them," Cooper said. "Who better to discuss it with, than characters they have come to trust like Elmo, Cookie Monster or Rosita?"

Staff Sgt. Whitney Rogers, 36th Force Support Squadron, said Sesame Street characters help children feel empowered and they encourage children to be themselves.

"This show is good for military kids because it lets them know they're not alone," she said. "In this lifestyle, kids move around a lot. They're going to make friends and lose friends, but this show teaches them that you never have to forget the people you meet and to remember that new friends are just around the corner."

Navy spouse Dot Ramirez said the show hit close to home for her family.

"We loved the show," she said. "In 11 weeks we're leaving, so [my daughter] can totally relate. We're starting to pack up and head to a new duty station."

For Master-at-Arms 1st Class (SW) Jermaine Glover, of NBG Security, the thrill of the show was being able to share a piece of his childhood with his sons.

"Last year it was a ball, so I made sure I had to come out a second time," Glover said. "[For our kids] to see what we saw back in the day, which was Sesame Street, and for them to see it and experience it was amazing."

Since its inception four years ago, The Sesame Street/USO Experience for Military Families has logged more than 61,200 miles to 90 bases in 33 different states and nine countries. This summer alone the tour will perform more than 120 shows, touching the lives of countless children and military members alike.

"We know family is the core of getting not only our service members through their hardship, but keeping every family unit together," said Leigh Leilani Graham, USO Guam director. "I think it helps the parents just as much as it does the children."

Veteran Says Counseling Group Saved Her Life

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – A combat veteran who suffers from post-traumatic stress told an audience here today that without the help offered by one nonprofit organization, she wouldn’t be alive.

Jennifer Crane, a 28-year-old Army veteran who deployed to Afghanistan in 2003, said Give an Hour, founded by clinical psychologist Barbara Van Dahlen, offered the free counseling she needed to get her life back.

Give an Hour was among several organizations that participated in a press conference and panel discussion focusing on support for veterans. Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, gave the keynote address at the event held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial.

In describing her challenges, Crane said she got more than she bargained for after deciding to join the Army at 17.

“My first day of basic training was Sept. 11, 2001,” she said. “I was sitting with a platoon of strangers as the towers fell that day, and my drill sergeants said we were all going to war. They were absolutely right.”

In Afghanistan, Crane said, she saw combat and developed chronic post-traumatic stress disorder.

“It will be eight years this October since I came home, but the experiences still live inside me like it was yesterday,” she said. “It’s still difficult for me to talk about.”

After she returned from Afghanistan, Crane said, she didn’t know where to turn, and for a time was part of the “large percentage of the homeless population” who are veterans.

“It took years of agony before I was able to find help,” she said, adding that there probably are thousands “of people out there just like me who are suffering, and who need the help.”

Crane said the needs of veterans include health care, a support system, a home, an education, employment and society’s acceptance.

“Our vets are struggling to maintain these simple necessities,” she said. “If we cannot come together and find a solution … we will be doing our country a great disservice.”

It wasn’t until she found Give an Hour, Crane said, that she felt hope for her future.

Give an Hour is an association of mental health professionals who offer free counseling for service members, veterans, their families and unmarried partners. With more than 5,600 providers ranged across all 50 states, Puerto Rico and Guam, the organization’s officials estimate members have provided around 40,000 hours of free service.

“The birth of my daughter in 2008 left me in complete shambles,” Crane said. “My [post-traumatic stress disorder] was stronger than ever.”

Without the counselor she found through Give an Hour, “I don’t think I could stand here talking with you today,” she said. “I no longer feel broken … instead, I feel whole.”

While every day is still a struggle, Crane said, “The generosity of my therapist, my community, and the love of my family has given me the faith in society that I so desperately needed.”

Sometimes all people need is to feel someone cares, Crane said, which is why she shared her story at today’s event.

“My community did not have the tools to help me when I came home,” she said. “But sitting here today, you are all proof that we are changing history by banding together.”

Crane urged nonprofit members in the audience to continue their support, and added, “If you’re a veteran, a service member, family of a service member or even friend of a service member, seek the help you need.”

For veterans and their families dealing with the after effects of war, she said, “It can only get better from here.”

Crane said she is now married to her best friend, and is “a fully capable mother” of her 3-year-old daughter.

“I can now manage my condition, and have hope for a better tomorrow,” she said.

Some scars are invisible, and everyone has them, Crane said.

“It is what we choose to do with them that makes the difference,” she concluded.

Mullen Discusses Afghanistan, Iraq, ‘Don’t Ask’ on Letterman

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – America’s top military officer explained what members of the U.S. military have gone through during 10 years of war to the audience of the “Late Show with David Letterman” last night.

Navy Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told celebrity host David Letterman that the American people need to know what their armed forces are doing and the sacrifices service members and their families are making.

“We’re in our tenth year of war,” the chairman said. “We’ve had almost 2 million men and women serve in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some of them have seen horrors we can’t even imagine.”

These soldiers, Marines, sailors and airmen have deployed repeatedly. “Some of our big units, which would be a brigade of 4,000 or 5,000 soldiers, have deployed for a year at a time -- four, five, six times,” he said. And then the units are home for a year.

This has caused enormous stress, Mullen said. “We’ve lost upwards of 6,000 individuals, very special people who sacrifice their lives,” he said. “We’ve had tens of thousands physically wounded, lost limbs. We’ve had tens of thousands if not hundreds of thousands suffer the invisible wounds of traumatic brain injury or post-traumatic stress.”

The military makes up less than 1 percent of the total U.S. population, the chairman said. He wants America to do right by this generation of veterans.

“They’re looking for jobs. They come back to a GI bill that's very good. They want to go to school,” he said. “There’s a sea of goodwill out there that wants to make a difference in their lives. And so I’ve worked hard to try to focus on that. We’re only 1 percent of the population, and yet they’ve marched off to war and done what America has asked. They’ve done it as well if not better than ever in our history. And I’m very proud of them. We should, from my perspective, work hard to repay that debt.”

The chairman wants the American people to understand the circumstances of service members and their families. “What I am trying to do is bring voice to their sacrifice, and a level of awareness to Americans of what they’ve been through,” he said. “These are the best young men and women I’ve ever served with.”

Mullen also discussed Afghanistan, Iraq and the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal with Letterman.

The chairman said defense leaders are focused on transition in Afghanistan. After surging 30,000 additional troops into the country, coalition forces now are looking at transitioning security responsibility to Afghan forces. Next month, the transition begins in seven areas of the country.

“We’ll meet here over the course of the next several weeks with the president to determine [which] troops will start to come out next month,” Mullen said. “We don’t know what the pace is or the number.”

The transition will be complete in 2014, the chairman said.

The United States still has 48,000 troops in Iraq, down from almost 200,000 a few years ago. All American troops will be out of the country by the end of the year under the current agreement with Iraq, he said. “Whether the Iraqis will ask us for some kind of small footprint in the future is to be determined here in the next few months,” he said.

The chairman is optimistic about Iraq’s future. “From what I have seen … [Iraqi leaders] seem to be focusing on their country as opposed to their individual parties in their country or the kind of sectarian split that has been so bad for them in the past,” he said. “I’m actually encouraged. I think economically they will be in pretty good shape. They’ve got a lot of oil and they will, I think, move forward in the next several years to make that a viable part of their future. So I’m actually optimistic.”

Mullen explained his position on repeal of the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell law. “I testified in front of Congress a year ago February that I personally couldn’t reconcile an institution like the military, which values integrity in everything that we do, yet asking people to come to work every single day and lie about who they are,” he said. “That is how I felt then. That’s how I feel now. The law has been changed. We’re right now in the middle of conducting training prior to certification. Certification will take place … certainly in the next couple of months.”

Africans Training Africans in Cameroon

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

DOUALA, Cameroon (NNS) -- The Senegalese military contributed a mobile training team in support of Africa Partnership Station (APS) 2011 in Cameroon, June 10.

For the first time in APS history, Senegal contributed a three-man team to teach a five-day visit, board, search and seizure (VBSS) course to Cameroonian, Congolese and Gabonese students.

"APS has grown," said Capt. Lawrence Rollo, maritime affairs officer for Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. "We have more hubs focused on more training with international and multinational exercises at sea. In the future, we hope that this continues to grow and more African partners will step up as training teams for APS."

In the past, all APS training was conducted by country trainers from nations outside of Africa. Trainers have consisted of teams from Brazil, Italy and the United States.

"APS is a program of partnership among African nations and other friends. It helps create fraternity, solidarity and cooperation among these African states," said Senegalese instructor Raphael Toudji. "Already the communication is easier; we have shed the language barrier we had when working with many non-African partners. Additionally, our countries are becoming more aware that we truly have the same adversaries. They are not our neighbors' militaries, but the illegal actors in our region."

One of the most significant impacts of having African nations teaching other African nations is the relationship reinforcement the two countries receive.

"We need to reinforce these relationships of cooperation against the traffickers and pirates. The increase of sharing intelligence and training among our nations ensures that the bad actors who are trying to take advantage of us will not prevail," Toudji explained.

APS is a multinational security cooperation initiative, currently comprised of 34 nations and sponsored by Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa. It is aimed at improving maritime safety and security in Africa while building lasting relationships.

APS brings together an international team of expert trainers in a variety of military capabilities, and a handful of civilian fields. It focuses on addressing maritime professionals, maritime infrastructure, maritime domain awareness and response capabilities while simultaneously fostering regional and comprehensive approach.

Innovation, Flexibility Core of Army Success, Gates Says

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – Innovation, dynamism and flexibility must remain the hallmarks of the U.S. Army, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said here today.

Gates spoke during a Pentagon ceremony honoring soldiers on the 236th birthday of the Army.

Gates, who recently returned from visiting service members in Afghanistan, praised the spirit of innovation in the Army. The lesson of history is that leaders must encourage such thinking.
As an example, the secretary cited the experiences of D-Day in 1944.

“One of the most deadly obstacles U.S. soldiers faced as they pressed inland from the beaches of France were hedgerows so thick and tough that allied tanks would ride, not through, but right on top of them, losing traction and exposing their vulnerable underbellies to German fire,” he said.

Army Sgt. Curtis G. Culin, a cavalry non commissioned officer with the 2nd Armored Division, “had the brilliant idea of fashioning iron bars, scavenged from German anti-landing craft fortifications, into tank-mounted hedgerow cutters,” Gates said.

Following the successful demonstration of the cutters, Army logisticians built and mounted the equipment on nearly 300 Sherman tanks.

“The rest of the story is Operation Cobra, the U.S. Army’s successful advance through France,” he said. “That victory was a demonstration of the great and abiding strengths of our Army -- exceptional adaptability at all levels in the face of unpredictable circumstances, and the great trust and reliance placed in the ingenuity of soldiers of all ranks.”

The same spirit of innovation and flexibility pervades the Army today, Gates said. “The ground wars following 9/11 placed even heavier responsibilities on young leaders,” he said. “From the earliest days in Iraq and Afghanistan, our soldiers downrange have been adjusting and improvising in response to the complex and evolving challenges on the ground -- often using new technologies to share real-time tactical lessons with their comrades.”

The missions required soldiers to be scholars, teachers, policemen, farmers, bankers, engineers, social workers and warriors -- “often all at the same time,” the secretary said. “And they have always risen to the challenge.”

This spirit allowed the department to pull Iraq back from the brink of chaos in 2007 and, over the past year, to roll back the Taliban from their strongholds in Afghanistan, he said.

Gates also thanked Army families for their steadfast support of their soldiers and each other.

The service’s challenge is to learn the right lessons from the past decade of war, Gates said. “This doesn’t mean assuming the next war will be similar to the last -- a common and dangerous mistake -- but rather making sure the diverse experiences and agility of today’s young soldiers are institutionalized, so our Army stands at the ready for conflicts both foreseen and unforeseeable.”

The Army must avoid a garrison mentality -- one that stifles innovation and is wedded to ironclad procedures. The service must embrace “the ingenuity, creativity, and innovative spirit of younger officers and [noncommissioned officers] so central to our success in combat,” he said.

First Lady Urges Hollywood to Tell Military Family Stories

By Elaine Sanchez
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – WASHINGTON, June 14, 2011 – The entertainment industry can help to shine the light on military families by incorporating their compelling stories into movies and television, First Lady Michelle Obama said yesterday during a panel discussion hosted by the entertainment guilds in Los Angeles.

Speaking to an audience of about 500 producers, writers, actors and directors, the first lady discussed her “Joining Forces” military-support campaign and how Hollywood can play a role in her quest to stir up national support for military families.

Writer-director J.J. Abrams, who moderated the panel, kicked off the discussion by asking Obama what sparked her passion for military family support.

The first lady traced it back to her time on the campaign trail with her husband. As she met in small groups with working women, she heard voices she hadn’t heard from before – military spouses. These women -- and men -- talked about juggling careers and deployments, raising kids and managing moves, and dealing with finances alongside post-deployment reconnections.

“These stories took my breath away,” she said, “because they were so unfamiliar to me. And I thought, ‘Well, if I don't know, and I’m educated and I consider myself aware, then where are we in this country? Why don't we know about these families? Why don't we know their struggles? Why aren’t we pushing for them?”

Obama said she vowed, if her husband got elected, to use her platform to give military families a voice, “because truly, these families are amazing.”

Military families also are strong, she noted, but because of this strength that’s so integral to military life, they often don’t complain or reach out for support.

“That’s one of the reasons we don’t know about them,” she said. “They count on each other, and they don't ask for help. Well, they shouldn’t have to ask for help.”

In a year’s time, the first lady said, she’d like see a nation where military families know their sacrifices are understood and appreciated, and that everyone, including the entertainment industry, can step up and help.

“It can be telling a story on the big screen, on the small screen, or it can be helping a neighbor mow their lawn,” she said. People can volunteer to babysit for an afternoon, cook a meal, offer to fix a heater, or reach out to a reserve family living away from the support of a military installation, she added.

“Small gestures can make a big difference,” the first lady said.

The entertainment industry can bring awareness to these families by showcasing their strength and sacrifice, Obama said.

“You have the vehicle to tell stories that just pull people in,” the first lady told the audience. “I … urge you to do what you do best. Be creative. Be funny. Be powerful. Move us, [and] move America to think differently about these issues and about these families, and about our men and women who serve so graciously.”

The task shouldn’t be too difficult for Hollywood storytellers, she noted, “because the stories are already compelling. The individuals are already pretty powerful.”

Obama thanked the industry for the work they’ve done already to spotlight military families. As an example, she talked about her next stop -- an upcoming appearance on “iCarly,” a Nickelodeon TV series about a teenager who hosts a popular Internet show. On the show, Carly’s dad is deployed. The first lady admitted some nerves about her TV appearance, but said she’ll push them aside to have the opportunity to spotlight military families on the small screen.

“This is an example of the way that we can integrate these story lines into shows,” she said, “and it’s important for kids to hear themselves in the shows that they love.”

Military families will need the nation’s support for the long haul, Obama noted, as the “real work happens when these men and women come home and they’re dealing with the ramifications of war.

“This is a forever battle,” she added. “We have men and women who are serving our country every day, and they’ll be dealing with the consequences of that dedicated service for the rest of their lives, and we have to be there for them and their children.”

To resounding applause, Obama said she and Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, will continue shining a light on military families “so that America understands that when our country goes to war, we have families who are serving right along with them.”

CNIC Chefs Take First Place in All-Region Culinary Competition

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class (SW/AW) Monique K. Hilley,Commander, Navy Installations Command Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Two Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Culinary Specialists won first place at the Commander, Navy Installations Command's Food Services Ashore Culinary Competition in Washington, D.C., June 9.

First-place winners Culinary Specialist 1st Class Wayne Napples and Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Joseph Rodriguez, made up one of nine, two-person teams participating in the event. All regions were invited and teams were chosen from internal regional cook-offs.

"I think the Navy chefs are at another level," said Guy Mitchell, White House chef. "They're cooking better than five-star hotel and restaurant chefs. After forty years in the business, I am completely blown away by their enthusiasm, attitude and working skills."

Culinary specialists from Navy Region Northwest and Naval District Washington finished in second and third place respectively.

"It was an amazing experience, and I loved it," said Culinary Specialist 1st Class Wayne Napples, representing Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and currently stationed at Naval Station Norfolk's Galley. "The training was top-notch, and I want to share it with all of my fellow culinary specialists. Also, the opportunity to be able to meet and assist chefs from the Food Network like Chef Guy Mitchell was unreal, and I'm excited about working with him in the future."

During the competition, the teams created three-course meals comprised of soup, salad and an entrée, all of which contained the secret ingredient of parmesan, which was revealed at the beginning of the day.

"To watch my fellow judges who are chefs for the White House and vice president be impressed, and to see their reactions, their heads going back, is something you had to be there to see," said Mitchell. "These chefs have cooked for dignitaries and celebrities from all over the world. To hear them say they'd take any of these Navy chefs on their staff today; now that's what I'm talking about."

The teams were judged on food safety and sanitation, organizational skills, work habits, utilization of ingredients, cooking skills and craftsmanship, portion size, taste and presentation.

"When they say the Navy has the best chow, they should say the best food ever served," said Mitchell. "To see these young Sailors from all over the world dedicate their time to this art, it's unbelievable."

The competition was the culmination of a five-day workshop being held simultaneously with the event in Washington, D.C.

"This location affords participants the opportunity to visit and analyze a thriving and diverse local food and beverage industry, and establishments that deliver the desired future service outcomes of the Navy Food and Beverage programs," said Michael Bowlin, CNIC Galley/Flag Mess and ARO operations officer.

Wisconsin National Guard Airman responds to on-flight medical emergency

By Tech. Sgt. Jon LaDue
Wisconsin Army National Guard

A flight doctor for the Madison-based 115th Fighter Wing, Wisconsin Air National Guard, assisted a young woman aboard a civilian aircraft while returning home from a NATO training exercise in Iceland.

The situation took place while waiting for takeoff Sunday (June 12) aboard Delta Airlines flight 1126 from Boston Logan Airport to the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport.

Maj. William Lane, Green Bay, heard an announcement that the plane would be returning to the gate due to a medical issue on board. He immediately switched roles from airline passenger to on-board doctor.

"I looked back and saw a bunch of people standing around," Lane said. "I went back there and pretty much took charge" - something he is used to doing as a full-time emergency room doctor at the Appleton Medical Center.

The woman, in her 20s, experienced a seizure and seemed confused with symptoms of unresponsiveness and respirations, Lane said.

He observed as the flight attendants administered an oxygen mask to the passenger. Lane then stayed with the woman, stabilizing her airway to sustain an oxygen flow for about 10 minutes until the paramedics arrived to treat the woman inside the airport.

Lt. Col. Phillip Bunton, medical administration officer for the 115th Medical Group, wasn't surprised when he heard of Lane's actions.

"He's certainly one of the most dedicated flight docs that we have and he is always ready to step up and volunteer," Bunton said. "He makes himself available, even in between drill weekends, all the time."

This isn't Lane's first experience with helping someone outside of the normal doctor's smock or flight suit he wears on a daily basis. In 1998, he was asked by pilots aboard a flight to Florida to assist a flight attendant who was having a panic attack at the rear of the plane. He also assisted emergency responders following a motorcycle accident outside of Milwaukee. He was on his way home from training as a flight doctor with the Milwaukee-based 440th Air Reserve Wing at the time.

Lane, a 1984 graduate of Michigan State University with a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree, admits he really enjoys opportunities to serve as a Good Samaritan.

I'm proud to have skills that can help other people in need," he said. "I almost like it more on a random basis than when I'm being paid. It seems more pure that way."

Today in the Department of Defense, Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify at a hearing of the Senate Committee on Appropriations on the fiscal 2012 Department of Defense budget at 11 a.m. EDT in room SD-192, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn is traveling.

Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus delivers remarks at 10 a.m. EDT at the 2011 Naval Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics Forum at the Hilton Alexandria Mark Center Hotel in Alexandria, Va.  Media interested in attending may contact Peter Bietti at 703-501-6515.

This Day in Naval History - June 14

From the Navy News Service

1777 - John Paul Jones takes command of Ranger.
1777 - Continental Congress adopts design of present U.S. Flag.
1847 - Commodore Matthew Perry launches amphibious river operations by Sailors and Marines on Tabasco River, Mexico.
1940 - Franklin D. Roosevelt signs Naval Expansion Act to construct ships to increase Navy's tonnage by 11 percent.
1985 - Steelworker 2nd Class Robert D. Stethem of Underwater Construction Team 1 was killed by militant Shi'ite hijackers of TWA Flight 847. He later received a Bronze Star for his heroism.