Military News

Friday, June 17, 2011

Army Announces Site for National Museum

[This release has been updated to state that the NMUSA is scheduled to open in June 2015; it originally said June 2013.]

The Army announced today that the North Post of Fort Belvoir, Va., will be the site of the National Museum of the U.S. Army (NMUSA), scheduled to open in June 2015.  Secretary of the Army John M. McHugh approved the decision this week, which also marked the Army's 236th birthday.

"In presenting the Army's storied 236-year history, this long-overdue facility will offer the American people a unique opportunity to connect with our soldiers and better understand and appreciate their many and glorious stories," McHugh said.

"Now that a site for the Army's museum has been determined, the development of the museum's master plan can be finalized," said Judson Bennett, executive director of the NMUSA project office at Fort Belvoir.  Building of the museum will be funded privately through the Army Historical Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving the Army's heritage.

Initial construction will include a multi-story, main museum building with exhibit halls, theater, Veterans' Hall, food service and retail areas, administrative areas, an experiential learning center and a lobby with visitor reception area.

The Army is currently the only service without a centralized museum.  The Navy Museum is located at the Navy Yard in Washington D.C.; the Marine Corps Museum is located at the Marine Base Quantico in Prince William County, Va.; and the Air Force Museum is located at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.

For more information, media may contact Army Public Affairs at 703-697-5344.

RIVRON 3 Conducts Live-Fire Training

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Michael R. Hinchcliffe

FORT KNOX, Ky. (NNS) -- Riverine Squadron (RIVRON) 3 Sailors conducted category IV live-fire training on the Salt River aboard Fort Knox, Ky., June 6-11.

Category IV live-fire consists of taking riverine boat crews through one to four-boat formations, reacting to land and waterborne events, contacts and various possible angles of pursuit, and patrolling river ways. Four-boat formation is a tactic used by riverines to defend against enemy attacks both on the river ways and on land when they are extracting hostiles or inserting a riverine security team ashore.

"We are progressing each day and taking it step-by-step," said Lt. Mark Howell, RIVRON 3 Det. 2 officer in charge. "This training allows us to venture out to new territories and operate effectively on any river. This is basic riverine unit level training, more or less, the fundamentals of our craft and the way we operate on any river."

The RIVRON boat teams practiced various exercise scenarios they could encounter in live combat. Some of the events included defending against enemy assaults, towing inoperative boats and firing various different weapons at posted targets simulating enemy contacts on the hill sides. After each evolution the boat crews debriefed and discussed discrepancies and strategy during the training.

During the live-fire evolutions one of the riverine boats would power down to simulate a loss of power during an attack. The boat closest would use a line to tie-up and drag the downed boat out of danger while the other two boats provided cover fire.

Riverine boat crews are composed of gunners training on their specific area of responsibility and sector of fire, the coxswain who trains on navigating the boat and positioning the boats in formations away from the danger areas, and the boat captain who assesses every aspect of his boat from the functions and capabilities down to the Sailors and their responsibilities.

The Sailors manned the boats donned in full-body armor. Each gunner had a range safety officer standing behind them to provide guidance and advice, and to ensure the safety of the Sailors on the boat. Every scenario and drill helps to proficiently hone the skills of riverine Sailors, ensuring they are qualified and capable of deploying with their detachment.

"Those three positions are what we are training on here and how they not only work as one boat, but also as a four-boat formation," said Howell. "There will never be an untrained Riverine Sailor deployed. We have a standard to stick to and wickets to meet, and we will not send anybody out that doesn't have the tools and skills to combat the threat at hand."

Howell said after this training, Det. 2 can deploy and handle the worst case scenario, which would be an assault by a squad-size (platoon) enemy infantry threat or light vehicles with heavy armor.

"This exercise is the culmination of what riverines train for so they have the ability to go out on any river and have the tools to succeed," he said.

Howell stated, RIVRON 3 Det. 2 is in a deployment window and will be ready to answer the call when needed.

"The Riverine force is an extremely flexible fighting force providing operations across the entire spectrum of military operations," said Cmdr. Peter Berning, chief staff officer Riverine Group 1. "We also provide the unique ability to bring the Navy's core mission of maritime security operations into the riverine environment. No other unit has the ability to operate in that unique and strategically important geographic area."

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

Navy Divers Entertain Crowds during Chattanooga Navy Week 2011

By Stacey Byington, Trident Refit Facility, Kings Bay Public Affairs

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (NNS) -- Six Navy divers from Trident Refit Facility aboard Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay, Ga., are diving in the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga, TN, entertaining crowds of people, June 14-17, as part of Chattanooga Navy Week 2011.

Led by Chief Navy Diver Kevin Moore, the divers are demonstrating their skills and equipment in the aquarium's Secret Reef exhibit, swimming among sharks, stingrays, and numerous types of fish while answering questions about their lives as Navy divers and talking to visitors at the aquarium. The exhibit replicates the Flower Garden Banks National Sanctuary, located about 115 miles south of Texas, which is the northernmost reef in North America.

"Chattanooga is a great town, and we are delighted to be able to participate in the Riverbend Festival and Chattanooga Navy Week," said Moore. "This is a great opportunity to show what Navy divers do. A couple of our divers have family members living in the Chattanooga area, and it is the first time some of them have seen us dive."

In addition to the dives in the aquarium, the divers are manning a static display of current and past diving equipment every day, interacting with Chattanooga area media, and participating in several community service projects.

The Chattanooga Navy Week celebration, held during the Riverbend Festival, kicked off June 11 and continues through June 18. The week-long event gives area residents an opportunity to meet some of the Navy's Sailors and learn about the Navy's critical mission and its broad-ranging capabilities.

The U.S. Navy conducts approximately 21 Navy Weeks each year, reaching out to communities across the country to show Americans the investment they have made in their Navy as a Global Force for Good. During a Navy Week celebration, the Navy concentrates a variety of outreach events in a metropolitan area, sharing the Navy story with as many people as possible.

In addition to the divers from Trident Refit Facility, other Navy personnel participating in Chattanooga Navy Week included Sailors from USS Constitution, the oldest commissioned warship in the U.S. Navy; several Sailors from USS Tennessee (SSBN 734), homeported in Kings Bay; and other units from all over the region. Navy musicians from Navy Band Mid-South also gave special performances at various venues around the city.

Senior Navy leaders engaged with local corporate, civic, government and education leaders during the week. Headlining Chattanooga Navy Week are Vice Adm. Harry Vice Adm. Harry B. Harris, Jr., commander, U.S. 6th Fleet; Rear Adm. Donald R. Gintzig, deputy chief Medical Operations and Future Plans, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery; and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON) Rick D. West.

Other cities and states hosting a 2011 Navy Week are the Quad Cities; Chicago; Rochester, N.Y.; Detroit; Los Angeles; Fargo, N.D.; Indianapolis; Cincinnati; Omaha, Neb.; New England; Albuquerque, N.M.; El Paso and San Antonio, Texas.

Live from Annual Training – New Army tents are not half bad

By Wisconsin National Guard Public Affairs– June 17, 2011
By Command Sgt. Maj. Rafael Conde
32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team

For as long as I can remember, the Army issued a shelter half — three poles, three pegs plus a rope — to each Soldier as a means of protection from the elements during field problems. The system worked by having two Soldiers put each half of their issued tent together to make a small two-person tent.

The system made several assumptions — first, you must find two Soldiers that could at least tolerate each other for a minimum of 10 days in the field. Then you had to make sure that each Soldier brought all of their equipment to ensure a successful marriage of two tent systems — we refer to this as pre-combat checks and pre-combat inspections, or PCCs and PCIs. Then you have to make sure you choose a good place to set up a location for your tents.

Even if everything worked in your favor, once the rain came, the tents would always fail. This forced the Soldier to purchase commercial tents to attempt to keep their equipment dry. The purchase of “civilian” tents was the misery of every command sergeant major. Once all of the tents were erected, it made Fort McCoy look like a KOA camp site.

This year, two battalions and several companies of the 32nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team deployed to the field with the latest high-speed Army-issued tent. The one-man rain-proof tent consists of a floor, a rain fly, poles and tent pegs. Total weight is less than three pounds. The great thing about the tents is that each Soldier has their own living space — we no longer expect two Soldiers to share a tent, especially after being in the field without a shower for a couple of days.

The new tents were put to the test on Wednesday as we received heavy rains throughout the day. The tents not only held up, but the Red Arrow Soldiers were able to keep their equipment dry and have a dry place to sleep. At last, the Army got it right.

We hope to issue all 32nd IBCT Soldiers their own tents prior to next year’s AT.

Stay tuned for more blogs in the coming days. What are some of your more memorable field shelters, expedient or otherwise, from back in the day?

(blogging from Fort McCoy, Wis., at annual training).

Airman Missing from Vietnam War Identified

The Department of Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO) announced today that the remains of a serviceman, missing in action from the Vietnam War, have been identified and are being returned to his family for burial with full military honors.

Air Force 1st Lt. David A. Thorpe of Seneca Falls, N.Y., will be buried June 23 at Arlington National Cemetery.  On Oct. 3, 1966, Thorpe’s C-130E, with four other men aboard, failed to arrive at Nha Trang Air Base following their departure from Tan Son Nhut Air Base in South Vietnam.  Rescue personnel found their remains at the crash site in South Vietnam eight days later approximately 40 miles west of Nha Trang. The cause of the crash is not known.

Between 1984 and 1996, the Joint POW/MIA Accounting Command (JPAC) received human remains tentatively linked to Thorpe and the other crew members from various sources including refugees from the Vietnam War and Vietnamese citizens. Lacking advanced scientific tools and complete records during this time period, JPAC was unable to make an individual identification of Thorpe’s remains, so he was buried as part of a group at Arlington.  Other remains associated with the entire group were held at JPAC’s laboratory for future testing.

As DNA testing procedures improved in the late 1990s, JPAC’s forensic anthropologists applied the latest technologies from the Armed Forces DNA Identification Laboratory to include mitochondrial testing, a sample of which matched the DNA from Thorpe’s sister.  His dental records also helped confirm the identification.

With the accounting of this airman, 1,687 service members still remain missing from the Vietnam War.

For additional information on the Defense Department’s mission to account for missing Americans, visit the DPMO website at http://www.dtic.mil/dpmo or call 703-699-1169.

USS Barry Holds Change of Command in Italy

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jonathan Sunderman, USS Enterprise Public Affairs

GAETA, Italy (NNS) -- A change of command ceremony was held aboard Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Barry (DDG 52) while in port Gaeta, Italy, June 14.

During the ceremony, Cmdr. Kevin Byrne relieved Cmdr. Adolfo Ibarra as Barry's commanding officer (CO).

"This has been an amazing experience," said Ibarra. "From working with our coalition partners to combat operations off the coast of Libya, Sailors aboard Barry have always risen to the challenge, and I am proud to have served with them," said Ibarra. "It has been an honor and privilege to serve with the best Sailors that the United States Navy has to offer."

Ibarra assumed command of Barry in 2009 and departs the ship for his next assignment at U.S. Africa Command in Stuttgart, Germany. Byrne, Barry's former executive officer (XO), has served aboard the ship since August 2010.

"I'm truly honored by the opportunity to take command of a United States warship," said Byrne. "Because of the leadership and work displayed daily, I know this ship is ready to meet any challenges that may come our way."

Byrne said throughout his tour as CO, Ibarra took great care of the Barry crew.

"Barry is blessed to have had [Ibarra] as their captain, and I wish him nothing but the best," said Byrne.

As Barry's new CO, Byrne said his goals are to look after his crew in every way, both professionally and personally. He also looks forward to finishing a successful deployment and bringing the Barry Sailors back home safely to friends and families.

Cmdr. Thomas Dickinson assumed duties as XO of Barry.

"The new CO and XO are going to make a great team," said Ibarra. "Both Cmdr. Byrne and Cmdr. Dickinson are ready to keep up the Navy tradition of high standards. I wish them the best of luck."

After Barry's return to the U.S., she will make preparations to go through an eight-month Extended Docking Selective Restricted Availability (EDSRA) for a complete hull, mechanical and electrical system overhaul.

Barry is part of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group, conducting maritime security operations in U.S. 6th Fleet area of responsibility.

Dr. Biden Urges Cable Industry to Support Military Families

By Donna Miles
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 17, 2011 – Dr. Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, last night called on the cable television industry to use its vast reach to help educate the public about military families and rally national support for “the very best of our country.”

Biden, speaking at the National Cable and Telecommunications Association's annual convention in Chicago, echoed the message first lady Michelle Obama took to Hollywood earlier this week.

“The cable industry is uniquely positioned to help Americans learn more about the challenges and needs of military families and to showcase the families’ strength, resilience and service to our nation,” Biden told the assembly.

A Blue Star mother herself, Biden said she experienced firsthand what military families endure when her son, Army Capt. Beau Biden, deployed to Iraq in 2008 with the Delaware National Guard.

“I can honestly say that not a day passed during his deployment that I didn’t worry about his safety,” she said. “That year gave me a small insight into what some of our military families have experienced for years, through multiple deployments in two different war zones.”

Families serve right along with their loved ones in uniform, she said, particularly during deployments when they keep the home fires burning and provide critical emotional support.

“They do it with pride and with no complaint,” Biden said. “Without the steadfast support of their families, our military personnel could not do what they do.”

The federal government is committed to supporting the families who stand behind their loved ones in uniform, and it has made 50 specific commitments to improve the lives of military families, Biden said. These range from protecting families from financial scams to improving education for military kids and spouses to stepping up the fight against veterans’ homelessness.

“And the president has said that he will not be satisfied until we meet every last one of these commitments,” she said.

Biden emphasized the nation’s responsibility to support military families -- the focus of the Joining Forces initiative she and the first lady launched earlier this year.

“We want all Americans to understand and appreciate what our troops and their families do for our country every day,” she said. “That’s why we started Joining Forces, a nationwide campaign to rally all Americans to recognize, honor and support our military families.”

The program has had “overwhelming response” from groups, individuals and businesses that have joined forces to support military families, she said. Their support runs the gamut, from employment, education and wellness services to babysitting care to free income-tax assistance to top-name hockey equipment donated for military children.

“Companies like Sears and Siemens Corporation, as well as the chamber of commerce, the PTA, the YMCA, the American Heart Association and many others have stepped up with exciting programs to employ and support these families,” Biden said.

Biden said she’s seen personally through her work with the Delaware Boots on the Ground organization “the difference that organizations and companies like this can make.”

Biden recognized the cable TV industry for its support for Joining Forces. “Some of you are telling the stories of military families through [public service announcements] and television programming,” she said. “Others are extending access to technology so military families can communicate with loved ones during separations and deployments.”

Discovery Education, for example, is helping teachers of military children share content to boost student achievement. In addition, its “Help on the Homefront Challenge” encourages classrooms to develop projects supporting military families in their neighborhoods.

Verizon and Comcast have been recognized for their support of their National Guard, reserve and veteran employees, Biden said.

In addition, the first lady made a cameo appearance on Nickelodeon’s “iCarly” show earlier this week, and Biden said she appeared on A&E’s “Army Wives” show last year.

Such collaborative efforts with the TV industry, Biden said, help to educate the public about military families.

“I hope you will continue to educate, entertain and open our eyes to the lives of those around us. Because the truth is, our military families represent the very best of our country,” Biden said. “They are our fellow Americans who get up every day to protect this country. They ask for so little, but they deserve so much.”

Biden encouraged the audience to seek out ways to express their thanks and show their support. “I hope that all of you will join forces with us to serve these extraordinary Americans as well as they have served this country,” she said.

The first lady took a similar message to the entertainment industry earlier this week, encouraging Hollywood producers, writers, actors and directors to incorporate military families’ compelling stories into movies and television.

“You have the vehicle to tell stories that just pull people in,” the first lady said during a panel discussion hosted by the entertainment guilds in Los Angeles. “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.”

MCPON Sends Hospital Corpsman Birthday Message

Special Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy (MCPON)(SS/SW) Rick D. West released the following hospital corpsman birthday message to the Fleet June 17.

"Shipmates,

For 113 years, hospital corpsmen have been deployed with our Sailors and Marines worldwide, have served in every major battle and have always been ready to answer the call 'Corpsman Up!' The hospital corpsman legacy is one of pride, consummate professionalism, dedication to duty, and always placing a shipmate's needs before their own.

As I travel around the Fleet, I'm always inspired by your dedication and devotion to duty, whether in combat, underway on, above or under the world's oceans, during humanitarian relief missions or helping our Sailors, Marines, families and retirees here at home.

I recently visited your new training facilities in San Antonio, and I was very impressed by the enthusiasm of our young future Navy corpsmen and the staff leading them. I have seen your training pipelines and know first hand that Hospital Corpsman training is some of the longest and most intense training available to our Sailors. This is evident through the outstanding medical treatment you provide everyday at home and abroad. I'm not surprised that we are experiencing the lowest battle mortality and non-battle injury rates in the history of armed conflict which is due to your exceptional training and skills, and your willingness to help all those you come in contact with in their greatest time of need.

To the thousands of hospital corpsmen who serve our great Navy, I am extremely proud of each and every one of you for answering the call to duty and for your selfless service. I ask that you stay vigilant and committed to one another and to the values and principles that have defined your past and will forge your future. Happy Birthday Navy corpsman … you're making a difference every day as you have been your last 113 years.

HOOYAH Warriors!

Very Respectfully,
MCPON"