Military News

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Today in the Department of Defense, Friday, July 01, 2011

Leon Panetta will be sworn in as the 23rd Secretary of Defense during a by-invitation only ceremony.

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

This Day in Naval History - June 30

From the Navy News Service

1815 - USS Peacock takes HMS Nautilus, last action of the War of 1812.
1943 - 3rd Fleet Amphibious Force lands troops on Rendova Island while naval gunfire silences Japanese artillery.
1951 - Naval Administration of Marianas ends.

Gates Ends Historic Term as Defense Secretary

By Jim Garamone
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 – Robert M. Gates is the only man to thank two presidents for the privilege of serving as secretary of defense.

At the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute on the Pentagon’s parade field today, Gates thanked President George W. Bush for nominating him for the job in 2006, and President Barack Obama for retaining him in it during the change in administrations in 2009.

At the ceremony, Obama praised Gates’ bipartisanship, and awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom -- the highest award a president can confer to a civilian.

Gates also spoke to those who would have the United States withdraw from world affairs and retreat to isolationism. He took the thought from former Defense Secretary and Army Chief of Staff during World War II General of the Army George C. Marshall. Gates said that once while addressing university graduates, Marshall extolled what he considered the great “musts” of that generation.

Marshall said the musts included the development of a sense of responsibility for world order and security, and the development of a sense of the overwhelming importance of America’s acts and failures to act.

“Now, as when Marshall first uttered those words, a sense of America’s exceptional global responsibilities and the importance of what we do or do not do remain the great ‘musts’ of this dangerous new century,” Gates said. “It is the sacred duty entrusted to all of us privileged to serve in positions of leadership and responsibility; a duty we should never forget or take lightly; a duty I have every confidence you will all continue to fulfill,” he added.

Gates said his service as secretary of defense “has been the greatest honor and privilege of my life, and for that I will always be grateful.”

The transition from the Bush to the Obama administration was the first during war in nearly 40 years, Gates said, and it showed how serious people in both parties came together to do good for the country.

“The collegiality, thoroughness and professionalism of the Bush-Obama transition were of great benefit to the country and were a tribute to the character and judgment of both presidents,” he said.

When Gates arrived in the Pentagon in December 2006, Marine Gen. Peter Pace helped shepherd him through the intricacies of the building, and Gates thanked Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff at the time, for his help.

Gates also thanked his “battle buddy,” the current chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen.

“Without Mike’s advice to me, his effective leadership of the uniformed military and our close partnership, the record of the last several years would, I think, have been very different,” the secretary said. “Mike was never shy about disagreeing with me, but unfailingly steadfast and loyal to me and to the presidents he served once a decision was made. He is the epitome of a military leader and officer, a man of supreme integrity, a great partner and a good friend.”

Gates said he benefited from the great team in the department when he arrived, and the great team that came in under the Obama administration. He thanked the political appointees of both parties and the career civil servants for their efforts in the Pentagon to provide for those serving on battlefields in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Gates also stressed the need for cooperation among federal agencies. He specifically pointed out the productive and warm relationship between the State Department, DOD and the intelligence community.

“The blows struck against al-Qaida, culminating in the [Osama] bin Laden raid, exemplify the remarkable transformation of how we must fuse intelligence and military operations in the 21st century,” he said.

Gates said his views on cooperation with The State Department have evolved over his four decades of government service. When he began his public service career in 1966, he said, the secretaries of state and defense barely spoke.

“In the case of Secretaries [Condoleezza] Rice and [Hillary Rodham] Clinton, I have not only been on speaking terms with these two formidable women, we’ve also become cherished colleagues and good friends,” he said.

Gates also testified before Congress on the need for more money for the State Department. “We should never forget that diplomats and development experts from State and [the Agency for International Development] are taking risks and making sacrifices in some of the planet’s least hospitable places,” he said. “And I speak for all our military in appreciating the contributions they are making every day to the success of our missions in Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere around the globe.”

The secretary thanked his wife, Becky, for her help and support. When President Bush asked Gates to be the secretary, he asked his wife what she thought.

“I was really wrestling with the decision and finally told her she could make it a lot easier if she just said she didn’t want to go back to D.C.,” Gates said. “She thought a moment and replied, ‘We have to do what you have to do.’ That is something military spouses have said in one form or another a million times since 9/11 upon learning that their loved one received a deployment notice or is considering another tour of service.

“She made it easy for me to say yes to this job, to do what I had to do to answer the call to serve when so much was at stake for America and her sons and daughters in two wars,” he added.

Gates has spent much of the last few months visiting with American service members around the world. He has put a farewell message out to the troops.

“Though I was only able to meet a small sample of those who deployed downrange, it was important to meet, to look them in the eye one last time and let them know how much I care about them and appreciate what they and their families do for our country,” he said. “I’ll just say here that I will think of these young warriors -- the ones who fought, the ones who keep on fighting, the ones who never made it back -- till the end of my days.”

Gates praised his successor as secretary, Leon E. Panetta, who will be sworn in as the 23rd defense secretary tomorrow.

“This department and this country are fortunate that a statesman of Leon Panetta’s caliber and experience has agreed to serve once again, and at such an important time,” Gates said. “My parting advice for Leon is to get his office just the way he likes it -- he may be here longer than he thinks.”

The secretary will fly to his home in the state of Washington.

Obama Awards Gates Presidential Medal of Freedom

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 30, 2011 – The life of Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates is a lesson to young Americans that public service is an honorable calling, one that makes the nation better and stronger, President Barack Obama said today.

During a farewell tribute ceremony for Gates at the Pentagon, Obama reviewed Gates’ accomplishments during the past four-and-a-half years.

“I can think of no better way to express my appreciation to someone I have come to admire and whom I consider a friend,” Obama said. “I can think of no better way to express the gratitude of the nation for Bob Gates than with a very special recognition.”

With that, he presented Gates the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor a president can award a civilian.

“Robert M. Gates has selflessly dedicated his life to ensuring the security of the American people,” the citation read. “He has served eight presidents of both parties with unwavering patriotism.”

During the ceremony, Obama recounted the highlights of Gates’ impact during his tenure at the Pentagon.

When the outcome of the Iraq war was in doubt, Obama said, Gates presided over the efforts that helped restore order.

“Over the past two-and-a-half years, we've removed more than 100,000 troops from Iraq, ended our combat mission and are responsibly ending that war,” the president said.

When the fight against al-Qaida and the nation’s efforts in Afghanistan needed a new focus, Obama said, Gates helped the administration devise the strategy that put al-Qaida on a path to defeat.

When institutional inertia kept funding systems the troops didn't need, the president said, Gates launched a war on waste, “… speaking hard truths and saving hundreds of billions of dollars that can be invested in the 21st-century military.”

Gates “made it his mission to make sure this department is serving our troops in the field as well as they serve us,” Obama added.

“We see the lifesaving difference he made in the mine-resistant vehicles and the unmanned aircraft, the shorter medevac times in Afghanistan, [and] in our determination to give our wounded warriors the world-class care they deserve,” Obama said of Gates.

Gates’ greatest legacy, the president said, may be “the lives you saved and the confidence you gave our men and women in battle,” who knew there was a secretary of defense who had their backs, loved them and fought for them, and did everything in his power to bring them home safely.

Gates’ willingness to serve under presidents of both parties is a measure of his integrity, Obama said, and “a reminder, especially to folks here in Washington, that civility and respectful discourse and citizenship over partisanship are not quaint relics of a bygone era.”

As commander in chief, Obama said he is determined that the U.S. armed forces, despite the need to make hard fiscal choices, will always remain the best-trained, best-led, best-equipped fighting force in history.

“In an uncertain world that demands our leadership, the United States of America and our armed forces will remain the greatest force for freedom and security that the world has ever known,” the president said.

“This is the America, strong and confident,” Obama said, “to which Bob Gates has devoted his life.”

Motorcycle Safety Training an All Hands Evolution for All Who Ride

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

GROTON, Conn. (NNS) -- The safety departments for Commander, Submarine Group Two and Ten, Kings Bay, Ga., ramp up efforts to ensure all personnel who ride motorcycles on and off base are aware of motorcycle safety requirements with the motorcycle safety course, June 30.

Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, commander, Submarine Group 10, recently completed the motorcycle safety course

"The requirement to ride defensively has never been as important as it is today," said Bruner. "Even though I've ridden motorcycles for many years, I learned a lot during the expert rider's course and I applaud those who have taken the efforts to complete the motorcycle safety course and ride responsibly."

Like Bruner, all military personnel who operate a motorcycle on or off base, and as a requirement to obtain a base decal, are required to complete an approved motorcycle rider safety course, according to the Naval Safety Center.

Command Master Chief (SS) Wesley Koshoffer, Submarine Group Two command master chief, believes in the motorcycle safety courses because it provides safety aspects many Sailors may have not considered. Also, most importantly, it helps to save lives.

"It's not just about checking a box that you attended a motorcycle safety course; it's about hearing the message, and applying that message to ensure you can operate a motorcycle safety while driving," said Koshoffer.

According to the Naval Safety Center more than two-thirds of accidents involving cars and motorcycles, the driver causes the wreck, not the motorcyclist. Most of the time, the driver didn't see the motorcycle.

Lt. Bobby Forest, CSG Two safety officer, assists with certifying command personnel to properly ride motorcycles on and off base. He said Sailors need to be aware of the training requirements, especially after purchasing a sports bike.

"Military personnel are required to complete a motorcycle safety course within 60 days after purchasing a sports bike," said Forest. "We want our military personnel to have all of the safety tips available to safely operate a sports bike and to remain alive."

Completing the necessary training can save lives. In 2010, 10 of 13 Naval motorcycle fatalities did not complete all the mandatory training related to operating a sports bike per the Naval Safety Center.

Other Naval Safety Center tips to abide by while riding motorcycles include: Don't assume a driver can see you; take precautions before you ride by wearing helmets with retro-reflective materials; keep your headlights on while operating a motorcycle and if you can't see a driver's face in his rear-view mirror, he can't see you, either. Finally, be aware of your blind spots and be cautious of the likely situations that lead to accidents such as a driver changing lanes or turning in your blind spot and road hazards.

Flags lowered to half-staff in Wisconsin Friday for Army Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz

Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Friday (July 1) in honor of Army Spc. Tyler R. Kreinz of Beloit, Wis., who lost his life while serving his country in Afghanistan. The Guard will render these honors in accordance with an executive order issued by Gov. Scott Walker.

EXECUTIVE ORDER # 36 reads:

Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz of the United States Army Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country During Operation Enduring Freedom – Afghanistan

WHEREAS, on June 18, 2011, Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz, a member of the 4th Battalion, 70th Armor Regiment, 170th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, Baumholder, Germany, United States Army, died while serving his country in Afghanistan; and

WHEREAS, Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz provided faithful and honorable service to the people of the State of Wisconsin and the people of the United States; and

WHEREAS, the people of Wisconsin mourn the death of Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz; and

WHEREAS, a memorial service will be held for Specialist Tyler R. Kreinz on July 1, 2011;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, SCOTT WALKER, Governor of the State of Wisconsin, by the authority vested in me by Federal and State law, do hereby order that the flag of the United States and the flag of the State of Wisconsin shall be flown at half-staff at all buildings, grounds, and military installations of the State of Wisconsin equipped with such flags beginning at sunrise on Friday, July 1, 2011, and ending at sunset on that date.

All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governor's order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor Spc. Tyler R. Kreinz by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on July 1.

Mullen: Public, Private Efforts Must Help Failed States

By Cheryl Pellerin
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, June 29, 2011 – Nations and organizations of all kinds must join together to take on the challenges posed by a growing number of weak and failing states, Navy Adm. Mike Mullen said today.

Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at a launch event for the 2011 Failed States Index, hosted by The Fund for Peace and Business Executives for National Security. The fund has published the index since 2005.

“[For] every single entity that exists on this globe, whether it’s public or private [or] nongovernmental,” Mullen said. “ … It’s imperative that we all figure out how we’re going to address these challenges together because … they are coming at us at a speed that is accelerating.”

The index is an annual ranking of 177 nations using 12 social, economic and political indicators of pressure on the state, along with more than 100 sub-indicators. Indicators include issues like uneven development, state legitimacy, group grievance and human rights.

“In today’s world, many challenges to international peace and prosperity come from nontraditional sources,” said Ken Brill, Institute for Peace president.

“This has direct implications for U.S. national security,” Brill added, “which needs to be thought about and acted on in a broader context than ever before.”

The 2011 index is based on data collected throughout 2010, so it does not account for recent events such as Japan’s major earthquake and tsunami and uprisings across the Middle East.

For the fourth consecutive year, the report ranks Somalia as the No. 1 failed state, citing widespread lawlessness, ineffective government, terrorism, insurgency, crime and pirate attacks against foreign vessels.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Finland, for the first time, displaced Norway from the best position among most stable countries because of slight fluctuations in demographic and economic indicators.

Each indicator used in the ranking is rated on a scale of one to 10 based on the analysis of millions of publicly available documents, other quantitative data and analytic assessments.

A high score indicates high pressure on the state, and therefore a higher risk of instability.

Instability created by failing states threatens the normal function of the international marketplace,” said retired Army Gen. Montgomery C. Meigs, president and chief executive officer of the Business Executives for National Security.

“Private-sector initiatives and investment,” he added, “can combat state fragility, promote stability and prevent conflict.”

Besides Somalia, the top 10 failed states include, in order from the most troubled states, Chad, Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Zimbabwe, Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Iraq and Ivory Coast.

“As I look at the failed state index and look at the states that top the list … none of them are surprising,” Mullen said. “What concerns me about that is the need for the global entities that exist to address the challenges.”

Mullen described a principle he said has been with him throughout his career, since he was a young officer deployed to Vietnam in 1969.

“The message that came from the families that I would become familiar with,” Mullen said, was that they were anxious to raise their children to a higher standard of living than they had achieved, and in some semblance of peace and prosperity.

“You need the peace to generate the prosperity to achieve that standard,” he said. “That’s a global standard from my perspective.”

About the positions of Iraq and Afghanistan on the index, Mullen said, “I’ve felt for some time, and I’m not alone in this, that Iraq has resources to generate a thriving economy.

“With the oil resources they have and the appetite the world has for oil,” he added, “I am fairly confident that, over time, Iraq will pull itself out of its place on this index.”
Afghanistan does not have such resources immediately available, the chairman said, but the country can be helped to build its economy enough to improve the lives of its people.

“For both these countries, though, that’s just the economic side,” he said, adding that the index measures governance, security, how the countries’ leaders take care of their people, and other indicators.

For several years, Mullen said, he has worried about Yemen as a potential next place for al Qaida to call home, and the index ranks Yemen as 13th from the top of the most failed states.

While the al Qaida leadership “still resides in the border [area] between Afghanistan and Pakistan,” the chairman said, the federated al Qaida group in Yemen is an “incredibly dangerous group” that has taken full advantage of the chaos there.

While military intervention sometimes is necessary to bring stability, it is never the whole answer to fixing a failed state,” Mullen said.

“The military, the security piece, is a necessary condition, but it is insufficient in and of itself,” he added. “And it’s taking us a long time to figure that out.”

Economic engines – the United States, China, India, Brazil, the Middle East and Europe -- will help create the standard of living that most people want for their children, Mullen said.

“How do we make these economic engines work together so the haves and the have-nots are not as far apart?” he said. “It’s my belief that if they continue to separate … then I think there will be more and more failed states.”

“For those of us in leadership positions, we just can’t keep talking about this,” Mullen said. “We have to generate actions on the ground.”

Navy Medicine Discusses Warrior Care During Navy Week Chicago

From U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery Public Affairs

CHICAGO (NNS) -- The Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and Navy Medicine met to discuss innovations in wounded warrior care as part of Chicago Navy Week June 29.

Rear Adm. Elaine Wagner, director, Navy Medical Resources Plans and Policy Division; and Dr. James Kelly, director of the National Intrepid Center of Excellence in Bethesda, Md., met with RIC leadership, staff and patients, and toured the facility during the visit.

RIC is widely recognized as the leading provider of physical medicine and rehabilitation, and is the largest private rehabilitation research center in the world with more than 250 projects underway from bionic limbs to rehabilitation outcomes.

"The U.S. military has the best trauma teams in the world who are saving more lives on the battlefield than ever before," said Joanne Smith, MD, president and chief executive officer of RIC. "It is an honor to partner with the Defense Department to bring novel treatments to benefit our wounded heroes and offer the greatest recovery possible."

The Navy health care executives discussed ongoing partnership programs designed to improve the quality of life for personnel who were severely wounded in combat and met with a wounded Marine who was part of a new pilot program in rehabilitation care with RIC.

"I was really lucky to come to RIC; as the care is individually based," said Lance Cpl. Ed McDonough.

McDonough was a gunner in a Humvee that was hit by an improvised explosive device (IED) Aug. 5, 2009, in Afghanistan where he lost a leg and had complications associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI) and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

After spending time undergoing rehabilitation treatments at Walter Reed Army Medical Center for amputation and TBI care, he was referred to the NICoE for specialized treatment in TBI and PTSD treatment.

"Lance Cpl. McDonough was a good candidate for the Day Rehabilitation Program at RIC which is a chairman of the joint chiefs initiative to expand the level of care for our wounded warriors," said Kelly. "This is a pilot program designed to leverage highly specialized services available in the private sector that can be tailored to meet specific individual needs."

While at RIC, he received a new custom limb for running and high performance activities, and his PTSD symptoms have improved through many treatments, including innovative biofeedback strategies used at RIC.

"I hope by my being here, I can smooth out any bumps and pave the way for some of my buddies to also receive care at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago in the future," said McDonough. "I'm running now which is pretty cool, and I am feeling much better."

During the tour Wagner emphasized the military's commitment to caring for wounded personnel.

"Our wounded warriors deserve nothing but the best care available to help them heal physically, psychologically and emotionally," said Wagner. "We must maintain our commitment to their long-term care as the wounded young men and women of today will still need our care for years to come."

Navy Medicine is a global health care network of 63,000 Navy medical personnel around the world who provide high quality health care to more than one million eligible beneficiaries. Navy Medicine personnel deploy with Sailors and Marines worldwide, providing critical mission support aboard ship, in the air, under the sea and on the battlefield.

Chicago Navy Week is one of 21 Navy weeks across the country this year. Navy Weeks are designed to show Americans the investment they make in their Navy and increase awareness in cities that do not have a significant Navy presence.

Fallen Marine Honored With Intelligence Medal for Valor

By Karen Parrish
American Forces Press Service

MCLEAN, Va., June 29, 2011 – The parents of a Marine Corps sergeant killed in Afghanistan accepted a posthumous National Intelligence Medal for Valor on their son’s behalf at the National Intelligence Directorate headquarters here today.

Sgt. Lucas T. Pyeatt, 24, a signals intelligence team leader from West Chester, Ohio, died Feb. 5 during combat operations in Helmand province. He was assigned to the 2nd Radio Battalion, II Marine Expeditionary Force Headquarters Group, Camp Lejeune, N.C.

National Intelligence Director James R. Clapper presented the award to Lon “Scott” Pyeatt and Cynthia Pyeatt during the small ceremony this morning.

“We’re here today to pay tribute to an outstanding Marine and an extraordinary intelligence professional,” Clapper said. “The Marine Corps has already recognized Luke, so this is … a small token of appreciation and respect and esteem from the intelligence community.”

Clapper said Pyeatt was a “standout young man,” a Civil War buff and an accomplished bass player, who was sensitive enough to learn American Sign Language so he could communicate with, and interpret for, a deaf friend.

“He was an Eagle Scout … [and] a young man who lived his faith, including serving on a mission in Russia,” Clapper added.

After Pyeatt enlisted in the Marine Corps, he quickly excelled as a signals intelligence collector, Clapper said.

“In four short years, Luke proved himself time and again,” he added.

During boot camp, language training, and after assignment to Camp Lejuene, the young Marine consistently excelled at his assigned tasks, the director said.

As a corporal, Pyeatt was selected to be a team leader, and deployed to Afghanistan, Clapper noted.

“He continued to set the example,” the director said. “Because of his job, he knew he couldn’t be on every patrol [but] insisted on conducting the very first one, in a heavily contested area.”

The young leader wanted to be certain he knew what his team would be going through when they went “outside the wire,” Clapper said, but the young Marine died during that first patrol.

During a conversation with Pyeatt’s parents before the ceremony, Clapper said, Cynthia Pyeatt handed him a memorial card for her son that included a quote from English economist and philosopher John Stuart Mill.

During his remarks, Clapper shared the quote on the card: “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things. The decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks that nothing is worth war is much worse. The person who has nothing for which he is willing to fight, nothing which is more important than his own personal safety, is a miserable creature and has no chance of being free unless made and kept so by the exertions of better men than himself.”

Clapper then presented a framed citation and the medal to Pyeatt’s parents.

The young Marine’s National Intelligence Medal for Valor is the 10th awarded and the fourth presented posthumously, a spokesman for the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said.

The medal was established Oct. 1, 2008, to acknowledge the “extraordinary and mostly unsung accomplishments of intelligence community professionals,” he said.

The award is second only to the Intelligence Cross in the intelligence community’s medals for bravery, the spokesman said.

Cynthia Pyeatt said she and her family don’t know the details of what her son did in Afghanistan to earn such a prestigious medal.

“We’re not supposed to know, so he did that right,” she said. “I just wish he could be here.”

Her son was a patriot, she said, who loved his country.

“He believed in the Constitution, and he believed in people having an obligation,” she said.

Pyeatt’s father retired from the Air Force as a chief master sergeant after a 30-year career. Cynthia Pyeatt said when her son spoke of enlisting, she asked him why his father’s service wasn’t enough of a contribution for the family.

“He said, ‘That was dad, and this is my time,’” she recounted.

Not everyone can be in the military or be a Marine, Cynthia Pyeatt said, but “you can better your community, you can better the world you live in.”

“If more people would look at our country and say, ‘I can step up and do something … to make this better,’” she added, that would be a tribute not only to her son but also to all the other service members who have been hurt or killed serving the nation.

“We’re one family, and there are thousands of families like us that have huge holes in their lives,” she said. “I wonder sometimes if it’s worth it, but he believed in what he was doing, and I owe him the respect of respecting his decision.”

Pyeatt’s sister, Emily Smalley, and her two children also attended the event, as did members of the 2nd Radio Battalion; Marine Brig. Gen. Vincent R. Stewart, Marine Corps director of intelligence; and former secretary of the Army and of Veterans Affairs, retired Army Lt. Gen. Togo D. West Jr.

Essex ARG Embarks 31st MEU for Talisman Sabre 2011

By Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Eva-Marie Ramsaran, USS Essex Public Affairs

OKINAWA, Japan (NNS) -- Ships of the Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) embarked more than 2,000 Marines of the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) at White Beach Naval Facility in Okinawa, Japan, June 27, for exercise Talisman Sabre 2011.

Talisman Sabre 2011 is a biennial activity for Australia and the United States to improve and validate their readiness and interoperability as a combined joint task force.

"The purpose of the MEU embarking aboard Essex is to bring all the assets required to conduct amphibious raids, assaults, humanitarian assistance, noncombatant evacuation operations and tactical exercises during the deployment," said Gunnery Sgt. Enrique Perez, Amphibious Squadron 11 combat cargo assistant. "We come prepared with more than just what is needed for the U.S.-Australian exercise; we plan for real world contingencies as well."

The combat cargo departments of USS Essex (LHD 2) and USS Germantown (LSD 42) moved more than 110 vehicles and 320 pieces of cargo aboard the ships. Additionally, they helped load elements of the battalion landing team, ground combat element, aviation combat element and combat logistics battalion.

The MEU has also been making preparations since last year for an Australian government quarantine inspection on all of its aircraft, vehicles and equipment.

The Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service (AQIS) is responsible for enforcing Australian quarantine laws. The Essex ARG and 31st MEU will coordinate with AQIS to ensure the safety of all ARG and MEU assets, Australian exercise participants and Australian citizens.

Lt. Col. William Arick, commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 31, said the inspection is the Australian government's way of ensuring the country is not contaminated with a plant or animal that is not native and does not have any natural predators.

"To ensure we were able to clean and prepare our equipment to stringent agricultural standards for Australia, Marines across the MEU had to disassemble our vehicles and equipment," said Arick. "We cleaned every piece individually and spent countless hours pressure washing the vehicles from top to bottom. We worked hand-in-hand with Australian inspectors to ensure every item was clean and without any dirt or other contaminants."

Talisman Sabre 2011 will give the Essex ARG Sailors and 31st MEU Marines the opportunity to integrate during operations in a combined and joint environment, working alongside their Australian counterparts.

For many of the Sailors aboard Essex, it is their first ship deployment and their first time working with Marines.

"This is my fourth deployment where we have had to integrate with Marines in our shop," said Intelligence Specialist 2nd Class (SW) Katherine Zehner, Amphibious Squadron 11 fleet intelligence watch officer. "We get along really well in our shop, and we our coordinating together on certain missions for Talisman Sabre."

The Essex ARG includes forward-deployed amphibious assault ship USS Essex and amphibious dock landing ship USS Germantown. With the embarked 31st MEU, the Essex ARG will join 11,000 U.S. and 9,000 Australian personnel for participation in Talisman Sabre 2011.

Today in the Department of Defense, Thursday, June 30, 2011

President Barack Obama, Deputy Secretary of Defense William J. Lynn and other DoD leaders will attend the Armed Forces Farewell Tribute in honor of Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates at the Pentagon at 9:45 a.m. EDT.

This Day in Naval History - June 29

From the Navy News Service

1925 - Ships and men from 11th and 12th Naval Districts assist in relief after earthquake at Santa Barbara , Calif.
1950 - President Harry S. Truman authorizes sea blockade of the Korean coast.
1950 - USS Juneau (CLA 119) fires first naval shore bombardment of Korean Conflict.